Racing Roundup: 3 for 3 for Canadian at Mid-Ohio
What was Lewis thinking? Good luck to Michael Jordan (he’ll need it) and all this week’s news and views
It is amazing, when you think about it, how Canadians have dominated international motorsport over the years.
I used to tell people that the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring wouldn’t have had fields if it hadn’t been for all the members of Toronto’s Deutscher Automobil Club going to Florida to race – Heimrath, Bartling, Hochreuter, Kroll, Deacon, Petermann, Bytzek – all those guys.
We had Foster and Rasmussen and Hucul in IndyCars and then came Gilles and Berg in F1 and everything really seemed to take off. Tracy, Villeneuve, Moore, Carpentier and Tagliani came next (and I’m sure I’m missing somebody) and over on the sports car side we had Graham and Goodyear and Maxwell and Fellows, not to forget Villeneuve Sr. We had an Indy 500 winner and a world champion. Okay, it was the same guy but who cares? The Maple Leaf flag was flying and O Canada was playing on podiums around the globe.
I could go on but that was then and it’s time to talk about now. There’s Hinchcliffe and Kellett and Stroll and Latifi, the Wittmers, Spengler, Marcelli, Hargrove, de Angeles – all of whom I’ve written about before. Now we have another budding international champion in our midst and it’s time, as the old newspaper saying goes, to give him some ink.
Jeff Kingsley is a 22-year-old from Whitby who, this very weekend, swept the three races held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. He’s signed to drive a McLaren for Karl Thomson’s Compass Racing of Toronto – press release coming Tuesday – which means he’s moving up to the big leagues.
He started karting when he was 9 and before he’d graduated to cars he’d won just about every karting championship imagineable – 16, in total. A full-time student at Western University in London, Ont.. he finished third last year in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and tied for third in points in the U.S. Series. So far this season, he’s won six of the nine U.S. races, including the three this weekend in Ohio. He looks to be in a strong position to win his first championship in the series.
“Three for three, I’m super excited about that,” Kingsley said Sunday. “We couldn’t have had a better weekend if I’m being honest, so we’ve got to keep this momentum going. It (was) a busy three days here. It all starts in practice, so each session is important, each session is crucial. We’ve got to make the steps towards the front and that’s what we did. . . . It’s a long way to go and the points spread in the championship is always small. We can’t take things for granted and we’ve got to keep pushing, race after race.”
Kingsley entered the weekend in the Platinum Cup class championship lead and expanded his advantage to 22 points, 306-284, over Riley Dickinson. Dickinson finished runner-up on Sunday.
Kingsley wasn’t the only Canadian at Mid-Ohio to have a winning weekend. Marcelli, of Barrie, teamed up with American Nate Stacy to sweep the two races held in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport championship driving an Aston Martin. Marcelli and Stacy are now leading the championship in that class.
Meantime, In the headline event at Mid-Ohio, Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor won the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race in an Acura DPi entered by Roger Penske. Jordan Taylorand Antonio Garcia drove a Corvette Racing entry to victory in the GT Le Mans class and Jack Hawksworth teamed up with Aaron Telitz to win the GT-Daytona class in a Lexus entered by AIM Autosport of Woodbridge in partnership with Jimmy Vasser and Sully Sullivan.
For a complete story, please click here
You know how, when you’re watching an NFL game, and a guy catches the ball and he either has to get out-of-bounds to stop the clock or else he has to stay in-bounds to run more time off the clock and he invariably does what he isn’t supposed to do? And you wind up yelling at the TV screen, “You moron! You have education. You are supposed to be smart. How hard is it to understand what you are supposed to do? Or what you are not supposed to do!”
That is exactly how I felt way-too-early on Sunday morning when I watched Lewis Hamilton, a six-time world champion, a man about to tie Michael Schumacher for the most wins all-time in F1, do one of the most stupid things I have ever seen a racing driver do and then complain about the penalty afterward.
Shortly before the start, Hamilton left the pits for the run around to the grid. Not far after passing pit exit, he pulled over to the right and did a practice start. Two cars leaving the pits behind him had to jig left to avoid hitting him. Now, I can honestly say, in all the years of watching and covering F1 races, I have seen drivers stop and do practice starts on practice days and even when they’ve left the pits to go out to qualify but I have rarely, if ever, seen a guy do a practice start on race day. Yes, it’s legal, because they have a rule that the stewards cited when they gave him a 10-second penalty for doing it (two 5-second penalties, in fact) and it cost him the race.
Hamilton complained that the stewards were picking on him and his boss, Toto Wolff, seemed to agree. But if there is a rule and he broke it, how is that being picked on?
In reality, this is now what Lewis Hamilton is all about. He felt like doing it so he did it. Maybe he wanted to show off (this guy always knows where the TV cameras are). More likely, he felt entitled: “I’m the best and I can do anything I want.” Whatever, I bet that if he does it again, he will follow the letter of the law/rule so that if the stewards give him a hard time, he can point to the regulation and say, “What’s your problem?”
Meantime, his teammate, the classless Valtteri Bottas, won the Russian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen second and Hamilton third. Except for the start, it was a routine race. For a complete story on the Grand Prix, please click here.
