Tomas Tales: Our Print Partners are Almost as Old as We Are!

April 24, 2017

Because we are very proud of where we’ve been and where we’re going, we have been hitting our 25th anniversary season celebration pretty hard.

We thank everyone most sincerely for the kind comments and support as we look back at our first quarter century covering and showcasing this often strange and wonderful sport of ours.

With just about the entire 25 years, our print “wing man”, Inside Track Motorsport News, celebrating their 20th season of publication this year, dedicated as we are to the coverage of the Canadian racing scene and the incredible roster of Canuck racing talent now and over the past twin decades.

The Raceline Radio Network was already well established when David Weber and staff hit the news stands with issue # 1 in October of 1997 with a tabloid newspaper format that graduated eventually to the glossy magazine format we enjoy now.

You might say it was destined Raceline Radio and Inside Track would work together. They were like the print version of what we were doing on the air, and we were the electronic version of what they were doing in print.

Happy to say it’s been a very positive and mutually beneficial working relationship with the staff of “The Stapled Monster”, as I affectionately dubbed the magazine years ago.

We’re constantly cross-promoting each other. We have their staffers and columnists on the air as experts commenting on the racing stories and issues of the day, and Inside Track has always been quick to print and headline stories about The Network, our broadcast partners, sponsors, and affiliates.

Assistant Editor James Neilson is our resident Formula One specialist, Inside Track Communications President John Hopkins has been our “bike racing guy” from the start, and Vice President and Editor Greg MacPherson offers stock car racing, their Motorama Expo promotion and general racing business insight.

25 years as Canada’s National Radio Motorsport Authority for The Raceline Radio Network, and 20 years for Inside Track Motorsport News as Canada’s Premier Source for Racing News! The fact we’re also very good friends makes the relationship all the sweeter!

Our 25th anniversary season on-air guest list rolled off back in January with Canada’s busiest driver, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Stewart Friesen, the lone full-time Canadian in The NASCAR Truck Series, who’s also still very active on the clay in DIRTCar Modifieds and Sprint Cars.

Other Canadian guest driver, rider and race executive highlights include: DJ Kennington, Daniel Morad twice, Antoine L’Estage, Jacques Villeneuve, Scott Goodyear, Cole Thompson, Ron Fellows, James and Chris Hinchcliffe, Cherie Putnam, Ben Young, Parker Thomson, Alex Nagy, Lee Bentham and Azhar Mohammad.

Speaking about Mohammad, The Executive Director of The Canadian Motor Speedway project continues to consult with Jeff Gordon on design of the oval and his work with Provincial Government Ministries to move forward so equipment can be returned to the Fort Erie site this summer.

Mohammad and yours truly, in my capacity as media consultant for CMS, thank the fans who visited our display at Inside Track’s Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo in Toronto back in March, understanding projects of this size take a great deal of time and process, and continue to support CMS with super-human patience!

Tale Pipes: We welcome back AM 610 CHNL, “Radio NL” Kamloops BC to The Raceline Radio Network family! Fans in that BC interior market are very passionate about their racing with Motoplex and Merritt Speedways nearby. That makes us 16 stations and 18 airings a week strong, year round … We also welcome back Merrittville Speedway Thorold Ontario ( season 66 ) and Humberstone Speedway Port Colborne Ontario ( season 58 ) as Raceline Radio broadcast partners on Niagara/Western NY affiliate News Talk 610 CKTB, who air the show Sunday nights at 9 and Saturday afternoons at 4. We expect to add more tracks in the CKTB market very soon. It’s always a very good thing when regional and local speedways stay involved and do business with Raceline Radio! Merrittville’s already underway! Ransomville opens May 5th, Humberstone May 21st!

ETInside Track Motorsport News

Tomas Tales: “Let’s Spot the Canadians at Daytona!”

January 19, 2017
And we’re not talking about the thousands of Canadian fans who make the annual pilgrimage down to Florida to usher in the start of the new NASCAR campaign.

This year we’ll have a three headlining Canadian drivers across two of NASCAR’s main touring series to watch on the 2.5 mile super-speedway.
Let’s start with The NASCAR Truck Series and a full-time effort that kicks off the new season at Daytona International February 24th.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario’s Stewart Friesen and his Halmar Construction sponsor and partner Chris Larsen have formed Halmar Friesen Racing for a full-schedule attack in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the # 52 Chevrolet Silverado.

Managing the day-to-day operations a HFR will be NASCAR veteran Tommy Baldwin Jr.

