Posted at 11:41 AM in Auto racing, Camping World Truck Series, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Danica Patrick, drag racing, Formula One, Honda Indy Toronto, IZOD IndyCar Series, James Hinchcliffe, Mosport International Raceway, NASCAR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire, Racing, Racing on TV, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
For those of you who emailed wondering where I was, my real newspaper job sometimes gets in the way of my fun newspaper job and the fun newspaper job (this) has to take a back seat.
So, after a week’s absence, here are some random thoughts about the state of the sport following a weekend of ho-hum racing (at least the offerings on television).
1. The people who run Formula One have outsmarted themselves once again. To make the sport more exciting – they didn’t really have to do this; it was exciting enough – they ordered the one tire supplier, Pirelli, to build degradation into the product so the drivers would have to make more pit stops.
Now, everybody is either up in arms (if you’re a fan) or "concerned" (if you’re one of the people in F1 who thought this stuff up) because the tires are coming apart faster than anybody expected.
Most teams had to make four (count ‘em, four) pit stops during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix (click here for story and results) and critics (including 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve) were making fun of the spectacle rather than marvelling at the skill of the pit crews in getting the tires changed so quickly.
Said Villeneuve: "At this rate, F1 is going to become a pit-stop contest with a few race laps thrown in."
Every time anybody in any sport starts monkeying around with the thing to make it more "appealing" or more "exciting," they are just inviting trouble. Has baseball gone to four strikes to enable more hitters to reach base? Or moved the mound back a foot? Has hockey gone to four quarters instead of three periods? Of course not.
But F1 now has tires that disintegrate and drag reduction systems and kinetic energy recovery systems and, as a result, except for the opening laps there is very little racing going on any more.
Memo to F1: Stop this.
2. See second last paragraph above. The first lap of Sunday’s Spanish GP was edge-of-your-seat stuff with everybody reacting so quickly to lights out that analyst David Coulthard suggested at least one driver had jumped the start.
And although Mercedes pole-sitter Nico Rosberg held the lead to the conclusion of that first lap, everybody else was either charging to the front or sliding back.
Eventual race winner Fernando Alonso went from fifth to third in his Ferrari and passed two cars on the outside of one corner. Lewis Hamilton, who started second for Mercedes, dropped to fourth. Kimi Raikkonen, who went off third for Lotus-Renault, dropped to fifth. Three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel moved from third to second in his Red Bull-Renault and Felipe Massa went from ninth to sixth in his Ferrari. But the best of all was Adrien Sutil rocketing from 13th place to eighth in his Force India-Ferrari and that, ladies and gentlemen, was an incredible example of car control and balls.
Oh, before I forget, Mark Webber had his usual crappy start and dropped out of the top ten from his seventh starting position and – I ask you – why should we be surprised? I suggest they put Webber in the simulator for a week and not let him out until he can make flying starts in his sleep.
3. In winning the Grand Prix, Alonso joined Vettel as two-time winners this season. Raikkonen is the only other winner, scoring his victory at Australia. Rosberg has now won two poles on the year but both times, in Bahrain and again at Spain, he faded out of the top five. He finished fifth in Spain and ninth at Bahrain.
And Esteban Gutierrez was the best of this year’s rookie crop, finishing in 11th position for Sauber-Ferrari and beating his more experienced teammate, Nico Hulkenburg, who was 15th. More impressive was the fact that Gutierrez qualified 16th but was penalized three places for blocking Raikkonen during qualifying. Racing from 19th starting position to 11th earns him the McDonald "Hard Charger Award."
Elsewhere this weekend, Carlos Muniz – an Indy Lights driver – was fastest of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who went out to practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the track opened for practice and qualifying leading up to the 97th Indy 500 in two weeks.
Muniz recorded a speed of 223.023 miles an hour Sunday (it took him 40.3545 seconds to drive a lap of the 2.5-mile speedway; click here for details). James Hinchcliffe of Oakville was sixth fastest of the 23 drivers who turned time, recording a lap of 220.907 mph. Qualifying and bumping (if any) is scheduled for next weekend.
Speaking of Hinchcliffe, I was pleasantly surprised last Monday afternoon when, while driving home, I heard everybody’s favourite afternoon drive sports talk radio show host Bob McCown wax eloquently about James’ victory the previous afternoon in Brazil (which he won on the last corner of the last lap).
