15 Apr Gary Magwood discusses the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame
Gary Magwood discusses the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame
By Bryce Turner
Gary Magwood was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF). And this past February, he was inducted as a new member during the Induction Gala at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, during the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS).
Dressed in a kilt for the special occasion, Magwood spent some time chatting about the Hall and his induction, during the post-ceremony cocktail party.
His motorsports resume boasts experience as a driver, racing in the Canadian Championship Series and 12 Hours of Sebring, and in several other roles away from the cockpit, including managing a Can-Am entry and operating his own racing school.
But it was years later when the idea of a Hall of Fame celebrating Canadian motorsport was discussed with a colleague.
“I was working with a guy who was a real motor racing enthusiast,” said Magwood. “One day he asked me, ‘is there a Canadian motorsport hall of fame?’ I said, ‘nope.’ He said, ‘why don’t we start one?’ It was that simple.”
The inaugural class, in 1993, featured Bill Brack, John Cannon, Billy Foster, Imperial Tobacco, Bob McLean, Chuck Rathgeb, Peter Ryan, Bill Sadler, Gilles Villeneuve and Eppie Wietzes.
Magwood said the critical element, in that first year, was establishing credibility.
“The toughest thing was convincing the ten inductees that we had decided to bring to the first Hall of Fame (gala) that this was legitimate,” he said. “A lot of them were like ‘oh yeah, right, Magwood with another scheme.’ But once they got there and they saw the whole black-tie deal, then it was not a problem.”
In the early years, the induction gala included dinner.
Magwood said each inductee received a table for the first year, with each table sitting ten guests. The dinner format is one gala element he misses.
“I think the sitting down dinner thing – having food together – is a little more like family,” he said. “I mean all these guys, it doesn’t matter if they’re drag racers or stock car racers or go kart racers, they’re racers.”
Magwood acknowledged the impressive number of people in attendance at the most recent gala, which was held inside a theatre setting, with a cash bar and silent auction in the lobby.
He also noted the Hall’s biggest successes, and where there’s room to grow the CMHF.
Looking at the positives, Magwood continued, “I think just getting everybody together and the acknowledgement that people in motor racing are now receiving,” he said. “It’s got a credibility and a legitimacy that maybe it didn’t have when it first started.”
In addition to existing as a virtual hall of fame, Magwood would also like to see the CMHF get back to collecting historic material. “The Hall needs to look at the archival thing a bit more and look at how we’re going to save some of this material for future reference and things like that.”
This year’s gala ceremony marked the first in full partnership with the CIAS, which hosted the gala at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s John Bassett Theatre.
Magwood believes this association with the CIAS will be good for the Hall.
“My involvement with motor racing is so limited now. I live out in the country and I don’t go to the track anymore or anything like that,” he said. “But I think working with the AutoShow and stuff like that is worthwhile. I think that will be a good omen for continued recognition.”
Magwood was one of seven inductees honoured during the February 15 ceremony. Additionally, ten media members were inducted as part of launching a new category to honour those who distinguished themselves via their coverage of Canadian motorsports.
To read more about this year’s inductees, click here.
All photos by John R. Walker / One Word.