Friesen, renowned for his success in DIRT Modifieds and Sprint Cars, debuted in the Truck Series last summer at Eldora Speedway, then ran five more pavement races with a best finish of 13th at New Hampshire.

They liked the Trucks so much, they’re full-time for 2017.

“I’m super excited to be part of the Halmar Friesen Racing team,” Friesen stated. “We did a bit of racing last year to get our feet wet on asphalt, and we were pleased with our success. Everything we have going on with Tommy is exciting. It’s great to have his experience guiding our team so we can hit the ground running at Daytona.”

Friesen’s crew chief will be Trip Bruce, who worked with Baldwin in the K&N Pro Series East. Bruce won a championship with driver Johnny Benson, with ten Truck wins to his credit.

They chose the # 52 for their truck for personal and historic reasons. Stewart’s grandfather, the late Stan Friesen, long time co-owner and promoter of Niagara’s Ransomville Speedway ran that number during his racing career in the 60’s. Stewart’s cousin James Michael Friesen carries the family number on his Sportsman modified.

Friesen told Raceline Radio Network listeners in a recent interview he’s not abandoning his clay track efforts. Stewart will still race Modifieds and Sprint Cars at selected events, primarily in the North East.


Calgary Alberta pilot Cameron Hayley is back in the NASCAR Truck Series for 2017 as part of a four truck stable for Thorsport Racing out of Ohio. Cameron finished 25th at Daytona last year, winding up 11th in series points.

Cameron Hayley

Now, for the main event at Daytona, the Daytona 500 February 26th, multi-time Raceline Radio Network guest D.J Kennington will tiller an all-Canadian effort in the biggest stock car race in the sport.

The St. Thomas, Ontario resident is a two-time champion of Canada’s NASCAR series and has extensive experience in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Truck Series machinery. He also ran the Cup race at Phoenix last fall.

This is an all-Canadian effort. Kennington’s Toyota Camry will be prepared by Gaunt Brothers Racing, who got their start in Ontario’s late model stock car racing scene, primarily with John Gaunt as a former driver.


“As the Daytona 500 is called The Great American Race, our team will be considered the Great Canadian Invasion,” joked Kennington. “While this will be my first outing in a Cup car at Daytona, I have a lot of experience racing and drafting there, so there shouldn’t be a big learning curve.”

So between Stewart Friesen and Cameron Hayley in the Truck race and D.J Kennington in the Daytona 500 itself, we have a decent Canadian contingent to keep track of as the 2017 on-track racing season hits high gear as we slowly work our way toward spring.

Tale Pipes: Thanks to our friend and partner Greg MacPherson at Inside Track Motorsport News for the notes and quotes on the DJ Kennington story… Congrats to our long-time friend and colleague Tana Robinson, who’s now on staff at Weedsport Speedway. Jennifer Martin takes over administration at Niagara’s Ransomville Speedway, with veteran Steve Petty assuming Media Relations. The Big R’s bringing back the World of Outlaws Sprints this summer. Congrats as well to former Sportsman driver Don Speice and his wife Lorraine on their purchase of Niagara’s Merrittville Speedway, Canada’s oldest and longest running dirt track. 2017 is their 66th season! And Alex Nagy tells us the mild winter’s allowed construction to roll on at the new Jukasa Speedway, formerly Cayuga Speedway, Hamilton. Slated to open in July, they have a pair of events pencilled in for the new season. A NASCAR Canada Series stop is anticipated.


Tomas Tales: Canadian Teen Racing Sensation Stroll Graduates to Formula One!

Williams-Martini Racing/Formula One has finally confirmed what’s been in the works for some time.

18 year old Montreal teen sensation Lance Stroll will make his Formula One debut alongside veteran Valtteri Bottas for the 2017 Formula One World Championship. Bottas will race for the team for a 5th consecutive season.

Since launching his karting career in 2008 at only 8 years old, Lance Stroll, a recent Raceline Radio Network on-air guest on Sportsnet, scored the 2014 Italian F- 4 Championship and the 2015 Toyota Racing Series title in New Zealand, with numerous wins to his pedigree.

Lance has strongly progressed through the Williams Young Driver Programme, dominating and clinching the 2016 European Formula 3 title, tallying 14 race wins and 17 front-row starts, 14 of those from the pole position.

At only 17 at the time, Stroll is the youngest F-3 champion in the 40 year history of that series!

Valtteri Bottas offered a very warm welcome to young Stroll, saying, “I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!”

Stroll is the first full-time Canadian driver in Formula One since fellow Quebec ace Jacques Villeneuve retired from F-1 in 2006. Jacques ironically won the World Driving Championship for Stroll’s new team, Williams in 1997.

