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Racing Roundup: Formula One tells the world, “***** you!” 

A fond farewell to Robin Miller, NASCAR Cup and all the rest of the weekend’s news 

Norris McDonald By: Norris McDonald August 30, 2021

We are not going to discuss whether they should have raced in Belgium yesterday, although Max Verstappen was on the go side. Paul Tracy wasn’t there but he would have said they should have raced because that’s why they’re paid the big bucks. I think they should have raced to the conditions – but maybe technology won’t allow it any longer. If a current F1 car isn’t going at least 100 miles an hour, sensitive sections like the power unit will shut down.

It probably would have been dangerous to have been going 100 mph-plus at a place like Spa-Francorchamps yesterday anyway, but isn’t that the attraction? Isn’t auto racing dangerous by definition? Are these not the best racing car drivers in the world. In the world? But as I said, we won’t discuss it because there are too many opinions. However, . . .

This is what really pissed me right off. Formula One is now club racing – nothing more, nothing less. Club racing is when a driver with a car joins a club and there are rules and they pay to race and they rent tracks and keep score and they don’t have to worry about fans because there usually aren’t any. Or many, in any event.

But Formula One has millions of fans around the world, watching on TV but attending in person when they can. It costs a lot to do this. Take the Grand Prix of Canada. People fly into Montreal from around the world. They stay in hotels that overcharge; Montreal is an expensive place to eat unless you go to McDonalds. It costs a fortune, but people willingly pay it. It’s F1, after all. That’s what attracted thousands to Spa this weekend. They came by car and bus, from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, plus the ones who arrived by plane from the U.K. and the U.S. As a result, if Bernie Ecclestone was still in charge, the stunt that was pulled Sunday at Spa would never, ever have happened. Why?

Because Bernie knew Formula One would still be a hobby if it wasn’t for all those fans and the sponsors who pay millions for the privilege of having their names on a car that all those millions of fans will see, either in person or on TV. When Bernie first got involved in F1, it was made up of a gang of garageistes – well-meaning amateurs and semi-pros who spent every available dollar on their racing cars. They lived two and three to a room and slept in caravans and tents at the racetrack.

He went to work and by the time he was forced out, he’d made each and every one of those young men (the ones still alive, in any event) rich beyond their wildest dreams. F1 had become a multi-billion-dollar business. And he knew who was responsible for their (and his) riches. The sponsors and the fans. As a result, and at the least, Bernie would have suspended that race until today and tried again. Or he would have found a gap in the schedule in September or October and held it then.

He would not have said, as was said yesterday, “screw you” to the world.

Okay, the two-lap “race” was won by Max Verstappen, with George Russell second and Lewis Hamilton third. All drivers received half points. It was Daniel Ricciardo’s 200th Grand Prix start and George Russell’s 50th. It was Red Bull’s 50th with Honda. And with his 323rd start, Fernando Alonso moved to second place in longevity behind Kimi Raikkonen. And Canada’s Nicholas Latifi seemed genuinely happy that his teammate, Russell, enjoyed such success this weekend and that he, himself, just missed going to Q3: “I’m very pleased with my best qualifying result of the season and also my Formula 1 career,” he said. “More than anything, I’m happy that I got some more experience in the wet because I haven’t had much of that in our car, so it was nice to get some laps in and really build some confidence in these conditions.” For a full story, please click here.

Belgian Grand Prix called after two laps due to rain; Verstappen wins (usatoday.com)


Robin Miller, who died last week of cancer at age 71, Robin Miller 1949 – 2021 | RACER did more for Indy car racing than just about anybody. Robin’s cheerleading for modern-day IndyCar was followed by hundreds of thousands of readers who thoroughly enjoyed his Mailbag column on RACER.com and his television work for NBC and other networks.

When Robin was let go by the Indianapolis Star (more about that in a moment), he concentrated less on his journalism and more on becoming a personality. His interviews with the giants of the sport (he called most of them “son”) made them much more interesting than, say, Formula One or even NASCAR drivers because he would get the Indy stars laughing about this and that and they quite obviously enjoyed going along with the gag.

As did the readers and viewers.

To understand the sport better, Robin was determined to be a success on the speedway but after trying first, Formula Ford, and then the U.S. National Midget Series, he realized that his real talent was in writing about the sport. He’d started at the Star answering phones and running copy but wound up, because of his enthusiasm, with his dream job: motorsport reporter and columnist, something he did for 30 years.