I haven’t heard McCown talk about car racing before, although I’m sure he has at one time or another. He simply said he’d tuned in the race to check it out with 15 or so laps to go and Hinchcliffe was running fifth and that he "had a feeling" and stayed till the end.
He went so far as to call the finish one of the most exciting moments in recent live sports television history (or words to that effect).
He brought it up with a couple of his guests – neither had been watching, by the way – and opined that he would be keeping an eye on young Mr. Hinchcliffe, whom he later interviewed (although I didn’t hear that).
Now, I realize that Bob McCown works for Sportsnet, and that Sportsnet is televising this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series races as well as the Indianapolis 500 and some "cross-promotion" is to be expected.
But I honestly think McCown was impressed with the finish (who wouldn’t have been!) and saw the potential that Indy car racing and Hinchcliffe both have. Good stuff.
One last thing: he said he didn’t like cars racing on ovals because ovals are for horses. Then he hesitated, and mused: "I wonder how horses would do on a road course?"
1. That Matt Kenseth won was the perfect revenge for Joe Gibbs Racing, which had been put through the wringer in recent weeks by NASCAR over nothing. I hope Kenseth wins every race between now and the end of the year and that Joe Gibbs rubs NASCAR’s nose in it when he stands up to accept accolades at the season-ending banquet.
Joe Gibbs is a religious, God-fearing man. NASCAR, which cast the first stone, should brace itself for what’s coming.
2. NASCAR loves to go around penalizing and fining drivers and teams enormous amounts of money in order to show them who’s boss. I think it’s time Kyle Busch was fined something like – oh, off the top, I‘d say – $200,000 for having a snit yet again because he didn’t win a race.
All the others losers of the Southern 500 – all 41 others – made themselves available to TV and other reporters after the race because that’s what they’re supposed to do as representatives of the sport of stock car automobile racing.
They are on the top of the mountain and they owe it to their fans and sponsors to address the media after the races, win or lose. Kenseth won the race but Jimmie Johnson went on TV, as did Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick and a couple of the others.
But not Kyle, because he was off somewhere having a hissy fit. He was only too happy to talk on Friday night, after he won the Nationwide Series race, but not Saturday because he lost.
I can remember several years ago everybody making great fun of Danica Patrick stamping her feet in anger after being edged out of a win in the Indy car series. But after she did what competitive people do - which is to work out their frustrations and then take a deep breath and calm down - she went to the post-race press conference and answered questions like a true professional.
But not Kyle and I think it’s time NASCAR brought him to heel. Every professional sport demands its performers be accountable to the media. Win or lose, the hockey players and coaches have to talk to reporters. Baseball managers and players are contractually obligated, and so on.
The next time Kyle Busch doesn’t win and then pulls one of his disappearing acts, he should be hit in the pocketbook.
And told to grow up.
Other racing: Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf won the American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday. Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia were first in GT, with Marino Franchitti and Scott Tucker first in P2. Mike Guasch and Luis Diaz won the Prototype Challenge race while Nick Tandy and Henrique Cisneros were first in GT Challenge.
Ryan Briscoe finished fourth overall and second in P2 before heading off the Indianapolis where he is among the favourites to win this year’s Indy 500. Townsend Bell also raced in ALMS before flying to Indy.
Kyle Marcelli of Barrie was eighth overall and fourth in PC. Kuno Wittmer of Montreal didn’t do all that well this weekend and was well back.
Okay, I have to say it: sometimes sports car racing doesn’t make any sense. We all know that all the classes – five of them this season – all go out and race together. And that the first three finishers in every class make it onto the podium, which means 15 or more drivers can sometimes be on the podium in a sports car race.
Saturday evening, I got an email that trumpeted "Delta Wing car on podium in ALMS race in California." Hey, I thought. That’s damn fine. And Katherine Legge, who’s been run out of Indy car, must be feeling pretty good about making it onto the podium in her first ALMS race.
Then I looked at the results. There were 36 cars in total in that race Saturday and the Delta Wing finished 32nd. I don't care about rules or tradition. That is not a podium.
The Southern Ontario Sprints will start their 18th season next Saturday night at Brighton Speedway. Lee Ladouceur of Alexandria will try for his third consecutive championship this season. Other top runners expected to be on hand include Glenn Styers, Keith Dempster, Chris Jones, Adam West and Warren Mahoney. I betcha Warren's Dad, Dick Mahoney, will be out there too.
