Thomas Albert (Bert) Irwin
Year Inducted: 1982
Thomas Albert “Bert” Irwin, born 1931, began his motorcycle racing at the age of 16 on dirt tracks of Ontario and Quebec in 1947. It did not take long for Bert to establish himself as a Championship calibre racer. In 1950, he won both the Canadian Junior 1 mile, and 10 mile dirt track Championships.
As a professional, Bert was top money winner in Eastern Canada dirt track racing in 1951. In the 1952 season, he ended up second in Canadian Expert dirt track and third in Expert Road Racing Championships. He improved his position to second in road racing in 1953.
While competing in the Canadian Championships in 1954, he suffered a serious injury, a broken back, and the medical opinion was that he would never ride again and in all probability be handicapped with a permanent disability. Quite likely, his Irish blood and self-determination defied the medics and nature, because Bert was right back into racing, winning the Quebec Trials Championship in 1955 and repeating in 1956. He ended up second in the Canadian Championships and was Quebec Ice Racing Champion in 1956.
In 1959, he won the Canadian Enduro Racing Championship in the heavy weight class. He was Ontario Champion in the same class in 1961, and again best Canadian in 1963. From 1964 to 1967, he was consistently in the top 5 in Enduro racing.
In 1968, he was Open Expert Champ in Enduro racing.
At age 39, when most athletes have either retired from heavy physical sports or are forced to retire, Bert apparently was still in prime condition because he represented Canada as a member of a 3-man Canadian Vase Team to compete in International Six Day Trials in Germany, and again in Spain the following year (1970).
As a private entry, he represented Canada in the same trials on the Isle of Wight in 1971.
He won a bronze medal in the Welsh two-day trials in 1972, and the same year he captained a 4-man team that set a Canadian 24 hour record on 1/4 dirt track.
In 1975, Bert won the Quebec Open Expert Enduro Championship.
In 1978 and 1979, he won the Special Veterans Class in the Corduroy 2-day Enduro. Bert was the oldest rider to finish the 2-Day Enduro in 1981.
It should be noted that practically all of Bert’s career in racing was as a top-line professional.
He died August 9, 1994.