Legendary automaker Ferrari is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year and the red carpet was rolled out in New York City’s Rockefeller Center to showcase some of the beautiful vehicles created through the years. It’s rare to see so many cars displayed in one place in Manhattan – space comes at a premium, so car shows and even this past summer’s Formula e races are generally relegated to the humbler outer boroughs. Million dollar babies such as these keep their appearances to the refinement of an exclusive concours d’elegance, so this was quite the treat for tourists and the few stalwart New Yorker Ferrari fans who braved the throngs to stare at the cars and dream. Front and center was the new LaFerrari Aperta, the new limited-edition special series hybrid with a v12 engine. The exhibit was capped on both ends by race cars; on the south end, the 2017 488 Challenge, and the north end, F2001 Chassis #211 raced by the legendary driver Michael Schumacher, and winner of the Monaco and Hungarian Grand Prixes (in 2001). Enough typing – you really just want to see the Ferrari porn.
As a kid in the Seventies, I used to look forward to the Toronto auto show every year. My parents had split up, which meant no more race cars for me, but my step-father always took me to the auto show and for a number of years that was the only place that I got to see racing cars. Then, at some point, someone in charge of the show decided that race cars did not belong at a show for new cars and the show got boring. Over the years, you began to see more fun, but never to the same level.
Until, that is, Jason Campbell took over as the General Manager of the show, now known as the Canadian International Autoshow. With a background in international motorsport marketing, think Red Bull, Campbell immediately set to work making the show fun again. It meant the return of motorsport in a big way, with a celebration of the 100th running of the Indy 500. With the fun came attendance and the 2016 show saw more guests go through the turnstiles than ever before.
To open the 2017 show, Campbell worked with my old boss, Norris McDonald and using their combined talents brought together a collection of individuals who have been influential in Formula 1 in Canada since the earliest days along with some incredible cars that were part of the action.
The day before the show opened for the media preview, a crowd of maybe 100 or so people gathered in a hall at in the MTCC to oogle race cars and listen to this group swap tales. The conversation began with Bob Hanna, the man who brought Grand Prix racing to this country.
Originally scheduled for an hour or so, the event ran closer to three, as people such as former Canadian F1 team owner Walter Wolf and F1 driver Alan Berg reminisced. As time progressed, Canadian racing legend Ron Fellows, who now co-owns Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (home of the Canadian Grand Prix when it was called Mosport) was followed by 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. The latter was joined by his Mother and Sister.
The racing machinery, which remains on display throughout the public show, is even more impressive. The Villeneuve connection is strong here, as the first car one sees when they enter in Gilles Villeneuve’s Ford Mustang, freshly restored and looking perfect. A Ferrari 312 T3 that Gilles drove sits across from the Williams driven by his son.
There is a Cooper, driven by Bruce McLaren and the ’78 Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing machine piloted by Mario Andretti. A Lotus driven by Ayrton Senna sits across from a Nigel Mansell Ferrari.
With the FIA Masters Historic Formula 1 Championship coming to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in June, the track also has a multimedia display in the collection, offering up free entry to the event, printed on cool reproductions of the 1967 Grand Prix of Canada tickets.
To learn more, visit the Canadian International Autoshow online
It hardly seems that long, but twenty years ago today, one of the greatest drivers of all time, Ayrton Senna, was killed while leading the San Marino Grand Prix. Millions of fans around the world were stunned that their champion was gone. Senna was more than just a racing driver however, he was a symbol that ignited passion around the world, but nowhere was his impact felt more than in his home country. Brazil was a country with many problems and Senna drew the country together.
Because of the insanely early broadcast time and the fact that I forgot to PVR it, I didn’t watch the Australian Grand Prix. Then, last Monday all I saw on my various social media streams were complaints of penis nosed cars that sounded like pregnant lawn equipment. Oh, there were also discussions about a Red Bull F1 driver I have never heard of who was disqualified for some technical infraction that sounded like it was at least partly the FIA’s fault. Sounded like I wasn’t missing anything.
