Gone too soon : Hubcaps we lost in 2016

Weststar Obituaries

Looking back on 2016, it feels it’s been a cold and unjust time. “Deaths in 2016” topped Wikipedia’s top edited English articles — like every year since 2007. But this year, a collective conscious began addressing 2016 by name, and crying out to ask why.

For Canada’s hubcap community, it seemed like the news at the pump was always that another great had gone.

flickr ambriola roda M.J.Ambriola
Photo: M.J.Ambriola


Early in 2016, we lost coloury and controversial Ralph. A farmer at heart and a Calgarian by trade, Ralph saw dirt roads and Deerfoots across Alberta. And never made any apologies about it, famously threatening to fight a journalist who criticized the hubcap’s claim that he “single-boltedly paved the way to the oilsands.”

This small hubcap garnered large support for his rough and tumble personality, and ‘telling it like it oughta.’ But he faced backlash from younger generations of mechanics, who began to claim he wasn’t built to last.

“Big Bucks Ralph” left the public eye after famously surviving blowing right off a new beamer while speeding Highway 2 at 150 km/h. And his successors did little to shine his legacy in the eyes of Alberta’s rural boomers, left feeling betrayed.

Unknown to many, Ralph devoted his later years to charitable pursuits, raising millions to re-house heritage hubcaps. In addition to his foundation work, Ralph volunteered with a Southern Alberta children’s hospital, every day for a decade, to read the daily weather and traffic.

His family has requested a public funeral.

flickr, mad house photography, truck hubcap
Photo: Mad House Photography


Canada’s hubcap community was split by the news of Dougie’s death. To many, his untimely death came as a shock. But others saw it as the inevitable burnout of a star that rose so fast.

Rippin’ round in Nisku gas lots, and hopping over the snowy curbs of the suburbs, Dougie was a boomtime star, the fresh face of the next generation of hubcap.

But by 2015, ‘lil’ 70’ was parked-up during layoffs, never to haul-ass again.

Dougie rusted peacefully in the parking lot of a surface mine, surrounded by his family of fleet vehicles, awaiting the return of high oil, and the outcome of bankruptcy proceedings.

Read the Weststar for the talk at the pump in 2017.