Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Happy Birthday" John Graham

October 22nd, 1966
John Graham
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Graham resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 1981, he began his career in Can-Am Under 2 litre class. In 1982 he joined Gordon Lightfoot diving the Lightfoot Racing March 811 Cosworth. In 1983, he joined Aston Martin driving the "Nimrod" at the 24 hours of Daytona.

Over his career John has has driven in IMSA, WSC, Indy Lights, F2, ALMS, Grand-Am, ARCA, NASCAR & Can-Am, as well as in the Paris-Dakar Rally Raid. He has 9 starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with an LMP2 win in 2000. His podium finishes include the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Canadian Motorsport Legend Harvey Lennox Is Born - October 21, 1929

October 21, 1929 - September 29, 2014
Harvey Lennox
Born in Lanigan, Saskatchewan.
The London motorsport legend, famous for driving his signature super modified vehicle 'Tammy 10', won 182 times in feature races at tracks in Ontario and Michigan from the 1950s through the '70s.

Lennox won five international stock car championships and three national titles and was the top driver at numerous tracks. Early in his career Harvey was the scourge of the dirt tracks that dotted Southwestern Ontario. He was big news at ovals such as Delaware, Nilestown, Ridge Raceway, Checker Flag in Windsor, Tilbury, Warwick, Tillsonburg, Sarnia Glendale to name some of them. It seemed every town had a track. Much of the time races were held on tracks at the fairgrounds.

Along came paved asphalt tracks, corners were widened and safety features installed as conditions improved. The dirt tracks eventually closed up with operations at Delaware, Flamboro, Bridgeport, CNE Toronto, Cayuga and Oswego, N.Y. taking over. Cars improved and were made to go faster and there was Harvey among the leaders again. Harvey took on all comers and cultivated some great rivalries. Who can forget the duels between him and Jack Sharpe in Lobo 1 or with some other leadfoots like Bill Rouse, Jimmy Howard, Trip Trepanier, Ron Pearn, Ted Hogan or Don Biederman?

In 1961, he won a five-mile feature at Harewood Acres, the first time super modifieds were contested on a Canadian road course.

Lennox was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport hall of fame in 1995 and the London Sports hall of fame in 2011. He is also a member of the Flamboro Speedway's hall of fame.

On September 29, 1914, Harvey Lennox passed away at Chelsey Park Nursing Home, London, Ontario, Canada, in his 85th year.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Happy Birthday" Randy Slack

October 20, 1950
Randy Slack
Randy is a well known late-model driver from the 1970,s and 1980's. He is the son of Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame member parents Bob and Leone Slack.

 The Slack family owned and operated Ontario's Cayuga Speedway during the stock car track's glory years, regularly hosting NASCAR stars and massive events. The Slacks are still a prominent family in Canadian and international motorsports.

For the Slacks, too, it was much more than merely business. "The first date I had with my wife we ended up going to the drags, I got married in 1970 and started racing within a year of marriage," says Randy, whose father Bob took over ownership of the oval in the mid-1960s.

In the mid-1960s, the elder Slack ran a successful lumber business, and his access to building materials made him an ideal partner in the development of a forlorn dirt track oval in the farm fields off Highway 3 near Nelles Corners.
That location just outside of Cayuga would become Cayuga Speedway in 1966 when Slack bought out two other creditors. He turned the dusty, fenceless facility into Canada's best known and most celebrated stock car oval with capacity for 14,000 fans.

"Canadian & Maritime Hall Of Famer" Scott Fraser Born - October 20, 1970

October 20, 1970 - March 20, 2004
Scott Fraser
 Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.
Scott was an accomplished Stock car driver and car builder from Shubenacadie, NS. He is the son of Maritime racing legend Frank Fraser. His brother Frankie is also an accomplished stock car racer. Scott began racing at age 16 in the Street Stock division. He moved up to Open-Wheel Modified and the MASCAR Circuit. He went on to the Pro-Stock and ASA Circuit.

Scott's racing record of 16 years speaks volumes of his talent. Scott was a great ambassador for Canada and Maritime Motorsports. 

Scott Fraser was just 16 when he drove his first race, competing in the Street Stock division at a local track, Onslow Speedway (Truro, Nova Scotia - closed 1990). From there he moved to an Open-Wheel Modified division where he won the championship at another local track, Scotia Speedworld (Halifax, Nova Scotia). That same year he was also runner-up for Rookie of the Year on the MASCAR circuit, a Maritimes-based late model touring series.

