New members honoured at CMHF induction gala

TORONTO, ON – New members honoured at CMHF induction gala

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF) induction gala took place Saturday, February 15, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s John Bassett Theatre.

For the first time ever, the gala was part of the Canadian International AutoShow.

Seventeen new inductees were enshrined, including seven general inductees and ten members in a new “media” category.

Long-time journalist and past inductee Norris McDonald emceed the event, which also featured comments from CMHF board chair Dr. Hugh Scully.

The honour meant a little something different to the various media members, who were up first during the induction ceremony.

For former Globe and Mail columnist and current Inside Track Motorsport News correspondent Jeff Pappone, his fellow 2020 inductees made the night special.

“Part of this is a little bittersweet because Graham Jones was somebody I met early in my career and I really admired him and he really helped me a lot in a lot of ways. The same with Dean (McNulty), and neither one of them is here,” he said, remembering the two deceased inductees. “On the other hand, the thing that I find really interesting is one of the first drivers I did stories about was Bruno Spengler, who is being inducted with me.”

Raceline Radio host Erik Tomas noted the history of the over 200 CMHF members when thinking about his induction.

“I think the biggest honour is who you’re joining in this Hall of Fame; the people who were in this Hall of Fame before I arrived,” he said. “The list is amazing. I won’t even try and list all of them or even some of them. The best race car drivers and auto racing administrators in this country are in this Hall of Fame and there’s still more to come.”

Most of the media members being inducted reported on the sport, in broadcast or print.

For veteran photographer Dave Franks, who frequents the short tracks of southern Ontario, there are two things that stand out about his induction.

“I guess the best part about it really is, and I’m not making this up, it’s a fact, they’ve done it while I’m alive to enjoy what goes with it,” he said.

The second thing that stands out is what’s unique about him.

“What really made it special to me is that ten of us (media members) got inducted into this Hall of Fame, nine of them were writers and there was one photographer.”

It was also observed that Franks took a photo or two during the ceremony, still working away while being honoured.

For long-time Hamilton Spectator reporter Tim Miller, he was “gobsmacked” when he received the call from Dr. Hugh Scully. He was also pleased that journalists were being recognised.

“We’ve always been the unsung heroes in a lot of ways and I think we’ve always kind of been in the background,” he said. “But racing is not just cars and the drivers, it’s the track workers, it’s the people that own the tracks, it’s the sponsors, it’s the promoters and it’s the people that write about it.”

Also inducted in the media category and in attendance were Gerald Donaldson and Dan Proudfoot.

Pierre Lecours was unable to attend due to illness, while the late Dean McNulty, Graham Jones and Len Coates were also honoured.

The first of the general inductees on stage was Allen Berg, who was joked about by those who followed as having the longest speech of the night.

Berg said he became aware of the relevance of his induction as time went on.

“The people that contacted me, people from my past to remind me ‘we met at this particular race event, this many years ago at this track,’ it started to bring back memories that otherwise I had long forgotten,” he said. “It’s been great to be recognised, it’s allowed me to remember a lot of things.”

The alphabetical order of the seven inductees was ironic in that it lined up friends Robin Buck and Larry Caruso, back-to-back in the induction order.

“For me, it’s a great honour,” said Buck. “I’m being inducted with a couple of guys that I know very well in Larry Caruso and Ed Hakonson and Gary Magwood. So, to be inducted with these gentlemen is phenomenal, it’s an honour.”

“I’ve got to agree with my buddy Robin,” said Caruso. “It’s really amazing that two drivers can be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the same night, we go back a long way. When he mentioned Ed Hakonson, the other inductees for tonight, these are a lot of people we’ve worked with in the industry, it’s fantastic.”

New members could be inducted by either McDonald or someone of their choice. For Buck, he had Caruso do the honours.

Hakonson’s introduction was welcomed with cheers from a large group of guests that came with him.

Following the NASCAR team owner was long-time Formula One Grand Prix du Canada promoter Normand Legault and someone who helped start the CMHF in Gary Magwood, who wore a kilt to the ceremony.

The final inductee of the night was Bruno Spengler, who noted the magnitude of this recognition.

“I’m very happy to be here, very proud,” he said. “I know what this means here and for me it’s something I’m going to remember for all my life.”

Keeping with recent tradition, there was also a Rising Star award winner and an international inductee.

NASCAR Truck Series driver Raphael Lessard was named this year’s Rising Star, and sent in a video message due to racing commitments at Daytona International Speedway.

Days prior to the ceremony, at another event, McLaren Racing was announced as the International Inductee and is featured in an AutoShow display, in partnership with the CMHF.