His passion for his job, and life, knew no bounds. The current press centre at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is half the size of a football field but when you walked in, you always knew where Robin was because his voice carried the length of it and you could spot him immediately. He’d be telling one guy about a wager he’d won (he liked to gamble) and giving the gears to another, who was married and his wife was mad at him about something, and how he didn’t have that problem (he was a bachelor) and could pick up and go to Vegas anytime he liked. At any hour of the day, too. He didn’t have to ask anybody; never would.

In later years, after he became a star with RACER.com, he and RACER’s other star, Marshall Pruett, sat in the same row of the Indy press room, surrounded by boxes of souvenir gear, cans of soda pop, donuts, candy bars and at least two spinning disco balls. Marshall, who probably knew him best in a work environment, wrote a heartfelt eulogy and I link to it here, in case you missed reading it before.

PRUETT: There was nobody like Robin Miller | RACER

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Speaking of gear (see photo at top of column, courtesy of RACER.com), I have a half-dozen or so sweaters or T-shirts with caricatures of AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Bobby and Al Unser and other Indy greats that Robin gave me – if he could. He’d see me and call out, “Hey, son – what size are you?” And I’d say, “Extra Large.” And he’d pull out a big carboard box from under his desk and five minutes later tell me either that all the XLs were gone or else hand me one that fit (see photo, taken by Susan Greene for the Toronto Star). I look at those sweaters today and know that’s one way I’ll never forget the guy.

Another way I’ll remember him has to do with our mutual affection for all the old sprint, super modified and midget drivers who made it to Indy. He did a series of five-minute video reminiscences of some of those greats including Gary Bettenhausen, Bill Vukovich Jr., Jan Opperman, Tim Richmond, and Lloyd (ol’ Rube) Ruby as well as Grand Prix and Indy greats Dan Gurney (he called him the Big Eagle) and Jim Clark.

When the IRL/CART civil war started, even life-long readers and fans, including me, found some of the things Robin wrote confusing. Some thought he was a traitor to go against CART while some in the CART community were convinced, he’d finally drunk Tony George’s IRL Kool-Aid. But it was really very simple:

Robin liked the CART model of short ovals, superspeedways, road courses and street courses. What bothered him was that most of the team owners preferred taking money from offshore drivers rather than giving a chance to someone homegrown who’d climbed the racing ladder “the old way.” The current influx of ex-F1 drivers and guys from Australia was fine with him so long as a guy from Indiana like Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart was given the same opportunity. We all knew this didn’t happen then and it still isn’t happening now.

Robin was lucky that he worked for a paper like the Star that stood behind its columnists. When Tony George announced that he planned to start another Indy car series, Robin wrote that it wasn’t a good idea. And if he wrote it once, he wrote it many times. This took guts. At that time, the Hulman-George family owned Indiana. They told the Star to fire him. The Star refused. The family pressured other Indy businesses to cancel their advertising. Some did; some didn’t. The Star still stood firmly behind him.

Until the day a critic (more likely, an enemy – and we all have ‘em) called the Star and said that Robin Miller was writing press releases for Kenny Brack and making a pretty good buck on the side. That was the straw. It was a clear conflict of interest and the Star had to fire him.

But then Dave Despain and Wind Tunnel and ESPN and everything else came along and Robin became more famous nationally and internationally than if he’d stayed as a racing columnist for the Indianapolis Star. Funny how life works out, eh?

On July 31, Robin wrote a letter to “Racer Nation,” in which he spelled out his predicament. You knew, reading that letter,

MILLER: A letter to the RACER nation | RACER

that he was coming out of four and heading for the checkers. But as he himself put it, it had been a great ride.

Robin Miller was a true original. There really won’t be another like him.


Okay, F1 was worried about crashes. NASCAR Cup can’t live without them. Saturday night at Daytona, the “regular” season ended with Ryan Blaney in Victory Lane and the playoff field set. (Kyle Larson won the regular-season championship.) Everybody else was in the wall, crashing together, conking out and just generally creating mayhem. Nobody was injured, of course. For a full story, please click here

Blaney Conquers Daytona As Playoff Field Set – SPEED SPORT

In NASCAR Xfinity Series racing, also at Daytona, Justin Haley won what was described as a thrilling race.

