Drivin' Ivan Little #61
can you say about Ivan, but Drivin”. My recollection of this
colourful pilot goes back to the early sixties. While Ivan
and Jeno were off racing an asphalt “bug”, the sport of
stock car racing at Merrittville was evolving into a growing
In 1965 Ivan returned to the area ovals, racing regularly
at Merrittville Speedway and Speedway Park in Hamilton.
This time however, his #66 coupe emerged as a black with red
flamed #61 as Bud Barone had already taken #66. During 1966
Ivan being a independent thinking individual, started his
own trucking business, which he continues today as “Little’s
Haulage”, leaving his job with the City of St. Catharines
and teamed up with boyhood friend and master tuner Dan
Chish. He dominated the Merrittville Oval, to take his
first championship in 1966. During the 1960’s and early
1970’s, Ivan and buddy Dan could be spotted at area tracks.
Picture this, 2 young bachelors wearing their bright red
Firestone racing jackets, giving full attention to the
flaming #61 during the races and partying up a storm in the
pits, or elsewhere afterwards. Those were the days.
However, during the mid 1970’s something happened. Ivan
settled down and married and then he and his wife Nancy, had
a son James Norman Little. During this period Ivan
continued to race his black, flaming red and chrome racer,
with success. Did I forget to mention that Ivan raced at
the Syracuse Mile and represented Merrittville Speedway and
this Canadian drivers as early as 1972.
Ivan was always a tough competitor and continued to
race at Merrittville and Ransomville ovals during the
1970’s. However, in 1982 Ivan decided to retire, having
accomplished much with nothing to prove to anyone. The
retirement lasted one year and Ivan returned with a
vengeance to not only win races, but won the Points
Championship in 1983. After this, “Drivin’ Ivan” would
continue to race until the end of the 1986 season. The fun
was gone, the costs were high.
Ivan was an individual who built his own cars, owned his
own cars, drove them and sponsored them. Ivan sold his
equipment to Chris Ricker of Dunnville and became an avid
spectator and followed the NASCAR Winston Cup Racing. If you
don’t believe me, ask Ivan, Nancy and James about the career
of Bill Elliott, and don’t approach Ivan after “Awesome
Bill” has had a rough day.
The Littles started to attend
many races in the 1980’s and this where our families became
friends. Ivan’s exploits in their #61 motorhome were
memorable as we all would camp at ovals such as Cayuga
Speedway and twice a year at Roger Penske’s Michigan
Ivan, his family, Merv Treichler,
Dan Chish and Barb, Keith Winger, brother of Jerry, Hughie
Tripp, my wife and girls, and good friend Gerry Brown, would
all camp and reminisce the good old days and the races to
So thanks for the memories, Ivan and congratulations
on your induction into the 1996 Dirt Hall of Fame.
Sincerely, Rick Kavanagh