CMHF to induct Carter, Magill, Maxwell, McDonald and Tracy

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Scott Maxwell and Paul Tracy were fierce rivals as rookies, but they’re sharing the checkered flag as both are inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
Now 50 and 45 respectively, they’re to be honored along with road racer Diana Carter and builders John Magill and Norris McDonald, Sept. 27 in the hall’s 20th annual induction ceremonies, presented by Canadian Tire Corporation.

Having accelerated away from more formal black-tie ceremonies, the fan-friendly Hall of Fame celebration is returning to the Glen Gould Studio in downtown Toronto for a second year.
“It is especially ironic to be inducted with Paul, as we have now come full circle from our early Formula Ford days in the 1980’s, where we cut our teeth as youngsters and established our reputations going head to head against one another” said Maxwell,” a class winner in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans and veteran of the American Le Mans and NASCAR Rolex Grand-Am series who continues racing while operating a highly popular motorsport enthusiasts’ store in downtown Toronto.
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2014 CMHF Celebration of Speed in pictures

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Easter Monday couldn’t have provided better weather for the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s annual charity track day at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. I was excited to join Canadian racing legends Bill Brack and Ludwig Heimrath on track, representing Wheels at the event at the helm of a stunning new Jaguar F-Type V8S roadster. 300 excited guests queued up to buy tickets to go for a ride in supercars like an Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, along with Corvettes, a fleet of Scion FR-S and even an MG TC that once belonged to Hamilton driver Tommy Hoan, who began racing the tiny car in 1950. From 9 am until the end of the day, there was a line of Jaguar fans waiting for a fast tour of the historic circuit. 34 drivers came out to take part in the lapping day with a surprisingly high number of first time drivers. Gary Grant from the Toronto Star Wheels.

For more images, visit Vic Henderson.

Watch the 2013 Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductions

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Earlier this fall in a sold-out ceremony at the Glen Gould theatre, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inducted six new members. Wheels editor Norris McDonald was the emcee of the event, which was presented for the first time by new partner Canadian Tire. Six Canadians, including racer and administrator Bob Armstrong, sprint car racer and team manager Jimmy Carr, track owners Sharon and John Fletcher and racing superstar Ron Fellows were inducted. Formula 1 and Indycar legend Mario Andretti was inducted into the International category.

If you were not fortunate enough to be on hand for the emotional evening, you can now watch the entire ceremony below.

Canadian auto racing legend, CMHF Inductee, Wallie Branston dies

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One of Canadian motorsport’s pioneer racers who went on to become a famous race official and continued throughout his life to be an all-’round booster of the sport, Wallie Branston, has died at age 90.

An energetic and vigorous man until just a few years ago, Branston had been in ill health recently and that old heart — the heart of a lion — gave out on him Thursday morning.

I have had few heroes in my time but Wallie was one of them. I’ll tell you why: he was national sales manager for Subaru Canada when he was 79. He’d just overseen an expansion of the company’s national dealer network when he was asked to retire. As someone who’s working well past “normal” retirement age, I can tell you that Wallie was my kinda guy.

He lived, ate and breathed automobiles and he did everything – everything – in racing. His amazing contributions were recognized in 1997 when he was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.

He was one of a half-dozen original stock car racers in the Toronto area. He was one of the first stock car racers in Canada to have major sponsorship. He raced on both dirt, pavement, road courses and ovals. He was a performer in an automobile thrill show that scared the living daylights out of the people watching. He raced sports cars and was a rally driver. When Mosport opened in 1961, Branston was the flagman/starter and he did that job for 15 years.

You can’t have a more complete automotive career than that.
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A night to remember for the latest inductees into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame

2013 inductees

2013 inductees

The 19th annual Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s Induction Ceremonies presented by Canadian Tire took centre Stage on Saturday September 28 at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

It was evening of firsts as six Canadians , the late Bob Armstrong; racing and administration; ( accepted by his wife Cindy ) , Jimmy Carr, sprint car racing and team management; Sharon and John Fletcher, Ron Fellows ,champion road racer; Stompin Tom Walters , stock car racer along with International Inductee and former world formula one champion, Indy 500 and Daytona 500 winner Mario Andretti became the latest honorable members before a sold-out audience.

