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.”

John and Sharon Fletcher

fletcher

Inducted 2012

From Hamilton, Ontario, this family ran a successful automotive speed shop, but selling customers high-performance parts wasn’t enough. In 1982 they decided to buy a drag strip and through perseverance and hard work revitalized Dragway Park just outside of Cayuga Ontario in Southern Ontario.

Purchasing the facility from bankruptcy trustees, the Fletchers had their work cut out for them, as a great deal of equipment was missing, including the all-important quarter-mile timing clocks and equipment.

Also missing was the trust from the racing community, which had a bad taste in its mouth from the former owners, and this trust had to be re-established.

But John and Sharon, and the rest of the family not only built the former Cayuga drag strip back to a viable track, they also fostered and received support from the racers, fans, and sponsors.

They also expanded the track and its facility, and welcomed some new classes of drag cars that were becoming popular as well as maintaining a solid foundation with regular local racers.

With the sponsorship of the Becker’s Milk Company, the Fletchers introduced such classes as Pro Modified and Super Gas at the track in the late 1980s, and hosted the first Canadian national event under the sanctioning of the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), a sanctioning body that would visit the track several more times over the years.

After these accomplishments, the Fletchers were presented with an offer of selling Cayuga that they could not refuse. And they left the track, which is Canada’s oldest drag racing track and in operation since 1954, in solid shape. But instead of taking the money and retiring, they purchased another historic track about 80 miles west along Highway 3 from Cayuga.
Saint Thomas Dragway is located in Sparta, Ontario, and was developed in 1962 by the Harvey Family. It had long been an NHRA track and the home of some of the biggest events in the country. With some spit and polish, and modernized equipment, Saint Thomas returned to its former glory under the work and guidance of the Fletchers, who continued to operate the track under the NHRA with the name of London Motorsports Park in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

One of their most noted endeavours while at Saint Thomas was to bring in the biggest name in the sport, and racing icon John Force wowed the fans three times with his nitromethane-burning Funny Car.

The Fletchers have stepped away from the day-to-day operations at Saint Thomas, but their positive hand at the track continues. To take not only one, but two ailing race facilities and return them to a viable place for competitors and fans of drag racing is to be highly commended.

Jimmy Carr

jimmy carr

Inducted 2012

One of the most influential people in Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car endeavors is a quiet former drag racer from Canada’s West Coast who has been so behind the scenes he has been almost invisible.

From the bullrings of British Columbia, Jimmy Carr entered the world of Sprint Car racing spending more time running up and down the I5 than he did on the dirt ovals in Washington, Oregon, and California, but by 1990 he was ready to take a shot at fulltime racing in the World of Outlaws Series.

He became a quick study, taking rookie of the year honors in the WoO and placing eighth in 1991, but it was an expensive experience, and he went to turn wrenches for WoO regular Danny Lasoski while driving one of the winged warriors once in a while.

Through Lasoski, Carr met up with Stewart and the Chili Bowl, who was still racing in the IRL, just before Stewart embarked on his NASCAR Cup career. Stewart always wanted to get into a Sprint Car, and Carr and Lasoski planned and prepared an Outlaw team for the future Cup superstar in 1999 while continuing to race on the dirt tracks when he could.

But by 2001 building the new team was taking all Carr’s time, and for the past 12 years he has been a crew chief or in a management role helping to build Tony Stewart Racing into one of the WoO’s dominant racing team, along other successful efforts in dirt racing such as winning USAC’s National Sprint Car and Silver Crown titles in 2011 along with the prestigious Knoxville Nationals with driver Donny Schatz.

Carr has also played a dominate role in Stewart’s success behind the wheel of a Sprint Car, where the team has several victories, including two in a row at Ohsweken Speedway when the Outlaws have made their annual appearance at that Southern Ontario track.

Carr, who manages five race teams from Brownsburg Indiana, has said that winning in Canada as part of the Stewart effort has made him very proud.

“That’s a huge notch in my belt to put Tony in victory lane at an Outlaw race,” he said. “That’s probably one of the coolest things to happen to me. In all the years I’ve raced, I didn’t get a chance to race in Canada very often, but when we did I never got a win, so his first-time win was a first-time win for me as well.”

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.

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.

Paul Cooke

Paul Cooke tweaks Roger McCaig’s McLaren M8E

Inducted 2011

Starting in 1957 racing an MG-TC, Paul Cooke went on to an illustrious career racing a variety of road racing cars for many years before contributing to the sport as a team manager, mechanic, and senior race official.