Indy car driver and partner in the Schmidt-Petersen Indy car team, Davey Hamilton, won the supermodified feature at Oswego Speedway on Saturday night. At Merrittville Speedway outside Thorold, Erick Rudolph and Kevin Knapp scored their first 2013 wins in the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified and Hoosier Stock Divisions respectively. In Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series action, Kyle Pelrine, Josh Sliter and Brad Rouse won in the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lites and the Rick’s Delivery Sportsman Features.
Most southern Ontario oval facilities will be in action next weekend and the Victoria Day Speedfest is on tap at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park but that’s not all. Attention all you drag racing fans out there. Toronto Motorsports Park near Cayuga has got a monster lineup scheduled with 300 mph jet dragsters, the Pro Modified Racing Association, the Quick 32 top dragsters and sportsman plus pro bikes and sleds. They get going out there on Friday night and plan to blast all the way through till Sunday. Go to torontomotorsportpark.com for more info.
Speaking of "most southern Ontario oval facilities," if you head on out to Peterborough Speedway, it won’t cost you anything to sit in the grandstand. Country 105 radio station is picking up the tab for the season-opener. For info, go to peterboroughspeedway.com.
Posted at 11:19 PM in American Le Mans Series, Auto racing, Danica Patrick, drag racing, Ferrari, Firestone Indy Lights, Formula One, Grand Prix of Canada, Honda Indy Toronto, Indy 500, IZOD IndyCar Series, James Hinchcliffe, NASCAR, Oswego Supermodifieds, Racing, Racing media, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: American Le Mans series, Bob McCown, Danica Patrick, Davey Hamilton, Delta Wing, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Formula One, IZOD IndyCar Series, James Hinchcliffe, Joe Gibbs, Katherine Legge, Kimi Raikkonen, Kyle Busch, Lucas Luhr, Matt Kenseth, NASCAR, Oswego Speedway, Sebastian Vettel, Southern 500, Spanish Grand Prix
1. Matt Kenseth off to great NASCAR start
2. Kimi’s NASCAR debut coming Friday
3. Rain stops Indy practice; Canadian results
It was not the greatest of weekends for Robbie Wickens of Guelph and J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge but Karl Thomson and Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto and Bruno Spengler of Saint-Hyppolite, Que., were very pleased with their results, thank you. Meantime, Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe, both of Toronto, turned very competitive times in practice at Indianapolis before the rains came. Ike Maier of Tottenham was very happy to qualify for the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards won the weekend’s NASCAR races and everybody is looking forward to Friday when 2007 World Driving Champion Kimi Raikkonen makes his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut. What?
Kenseth wins Dover NASCAR race
Matt Kenseth is off to one of the best starts of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing career. If he keeps it up, he could very well wind up being the driver to finally end Jimmie Johnson’s streak of championships at five straight.
Kenseth won Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover, Del., when he opted to take just two tires on his final pit stop with 34 laps remaining and went on to beat Mark Martin and Marcos Ambrose for his second victory of the 2011 season (he won at Texas in April). Full race story here.
It was a pit-stop call for just two tires. Martin opted to stay out and not stop for rubber; Kenseth knew Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, who’d dominated the race all day, were both going to get four new ones.
"So I thought we could compromise and I suggested just two and it worked out," said the race winner, who captured the Cup championship in 2003.
Although fresh rubber normally pays dividends, particularly with that amount of time left in a race, it didn’t Sunday in Delaware. Johnson was only able to make up two positions in his run to the front, eventually finishing ninth.
Kenseth now sits sixth in the Chase for the Championship standings, behind Kevin Harvick (fifth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth), Kyle Busch (third), Johnson (second) and the leader, Edwards.
Kenseth’s two victories so far in 2011 match his season’s total in 2004 and 2007. His best year for wins came in 2002 when he was in Victory Lane five times. He won four times in 2006.
The year he won his championship, he only won one race.
Edwards finished seventh on Sunday (behind Kyle Busch, who was fourth, Bryan Vickers, fifth, and Clint Bowyer, sixth) and his race was downright uneventful compared to Saturday’s Nationwide race, which he won but only after escaping a huge last-lap pileup which was one of the most spectacular in recent memory. Full race story here.
On a late-race restart – one of those green-white-checkers deals – Edwards and Joey Logano were battling coming out of the fourth turn when Logano lost control and hit the outside wall, bouncing down directly into the path of Bowyer who – in a blink – was on his side and heading directly for the inside wall.
