When the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series was launched in 2011, fields of seven or eight cars were normal.
Now, two weeks out from the start of its second season (part of the May 18-20 Victoria Day Speedfest Weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), more than 20 entries have signed on and the series shows every sign of being as popular and successful as the original Porsche Challenge Series was back in the mid-1980s.
David Deacon was the founder of that series and I’m proud to direct you to a story I did on him for this weekend’s Toronto Star Wheels section. It’s also online at wheels.ca and you can read it here.
Meantime, Pfaff Automotive Partners (a major supporter of Canadian motorsports for years) threw a shindig the other night to formally announce their participation in the GT3 Cup Series with Kyle Marcelli of Barrie driving.
I’ll have a report on the evening and an interview with Marcelli in my Monday Morning Racing Roundup that I post late on Sunday evenings.
Meantime, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame is inviting anyone and everyone interested to attend a reunion of drivers and fans to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the openings of the CNE and Pinecrest Speedways, both now long-gone, unfortunately.
The reunion will take place on Sat., May 19, at 11:30 a.m. at the original Pinecrest Restaurant on Highway 7, between Keele and Jane streets. The Pinecrest Speedway used to be behind the restaurant but is now an industrial area.
Drivers of the day will be introduced by the “voice” of Pinecrest, Ernie Martin, and his assistant, Toronto radio personality Ted Wolyshyn. Books on sale will include the Golden Years of Stock Car Racing by Nate Salter and Remember When by Rick Sharples.
There will, of course, be no admission.
Finally, although I won’t be there, my home away from home for many summer years will return to racing again Saturday night. Oswego Speedway in Oswego, N.Y., expects nearly two dozen supermodifieds to haul in for the first green flag of the season along with a like number in the small-block modified support class.
Indy car star (and now co-owner of Sam Schmidt Motorsports) Davey Hamilton will fly in from Indianapolis to race one of John Nicotra’s cars and that makes me doubly sad for not being there.
The IZOD IndyCar Series sent out a story on Hamilton earelir this week and it’s my pleasure to print it out for you here. Davey is one of the bravest and toughest people I’ve ever met and the fact that he’s battled back from crippling injuries is a testament to his determination and ambition. He’s one of the few oval-track racers in recent years to not take “no” for an answer when it came to his desire to make it at Indianapolis.
Here's the story:
It was strange, Davey Hamilton acknowledges, checking the Indianapolis 500 entrant list and not spotting his name.
Hamilton, an 11-time starter in the 500 Mile Race, this year is concentrating on his role as co-owner of Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports.
“I still have that drive and desire to be in the car, knowing I can’t be on road courses because of my injuries, but still be able to do something,” says Hamilton, who returned to the Speedway in 2007 following the 2001 crash at Texas Motor Speedway that required more than 20 surgeries to his lower extremities.
“The only way I’ll drive an IndyCar again is if it’s an asset to the team - if it’s done in the right manner and funded. But if it’s a hindrance to the team and a financial stress to the team I won’t do it.”
Hamilton will compete May 5 on opening night at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway in the Novelis Supermodified division, driving the No. 6 Nicotra Racing car. He ran his first supermodified event at Oswego in the 1992 Budweiser International Classic.
“I will do some short-track stuff to have some fun and mining the grassroots,” he says.
Hamilton and Sam Schmidt teamed up again to operate a full-season IZOD IndyCar Series team, with Simon Pagenaud as the driver of the No. 77 Honda-powered car. The Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle on April 29 marked the 63rd time a Schmidt-owned car has lined up on the grid of an IZOD IndyCar Series race.
Hamilton was in the cockpit of the No. 99 car when SSM made its first race in March 2001 at Phoenix International Raceway. That was a long time ago, Hamilton says, with numerous twists and turns for both team owners.
“It’s a big step,” Hamilton says of the ownership stake. “This is the pinnacle of open-wheel racing and I never knew I would be in this position to be able to do it and being able to do it with Sam – a guy I’ve been friends with for so long. He’s been very successful as an owner. To be able join him and help each other out brings a good package, and we’re fortunate to have Simon as a driver.”
Pagenaud, who has finished in the top 10 in three of the first four races -- with a high of second in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. He’s by far the Rookie of the Year points leader heading into the first oval race of the season May 27.
Hamilton will be in attendance – in a different capacity.
“I was a rookie in IndyCars in the mid-90s and I was a rookie again when I came back from my injuries in ’07 because I was so far out of it,” said Hamilton, who has a best finish of fourth in the 1998 500 Mile Race. “And now here I am a rookie again as a car owner. I’m learning a lot and it’s a change of pace. It’s been a lot of hard work.
“I look at drivers in a different way now. I know what kind of money it takes to do this, and the pressure is on me to find the proper funding to have a winning team. As a driver, I just drove my own. It’s good to have different aspects of sports.
“There will be more responsibilities for me and I look forward to it. Right now, I’m just getting my feet wet.”
Hewlett Packard, the multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., which has a long association with Hamilton, came on board as the primary sponsor this season.
“HP it what makes it happen; they’ve been great partners since my comeback in ’07,” Hamilton says. “It’s a good business relationship and a very good friendship with all the folks at HP. When you can create friends out of any business it’s great.
“From the first year doing the Indy 500 in my comeback and here we are with a full-funded program with Simon, Sam and HP it’s really a dream come true.”