Tom, Phyllis and the Mongrel
As we look back on the history of stock car
racing in the Niagara District, there are many individuals who
contributed to the sport, but one family who started back in 1952
and who continues to race today are the Mallorys. Tom Mallory got
his start in the 1950's before Merrittville Speedway opened helping
local racers prepare cars for either Ascot, or Atherton tracks.
This was in an era when charging admission for a
sporting event on a Sunday was considered illegal. As a result the
people attending the races purchased a bottle of Coca Cola for .50
and as a result entry was legal, instead of purchasing an admission
ticket. Tom's interest really peaked when he began helping out on
stock cars at Murray Stricker's gas station and followed Stricker's
exploits into stock car racing.
As a result, Tom Mallory's entrance to stock car
racing as a car owner and driver happened quite by accident in 1955.
At that time, Tom had a nice white 1939 Chevrolet family car,
however one day upon meeting up with good friend Sandy MacPherson
near Bill Willard's garage, Sandy mentioned to Tom how great a stock
car the "39 Chevrolet would make. And with that-Sandy threw a hammer
through the window and next thing you know they were stripping down
and cutting up and welding the pristine body.
Once the car was complete, Tom had to get a ride
home, since his family car had been transformed into a racer, still
white with #20 painted on its doors. I don't know how Tom explained
this to Phyllis but the Mallorys like it or not, were now in racing.
This six cylinder Chevrolet performed well enough for Tom, but this
was in an era where the majority of cars were Flathead Ford V8
coupes. Right from the beginning, Phyllis Mallory has been an
integral part of the exploits of the Mallory-#20 Mongrel racing
team. When the jalopy class opened up in 1957, Tom raced with much
success in this class and when the stock car class became the
sportsman class, the bright red Mallory-Mongrel #20 coupes made
their presence known.
Tom was a good driver and both he and Terry
Edwards ran two cars. Tom's familiar #20 red coupe and Terry ran the
familiar #77 red coupe. At one point in 1962 Tom not only ran
opening night at Speedway Park, but won eight straight features.
With all this success the #20 coupe was sold and Tom concentrated on
preparing the Terry Edwards #77, now re-numbered the familiar #20.
Tom Mallory and Terry Edwards made a successful combination and won
many invitational races during the early 1960's.
In 1965 one of Tom Mallory's creations emerged.
It was a short wheelbase sportsman, with a small block engine,
sporting a Ford Falcon body. This was only a two year old body style
and this was during an era of coupes and coaches from the 1930's.
The Mongrel #20 was now a modern race car sporting its bright red
paint scheme and with Terry Edwards behind the wheel, this Falcon
really flew. However, all good things come to an end and such was
the case late in the season when it was totaled at Lancaster
As a result, Tom and Terry had to start again
from scratch. Having had an eye on a coupe, there was a 1937
Plymouth sitting in Welland and so Tom and Terry drove there picked
up the car and in three days fabricated a race car. This was done so
quickly not even the owner of the Plymouth coupe noticed it was
The Mongrel was now a Plymouth coupe, sporting
the familiar red paint job with the yellow #20 painted on its sides
and the familiar Mongrel painted on its trunk. At first this car was
raced with a small block engine, but in 1968 the big block engines
were appearing and the #20 was no exception. Saturday nights at
Merrittville Speedway were a familiar home for Tom and Phyllis, but
the boys Lee, Jay and Randy were home on Townline Road East in
Thorold. Not knowing at the time, my wife Michelle baby sat the
boys, while I as a teenager was working at Merrittville Speedway. As
the boys grew, they were able to attend the races with Mom, while
Tom toiled in the pits. During the early 1970's Terry Edwards
continued to drive the Mongrel #20, at Merrittville, Ransomville,
Waterloo, Speedway Park, as well as winning the opening day feature
at Rolling Wheels. At this time, the Mongrel raced against some of
the best drivers including Bobby Bottcher and Will Cagle. During
1973 and 1974 the Mallory Edwards combination split up and Tom
fielded the big block modified for only his second driver in 14
years with Don Deagle at the wheel.
During the late 1970's the Gremlins started to
appear and with his own sons old enough, the boys, first Lee, took
their turn in a new Gremlin style Mongrel, a former Brian Stevens
modified. In 1981 Jay tried his luck and fielded a new limited
sportsman, a 1933 red and gold Chevrolet, and now some 16 years
later Jay is still taking his turn, behind the wheel of the #20
For 28 years the Mallorys have been living at the
same location off of Hartzell Road where he keeps fabricating the
family race cars. With the high cost of racing, the whole family
pitches in. Tom, Lee, Randy and Jay work on the car, while Phyllis
is in charge of washing, waxing and organizing race nights. Even the
family's pet pooch spends his Saturdays in the pits. Guy McKee
builds the potent engines that power the Mongrel. When asked who he
would like to thank for the most support in racing, it was a quick
I would like to thank my wife, Phyllis, for all
her support, raising the fmily and putting up with all the traveling
on weekends. If Phyllis wasn't a fan of stock car racing, none of
this would have been possible. When asked Jay's most memorable win
was winning the "All Canadian" back in 1993, but you could tell that
every race night is a special night for the Mallorys. Its very
special in our sport, for a whole family to enjoy racing, but for
some 46 years and counting the Mallorys and the Mongrel #20 have
done so. Even though in 1999 Tom will retire from his job at
Aldo-Muratori Building Supplies in Thorold after 32 years, don't
expect this racer to retire. Tom and Phyllis plan to travel and see
a few NASCAR races, cheering for their driver Dale Earnhardt.
Do me one favour Tom, paint the Mongrel red, one
more time with the #20 in yellow, with the Mongrel in the rear
racing towards your 50th Anniversary in racing in 2001. Thanks for
Sincerely, Rick Kavanagh