Fred Wilken - Builder-Mechanic
A soap box derby winner at the age of eight, Fred Wilken traced his interest in racing cars back to his early childhood. By age twelve, Fred was helping local racer Bill Brunt with his very quick TR2 and Norton powered Cooper Formula 3 cars. Despite a promising two years as an honours student at high school, when the opportunity arose to work at his fathers garage, Fred left school and dedicated himself full time to his apprenticeship.
The first Ferret was built in the B&W Garage with Doug Ferguson ( passed away on Sept 16, 2007) in the summer of 1964. It was a Canada Class car and was the first chassis to carry the Ferret name. Fred tried his hand at driving but soon discovered that his real strengths lay in first rate car preparation and engine building.
Some of the projects that Fred took on was squeezing a BMW TISA crate motor (1800cc) into a lightweight Lola sports racer frame and a McLaren Mark 1 conversion into a Formula A competitor for the 1968 through 1969 Canadian Gulf Formula A Championship (campaigned as the Ferret Mark II by Frank Salem).
In 1970, Eric Siegrist and Stu Lamont were two enthusiastic racers approached Fred to assist in the tuning of Eric's new Formula Ford design. Between the three men, the Ferret Mark III became a contender and Stu campaigned the car successfully in the Bulova series; the premier Formula Ford Championship at the time.
In 1973, Alec Purdy came to Hanover with plans for the ultimate Formula Ford. Fred provided the facilities to construct this new chassis and provided tuning and engine building resources. The Ferret Mark IV debuted in the fall of 1974 presented by the group now formalized as Ferret Industries.
Alec Purdy - Designer-Builder-Driver -Ferret Mark 4 (Oct. 19, 1945 - July 4th, 2015)
Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Purdy split his childhood amongst the Dominican Republic, Vancouver, and Lethbridge Alberta, moving as his father did as a Professional Engineer within the sugar industry. In 1963, Alec entered the Engineering course at the University of British Columbia and graduated as an Engineer in 1967. His first employment was with Westinghouse, where he stayed until 1970 working primarily with gas turbines and as far afield as Iraq. Like his builder partner at Ferret Industries, Fred Wilken, Purdy traced his interest in racing cars to his very early childhood ("I was five years old when I decided to build my own car"). Alec's work at Westinghouse provided valuable experience and financing to make his racing plans a reality.
Leaving Westinghouse and moving to Toronto, Alec purchased a Lotus 61 Formula Ford and begin a brief partnership with a successful driver at the time, Brian Stewart. During this partnership, Brian won won the Canadian Formula Ford championship and earned a funded spot in the 1972 Formula Ford World Championship in England. During the 1972 season, Purdy competed in a Formula Vee with some success until an incident at Mosport relegated the car into a permanent retirement.
The Purdy Stewart relationship drew to a close in May of 1973 and Alec moved to Hanover to join Fred Wilken and his Ferret projects. For the reminder of the 1973 season Purdy competed in his trusty Lotus 61 and assisted in the refinement and preparation of the 1972 Ferret Mark 3. By the conclusion of that season, h and Wilken decided to begin construction of a brand new car which would include several concepts that Alec had been germinating for some time in Alec' engineering/driving/mechanical mind. Construction began in October of 1973.
It would be one year and thousands of hours invested in completing and troubleshooting the new design but in September of 1974, the Ferret Mark IV made its debut.
Alec Purdy - Post Ferret Industries
Alec Purdy, who resided in Indio, Calif., had been involved in professional motorsports for over 42 years with extensive experience in race car engineering, testing, design and fabrication, and new car development. His racing roots began in the highly competitive Canadian Formula Ford Championship where his achievements include being on the 1972 Canadian Formula Ford Championship team which gained an entry into the World Formula Ford Championship at Brands Hatch, England. Purdy worked for Ferret Industries, at Hanover, Ontario, between 1973 and 1983. In addition to designing the Ferret Mk 4 FF, Purdy also claimed three Canadian Formula Ford Championships and numerous regional titles with Ferret Industries.
A graduate of the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Applied Science in mechanical engineering, Purdy worked for specialty engine builder Ryan Performance Machine between 1984 and 1989 before forming his own company Ferret Inc. Ferret Inc. provided parts, engineering expertise and services to the general racing community. Its clientele became a “who’s who” of many of racing’s finest teams and drivers.
Ferret Inc.’s customer base included renowned Canadian teams Spenard-David Racing and Brian Stewart Racing (formerly Landford Racing of Toronto). His first experience in the Indy Lights championship was in 1989 where Landford Racing finished second-place with driver Tommy Byrne in the then entitled American Racing Series (ARS). Purdy continued with Brian Stewart the following two years where Stewart guided current CART FedEx star Paul Tracy to the 1990 ARS title, while Eric Bachelart and P.J. Jones finished first and third place respectively, in 1991.
Purdy also provided valuable input for two different IMSA teams in 1991. His work with Cunningham Racing’s factory-backed Nissan IMSA GTO program and its Nissan 300ZX GTO led to 14 season competition records. His consultation in chassis and suspension redesign with Leitzinger IMSA GTU cars led to a championship, second place, and third place finish for Leitzinger Racing in the 1992 IMSA GTU championship.
