There was lots of news Saturday at the Canadian Motorsports Expo.
From the frivolous – did you know that Dario Franchitti has a Target department stores employee discount card? – to the serious – Jason White has a whole new deal in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series – it was a busy day.
Here is more of the serious news.
– For the first time in years, a young, talented and fast Canadian Formua Ford driver will have his or her way paid to Britain next fall to compete in the annual Formula Ford Festival that is held each October at the famous Brands Hatch circuit. Please see post below for details.
– Gianmarco Raimondo of St. Catharines, who raced in the Formula 3 Italia series in 2010, is switching to the F3 Euro Series this year. Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil are just some of the F1 drivers who have passed through the Euro Series so Raimondo will have his work cut out for him.
– Ryan Coniam of Burlington, son of Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Warren Coniam, has purchased a supermodified racing car from former Winston Cup team manager and crew chief, Clyde Booth, and plans to run some ISMA races with it this summer. The car is being prepared by Brad Lichte and his racer son Mike in their Cambridge shops.
(Incidentally, Warren Coniam shook hands Saturday with Expo guest Max Papis. When "Mad Max" first landed a NASCAR ride, his crew chief was none other than Ryan Coniam.)
– Jason White, the stock car racer from Sun Valley, B.C., will continue to represent A & W on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship trail but has upped his game.
Instead of running his own car, White will now pilot the No. 21 A & W Dodge Challenger that will be prepared by 2010 NASCAR Canada champion D.J. Kennington and his father Doug. Team manager and race day Crew Chief will be former series competitor Derek Lynch.
– I reported in a post that I published just before the recent Chili Bowl Midget Nationals that for the first time in several years, Glenn Styres wasn’t entered. Styres owns Ohsweken Speedway near Brantford and is the defending Southern Ontario Sprints champion.
Well, it turns out that while Styres wasn’t there, two of his cars were. Jerry Coons Jr. drove one and finished 11th in the feature race, which was won by Kevin Swindell. The other Styres car was raced by J.J. Yeley but was eliminated earlier in the week leading up to the feature.
And speaking of Ohsweken, the annual visit by the World of Outlaws sprint cars will be a one-night-only show this year – on Wednesday, July 27th. When the Outlaws visited Ohsweken for the first time, the place was sold out. Then, owner/promoter Styres went to two-night shows and there were empty seats both nights. So it’s back to one-night-only in 2011 – but there’s a rain date on the 28th just in case things are too damp to run the night before.
Get your tickets early, because they’ll go fast now.
– Franchitti was the featured guest on Saturday and met the media for a half-hour round-table session in which he said all the usual things about how the IndyCar Series had "turned the corner" and the "future looks bright" and etc. The session brightened up considerably, however, when he spoke of how comfortable he was when he raced in Toronto and how delighted he was to get the news that his team’s primary sponsor, Target department stores, was moving into Canada.
"I was watching CNBC and I heard that and I said, "Yessss," Franchitti said. "You guys are going to love shopping at Target," he joked (unaware, apparently, that Canadians – in droves – drive to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Buffalo, to shop at their stores there).
"In fact, I have a Target employee discount card, which is a great thing to have," he said. "I get one and my housekeeper gets one and she’s really happy about it."
Franchitti noted that he’s raced Target-sponsored cars in Canada before but "they didn’t have a presence here and now they will, and that’s really cool."
Franchitti also noted that the series has to get the "next generation" into cars – he specifically mentioned James Hinchcliffe or Oakville as a prime candidate for a quality seat – and that TV coverage needs an overhaul, noting that current camera angles don’t properly illustrate how fast the cars are actually travelling when racing.
The Expo winds up today with a visit from NASCAR Sprint Cup star Brad Keselowski, who flies into Toronto boasting the fastest speed set during January testing at the newly paved Daytona International Speedway.