This was first time for a new theatre -style format as fans and the racing icons alike mixed in the Studio Induction show followed by a reception open to all.

This was the first time this event was hosted by a presenting sponsor, Canadian Tire Corporation, a company which has become a leader in supporting Canadian motorsport activities.

This was the first time the induction ceremonies sold in recent history. It was a night when Mario Andretti literally sold the socks off his feet in an impromptu auction with the proceeds going to the Hall of Fame. The socks were bought by inductees John and Sharon Fletcher, who were inducted for their contributions to Canadian drag racing .

The evening was a distinct step away from the black tie dinners of past CMHF inductions.

The evening, a huge success in my view, allowed the Hall to reach new audiences and opened our doors to more of the general motorsport community,” said Dr Hugh Scully, CMHF chairman.

The sound and images celebrating each inductee’s career was unprecedented. The Glenn Gould Studio was designed for the recording of classical music. Known for high notes, not horsepower, and divas rather than drivers, its acoustics and control room with state-of-art technology reproduced the sounds of high-powered competition as never before.

As one fan said upon leaving the Studio “When can I get my ticket for next year”?

Image: Ryan Dupont

Inside Track to produce the Official program for the CMHF Induction Ceremony

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TORONTO, ON – The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame will hold its 19th Gala Induction Ceremony on Saturday, September 28 in the CBC Toronto Building’s Glenn Gould Theatre.

For the first time ever, Inside Track Communications – the publishers of Inside Track Motorsport News – is partnering with the CMHF to produce the Official Induction Ceremony Gala Program for the event.

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Canadian Tire will honour new inductees the late Bob Armstrong, Jimmy Carr, Ron Fellows, Tom Walters, and John & Sharon Fletcher. Legendary racer Mario Andretti will be inducted in the International category.
The Gala Induction Ceremony Program will include features on the history and future of the Hall, biographies on the new inductees, a listing of past inductees, Gala details and more. The Official CMHF Gala Induction Ceremony Program will be distributed at the Gala and will be included with mailed subscriber copies of Inside Track Motorsport News. It will also be available as a free electronic flipbook on the CMHF and Inside Track Motorsport News websites.

 Legendary racer Mario Andretti will be in attendance at the 2013 Gala Induction Ceremony on September 28 in Toronto to be inducted in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s International category (Photo courtesy Gary Grant).

Legendary racer Mario Andretti will be in attendance at the 2013 Gala Induction Ceremony on September 28 in Toronto to be inducted in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s International category (Photo courtesy Gary Grant).

“We are pleased to be working with Inside Track to produce a comprehensive, informative and entertaining program to celebrate this year’s Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Gala Induction Ceremony,” said Sid Priddle, on behalf of the CMHF. “For the first time in the Hall’s history, we’ll have a substantial, widely distributed program that celebrates the new and current inductees, in addition to educating Canadian racing fans about the past and future of our Hall of Fame.”

Speaking on behalf of Inside Track, Co-Publisher David Weber said, “We’re extremely excited to be producing the Official Program for this year’s Gala Induction Ceremony. The Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame is very important to preserving and promoting Canada’s racing heritage and we’re looking forward to working with the Hall to produce a high-quality collector’s item celebrating this historic Gala. By sending it to our subscribers – in addition to distributing it at the Gala – it will be something that all Canadian racing enthusiasts can enjoy while learning about the Hall and its inductees.”

Mario Andretti to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame

Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti is to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, as the International Category honoree of 2012.
Andretti, 73, raced in Canada almost as long as in the United States, while winning worldwide in a sparkling 41-year career.
He’ll be honored during the 19th annual Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies presented by Canadian Tire, September 28th along with Canadian inductees the late Bob Armstrong, Jimmy Carr, John and Sharon Fletcher, Ron Fellows and Tom Walters with fans watching the ceremony and partying with the honorees afterward.

Nobody drove a Formula One car faster than Andretti at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he won the pole and recorded the fastest lap in 1977, the final year the Canadian Grand Prix was held at Mosport before moving to Montreal. The classic circuit’s back straight was named the Andretti straight after he was clocked there at 178 miles per hour in a 1967 USAC Indy car race.

