Super Tex Turns 80!

AJ Foyt turns 80
Tomorrow is A.J. Foyt’s 80th birthday!

The 4-time Indianapolis 500 winner started racing in the 1950’s, so far back, he’s the last driver to win the 500 in a front engine roadster. That was in 1964 when the Leafs were actually winning Stanley Cups!

Known for his intensity and oft-time firey temper, AJ is still very much involved in the sport, campaigning Takuma Sato in the IndyCar Series.

He’s a true living legend still among us, and not too many sports can boast that!

Most recently, Anthony Joseph spent nearly a month in a Houston hospital recovering from complications after triple by-pass heart surgery in November.

He continues to mend at home and hopes to be well enough to work this May’s Indy 500 with his team.

Happy Birthday AJ!

Happy New Year!

2015 looks to be an enormous year for The Canadian Motor Speedway development, when all the planning components of the project come together so equipment can be re-deployed to resume activity on site.

As documented several times on this website and in media reports and articles, 2014 was taken up with seemingly endless hours of meetings with the MTO at Queens Park, trying to get the Bowen Road/QEW issue settled, to secure the financial commitment from The Province for this off-site infrastructure, and to meet final site plan conditions.

When dealing with government, things often do not progress rapidly. That’s frustrating for race fans who are solidly behind CMS, but naturally want to see things move ahead quicker.

As a life- long race fan, and somebody who makes their full-time living covering the sport on Raceline Radio, nobody wants to see this thing built and operating more than I do.

We just need to keep in mind there has never been a development like CMS attempted in this Province. There is no “book” on how to process a $400 million auto racing and entertainment facility. The layers of process and approval seem staggering. And they are very time consuming.

But several key occurrences in 2014 show clear progress and commitment from the developers and partners.

Oval track designer Jeff Gordon’s visit to Toronto in September focused on his involvement with CMS, and his work on track design on a simulator in his office. He’s already supplying architects with data on straightaway length and banking.

And just before Christmas, CMS opened a corporate office in The Town of Fort Erie that will provide CMS management and staff a primary meeting place to conduct Speedway business as well as to oversee the next phase of engineering and construction work targeted for the Spring of 2015.

Jeff Gordon Incorporated Vice President and General Manager John Bickford came up with the best description of the significance of the new office. He called it “one more footprint that says this project will be completed. It’s the CMS flag in the ground. We have an address and we are moving forward.”

You will see more clear signs of that forward movement for Canadian Motor Speedway in 2015.

All the best to you and yours for a safe, prosperous New Year!

And The Coverage Never Stops!

Gordon_at_Martinsville_by_Rich_IcelandTomas Tales, Inside Track Motorsport News. December 2014 Issue

The Latest Progress Report on The Canadian Motor Speedway Project.

I continue to get asked constantly about what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway ( CMS ) project in Fort Erie Ontario, that’s going to deliver Canada’s first major league oval and road course auto racing complex.

Most of the questions about progress are from fans, frustrated and anxious since they have not seen heavy machinery moving on the 823 acre site just west of the Queen Elizabeth Highway at Bowen Road, since the initial phase of the project started in the Fall of 2013.

The simple response to the question of CMS progress? Not all progress involves the moving of dirt.

There has been vigorous effort and progress on the CMS project administratively. There is a mountain of paper work to shuffle through when you’re trying to build a $400 million dollar auto racing facility of this magnitude, a first in Canada.

The number-one task of CMS investors and management is to secure financial support from the Ministry of Transportation of the Province of Ontario for off-site infrastructure, namely, the re-build of the aging Bowen Road/QEW highway interchange, that will serve as the main access and egress point for the complex.

The widening and the reconstruction of the interchange has to be finalized for the development to continue to advance. And environmental assessment of the land for the interchange needs to happen as well.

The MTO and CMS also need to come to an agreement if the interchange will be a two or four lane design. Again, building this interchange or overpass requires an incredible amount of engineering input and data, and that can be very time consuming.

The Province committed in 2010 to support infrastructure near the site, and CMS is still waiting for that support to arrive. CMS hopes to have a decision from the MTO by the end of the year.

At the same time, The Town of Fort Erie needs to secure a commitment from the Province for other necessary infrastructure improvements. The Town is the main beneficiary of Provincial support, and they need that commitment for an investment to secure an investment the size of CMS.

Once this all comes together, CMS can start its site plan approval process with the municipality to obtain the permits necessary to continue on-site work.

While discussions with the MTO roll on, other arms of government are repeating their sustained support for the complex and what it will bring the Town, The Region and The Province in revenue, commerce and jobs.

