Bob Armstrong

Armstrong1

 

Inducted 2012

A true competitor and a gentleman in the world of Canadian road racing, the late Bob Armstrong excelled in the sport in a wide variety of classes, from Formula Fords through to V8-powered Triumph TR8 and later raced a turbocharged Nissan.

While his credentials on the track are exemplary, it was his work behind the scenes where Armstrong made his biggest influence on the sport.

Armstrong’s formative years were ones of Formula One racing on the European circuits of the 1960s witnessing greats such as Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, and Jim Clark. Motorcycle racing and sports endurance racing also influenced the young Armstrong.

His vocation was an air traffic controller, but his passion was at the race track. In 1969 he became a track marshal at Mosport and four years later was able to start his racing career with a Toyota-supported Corona in the Canadian Showroom Stock Championship, placing a respectable third in his rookie year.

In 1974 he bought and climbed into a Merlyn Formula Ford, and took well to the open-wheeled class, taking nine top-fives in his first year of competition. He then raced a Lola T-340 at this time while winning the Formula Ford championship in 1976. For the next two years he raced with his Crossle, a car that helped him with numerous victories and lap records, including a posting at Mosport that stood in the class for the next 20 years.

Armstrong returned to a full-bodied car in 1980 with a sponsored ride driving a Sunoco CAM2 Motor Oil TR8, a team that included such racing luminaries as Scott Goodyear, John Buffum, and Don Prudhomme. There were some teething issues with the Triumph, but in true Armstrong style he percevered and placed fourth in the CASC National Championships.

Following that there was some racing in the Canadian Molyslip Enduro Series, a ride in the IMSA GT series, and more Formula Ford racing.

In 1985 Armstrong was appointed Chief Steward for the Canadian Professional F2000 Series working with the CASC and ASN Canada FIA. He was also the head of the Rothmans Porsche Cup where he firmly but fairly dealt with the on and off-track temperaments of racers such as Bill Adam, Paul Tracy, and Ron Fellows.

In 1990 Armstrong took on an important role as Director of track Safety for Canada’s involvement in Formula One activities, maintaining track safety, fire requirements and emergency services. In 1997 he was elected a Director and Vice-President of the Automobile Club de I’lle Notre-Dame, the FIA-delegated organizing club of the Canadian Grand Prix, where he applied his track coordination and services skills to not only the F1 races but to the popular NASCAR races which came to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from 2008 through 2012.
Armstrong continued to wear his racing helmet while working behind the scenes, competing in the World Challenge Endurance Series, the Firestone Firehawk Series and the Honda Michelin Series in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning races and a few championships along the way. He continued to race a full schedule into 2005 with his Armstrong Motorsports Nissan, dominating the Touring GT class.

Along with his on-track activities, Armstrong was a director of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, and as with everything else he did in life, rolled up his sleeves and performed his duties on many projects, including working tirelessly with the CMHF’s Induction process and new members.

Among the many tributes for Armstrong after his passing in April of this year, ASN-FIA Canada Vice-President summed this man’s contributions best:

“If there is a Royal Family of Canadian Racing, it is certainly the Armstrongs. On any given weekend it was not unusual to find Bob the father, Cindy the mother, and Jennifer the daughter at a race event in any number of roles from track preparation, race driving, officiating, training, or whatever needed to be done. To know Bob was to respect his wealth of experience, knowledge, and willingness and ability to share with others. More importantly, to know him was to like him.

“Motorsport in Canada is better because Bob was here.”

Ron Fellows

ron fellows

Inducted 2012

Few Canadians have raced in NASCAR’s top division. Few Canadians have raced in the iconic Le Mans 24-hours. And even fewer Canadian racers have cars named after them.

But Ron Fellows has accomplished all of the above, and a whole bunch more. From his Windsor home where he started in karting and then advanced to Formula Ford and the Players Challenge Series, Fellows became a dominant name in SCCA Trans-Am racing in the late 1980s, along with competing in the IMSA GT series. He also drove in the Cadillac LMP program of the early 2000s.

