Tomas Tales: Michael Schumacher Hurt. Andy Granatelli Passes

The racing world is deep in thought. We have lost car owner, innovator, promoter and showman Andy Granatelli in his 90th year. Heart failure. The former head of STP almost won the Indy 500 in unconventional turbine-powered cars in 1967 and 1968, but finally won it in 1969 with Mario Andretti. Andy’s kiss on Mario’s cheek in victory lane is a legendary image. Granatelli won another 500 in 1973 with Gordon Johncock. God Speed Andy! You were one of our sports’ true characters!

We are also thinking and praying for 7-time Formula One champion and 7-time Canadian Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher. He suffered serious head trauma in a crash while skiing in the French Alps. He was in a coma and required emergency surgery to relieve pressure on the brain. He is listed in critical condition in hospital in Grenoble. He suffered the injuries when his head struck a rock, even though he was wearing a helmet. Michael was the most dominant Formula One driver of our generation until he retired for the first time in 2006. He returned in 2010, but quit again at the end of the 2012 season. Heal quick Mike, and best wishes from all at CMS!

2013 A Historic Year for CMS

As we prepare to usher in 2014, Canadian Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb took some time to reflect on 2013 as a critical milestone and an extremely important year in CMS history.
Ground was finally broken in October on the $400 million dollar project after seven years of approval process to get work started on the site in Fort Erie.  “2013 was extremely historic for CMS, and a very long anticipated result. But the Major Investors and Share Holders are very excited and very much delighted! We are ready now to move to the second stage.” Taleb commented.
November saw Phase-One of the development started, the re-construction of Miller Creek. The main flow channel of the creek has been excavated, and the banks of the creek grass hydro-seeded.  With the CMS site locked down for the winter, architectural firms, the best in Canada, to get Jeff Gordon’s design down to formal blueprints, are being interviewed.  Developing a detailed site plan will take approximately three months to reflect the approved zoning bylaw.  The final site plan will be submitted to the Town of Fort Erie in April, with a projected construction start on pre-grading and site alteration work by mid- summer, 2014. 
A gala, formal ground breaking is also planned for the summer, involving complex designer Jeff Gordon.  The formal ground breaking will green-flag eighteen months of construction of the sports’ first Carbon Neutral, and Canada’s first world class oval and integrated road course to host a variety of racing platforms, notably stock car and open wheel racing. CMS is scheduled to be race-ready in 2016.
At this festive time of year, Taleb also wanted to relay Season’s Greetings to CMS fans and supporters. 
“I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.  We very much look forward to your continuing support and involvement with us! We look forward to seeing you at each and every Canadian Motor Speedway event.” Taleb offered.

Tomas Tales: Junior wins! Gordon in the Top Three Most Popular!

Canadian Motor Speedway congratulates track designer Jeff Gordon, who finished in the top three in fan voting for NASCAR’s most popular driver for 2013.
Jeff finished 3rd behind Hendrick Motorsports team mates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Junior.  Junior was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver for the 11th season on a row to break a tie with 16-time winner Bill Elliott for the most consecutive years winning the award.
Earnhardt, who was presented with the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award at the annual Myers Brothers luncheon, part of Champions week in Las Vegas remarked, “I don’t really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport.  He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who’s coming up and carrying on the family name.  But, I’ve always looked up to Bill as a driver so it’s pretty neat.”
Earnhardt’s run has required renovations at JR Motorsports, where his trophies are kept. Two trophy cases have either had to be rebuilt or installed to hold his first 10 trophies.
Earnhardt thanked his loyal fan base, which continuously votes him tops in the Sprint Cup Series. More than 1 million votes were cast for 39 drivers, and although fans could only vote once per day, Earnhardt still collected more than 700 thousand votes!
“It humbles me deeply to know that you have so many fans in your corner each race weekend,” Earnhardt said.   “There are a lot of motivating factors in life that drive our race team to be the best we can but none impact us more than the support of our race fans that they’ve shown over the years. We thank you for your devotion to NASCAR and we look forward to giving you a lot to be excited about in 2014.”
4th in the voting went to Tony Stewart. Danica Patrick was 5th.

Tomas Tales: 2013 an Historic Year for CMS, Raceline and the Sport!