Lance Stroll is very excited! “To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F-1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F-1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014.

2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me, but I’m eager to absorb everything Williams can share with me so that I improve. I’ll be taking things on a race-by-race, lap-by-lap basis and hopefully progress with experience like I did when I entered Formula 4 and then Formula 3.
I believe contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship the past two years has prepared me well for the step up. There are many elements for me to learn and I’m still young. I’ve been experiencing a 2014-spec Williams FW-36 since August, which has gone very well. The power is incredible. I’m learning about the car, the incredible down-force, DRS and tire management, finding a rhythm and finding the limit. I’m becoming more comfortable and confident with each run.

I’ve enjoyed success in karting, F-4, Toyota Racing Series and most recently F-3 – winning every category I’ve competed in – so I believe I have earned a shot in F-1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, offered, “Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Program at the end of 2015 and has impressed our engineers with his maturity, talent and enthusiasm. We are pleased to be able to offer him the opportunity to step up and show what he can do in Formula One, after proving a dominant force in all the categories he has raced in so far. We are looking forward to seeing him develop as a driver. Williams has a great record of introducing young drivers to Formula One, who have achieved great results, and we hope this will be the start of a long successful career for Lance as well.”

To date, a total of 13 Canadian drivers have contested Formula One, but only 2 scored actual points.

Gilles Villeneuve, rated amongst the greatest drivers of all time, was killed in a qualifying crash at Zolder Belgian in 1982, his 68th race. His brother Jacques tried but failed to qualify for any F-1 starts. Gilles’ son, Jacques Villeneuve won the Championship in 1997 for Williams Rothman’s Renault.

George Eaton competed in 13 F-1 Grands Prix with BRM in the 60’s and 70’s. His best finish was a 9th.

Allen Berg drove for Osella in 1986, competing in 9 races with a 12th his highest finish.

Al Pease drove an Eagle Mk-1 in 3 consecutive Canadian Grands Prix between 1967 and 1969. He was unable to finish any of the races and is remembered as the only driver in F-1 history to be black flagged and parked for being too slow, far off the race pace.

Bill Brack also competed in a trio of Canadian GP’s starting with Lotus in 1968 then, in 1969 and 1972, driving a BRM. He was unable to finish in any of the events.

Eppie Wietzes competed in a pair of homeland GP’s driving a Lotus in 1967 and a Brabham in 1974 but was unable to finish either race.

Peter Ryan (1961), John Cordts (1969) and John Cannon (1971) all competed in one Canadian Grand Prix each. Peter Broeker and Ernie de Vos were both entered for one race with Stebro in 1963. Broeker competed and finished 7th, but de Vos did not start.

Being from Montreal, Stroll admitted to Raceline Radio he is of course a huge fan of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, and besides F-1, keeps a close eye on the American based IndyCar Series.

He has been residing in Geneva Switzerland during the F-3 season.

Nice kid, gobs of talent!


Tomas Tales: Niagara’s DIRT Tracks Turn the Page!

The arrival of autumn 2016 heralds a major historical turn in the Niagara/Western New York dirt track racing complex.

The way we used to do things is bowing its head to history.

Since racing on clay tracks in the region forms the roots of the sport and our interest in it for many of us, this is tremendously important.

The 2016 “local” racing season has come to an end, and from this point forward, the landscape could be in for big changes.

Many years ago, I first described Merrittville Speedway in St.Catharines/Thorold as Canada’s oldest and longest operating dirt oval.

However the spring of 2017 could very well shelve that lofty distinction.

After an original business plan ballooned from 5 years to 14, The Bicknell and Williamson family partnership has no desire to manage and operate Merrittville into 2017 and are seeking a buyer.

If a new owner is not in place soon, there is very real danger we could drive by the historic bullring at the corner of The Merrittville Highway and Holland Road in the spring and find it padlocked.

The sadness of that possibility is tempered only by optimism from Pete Bicknell himself, who is 90% sure the track will operate… somehow… next season.

The future of the other facility in the Niagara Region, Humberstone Speedway, is the subject of sustained debate, but it’s nowhere near as precarious as Merrittville’s.

General Manager Bob Davidson personally addressed the fans at a recent event assuring them Humberstone had not been sold, was not for sale, and their gates would be open in 2017.

It’s natural to figure should Merrittville not open next spring, Humberstone could assume the Saturday night time slot and swing the headlining DIRTCar 358 Modified division over to their Port Colborne attraction.

