This article by Jim Kenzie originally appeared in the Toronto Star Wheels and has been reprinted with permission.
Peter Wright, one of the truly nice guys in the world of Canadian motorsport, passed away last Sunday from cancer. He was 66 years old. He is survived by his wife Lorie.
Peter was first exposed to motorsport when he navigated in rallies with his father in a Mini when Peter wasn’t even old enough to drive.
He parlayed that interest and considerable talent into the Canadian National Road Racing GT1 Class Championship in his Datsun 240Z coupe in 1979.
He continued to compete at many levels, winning dozens of Solo/AutoSlalom competitions and Ice Racing championships.
He also founded Contact Patch, a mobile tire service company which supported events ranging from media and corporate tire testing for companies like Bridgestone and Yokohama, to private clients who wanted to try out their high-performance cars at race tracks and who wanted no worries about their tires standing up to the challenge.
His friend of 40 years standing, Jud Buchanan, invited him to try his hand at navigating again in the Ontario Winter Rally, with the promise that if he didn’t enjoy it, Peter would pay for half the cost and it would never be mentioned again.
That led to him navigating for Buchanan in four Targa Newfoundland rallies in Buchanan’s Acadian Canso coupe, which resulted in the team earning the coveted ‘Gold Plate’ for completing three consecutive Targas while meeting or exceeding the ‘bogey’ times for every stage in the week-long event.
When Porsche Canada initiated its Advanced Driving Program in 1986 – for some years, every purchaser of a new Porsche received a driver training program to make sure (s)he knew how to best handle their new car – Peter was signed on as one of the instructors. It was there that he discovered his true calling.
“He just loved to help people learn how to drive!” said Buchanan. “He’d be the most cheerful guy every morning, and couldn’t wait to get out on the track to impart his knowledge to others.”
Peter was also the track manager for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Test Fest for 21 years, first at Shannonville Motorsport Park near Belleville, subsequently at the Niagara Regional Airport. Wind, rain, shine, even snow, he would be out there making sure every car was allowed onto the high-speed test track in a safe manner.
His ever-present grin and equally-ever-present pipe will not be forgotten.
Billy Joel sang, “Only the Good Die Young.”
He sure got that right.
A Celebration of Peter’s life will be held at:
Mount Albert Lions Club (Main Hall)
5057 Mount Albert Road
Mount Albert Ontario
Friday, April 26, 2013, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friends are invited to share their personal remembrances and tributes starting at 2:00 p.m.