December already?
How did that happen?
Christmas, New Years and the wonderful holidays and special days this time of year, enjoyed by race fans from every background and walk of life, signals a reflective look back at the 2013 auto racing season.
With our loyal broadcast partners Subaru Canada, Tissot Swiss Watches and WD 40, Raceline Radio looks very much forward to our 22nd season on the air in 2014 as Canada’s national radio motorsport authority. We of course offer huge thanks to all of you for tuning in across Canada, keeping the dream alive!
Calling our runs “seasons” is only symbolic, as Raceline Radio doesn’t leave the air during the so-called off-season.
For four weeks, December 15th through January 5, 2014, we air “The Best of Raceline Radio” Series, where we replay some of the best interviews from the 2013 racing season. You can enjoy replays of interviews with people like: Mario Andretti, Derek Daly, John Force, James Hinchcliffe, Jimmie Johnson, Scott Dixon, Scott Steckly and Azhar Mohammad from Canadian Motor Speedway to name but a few.
Of course, speaking of Mohammad and CMS, it’s safe to declare the historic ground-breaking on the $400 million-dollar speed-plant in Fort Erie, that will give us our first major league 3-quarter mile high-banked oval and 2 mile road course complex is the # 1 Canadian motorsport story of 2013.
Granted a radio exclusivity by CMS developers and investors, Raceline Radio has charted in day-to-day detail, the protracted and extremely expensive seven year process to get Canadian Motor Speedway started.
But start it did, and Raceline was there in the pre-dawn hours of October 8th as Aecon Construction bulldozers and earthmovers barked to life and rolled out to start carving away the top soil to begin work on the re-construction of Miller Creek, phase-one of the project.
A new era in Canadian motorsport had begun and we were honoured to be there to cover it live!
Yours truly very proud to be the Media and Public Relations consultant for CMS!
Over the winter, CMS developers will hire an architect to put Jeff Gordon’s design down on blueprints, with the final site plan reflecting the zoning submitted to the Town of Fort Erie in March-April.
A gala ground breaking involving Gordon is planned for the spring while the rest of the CMS site will be excavated. Hard brick-and-mortar construction of the oval, road course and grandstands is slated for 2015, to be race-ready in 2016.
Fan support continues to be overwhelmingly positive.
But of course, there were other headline stories that grabbed our attention in 2013.
The “Big 3” gave us interesting and contrasting demonstrations of how to win championships. Consistency, dominance and a come-back!
Jimmie Johnson was a model of consistency over the marathon NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. With four regular season wins starting with the season-opening Daytona 500 and two in the Chase, he stayed out of trouble and piled on the points for his 6th career championship. One more and he ties legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Richard thinks Johnson is good for at least ten titles before he retires. Jimmie’s 38. It’s entirely possible.
Germany’s Sebastian Vettel’s stunning dominance in Formula One with 13 wins, including the last 9 in a row, nailed a 4th consecutive World Driving Championship in a row! He’s the first driver in F-1 to win 9 in a row in a single season. Vettel and Red Bull were simply unstoppable from the summer break on. At only 26, how many more championships can Vettel win? Plus, he’s a heck of a good guy. Funny and personable! F-1 doesn’t like his celebratory donuts and show-boating, but Sebastian doesn’t care. That’s why we like him!
Scott Dixon is the comeback driver of the year. The Kiwi wasn’t on the radar at all for the IndyCar championship with Penske’s Helio Castroneves leading the parade, until they rolled into Toronto, with Dix winning both ends of the double header. From Toronto forward, the Ganassi boys were rolling and Dixon won again at Houston. Helped by Castroneves’ bad luck, Dixon stayed hot enough to rack up his 3rd career title.
Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe was huge in 2013. He scored his first career IndyCar wins for Michael Andretti, taking the season opener at St. Petersburg Florida, then again in Brazil with some mind boggling passing. He added another win on the oval at Iowa to make three for the season, a breakthrough year for the 26 year old. He was also nominated for Canadian Male Athlete of the year.
Dario Franchitti was forced to retire after that nasty wreck in Houston. It won’t be the same without the multi-time champ and Indy 500 winner who also won a few in Canada. Dario has been and will continue to be one of our CMS industry contacts.
Other drivers and stories in 2013 we need to mention include 60 year old NHRA FunnyCar sage and entertainer John Force winning his 16th career nitro FunnyCar championship, and Scott Steckly winning the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series war for his 3rd career title.
We congratulated Ron Fellows, Carlo Fidani, Myles Brandt and staff at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on their record crowd for their NASCAR Truck Series race. The largest throng since the glory days of the 1960’s was very nice to see!
Pete Bicknell won his 23rd 358 DIRT Modified championship at his Merrittville Speedway that celebrated their 63rd consecutive season of operation. The crowds were the biggest and healthiest at Canadian-owned Ransomville Speedway New York and the attendance at Humberstone Speedway was showing a healthier count.
Growing up at Niagara/Western NY area dirt tracks, it’s heart-warming to see this arm of the sport still vital and thriving into 2014. We have already made contact, and we will be working very closely with area speedways as we move forward with Canadian Motor Speedway.
So, from the Tomas house to your house, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the very best the holiday season has to offer to you and yours!
2014 should be very impressive indeed!