Less than 10 years later, he became involved with Corvette’s racing program, and was a driver of the team that took the racing world by storm in IMSA, ALMS, and Le Mans racing with the GTS CR-5 and CR-6 Corvettes, highlighted with a class win twice at Le Mans, a class win at Daytona, and a class win at Sebring.

Fellows shifted camps so to speak during this time, racing in NASCAR’s Cup, Nationwide, and Truck series from 2002 to the present, where he has won two truck races and four Nationwide events, including the NAPA 200 on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal in 2008, perhaps his most memorable and satisfying accomplishment in the sport.

Ron Fellows has had a racing career as one of North America’s most versatile and successful road racers in several racing venues. As a patron of Canadian motorsport, he has quietly counseled and mentored young racers with his Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship, and of late, has helped in the rejuvenation of one of Canada’s most iconic road racing tracks, the former Mosport Park, now known as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

And the car named after him? The Ron Fellows edition Corvette Z06 of 2008, compete with a signature trim package. This Corvette was the first signed special edition in the history of the US sports car, and with only 399 samples produced is a fitting tribute to one of Canada’s top racing ambassadors.

Tom Walters

tom walters

Inducted 2012

This competitor has been racing on Southern Ontario’s short tracks for over 40 years. His approach to oval track racing has so far carried him to a total of 30 division championships, and he continues building on this legacy in 2013.

Tom Walters did not get into racing through the normal channels of family or friends. After a neighbor invited Walters to watch him race at Sunset Speedway in 1970, the neighbor told Walters he’d had enough after three straight rain-outs and his race car was for sale.

Walters bought the car, won a race that season, and found out he enjoyed the sport, competing up to three times a week over the next several years on the bullrings of Sunset, Wasaga Beach, and Pinecrest.

During this time Walters developed friendships and track rivalries while competing with racers such as Tom Milligan, Nate Gaiter, and Tom Waite. In 1979 he hit the track with his first new car, a Camaro Late Model, built by noted car-builder Jim Ward.

By 1990 Walters had certainly found his way around an oval. He won the Sunset Late Model championship every year from 1990 through to 1998. He also won the Molson Export Super Series title in 1991 and 1992, along with the 1993 Goodyear Challenge Cup and a couple of championships in the ALSTAR series.

Walters continued with his success going into the new century, with titles in the Lucas Oil as well as championships at both Barrie and Kawartha Speedways. In 2010 he raced three different cars, and more titles, at Sunset and the touring McColl Racing series.

Now, after more than four decades of weekly racing, Walters continues to rack up the wins. The Bradford, Ontario native has shown no indication of slowing down, picking up a win at Sunset in typical fashion against younger but strong competitors such as Billy Zardo, Andy Kamrath, and Jason Witty in his Mustang-bodied Late Model earlier this year to add to his total of several feature victories.
When not competing, Walters is heavily involved in programs to help special needs athletes the opportunity to stay active and socialize in the community, working with such groups as the Ontario South Simcoe Special Olympic Athletes and Project Track Champion.

A passionate individual about his racing, Walters is thankful for the dedication of family, friends, and sponsors to allow him to race over the years, and plans on continuing to race as long possible.

Michael Andretti

Inducted 2011

He was born into one of the most prominent racing families, and he continued with his family’s tradition of success, both on and off the track in motorsport.

And for this success, Michael Andretti has been inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame as the 2012 International Category recipient.

A Pennsylvania native, Andretti never lived in the shadow of his iconic racing father Mario, proving he could drive his own race, and was a dominate racer in the PPG/CART IndyCar era. He won a record-setting 42 races in the open-wheel series, including a seven at the former Molson Indy between 1989 and 2001, another record he still maintains.

Starting in Formula Vee and Atlantic cars, the younger Andretti also competed at Le Mans before joining up with Kraco Racing in 1983. The next year he found racing in Canada to his liking, placing third at Sanair in Quebec.