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates recently told Bullet News Niagara reporter Kris Dube his position has always been very clear. He fully supports the project and its major economic benefits in his riding.

Ontario Minister of Economic Development Brad Duguid told Bullet News he is aware of an application by the local municipality for support on the project under the Small Communities Fund. Duguid is excited about the economic and tourism potential CMS could bring to Fort Erie and Niagara, and his Ministry will continue to work with CMS and the local municipality to ensure any additional improvements required are provided so the community and the province are able to benefit from the jobs and increased tourism this exciting project has the potential to deliver.

So while this explains what’s been taking up most of the time with the development to this point, let’s offset it with some positive “racing” news on the project.

CMS’ architectural firm, The IBI Group Inc., is reviewing project data and studies to formulate a landscaping plan to determine the elevation of the oval, the road course and grandstands for the initial capacity of 65 thousand fans.

And here’s the really exciting stuff: CMS oval designer Jeff Gordon, when not focused on NASCAR Chase drama, has been working on the speedway on a simulator. He talked about this in detail during his recent promo tour in Toronto that we reported on in our last installment of Tomas Tales.
Jeff already has the elevation figured out, the degree of banking into turns one and two and the length of the straightaways for the ¾ mile oval. He’s also working with engineering firms on things like drainage and surfacing.

Eventually, Goodyear Tire and Rubber will be brought into the discussion to work with local Niagara engineers on a special asphalt aggregate that could be used on the oval track surface.

There’s some honest to goodness racing stuff to grab onto.

And to move ahead with concrete, brick and mortar integration into the Fort Erie business community, CMS has opened an office in the Town on Garrison Road, a short drive away from the site.

This will be a place where fans and interested parties can go to get the straight goods on what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway project, without having to deal with rumours and inaccurate information.

As CMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad put it, “The new CMS office will be a physical presence in the Fort Erie business district that says we’re here… we’re staying here and we’re moving ahead!”
And that’s very encouraging news for race fans across Canada!

A Little More CMS Coverage for Christmas!

Latest piece in The St.Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review and their “Search Engine” feature, responding to a reader’s comment they had not seen any progress on The Canadian Motor Speedway site in Fort Erie. The article by reporter Karena Walter, SUN Media:

The site may lack bulldozers, but officials from Canadian Motor Speedway in Fort Erie say work has been carrying on.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of progress administratively and behind the scenes,” said Canadian Motor Speedway spokesman Erik Tomas. “You’re just not seeing it with bulldozers and dirt, but that stuff does need to get done and that’s exactly where we are in the project right now.”

The company just opened a corporate office at 168 Garrison Rd. on Nov. 26. around the corner from the speedway site off Bowen Road.

Tomas said the project is now entering the detailed site plan design phase for the $400 million speedway and entertainment complex. It’s hoping to deliver the plan to the town before the end of the year so it can get the necessary permits to resume on-site work in the spring.

Work started a while back with the re-routing of Miller’s Creek behind what will be the grandstands in an effort to have the least amount of environmental impact. That re-routing will continue once work resumes, including more planting of vegetation and trees.

CMS has also been in discussions with the Ministry of Transportation to finalize the Bowen Rd/QEW interchange off-site that will serve as the main access and egress to the site. Tomas said the discussions centre on whether the interchange will be a two or four-lane design. “You have to have proper access and egress into the project. That has to be decided, that’s for sure. It’s critical to the overall project,” he said.

“The province needs to come through with their commitment for that kind of off-site infrastructure support that they pledged in 2010.”

The completion of the complex is now anticipated for 2017.

– – – – –

Fact Finder! Canadian Motor Speedway said it’s recruited Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion, to design its oval track. CMS spokesman Erik Tomas said Gordon is working on a computer simulator from his office in North Carolina to determine the straight-away length and corner banking of the three-quarter mile oval track. The complex will also incorporate a two-mile road course.

CMS Corporate Office Opening is a Flag in the Ground!

CMS Office Opening ET and Staff cut ribbonNovember 26, 2014.

A Flag in the Ground and Emotions Flow…

Canadian Motor Speedway investors are making significant progress in discussions with Ontario Provincial Ministries to clear final site plan conditions for Canada’s first world class oval speedway designed by racing legend Jeff Gordon, that connects to a fully integrated road course, research and development park and major entertainment complex in the Town of Fort Erie Ontario.

As part of the developers’ on-going commitment to the community, CMS marked a critical milestone on the projects’ time line this week with the opening of a corporate office in The Town.