At the age of 21, he competed in his first international field when the American Canadian Tour (ACT) visited Nova Scotia for a double-header weekend. He entered both races and scored a third and a fourth place finish among short track standouts Junior Hanley, Kevin Lepage, Brad Leighton and Robbie Crouch. 

His road course racing - and late model racing - debut came at the 1992 edition of the Moosehead Grand Prix (Halifax, Nova Scotia). He had the third fastest car in the MASCAR division but was forced to the garage area when the transmission broke. The 1993 edition of the same race saw Scott start his second road course race - and finish second. 

In 1994, at 23, Scott Fraser won an ACT race at Scotia Speedworld after rebounding from a blown engine in practice for the event and subsequently using a borrowed engine to run the race. 

Between 1993 and 1998 he won six consecutive Riverside 250 races, the longest and most prestigious annual stock car race on the MASCAR circuit.

In 1996, Scott experienced perhaps the most successful season ever for any driver in the history of Maritime motorsports. While competing on the MASCAR circuit he scored an impressive 12 of 15 feature wins en route to his first touring series championship. Nine of those wins were consecutive. 

1997 saw Scott run a limited MASCAR schedule, winning four of the six races he entered. He also chalked up win number 13 of the 18 pro stock races ever run at New Brunswick International Speedway (NBIS - Geary, New Brunswick). Two NEPSA races at Sanair, Quebec, finishing third in the first race and setting fast time for the second race. 

In 1998 Scott Fraser was crowned MASCAR champion for the second time in three seasons. Among more than 40 competitors he captured six of 13 checkered flags and clinched the title. 

 At the end of '98 season he made the decision to partner with Rollie MacDonald, a veteran Nova Scotia racer, who admired Scott's racing talent and had the personal desire to see Scott fulfill his dream. The King Racing team was formed with Scott as the driver and Rollie as the owner and car chief. The team was a combination of Scott's former team and Rollie's former team. 

In February of 1999, the two hopefuls and their crew made the long trek to The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Fraser's performance "vaulted him into the national limelight" said Late Model Digest. In 10 consecutive nightly races he competed against 69 of North America's best short track stock car racers, setting fast time five of the 10 nights, winning two feature races, with four top fives and six top 10s. The Fraser/MacDonald combination finished third overall in the final point standings in their maiden adventure. 

Fraser and MacDonald returned home to Nova Scotia to formulate a plan for the future, clinching the International Pro Stock Challenge (IPSC) championship featuring competition among the best teams from New England and Eastern Canada. They also ran a limited MASCAR schedule. In all, Fraser ran 12 races that year, finishing the season with a championship, four wins, nine top fives and 10 top 10s. 

In July 2000, the King Freight Lines sponsored No. 00 Chevrolet arrived in Chicago for their ASA debut. They stunned onlookers by qualifying second and finishing eighth. In total, Scott competed in six ASA races that summer, recording four top-10s and qualifying on the front row twice. 

Encouraged by their rookie season in ASA, Fraser and MacDonald decided to go full-time in 2001. While still searching for a sponsorship, they competed in 11 events before wrecking their only racecar at the very same track they had made their spectacular debut just one year prior, Chicago Motor Speedway. Discouraged, they headed home to Nova Scotia to regroup. 

Just four weeks later over $39,000 had been raised through the Fans Of Fraser campaign and Scott Fraser began building a new ASA racecar. The funds were raised by selling lap sponsorships at $100 each. Every fan got their name on the new blue Fans of Fraser racecar that debuted at Memphis (Tennessee) in September 2001. The Fans of Fraser car raced a second time at Indianapolis Raceway Park (Indiana) later that month. 

In 13 2001 ASA starts, Fraser scored four top 10 finishes. Four late model (pro stock) starts saw two top 10 finishes. 

2002 was a rebuilding year for Scott's Atlantic CAT pro stock team and a late start but in just eight pro stock races he won six of the biggest shows on the Northeastern seaboard, including Oktoberfest at Thompson, Ct. 

In 2003, Scott Fraser drove the Rollie MacDonald owned entry on the Maritime Canadian based Maritime Pro Stock Tour. They won two of 11 events and finished third overall in final point standings. Other than those wins, Fraser visited Victory Lane on three other occasions in 2003. He finished first in a Pro All Stars Series event and a 250-lap open event at New Brunswick International Speedway (Geary, NB). The NBIS 250 win was Scott Fraser's biggest payday, winning a whopping $24,500. His last win came September 27 in a 150-lap open event at his home track Scotia Speedworld, in a race some described as his exhibition of pure racing talent.