Before everybody finished crashing, a half-dozen cars were destined for the scrap yard. No one on the speedway was hurt but a member of Harvick’s pit crew was hit in the leg by a flying spring that came off Bowyer’s car and he had to go to the hospital.
– Joey Logano reported to the infield care centre for a checkup after his Nationwide crash and emerged carrying his ever-present bottle of cola that isn’t Pepsi.
I guess that’s normal, isn’t it? For everybody to leave Emergency after seeing your life flash before your eyes and the first thing you do is open a bottle of pop? With the label pointed directly at the TV camera?
Do you still think that hockey player drank from that bottle of pop on the bench because he - like - just felt like it? If so, I have some swampland in Florida I’d like to talk to you about.
– J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge finished 21st in the Nationwide race after crashing out of the Camping World Trucks series race on Friday. Fitzpatrick spun at least once during the car race. He'd qualified 35th.
– Have to say it: there are just a lot of empty seats at NASCAR races these days. The TV ratings are up, however, which means the racing still has value. But the lack of bums in the seats has got to be of some concern.
- Trevor Bayne is out of the hospital and improving but has still not received the green light from Roush-Fenway Racing to resume his NASCAR career. There's a possibility he might be back in a race car for the Nationwide race at Iowa next weekend but it remains a big maybe. He's the young Daytona 500 winner who was bitten by an insect, or something, and hasn't been feeling 100 per cent since.
Kimi Raikkonen to make NASCAR debut
Almost lost in the shuffle of the weekend’s racing, and still only getting a 15-second mention here or a brief mention there, is the fact that Kimi Raikkonen will be making his NASCAR debut this Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a NASCAR Camping World Series pickup truck race.
That’s right. You did not read that incorrectly.
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 World Driving Champion, will race a truck for Kyle Busch’s team at Charlotte on Friday night and, if you’re interested, you can watch him either acquit himself as you would expect an F1 champion to do, or else make a fool of himself.
It could go either way.
Kyle Busch has been quoted as saying that he’s honoured Raikkonen chose his team for his NASCAR debut and that the ex-F1 star was "adamant" about running his first race at Charlotte.
I suppose it makes sense. If you’ve never done this sort of thing before – as was the case with another ex-F1 champ, our own Jacques Villeneuve – then the truck series is a good entry point. The trucks are built for safety and don’t go as fast as the Nationwide or Sprint Cup racing cars.
And since next weekend is the All-Star Weekend in Charlotte,, why shouldn’t a star take centre stage Friday night while all the other stars of NASCAR are also in town for their race Saturday.
I suggest Raikkonen will probably keep a low profile and drive to survive. If he makes it to the finish without crashing – a trick whenever the trucks race – he’ll consider it a success and start plotting a career change.
If he doesn’t finish, and doesn’t enjoy himself (as in, he’s piled up or winds up in one), it’s quite possible he’ll chalk it up to experience and move on back to Europe.
Whichever, it will be fun to watch. The truck race can be seen on SPEED Friday night at 8 o’clock.
Other weekend racing, in short:
– It’s May in Indiana, which means rain. They got some practice in on the opening day Saturday for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, which is scheduled for May 29th, but only 32 of the 40-plus drivers entered got to run laps. Sunday was a complete washout, which means there are only five days of practice left before qualifying is conducted next Saturday.
Remember, you can watch practice at Indy on your computer. Go to http://racecontrol.indycar.com/ between noon and 6 p.m. every day this week and anything and everything that happens at the Speedway will be onscreen.
Ed Carpenter, driving for Sarah Fisher, turned the fastest lap on Saturday – 40.0380 seconds for a speed of 224.786 miles an hour. Defending champion Dario Franchitti was fourth fastest at 224.107 mph; Paul Tracy was 11th fastest at 222.295 (40.4868 seconds) while James Hinchcliffe was 17th fastest at 2221.454 (40.6406 seconds).
Danica Patrick was fastest of the four women who practiced, turning a time of 40.4982 seconds and 222.232 mph – good for 12th fastest.
Alex Tagliani didn’t turn a wheel Saturday.
Qualifying next weekend will be a frantic affair. Qualifications open at 11 a.m. on Saturday and the fastest 25 to turn time that day will be locked into the field of 33. At 4:30 p.m., the fastest nine cars will go out and try to better their times. The fastest among them will win the pole.