The new office at 168 Garrison Road, with its distinctive auto racing theme and decor, provides CMS management and staff with a permanent meeting place to conduct Speedway business, and to oversee the next phase of engineering and construction work on site, just around the corner from the office, targeted for the Spring of 2015.

Canadian Motor Speedway Executive Director Azhar Mohammad described a surreal feeling as he officiated at the grand opening. Given the long, tedious, protracted and very expensive process CMS has had to endure over the last decade, you fully understand what he means.

Mohammad related over a celebratory slice of CMS cake after the official ribbon-cutting, the opening was a very important day for CMS, symbolic of another great milestone achieved by his team. With a permanent presence in Fort Erie, management and staff will be well equipped to not only keep the community updated in terms of hiring, managing site work, and marketing, more importantly it reinforces confidence they are on the ground with work continuing on the facility.

Canadian Motor Speedway CEO Ibrahim Abou Taleb feels the same way, stating the opening is another great chapter in CMS’ development schedule, and there should be no doubt management and the investors are here for the long term success of the Town, Region and Province, fully committed to this game changing initiative.

John Bickford, Vice President and General Manager, Jeff Gordon Inc., the man who established the connection between the Speedway and the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion as the official designer of the ¾ mile oval portion of the racing complex, is never afraid to turn a colourful phrase.

John reminded everyone major projects around the world have significant thresholds, and called the opening of the CMS corporate office in Fort Erie a stepping stone to paradise. Bickford said, “It might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but this is a major accomplishment. It’s one more footprint that says this project will be completed. For Jeff Gordon Inc., this is the CMS flag in the ground. We have an address and we are moving forward.

The most heartfelt show of emotion at the opening of the CMS Corporate office came from the out-going Mayor of The Town of Fort Erie, Doug Martin, who’s retiring from public life in a matter of days.

Mayor Doug has been an unfailing champion of the Speedway development from the time it was first mentioned, helping steer support for CMS at the Town, Regional and Provincial levels.

CMS wanted to make sure they opened their corporate office in Doug’s town before he officially retired, and when Executive Director Azhar Mohammad called Mayor Martin “Family’, as he presented Doug with a special limited edition Jeff Gordon autographed die cast model car, Martin was clearly choked with emotion with noticeably moist eyes.

There were a few more pairs of moist eyes in the room as Martin addressed the gathering. Martin is one of many who knows too well the hurdles the CMS development has had to clear to get to this point in its history.

“There were times when we wondered if this was really going to happen. With all the challenges that we’ve had, and the road blocks we ran into, to see this actually happening is really great. This is my last week on council as Mayor, so to get this done before I leave office is very special. This is a definite signal to the Town that this is real, we are going forward. Stop asking the questions! Get behind us as we’re ready to go! We’ve started to move some dirt and we’re going to be open in 2017.”

Jim Thibert, General Manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation struck a key point when he stated the office opening is very important, and hopes it will build a bridge between the government’s attitude using the word “IF” when talking about CMS, and the private sector who use the word “WHEN” Canadian Motor Speedway is completed and ready for operation, now projected for 2017.

The opening of the Canadian Motor Speedway Corporate office in Fort Erie is just another critical step in the development of Canada’s first racing, entertainment, retail and research and development complex that will include a banked oval large enough to accommodate the major auto racing sanctioning bodies in the sport.


