In 2011, Norris McDonald missed the running of the Indy 500, one of his most cherished pastimes, to accept his induction into the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame, which was held the same weekend.
“I had planned to go to Indy and its 100th birthday,” McDonald noted at the time. “But I’ve said it 1000 times – this is the only hall of fame I’ll ever get into.”
Well, for once, McDonald, one of this country’s most prominent motorsports journalists, was uncharacteristically wrong.
McDonald is now being honored by the Canadian racing world for his contributions to the sport. A former racer himself, he has gone on to not only promote the sport through his writings, he has broadcast various aspects of the sport through radio, television, and as a track announcer.
McDonald has been involved with the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame almost since its inception, serving various committees as well as acting as master of ceremonies during its annual induction ceremonies.
First and foremost a newspaperman, McDonald worked on various Ontario dailies before beginning his tenure at the Toronto Star. As the Star’s motorsport correspondent, he travelled to significant racing events, providing his readers race results and recaps with a flourish from his pen.
McDonald tried his hand at racing, starting with the most powerful class in short track racing. From his Kingston base he acquired a taste for the speedy Super Modifieds, and from 1982 through 1989 was a car owner, with weekly treks to Oswego. He even tried to race one of these powerful winged beasts, but quickly learned he would rather write about the cars and teams than drive one. But he did stay on at Oswego as part of the track’s announcing crew as the starting line announcer. McDonald would chat it up with the drivers, usually to the delight of the fans who appreciated his sense of humor while he strolled the front straight, usually wearing his totally out-of-place bright red Ferrari shirt.
A life-long IndyCar fan, McDonald covered his first 500 in 1969 for the Globe and Mail, and has continued to offer insight in that series ever since. He has covered virtually every type of motorsport, and along with his writings on the major series that are a large part of the sport, he has rightfully reported on the local and amateur aspects of the sport with the same attitude and respect.
A couple of years ago, McDonald assumed new duties at the Star as the Wheels section editor. Along with providing road test reports and current automotive news, Wheels readers enjoy timely and entertaining features on motorsports, thanks to his influence. McDonald is still a fixture at various races throughout the season, and he provides his views through his regular racing blog site on the Wheels website.
And whether it’s Formula One, IndyCar, or the local bull ring, McDonald continues to write with the same passion he did when he started. He gets behind the news, gives us food for thought, and is not afraid to get controversial.
The press often writes about personalities in the sport who are honored for their work and contribution, but rarely does the spotlight shine on one of the media.