LlOYD HOLT #15
Lloyd Holt along with brother in law Harvey Hainer Sr. got their start in stock car racing way back in 1957, when Merrittville Speedway was only five season old.
Harvey and Lloyd decided to build a stock car for the new entry jalopy class at Merrittville. They took a stock Hudson, with a big six engine and installed roll bars, removed glass and upholstery, while wife Betty painted #23 on the doors with shoe polish and were now ready to go racing. It was a learning experience and the big Hudson was no match for the Flathead Fords of the day.
With the help of a young 14 yr old crewman, Billy Mathews, Harvey and Lloyd would build a 1938 Ford Tudour, with sponsorship support from Ray Stevens’ Garage, they painted the car dark green and while in the colours of Cities’ Service Station and label the car with a J‐15. Lloyd and Harvey were fast learners resulting in a very competitive threat for the Jalopy Championship in 1958.
For 1959 with Harvey doing the wrenching and Lloyd doing the driving the young 21 yr old was showing his talent, winning many feature events. It was a highly contested points battle between Lloyd and Bill Binning and even though the J‐15 won the last points feature of the 1959 season, Lloyd and Harvey ended up second to Bill Binning in the final Jalopy points, losing by 2 points. The rule of the day in Jalopies, was that if you were in the top 5 in final points you had to move up in order to make way for newcomers in the Jalopy divisions.
In three short seasons the duo of Hainer and Holt had emerged as serious contenders, but would they be successful in the Sportsman/Modified division? For 1960 and 1961 they laid off stock car racing, so Lloyd could pursue his interest in horses. For 1962 they constructed a new sportsman Coupe, but this time they had assistance from Ray Stevens. The dark green and white #15 Sportsman being maintained by Harvey Hainer and Billy Mathews became a threat for the feature wins on a regular basis, competing at their home track of Merrittville Speedway as well as the new Speedway Park in Stoney Creek.
Lloyd, Harvey, Ray and Billy campaigned many versions of the #15 Coupe during the 1960’s but 1965 was probably a landmark season for their teams. Lloyd, Harvey and Ray were the last Sportsman/Modified teams to win both the Jerry Winger Memorial and John Spencer Memorial Trophies that season of 1965. During the late 1960;s Harvey campaigned modifieds with Mike Zajac, who would go on to be Merrittville’s first 3 time champion while Lloyd and Ray Stevens would travel to both dirt and pavement tracks even though Merrittville would remain their home track. Lloyd and Ray campaigned a Falcon bodied car, on both dirt and pavement at Merrittville, Ransomville, Lancaster and Rolling Wheels.
As the 1970’s unfolded Harvey started tutoring his son Harvey Jr., while Ray Stevens formed his own team with drivers Stan Friesen, Mike Granton, Davey Moore, Harry Sittler and a young rookie by the name of Brian Stevens. Lloyd would start building his own chassis, experimenting with coil over suspensions, torsion bars, all the while campaigning his race cars along with wife Betty both in the U.S. and Canada.
The now gold Chevrolet Coupes lettered #15 in orange, were patterned after those of Will Cagle and Buzzie Reutimann. Early in the season Lloyd and wife Betty often travelled to try different suspension set ups including Reading, PA and Canadaigua, but would always return to Merrittville as their home track.
For 1973 Lloyd Holt made Merrittville Speedway his home track, collecting D.I.R.T. points during the organization’s infancy. It was the success of the 1973 season that left a lasting impression with the pinnacle being reached when the gold #15 Chevrolet Coupe modified won the 100 lap Schaefer Qualifier.
Lloyd would be the first local driver/car owner to win that race and represent Merrittville Speedway at Syracuse. For 1974 Lloyd would return to Merrittville to defend his title in the Syracuse Qualifier only to be spun out by Mike Granton, after battling with Will Cagle for the win, but Mike Granton #33, would beat Cagle for the win in a photo finish. It was a popular but controversial victory. Lloyd and Betty while keeping roots in Canada moved to Ozark, Alabama so they could establish their horse farm, breeding cutting horses.
For the next twenty years while maintaining their horse business in Alabama, they would travel to visit family and friends in the St. Catharines area. I first met Lloyd and Betty in the mid 1990’s while they were visiting the area and during our conversation it was apparent to me that they still maintained a strong interest in the area auto racing.
During Merrittville’s 1996 season it was remarkable as Lloyd and Betty Holt arranged for the original Jerry Winger Memorial and John Spencer Memorial trophies from 1959 and 1954, be returned to us for restoration and safe keeping. Both trophies were restored by Ken and Rick Kavanagh and have been awarded annually again since 1997.
During that time Lloyd and Betty have since moved back to Canada and now reside on their horse farm near Belleville, Ontario.
It is with great pleasure on this Reunion Night that our Merrittville Speedway Alumni Reunion Committee is able to have Lloyd and Betty Holt here with us to have them assist us in continuing the Jerry Winger Memorial Modified Feature tradition.
We welcome you to the Merrittville
Speedway Wall of Fame, along side your family of Harvey
Hainer Sr. and Jr. and also former car owner Ray Stevens.
Congratulations Lloyd Holt on behalf of all of the
Merrittville Speedway Alumni. Rick Kavanagh