Tomas Tales, September 29, 2014

Paul Tracy CMHF PhotoNigel Mansell CMHF Photo
The Raceline Radio Network and The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Have Deep and Parallel History!
Miss Janice and I threw on some better bib and tuck to attend the latest induction ceremony for The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in Toronto, as six new people enter the hallowed hall to honour and recognize their monumental contributions to motorsport in Canada.
As we watched Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Scott Maxwell, Diana Carter, John Magill and Norris McDonald take the stage this year, it got me thinking about the indelible connection between The Raceline Radio Network and The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
The connection is deep, as Raceline and the Hall’s resurrection happened just about at the same time, in 1993.
Gary Magwood and Lee Abrahamson decided the Hall should come out of mothballs, and Raceline jumped on the story from moment-one, not just to cover it, but to get involved with the Hall of Fame itself.
Len Coates prepared the biographies after the selection committee’s labours to put Bill Brack, John Cannon, Billy Foster, Imperial Tobacco, Bob McLean, Chuck Rathgeb, Peter Ryan, fellow Niagaran Bill Sadler, Gilles Villeneuve and Eppie Wietzes into the Hall that year.
Yours truly had the honour of serving as Master of Ceremonies for those ’93 and the 1994 inductions.
My tuxedo and checkered sneakers combo is still talked about as the fashion misstep of the century!
Since the early 90’s, Raceline’s contributions have taken a more audio-visual approach, as I am deeply proud to provide the voice-over recording of each inductee’s biography at the induction Gala, words crafted by another good friend and Hall supporter, Tim Miller of The Hamilton Spectator.
From this point forward in this edition of “Tomas Tales, I will let a very good friend and celebrated motorsport and hockey writer, one of the best in the country, Dan Proudfoot, to give you his spin on the Hall of Fame process, and how and why making sure we never lose touch with our racing past is so important to us.
Dan’s article appeared in the Hall of Fame program, and he has kindly allowed me to include his words in “Tales”. Thanks Dan!
Behind the Scenes with Alan Sanders, CMHF Induction Gala Producer
On this occasion we all share emotions, those of us seated in the auditorium and those we’ve come to celebrate, the inductees on stage.
Here and now, you don’t need to be Nigel Mansell to wear your heart on your sleeve. Or Paul Tracy, to speak your mind exactly, or Scott Maxwell to analyze a challenge and make the most of it. We’re all part of this Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame induction. We all feel a collective rush.
Inductees themselves sometimes shiver or tear up while witnessing their greatest moments flashing by one after another on screen during their turn at centre stage. Gaining a place in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame is powerful beyond horsepower.
And this show supercharges it with immediacy. Tony Stewart’s heartfelt tribute to inductee Jimmy Carr arrived via smart phone 72 hours before last year’s induction. “It contributed so much because Tony was so over-the-top over Jimmy being named to the hall,” says Alan Sanders, the induction show producer and a former CMHF board member. “We make changes even during the show if new information becomes available.”
Sanders begins each year in early summer reviewing each inductee’s nomination information, collecting images and testimony that will bring career highlights alive in tonight’s audio-visual presentation. In the case of Carr and Stewart, he drove to Ohsweken Speedway to get to know them at a World of Outlaws show.
“People will put their whole life into a shoebox and I’ll start by sifting through the print material, the video, all their photos for our audio-visual presentation. In the end, I always like to ask the most important question: what is the biggest moment in your career?”
Sanders is an unpaid volunteer. As is everyone else behind tonight’s program. “Logistics and storage is what I do for my day job, with a couple of main clients, nothing really glamorous,” says the president of Trillium Specialty Logistics. The hall’s 13 cars, three motorcycles, and archives are stored in a TSL warehouse pending establishment of a new home.
Eric Tomas contributes the audio for Sanders’ visual. His is a voice with a track vibe. Even in its lower register it bursts with the excitement of hundreds of races he’s worked, from the 1970’s as track announcer at Merritville, Ransomville and Cayuga speedways.
Tomas’s Raceline Radio, in its 22nd season, comprises 16 stations across the country. Tomas was co-announcer of the original Molson Indy from 1986-1993. In radio and television he’s worked Champcar, World of Outlaws, DIRT series, and been pit reporter on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. He’s been the face of television coverage of various Canadian series including CASCAR/NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and The Can-Am Midgets.
And with all this behind him Tomas’s voice introduces real feeling to his recitation of inductee’s accomplishments. He and script writer Tim Miller have known each other for decades and combined on this show for years.
“My role has been to provide the cold facts and figures and not write about them in a subjective manner,” explains Miller, longtime motorsports writer for The Hamilton Spectator and
author, who works with material provided by Sanders as well as his own research.
Take note that every volunteer fell prey to motorsport a long, long time ago. For Max Sanders, Alan’s dad, in charge of tonight’s ticket sales, the original Can-Am Challenge Series was the hook. He managed the team campaigning John Cannon, who went on to be inducted as a CMHF member, in a McLaren M1B that famously won in the rain at Laguna Seca, CA, in 1968.
Norris McDonald, known far and wide for championing motorsport in The Toronto Star’s Wheels section, raced himself at upstate New York’s Oswego Speedway. The only reason McDonald isn’t serving as master of ceremonies tonight, of course, is because he’s being inducted.
Ralph Luciw, the enduring CMHF board member and induction stalwart, ran Honda’s long-running Civic series years after racing Porsches in the era of airport circuits. Alan Sanders first met Luciw while crewing for a Civic team; later, Luciw was a prime mover in developing the induction ceremonies when Sanders began contributing to the hall as a volunteer during its time at Bay and College.
Alan Sanders got on track himself in kart racing at the age of 30, competing in Brian Stewart’s regional championship and going as far afield as Florida. “Now 1,000 per cent of my effort goes into my son’s racing,” he says of 11-year-old Gavin.
Racing against 15-year-olds, Gavin Sanders has finished as high as third at Goodwood in the Eastern Canadian junior championship and anticipates improving with experience. “He wants to make a career of it – but not as a driver, he knows dad hasn’t got the resources for that, but more on the engineering or team side of thing.”
The torch passes on. Sid Priddle is in his fourth year as interim general manager of the hall, following many years as a public relations specialist working with race organizations and sponsors. His son, Jerry Priddle, also a communications specialist with racing roots, is a member of the board.
The torch passes on, but tonight we pause to salute those who’ve carried it with spectacular ability.
ET… with contribution from Dan Proudfoot, CMHF.2014