In October, in what would be his last stock car race, he wrecked his racecar during a fiery crash at Concord Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

Besides his great driving talent, Scott built top-quality race cars at the Scott Fraser Racing Shop  schooled initially by Canadian racing legend and fellow Nova Scotian Junior Hanley, and by his father Frank, himself a successful racer.  

In 1999 he was named Nova Scotia Male Athlete of the Year. He was inducted to the Maritime Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2006, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2007, the Colchester Sport Heritage Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. 

Scott lost his life at just 33 years of age in a tragic snowmobile accident March 20, 2004.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Happy Birthday" John Jones - October 19, 1965

October 19, 1965
John Jones 
Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
The 1988 CART Champ Car "Rookie of the Year", John started ice racing at home in Thunder Bay, along side his Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame dad Tom in the early 1980's. 

In 1982 John won the fiercely competitive Mid-Canada Series, then switched to a F2000 car. In 1983 he started racing in the Canadian Formula Ford 2000 series for 2 litre cars and left his mark that year, convincingly capturing the Walter Wolf and Canadian Tire championships in both '83 and '84. 

In 1985 Jones would move to the International Motor Sports Association, driving a Mustang for legendary car owner Jack Roush, partially sponsored by Ford. Jones captured the GTO class in 1985, and became the youngest champion in North America road racing history. A highlight of that season, driving with Wally Dallenbach Jr and Doc Bundy, Jones won the GTO class at the 24 Hours of Daytona, in Florida. In recognition of his season in 1985 John Jones was named to the, American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association’s “All American Team” that included, team mate Wally Dallenbach, and racing legends Al Unser, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, and Steve Kinser. 

In 1986 Jones would compete in the F-3000 series in Europe in 1986, improving through the season to become one of the main contenders in the series. Jones had top finishes of 6th & 7th place and finished 21st in points in the eleven race series, as a rookie driving a Ford/Cosworth powered March for Onyx Racing. 

John returned to F-3000 again in 1987 driving a Ford/Cosworth powered Lola for Lola Motorsports. He posted a season high second place finish in June at Pau in France and with his consistently high qualifying positions drew the attention from several Formula One teams. Jones finished the 1987 season 11th in points finishing in the top ten in all but three of the eleven races. 

In 1988 John would move on to the CART Indy Car series in the Frank Arciero owned March 88-C. John would have eleven top 10 finishes, 4 times finishing in seventh place to take him to a season ending 11th position in the points and CART Indy Car Series "Rookie of the Year". 

Jones would switch to the Protofab team in 1989 with major sponsorship coming from Labatts and he would qualify for the Indy 500, finishing 11th after a 25th place start.

In 1990 Jones returned to F-3000 driving the Mugen/Honda powered Lola for Paul Stewart Racing. John started the season with 3rd & 4th place finishes, but with mechanical failures in five of the eleven races Jones finished twelfth for the season, beating future Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill. 

John raced in the Indy cars for parts of the 1991 & 92 seasons, and raced six races in the PPG / Firestone Indy Lights in 1997. Through the early 1990’s Jones also raced in Sports cars and Prototypes through out North America and the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1995.

John now lives in Denver, Colorado. Spends a lot of time as a racing driver instructor. John's brother Hunter Jones was also an active driver in the CART Indy Lights championship.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Happy Birthday" Alex "Tags" Tagliani - October 18, 1972

October 18, 1972
Alex "Tags" Tagliani

(Photo credit: Paul Henman via photopin cc)
Born in Lachenaie, Quebec, Canada.
Inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame on October 17th, 2015, "Tags" is a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and Indycar veteran, and the 2009 Indianapolis 500 "Rookie of the Year".

After 4 seasons of Formula Atlantic, Tagliani raced in the Champ Car series from 2000, when it was still known as CART, until its demise in 2007. He was signed by Forsythe Racing for the 2000 season replacing the late Greg Moore and would win the Greg Moore Pole award in Vancouver in 2001, which Tag's has said was his favorite award ever. He came close to obtaining his first victory in his third start, after taking pole position at Brazil and leading most of the race, but spun out from the lead with nine laps to go.

In 2001 he was involved in the collision with Alex Zanardi at the Lausitzring that resulted in the loss of Zanardi's legs.

He remained at Forsythe until the end of 2002, when he was substituted by Paul Tracy. He found a job with the Rocketsports team in 2003, and remained there for the 2004 season, in which he earned his first and only Champ Car victory at Road America.