He raced in the first three Molson Indy events in Toronto, starting in 1986 and with limited success, but after signing on with Newman/Hass, the team was a strong contender, placing in the top five all but three times from 1989 to 2000. He also had a stint at Formula One racing in a McLaren, which did not enhance his career at all.

After retiring from behind the wheel in 2003, Andretti became the major shareholder in the former Green Team, and changed the name to Andretti Green. As a team owner with drivers such as Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, and Danica Patrick, he was successful, winning the IZOD IndyCar championship in 2004 and 2005, including the famous Indianapolis 500 in 2005.

Not content to stay behind the wall watching his team race, Andretti donned the driving gloves once again to compete, and drove in 2006 and 2007 with a third at Indy before taking up his place as team leader once again. He also watched the budding career of his son Marco, who has become an IndyCar star in his own right for the past several years under the tutelage of his father.

In 2009 the team’s name was changed again to Andretti Autosport, a year after he purchased the assets of the Toronto Indy, keeping this important race on the IndyCar schedule.

Andretti, who is Chairman, President, and CEO of Andretti Autosport, has property in Indianapolis and Florida, but retains a fondness for Canada.

“I’m extremely honoured to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame,” he said recently. “Throughout my career, I’ve always considered Canada to be almost like my second home. The Canadian race fans have been some of the most supportive I’ve ever seen and I’m thrilled that almost a quarter of my career wins came on Canadian soil and in front of such enthusiastic fans.”

And in keeping with the Canadian theme, Andretti signed one of the series’ rising stars, James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, to drive one of the team Chevy Dallaras in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season.

Image courtesy of Gary Grant.

Robin Edwardes

Inducted 2011

The sport of rallying would not be where it is today without the involvement of Robin Edwardes.

Not only did he compete in road rallies for over 50 years, he was also instrumental in the rules and procedures which make up the sport, along with setting standards for licenses with the CASC.

Born in England in 1930, Edwards was an athlete during his early years, and also received his honors mathematics degree from King’s College in London before taking employment as a rocket scientist with the Napier motorcar firm.

He and his family immigrated to Canada, and he worked for Canadair (Bombardier) in Montreal, and then Northern Electric, working on projects ranging from turbo compound diesels to rocket engines for the aircraft and aerospace industries.

In the late 1950s he joined the Canadian Automobile Club, and through the Sports Car Club of Montreal, began to compete in rally and economy events. It was during this time he achieved a milestone event, recording 90 miles per gallon, that’s gallon, not liter, in 1959 with a Renault Dauphine.

With his appetite whetted, Edwardes took to rallying in earnest, and competed throughout Canada and the US in RAC and FIA-sanctioned events.

Over the next several decades he navigated or co-drove for over 100, including the Ford Works drivers Henry Taylor and Roger Clark, John Buffum and Eric Jones of the US, and prominent Canadians such as Walter Boyce, Jean Paul Perusse, and Randy Black. Some of his vehicles included Lotus, Simca, Toyota, Volvo, SAAB, VW, and Jeep.
Highlights during this time include a first in class in the 1962 and 1966 Shell 4000, Quebec Regional Champion Navigator titles in 1960, 1963, and 1965, and four firsts in the Rallye des Neiges.

But the competition side is only half his story.

Edwards was vice-president of the CASC from 1975 to 1977, and brought forth many changes to the sport of rallying, including recovery points, timing methods, and scoring procedures. He was also the national scorer, and issued the CASC rally press releases.

Although he retired from his day job in 1998, Edwardes continues to work within the Canadian rally community in organization, administration, and getting into that right side seat in competition.

Paul Manson

Paul Manson co-drove with Fritz Hochreuter in the 1966 Shell 4000

Inducted 2011

When Paul Manson rolled his VW driving in only his second rally event in 1960, the Toronto resident decided he would make a better navigator than driver.

