Even though it’s been nearly 40 years, former auto racer Tim Gee remembers the evening of May 13, 1983, as if it were yesterday.
“We won our first World of Outlaws race, but it wasn’t recognized for a while because it was the first night in a two-day event,” the 65-year-old recently told SPEED SPORT of the victory at US 131 Speedway in Martin, Michigan. “That was a very big achievement for us.
“Back then they took the six fastest cars, reversed them and put them in front of the feature – there was no dash. We pulled it off (fourth qualifying) and I think we started third. I’m behind Sammy Swindell and Shane Carson, and we won that race, so I feel That it was a very legitimate win.
“I took the lead from Carson on lap three, and I remember it was lap 15 and I hadn’t passed yet. I was gritting my teeth, crunching the wheel and slamming the throttle as hard as I could. Thinking, ‘I have five more laps and I’m not going to pass.’ And I managed. of not passing.”
With the victory in his family’s No. 88 Yukon Friet entry, Gee, who was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, became the first Canadian driver to win a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature. He added a second victory two months later at Paragon Speedway in Indiana. Gee only held the distinction until July 28, 2015, when fellow Canadian Stuart Friesen joined the elite club.
Gee’s father, Jordi, was introduced to the sport by sponsoring a local racer, and later became a driver and car owner.
“As a kid, I was always thinking about racing. Don’t ask me how I thought about racing for a living because there weren’t any races in my hometown when I was young,” J.J. Anyway, I decided I wanted to be a race car driver and I realized I couldn’t do it from Whitehorse, so I had to travel south.
“I chose Edmonton, Alberta, which was 1,300 miles from Whitehorse,” Gee added. “There were multiple tracks in the area; mostly asphalt races. Our neighboring province – British Columbia – has probably had a dozen races this way. My dad owned a trucking business and I drove a truck for my dad when I was younger, so I moved from Whitehorse to Edmonton to start My dream is to race.
“Outside of Edmonton, we used to travel to Skagit, Washington, to race. We raced in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Down in Great Falls, Mont.; And the World of Outlaws drivers were right there, working the field row. That’s when we saw professional dirt car racing for the first time and we said, “This is it. This is where we want to be.”
“So we started traveling a little bit farther south all the time,” J.J. continued. “We ended up racing on the West Coast in 1980. We got to know Ted Johnson a little bit and he invited us to follow the group. In 1981 we started in Florida and continued on and off the world of outlaws for the next seven years.”
Statistics provided by World of Outlaws show Gee has made 276 streaks, with 2 wins, 20 top 5 finishes, and 100 top 10 hits. His best season in points was 1986 when he finished seventh.
“The race for World of Outlaws was incredibly tough, but it wasn’t just Steve Kinser. He was definitely the king at the time, but if you could beat Steve Kinser you also had to beat Sammy Swindell, Doug Wolfgang, Ronnie Showman, And Shane Carson, “It was really hard. It has been a very steep learning curve.
“Around year three or four, we started catching up a little bit on how to make our cars run better and how to be a little bit better race car driver. Unfortunately, the price of racing at the time was very popular and very aggressive, and the budget seemed to double from year to year.”
The economics of racing eventually forced Gee to abandon his hometown of Jamestown, Indiana, and return to Canada.
“It was 1990 and I wasn’t racing much. I couldn’t afford to race my own stuff. I actually managed to drive a few race cars at the local level and couldn’t make a living doing it,” noted J.J. “A friend of mine came from Edmonton to the PRI show. He was telling me about a brand new racetrack that he was involved with and they were building in Edmonton, Alberta — at the international airport there. It was a big racing facility — drag strip, dirt oval, road course, the whole deal .
“I was thinking about going back to Canada and I thought it would be a good opportunity to go back there and do some racing,” J.J. continued. “I’ve always wanted to have my own racing shop, sell race car parts and do some work on race cars, and that’s what we eventually did.”
In 1991 Gee and his wife Ruth opened Gee and Gee Racing in Leduc, Alberta. Various companies have operated under that umbrella for more than three decades.
“We decided about four years ago that we’d been in this business long enough that maybe it was time to shut it down and do something else,” Ji said. “After that, the oil crisis subsided and the next year COVID came and that ruined things for a few years. It wasn’t the right time to sell or close a business, but we decided it was time to do something else.
“Our son, Skyler, has been here (in the US) racing for four years now. So we’ve always wanted to come down and spend some time with him.”
The Gees sold their racing shop and Hoosier Tire distribution business, and closed their parts store in May. This fall, they loaded up the motorhome and headed to Hillsboro, Ohio, to be with their 23-year-old son, who drives a winged race car for Logan Fenton Racing.
“I’m glad he loves fast car racing as much as I do. It definitely gives us some common ground for a father-son relationship,” Tim G noted. “We’re here with him and we’re in it. This has much more value to me than just continuing our family racing tradition. My wife and I really enjoy the time we spend with him.”
Gee says the trip back to Whitehorse is on schedule during the winter months.
“My mom still has a place there and my wife Ruth, her whole family is from Whitehorse too,” Gee said. “We’re semi-retired now, and coming home to Whitehorse was always something we talked about. We don’t have a place there yet, but we’re looking—a nice, quiet place to retire to.”
This story appeared in the December 28th edition of SPEED SPORT Insider.