Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dario Franchitti at the Canadian Motorsports Expo

Some of the top racers in the world joined fans at the 2011 Canadian Motorsports Expo (CME) including IndyCar and Indy 500 Champion Dario Franchitti. The IRL driver signed lots of pictures and other racing memorabilia before joining media for a round table discussion and later one on one interviews. Dario is a favourite of Toronto fans for his win at the 2009 Toronto Honda Indy as well as his second place finish at the 2010 race, his great Scottish accent and his lovely wife - actress Ashley Judd. I look forward to seeing Dario putting the pedal to the metal in this years edition on the streets of Toronto.
Joining the motorsports superstars was Canadian and race champion Ron Fellows (below). NASCAR Champion Brad Keselowski was at the show on Sunday - see my post here.
For the stock car enthusiast there were plenty of NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers taking part in a Q&A session along with an autograph signing. The drivers were Howie Scannell Jr, Don Thomson Jr, Jason White, DJ Kennington (2010 NCTS Champion, pictured below), Caitlin Johnston, Jason Hathaway, Mark Dilley, Shawn McGlynn and Robin Buck.
Sports media personalities did there best to pick out some of the highlights and predictions for motorsport racing. The Toronto Star's Norris McDonald always provides plenty of great stories gathered over a lifetime of watching and reporting on drivers and races. In the photo below, from left to right are Russ Bond, Erik Thomas (Race Line Radio), Tim Miller (Hamilton Spectator), Norris McDonald (Toronto Star), Todd Lewis and Gerald Donaldson.
The media discussion focused on marketing, especially relating to the Honda Indy Toronto, and the state of Main Stream Media (MSM) reporting. The consensus seemed to be that the Honda Indy Toronto needed the talents and money of a big brewery who would promote both the race and their beers and that racing information will be best found on the web. Much of MSM seems to care less about motorsports. These guys have the knowledge, experience and stories - plus they have a great sense of humour. Norris McDonald (below) talked about the move of his column into the weekend Wheels section of the Toronto Star.
Some of the various topics included best and worst interview subjects, pet peeves and the growth of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Norris, sports columnist and media statesman, also hoped that the Toronto Indy gets better promotion, said that no one new is writing about autosports and that drivers, instead of being nurtured, must now bring in the sponsorship money. 
Erik Thomas of Raceline Radio (above) thinks some races are too long, that the cost of racing has become too much for many and that the NASCAR sticker on former CASCAR vehicles was supposed to open the door to support, which in a large part did not happen. He also thinks that the Honda Indy Toronto is on track with the free friday promotion.

Todd Lewis of Todd Lewis Sports Entertainment thinks that the temporary loss of the Edmonton Indy was the screw up of local government (over paving) hopes that racing gets more sponsors and that new talented Canadian drivers fill the shoes of drivers like Paul Tracy, is concerned that all series are dollar driven and that money decides who gets to drive (sometimes over talent). Todd didn't feel that it was realistic that the NASCAR sticker would open the door to financial support that many hoped and that he sees that the NCTS is becoming a feeder series into the U.S. NASCAR series.

There were some Drag Racers displaying their rockets on wheels - Cassie Simonton (pictured below) had her car at the show.
Hooters girls and other models provided some beautiful atmosphere which was just perfect for a car show - see the ladies and some pictures of the motorsport show after the jump.

Hooters Girl, Toronto Airport

Hooters Girl

James joins some of the models (photos by Fresh Joe)

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