In a couple of weeks, I’m going to sit down and interview a man I’ve known about and admired for years.
His name is James F. (Jim) O’Donnell and if it wasn’t for him – and I’m not exaggerating when I say this – it’s quite likely that the legendary racing careers of Ron Fellows and Scott Goodyear flat out wouldn’t have happened.
O’Donnell was in charge of MacKenzie Financial Corp. when both young Canadian drivers – as well as Ludwig Heimrath Jr. – were struggling to make names for themselves. O’Donnell literally took all of them under his wing and the rest, as they say, is history.
The reason I’m talking about O’Donnell today is because on Sat., April 17, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, he will be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame during a black-tie gala celebration.
It should be a swell evening – and I urge everyone reading this to attend – because not only will Jim O’Donnell be inducted but so too will a dozen other individuals and organizations (the Canadian Race Communications Association, for instance).
Guest speaker will be none other than Prof. Sid Watkins, the legendary on-track Grand Prix surgeon who devoted his life to improving safety measures and medical support at racing circuits around the world. He will be introduced by his best friend, Canada’s own Dr. Hugh Scully, to whom Watkins dedicated his book, Life At The Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One.
That speech, ladies and gentleman, will be worth the price of admission all by itself.
But road racer Bill Adam will be inducted, as will the late Wayne Kelly who was a genius when it came to modifying existing chassis and making them his own. Many people still speak in awe of Kelly when discussing his Kelly Vees and Kelly Porsches.
My friend Norm Mackereth will be inducted and I am really looking forward to his acceptance speech because when "Stormin’ Norman" gets up a head of steam, it’s awful hard to get him to slow down!
And noted racer and car builder F.J. (Fred) Smith of Cayuga, Ont., one of Canada’s top drag racers, will also be inducted. Most recently, he's been the driving force behind the Can-Am Stock/Super Stock racing series that shares centre stage on many summer weekends with the Pro Modified Racing Association and the Quick 32 Sportsman Series.
It will be a night to remember. Trust me. And the Hall of Fame needs everybody’s help. Halls of Fame don’t just happen – they need the dedication and commitment of volunteers, sponsors and you. If you love motor racing, please plan to attend.
For more information, email [email protected]
To book tickets, go to www.cmhf.ca and on the left side heading south you’ll find a link to an order form.
See you there!