The F1 paddock is reportedly pleased with the appointment of Stefano Domenicali as the new CEO of the Formula One World Championship, relacing Chase (The Moustache) Carey. Ferrari is particularly pleased, it’s said. I bet they are. Domenicali ran Ferrari until five years ago, when he went off to run other automobile companies in the Fiat empire. Liberty Media, owners of the series, talked to Toto Wolff about doing the job but he had to turn it down because Ferrari has a veto obver anyone who has worked as a team principal in F1 within three years of being appointed to the top job. So Ferrari would never have approved Wolff. But Domenicali? The reasons have never been made public but Ferrari was caught cheating – again – last year and probably before and that explains, in part, its dismal showing this year. Now, the next time the Scuderia is up to something, it will have to answer to – yup – one of their own. I know that without Ferrari there would be no F1 but this is ridiculous. And the reporters walking up and asking everybody in F1 what they think about it? Well, what do you expect them to say? “I think it’s swell and a wise choice,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner (while a cartoon bubble over his head says, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”) The proof is always in the pudding, of course. We’ll find out about that the next time Ferrari is called on the carpet and has to answer to a guy who used to be the boss
Sergio Perez is a class act (unlike some of the people whose names are in boldface, above). Fired from Racing Point, after saving it when it was Force India, Perez is making way at the end of 2020 forSebastian Vettel. You would never know he harboured any hard feelings. He finished fourth Sunday without expected upgrades for the car, which was an immense help for the team in its quest to finish fourth in the constructor’s championship. And he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. I actually hope he leaves F1, if he can only get a so-so- ride at the back of the pack (Haas, perhaps?). They would love him in IndyCar and he’d have a lot more fun.
Our Lance Stroll made an incredible start in the other Racing Point team car and was flying until he was hit in the rear by Charles Leclerc and spun out. Tough luck for a young guy who’s showing real promise.
The big story in NASCAR this week was that basketball legend Michael Jordan had formed a team with driver Denny Hamlin and would hire Bubba Wallace to drive the car. It’s great that NASCAR has a new high-profile owner with deep pockets, that Hamlin is starting the process that will see him continue in the sport after he finishes his career as a driver and that Wallace will have a decent car to drive.
The focus of many stories, though, was that this will lead to greater diversity in the sport. Said Jordan in one, “I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
There’s no doubt that opportunities for Black athletes – pit crews, etc, – will open up as a result of his presence. But as far ashelping to grow the audience is concerned, I was him the best of luck with that.
See all those names at the top of this column? Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Tracy, Scott Maxwell and Ron Fellows? Plus all the others? Those guys beat the best in the world in just about every racing discipline and yet it did next to nothing to improve the popularity of motor sport in this country. In the 1990s, Bill Cosby paid the bills for Willy T. Ribbs to run the CART circuit; in the 1970s, Richard Melville dominated Formula Super Vee. Neither one could move the needle. Hell, when Gilles was killed, the government of Canada sent a plane to bring his body home and the funeral, televised live, was attended by all the top politicians. It was the lead item on the national newscasts for days. And then it was over and nothing changed.
Never mind why. I always get a kick out of people who say, “Well, people have to be educated about the sport.” Huh? People either like something or they don’t. Most people don’t like motor sport. Those of us who do inhale it. But we’re not that many. In the case of Black culture in the U.S., basketball is No. 1, followed by football and baseball. Despite the successes of Althea Gibson, and Serena and Venus and Tiger, tennis and golf don’t register in Black communities and that’s why I don’t hold out much hope for a NASCAR renaissance.
It will help, however, if the car and driver can win. Winning always goes a long way when judging success.
Kurt Busch won the Cup race at Las Vegas Speedway Sunday night, with Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin third. The winner’s younger brother, Kyle Busch was eliminated from the playoffs. Austin Hill won the trucks race at Las Vegas while Chase Briscoe was first in the Xfinity Series race.
The Formula Electric series (ABB Formula E Championship) has become the first sport to have a net zero carbon footprint, it was announced this week. Gee, what a surprise. . . . . . At the NHRGatornationals in Florida, a Ford Mustang EV went up against a gasoline Ford Mustang and the electric Mustang won. This is all very well and good but it will kill the sport. Motorsport fans need noise. At the meet, Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, Ron Capps was first in Funny Car an Alex Laughlin dominated Pro Stock. . . . . . . Meantime, the NHRA is suing Coca-Cola because Coke has opted to terminate its Mellow Yellow sponsorship early. . . . . . Reminder for the two-race Harvest Grand Prix for the NTT IndyCar Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next Friday (that’s Sportsnet 360 at 3:30 p.m. EDT) and Saturday (same channel but at 2:30 p.m.): Sage Karam is in with Dreyer & Reinbold, Helio Casttroneves will replace Oliver Askew at Arrow McLaren SP and our James Hinchcliffe is back at Andretti Autosport, taking over from Zach Veach. Hinch does not have a full-time ride lined up for next year but is close, his manager says. . . . . Mick Schumacher won the F2 feature race at Sochi. He is closing in on the championship. . . . . Jo Lawrence was crowned champion of the 2020 APC Series Saturday night after winning the final race of the season at Hagersville’s Jukasa Motor Speedway. Pete Shepherd III finished second and Dale Shaw was third. Lawrence won four of five poles and four of the five races in the United Late Model Series. . . . . Visiting Victory Lane at Merrittville Speedway Saturday night: 358 Modifieds – Gary Lindberg; Sportsman – Chad Chevalier; Hoosier Stocks – Dave Bailey; Four Cylinders – Kyle Rothwell; Mod Lites – Josh Sliter; V6 – Jordan Fidler. At Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant, the Nissan Micra Culpconcluded its season. Jesse Lazare claimed victory in the seventh and eighth races of the season. Kevin King clinched the all-category title, Gavin Sanders was earned Rookie of the Year and Éric Chaput claimed first place in the Senior category.
By Norris McDonald / Special to wheels.ca