Tomas Tales: Stewart Not Charged in Ward Death.

Stewart Won’t be Charged in Ward Sprint Car Tragedy.

It might be almost over legally, but the emotional wounds will take a long time to heal, if ever.

After viewing videos and listening to testimony, some of it from other Empire Super Sprint Series drivers who were also on the track at the time of the tragedy, it took at New York State Grand jury less than an hour to officially rule what most clear-headed fans, media and fellow drivers knew all along.

He did nothing wrong, and there won’t be any criminal charges laid against Tony Stewart in the August 9th tragedy at Canandaigua Speedway.

Kevin Ward Junior was accidently struck and killed by Stewart’s sprint car, as Ward moved to confront Stewart during a caution for an earlier incident where Kevin believed Tony had squeezed him into the wall.

And in a totally unexpected development, Ontario County New York District Attorney Michael Tantillo dropped the bombshell that Ward was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the mishap, enough to impair judgment.

That startling revelation means it will be close to impossible for the Ward family to bring civil action against Stewart, something many so-called legal experts put on the air on radio and television speculated might happen, as the Ward family sought “revenge” for the loss.

While the case was being reviewed, Stewart spent three weeks in seclusion and skipped three NASCAR Sprint Cup events following what he always called, and what has now proven to be, a tragic racing accident before quietly returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, visibly shaken by the drama.

The Stewart-Ward accident drew a wide range of emotion, outbursts and opinion. And some of the media treatment of the story went beyond the bounds of professionalism.

There was an insidious swell of anti-Stewart diatribe, most of it on social media, that because Stewart has a reputation of being somewhat of a “hot-head”, he had definitely gone off the rails again, and had intentionally run Ward down that night at Canandaigua Speedway.

I spent close to 24 hours on the air with media outlets, with some asking me repeatedly if I thought Tony had run the young man down on purpose.

I saw, heard and read far too many reports on this accident from some media outlets that obviously didn’t have clue-one about the sport, and without a firm grasp of the facts, went public with baseless and outrageous statements, simply to get a reaction.

The very notion of a NASCAR champion throwing away his career and life by committing such a crime was almost too ridiculous to discuss, and the local Sherriff, District Attorney, and now a Grand Jury have completely shot down that argument based on evidence.

Those who know Stewart, know Ward, and who understand sprint car racing, came to the conclusion almost immediately that Ward made a terrible mistake trying to confront Stewart on foot in the middle of a hot race track at night, and being close enough to try and touch Stewart’s car, Stewart couldn’t avoid striking and killing Ward.

Ward was so close to the moving cars that Chuck Hebing, the driver of the car directly ahead of Stewart had to swerve to the left to avoid hitting Ward himself!

Chuck’s testimony and that of others before The Grand Jury brought the cause of the tragedy into sharp focus. If anyone was to blame for the tragedy, it was Ward himself. He put himself in grave danger by standing in the middle of a hot race track.

Plain and simple.

The shocking revelation that Ward had enough marijuana in his system during the race to impair judgment underlines his momentary lapse of reason that sadly resulted in his loss of life.

It’s extremely unfortunate this case had to be drawn out so long for something that most had already decided was simply a bazaar racing accident weeks ago.

The emotional toll on Stewart and the Ward family is immeasurable.

Ward’s impairment discovery however, does open up another delicate issue, drug testing in motorsport.

The major racing sanctions, NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula One all have very strict substance abuse rules and severe penalties for violators. The fact Ward was racing at a local/regional race track in a regional racing series impaired, should sound major alarms that substance abuse also needs to be addressed at this level of the sport.

If that means random drug testing of drivers to catch those trying to race “high”, so be it. If more stringent testing by local/regional racing sanctions stops a similar Stewart/Ward tragedy in the future, then those sanctions need to get busy and right now!

