Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day two at Canadian Motorsports Expo 2012

#Toronto race fans reved their engines during the second day of the Inside Track Canadian Motorsports Expo (CME) on Saturday, Feb 11, 2012. Having NASCAR star Carl Edwards join many of Canada's best drivers, like Ron Fellows (photo at top: Ron Fellows, left with Carl Edwards. See more of Carl's appearance here) and the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCTS) Champion Scott Steckly (below), made for happy crowds as they wandered hall six at the International Centre.
NCTS Champion Scott Steckly

This Ferrari seems a little scuffed
A model for the Plazek #11 Team Turner race car

Two lovely, red headed Jeff Gorden fans join a rep from the future Canadian Motor Speedway
Robert Wickens

The hall had automotive vendors, racing equipment and clothing suppliers, reps for racetracks like Sunset Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (the former MOSPORT raceway). Everyone was talking about the young Canadian driver that is destined for great things: Robert Wickens, a former carting champion and a Formula One (F1) reserve driver. 

Tomorrow will be time for IZOD IndyCar Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe and the forerunner to NCTS - the former CASCAR race series.
NCTS driver Jason White

See more of the NCTS drivers and more of the Expo after the jump.

NCTS driver Derek Lynch
Canadian Tire Automotive VP Allan MacDonald
NCTS driver Robin Buck
The Canadian Tire NCTS Champion Trophy
Toronto Airport Hooters was back in orange shorts and tank tops
Ron Fellows and Allan MacDonald with host Glenn Butt. 

Ron really mentors young drivers and always seeks support for carting series. He also works behind the scenes coaching Danica Patrick who he says is the real deal, "she can wheel." Ron also brought out Robert Wickens who he described as a talented young man who is the "complete package." Robert said he wouldn't be in the position he is without carting and the support of Ron Fellows.

Sunset Speedway

Kings of Canadian Motorsports Media at the Q&A. 

The esteemed press panel, one of my favourite events of the Expo, touched many topics including the racing state of the union, IndyCar, Formula One, Danica Patrick, the MOSPORT sponsorship partnership with Canadian Tire, Paul Tracy and the future of racing in North America.  Some of the talking points were: 

1) Danica Patrick - she should qualify for the Daytona 500 on her own merits, not by buying points from other teams. Both Dean and Morris whole heartily agree that this points purchase to buy their way into the Daytona 500 or handicapping shouldn't happen. Gerry Donaldson said that money drivers racing and drivers have to bring sponsorship money.
2) Paul Tracy - everyone was disappointed that the former champion might not get his final goodbye year of racing in IndyCar 2012 with Shank Racing.  Paul will have to fork out over a million dollars as part of the IndyCar Leaders Circle Performance fees as he only raced part time in 2011. Many of the press on the panel feel that IndyCar doesn't know how to develop and market their series and is in crisis mode. 
3) Formula One shouldn't have left Indianapolis but the costs were too extreme for the raceway. Some said the series felt that Indianapolis was the sticks and didn't fit into the upscale feeling of F1 - Dean McNulty said that "Indianapolis has been compared to Regina, with a race track". They discussed the possibility of racing in New Jersey with the city of New York in the background (Top Gear says it's confirmed). Tim Miller also missed the race out of Watkins Glen. Jeff said that Americans loved the access that comes with NASCAR as opposed to the restricted access found with F1.
4) Generally the panel was pleased that large corporations were getting into sponsorship of Canadian racing - which can only help it's upgrade and marketing of racing and race tracks. With Canadian Tire moving into MOSPORT Jeff asked if there was much room in the budget to continue the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series sponsorship. He said that not much has changed from the earlier CASCAR days and wonders if TARGET will get into Canadian racing as they move stores into Canada. Norris also brought up the fact that Andrew Ranger will race full time in NCTS this year.
5) It was felt that the planned construction of a new race track called Canadian Motor Speedway in southwest Ontario is moving at a glacial pace due to government regulations and requirements.
6) IndyCar in Toronto will feel the loss of the Touring Car and NCTS support series but all hope that they both return in 2013. Also, the tragic death of Dan Wheldon will be felt at each event.

Meet the Media Fan Forum: Dean McNulty, Jeff Pappone, Tim Miller, Erik Tomas, Todd Lewis, Norris McDonald, Gerry Donaldson and host Glenn Butt
#89 Lee Kuhn Jr motorcycle racer

See day one coverage on my post here.

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