Racing veteran Marks passes away at 93

Norman (Buster) Marks left his marks (pun intended) on all he met. “Buster was a great guy,” was the prevailing remark as your agent talked to people -- both front and back at Fraser Downs -- after they learned of his death.

The long-time owner/breeder/trainer/driver passed away Sunday morning in Delta hospital. Marks, who was 93 years old, was still involved in the B.C. harness racing scene after 40 years.

He had half a dozen horses at his Ladner farm and still owned So Dare Me To, who finished third in a race last Saturday.

Perhaps the most popular story about Buster was his last competitive race -- a nonwagering affair that was the first race to be held at the refurbished and newly-named Fraser Downs in 1996.

Marks was 87 years old on that day as he took on such well-known drivers as Joe Hudon, Ray Gemmill, Keith Linton, Keith Waples, Steve Shinn and Bill Davis. To make a story short, he won while piloting Lamppost Lady.

Hubert Kaul, who trained Marks’ horses over the last number of years adds spice to the story.

“When the horse’s trainer told Buster the horse did not like the whip and not to touch her, he threw the whip back to the trainer as he left the paddock,” Kaul said, “He won with only a hand drive.”

Russ Morgan, who has worked with Marks and Kaul for years, added. “He came back really tired from that race, but he was really happy.”

Marks was initially involved in the logging industry but retired at 53 to get into harness racing -- something he considered as fun, not a job. Although he always kept just a small stable, he had such good horses as Big Gabe, Shafted Spud and Golden Kid among the many he had over the years. He raced for many years at Patterson Park in Ladner and also competed in Alberta and California.

Today, in addition to So Dare Me To, his stable includes a young horse named Booted En Suited that Kaul hopes to qualify this weekend and a Brace Yourself colt that Kaul and Morgan now hope to name Busters Boy.

Marks died of pneumonia and kidney failure although as Kaul and Morgan said, “he was mentally alert right to the end.”

He is survived by wife Pat, sons Dennis and Victor and their families which include grandsons Brian and Bruce.

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