Sunday, the remaining eight places will be filled. Bumping will then begin and continue until a gun is shot off at 6 p.m., signalling the end of qualifying.
Most of the qualifying will be available on TSN2 next Saturday and Sunday. Don't miss the bumping next Sunday starting at 4:30. It could be as exciting - or more exciting - than the race.
– Canadian Bruno Spenger pf Saint-Hyppolite, Que., started on pole for Mercedes but finished second in the German Touring Car Championship race at Zandvoort behind Mike Rockenfeller, who was driving an Audi.
– Robert Wickens of Guelph had a horrible weekend in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series stop at Monza (a.k.a. the World Series by Renault). He started on pole Saturday and was leading the race until his clutch failed with four laps remaining.
Sunday, he won pole but was penalized three grid places for running into another car in the Saturday race. Then, early in the contest Sunday, he got clobbered by another car and was forced to call it a day.
The kid is fast and obviously the cream of the Renault series’ field. But he has bad luck. There’s no getting around it. A little black cloud follows him around. He could have won the Formula 2 series title two years ago if he hadn’t had so many mechanical DNFs.
Be that as it may, it remains quite likely that he will be in a reserve driver role – if not in an actual race seat – by the time F1 comes to Canada for the Canadian Grand Prix in June. He'll race through the streets of Monte Carlo first, though, as the Renault series is on the undercard for the Grand Prix of Monaco.
- Ike Maier of Tottenham, who qualified for an NHRA licence only months ago, qualified for the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta but was eliminated in the first round by Tony Schumacher.
– Perry Bortolotti of Ottawa capped a perfect weekend, winning both races in the inaugural Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada at Calabogie Motorsports Park northwest of Ottawa. Each race was quite different at the start, with rain in the morning and perfect dry, cool conditions in the afternoon - but both races had similar outcomes.
Said Bortolotti: "This really is a dream come true. It’s the highpoint of my racing career - to win the first-ever Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada race and to win it at home."
– Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto continued his excellent season by finishing second, with Bill Auberlen, in the Bosch Engineering 200 race in the Continental Tire Series at Virginia International Raceway at the weekend. The race was won by Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson.
Karl Thomson of Toronto, with Ryan Eversley, drove his Compass 360 Honda Civic to victory in the ST Class.
Said Thomson: "We won on strategy and driving talent during the last 10 minutes. We didn't have the fastest car. Fortunately, Ryan (Eversley) had enough car left to battle with Nico (Rondet) at the end. I was on the edge of my seat the entire final 10 minutes."
Other Canadians: Ashley McCalmont of Ancaster finished seventh in the GS Class. Kenny Wilden of Oakville was tenth. Scott Maxwell of Toronto was 15th.
In the glamour-puss Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250, that $25,000 bounty put on the heads of always-winning Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas worked first time out as Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller beat them in a very wet race at Virgina.
Mark Wilkins of Toronto and American Burt Frisselle, driving the AIM Autosport of Woodbridge’s No. 61 Gamma 88 BMW-Riley, did not have a good outing, finishing 22nd.
Oh, Chip Ganassi, who owns the Pruett-Rojas Grand Am car (as well as cars in the NASCAR and IndyCar series), received an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University during its commencement ceremonies at the weekend. Pittsburgh is Ganassi’s home town.
Posted at 11:01 PM in Auto racing, Camping World Truck Series, drag racing, Formula One, Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Indy 500, IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR, Racing, Racing media, Racing on TV, Sports, Truck racing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Alex Tagliani, auto racing, Bruno Spengler, Carl Edwards, Ed Carpenter, Ike Maier, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, James Hinchcliffe, Joey Logano, Karl Thomson, Matt Kenseth, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Paul Dalla Lana, Paul Tracy, racing, Robert Wickens, Scott Maxwell
There is so much motorsports news out there, it’s almost enough to make your head spin.
And we’re still a couple of weeks away from what I consider to be the “real” start to the summer racing season and that’s when places like Mosport International Raceway and Toronto Motorsports Park throw open their doors for another year of road, oval and drag racing.
Meantime, here’s a whole bunch of stuff heading into this weekend:
It might be Mother’s Day on Sunday but that isn’t holding back dozens of karters who will be descending on Goodwood Kartways north of Stouffville where the first round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championships will be held.
