Sir Jackie Stewart

Sir Jackie 1 crop

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame is proud to induct three time Formula 1 Champion Sir Jackie Stewart as the International Category honouree for 2015.

Stewart, 76, burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 1965 with BRM and immediately impressed with his speed and race craft. He took his maiden formula 1 win at the famed Monza Circuit and ended his rookie year third overall in World Championship points behind Formula 1 legends Jim Clark and Graham Hill. After two seasons with Matra that included his maiden title in 1969, Stewart moved to Tyrrell in 1970, where he stayed for the next four years. He retired in 1973 as reigning three-time World Champion.

“My great friend, the late professor Sid Watkins (CMHf class of 2011), and I worked together with Jackie, the foremost driver advocate, addressing all aspects of motorsport safety. We welcome him back to Canada for a most fitting honour,” said Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Chairman Dr. Hugh Scully.

While famous for his racing prowess behind the wheel, many Canadians might recognize the animated Scot and his trademark tartan cap from his years of motorsport colour commentary on the us network ABC’s Wide World of Sports and later on Canadian Grand Prix broadcasts with the CBC and CTV.

“I am very proud,” Stewart said. “I raced in Canada for the first time in 1967 and I had happy times there. After racing, I came to Canada with ABC for commentary in Toronto (CART) and Montreal (Formula 1) and then I worked for CBC and CTV with Brian Williams.”

Fittingly, Stewart’s former Canadian Grand Prix broadcast partner will introduce his old friend at the October gala. Stewart will become the second British driver to be named to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame since the International category was introduced, joining last year’s inductee Nigel Mansell.

In his nine formula 1 seasons, Stewart scored a total of 27 wins, 17 poles and 43 podiums in 99 starts. racing in Canada, Stewart scored back-to-back wins in the 1971 and 1972 Canadian Grands prix in a Tyrrell at Mosport International Raceway, now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). In 1971, Stewart arrived at CTMP as that year’s World Champion. He led 51 of 64 laps in a rain- and fog-shortened race. He lapped all but two cars in collecting his sixth win of 1971.

Stewart returned to CTMP in 1972, where he was faultless, winning another Canadian Grand Prix. Stewart also started from pole at CTMP in 1970 and scored points in two other Canadian races with a sixth in 1968 at Mont-Tremblant and a fifth at CTMP in 1973, which turned out to be his last start in Formula 1. Stewart withdrew from the 1973 season finale at Watkins Glen after teammate François Cevert died in an accident at the track.

Competing in an era where Formula 1 drivers often raced in multiple series, Stewart agreed to drive for the fledgling Carl Haas team in the 1971 Can-Am Championship.

Behind the wheel of a Lola T260, Stewart wrestled pole from the powerful McLaren team’s Denny Hulme and Peter Revson in his Can-Am debut at CTMP before a mechanical failure forced him to retire from the lead. Stewart won the next race at Mont-Tremblant, beating the two McLarens in a head-to-head battle and delivering Carl Haas’s maiden Can-Am victory. Tee Scotsman’s two triumphs that year helped him finish third overall in the standings behind champion Revson and runner-up Hulme.

While he was hard to beat on track, Stewart also worked tirelessly off it to improve safety for drivers and fans in an era where death was commonplace. In 11 years of racing in Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1, Stewart watched 57 fellow competitors perish. The cold reality of the 1960s and 1970s was that a driver competing in F1 for five years was more likely to die than retire.

In the first Canadian Grand Prix in 1967 at Mosport, Stewart was the only driver in the field wearing seatbelts.

While many of his fellow Formula 1 drivers criticized his efforts as detracting from the gladiator image of the sport, Stewart pushed ahead with his reforms. His work in ensuring the proper medical staff and rescue equipment were on hand at Grands Prix undoubtedly helped save many lives.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ralph Luciw

Ralph Luciw in Porsche

Luciw, of Regina, SK is honoured as a competitor, builder and significant contributor. It’s no stretch to say that hundreds of Canadian drivers got their start in racing because of Luciw, who founded the Honda-Michelin Challenge series in 1976. The low-cost series also brought many companies into racing as sponsors. Before he launched the series, Luciw raced in hill climbs and rallies, in addition to building and racing what was possibly Canada’s first Formula Vee car.

Luciw also worked the media relations desk at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, when it was known as Mosport International Raceway, promoting many series such as Can-Am, Formula 1, Formula Ford
and Rothman’s Porsche.

In 1987, the Canadian Automobile Sport Club honoured Luciw with the John Reid trophy for his outstanding contribution to motorsport.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2014 CMHF Celebration of Speed in pictures

CMHOF14 0607-X2

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.

Motorsport marshalling in the early days

MOSPORT-1962-Can-GP-Dailu-mk-I

By the late Leighton Irwin, originally published in The Garage Blog in 2010.

Mosport was a different place in the beginning. To start with it was 10 feet narrower. The top of 7 was ten feet higher and back flips were a real danger. Only run off, if you could call it that, was bottom of 2 where you might get stuck in the swamp. Single row guardrail was at the tunnels at 1 and 9 and at bottom of 4. Tunnels were shorter and no room for error. Jim Hall at 9 and John Surtees at 1 both went over. Both Paul Cooke and Jack Boxstrom went for a swim at 4. Earth banks surrounded the track as protection and cars surmounting them was not unknown. Race Control was the bottom floor of the tower on the inside just past 10. Those working in the pits were well protected from errant cars by a white line painted on the track. All Starts were standing.