And thus began one of the most illustrious careers in Canadian rally history.

This winner of many national, regional and club rallys during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s competed in 80-plus events in the years of 1964, 1965, and 1967. His resume includes winning the Fidler Trophy in the Canadian National Rally Championship in 1967, the Wilson Trophy in 1964, 1965, and 1967, and four top-ten finishes in the prestigious Shell 4000 Rally in the 1960s.

The cars he competed in varied greatly, from Chevelles and VW 1500s in the Shell 4000 to national events in a Datsun 1300.

Not only did Manson compete in rallys, he was instrumental in their organization and marshalling. He was the National and Regional Rally Steward with the CASC in the 1960s and 1970s, and contributed to print and broadcast media on the Canadian rally scene during this time.

His passion took him outside of Canada from time to time, helping to score rallys in the United States in the 1990s. He also competed in the Total Rally in South Africa in 1974.

An accountant by trade, Manson believes this background was of benefit when working with the Heuer watches, the Curta calculators, the Tripmaster, and a large collection of topographical maps.

And as demonstrated by his winning record, Manson’s numbers added up.

Greg Sewart

Inducted 2011

Not many racers win the first time they are behind the wheel of a race car, but Greg Sewart’s victory in the 1976 Sportsman Series at Atlantic Speedway was just the beginning of an illustrious career in stock car racing for this Halifax native.

Born in 1957, Sewart watched older brother Jim race in the early 1970s, and by 1976 he was ready.

The younger Sewart was a natural on the paved ovals, winning his first title in 1976 with a Sportsman championship. After taking the 1977 title, the team decided to step up to the Modified ranks in Eastern Canada and the Northeast US, along with some trips to Southern Ontario, where they found they could compete with some of the best in short-track racing.

When MASCAR was established in 1983, the Sewarts, with Greg driving and Jim crew chiefing, purchased a new Blair Cooks car, and the stage was set. He won two International 200 events at Riverglade in 1983 and 1984 against the likes of Jr Hanley, Don Biederman, and Rollie MacDonald.

He dominated the series for the next several years, winning the MASCAR points championship in 1983, 1987, 1992, 1993, and 1995.
But the team set its sights outside of local racing during this period, and Sewart took second in the prestigious Oxford 250 in Maine in 1994. He also won the Riverside 250 twice, in 1986 and 1993, and to show he could turn right as well as left in a race car, won the Halifax street course Moosehead Grand Prix in 1991, 1992, and 1994.

With over 100 feature wins to his credit, Sewart was a natural talent behind the wheel and was able to get the most out of a race car when needed. After a race at the Scotia Speedworld in 2002 Sewart finished his racing career.

In 2010 Sewart was inducted into the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame, and we are pleased to honor him tonight.

Image by Tim Krochak via The Chronical Herald

Dick Foley

Inducted 2011

Dick Foley has been a racer, a promoter, and a car owner from Montreal, but he is best known as the first Canadian to compete in the nirvana of stock car racing, the Daytona 500.

Born in Halifax in 1932, Foley began to race in the late 1940s on tracks around his Montreal home at the speedways of Bouvrette, Drummondville, and Rawdon. He was also a stunt car driver of note during the 1950s.

In the late 1950s Foley also raced on the famed NASCAR Daytona Beach road and beach course in 1957 and 1958, finishing the race 19th in the last year of the circuit before the race was held at the new paved tri-oval in 1959.

Through the consolation race Foley made the 1959 field of 59 starters and was in fourth spot with his Chevy until mechanical problems sidelined him into the pits for 20 minutes, and he placed 32nd at the end of the race. He also ran in the 1960 Daytona 500, and took tenth spot in the 1960 250 Mile Sportsman/Modified race at Daytona, driving a 1957 Chevy.

During the 1960 season, Foley also won the track modified titles at Bouvrette and Drummondville, later to be known as Autodrome Drummondville. In 1961 he retired from active racing, and promoted racing in the Montreal area throughout the decade.

