At least as good as brit would say it. Kjell Qvale enjoyed competition and speed, whether it was a fast car, a Thoroughbred, or even a footrace. He was a star athlete in track and field at the University of Washington, when he is said to have equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash. After serving in the U. Navy as a pilot during World War II, he began importing sports cars like the MG, later had a hand in building the Laguna Seca Raceway and even raced cars in the Indianapolis 500.
For 45 years he was a mainstay in California, racing such stakes winners as homebreds Cash loans Road and Variety Baby, along with their dam Variety Queen, Silveyville, Halo Folks, Tribesman, Borrego Sun and others. He also ran racetracks in his spare time: for 20 years he was a major investor and president of Golden Gate Fields cash loans held a similar post at Bay Meadows for about six years.
Bruce Headley trained one of Mr. Qvale's first winners, Trondheim, a horse named for the Norwegian town cash loans which he was born. Headley also trained his last winner, Carlsbad Mountain, who won a maiden claiming race at Santa Anita Park on Oct. Tied a track record, won a stakes at Golden Gate (the Dinner Stakes), then came down to Hollywood Park and won the Haggin and Cabrillo.
We shipped him to Chicago for their big Futurity but he chipped a knee. Qvale and Headley thought they might have their first Kentucky Derby horse when Variety Road won the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, beating eventual Derby winner Ferdinand, among others.
The son of Kennedy Road got sick and missed the Triple Crown but came back strong as a 4-year-old, winning the Grade 1 San Fernando over Broad Brush, Ferdinand, and the previous year's Preakness winner Snow Chief. After racing through his 8-year-old season, he lived a grand, old life, thanks to Qvale's support, dying earlier this year at the age of 30. Qvale at Golden Gate Fields in the late 1980s.
Balch recalled how, when working for Mr. Qvale, the latter would jump up and rub his hands together when he got excited about something. Balch ran into him at Golden Gate Fields a few years ago when Mr. Qvale was running a horse. Qvale loved the most was the stretch-running California Cash advance legend Silky Sullivan whom he purchased to stand at stud at his farm in the Napa Valley.
For years, he would bring Silky Sullivan to Golden Gate Fields to parade in front of the stands on St. Balch asked if Mr. Qvale would allow Silky Sullivan to come to Santa Anita for similar appearances on Santa Anita Derby day, and he obliged. Silky Sullivan won the Santa Anita Derby in 1958, coming from 28 lengths off the pace. He was buried in the Golden Gate Fields infield in 1977.
Qvale, whose family brought him to the United States when he was 10, made a fortune in the auto business, specializing in foreign cars.
He was one of the first to import Volkswagen Beetles and was a major distributor of VWs and other imports for hundreds of dealerships on the West Coast. He moved up to Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Maseratis, Porches and Audis. Qvale when he was in his 50s and challenging his younger employees to foot races or football matches. Qvale survived two quintuple bypass surgeries, but his friends learned recently his time was short.