Purdy continued his crossovers between Indy Lights and IMSA through the early ’90’s in working with Cunningham Racing of El Segundo, Lights drivers Robbie Groff and Buzz Calkins, and IMSA GTS star Steve Millen. His eclectic background includes consulting with CRI on their ARCA and Winston Cup car set-ups in 1995, and Atlantic veteran RDS Motorsports of Toronto. He has also consulted for Indy Regency Racing, Eclipse Racing, and Johansson Motorsports Indy Lights programs.
Purdy joined Dorricott Racing in 1999 and worked with drivers like Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner in Indylites and Tonis Kasemets in Formula Atlantic through the 2000s.
Purdy was coaxed out of retirement in 2013 to develop a shock program for Rice Race Prep to oversee all technical matters and development programs. He maintained that support until his health would no longer permit travel, and even then, he remained a resource to the team.
BACK TO TOP
John Scratch - Driver - Ferret Mark 3 & 4
Hamilton-born, Stratford raised and educated, John Scratch has been Ferret Industries driver since the middle of 1972 when he purchased the Ferret Mark 3 from Stu Lamont and used it to win the Ontario Formula Libre and a Bulova Championship race. This was the first time a Canadian built Formula Ford had won in this extremely competitive area. It would not be the last for Ferret Industries.
John started competing in 1968, the same year he graduated from Stratford Teachers College and began employment as a Grade 7 and 8 geography teacher in Goderich. Successfully competing in cars as varied as an MGA, Cooper-DKW, and a Lotus 18 Formula C (BMC powered) with which he won the 1971 Formula C Championship and 3rd in the 1973 Formula Libre Championship.
Johns interest in motorsport did not begin at an early age like his partners. John was taken by a friend to Greenacres, a WWII airstrip converted to a racing facility near Goderich that was operational in the 50's and 60's. He was so intrigued by the high performance sports cars that he decided that racing was something he had to become more involved in.
Eric Siegrist - Designer - Builder - Engineer - Ferret Mark 3
Eric designed, engineered, and constructed the Ferret Mark 3 Formula Ford. He had built several racing cars before, but seldom raced them, preferring the technical challenge of design and construction to the task of driving. Eric completed two years of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, two years as a tool and die maker, and then three years in the aircraft maintenance industry before opening his own precision machine shop in Wiarton Ontario.
After two successful seasons under the Ferret Industries banner, Eric and Stu Lamont would take their design modify it to meet the Formula 4 class rules (using a 750cc motorcycle engine) and rename the chassis a XPIT (pronounced "speet").
Bill Hirst - Detail Design and Race Prep - Ferret Mark 3 (July 22, 1942 - Dec 10, 2004)
Bill Hirst was a British expatriate whose racing experience there included design, construction, and driving Clubman's, Formula 3, and Sports Racing cars. Within Ferret Industries, Bill takes care of assembly and design of subcomponants and performs pre race preparation on the car. At race meetings, he acts as a Team Manager to ensure smooth functioning of the team and good public relations. Although he did not race the Ferret in 1973, Bill was involved in testing and be prepared as a back up driver as required. Residing in Kincardine at the time, Bill was employed by Ontario Hydro as a Mechanical Engineering Instructor at the Bruce Nuclear Power Development.
BACK TO TOP
Frank Salem - Driver - Ferret Mark 2
Frank owned and commisioned the conversion of a McLaren Mark 1 Can Am car into a Formula A competitor for the Gulf Canada Formula A Championship in 1968 and 1969. Witht eh full sport car body removed, the car kept the 5000cc V8 as part of the Formula A class structure. This conversion became known as the the Ferret Mark 2.
The last recorded event of the Ferret Mark 2 was a Libre race at the final event held at Harewood Acres in 1970. Finishing 4th in both heats, Frank soon after returned the Ferret back into a sports racer in order to sell the car. A contemprary Chinook body Can AM body was aquired (Chinook was another Canadian team run by the Fejer Brothers of Toronto) and fitted to the McLaren. The car was sold and it current whereabouts are unknown.
BACK TO TOP
Stu Lamont - Driver - Ferret Mark 3
Stu was a friend of Eric Siegrist from an early age in St. Catherines Ontario. It was he and Eric that designed and constructed the Ferret Mark 3 Formula Ford prior to approaching Fred Wilken in Hanover to assist with the final tuning of the car. Another B&W project of Stu's was the purchase of the 1961 Lola Mark 1a from Frank Salem of Hanover. As this sports racer was no longer competitive against machinery that was now over a decade newer than the Lola, Stu commisioned Fred to perform an engine swap. The original 1500cc Ford 4 cyl was replaced with a BMW TISA 1800cc competition motor imported directly form Germany. This conversion was no small undertaking but upon completion, the Lola again rejoined the grid amongst more contemporary compettion. Years later, this Lola would be sold to Bill Hirst.
When Eric and Stu left Ferret Industries to pursue the conversion of the Mark 3 design into a Formula 4 class car. The Formula 4 class uses a 750cc motorcycle engine and gearbox as a powerplant. The converted Ferret was renamed a XPIT (pronounced "speet") and went on to become the most successful chassis of that class. Stu continues the XPIT construction to this day out fo Hanover Ontario.
BACK TO TOP