At Circuit ICAR, which is part of Mirabel Airport near Montreal, former IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani took the points lead by finishing fourth in Round 4 of the 2021 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Saturday. Tagliani is four points ahead of Louis-Philippe (L.P.) Dumoulin and seven ahead of race winner Kevin Lacroix.

Scheduled for 75 laps around the 1.6-kilometre (0,684 mile) ICAR road course, the race was extended to 83 laps because of a long yellow-flag period that started on Lap 70.

“I started the race in third place,” Tagliani said. “I managed to pass Andrew (Ranger) for second place (lap 14) to find myself right behind race leader Kevin (Lacroix). Everything was set for a nice battle between us. Unfortunately, I encountered brake problems again at the wrong time during a restart in the rain. I managed to save it, but I was punted and dropped to 10th place overall (Lap 40).” He eventually made his way back to fourth.

Kevin Lacroix crossed the finish line with a lead of 1.189 seconds over Andrew Ranger and 1.995 seconds on third-place finisher Jean-François Dumoulin. Tagliani, back in fourth, finished with a gap of 3.784 seconds ahead of Alex Guénette.  Seven of the 18 starters finished on the lead lap.

Due to inclement weather, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series doubleheader scheduled Sunday at Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée Junction was postponed. The next rounds of the series will be held next Saturday and Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).

Also at Circuit ICAR: Kevin King and Owen Clark each won one of two races in the Nissan Sentra Series. In the Sports Car Championship Canada series presented by Michelin, Marco Signoretti was first in the GT4 class and Travis Hill was first in the TC Canada class.

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Zachary Vanier, the reigning Canadian Touring Car Champion, has been signed by Multimatic Motorsports of Markham (see photo, courtesy of Multimatic) to partner Marco Signoretti in a Ford Mustang GT4 at next weekend’s Sports Car Championship Canada presented by Michelin races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

“We’re really pleased that Zachary is joining us at CTMP and look forward to seeing what he can do in a Ford Mustang GT4,” said Sean Mason, Multimatic’s Motorsports Manager. “The development of future talent is important to us at Multimatic and we think that Zach is an exciting prospect.”

Besides the sports car races, the Labour Day Sprints at CTMP will also see two rounds of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the Nissan Sentra Cup, the Formula Ford 1600 series and the Radical Cup cars.

Ace PR rep Beth Merrick reports that Monster Jam, the most action-packed motorsports experience for families in the world (says the release), returns to Hamilton for a high-octane weekend at FirstOntario Centre on Sat., Oct. 2 through Sun., Oct. 3 at full capacity. Monster Jam, making its first and only Canadian stop in Hamilton following a pandemic pause, features the ultimate mix of high-flying action and four-wheel excitement. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster.ca

At Shannonville Motorsport Park, more than 50 entrants signed in to compete in Round 2 of the 2021 Super Series Championship (see photo, courtesy of Super Series) and four track records were broken over the course of the weekend, with one record being broken twice in two days.

Mike Raniowski and Drew Weber respectively won the opening race in PRO/AM Sportbike. Chris Fehr took the checkered flags in the Lightweight Sportsman while the Novice rider Jordan Decarie showed his talent once again and claimed the Novice class victory. In Heavyweight Sportsman, Drew Weber took the top step of the podium and Alex Radecki won in Lightweight Superbike. Russ Miller went on to steal the sidecar victory away from Michael Vinton, while Eli Daccache and Radecki scored victories in the PRO/AM Superbike divisions. The final race of the day went to Eli Daccache. The rider of bike No. 1 claimed victory in the Sprint Cup class by a margin of victory standing at 36.779 seconds over Dan Lewczuk.

Chris Fehr and Matthew Simpson opened their Sunday with wins in the PRO/AM Sportbike class. Fehr then went back-to-back, winning the very next race in Lightweight Sportsman less than 20 minutes later. Raniowski bested Colin Duncan to claim the Heavyweight Sportsman class while Itsvan Hidvegi took his first checkered flag of the weekend in Lightweight Superbike. Michael Vinton claimed his third Sidecar win of the season with Lewczuk and Daccache winning the PRO/AM Superbike event.

Pierre Bourque, who raced for several years in the Pinty’s series, then known as the Canadian Tire series, has died at age 62. Bourque was a Canadian historian, Ottawa city councillor and an early web publisher of news about Parliament that included a gossip column called Heard at Hy’s. A most interesting fellow, he will be missed.

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The 2021 Super Series season will conclude Sept. 7-18, again at Shannonville.