Talking with some ticket-buying fans recently, the point was made that in light of Merrittville’s pending sale, dwindling car counts and higher admission prices tied to the sorry state of Ontario’s economy, perhaps Niagara can only support one dirt track going forward.

We used to boast the fact we had three top notch speedways within an hour’s drive.

Maybe we can’t afford that luxury anymore. Time will tell.

And that leads us to that third track- Ransomville Speedway.

This is where we find better news.

Just across the border in Ransomville New York, it’s always been included in Niagara’s racing landscape despite its U.S address.

The Friesen Family of St. Catharines, after 43 years of ownership, felt they had taken their track as far as they could, and sold Ransomville to Parm Atwal of Buffalo NY last year.

The usual fear of fallout from new ownership was quickly calmed, as “The Big R” turned out to be the Guiding Light of 2016.

The new owners immediately invested in capital improvements.

New clay was laid down on the track surface. New additional hospitality suites and a new office and novelty stand building was erected. A new modern lap counter/scoreboard and even a huge video screen was installed to enhance the fan experience.

Veteran Sales and Public Relations Director Tana Robinson was promoted to General Manager.

And the fans came out in very strong numbers to see what the “new” Ransomville Speedway was all about.

Without question, Ransomville boasted the highest attendance of Niagara’s tracks, keeping in mind the economy on the other side of the river is drastically different than Ontario’s.

I look at it this way: the fan base for local racing is generally still healthy and that bodes well in the big picture for tracks on this side of the Customs Booths.

We know that fan base will form the foundation of Canadian Motor Speedway’s future customers.

It will be a major challenge for Niagara tracks to push on into 2017.

Just paying the Hydro bill to keep the lights on will be at the top of the list. And that all trickles down to the cost of putting cars on the tracks, and what’s charged at the gates.

But if the long-running history of supporting the sport at this level in Niagara modifieds-pound-into-turn-one-at-merrittvilleis any kind of barometer, in the end, we should be ok.
Underline: should.


Tomas Tales: Gordon Biographer Joe Garner on Raceline Radio!

Join us across The Raceline Radio Network starting this Sunday night July 31st, as we welcome special guest, Best-Selling Author Joe Garner, as we talk up his latest work, the first authorized biography of 4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and Canadian Motor Speedway oval track designer Jeff Gordon.

“Jeff Gordon, His Dream, Drive and Destiny” is due for release October 18th, but Joe’s Raceline interview across Canada will give listeners a sneak peak into Jeff’s life story, focusing on his childhood and upbringing.

Jeff declares, “… fans will now read about me like they’ve never read about me before!”

Raceline Radio, Canada’s National Radio Motorsport Authority and the exclusive Canadian radio voice of Canadian Motor Speedway is heard in 16 major and medium radio markets across Canada, year round. Join us!

Raceline Radio Network Affiliate Stations. Most feature live audio streaming, podcasting and Iphone access. Some use “Audio Vault”:
Sportsnet 590 The FAN Toronto: Sun. 12 Midnight and Sat. 7 AM. The FAN / Raceline is also available in HD FM: 92.5 Channel 3, Bell Express-Vu Sat. channel 959, and podcasted on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Raceline Podcasts:
Listen LIVE:
Tune In Radio:
TSN 690 Montreal: Sunday 11 PM Eastern
TSN 1040 Vancouver: Sunday 12 Midnight Pacific and podcasted
TSN 1410 Vancouver Saturday 4 AM Pacific and podcasted
Sportsnet 960 The FAN Calgary: Sunday 11:06 PM Mountain
TSN 1260 Edmonton: Wednesday 8 PM and Saturday 9:00 AM Mountain
TSN 1290 Winnipeg: Friday 10 PM Central
News 95.7 Halifax: Monday 8:00 PM Atlantic
TSN 1200 Ottawa: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern
AM 800 CKLW Windsor: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern
AM 900 CHML Hamilton: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern, HD FM at 95.3 Channel 3 and in Audio Vault
NEWS-TALK 610 CKTB St.Catharines-Niagara: Sunday 9:06 PM and Saturday 4:06 PM Eastern
NEWS TALK 1290 CJBK London: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern
AM 1070 CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM EasternJeff-Gordon-His-Dream-Drive-Destiny-Cover-1
103.9 FM CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern

Tomas Tales: PP Means “Pave” and “Promote”.

July 25, 2016

IndyCar drivers have this gizmo on their engines that gives them 30 extra horsepower called “Push to Pass”. You get 10 squirts of extra power, with each squirt lasting 10 seconds to pass people.

It’s shown as PP on timing and scoring, and shows up as PP in that little LED digital window on the side of the engine cowlings behind the cockpit, and flashes when the driver’s activated his “Push to Pass” system.