At the pro races, spring and fall CRCA would have about 300 marshalls on raceday which was Sat. Fri. practice was another matter but still about 60 to 70 people. Club races would have in excess of a 100 marshalls on Sat. and about 40 on Fri. No Sunday racing back then.
[Read more…]

Rudy Bartling

rudy bartling

Inducted 2011

He had 20 years of racing behind him in 1981, but he had another 20 to go. Rudy Bartling has been described as Canada’s most experienced endurance racer, and Sebring was his second home, as he started that Florida endurance classic 17 times, between 1972 and 1996, the most of any Canadian driver and fifth among all drivers.

Bartling hired himself out for various racing teams throughout his career, driving a series of Porsches not only at Sebring, but in such major venues as the IMSA Camel GT races, the BF Goodrich Sundown Grand Prix, and the Molyslip Endurance Series.

He began racing in the early 1960s, and was the 1962 under two-liter Canadian champion with his Porsche Carrera. After numerous victories including the Oak Cup at Mosport, he placed fourth in the 1968 Road America race with co-driver Ludwig Heimrath in a McLaren Elva.

In his first appearance at Sebring, he placed seventh overall, and took four top-ten finishes at the ex-airport road course, his best placing a sixth overall in 1977.

During his career, Bartling proved he could work on cars successfully as well as drive them. He turned the wrenches for noted California Porsche racer Vasek Polak, first in 1965, and again in 1973 with the Porsche 917 Turbo that was driven by Jody Scheckter.

He continued to race in endurance contests throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, driving with Klaus Bytzek, and the team won four of five Molyslip races in 1997 to win this championship. Also in the same year he was campaigning a Porsche 911 of his own, placing third in the Canada GT Challenge Cup.

Bartling’s success as a racer is only a part of his career. Along with his mechanical skills, the respect from his fellow racers and teams mark his achievements in the world of Canadian motorsport.

Image by Jerry Melton via Etceterini

Wayne Kelly

Inducted 2009

After a successful career racing a Porsche on the 1950s road circuits of Harewood Acres, Green Acres, and Waterford Hills, this Halifax native was instrumental in the development and establishment of the Volkswagen-powered Formula Vee as an affordable and exciting mode of competition.

Known for their quality, attention to detail, and use of aircraft-inspired components, Kelly built two dozen Formula Vee cars.
He raced his own creations, winning the Canadian Formula Vee championship in 1965 and 1968. Others winning with his cars include Brian Robertson and Horst Kroll.

Kelly raced throughout Canada and the US, and campaigned a Chevron Formula B for a time before focusing on an interest in Formula Fords.

With two racers remaining in the 1971 Shoppers World FF Championship, and second place in points, Kelly tragically lost his life while competing during a race at Mosport.

Canadian Race Communications Association

Inducted 2009

While the drivers get all the attention, auto racing would not exist without the help and expertise of the behind-the-scenes groups, groups that organize races and provide all the logistics and safety aspects.

And road racing in Canada is fortunate indeed to have the Canadian Race Communications Association, formed in 1959 to initially provide marshalling services.

In 1960, with 125 members, the CRCA was a welcome part of road racing, and grew with the sport as it entered its modern-day era with the running of events at Mosport Park.

Throughout its 50-plus year history, the CRCA has provided timing, scoring, communications, safety, and fire fighting and rescue services for major Canadian road circuit events, including Formula One, Can-Am racing, karting, the Indy car race in Toronto, and major motorcycle events.

Without the services of the CRCA, racing would not be a safe, well-organized experience for competitors and fans alike.

Harvey Hudes

Inducted 1996

Harvey Hudes was president of Mosport Park for more than 25 years. He guided Mosport through its most successful years when it hosted the Grand Prix of Canada and highly successful Can-Am races. Harvey kept Mosport going strong through some tough times, giving Canadian racers an opportunity to learn on one of the most challenging circuits in the world. He also built an oval to make stock car racing a regular feature at Mosport.

Wallie Branston

Inducted 1997

Wallie Branston of Scarborough, Ont., a pioneer stock car racer, was a consistent winner on Toronto-area tracks (Speedway Park, Oakwood Raceway and the CNE) in the ’40s and ’50s driving a series of Gorries and Bardahl sponsored stock cars. He later became the official starter for Mosport Park, waving the checkered flag for such stars as Jack Brabham, winner of the first Grand Prix of Canada in 1967.

Image via Canadian Racer

C. Alan Bunting

Inducted 2009

C.Alan Bunting was in the right place at the right time.

The man who designed Mosport Park, Canada’s premier road course, emigrated from England in 1956, and quickly became a member of the British Empire Motor Club.

His early interest in motor racing began in the 1930s with forays to Donington Park, the highlight of those treks the 1937 Grand Prix. After World War II he also attended and competed in events at Snetterton and Norfolk before the trip to Canada.

Bunting quickly took to the Canadian road racing scene, joining up with the British Empire Motor Club (BEMC) in 1956, and signed on with the BEMC group whose duty it was to find a suitable site to replace Harewood Acres.

With a strong background in track design from his experience in Europe, Bunting was the driving force behind the development of the new road circuit in the wilds of Southern Ontario just north of Bowmanville.

When the BEMC implemented its plan to replace Harewood Acres with a newer, larger facility, Bunting not only designed the 2.48-mile course, he relentlessly and untiringly spent time with local groups and racing enterprises in getting his design build and helping to raise the necessary funding.

Although there were some issues in building the track, by the spring of 1961 the surface was ready for paving. A club race was held soon after to make sure all was in readiness, and in June 1961 the track officially opened with the running of the Players 200, when the racing world first experienced this world-class facility as Sir Sterling Moss took the victory.