Danica Patrick MC'd - with Trace Adkins - the American Country Awards on Fox last night and did a fine job. Like Darrel Waltrip before her - on occasion, when regular host Ralph Emery wanted a night off, DW used to guest-host the program Nashville Now on the old Nashville Network - Patrick is starting to spread her wings and is well on her way to becoming a mainstream personality beyond the world of auto racing.
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Scott Steckly of Milverton, Ont., seen here with his wife, is in Charlotte, N.C., this week as NASCAR honours the champions of its six touring divisions. Steckly will be front-and-centre Saturday at the Night of Champions Touring Awards gala, which will be streamed live on NASCARHomeTracks.com with commentary in English and French.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been given the green light to go ahead with a massive upgrade of the century-old facility that will focus primarily on fan amenities. Improved seating, better grandstand access for people with disabilities, suite upgrades and so-on are planned. New video screens, technology upgrades and track improvements are also part of the plan. Oh, as are improved access, parking and traffic flow. I am particularly interested in that last sentence. For something like the Indianapolis 500, it is up to you to get there early enough to be inside in time for the start of the race. But brother, it can take forever to get out of the place afterward. Any improvement in that area will be greatly appreciated. A bond issue will go toward raising funds to pay for all this.
New rules are coming to F1 and illustrate once again that there are too many people in the world who don't have enough to do. For instance, the last race of the season will now have double points. Kind of like Double Jeopardy. (I'll take Monaco for a thousand, Alex.). They say they are doing this to make the season finale more exciting. What they are really doing is trying to stop Sebastian Vettel from winning another championship. Say Vettel is ahead by 49 points going into the last race and Kimi is second. The lights go out and Vettel crashes at the first corner and is out of the race. Kimi wins and gets 50 points instead of the usual 25. He is world champion by a point. I can hear the screams of derision already. Other changes: drivers have to pick a number and it will be their number until their career in F1 ends. No. 1 will be reserved for the champion. Now, except for Gilles Villeneuve's No. 27, I have no idea what number any F1 driver had or has. I couldn't care less, in fact. Why are they doing stupid things like this (see first sentence of this note)? Oh, and starting in 2015 they will have a cap on spending. I just read those 12 worlds again and I am laughing so hard my stomach is hurting. Ferrari is only going to spend as much/little as Sauber? Who do they think they are kidding?
The actor Leonardo DiCaprio is getting into the Formula Electric race series. I wish they would stop calling it racing. It is not racing. The drivers will all start in one car and after 30 minutes they will stop and change cars for the second half of the "race." This is not sport; it's promotion. Somebody should tell them that electric cars are toast. Fuel cell technology is coming on like gangbusters and makes much more sense in the long run. I freely admit to not liking DiCaprio and others like him. They take limos to the Academy Awards and then tell everybody else to ride transit. Al Gore was up here a few weeks ago to meet the premier. How did he get here? I know he didn't walk. Oh, wait: he flew up on his private jet. But don't you do that.
Years ago — probably just before Christmas 1995 — I saw something that drove home the drinking-and-driving message unlike anything I’d ever seen.
The police had stopped a car southbound on Spadina, just before Front. The car was in the centre of the three lanes there. The officer was sitting in his cruiser, right behind, apparently doing paperwork while waiting for a tow truck to arrive. A very forlorn-looking man was huddled in the front seat of the stopped car, still behind the wheel.
Just the way he was sitting showed how mortified he was feeling.
It was a very dull day. It was mid-afternoon and it was starting to snow. When you added it all up — the cruiser, the guy in the car, the weather — it was a very depressing scene.
How did I know this was about drinking and driving?
Because there was a tall bottle of wine, half-empty, sitting on top of the roof of the car for all the world to see.
What a message that police officer sent that day.
I was reminded of all this a few days ago when I got a message from the CAA that the annual RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) spot-check program is under way and all police forces in the GTA will be screening drivers for alcohol consumption during the holiday season and into the New Year.
Although I really don’t think anybody should be rewarded for not drinking and driving, the CAA has provided police with 300,000 booklets to be handed out to sober motorists that contain information about the penalties for consuming alcohol and then driving, as well as some money-saving coupons from businesses such as Hertz, Park ’n Fly and Pizza Pizza.
Good for the police and good for the CAA. At end of day, though, they say a picture — or an image — is worth a thousand words and, for me, the sight of that wine bottle on top of that car in downtown Toronto in 1995 is something I will never, ever, forget.
Nominations are open for inductees to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and racing fans across Canada are being invited to participate.
Since 1993, the Hall has recognized the outstanding accomplishments made to Canadian motorsport by more than 100 individuals and organizations representing a cross-section of racing disciplines and regions.
Now, there have been questions asked recently about why certain drivers or contributors aren’t yet Honourable Members of the Hall of Fame. Said Thom Dickinson, a member of the Hall’s board of directors and chairman of the 2013 selection committee:
“The answer is almost always the same — nobody has nominated them. A nomination is the first step toward being inducted.”
So go to the Hall’s website at cmhf.ca and download a nomination form that must be completed and received by Jan. 31. The inductees for 2013 will be announced in the spring and welcomed into the Hall at the 20th Anniversary Induction Ceremony in the fall.
You can watch the most recent induction ceremony — Ron Fellows, Mario Andretti — by going to: youtube.com/user/canadianmhf
- NORRIS McDONALD