On a global scale, Andretti was the first driver to win both the F-1 (1978) and Indy car championships (1965-66-69 and 84).
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Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame announces 2013 inductees

Five Canadians will be honored at The 19TH Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s Induction Ceremonies, presented by Canadian Tire, when this year’s event takes centre stage under a new format at the Glenn Gould Studio at 7:15 p.m. on September 28th 2013.

Those to be inducted include the late Bob Armstrong, Jimmy Carr, Ron Fellows, Tom Walters, Jon and Sharon Fletcher.

They’ll be showcased on the Gould Studio stage in the Toronto CBC Building (205 Front St.) where concert pianists or jazz divas usually perform. With a lobby reception mixing inductees, fans and celebrity guests following the show, the new format is a relaxed step away from the formality of previous black-tie dinners.

“I wish to congratulate the successful inductees for their dedication and contribution to Canadian motorsports“, said the Hall’s Chairman Dr. Hugh Scully.

“We are also delighted with the new format and the participation of Canadian Tire as our official presenter allowing the Hall of Fame to reach new audiences and open our doors to more of the general motorsport community,” concluded Dr. Scully. The International Inductee will be announced next month .

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Chairman’s message regarding the passing of Bob Armstrong

On behalf of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, and personally, I write to express sadness and heartfelt condolences to his family and a real sense of loss at the passing of Bob Armstrong on Friday, April 19, 2013. after a courageous battle against cancer. He was an accomplished racing driver, a highly respected teacher and mentor to young drivers and a leader in motorsport safety at all levels,including Formula 1, INDYCAR and NASCAR.

Bob’s dedication to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame was exemplary. As a member of the CMHF Board, his thoughtful, well-considered input to our discussions always resonated well. His leadership, honesty and fairness as Chair of the Inductee Nomination and Selection Committee were always very helpful. Indeed, it was with great pleasure that I talked with Bob recently to inform him that he had been unanimously elected to Honourable Membership in the Hall this year. He was very pleased, proud and appreciative! His devoted wife, Cindy, and his family will be invited to the 2013 Membership Induction Ceremonies in September, where Bob and his contributions to motorsport in Canada will be honoured and remembered.

Hugh E Scully, BA,MD,MSc,FRCS[C],FACS,
Chairman, Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame

Bob Armstrong, 65: Racer, contributor to motorsport growth

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This article, written by Norris McDonald, originally appeared on the Toronto Star’s Wheels.ca and has been reprinted with permission.

Bob Armstrong of Ottawa, a competitor and major contributor to motor racing in Canada, died Friday of cancer. He was 65.

As well as race-driving himself – as recently as last fall, in fact, during the Celebration of Motorsport weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – he was an organizer, supporter, contributor (chief steward of several racing series and director of track safety at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, for example) and an administrator and executive (the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame) of motor sport in Canada.

Dr. Hugh Scully, Chairman of the Motorsport Hall, announced Saturday that to honour Bob for his many contributions, he will be made an Honourable Member at an induction ceremony later this year.

Said Scully: “On behalf of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, and personally, I want to express sadness and heartfelt condolences to his family and a real sense of loss at the passing of Bob after a courageous battle against cancer.

“He was an accomplished racing driver, a highly respected teacher and mentor to young drivers and a leader in motorsport safety at all levels,including Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR.

“Bob’s dedication to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame was exemplary. As a member of the Board, his thoughtful,well-considered input to our discussions always resonated well. His leadership, honesty and fairness as Chair of the Inductee Nomination and Selection Committee were always very helpful.

“Indeed, it was with great pleasure that I talked with Bob recently to inform him that he had been unanimously elected to Honourable Membership in the Hall this year. He was very pleased, proud and appreciative.”

Paul Cooke, vice-president of ASN FIA Canada, the regulatory body that governs motorsport in Canada, issued this statement Saturday:

“If there is a Canadian `Royal Family’ of 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 was needed to be done.

“Bob was someone that I personally worked with on many projects for more than three decades. We worked together for a week or 10 days every year at Canada’s most prestigious motor sport event – the Grand Prix of Canada. In addition to safety responsibilities for the Indy Racing League in Canada, Bob was also a key player in NASCAR Canada’s safety program.