I did however watch the excellent internet feed from Sebring, where the IMSA folks seemed to finally figure out how to properly broadcast a race online. I got to watch some monumental incidents that were caused by pay-to-play drivers with limited talent that damn near killed a couple of pros. I did have to get out of the house for a while, so I missed the incidents that led up to IMSA race control’s colossal blunder. In case you missed it, IMSA assessed an 80 second stop and go penalty for avoidable contact to a car that was nowhere near the incident in question. The penalty most likely caused a dramatic change to the podium at the end of the day. This marked two events in a row where IMSA officials had made major gaffs that affected the outcome of the competition.
It may sound like a bit of a cliche, but without volunteers, there would be no auto racing. The reality of the sport is that even a club racing event requires an small (sometimes not so small) army of people to make the action on track happen. From the folks at the front gate and the those giving out directions to fans, to the grid crews and corner workers, most are volunteers, even at a Grand Prix. Beyond their love of racing and maybe a free burger and a beer, all these good folks want at the end of the day is a bit of well deserved recognition.
The gang at CAMStvmedia have taken the time to put together this fantastic thank you for all of the volunteers at the Australian GP, that includes some heavy hitters like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Good on ya lads!
It was Tuesday before I could get a flight home. I had planned to stay over for Monaco. By then Gilles had been home several days and was lying-in-state in the vestibule of the local arena in Berthierville. The lines to view his body just went on and on. He was dressed in a white, what I thought was a driver’s suit, but I have heard conflicting reports since. When I went to pay my respects, there were so many people there I almost turned for home. I was undergoing such a range of emotions I had never felt so intensely before. I wanted to comfort the family, but was not sure it was just me I wanted to comfort. Gaston was in hospital under heavy sedation. He had lost the son he never had. He and Gilles were closer than a Father and son. Like many Fathers, Gaston had pulled Gilles out of many of life’s ditches. I drove directly to Berthierville from the airport. After paying my respects I headed for home in Ottawa. I had seen my friend for the last time.
I am still in a fog about most of that week. I am not sure if it was the Thursday that the funeral was held, but I drove to Berthierville with my good friend David Morgan-Kirby, an avid race fan and sometimes journalist who, like I, had watched the rise of Gilles from Formula Fords to Formula One. He had taken the time to interview Gilles when he was in the lower ranks and still would get a good reception from him even though Gilles was now at the top of his game. David and I and my wife at the time sat in the loft to the right of the chequered flag draped coffin. We were within fifty feet of Jody when he gave the eulogy. David, a stoic Englishman was rock solid. My wife was a blithering mess. I was just stunned. In less than a week I had done the final negotiation for our Grand Prix book, received a significant advance against royalties, ventured overseas and returned home broken, but I was in better shape than my friend who was now the centre of a different type of attention.
After it was all over Gilles’ body was taken to Montreal to be cremated. Joanne would then take the ashes back to Monaco. We followed the black Cadillac to Montreal on our return to Ottawa. I thought of the ‘Red Cadillac’ on this drive. David and I reminisced about all we had seen. There was a lot of laughter and tears on that drive. We got seriously drunk that night. [Read more…]
When the teams convened in Zolder two weeks after the Imola race the tensions between FOCA and FIA plus the tension between Gilles and Didier had not diminished. All of the teams this time showed up and got to work. The media had fanned the flames between Gilles and Didier. Gilles had vowed to ‘never speak to that man again’. He was true to his word and they avoided each other in the pits.
Since the 1981 race that saw the death of one mechanic and serious injury to another, the pit and paddock area had been replaced by a completely new and safer installation.
Friday morning there were two sessions, one for pre-qualifying and one for regular untimed practice to sort out the cars. Near the end of the second session a short rain began to fall. They halted the session. By the time qualifying began the rain had stopped and the track was dry. Gilles spent some of Friday evening with the mechanics as they prepared the cars for Saturday’s final qualifications.