The real tragedy in all this?
Kevin Ward, a young and very talented race car driver was racing impaired and he made a very bad decision that cost him his life.

And Tony Stewart, in the wrong place at the wrong time, sadly, will never be the same again.


Tomas Tales: Formula E Would be a Perfect Fit at CMS!

Formula E CarFormula-E and Canadian Motor Speedway? Huge Potential!
September 14, 2014

“And the field whooshes into turn one….?.”
In a few short years, don’t be surprised if the track announcer at Canadian Motor Speedway utters those somewhat confusing words as he describes the action of the fully electric FIA Formula-E Championship Series, should it come to Canada and eventually makes its way onto the CMS schedule.

If indeed electric race cars and their odd, almost silent presentation are the race cars of the not-too-distant future, there’s a very good chance they would run at CMS, because they would certainly fall within the parameters of North America’s first “Carbon Neutral” Speedway!

No carbon! No exhaust emissions! No noise! It’s a perfect corporate fit!
But what will the fans think?

The FIA Formula-E Championship premiered this weekend at Beijing, China, with almost instant exposure as the race was telecast on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports GO.

Further credibility comes from telecast colour commentator Dario Franchitti, a multi-time IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 champion, NASCAR and sports car pilot. Dario is also very much aware of the CMS development in Fort Erie.

“We expect this championship to become the framework for research and development around the electric car, a key element for the future of our cities,” stated Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula-E Holdings.

Alejandro can add research and development of electric cars for racing purposes at Canadian Motor Speedway, that already boasts R&D platform partnerships with McMaster University and Niagara College.

It extends even further with the possibility of an electric street car manufacturer as a tenant in the commercial sector of the CMS property.

The inaugural FIA Formula-E Championship season will see 10 teams, each with two drivers, all using the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E race car, two per driver, with the cars/teams based at a purpose built central workshop at Donington Park England during the off-season.

The Spark-Renault SRT-01 E uses the very latest technology in zero emission automobiles. They believe this car will go well beyond what is currently achievable in electric motorsport, while ensuring cost-effectiveness and durability.

They get a rigorous test in season-one, as all of the races will be staged on street circuits which are notoriously bumpy, rough, and hard on equipment.

The cars themselves and their power systems come from the best open wheel pedigree.

Italian firm Dallara, builders of the current IndyCar and Indy Lights chassis with more than 40 years’ motorsport experience, have constructed the monocoque for the F-E cars, aerodynamically designed to promote passing.

Constructed from carbon fibre and aluminium, the chassis is both super light, yet incredibly strong so it complies with the latest FIA crash tests used to ensure Formula One safety.

Providing the electric power-train and electronics is McLaren Electronics Systems, the world leader in high-performance technology for motorsport.

Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams Group that includes The Williams F-1 Team, will supply the batteries producing 200kw, the equivalent of 270 bhp. This will be linked to a five-speed paddle shift sequential gearbox, supplied by Hewland, another top-rung racing equipment manufacturer.

Overseeing all the systems integration will be F-E’s Technical Partner Renault, a leader in electric vehicle development and an expert in motorsport thanks to its Renault Sport Technologies and Renault Sport F-1 experience.

Specially designed 18″ treaded tyres will be supplied by Official Tire supplier Michelin, capable of providing optimum performance in both wet and dry conditions.

The United States is represented by a pair of teams — Andretti Formula E, with driver Franck Montagny; and Dragon Racing, with drivers Mike Conway from the IndyCar Series and Jerome d’Ambrosio.

Other notables running the series: Nelson Piquet, Katherine Legge, Oriol Servia, Sebastien Buemi, Bruno Senna, Yarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld, and Jaime Alguersuari from the Formula One and IndyCar ranks.

Already locked in with race fans on social media, The Formula-E Championship is introducing inter-active “Fan-Boost”, where fans can give their favorite driver an extra power boost by voting for them prior to the race.

The three drivers with the most votes receive a five-second power boost, temporarily increasing their cars’ power for passing, akin to the IndyCars turbo-boost system.

The only unknown aspect of The FIA Formula-E Series is how race fans, North American fans will accept the almost silent ambience.

We are so used to the high-decibel roar, rumble and scream of the internal combustion gasoline, alcohol and nitro methane-burning engines of various sizes and power, the virtually silent whoosh of an entire field of electric race cars might be so unusual and so different, it might take several seasons for the racing fan base to get used to it.

