FLASH: Canada may soon have a new racing hero to cheer for.
As Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve walk off into the sunset, leaving James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens and Alex Tagliani to carry the Canadian flag into battle, champion figure skater Elvis Stojko revealed today that he's about to launch a car racing career.
During an interview on the Fan 590 radio station in Toronto, Stojko - who'd been contacted to talk about the upcoming Summer Olympics in London (he's a three-time Olympic silver medalist in figure skating) - let it be known that he was in serious training for a season of shifter-kart racing.
There's a wonderful world-class kart facility at le Circuit-Mont Tremblant race track north of Montreal and Stojko said he was spending a week there to hone his skills as a kart racer.
"My arms hurt and my body aches but I'm having a great time," he said after telling his interviewer that the kart he's training in this week is capable of an average speed of 160 km/h.
Stojko said his wife, Mexican figure skater Gladys Orozco, used to race karts as a child and is fully supportive of his ambition.
It was then that he said his plan is to become a car racer, although he didn't reveal whether that would be in single-seaters, sedans or stock cars.
Now, if I was Francois Dumontier, president and CEO of Octane Racing, which promotes the F1 race in Montreal and the Edmonton Indy, I would be on the phone to Stojko asap to invite him to compete in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race he'll be promoting at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve next month.
That race weekend needs help - the Canadian Tire series is part of a double-header with the NASCAR Nationwide Series - and has been successful in large part because of the presence of famous Canadian racers, particularly French-Canadian racing stars.
But Carpentier had to be enticed out of retirement for this year's race and Villeneuve and Tagliani are not the draws they once were. Danica Patrick will be there but the Cup stars (other than Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose) have never embraced that race.
But Elvis Stojko? In a stock car? I betcha that would sell some tickets.
Meantime, good luck to Elvis. His participation in motorsports will draw a lot of attention from people who wouldn't normally be interested.
Figure skating has a huge fan base and if even some of them become race fans as a result, it will be a real shot in the arm for the sport.
Latino top drag racer; Touring cars, Porsches thrill
Although this is a few days later, here is what happened last weekend in "local" racing:
(My definition of "local" racing is racing that is not Formula One, NASCAR, American LeMans/Grand Am or IndyCar . . .)
Before we concentrate on the major Canadian races in support of the ALMS at Mosport – Canadian Touring Cars and the Porsche GT3 Challenge Canada – let’s catch up with Ontario drag racing.
At the Bend Motoplex, Eric Latino of Whitby won the Pro Modiified Racing Association headline event at the IHRA MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals. It was his fourth victory in PMRA competition.
Driving his Team Green ‘69 Chevy Camaro, Latino – who’d qualified fourth behind PMRA points leader Bruce Boland of Hamilton – defeated Rocky Di Lecce of Mississaugua in the final round.
Latino is now in second place in the PMRA 2012 Series presented by Global Emissions Systems, Inc., behind Boland, who has a 26-point lead.
Next time out for the drag racers is the August Civic Holiday weekend at Toronto Motorsports Park. In addition to the PMRA, the Quick 32 Sportsman Series presented by NAPA and the Pro Bike & Sled Series presented by Wiseco Performance Products will also compete at TMP.
Now, before we leave the drag racers, Melanie Simmons and her Toyrific Racing Top Dragster Team, based in Orillia, has signed a product marketing agreement with Aeroquip Performance Products and will be flying its colours at drag meets for the foreseeable future.
You know, it doesn’t matter whether it’s drag racing or circuit racing or oval racing, when you add it all up, Canadian companies and corporations are investing millions of dollars in motorsport and I urge fans everywhere to patronize the businesses and purchase the products of those companies.
Moving right along, the World of Outlaws sprint cars – the F1 and Indy cars of sprint car racing – are coming to Canada Friday for a four-speedway swing that will see them wrap up at Ohsweken Speedway on the Six Nations Reserve next Tuesday night.
At Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania last weekend, Steve Kinser received a cheque for $10,000 for leading the series at the halfway point of the season.
Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Joey Saldana, Craig Dolansky and the rest of the Outlaws will race at Autodrome Granby and Autodrome Drummondville in Quebec on Friday and Saturday nights, then move to Cornwall Speedway on Sunday before finishing off the Canadian swing at Ohsweken on Tuesday.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you have never seen an Outlaws race, you are missing one of the most incredible forms of racing in the world. They don’t come by this part of the world all that often, so don’t miss them.
Tony Stewart will be the big draw at Ohsweken. In fact, he’ll be there for a 360 sprint car race Monday night as well as Tuesday night with the Outlaws. Reserved seats are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the speedway.
Okay, last weekend at Mosport, the Canadian Touring Car Championship raced twice – on Saturday and Sunday and both at the end of the day, which meant the track was less than perfect.
In the first race Saturday, Remy Audette was the winner in Super Touring class, followed by Bob Attrell and Philip Fayer. Series leader Sasha Anis spun in fluid early in the race and crashed.
In Touring Class, Alain Lausiere was first, followed by Damon Sharpe and Jonathan Young. In B-Spec Class, Nick Wittmer was first, followed by his brother Karl. Guest media driver Russ Bond finished a wonderful third.
In the race on Sunday – the tenth round of the season – Anis recovered wonderfully from his terrible Saturday, starting 18th and passing everybody to finish on the top step of the podium. Attrell was second again, followed by Scott Nicol. In the Touring and B-Spec Classes, the contestants finished exactly the same way they had on Saturday.
The series now goes to Trois-Rivieres, Que., the first weekend in August.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, which is the fastest-growing single-make series in North America, also held two races.
In the first, on Saturday, Carlos de Quesada was first in Platinum class, with Perry Bortolotti second and John Ellis third. In Gold class, Chris Green was first, followed by Robert Maranda and Bruce Gregory. Finally, in Silver class, Robert Seitz was first, with Leho Poldmae second and Gavor Foti third.
In the second race on Sunday, Etienne Borgeat was first in Platinum class, with Jean-Frederick Laberge second and Bortolotti third. Green repeated as Gold class winner, with Gregory second and Peter Collins third. In Silver class, Seitz was first again, with Foti and Poldmae switching places from Saturday for second and third.
Both races were actually won by Kyle Marcelli of Barrie but, since he is a professional racing driver and the other participants are semi-pros or non-professionals (I hate the word amateur), he participated as a guest driver and his results were not counted.