Jim O’Donnell

Inducted 2009

Wishing to create a brand identity for his financial firm, Jim O’Donnell took his love of auto racing and merged this love with his business acumen to provide a solid marketing tool in motorsports sponsorship.

O’Donnell worked with Ron and Rob Fellows in the Players GM Series, and then, with the MacKenzie Financial backing, entered into the world of Trans Am racing with Ron Fellows driving for the teams of Jack Roush and Tom Gloy.

Then O’Donnell ramped up his involvement with a foray into Indy car, promoting the MacKenzie name in major centers across North America.

The familiar blue and silver cars were part of the Dick Simon, Ron Hemelgarn, Doug Shearson, and Derrick Walker teams.

Driving the MacKenzie cars included Ludwig Heimrath Jr and then Scott Goodyear, who achieved the greatest success, winning two Indycar events, and placing second in the coveted Indy 500 by only the blink of an eye in the closest one-two Indy 500 finish in history.

Aside from winning on the track, O’Donnell was also a winner with his clients, providing hospitality at the races, successfully merging business and pleasure.

Frank Allers

Inducted 2005

Frank Allers of Coquitlam, B.C., is one of Canada’s finest and most versatile road racing drivers. He started his racing career at the Jim Russell Race Drivers School Formula Ford series at the Sentterton Race Circuit in England in 1971 and went on to score many victories and championships. He was national champion of the Honda-BF Goodrich/Michelin Challenge Series in 1978 and ’79 and was western champion of the Player’s GM Motorsports Series every year but one between 1987 and 1992. Driving in the Formula Atlantic series from 1987 until 1998, he was Canadian Player’s Ltd. Formula Atlantic champion in 1990. He finished second in the series in 1989 and 1991. In all, he made more than 90 professional Formula Atlantic starts. He ran in the Speedvision World Challenge series for two seasons – 2000 and ’01 – at the wheel of a Corvette C5. Being a consistent front-runner, he was included in GM Racing’s prestigious A list. Although he hasn’t raced competitively since August 2001, he still does occasional driver-training work. Frank lives in B.C. with his wife Kate and they have a daughter, Lisa. Frank owns and operates Frank Allers Autosport, a successful Porsche service and tuning business in North Vancouver.

Richard Spenard

Inducted 2001

Richard Spenard has been a very active and successful competitor at the senior level of Canadian and international motor racing for more than 25 years. In fact, he tops the list for the most wins in Canadian road-racing history. He won his first championship title in 1974 with eight victories in 10 races at the Jim Russell Racing School series at Mont Tremblant. He raced Formula Atlantic in Canada and the United States and was a teammate of Gilles Villeneuve in 1977. Not content with pavement, Richard also won the Quebec Ice Series championship that year. Richard won Canadian championships, year-after-year, from the late ’70s onward in Production GT racing, Formula 2000, the Players GM series and the Porsche Turbo Cup series. In 1986, a banner year, he recorded 12 wins in 24 starts in three different series (F2000, Porsche and GM), including four wins in the Players series, six wins and two poles in Formula 2000 and two wins and four poles in the Porsche Turbo Cup. He holds the record for most wins, poles and earnings in both the Porsche and GM series. Richard has also raced in European Formula 3, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona and has recorded victories and poles in Trans-Am, IMSA and North American Endurance racing. But the Quebec native is known for more than being a great racing driver. He is also one of the finest racing instructors in North America. He started teaching initially at the Jim Russell school at Riverside and Laguna Seca raceways in California. In 1985, he founded the Spenard-David racing school at Shannonville, Ont. He was the first teacher for such Canadian stars as World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, the late Greg Moore, Patrick Carpentier, David Empringham, Ron Fellows and Trevor Siebert. He was employed for a number of years as the driving coach for the Player’s-Forsythe CART team (Carpentier and Tagliani) and was director of the Player’s driver development program during its existence. Although Richard doesn’t drive as often these days, he’s still fast. Who among us will ever forget his win in the Motorola Cup race at the 1998 Molson Indy when he drove to victory all the way from the back of the pack. Or the Enduro race, also at the Molson Indy, when – not even entered until the night before the race and not having any practice time whatsoever, he started last – and won. A man who freely admits that his timing for success in racing’s upper echelons was never the best, Richard Spenard was nevertheless one of the greatest racing talents ever to come out of this country. He has been a marvelous ambassador for Canadian motorsport and is most worthy of induction into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.

Players Motorsport

Few companies have had as profound an effect on Canadian racing history as Players. Despite the global ban on tobacco sponsorship in sports, the Players legacy lives on. The promotional video below showcases the involvement of Players in Canadian motorsport.

Imperial Tobacco

Inducted 1993

image via playerschallengeseries.ca