Michael Andretti, who won seven Molson Indy Toronto races and then rescusitated it after it was dropped from the schedule in 2008, is being inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
Dr. Hugh Scully, chairman of the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation, made the official announcement Tuesday and said Andretti would be inducted in the International category, which honours non-Canadians who have made significant and lasting contributions to Canadian motor sports.
Previous inductees in the International category include Carroll Shelby, Prof. Sid Watkins and Bobby Rahal.
Andretti, who retired from race driving in 2003 to concentrate on team ownership in the IZOD IndyCar Series, won 42 CART/Champ Car races in his 20-year racing career, including a record seven in Toronto.
And he recently solidified his Canadian connection by signing Oakville native James Hinchcliffe to drive for his Andretti Autosport team in the 2012 IndyCar championship, replacing Danica Patrick in the Go Daddy-sponsored car.
Andretti will be inducted at the 18th annual Hall of Fame Gala, which will be held at the On the Park banquet and meeting centre in Toronto on Sat., April 21. Seven Canadians who made their marks in stock car racing, sports car racing and rallying will join him in being honoured.
Said Scully: "We are delighted to welcome Michael Andretti into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
"Besides entertaining thousands of race fans with his on-track performances in Canada over the years, and holding the record for the most wins at the Toronto Indy, Michael Andretti’s contribution to the promotion of motorsports in Canada and to the development of Canadian drivers is well established.
"We are proud to be able to recognize him in this way and are pleased to announce that he will be on hand at our induction ceremony on April 21."
Son of motorsports icon Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti has left a lasting legacy of his own in the world of open-wheel racing both as a driver and team owner. In 2008, his love of Toronto was instrumental in his decision to purchase the assets of the Toronto Indy, a move that brought the marquee event back to the city in 2009 after a one-year absence.
On Jan. 11, Andretti also announced that his company had signed 2011 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Hinchcliffe to a multi-year contract. Hinchcliffe will also attend the gala as guest speaker.
"I'm extremely honoured to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame," Michael Andretti said.
"Throughout my career, I’ve always considered Canada to be almost like my second home. The Canadian race fans have been some of the most supportive I’ve ever seen and I’m thrilled that so many of my career wins came on Canadian soil and in front of such enthusiastic fans."
The seven Canadians include Richard (Dick) Foley of Montreal, Rudy Bartling of Courtrice, Robin Edwardes of L'Orignal, Ont., Paul Manson of Toronto, Ben Docktor of Calgary, Greg Sewart of Halifax and Norm Ellefson, who now lives in Spokane, Wash.
The Hall of Fame was founded in 1993 and now has more than 150 inductees. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation, which was created by a group of leading international businessmen.
Tickets for the Gala are available by telephone at 905-852-6764; the Hall of Fame website at cmhf.ca; via email at [email protected] or by faxing 905-852-7012.