Donald "Gramps" Ledingham

Sharing Stories and Memories;Bruce Swartz, Rick Kavanagh, Sandy MacPherson,
Ted Renshaw, standing Don "gramps" Ledingham

Don Ledingham is one of those competitors, who was enticed by the sport, back in 1951 when he first saw a race at the old Chippewa track where drivers such as Orville Kelley & Bruce Swartz first competed. Don built his first racer with the help of Sparky Rand and his brother-in-law Harvey Williams, when Merrittville Speedway opened in 1952. The plan was for Harvey and Don to drive on alternate race nights, but Harvey didn't like the driving and took over the pit work, while Don drove.

While enjoying his driving career, Don operated a wrecking yard - Lincoln Street Auto Wreckers in Welland by day while holding down a regular shift at Atlas Steel also in Welland. Many of Don's coupes came from his wrecking yard. His position at Atlas provided a living for Don and his wife Allie and their daughters Eleanor and Darlene.

Don's career as a driver continued first under the number 333, then 33 and finally 31. His patented black and white coupes were always a constant in the pits at Merrittville and he also appeared at opening nights for Humberstone Speedway and Speedway Park. While Don never won a points championship at Merrittville, he was always a fixture in the pits along with friends Hugh Tripp and Ray Stevens.

One of Don's most memorable moments happened when his flathead Ford racer caught a wheel of another competitor while leading the feature. His car became airborne off of turn 2 and he rolled to turn 3 seven times. When it came to a rest, the speedy racer of John Bezanson struck his car. Don escaped with only a scratched elbow. They towed the car to Bill Willard Sr.'s garage in Rockway with Bill lending him the 777 Ford Coupe until Don's car could be repaired.


Don continued to drive but his brothers Earl, Charlie and Jim also tried the sport with some success. It was Don though that stuck with it in a driving career that lasted some 33 years - retiring at 57 years of age in 1984.
   That year, Don helped his nephew Rob got started as a driver in the 6 cylinder Sportsmen Class. Don also helped his grandson Mark Edwards get started in the Mod Stock and Sportsmen divisions.

After 40 years at Atlas Steel, Don retired - deciding to devote his time to building a replica of his #31 Race Car. So in 1995 Don built the car #31 - a 1936 Chevrolet coupe that has Mark Edwards behind the wheel tonight as part of the CMRHS on track action.

Don continues to enjoy the sport of Stock Car Racing and enjoys his trips to Merrittville Speedway. At 73 years of age - he isn’t slowing down. A racing career is not done without help and Don would like to recognize the help of his wife of 53 years - Allie as well as his brother Earl and friend Harvey Williams.



Don's 2 daughters - Eleanor in California and Darlene in Welland along with grandsons Mark Edwards, Paul Feddick, granddaughters Kim and Dawn and many more of Don's family and friends are here tonight - they will be watching the progress of Rob Ledingham's career in the Sportsmen division as he contends for a top finish in the points. Rob earned his first feature win last week since returning in 2000 after a 5 year absence from the sport.

Thanks "Gramps" for being part of our history of dirt track racing at Merrittville Speedway, as we celebrate 49 years tonight

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