22 Jun CMHF Induction Gala Recap – Classes of 2020 and 2021
The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF) induction gala took place May 28, 2022. Following two pandemic-related postponements, the classes of 2020 and 2021 were inducted at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto.
Emcee Todd Lewis, filling in for the usual emcee and 2013 inductee Norris McDonald, welcomed a near-capacity crowd and viewers watching a live stream, before CMHF chair Dr. Hugh Scully provided his opening remarks.
Inductions for the class of 2020 were up first, in alphabetical order. With Myles Brandt unable to attend due to a family function, 89-year-old Jim Bray, still active as a NASCAR Pinty’s Series owner, was the first to make a speech.
“It sounds like a NASCAR deal,” joked Bray. “(Bray’s wife) Pam said she thought there were 25 people here to see me but there were only 21, sounds like a NASCAR deal.”
In NASCAR, teams are black flagged if there’s something wrong with their car and the series determines that they must address it or if they need to serve a penalty. If the driver doesn’t pit soon after, their car will no longer be scored.
With 31 members being inducted in one night, time limits were strict, so Bray was the first of multiple members to have a black flag displayed at them by CMHF board member Dennis Cadotte, indicating that it was time to wrap up their speech.
An inductee who had already collected some hardware this year was L.P. Dumoulin. Dumoulin received the championship ring for his third NASCAR Pinty’s Series title about a month and a half before receiving his CMHF plaque. The list of names in the hall was not lost on him.
“There are a lot of names out here tonight and a lot of names in the CMHF that I was growing up, looking at them like giants,” said Dumoulin. “And here I am tonight, so I’ve got chills and I’m very humbled but very, very proud and honoured to be here in the Hall of Fame. I couldn’t believe it.”
The honour meant something a little bit different for each inductee. For ten-time North American Rally Co-Driving champion Nathalie Richard, it was the ability to be an inspiration.
Richard had told people outside of motorsports many times that a key difference between rally racing and mainstream sports is that men and women compete against each other, not in separate leagues.
“During my career, I never once aimed to be the best woman at the sport, I always just wanted to be the best,” said Richard. “Now, I wish the same for other girls and I focus on a different, or more intentional, role of trying to inspire and encourage as many girls as I can to join me on this long list of CMHF inductees.”
The other class of 2020 inductees were Danny Burritt, Kevin Dowler, Mike Miller, Alex Nagy (Jr.), Lawrence Partington, Anne Roy, Steve Robblee, Dr. Robert F. Seal, Ron St. Clair, Kenny Wilden and Doug Woods.
There was no shortage of connections between the inductees. St. Clair was an announcer for CASCAR, where Dowler, Nagy and Robblee raced. He also announced at Delaware Speedway, where Robblee won track championships.
Nagy was previously the series director of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, where Dumoulin races. Roy was a media coach for several drivers, including Dumoulin. Richard raced in many events where Partington produced the broadcast. And those are just some of the connections.
Next up in the proceedings was the Rising Star award, accepted virtually by reigning FEL Sports Car Championship Canada GT4 class champion Marco Signoretti. After that was this year’s International Inductee, long-time Formula 1 lead executive Bernie Ecclestone, who also accepted the honour virtually.
Dr. Scully then presented special awards to past CMHF general manager Sid Priddle and past CMHF board member John Magill, who both recently stepped away from their roles. Vice chair Peter Lockhart presented an award to Dr. Scully, who himself is retiring.
Following the special presentations, inductions resumed with the class of 2021.
The only inductee to read their full speech in both English and French was Bertrand Godin, an open-wheel racer whose resume includes a Formula Atlantic win on Canadian Grand Prix weekend in 1997 and a pair of Formula 1600 wins at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in recent years.
Godin’s speech concluded with an inspirational message about what the honour means to him.
“To me, this award is the award of all awards,” said Godin. “I promise that each time I’ll look at it, I will remember how important it is to keep dreaming, believing and accepting the challenge to make any dream come true.”
Godin looked up to Formula 1 legend Gilles Villeneuve when he was growing up. Villeneuve’s photographer, Allan de la Plante, was inducted in the class of 2021.
De la Plante shared a story about being in a street car with Villeneuve behind the wheel, where manager Gaston Parent and reporter Len Coates were also in the vehicle. He described Villeneuve’s wild driving, weaving and passing cars going down the twisty Don Valley Parkway in Toronto.
When they arrived at a downtown hotel, it took the passengers a moment to catch their breath.
“All I saw with Gilles was him bouncing across the road and into the hotel,” said de la Plante. “Len took about five minutes to get out of the car and Gaston got out and he shook around. The adrenaline rush was bigger and better than it is right now.”
Another engaging story was told by Glenn Styres, who built Ohsweken Speedway, one of Canada’s crown jewel dirt tracks, in his backyard.
The eight-time North American Sprint Car Promoter of the Year apologized to his two kids for having to remove their swing set, years ago, when building the track. He then described how he first started racing.
Styres showed up at Flamboro Speedway with just a race car and was asked by some of his competitors about where his equipment was. He said that nuts and bolts were checked before he left, tires were topped off before he left and the gas tank was filled before he left – so he did not have any tools, spare tires or extra gas.
“And all I could hear is that guy saying ‘somebody better go over there and help that guy,’” said Styres. “Not really knowing absolutely anything, I didn’t even know where Flamboro Speedway was…and here we are today building speedways and promoting.”
Styres is a role model in the Indigenous community and is now the veteran supporting other racers.
“I’m really, really trying to be a part of everybody’s success,” he said. “I’ll always help everybody as much as I can and that’s where I’m at.”
The other class of 2021 inductees were John Bondar, Philippe Brasseur, Patrick Carpentier, Clare Dear, Gerry Frechette, Brian Graham, John Graham, Colin Hine, James (Jim) Martyn, Kandy Mitton, Frank Orr, Howie Scannell and Bill Zardo Sr.
Congratulations to all of the 2020 and 2021 inductees. Nominations are now open for the CMHF class of 2022; submissions can be made here.