Here is a ton of auto racing news to chew on:
First, the subject that’s been on everybody’s mind going back to early in the summer. Exactly what do Mosport’s new owners plan to do with the facility?
There have been all sorts of rumours – that it would become a country club with multimillion-dollar houses owned by people who would drive their Ferraris around the place after work, and so-on – but, as new owner (one of three) Ron Fellows said: "Mosport is an auto racing facility and will always be an auto racing facility. It is in the big-event racing business and it is open for business.”
One of the problems Mosport has faced, however, is that the place is pretty much the same as it’s been since 1962 when the Control Tower was built. Yes, Andy Evans (who owned the place for a few years in the late-1990s) removed the “hump” at the end of the back straightaway that caused cars to “take off,” and Don Panoz, who most recently owned the park, widened the track itself, but other than that, Mosport has been the same place it’s been for years and years.
In order to attract the top series (NASCAR, anyone? IndyCar, perhaps?), improvements to bring the place up to top-professional series standards were sorely needed. So renovations have commenced:
Below are photos taken in recent days of the new tunnel under the track, between corners 9 and 10, that is replacing the single-lane tunnel that was put in when the place was built in 1960 (it opened for racing in 1961).
The new tunnel will allow transport-trailers to enter the infield and leave the infield while racing is taking place. Previously, competitors had to wait until end of day before leaving the facility by driving across the race track.
In addition to the two lanes reserved for modern-day race-car haulers, there will also be a pedestrian walkway. Until now, as everybody knows, people walking through that tunnel had to wait for a break in the traffic and then run through the tunnel for fear of being caught in there when a car or truck approached.
Here are three photos to illustrate what’s happening out there. I am told, by the way, that this will be the major change for the 2012 season. Additional improvements are planned (a new corporate centre, a new media centre, etc.) but those will happen in due course.
Okay, moving right along:
- A brand new Canadian Monster Truck will make its world-wide debut a week from Wednesday (Nov. 30) at 11 a.m. at the Rogers Centre. Details to follow. That’s what the press release says and who am I to argue?
-- Pirelli says that following an extensive investigation of the circumstances that led to Sebastian Vettel’s right-rear tire suddenly deflating on the opening lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend, a structural failure of the tire has been ruled out as the cause. The tire company added that track debris or other outside circumstances cannot be excluded as a possible cause.
“Other outside circumstances?”
What’s that? Sabotage?
My guess: the tire was under-inflated to start with and the bead broke when Vettel turned left and the weight of the car shifted to the right rear.
- Keith Wiggins’ HVM Racing team (Simona de Silvestro, up) and Bryan Herta Autosport will be formally announced as Lotus engine runners in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series during a press conference Thursday at the Los Angeles auto show.
The two teams are the first official Lotus-powered participants. Chevrolet and Honda are the two other engine manufacturers involved in the series.
“I know a lot of people are skeptical but I’ve spent a lot of time with those people and I’m very optimistic it will be the better engine,” said Wiggins, whose Indy-based operation will be renamed Lotus/HVM and get support from the livery made famous by the late Colin Chapman.
“We were interested in being with Lotus from the beginning and we came to a partnership agreement two months ago,” Wiggins said.
- Meantime, Panther Racing has confirmed that it has exercised its two-year option on J.R. Hildebrand’s contract, ensuring that the 23-year-old Californian will pilot the team’s No. 4 U.S. National Guard entry for the 2012 and 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series seasons.
Hildebrand, the reining Indianapolis 500 runner-up and top race rookie, just completed his first full IndyCar Series season for Panther and led three races while collecting two top five and five top ten finishes during the year.
Hildebrand finished second in the IndyCar series’ Rookie of the Year race to Canadian James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville.
- Note to IndyCar: Three offshore powerboat racers were killed in racing action this week at the Key West (Fla.) World Championships. The racing continued, despite the fatalities.
- Toronto-born Darren Law will race a new Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, it was announced this week.
Law will return to Action Express Racing, driving the No. 5 Corvette DP. The Phoenix driver was in Daytona Beach for the introduction this week of the car, the first built to third-generation Daytona Prototype specifications.
Speaking of that car, if you look at it one way, it looks like a Corvette. If you look at it another way, it looks like a Daytona Prototype. I like the look of Corvettes; I don’t like the look of the DPs. So I’m conflicted.
- Ace track PR man Tommy Goudge reports that the 2011 Ohsweken Speedway season was capped off in fine fashion last Saturday night with the annual awards banquet at the Marritt Hall in Ancaster. Jim Huppunen was honoured as the fourth champion of the Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car division, while Mike Thorne was crowned Lighthouse Tattoos Thunder Stock champion. Karl Sault received HRW Automotive Mini Stock accolades while Rodney Rutherford was awarded his trophy as champion of the Pierced Parts Bomber division.
- Mike Vincec of Stouffville (below) is set to return to the 15th running of the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals, which start Friday. Taking on the headline KZ2 class against some of the top shifter kart pilots from around the world, Vincec will look to cap off his 2011 season with a strong result at the Las Vegas event.
Good luck, Mike!
- And finally, rally ace Andrew Comrie-Picard of Toronto (known to his friends as "ACP") will host the pilot episode tonight of Battle Cross, a new action television show premiering on Speed TV at 10 p.m. Eastern. The high-energy, action-packed show will feature two pro drivers battling for best time and style on a stunt course laid out by ACP and tested in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X rallycross car.
I’ll be watching. Will you?