Great news. Two of the real "pros’ in Canadian motorsport, Don Thomson Jr. and Brian Stewart, are back for the 2011 season.
Thomson, a five-time CASCAR Super Series champion who’s come close (but no cigar) in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, has reached agreement to partner driver Jason Hathaway in the Team 3 Red/Ed Hakonson Racing team out of Stouffville for the 2011 NCTS season.
Thomson, of Hamilton, was released by Fitzpatrick Racing of Cambridge at the end of 2010 and stock car racing fans from coast-to-coast have had their fingers crossed ever since that Thomson would land a competitive ride for 2011.
Best known for piloting the Home Hardware-sponsored No. 4 for Fitzpatrick, there is no official word on sponsorship for the 2011 season but whoever puts their support behind Thomson will get their money’s worth: since the start of the 2007 season, he’s won six races and scored 11 pole positions.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will open its 12-race season at Mosport Speedway on May 28.
Stewart, meantime, is back in harness after putting his Sutton-based Indy Lights racing team on ice for the 2010 season following a disastrous outing at Kansas Speedway in 2009 when both of his cars were destroyed.
His Brian Stewart Racing is running 15-year-old Matthew DiLeo of Innisfil, Ont., in the U.S. Formula 2000 series this year and the team and driver recently finished third in the inaugural Cooper Tires Winterfest Series held in Florida.
Two races were held at Sebring International Raceway and three at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The championship was won by Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach of Stockdale, Ohio.
The first two races of the 2011 season for the F2000 cars will be at Sebring March 17 and 18 as part of the American Le Mans Series’ 12 Hours of Sebring weekend.
Steward plans to re-establish his team as a contender in 2011 and return to Indy Lights by 2012, if not sooner.
IN OTHER RACING NEWS
– Marc Coma of Spain won his third Dakar Rally for motorcycles, Alejandro Patronelli of Argentina was best in quads, Qatar native Nasser Al-Attiyah in cars became the first Arab to win a Dakar and Vladimi Chagin of Russia won the trucks division as the 33rd Dakar concluded Sunday in Buenos Aires.
Ninety-four bikes, 14 quads, 55 cars and 41 trucks made it to the finish.
Volkswagens swept the first three positions in the auto class and the victory was the third consecutive in that class for the VW marque.
– In Tulsa, Okla., Kevin Swindell of Germantown, Tenn., just nipped his father, Sammy, at the wire to win his second consecutive Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. Between them, father and son have won the Nationals seven times. Michael Pickens of New Zealand finished third.
It must be asked: is the Chili Bowl losing its luster? For the first time, no NASCAR Sprint Cup driver was entered, nor were any of the "name" NHRA drag racers. Tony Stewart, it seems, preferred to race in Australia. Strange, considering the Chili Bowl was celebrating its 25th anniversary and has long been a mid-winter "gathering of the clan."
– Jonathan Legard is out as the play-by-play announcer for BBC Formula One telecasts (seen here in Canada on TSN) and ex-colour commentator Martin Brundle will take over.
I’d warmed to Legard and am sorry to see him go. And it will be interesting to see how Brundle does, considering there’s a big difference between filling in the blanks with "colour" and painting the whole picture.
Brundle’s place will be taken by David Coulthard.
Now, it’s curious to see that the BBC has gone to lengths to assure viewers/listeners that they are sure there will be no conflict of interest with Coulthard working the F1 broadcasts while still employed by Red Bull Racing as a consultant.
In fact, here's a direct quote from the Daily Record newspaper of Scotland:
"David Coulthard will not be asked to drop or suspend his ties with Red Bull in the interests of impartiality," a BBS spokeswoman said.
"We take steps to ensure that none of the off-air relationships that our talent may have can compromise on-air activity," she added.
Oh? Now, just how do you do that? David Coulthard is paid by Red Bull. While announcing for the BBC, all he says about Red Bull and the Red Bull drivers is positive and wonderful. How does anybody know that his BBC words are not being compromised by his Red Bull pay packet?
Brundle was Coulthard’s manager when Coulthard was racing and Brundle was commentating and if that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is.
And whether they ever signed a contract, I don’t know, but Brundle was in the running last year to manage Lewis Hamilton and although there might not have been a direct conflict, there was certainly the appearance of one because you can bet that Brundle wouldn’t slag Hamilton on-air if there was any chance he would soon be chosen to guide the young driver’s career.
I have said time and again that the BBC has been playing fast and loose with conflicts of interest when it comes to its F1 broadcast team and it’s still happening.
And by the way, who negotiated David Coulthard’s contract to be an F1 colour commentator for the BBC?