Saturday morning it was cool and dry. Rain threatened both the untimed morning session and final qualification in the afternoon. Prost and Arnoux were in fine form and held down the first and second fastest times with Rosburg in third and Lauda right back on form in fourth.
The usual squabbling between the FIA and FOCA was noticeably absent at the start of the 1982 season. Alan Jones had become disenchanted with the almost suspension-less cars and had gone home to Australia. The rumour mill was rampant with as many as three former World Champions to appear on the grid for the season. Jackie Stewart, James Hunt and Niki Lauda were all reported to have been offered large sums of cash to put on a helmet again. Only Lauda appeared at McLaren with John Watson as his backup.
Carlos Reutemann had intended to retire but reconsidered when Jones left the team. Keke Rosburg was his second at Williams. Mario left Alfa-Romeo to return to America and IndyCar racing. Gilles and Didier remained with Ferrari. Piquet teamed with Recardo Patrese at Brabham while Prost and Arnoux returned to Renault. Mansell and de Angelis took up the cores with Lotus and March retained Jochen Mass alongside newcomer Raul Boesel.
Gilles thought 1982 was going to be his year. Ferrari would win the constructors championship, but things would be very different in the drivers race.
South Africa started the season and a rift over the new driver’s super license which the drivers felt they could be traded like cattle at the whim of the team owners. Once this got straightened out the race got underway. Gilles had qualified third behind Arnoux and Piquet. Didier was qualified sixth. Both Ferrari would drop out of the race with Gilles blowing a turbo and Didier having a misfire and finishing in eighteenth.
This is a guest post from friend of The Garage, Jeremy Sale. It was originally published in this month’s edition of the VARAC newsletter.
I came across a report of the Canadian GP in 1977 the other day. It reminded me of a story I wrote which included a report of the infamous incident when James Hunt punched out a marshal. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the context of the episode:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“By lap 60 Andretti was still leading with Hunt in hot pursuit. In fact, so quick was their pace that they had lapped everyone except HuntÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team mate, Jochen Mass. As the two leaders came up behind him Mass managed to impede Andretti at Moss Turn and Hunt quickly took advantage, getting by Andretti and into the lead. But Hunt was still behind his about to be lapped team mate Mass and somehow at turn three the two came together and Hunt was put out of the race. Hunt, after standing trackside, angrily shaking his fist at Ã¢â‚¬Å“Herman the GermanÃ¢â‚¬Â as he called his team mate, tried to cross the track and was restrained by a marshal. Still furious, Hunt punched the marshal, who went down for the count. Hunt was fined $2,750. Mass went on to finish third.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Team orders were banned in F1 after 2002. The reason was fan outrage at Ferrari’s blatant and obvious orders to then driver Ruebens Barrichelo to allow Michael Schumacher to pass him and then their botched attempt at the US GP to stage manage the finish. Michael did have it in his contract that he was the #1 driver and his teamate had to defer to him. Up to that point team orders had been the norm. Back in the 30’s and mid 50’s if you disobeyed Herr Neubauer, the Mercedes Team Manager, on Sunday, you were unemployed on Monday.
After the rule was implemented for 2003 and beyond teams did on occasion manage to ‘arrange’ finishes. It usually occured late in the season when one driver had a good chance of winning the Championship and the other did not. However, the teams managed to do it in ways that were not too obvious, although on occasion suspisions were aroused. It could be done by the timing of pit stops, which was easier when there were more stops with refueling, which is now banned. Or a pit stop would be slightly botched allowing the team’s other driver to gain the spot. Sometimes there were subtle instuctions given such as be very careful of your brakes, we have a problem, or conserve fuel, we are close. Almost always those instructions came from the Team Manager or even as Eddie Jordan said from the team principal. He said when he owned a team and orders were given regarding a position he did it himself.
Well yesterday in the German GP Ferrari wanted Alonso to win but Massa was leading after a brilliant start from 3rd and passing both Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in the first turn. For Massa it was a real boost as it was a year to the day he had almost been killed by a spring coming off of Barrichelo’s Brawn.