The best Canadian kart racers east of Manitoba will be out there and I urge you to take a look if you’re in the neighbourhood.
Admission is free. As of this writing (Thursday), the paddock is almost full and as one of my many far-flung correspondents puts it, it “looks like a scaled-down F1 event.”
(He’s not kidding. Some of the transporters wouldn’t look out of place at an IndyCar or NASCAR Sprint Cup race.)
Oh, talking about NASCAR and F1, they’re both in action this weekend.
TSN will have qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix Saturday at 6:55 a.m. Saturday and the race will go Sunday, also on TSN, at 7:55 a.m.
(Thank goodness they’re back in Europe; no more getting up in the middle of the night. Oh, and don’t forget the Grand Prix of Canada is only five weeks away. Is time flying by, or what?)
Meantime, NASCAR Nationwide Series racing from Darlington is on TSN2 at 7 Friday night and Sprint Cup racing goes Saturday at 7 on TSN.
By the way, at 4 Friday afternoon on TSN2, the excellent ESPN film series “30 for 30” has a profile of the late Tim Richmond, who started out in supermodifieds and went to Indy before carving out a pretty decent NASCAR Winston Cup career. Called Tim Richmond: At The Limit, it could be a PVR candidate.
Now, we didn’t talk about the IZOD IndyCar Series yet, which is quiet this weekend before starting practice next Saturday for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29th. Qualifying is the weekend of May 21-22 and James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Paul Tracy of Toronto and Alex Tagliani of Montreal are all mind-practicing already.
Of course, the IndyCars will be coming to Toronto the weekend of July 8-10 (and then on to Edmonton) for the Honda Indy races and Honda Canada was proud to announce this week their continuing support for Tracy in both Canadian races.
According to a release, Honda Canada Inc. will sponsor Tracy’s car for the third consecutive year as well as supporting Make-A-Wish Canada. Tracy will drive the No. 8 Make-A-Wish Canada/Dragon Racing/Honda/Dallara/Firestone car.
“At Honda, we believe in ‘The Power of Dreams’ as a way of thinking that drives us forward and is based on the visionary principles of our founder, Soichiro Honda,” said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice-president of Honda Canada.
“In accordance with that philosophy, we are thankful that we can help realize the dreams of Canadian children living with life-threatening medical conditions through our continued association with Paul Tracy and Make-A-Wish Canada.”
There will be many opportunities for fans to donate to Make-A-Wish Canada at both the Honda Indy Toronto and the Edmonton Indy, and Honda Canada will match all donations dollar-for-dollar.
Last year, more than $112,000 was raised and the team is committed to surpassing that amount in 2011.
Meantime, while Tim Hortons announced earlier that it would again sponsor Jeff Lapcevich in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this season, Mopar Parts, Mobil 1 and Exide Batteries will again be on the No. 60 Dodge Challenger of Windsor driving ace Ron Beauchamp Jr.
“We get amazing support from everyone” said Beauchamp. “Mopar is not only our sponsor but they are huge supporters of the series and that helps everyone. Plus the additional backing from Mobile 1 and Exide Batteries is fantastic. It’s a privilege to represent them at the races and all of the other events we have planned again this year.
Joining Beauchamp as crew chief for 2011 is Mike Knott, an experienced veteran of the series.
You know all those NHRA Funny Car championships that John Force and his family didn't win? Well, the Pedregon brothers, Cruz and Tony, won the rest.
Not really; it just seems that way. But Cruz won the Funny Car title in 1992 and again in 2008; Tony won the championship in 2003 and 2007.
How’s that for keeping it all in the family?
The news today is that they are both coming to the drag strip at Toronto Motorsports Park on July 2 for a match drag race.
You read that correctly. Two of the best, and most famous, Funny Car drag racers in the world will go head-to-head with each other on the quarter mile on Sat., July 2, as part of the Canadian Nitro Nationals at the facility near Cayuga, south of Hamilton, on July 1-3.
Besides the Pedregons, the Canada Day weekend lineup will include Top Fuel cars, nitro Funny Cars, 500 km/h jet dragsters, the Pro Mod drag racing series, bikes and sleds plus music, fireworks, etc. etc.
Says Cruz Pedregon about Tony: "He's my little brother, and if you have to race with someone, he'd be the guy I'd want to race with the most."
We’ll see about that on July 2, when all the money and all the glory are on the line.