After the 30th running of The Honda Indy Toronto, PP should stand for “Pave and Promote!”

30 winters of frost heave have ravaged the streets of Exhibition Place, down town Toronto.

While the Lakeshore portion of the 11 turn, 1.78 mile street course has been recently re-paved, the rest of the track that runs through the CNE grounds is in terrible shape. It’s become a rutted washboard that plays havoc with balance and traction.

The infamous concrete patches have become so slippery, several had to be sand-blasted to provide even a minimal amount of grip.

The curbing was coming apart in places during the race.

It looks old and junky on television, unbecoming to North America’s 5th largest city.

Since I have been involved with all 30 Toronto Indy events since 1986, first as track P.A co-announcer and then with Raceline Radio broadcasts track-side since 1992, I believe I have license to tell you in my opinion, this track is just plain worn out, and is no longer suitable to stage this event, unless the entire 1.78 miles of it is re-paved.

Finding the funding from The City to laydown new asphalt won’t be easy. But it needs to be done if this race is to remain where it is.
The new hotel on site forced a shift of pit road to the north side of the start-finish straight that reduced turns 10 and 11 into a very narrow and tricky complex.

Race winner Will Power told me racing through there was like threading a needle.

Being the pros they are, they adapted to the cramped configuration, but the racing surface needs a major face lift. We owe the series a decent playing field.

The other “P” in the display should stand for “promote.”

Since the Indy went dark in 2008, the goal was to bring it back to prominence.

Free Fridays, double header weekends, and other attractions were installed to re-spark interest.

Raceline Radio carried on the tradition of broadcasting live shows featuring interviews with drivers surrounded by fans. It made for great radio and effective promotion of the event.

It looked like the fans were starting to return when The Ontario government dropped the Pan-Am games in our laps last summer, forcing a shift in the date to June, and a scramble to change the site layout.

2016 then, was supposed to be the start of a return to a positive buzz, a vibe of excitement in the City and outlying areas for the Indy.
The race was back to the mid-July date. Local hero James Hinchcliffe was back, and so were The NASCAR stock cars.

Well, I don’t know where the marketing and promotion budget was spent. The promoter can spend his advertising funds any way he likes.
But I do know there wasn’t anything in the budget to keep the track-side Raceline Radio broadcasts on the air.

I don’t need to tell you how disappointing that was for me professionally and personally. More than a few fans and drivers also expressed their disappointment.

They don’t announce attendance figures, but making an objective observation, the momentum gained to bring the fans back has taken a severe hit. Sunday looked healthy, but Friday especially, and Saturday saw far too many ticket buyers disguised as aluminum pews.

Where was the buzz… the vibe of excitement?

The law of the racing jungle is very clear. It doesn’t matter if it’s an IndyCar or a NASCAR race in the middle of your city, or a small dirt track on the outside of town, if you’re open for business you need to tell people.

Your advertising, marketing and promotion budget should be a top of the list priority, never the first thing you slash when money gets tight.

I used to tirelessly advocate the Indy needs to be down town, and I have no idea what the future of the event is now, but unless the track is brought back to professional standards, bolstered by full and effective promotion, we just might just see it move up the highway to that iconic road course in Bowmanville we used to call Mosport.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park principals know the law of the jungle, and their attendance reflects it.

And who knows what role Canadian Motor Speedway may play in the future of open wheel racing in Canada.

Open wheel racing on a ¾ mile oval can be darn exciting!


Tomas Tales, June 16, 2016

Money Bags Bernie is at it again!King Bernie

It’s like sitting on a financial time bomb, and the only person who knows what the timer’s set to is Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

King Bernie says Montreal’s lack of progress on promised improvements to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve facility on the Montreal waterfront may put the future of the Canadian Grand Prix in doubt.

Read that to mean he’s after an even higher sanctioning fee.

When Montreal renewed its contract for the Grand Prix in 2014, the city promised to upgrade the garages, control tower and medical centre at a cost of over $32 million, in time for the 2017 race.

When asked if he was optimistic the improvements would be ready for next year’s GP, Ecclestone said, “I doubt it. We’ll see if the 2017 Grand Prix gets the green light if the renovations aren’t complete. If they’re not finished, the city’s contract with F-1 could be in doubt.”

Ecclestone added, “with contracts, normally it’s got terms set out for what people are supposed to do – both sides. It’s been forgotten a little bit from the city’s side.”