In 2005 he joined Team Australia, which was a rebranding of Derrick Walker's long-running team with the support of Australian businessman Craig Gore, and finished 7th in the championship despite lacking a race engineer. 7th would equal the best of his 3 top-10 championship finishes.

He returned to Rocketsports for the 2007 season, and finished 10th in points with a best finish of 4th in the first race of the season. He earned four pole positions during his Champ Car career.

In 2008, after the Rocketsports team decided not to take part in the IndyCar Series, Tagliani made the transition to stock cars and began racing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. He also drove for Conquest Racing in the IndyCar Series Detroit Grand Prix, replacing the injured Enrique Bernoldi. Tagliani continued in the seat for the last two races of the season.

Conquest Racing announced that Tagliani would return as a full–time driver for the 2009. However, the team ultimately concentrated on road and street course races after the Indianapolis 500 in which Taglani was named the 2009 Indianapolis 500 "Rookie of the Year". Tagliani left Conquest Racing after the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy race in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

It was announced on August 28, 2009, that Tagliani had signed a four–year deal with an option for a fifth year to drive for start–up FAZZT Race Team in the IZOD IndyCar Series beginning in 2010.

After a successful 2010 campaign with Tagliani, FAZZT Race Team was looking forward to an even more successful 2011 season, along with the possible expansion on the grid with a second entry. However, the team was purchased by Sam Schmidt on March 1, 2011, and during the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500, Tagliani qualified for the pole position at a four–lap average of 227.472 mph, besting Scott Dixon in the last run of the day.

Tagliani also ran selected races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, running four races between 2009 and 2012. 

In 2014, he announced that he would drive in two races in the series for Team Penske. At Road America for the Gardner Denver 200, Tagliani won the pole position driving Penske's #22. Tagliani nearly won his first NNS victory leading the second half. However, it was questionable with 10 laps to go if Tagliani had enough fuel. A caution came out before the final lap and just as the yellow period began Tagliani ran out of gas in the extended race and stalled at the start/finish line. Tagliani switched to dry (slick) tires with most of the field on wet tires (on a drying track); he restarted in 23rd place and recovered for second place.

Tagliani made his debut in sportscars driving a Ferrari Grand-Am GT in the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013. Later, Rocketsports Racing announced that it had signed Tagliani for the full 2014 United SportsCar Championship season to drive an Oreca FLM09. 

Later in 2014 Tagliani was announced as the driver for Brad Keselowski Racing's No. 19 in the Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and got off to a memorable start when he put his truck on pole, but throttle problems ruined his race and he finished 16th in the Chevy Silverado 250.

On June 20, 2015, Tagliani won the "Leland Industries 300" at Sunset Speedway with dominance as he became the 1st NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver to lap the entire field with a Margin of Victory of 1 Lap.

(photo credit: Manik. via photopin cc)
Tagliani's winning burnout at the Edmonton in 2008.

John Cannon Dies From Plane Crash Injuries - October 18, 1999

June 21, 1933 - October 18, 1999
 John Cannon 
Born in London, England.
A sports car racer who competed under the banner of Canada, he raced in the USRRC series, the Can Am Series and the L&M Continental Series (Formula 5000).

In the USRRC he drove for Nickey Chevrolet in a Dan Blocker, of Bonanza fame, sponsored Genie/Vinegaroon

(photo credit: / ProRallyPix via photopin cc)
1965 Huffaker Genie Mk. 10
John drove this car to a win in the 1966 Las Vegas USRRC race.

In the first year of the Can Am he was the top finishing Canadian propelled by a fourth place finish in the opening event at his home course, St Jovite. John duplicated that accomplishment in 1968 propelled by a famous win over the dominant McLaren team in a very wet race at Laguna Seca. In a three-year-old car, John lapped the entire field including the mighty Team McLaren of Denny Hume and Bruce McLaren. He also attained top Canadian status in 1973.

Cannon also ran in the Continental Series (Formula 5000). In 1969 he drove a F5000 Eagle for Malcolm Starr and won races at Riverside, Sears Point and Mosport. In 1970 Starr Racing was merged into Hogan-Starr Racing Ltd, with team owners St Louis trucking magnate Carl Hogan and Malcolm Starr. Driving a McLaren M-10B (with an Al Bartz Chevrolet 302 engine), prepared by Tom Jobe and Bob Skinner (of drag racing "The Surfers" fame) Cannon won races at Riverside, Kent, Washington and Elkhart Lake, easily winning the L&M Continental Championship.

