My good friend Sid Priddle started covering auto racing years and years ago when he was working for the Montreal Gazette. If I close my eyes right now, I can see a framed photo he has of the Gazette’s front sports page trumpeting the triumph of Peter Ryan in the first Canadian Grand Prix for sports cars held at Mosport Park in September, 1961.
The byline says by Sid Priddle.
My pal Priddle was smarter than me. Instead of continuing to make his living as an ink-stained wretch, he got out nice and early and ever since has worked for magazines (Canada Track & Traffic), public-relations firms (PRSL, Edelman and his own Priddle Event) and motorsports events (Molson Indys Toronto and Vancouver and, lately, the Grand Prix of Edmonton).
We have chummed around for years, which makes me biased. So I will quote the legendary Chris Economaki, editor and publisher emeritus of National Speed Sport News and a commentator of many years’ standing on U.S. telecasts of everything from the Indianapolis 500 to Formula One Grands Prix. Wrote Economaki one time:
“If anyone anywhere wants to put on a car race, and they want it to be a success, they had better call Sid Priddle because nobody does it better.”
Which means the newly launched Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame showed its smarts when it hired Mr. Priddle to handle its public relations going forward. He sent me (and others) the following release yesterday:
“Twelve Canadians and one Canadian organization are among those to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at the Hall’s official Gala scheduled for April 17, 2010, at Sheraton Centre Toronto.
Ten of the inductees were originally nominated for the 2009 Gala, which was moved to this year, while three new inductees have been added to the list for this year’s April event.
The Hall of Fame comes under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation, created by a group of leading international businessmen.
The Canadian Motorsports Heritage Foundation aims to preserve the collection and exhibits installed in the former Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, as well as provide visitors with a comprehensive and interactive look at the long and storied history of motor racing in Canada.
Canadian Inductees to be honoured in April include: Michel Mercier, Shannonville On. (motorcycle competitor); Wayne Kelly*, Ottawa, (competitor, builder); F.J. Smith, Cayuga, On. (Drag Racing); Bill Adam, Formerly of Oakville, ON now living in Fort Lauderdale, FLa. (competitor ,builder); Norm Mackereth, Toronto, On (Oval Competitor) ; Bill Le Feuvre, Sault Ste. Marie, ON ( Ice/Off road Racing ); Gary and Bruce Vessair , Honey Harbor, On, ( snowmobile competitors); Doug Fairchild* Hamilton, On ( builder, contributor); Alan Bunting,* Toronto, On ( builder, contributor) ; Carl Bastedo, Chatsworth, ON. (competitor, builder, contributor ) Jim O’Donnell, Toronto, On. (contributor, builder) and the Canadian Race Communications Association). * denotes to be awarded posthumously.
The Foundation also created a new International Category for this year and former Le Mans 24-hour winner Carroll Shelby of California will be the initial inductee under this new category.
“I was delighted last fall, when the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation announced expansion of the Hall of Fame to include an International category to recognize people outside of Canada who helped develop and grow Canadian motor sport. It was no surprise to me that Carroll Shelby would be the first inductee.” said Paul Cooke, Comstock Racing Team Manager from 1963 to 1968.
“In the 1960’s, Carroll Shelby was hugely instrumental in helping Chuck Rathgeb’s Comstock Racing Team of Canadian drivers such as Ludwig Heimrath, Eppie Wietzes, George Eaton and Craig Fisher become household names as well as all being inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Chuck Rathgeb forged a long-term relationship with Ford and Carroll Shelby and the Shelby organization worked directly with Comstock to field the Cobra 289, Cobra 427, King Cobra and Shelby Mustangs.
“History shows that the Comstock Racing Team was the most successful Canadian racing team ever seen at the time. The support given to Comstock under the direction of Carroll was invaluable,” concluded Cooke.
The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame will be housed in a new facility at Downsview Park. Construction is currently under way at the new home.
In addition, the hall will have a special display at the Canadian Motorsports Expo Jan. 22-24 at the International Centre in Mississauga, featuring Paul Tracy’s Player’s Indy car and the Multimatic Mustang GT cars as well as general information on the Hall.”
Mr. Priddle didn’t mention it, but he will be at the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s booth at the Motorsports Expo this Saturday from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m.
You should stop by and say hello.