Ecclestone is renowned for his flippant remarks that keeps people guessing what he really means, but the contract regarding renovations prompted an immediate reaction from Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

Mayor Coderre admitted work on the upgrades is behind schedule, but that’s because Ecclestone himself is partly to blame for disagreements with the event promoter.

“When the promoter and Ecclestone don’t agree on how things should be done, that’s what causes delays.”

Despite the unsettling words, The Mayor assures fans Montreal’s 2017 Grand Prix will happen, and the City is holding up its end of the log.

Montreal has hosted the Canadian GP every year since 1978 – except in 1987 and more recently in 2009.

The Canadian Grand Prix was dropped off the 2009 schedule over a contract dispute over financial arrangements with former race promoter Normand Legault.

Local officials led an effort to revive the event, but failed when they could not meet Ecclestone’s very steep price.
The proposal was $75-million over 5 years, much less than the offer rejected by Ecclestone initially. It is also thought the deal included a promise to pay Ecclestone the money he was owed under the previous arrangement.

The City offered Ecclestone a 5-year package for $110-million in sanctioning fees as well as 75 % of the first $10-million in profit and 25 % of the rest.

In addition, the estimated $20-million from the race’s advertising and luxury box revenue would have gone to Ecclestone.

His counter-offer of a guaranteed $175-million over 5 years to keep Montreal on the F-1 schedule was too hefty for the city and the race was pulled.

F-1 manufacturers need races in North America to help them sell cars here and Ecclestone knows that despite his bluster.

The manufacturers have stated a successful race in Montreal in Canada helps to increase the sport’s fan base in the United States, a critical portion of their global sales target.

Ecclestone’s shadow-casting on The Canadian Grand Prix again could lead to a repeat of the same situation.

If Bernie’s price goes up again, would the City of Montreal simply tell him where he can jam his race?

I hope it never happens, but that’s more than possible.

Tale Pipes: … An extra slice of pizza for James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi and others who climbed into the grandstands at the Texas Motor Speedway to sign autographs to thank the fans who waited through lengthy rain delays. Very classy. These guys “get it!”… The TV crew, led by the always colourful Robin Miller also helped kill on-air time during the rain in Texas with spontaneous and often hilarious interviews with drivers. Compared to some NASCAR and Formula One people, the IndyCar community is a laugh riot…… Fabulous to have Ohsweken Speedway back at The Raceline Radio Network table on our co-flagship affiliate AM 900 CHML Hamilton. Ohsweken is the lone Canadian stop for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and they’re bringing in NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne as a special guest driver for the July 26th special. Kahne is scheduled as a Raceline Radio Network guest to promote his appearance.


Tomas Tales: Hinch’s Miracle…Part One.

Hinch headshotMay 23, 2016

I hesitate to write this.

Because I am superstitious.

I don’t walk under ladders. My Irish ancestry will not permit me to put and or see shoes on a table.

And I firmly believe if you talk about a hockey goaltender’s chance of a shutout, or a baseball pitcher’s no-hitter before the game is over, you jinx it.

So I wondered if I should talk about Oakville Ontario’s James Hinchcliffe before the finish of the 100th running of The Indianapolis 500, just in case I put the booga-booga on what would be a storybook/movie script ending to what’s shaping up as one of the greatest come-back stories in sports, not just motorsports.

But I have to salute his pole position for the 2016 edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, because that accomplishment alone is one great tale.
I got rather vivid with the morning crew at our TSN 690 Montreal Raceline Radio Network affiliate the morning after Hinch finally grabbed the pole after falling short by one position twice in the past.

I wanted the boys to understand just how close we came to losing James in that awful practice crash at Indianapolis a year ago, and his incredible recovery that culminated with his 4 lap average qualifying speed of 230.760 mph to earn the right to start this years’ classic from the inside of the front row.

Hinch remembers coming out of turn 3 on that fateful lap in May last year.

Then the memory goes blank.

Good thing.

The suspension failed, and he clobbered the wall at 125 G’s, 125 times the normal force of gravity.

A suspension rod pierced the cockpit, passed through one of his legs and into his lower body.

He nearly bled to death in the car. And James’ surgeon told him they almost lost him when his blood pressure crashed on the way to surgery to repair the damage.
His season was over.

But within a week, Hinchcliffe was up walking. A few weeks later he was speaking and joking with the media and starting to work out again to regain muscle strength.

At an off-season test, he not only got back up to speed quickly, he told his team on the radio he wasn’t ever coming in… he didn’t want the realization he was indeed ready to return to active duty, to end.