Cannon participated in one World Championship Formula One Grand Prix, on October 3, 1971 in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He finished 14th, thus he scored no championship points. He also participated in one non-Championship Formula One race, the Questor Grand Prix, finishing up in 12th.

Cannon also made 15 starts in the USAC Championship Car series while driving on a part-time basis from 1968 to 1974. His best finish was 2nd place in the second race at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in 1968. He also finished a career best 27th in series points that year. He also attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 and 1974 but failed to make the race both years.

He was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1993. His son Michael has built a career as a race engineer. During the 2006 season at Forsythe Racing in the Champ Car World Series he was race engineer for A. J. Allmendinger.

Ever active, John died in New Mexico, USA, from injuries received in the crash of an experimental aircraft.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Yvon DuHamel Born In Montreal, Quebec, Canada - October 17, 1939

October 17, 1939
Yvon DuHamel
(Photo:Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame)
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
World Champion Snowmobile racer and Canadian Motorcycle racing legend, Yvon is the father of former AMA Superbike road racer Miguel Duhamel. Yvon won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby in 1970. He carried the No. 1 plate in every form of motorcycle racing in Canada from dirt track to road racing – in most cases, a number of times. Five times, he won the White Trophy, the highest award in Canadian motorcycle racing. He won the 250 cc Daytona Classic in 1969, won a World Championship race at Assen, Holland, in 1974, and the Grand Prix of Canada in 1981. He was also a very active ice racer, using hockey shin pads to allow him to lean over farther, scraping his knee on the ice rather than merely sliding his foot as did speedway racers.

Duhamel is best remembered as a member of the Kawasaki factory racing team during the 1970s along with team-mates Gary Nixon and Art Baumann. He made famous the #17 on the neon green factory Kawasaki, a number now honoured by his son Miguel.

Following in the footsteps of motorcycle legends Joe Weatherly and Paul Goldsmith, Duhamel raced a NASCAR Winston Cup race at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1973, finishing tenth for Junie Donlavey in the #90 Truxmore Ford after starting 15th, completing 381 laps of the 400-lap Gwyn Staley 400.

Never officially retired, Duhamel raced the 24-Hour World Championship in 1988 with his sons Miguel and Mario and continues to race in the Vintage series to this day. 

Yvon was inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 1988, both the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame  and the Panthéon des Sports du Québec in 2007. 

Canadian Motorcycle Racers: 
Miguel Duhamel, Jake Derosier, Blair Morgan, Malcolm Smith, Yvon Duhamel, Dusty Klatt, Nick May, Michelle Duff 
Print on Demand (Paperback) – Sep 15 2010
by LLC Books (Creator, Editor)

Gilles Villeneuve Marries Joanne Barthe - October 17, 1970

October 17, 1970
(photo credit: alessio mazzocco via photopin cc)
Since 1967 he started going steady with Joann Barthe, whom he married on this day in 1970. Gilles and Joann had two children, Jacques (the future world champion in Formula 1 in 1997) and Mélanie. During his early career Villeneuve took his young family on the road with him in a transformed old yellow bus, the front half living quarters, and rear half a workshop during the racing season, a habit which he continued to some extent during his Formula One career.

Villeneuve A Racing Legend [Kindle Edition]
Allan de la Plante (Author, Photographer)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Canadian Motorsport Hall Of Fame Member" Al Pease Born - October 15, 1921

October 15, 1921
Al Pease
Born in Darlington, England.
He participated in three Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on August 27, 1967. He holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only competitor ever to be disqualified from a World Championship race, the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix, for being too slow. Pease was black-flagged after a series of on-track incidents, the last involving Matra driver Jackie Stewart. In response, Matra owner Ken Tyrrell protested to the officials and had Pease disqualified. At the time, Pease completed 22 laps in an uncompetitive car while the leaders finished 46. Pease's F1 history happened during the Canadian Grand Prix, where his career consisted of a NC (1967, finishing 43 laps behind the leaders), DNS (engine trouble in 1968), and DSQ (1969).

Despite the brief duration of his Formula One career, Pease was highly successful in domestic Canadian motor sport competitions, winning a steady stream of regional and national championships in a variety of cars for almost 30 years and was inducted as a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1998.

He was also instrumental in getting the CASC to allow sponsors’ names on the side of racing cars, paving the way for a whole new generation of professional Canadian racing drivers.

Al Pease died on May 4th 2014, at his home in Tennessee.