There is a lot to cover today, going into the weekend, so reminders first.
— No F1 until next week (Turkey) but IndyCar is racing in Brazil (TSN2, Sunday at noon) and the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series are in Richmond to joust on the short oval (always a good show — Nationwide Friday night at 7:30 on TSN2 and SPEED; Sprint Cup Saturday night at 7 on TSN).
Okay, the first bit of news today is that country singer Reba McEntire’s son, Shelby Blackstock, has signed with Toronto’s Jensen MotorSport to drive in the Formula 1600 race at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June.
Blackstock, a 21-year-old from Nashville, is competing in his first full season of professional car racing. So far this season, he’s finished sixth in both races held to date in the 2011 BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National presented by Mazda series and he also made two starts in the Grand Am Series with Roush Racing in Daytona and Jim Click Racing at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Formula Ford race in Montreal is a one-off but I understand there is more news to come, so far as Blackstock’s future racing plans are concerned.
Jensen MotorSport, owned by Toronto’s Eric Jensen (a former racing driver in his own right whose team is competing this season in the Firestone Indy Lights Series with Maple’s David Ostella as one of the two drivers) will also be running Thomas McGregor, a 19-year-old from Saskatoon, at the Montreal FF race.
McGregor, the reigning Skip Barber Southern Series Formula Car Champion, has started his second year in the series with a bang. He won the opening race of the Barber national series and was third in the second race at Sebring.
Drivers Blackstock and McGregor will begin preparing for the Montreal race with a test session at Shannonville Motorsports Park, near Belleville, next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Now, over at the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Quebec racing driver Isabelle Tremblay announced an extremely ambitious program for 2011 this week in which she will run for Rookie of the Year in the Canadian Tire series as well as compete in sportsman division racing at Autodrome St-Eustache in her home province and do several Formula Ford races, was well.
Wow. I count 26 races on her schedule, which includes that very popular Formula Ford race at the Canadian Grand Prix .
“I am the mother of a wonderful 13-year-old boy, Tommy-Jo, and with his support and that of tremendous partners, I’ve chosen to set aside my career goals for the time being to devote myself 100 per cent to racing,” said Tremblay in a release.
“I am partnered with a championship team at Dave Jacombs Racing for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. In the Formula 1600 tour, we’re partnering with David Clubine and for the Sportsman Series at St. Eustache I’m in the capable hands of my Isa Racing Team,” she added.
The reference to her 13-year-old son reminded me of another Quebec mother who arrived on the national scene, in Formula Atlantic, back in the 1970s.
Monique Proulx had some success in the big league but it was her son, the late Stephane Proulx, who did the family name proud by later advancing through the Atlantic series to race in F3000 in Europe.
Stephane would have been about 13 when his mom rode into battle. Maybe we should keep an eye on Tommy-Jo, too.
Senna film in T.O.
The incredible story of Ayrton Senna is being shown at the Canadian International Documentary Festival here in town. Info at:
Oswego Speedway sold
Former racer Johnny Torrese and his brother Eric have purchased the famous race track, Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway, from Pat Furlong and Steve Gioia Jr. and one of the first things they plan to do is renovate the front grandstand washrooms.
Don’t laugh: spectator comfort should be at the top of the list at any entertainment facility and anybody who’s been around to various speedways and race tracks knows very well that some of them can be less-than-acceptable when it comes to washrooms.
And this sort of thing is not the exclusive domain of smaller race tracks, either. It used to be embarrassing, back in the early Sixties, to go into a men’s room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where they didn’t even have stalls.
I’m not making that up. No stalls.
In Gasoline Alley, they had stalls but no doors on them. In 1966, Graham Hill arrived to drive in the 500 and was appalled. He complained to owner Tony Hulman.
The next day, there were doors on the stalls in Gasoline Alley and stalls, with doors, in the men’s rooms around the grounds.
So kudos to the Torrese brothers. They’re off to a good start.
And they bought the historic speedway (a good number of Indy 500 racers — Gordon Johncock, Sammy Sessions, Bentley Warren, etc. — came out of, or through, Oswego before the road racers took over) for all the right reasons.
Said Eric Torrese: “We bought it for the love of the speedway. There is no good business reason to buy it, we just love the place and the allure to it. There is a lot of work to do to it, but we will improve it. There will be a lot of changes, we just hope everyone is patient with us."
Racing at the Big O, directly across Lake Ontario from Kingston, starts on May 28, Memorial Day weekend in the United States.