Over 30 years later, in 2002, Foley purchased a Sportsman-class car, and went CASCAR racing with nephew Danny Foley behind the wheel. Two years later he purchased a second Sportsman car, this time with Hugo Vannini driving.

In 2006, he acquired the Quebec City area 5/8th mile oval Circuit Ste Croix, and renamed it Riverside Speedway in honor of his father Richard who constructed the original Riverside in St. Vincent de Paul (Duvernay) Quebec, and continues to operate this facility to this day.

Norm Ellefson

Inducted 2011

One of the most outstanding short-track open-wheel racers, Edmonton’s Norm Ellefson, began in 1952 at Calgary’s Springbank Speedway when he was 20, and his career continued until almost the turn of the new century.

During this time, Ellefson was a dynamo in Sprint Car and Super Modified action throughout Western Canada and in the Northwest United States. He also raced fendered race cars in the NASCAR West stock car series, winning his fair share of events in the 1970s.

But it is the Sprint Car and Super Modified racing that he is best known for, and while all his accolades are too many to note here, there are some moments in Ellefson’s career which really stand out.

He won the Canadian-American Modified Racing Association title three times, in 1966, 1967, and 1969. He captured some of the biggest events in Super Modified racing, including the Copper Cup in Salt Lake City, The Billy Foster Memorial in Victoria, and the Gold Cup in Edmonton.

But he also excelled in Sprint Cars as well, as this example demonstrates:

The Minnesota State Fair Grounds was holding an event in 1969 which was big, with 143 Sprinters vying to make the 44-starter show. The event was held in four races, three 50-lappers and then the big 200-lap main. Ellefson won the first and second 50s, placed fourth in the third, and won the 200-lapper as well. This was accomplished with a traditional roadster, but in 1971 Ellefson showed up at the Fair Grounds with an unconventional rear-engined car with a small powerplant built by noted West Coast car builder Jim Tipke. While the car was very quick and handled well, there was no clutch or starter, and Ellefson would have to wait for a push-truck to help when he spun out on some oil on the track. The car did become successful with impressive outings and victories.

Along with his Super Modified racing, Ellefson also raced in USAC events in the Northwest US with the likes of Tom Sneva, Gordon Johncock, and Mario Andretti, but admitted road circuit racing was not for him.
Ellefson has received numerous accolades for his career, including induction into the Inland Empire Motorsport Hall of Fame, his involvement with the Edmonton Kinsman Sports Celebrity dinner, and his guest speaking appearances at racing and auto-related functions.

News clipping image via Racin’ through the rain drops

Ben Docktor

Inducted 2011

As a distraction from his business activities, North Dakota native Ben Docktor started to race stock cars on the dirt ovals of Alberta and Montana. He also competed as an IMCA open-wheel racer and the Players/GM Challenge. The former oil field roughneck also fielded teams in the local stock car arena.

But his goal in racing was to provide others with a facility, and the original plan of a small oval track grew to a race facility that would become a showpiece for motorsport in Western Canada. Preliminary work started in 1982, and the oval track was completed in 1985. By 1987, and using his own capital, Docktor was ready to share his dream amid the racing world with the multi-purpose Race City in Calgary.
Along with the half-mile oval track, a 2.1-mile road circuit, and a quarter-mile drag strip were built at the complex, and for the next 20 years fans were able to watch their racing heroes from several types of racing, including NASCAR, NHRA, IRL, CASCAR, and CASC events. Along with the sports cars and dragsters and stock cars, motorcycle racing was also a big attraction. Fans were able to watch such notables as Bobby Unser, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, and Shirley Muldowney compete at Race City.

Until 1995, when the facility was sold to Art MacKenzie, Docktor was at Race City every weekend as the track’s biggest fan. During his time with Race City, Docktor brought the best in major-league racing to Western Canada as one of the country’s biggest boosters of motorsport.