By Dan Bethune
During the summer of 1940; with war escalating in Europe, Canada stepped up to become an Allied aviation training ground. The Canadian Government stepped up and quickly built many airstrips and air training facilities that summer. All facilities followed a common design, and they were essentially mass produced. In Southern Ontario, strips were created in London, St. Thomas, Hamilton, and many small locales such as the village of Fingal, Ontario.
Final is a tiny village; just west of St. Thomas, but it became a major destination for those enlisted troops who were to learn the skills of Bombing and Gunnery. People from all over North America trained in Fingal, before shipping out to Europe.
In the years that followed the end of the war, many of the airstrips were completely abandoned. Their usefulness was very quickly over. Fingal fell into this category.
Of course, an abandoned stretch of wide and flat tarmac is tempting to any young man and his car. What better place to find out how fast your car could go?
In the early 1950’s, the young men of the Fingal area started using the abandoned runways for speed contests. They even gave themselves a name: The Fingal Road Lords.
The Road Lords even had club plates made for their cars. A few survive to this day. One of them inspired this story.
Their racing activities were never truly organized, but they were fun. The fifties were truly the formative years for drag racing in Canada.
The fun ended in 1965, when the Government tore up the runways, and made the historic site an Environmental Sanctuary. By that time, there had already been a couple of generations of Road Lords.
Although many of the Road Lords are gone, legend has it that you may still find broken engine parts in the grassy areas where the runways used to be. Sacrifices to the Gods of Speed. Remnants of the racing action of a previous generation. The first generation of Canadian drag racers.
Thanks for reading,