Hinchcliffe started the 2016 IndyCar season a few steps behind, but he crept closer to the top 10, the top 5, and by the time the IndyCar Series rolled into the Brickyard at 16th and Georgetown Road in Speedway Indiana, he was fast enough to score a podium at The Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course, the perfect set up for the 500 classic on the fabled 2.5 mile “rectangular” oval.

But early practise sessions still didn’t show the velocity he needed to qualify near the front.

But the aero configuration changes, the domed skids on the under-tray that took away some down-force that Hinch didn’t like initially, a badly need power boost from the Honda engine boffins, and some spot-on adjustments from Schmidt-Peterson engineer Allen McDonald set the stage for part one of the miracle come-back from that crash.

James made the Fast-9 and on a track cooled a few degrees my some spotty cloud cover, The Mayor of Hinchtown cracked off 4 quick ones in an almost perfect qualification to register his maiden IndyCar pole for the biggest race in the sport.

Former Andretti team mate and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was one of the first drivers over to Hinch’s car to congratulate his friend. Ryan said it’s absolutely incredible for anyone to almost lose their life crashing at the same track, then turn around and be brave enough to run flat out through the same corner a year later at 240 mph!

Hunter-Reay didn’t use the word “miracle”, but he could have.

And that’s just part one of Hinch’s miracle at Indianapolis.

I’m too superstitious to tell what part two is.

Check back the morning of the 30th.

Tale Pipes: we welcome back our friends and partners at the Tissot/Swatch Group, who are with us again for their summer campaign with The Raceline Radio Network. A big thank you to double-watch-wearing Rick Ostrom, Adrienne Chan and everyone at Tissot! Swiss Watches since 1853… We were just talking about Hinchcliffe’s pole qualifying speed: 230.760 mph. Stout, but still slow when compared to our NHRA drag racing pilots, who are using their 10 thousand horsepower nitro-methane-belching monster machines to shatter speed records. At Topeka Kansas, Matt Hagan and recent Raceline Radio guest Brittany Force took down national barriers in qualifying. Hagan set new national Funny Car records for time and speed: a 3.862 second Elimination Time at 335.57 mph! Brittany reset the national Top Fuel record with an ET of 3.676 seconds! And the strips are only a thousand feet long now! Mind-bending!

Tomas Tales: CMS Engineering Manager “Drones On” on Raceline Radio!

CMS Aerial Survey  David BrubacherDePodesta headshot BW 2016May 11, 2016

While The Canadian Motor Speedway site plan runs through process with the Town of Fort Erie to return heavy equipment to the site to resume work this summer, tasks such as engineering data gathering moves forward on the CMS time line.

As part of the CMS Traffic Management Plan, the road and street grid around the site between Gilmore and Bowen Roads on the west side of the Queen Elizabeth Highway is being surveyed to map out widening plans and upgrades.

Under the direction of Canadian Motor Speedway Manager of Engineering Services Ken DePodesta, a recently developed high-tech aerial surveying system is being deployed to gather data on the 15 lineal kilometers of road service that will carry customers and fans in and out of the $400 million dollar auto racing and entertainment complex.

Maximum seating capacity for the oval portion of the development, designed my 4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car racing champion Jeff Gordon is 65 thousand, so the road service has to be state of the art in efficiency and coordination.

To gather this crucial data, DePodesta is working with Strata Aerial Surveys that uses a small propeller-driven UAV ( Unmanned Aerial Vessel ) or drone aircraft to take a series of photographs that along with conventional ground survey operations, will be compiled into highly detailed documents and plans that will be used to finalize road system development.

This Sunday night and all next week, DePodesta will add further details on the UAV/Strata Aerial Survey system being used for CMS survey work in a full-length interview, coast-to-coast on The Raceline Radio Network, the exclusive national radio voice of Canadian Motor Speedway, anchored by Erik Tomas.

Networked to 16 major and medium radio markets, Raceline Radio can be heard on the following affiliates, most featuring live audio streaming, podcasting and Iphone access. Some use The “Audio Vault” show retrieval system:

Sportsnet 590 The FAN Toronto: Sun. 12 Midnight and Sat. 7 AM. The FAN / Raceline is also available on Bell Express-Vu Sat. channel 959, and podcasted on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Raceline Podcasts:
Listen LIVE:

Tune In Radio:

TSN 690 Montreal: Sunday 11 PM Eastern

TSN 1040 Vancouver: Sunday 12 Midnight Pacific and podcasted

TSN 1410 Vancouver Saturday 4 AM Pacific and podcasted

Sportsnet 960 The FAN Calgary: Sunday 11:06 PM Mountain

TSN 1260 Edmonton: Wednesday 8 PM and Saturday 9:00 AM Mountain

TSN 1290 Winnipeg: Friday 10 PM Central

News 95.7 Halifax: Monday 8:00 PM Atlantic

TSN 1200 Ottawa: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern

AM 800 CKLW Windsor: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern

AM 900 CHML Hamilton: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern and on Audio Vault