But my guess is, as long as the cars are fast and fast looking, and there’s lots of passing, drama and skilled drivers, coupled with the initial novelty and curiosity, the all-electric Formula-E Championship just might be the sleeper hit of the season and seasons to come.

They may very well be firmly established in the sport by the time carbon-neutral Canadian Motor Speedway is ready for racing… even silent racing!

Gordon Talks CMS during Toronto Visit!

CN Tower

CN Tower

September 11, 2014.

In the past, we have had short comments from Canadian Motor Speedway oval track designer Jeff Gordon on his involvement with the project, both here on the website and on the air across The Raceline Radio Network.

But for the first time in front of the assembled motorsport media, during his visit to Toronto this week, Jeff greatly expanded his comments on his role with the Fort Erie development and where he is currently in the design process.

NASCAR brought the 4-time Sprint/Winston Cup champion to Canada to promote their “Chase for The Championship”, but easily more than half of the discussion topic was regarding CMS, Jeff’s involvement, and the status of the facility.

The following is a transcript of Gordon’s remarks at the media luncheon from the Horizons Room at the top of the 457 meter (1,499 foot ) CN Tower on the Toronto waterfront, including some questions from yours truly.

JG: Well this is without a doubt the highest media conference I’ve ever done in terms of elevation! It’s really great to be back in Canada. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up with Dupont back in the days where we coming came up here to some plants. That was the first introduction for me to just how avid and loyal NASCAR fans are in Canada. Of course over the years we always hear the Canadian national anthem happen in Michigan and Watkins Glen so you know that there’s a lot of Canadians present at those events.

Canada is playing a major role in all forms of motorsports so I’m thrilled NASCAR selected me to come here to Toronto, of course hoping that one day we get to break ground on the race track ( CMS ) in Fort Erie and bring NASCAR racing there. You do have another facilities with some great action on a smaller ovals in Canada, so we know that it’s going to do well.

ET: Jeff, Erik Tomas, The Raceline Radio Network and Canadian Motor Speedway. You touched on the Canadian Motor Speedway in Fort Erie, and you were just telling USA Today recently about the key to your design of the track is having the proper transition between the banking on the straightaways and the banking in the corners to promote side-by-side racing. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that?

JG: Sure. You feed off of your experience as a driver and the tracks you race on. Michigan for instance, is a big version of what I love about the transitions from the straightaway to the corners on an oval. You’re on a bigger track so you have more space to make those transitions. We would like to do something similar with the CMS three-quarter mile race track.

Just coming from Richmond, that’s close to what the CMS configuration is going to be, it’s fresh in my mind. I’m thinking, alright, I’m going to Canada and I start thinking about this track you’re designing, and we’re pushing hard to get it done, but I think of how these transitions are going to work to improve this type of race track.

I think that progressive banking is something that we we’ve seen more of, and I like that idea. I really do like being able to make those transitions. It’s funny because a lot of times when I race side-by-side race at a place like Bristol, they created more side-by-side racing and the fans wanted more bumping and banging so yeah, there’s a fine line that you’re trying to create.

But I do believe that creating multiple grooves and to try and go seamless from corner to straightaway is going to create more side-by-side racing.

We’ve actually put a simulator in my office. We map out the CMS track and put it in the simulation where I’m gonna be able to drive it to come up with the right banking and transitions.

ET: Jeff, for those who don’t know, can you retrace some of the history of how you got involved with the Canadian Motor Speedway project in the first place?

JG: Ya, it came through Paxton Waters. He’s an architect who did our track and reached out to my step father John Bickford who handles by business affairs. There was a group of investors that were interested in doing a project in Canada with a
race track similar to what Paxton designed in Iowa.

They wanted somebody to be involved in the design aspect of it and there was recognition in the name I guess, so that’s how it originally started and then it’s grown tremendously from there.

The concept is getting closer and closer to reality, with the investment group doing a lot of work. My side of it is primarily just the design of the race track and the facilities from the competitor side of it, and how it could be beneficial to the fans.

But I’ve also been talking to crew members and other people within the industry to try to bring it all together. That experience will make it the best race track it can possibly be.

It terms of the current status, it’s ongoing. It’s a long process, but we’re still moving forward. Every couple of months I ask, OK, where are we, and I keep getting good news each time that I ask.

As I said, we brought the simulator into my office recently so we’re moving forward. I can’t say it’s full speed ahead because it does take a long time for these things to get done. It’s a big project that goes beyond just racing. CMS is a project that’s going to incorporate local businesses and an entertainment element on a whole new level, because that’s what you have to do with these types of facilities today.

Tomas Tales: Stewart-Ward Tragedy an Accident. Period.

Tomas Tales: Stewart-Ward Tragedy an Accident. Period.

The only thing that stopped the poisonous whirl-wind of media coverage, some of it insulting, and social media traffic, most of it ludicrous, on the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward racing tragedy, was the stunning news comedic and acting genius Robin Williams had departed this earth.

I will not get into a long protracted soap box rant about the Stewart/Ward incident, as I have already made my position known through an enormous amount of time on the air with not only Raceline Radio Network affiliates across Canada including Sportsnet 590 The FAN Toronto, but a few other hosts at non-affiliate stations who needed some input from a motorsport journalist.

At least “some” wanted to get the story and the facts straight, resisting the urge to join the hysteria.

The incident that killed young Ward during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Speedway in New York State this past weekend was an accident.

A horrible accident, but an accident.

Our main focus should have been on the loss of a talented 20 year old who was keeping this level of the sport vital, who paid the ultimate price due to a momentary lapse of reason in the heat of competition fueled by adrenalin.

Our thoughts and prayers to the Ward family and the racing fraternity have already been expressed and are heartfelt. The proper racing fans and media realized this was the right thing to do.

What sadly poisoned the process, was the ghastly media coverage by far too many so-called news people and journalists, who still don’t understand this sport and don’t want to understand it.

I spent far too much time on the air trying to stop those who wanted to attack Tony Stewart, based on his reputation for colourful behaviour, and blame the entire tragedy on the 3-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, team owner, track owner and IndyCar champion.

There have been far too many groundless and insidious accusations, especially by the Stewart-haters on social media, and on the air, that Stewart had “lost it again” and intentionally ran Kevin Ward down in front of thousands of fans at Canandaigua, and millions more watching replays.

Utterly ridiculous!

Similar insinuations by some news and talk show anchors also fall completely apart when you hear these people also stumble through countless factual errors about the story.

What’s tremendously sad is this current trend in some print and electronic mediums to say and/or write whatever you want, truthful or accurate or not, to create a sensational headline to get a reaction to boost ratings and subscribers.

Many don’t know Stewart, they don’t understand why he also drives sprint cars in addition to his NASCAR stock car racing assignments, and some know even less about the unique characteristics of sprint cars.

All of that is critical for accurate reporting, because I feel you need to be able to grasp those facts to understand why the accident may have happened.

This simply failed on too many fronts.

It comes down to this:

Stewart has not been charged, and will not be charged as police investigate the contact between his sprint car and Kevin Ward, because there’s no reason to lay charges.

This was a racing accident. A unique accident because the fatal injuries were not suffered during the actual competition, but an accident none the less.

What factors led to the unfortunate mishap?

Ward, angry over earlier contact with Stewart during the race, should not have been standing in the middle of a “hot” race track at night wearing a black fire suit and helmet, even under caution, waiting to confront Stewart.

The car ahead of Stewart had to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting Ward as the field passed through under yellow, and Stewart, in the next car, likely did not see Kevin standing in the racing groove until the last second.

That’s because visibility, especially out the right side of a winged sprint car is extremely limited.

Sprint car driver Dwight Carter posted a photograph of the view from the cockpit of his sprint car on Facebook, to give all of us an idea of the extremely restricted viewing window.

Dwight Carter Sprint Car visibility

Add in darkness, a helmet visor covered by several layers of “tear-off” plastic see-through visor covers, plus Ward’s dark clothing, and you can clearly understand why there’s a better than average chance Stewart didn’t see Kevin until the last second, and may not have realized how close he was to the big right-rear tire of his car that made contact with and killed the young driver.

Again, some of this is speculation, because only Stewart knows exactly what he saw and didn’t see. All we can do is present the conditions and situation to try and make the tragedy clearer.

So far, the police, most witnesses and fellow drivers at the track that night agree with the hypothesis.

I did not like the fact this journalistic tug of war, most of it based on ignorance and the reluctance to get things right, took away from the reflection on the sad loss of a bright young racing talent, son, brother, nephew and friend.

This one hit hard, and was a local story for me.

Canandaigua Motorsports Park, about 20 miles south of Rochester New York, is a facility Niagara-based DIRT modified and sprint car fans, teams and drivers that I am more than familiar with, attend on a regular basis.

I have guest track-announced at “The Track of Legends” several times.

I also know more than a few of the drivers that run with the Empire Super Sprint Series, the sanction that staged the fateful race.

God Speed Kevin Ward.

And those words should be the only words on our minds as we move forward through the balance of the season.