After competing for several seasons in the early 1960s in cars such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Austin-Healey in which he won the sports car championship, Paul won the 1964 CASC Touring Car title with the Comstock Holman and Moody-prepared Ford Falcon.

It was also at this time he headed up the Ford of England efforts for the Shell Trans-Canada Rally, and became manager of the Comstock Racing Team for six years, including preparing the winning cars for the Shell 400 rally Fords on three occasions.

During this time, Paul was involved with the elite of Canadian road racing, with considerable success overseeing the programs of 30 race teams with drivers such as Eppie Wietzes and Ludwig Heimrath in the Shelby King Cobra and Ford GT40 race cars.

It was during the Comstock era that the very first racing Mustang was built which Paul raced to its first victory in Quebec.
Paul switched gears after that with a stint as team manager for George Eaton in sports car racing during the Can-Am years, and then with Roger McCaig in Can-Am, Formula 5000, Formula Atlantic, and Formula One.

After his successful career as a team manger, his work included three seasons as race director at Mosport from 1975-77 including F1 races held there.
Paul continued with his involvement with major open-wheeled events in Canada, including the Formula One races in Montreal as Clerk of the Course, a position he still holds today, as well as providing the same duties for the Vancouver and Edmonton IndyCar and IRL events.

Behind the scenes, Paul went on to become Vice-President of the Canadian Racing Drivers Association, and was its competition head from 1985 to 1990, and is presently Vice President, Competition and Director of Karting for ASN Canada FIA.

More recently, Paul partnered with Ron Fellows and Tom Ryley to help vault Canadian kart racers to international prominence leading to Canada in 2010 having four karting World Champions.

Throughout his racing career, Paul has made an outstanding contribution to the development, sustainability, and safety of motorsport in Canada.

Image courtesy of Ken Graham.

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

John Webster

Inducted 2010

John’s name is synonymous with Boat Racing in Canada and throughout much of the USA. 2010 was the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Boating Federation (CBF). The CBF is Canada’s recognized sanctioning body by the World sanctioning body, the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) in Monaco. 2012 is the anniversary of the Toronto Outboard Racing Club (TORC), Canada’s oldest and largest sanctioned powerboat racing club. John has been a very influential member of both of these groups. He is the winningest powerboat driver in all of Canadian boat racing history. He has also stepped up and beyond that incredible achievement to volunteer and guide at the race level as an Official, club level as a President, and Canadian sanctioning body level as a Division Chairman. He also volunteers to work at every racing trade show display.

John is the longest standing member of TORC, he has been a member since it started in 1952 to this day. He may also be Canada’s longest CBF member being a steady member 58 of its 60 year history.

Image via boatracingfacts.com

Roger Peart

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Inducted 2010

While in school to become an engineer in the UK, Roger Peart’s involvement with motorsport began in 1949 when he worked as a racing mechanic. Moving to Canada, Peart began his own racing career as a rally driver, often behind the wheel of the Volvo factory team.

Moving to circuit racing in 1964, Roger Peart raced on tracks across North America, driving a variety of cars from Mini Coopers to Porsche 911, Formula Ford and several special sports racers.

In 1967, Peart became involved with the organizational end of the sport, acting as Chief Timekeeper, Chief Steward, Chief Scrutineer, Clerk of the Cource and Race Director at events across Canada. This would prove to be Peart’s primary role within the sport moving forward.

Having been Vice-President and then President of Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs (CASC), Peart became President of ASN Canada FIA, which is the governing body for motorsport in Canada under the FIA, the world governing body.

In 1978, Roger Peart designed the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, which remains home to the Canadian Grand Prix. As Clerk of the Course and Race Director for the first ten years that the Canadian GP has been held in Montreal, Peart continues to be the National Steward at the Canadian round of the Formula One World Championship.

Following the creation of the Canadian circuit, Peart became increasingly active in Formula 1 track safety. Peart has served on the FIA Circuits Commission, which is in charge of safety standards at all tracks that host international racing events, since 1978 and has stood as President since 1998.

Roger Peart is also a member of the FIA Safety Commission, which has overall responsibility for motorsport safety and of the FIA Open Cockpit Research Group. This is a “Think Tank” group which focuses on open cockpit safety issues.