Tonight we honour and individual who loved stock car racing and was successful in all divisions in which he competed while racing in all of the era’s top divisions at Merrittville Speedway, Humberstone Speedway and Ransomville Speedway.
Howard competed against the likes Davey Moore and Bob St.Amand in modified to Bruce Parkes and Harold Sonnenberg and Don Ledingham in “B” Modifieds, and even competed in full bodied Fords in the late model division against Don Shirton and Don McGinnis. While Howard considered Merrittville Speedway his home track during his modified career from the late 60’s until 1979, probably his most memorable victory lane was winning the 50 lap All Canadian in 1972 at Humberstone Speedway driving his #11 “B” Modified coupe, with Don Shirton of Wainfleet winning the late model feature in his #55 Dodge.
Howard Disher put Wellandport on the map as a consistent competitor, whether it was in his #11 Ford sponsored by Robert Rowe Motors of Dunnville or later when he moved up to what used to be called an unlimited sportsman, later to simply be called Modified. The early to late 1970’s was a transition era in modifieds. Veterans such as Ivan Little, Lloyd Holt, Bob St.Amand, Harry Sittler, Don Turner and George Treanor had to contend with new comers Harvey Hainer, Don McGinnis, Brian Stevens, Howard Disher, Mike Granton and Mark Elsie; but one newcomer was to make the 1970’s his own, Davey Moore of St.Anns, Ontario.
By the mid 1970’s the newcomers were definitely making their mark at both Merrittville and Ransomville Speedways and by 1978 they dominated the modified division. While 1979 will go down as Davey Moore’s 5th straight modified points championship and over 50 feature wins, it would be a career changing year for 37 year old Howard Disher. Howard and his #11D “Pony Express” modified were definite challengers to Davey Moore’s #6 at both Merrittville Speedway and Ransomville Speedways early in the 1979 season.
However, on May 29, 1979 while competing in a special Memorial Day 75 Lap feature at Ransomville, Howard’s #11D tangled with another competitor and flipped over 15 times, landing Howard in a Buffalo Hospital. While we aren’t here to dwell on Howard’s career ending accident, we mush emphasize how promising a career Howard Disher had experienced up to that fateful evening. By the way, Merv Treichler driving the D&H potato wagon won the event with newcomer modified pilot Peter Bicknell #42 finishing second and Don Turner #39, third. Everyone in the pits, however, were concerned about fellow competitor Howard Disher.
After a long recuperation, Howard Disher hung up his helmet for good. From that time on, Howard and his wife Gale would travel from their Wellandport home following both dirt track racing and asphalt racing, meeting greats such as Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker and even stopping by the Dawsonville Pool Room, hometown of Bill Elliott.
However, the Disher’s love of dirt track racing brought them “full oval” back to their roots - for decades, Howard and Gale have been superb spiritual ambassadors of our sport with their Racing to Jesus Ministry with Howard giving the invocation tonight.
Tonight Howard, it is our turn to say Thanks for your devotion to our sport and congratulations on being inducted in the the L.St.Amand Enterprises Merrittville Speedway Alumni Wall of Fame.