“To know Bob was to respect his wealth of experience, knowledge and his willingness and ability to share with others. More importantly, to know him was to like him.

“Motor sport in Canada is better because Bob was here,” Cooke concluded.

I watched Bob race for years, but got to know him when we were both involved with the Motorsport Hall. When French-Canadians were inducted, I would read the English dedication while Bob — who was fluently bilingual — would read the French.

A contributor in many ways over the years, he served most recently as chairman of the Hall’s selection committee.

Throughout his on-track career, Bob raced Formula Fordsand Formula Atlantic single-seat cars as well as IMSA GTO, Firestone Firehawk, Michelin Enduro and Sprint GT cars. No homebody, he raced at circuits throughout North America.

He was runner-up twice in the North American Pro-Ford Series and won three Canadian Formula Ford championships in the 1970s. He was 1994 Canadian Endurance Champion, 2003 Canadian Touring GT Champion and 2005 over-all Division winner of the Sprint GT Championship.

In the mid-1980s, while still competing, Bob became ASN Canada FIA’s Chief Steward for the National Formula 2000 and Rothmans Porsche Series and oversaw competition that featured drivers like Ron Fellows, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier and Scott Goodyear, among others.

In 1990, he also became Director, Track Safety at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and since then worked with the FIA Formula One World Championship (Canadian Grand Prix), the World Sports Car Series, the CART Indy car series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Bob was also the Chief Race Instructor for the CASC and provided advanced driving training to the staffs of automobile manufacturers operating in Canada. Another contribution he made to the industry was by helping out each fall at the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual TestFest.

Two of AJAC’s executive members, Richard Russell of Halifax and Clare Dear of London, Ont., were saddened by the news.

“Bob was an immense asset,” said Russell. “Working with him was a pleasure. He controlled the track component in his usual capable manner with humour and understanding, giving encouragement when deserved and discouragement when necessary.

“Bob was an asset to Canadian motorsport from his days as a competitor to those as a wise guide.”

Added Dear: “Bob’s skill and experience as a racer and track safety expert ensured all involved with our TestFest track activities were in the surest hands. The fact we’ve never had a crash or injury is a testament to his abilities to keep the journalist testers’ adrenalin and testosterone in check.

“He was quick to offer encouragement and advice to the newbies, yet he could tone down even the biggest egos in such a subtle manner, when necessary. And there was always that trademark smile.

“Bob has always been a huge supporter of Canadian motorsport, so it’s not surprising he was so actively involved in the Motorsport Hall of Fame. His contributions to the sport, and more important to the people who are involved in it at all levels, are immense, but equally important is the fact Bob was such a genuinely wonderful person.”

Thom Dickinson, vice-president of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, spoke about Bob’s commitment to the sport.

“Bob was one of the most passionate and dedicated people I have ever known,” Dickinson said.

“As a Member of the Board of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, and later as its Vice President, Bob would leave no stone unturned in his quest for the best for the organization. It would start with a four-to-five-hour drive each way from Ottawa to Toronto for our meetings. His attention to detail was impeccable, and his care and concern for the people we inducted was unmatched.

“I considered him a friend as well as a colleague, and will truly miss him, as will Canadian Motorsport.”

Ralph Luciw, former Honda-Michelin Challenge Series director, and a friend, had this to say:

“Bob was very much a no-nonsense kind of guy, but only for the best of reasons. He wanted things done right, the first time.

“He worked tirelessly on the CMHF Honourable Members Inductee program and did a masterful job of chairing that process for the Hall of Fame. His contributions to the safe running of events, whether it was a club race or an International event or the AJAC Car of the Year competition, were too many to list and contributed to the success of all of these programs.

“He could be tough but he always had time to help people out and after he “straightened you out,” he’d leave you with a big smile and a pat on the back.”

Robert Allen Armstrong was born in Ottawa on April 5, 1948, and died in Ottawa on April 19, 2013. He leaves his wife Cindy, sons Scott and Trevor and daughter Jennifer, five grandchildren and 22 nieces and nephews.

A private family service will be held, with a Celebration of Life planned for the near future.

The family says it welcomes donations in Bob’s memory to Pancreatic Cancer Canada or the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.