NEWS-TALK 610 CKTB St.Catharines-Niagara: Sunday 9:06 PM and Saturday 4:06 PM Eastern

NEWS TALK 1290 CJBK London: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern

AM 1070 CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern
103.9 FM CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern

Photos: CMS Manager, Engineering Services Ken DePodesta and Strata Aerial Survey’s David Brubacher holding the UAV Aerial Survey drone aircraft.

Tomas Tales: CMS Takes To The Skies for Traffic Management.

Brubaker and Drone 1 April 27 16Brubacker and Drone 2 April 27 16April 28, 2016
Look up.
Look WAY up!

Getting 65 thousand fans in and out of the Canadian Motor Speedway complex quickly and efficiently requires a highly detailed traffic management plan that’s a vital component of the overall CMS site plan.

So following the ideal of a sport-changing, world class speedway and entertainment facility, CMS Project Manager, Professional Engineer Ken DePodesta jumped to the phone recently, and told me to get to the intersection of Garrison and Ridgemount roads, adjacent to the CMS site in Fort Erie.

Ken, who like me, tends to lean to the excitable side, told me to bring a camera and my Raceline Radio recording equipment, and to hurry up to witness a new cutting-edge land survey system I just had to see!

We’ve all seen land survey crews, those small scurrying battalions of hard-hatted florescent-vested workers looking through telescope-like attachments atop tripods, writing down readings and numbers.

And while collecting survey data for the 15 kilometer network of local and municipal roads that will carry customers to and from CMS will still require some ground work, a majority of the data collected will come from an eye in the sky.

DePodesta, in consultation with CMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad, contracted Strata Aerial Surveys who fly The senseFly eBee UAS ( Unmanned Aerial System ) drone, to take a very different, high-tech approach to the task.

It’s a compact, light weight, camera-carrying, computer guided fixed wing, single prop-driven drone that’s flown and controlled via a lap top computer on the ground.

On a typical job, it takes approximately four thousand Google Earth-like photographs of the average site to compile a topographic rendering of the area being surveyed for a fraction of the cost of an all-ground survey in less than half the time with the same accuracy.

While a typical ground-based land survey can take up to two to three weeks to complete, at a cost of around $ 8,000 a meter for a total of $ 40,000, the aerial survey takes only two days of flying and just two more days to process the photographs into one seamless rendering with pinpoint accuracy, at approximately half the price tag.
David Brubacher runs it all from a lap top computer in the field. Showing me how the drone works, flies and takes photographs was utterly fascinating and if you want to use common vernacular, extremely cool!

And this is a one-man operation, working from one vehicle on the side of the road with a non-polluting battery-powered aircraft. No need for multiple idling vehicles, conforming to the Canadian Motor Speedway’s Green and Carbon-Neutral commitment.

And this is a local Niagara-centric initiative as well, satisfying another CMS mandate to utilize local manpower, skills and resources.

David and Strata hail from Kitchener, but the effort is in collaboration with Chambers and Associates out of nearby Welland.

Ken DePodesta has been working closely with both companies to bring them together for this surveying job, and for potential work on the CMS site down the schedule.

And because the drone is an airplane that has to confirm to Department of Transport regulations, I was also pressed into service as an observer, making sure the device didn’t interfere with low flying ultra-light aircraft, or mother nature’s masters of the skies, birds, didn’t “fowl” up the works!

Brubacher told me flights he’s taken have been intercepted by flocks of inquisitive starlings, murders of crows, or their larger raptor cousins, red tail hawks.

One red tail force him to abort a landing three times, as the hawk mistook the drone for dinner!

But the plane landed safely, photographs and data intact, as it did when I witnessed first-hand, this dazzling example of the advanced technology being used to put The CMS plan to paper that will eventually become brick and steel reality.

My old love for radio controlled aircraft, and just aircraft in general made this a fabulous day in the field from the aspect of Media Consultant for Canadian Motor Speedway, and for exclusive coverage across The Raceline Radio Network.

Tale Pipes: The CMS aerial survey story, complete with a full length interview with CMS Project Manager Ken DePodesta, will air across The Raceline Radio Network the week of May 15th. A list of Network affiliates and broadcast times is featured on The Raceline Radio Network Facebook page. It will also be available via podcast via this link: