Presenting the OSCC ‘President’s Technical Excellence Award’ to Don Horner last evening was a very special moment for me personally. Proud to do it on behalf of the OSCC membership and honored to be a friend of Don’s for almost 50 years!
It started when, as a club member, I was invited to tag along as a volunteer crew member for Don whenever he raced his Dailu A Sports Racer. Being part of a team (actually, the only member of the team!) that ran at the front end of the grid was exciting. Working and sharing experiences on and off the track with Don was fantastic and made for the best possible way to spend time doing something amazing. Don’s style was different and not something everybody picked up on it right away – sometimes never! But he was a terrific driver who started racing in the early 60’s; and a highly skilled mechanic – one of the best front end alignment technicians in the city at the old Campbell Ford location downtown and then continuing with them when they moved to Carling Avenue, a block from his house.
It was in that very house in 1970 that I was delivering some parts to Nancy Field – a customer I had recently sold a brand new MGB to. Nancy was also a friend of Mary Jo (soon to be Horner – who I had also sold a brand new MGB to!) – and someone else named Barbara Waldorf. Sitting in Don’s living room, I watched this ‘Barbara Waldorf’ walk down the stairs with Mary Jo and the proverbial bells went off. 46+ years of marriage later, Barb, Don, Mary Jo and I reminisced about that first meeting when we got together last night!
Don, Mary Jo, Barb and myself shared some great adventures – like traveling all night to enter the Thetford Mines HillClimb with the Dailu; running the MCO Regularity Run in his street licensed ’68 Mustang – that he also raced; and so much more!
Next step, I bought Don’s Dailu so he could buy a F1600 car from Brian Robertson – a Canadian Formula B Champion, later to be the Judd engine distributor for North America with many stops along the way. At the time I bought Don’s car, Brian was a bank manager who gave me a loan that allowed me to pay for it!
So many great stories from our long friendship and from Don’s lifetime involvement in motorsport. Don still works for Mortimer Racing working on the Mortimer Racing cars before they go on track to make sure they are safe and as well-prepared as they can be. He takes that responsibility seriously, and personally. There is nobody who I would rather have looking over my race car than Don Horner. If he had his hands on it, its good to go………..just get in and concentrate on driving.
DON HORNER – the perfect example of a passionate, dedicated, sharing, highly knowledgeable racer. There is nobody more deserving. And no better friend.