His racing desire began in his family’s garage/carport in the mid-60’s when he had
just received his driver’s license at age 16. He built his first dragster at the age of 18
with Fred Carver and Larry Whitman. Victoria’s Golden Knight Car Club was where
he met Gary Shepheard. They quickly became best friends and set a car building goal.
It was to build a double “B” gas dragster to compete against the N.H.R.A.’s (National
Hot Rod Association) best in the hotly contested Division 6 on the West Coast of
North America. An apprentice welding fabricator by trade, he and Shepherd built
their tube frame rail after seeing a picture of dragster on the cover of a national
hot rod magazine.
With him driving and Shepheard tuning, they were primed for success. He and
NHRA’s top driver and world record holder Gary Beck would go head-to-head in the
National races for over half a decade at tracks in Mission, Arlington, Bremerton,
Puyallup, Seattle, Edmonton and Bamberton. Gary Beck was quite a consistant winner
but he beat Gary at an event at Van Isle Dragway in Bamberton in 1969. It was on a
sunny afternoon when he, the 26 year old Esquimalt Dockyard welder/fabricator took
his hometown built dragster to the 1/8th mile and had two out of three wins in front of
a boisterous crowd of 2,000 spectators that jammed their way into the Up-Island strip.
It wasn’t long after that win, he soon retired from competitive drag race driving, with
his wife Marie’s second child on the way..
He then focused his attention on helping other drivers and other teams build race
cars. With his own welding business, Nomad Welding, started in 1971, he turned his
attention to oval track race cars. He built roll cages for Ross Surgenor, Harvey Chipper,
Dave Smith, Gary Kershaw, Rick O’Dell, George Stuart and many others. The welding
trade he learned from his own dragster was now being applied to help other local drivers
to be safe in NASCAR competition.
Now in 2011, we are very proud to induct Bert Sweeting as the first drag racer into the
Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame.