Mario Andretti

mario

Inducted 2012

He could drive the wheels off anything he raced. He was adept and comfortable in race cars with and without fenders. He won the Formula One Grand Prix Championship. He won the Daytona 500. He won the Indianapolis 500.

And even though his racing career stretched over five decades since coming to North America from his native Italy, Mario Andretti still has the passion and competitive nature to suit up and get into a race car.

And he would make a good showing of himself as well.

After the Andretti family settled into its Nazareth, Pennsylvania home in 1955, Mario and his twin brother Aldo already had racing on their minds after witnessing the Italian Grand Prix in Monza before gathering up and heading to America. Outside of Nazareth was a half-mile dirt oval, and the brothers built and raced a 1948 Hudson Hornet starting in 1959.

By 1964 the future superstar was racing on the USAC Sprint Car circuit as well as driving a Midget in the Eastern States. In fact, his first visit to Canada to race was during a USAC Midget race held on the CNE racetrack in Toronto.

It was also in 1965 that Andretti won his first Indy Car race, and he placed third in the Indy 500 that year, along with the championship, the youngest driver (he was 25) to do so. The next year, in 1966, he once again dominated the Champ Car Trail, winning eight races and his second straight championship.

For 1967, Andretti had a stellar year, winning NASCAR’s Daytona 500, winning his first of three 12 Hours of Sebring, and finishing second in the Champ cars. He was able to get into a Formula One car the next year, qualifying on the pole in his first race, the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, but was forced out with mechanical problems.

He would return to the sport’s highest echelon in the 1970s, and in a big way.

Andretti returned to Indy Car racing and in 1969 won the 500, leading 116 laps at the Brickyard. He won nine events that year, going on to win his third Indy Car title.

Andretti’s success continued in the early 1970s. He won at Sebring in 1970, and driving for Ferrari, won his first GP race at South Africa in 1971. Driving a Ferrari 312P, he won the Six Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the BAOC 1000 KM at Brands Hatch, and the Watkins Glen Six Hours, all in 1972.

At this time he continued where he started, on dirt tracks, winning USAC’s National Dirt Track Championship, along with winning seven Formula 5000 races in 1974 and 1975.

Working with Colin Chapman and Lotus, Andretti returned to F1 racing in 1976, winning races around the globe, and his efforts were culminated in 1978 when he won the World Championship, the first driver in history to win both the Formula One and Indy Car championships.

Andretti continued to race F1 in the 1980s, but success eluded him, and he returned to Indy Car racing, winning this championship once again in 1984. Throughout the decade he was a dominate racer in the series, and after winning his 51st Indy Car race in 1988, concentrated on the historic first father-son team with son Michael as they raced together.

In 1993 Andretti set another benchmark, winning his 52nd Indy Car victory, and making him the first driver to win Indy Car races in four decades and the first to win races in five decades.

In 1994 Andretti decided it would be his last year of active competition, and his Arrivederci, Mario Tour was a season-long campaign that was well received by his legions of fans and fellow racers.

Today Andretti continues to be in the mainstream of motorsport, working with several companies and associations as a spokesperson and associate. He continues to be totally involved in the sport while maintaining other interests such waterskiing, flying his ultra light, and his winery.

And today we honor Mario Andretti into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, truly one of the sport’s greatest.

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.

Professor Sid Watkins

Inducted 2010

Professor Sid Watkins, “the Prof”, is a virtual icon in motorsport worlwide and, of course, is well known to all involved in motorsport Canada because of his many years involvement with the Formula 1 race initially at Mosport and St. Jovite and then at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

Sid Watkins has always been interested in motoring, growing up around cars in his father’s garage, situated not far from Silverstone. He began to attend Formula 1 and other events in Silverstone in 1958 and subsequently ran the medical services of Silverstone for the Aston Martin racing weekend in 1962. During his time as a Professor of Neurosurgery in Syracuse, New York, commencing in 1962, he joined the administrative team of the American Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He was really the first in the world to take a team of appropriate specialists trackside to provide immediate, high class medical attention, management and direction. Upon his return to the United Kingdom as the Professor of Neurosurgery at the London Hospital, he provided the medical and related safety services for the British Grand Prix from 1971 through 1977. Sid encouraged and supported Dr. Hugh Scully, with the support of Harvey Hudes, to establish at Mosport, one of the most advanced race medical intervention teams in the world at the time. (The Ontario Race Physicians continue to provide expert medical and related safety services at Mosport today).

In the spring of 1978, Sid was appointed the Medical Delegate for Formula 1 by Bernie Ecclestone and in fact attended virtually every Formula 1 race in the world for the next 25 years. Sid was elected the President of the FISA (Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile Medical Commission) in 1981 where he worked again with Dr. Hugh Scully to continue to improve the services in Montreal and, by association throughout Canada.

Labatts was a major sponsor of the Formula 1 enterprise in Montreal. In 1992, there was a ceremony in Montreal where Sid Watkins was presented with the “Labatts Award for Safety” by the Duke of Kent. (Sid was the second recipient of this award. The first had been Sir Jackie Stewart).

From 1992 through July of 2007, Sid continued to work actively with Dr. Jacques Bouchard and Ronald Denis as the Co-Medical Director’s of the Formula 1 race in Montreal. Without question, Sid’s support of the “Montreal model” was instrumental in establishing and maintaining a high standard of medical care in motorsport. The model created initially at Mosport and subsequently in Montreal has had significant positive effect on motorsport medicine and safety at virtually all motorsport events in Canada.

Professor Sid Watkins went on to become the President of the new FIA Medical Commission until his retirement from that position in 2007. In 1994, he was appointed Chairman of the FIA Expert Advisory Committee reporting to the President of the FIA. Organizing research groups for open cockpit, closed cockpit, rally and karting events, he was the founding President of the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety in 2004. The “Institute” continues to do leading research in motorsport safety in all categories. In his capacity as President of the Medical Commission and President of the Institute, he served with distinction on the FIA World Motorsport Council.

Sid has bee the recipient of many awards related to his leadership in motorsport safety. In 1996, he was awarded the Motorsport Industry Association Achievement Award and also the Mario Andretti High Performance Award for Medicine. In 1997, he was given the R.A.C. Centennial Prince Michael of Kent Award. In 1998, he received the British Racing and Sports Car Club Silver Trophy for services to racing and in 1999, the Autosport Gregor Grant Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to Motor Sport. In December of 2006, on behalf of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, he received the Society of American Engineering (S.A.E.) Award for Excellence in Safety Engineering. In July 2007, he was unanimously elected to membership in the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) and to a position as Honorary Member of the Board. Remarkable, in July of 2008, he received the Motor Industry Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Motorsport Industry in the House of Lords in London, England.

In his professional career as a neurosurgeon, Professor Sid Watkins has been recognized as an outstanding surgeon, scholar, teacher and leader with a determined commitment to excellence which facilitated expert care to those injured in motorsport virtually anywhere in the world. It was recognition for the combination of world leadership in neurosurgery and in the development of motorsport medicine and safety that Sid Watkins was awarded the prestigious Order of the British Empire at the Jubilee Honours Ceremonies by the Queen in June 2002.

Professor Sid Watkins is unquestionably the leader of the past quarter century in the development of motorsport medicine and safety not only in Formula 1 races in Canada but across the country in all forms of racing.

Image via The Telegraph

Bobby Rahal

Bobby Rahal at 2011 ALMS awards banquet

Inducted 2010

Robert “Bobby” Woodward Rahal was born in Medina, Ohio, in 1953, and worked his way up through the racing ranks starting with the SCCA’s feeder series to Formula Atlantic and then onto European Formula Two. In an 18-year career spanning F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA, and CART, Rahal notched three CART championships, including a win at the 1986 Indy 500, along with wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races.
One of open wheel racing’s most consistent drivers during his career, Rahal started 264 races for five teams and he took 18 poles and scored 24 wins. He collected back-to-back CART championships in 1986 & ’87, and picked up his third in 1992. When Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500, Rahal became only one of a handful of individuals to win the Indy 500 as both a driver and a team owner.
Following his retirement from competitive racing after the 1998 season, Rahal spent time with Jaguar’s F1 effort and in mid-2000, he returned to the U.S. to become the interim boss of CART. Along with late night talk show icon David Letterman, he is a principal in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing where Rahal has overseen the growth of the team from a one-car program to a multi-car, multi-discipline organization. Rahal has been responsible for finding and developing some of the top-young talent in open-wheel racing. Among his current and past protégées are Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Vitor Meira. It also was Bobby Rahal who was responsible for bringing Honda into North American open-wheel racing in the early 90s, an involvement as a manufacturer that has produced eight championships and over 100 victories including three Indy 500 triumphs.
In addition, his team won the 2010 GT team and manufacturers championships in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with BMW, and Rahal is the driving force behind the new HMP Legends of Motorsports historic racing series. Along with his leadership of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, he operates Rahal Automotive Group, a string of car dealerships in Pennsylvania, and is very active in the community through the Bobby Rahal Foundation.

Bobby Rahal Racing Record

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
-1974 SCCA B/Sports Racing National Champion
-1975 Formula Atlantic National Champion (SCCA President’s Cup)
-1981 24 Hours of Daytona winner
-1982 CART Rookie of the Year
-1986 Indianapolis 500 winner
-1986 CART champion
-1986 Driver of the Year
-1987 CART champion
-1987 12 Hours of Sebring winner
-1992 CART champion
-1992 Driver of the Year
-Only driver/owner to win CART championship
-One of three drivers to win three CART/Champ Car championships
-First IndyCar driver to win $1 million in a single season
-First IndyCar driver to surpass $12 million in career earnings
-Recorded IndyCar/CART victories in ten seasons (eight straight)
-Introduced Honda to North American open-wheel racing
-Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004

WINS (Driver 1982 – 98 Owner 1992—present) 1982 – Cleveland, Michigan 1983 – Riverside 1984 – Phoenix, Laguna Seca 1985 – Mid-Ohio, Michigan, Laguna Seca 1986 – Indianapolis, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Montreal, Michigan, Laguna Seca 1987 – Portland, Meadowlands, Laguna Seca 1988 – Pocono 1989 – Meadowlands 1991 – Meadowlands 1992 – Phoenix, Detroit, New Hampshire, Nazareth 1998 – Laguna Seca 1999 – Laguna Seca 2000 – Homestead 2001 – Motegi, Milwaukee, Portland, Chicago, EuroSpeedway, Laguna Seca 2002 – Fontana 2003 – Milwaukee, Montreal 2004 – Indianapolis, Kansas, Michigan 2008 – Watkins Glen 2009 – Road America, Okayama 2010 – Road America

POLES (Driver 1982 – 98 Owner 1992—present) 1983 – Mid-Ohio, Michigan 1984 – Montreal 1985 – Cleveland, Mid-Ohio, Michigan, Michigan, Montreal, Laguna Seca, Miami 1986 – Elkhart Lake, Phoenix 1987 – Toronto 1990 – Nazareth 1991 – Elkhart Lake 1992 – Milwaukee, New Hampshire, Toronto 1997 – Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca 1998 – Long Beach, Portland, Laguna Seca 1999 – Chicago, Laguna Seca 2001 – Monterrey, Texas, Milwaukee, Portland, Michigan, Elkhart Lake, Rockingham 2002 – Long Beach 2003 – Long Beach 2004 – Homestead, Indianapolis, Portland, Kansas, Nashville, Milwaukee, Kentucky 2005 – Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland 2007 – Texas.

Image via Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Carroll Shelby

Inducted 2009

The Foundation created a new International Category in 2010 year and former Le Mans 24-hour winner Carroll Shelby of California was the initial inductee under this new category.

“I was delighted last fall, when the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Foundation announced expansion of the Hall of Fame to include an International category to recognize people outside of Canada who helped develop and grow Canadian motor sport. It was no surprise to me that Carroll Shelby would be the first inductee.” said Paul Cooke, Comstock Racing Team Manager from 1963 to 1968.

“In the 1960’s, Carroll Shelby was hugely instrumental in helping Chuck Rathgeb’s Comstock Racing Team of Canadian drivers such as Ludwig Heimrath, Eppie Wietzes, George Eaton and Craig Fisher become household names as well as all being inducted to the Hall of Fame.”

Chuck Rathgeb forged a long-term relationship with Ford and Carroll Shelby and the Shelby organization worked directly with Comstock to field the Cobra 289, Cobra 427, King Cobra and Shelby Mustangs.

“History shows that the Comstock Racing Team was the most successful Canadian racing team ever seen at the time. The support given to Comstock under the direction of Carroll was invaluable,” concluded Cooke.

Shelby was inducted at a special gala to celebrate his lifetime achievements at the Canadian International Auto Show in February 2010.. The induction was done amidst 40 of the most significant cars that Shelby ever raced or built for others to race. Eppie Wietzes, one of the first Canadian inductees in the Hall of Fame, presented Shelby with his induction medallion while Paul Cooke presented him with a gold lapel pin.