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Pedley: Give Canada A Cup Race

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 30 2010

In Canada, they even love Robby Gordon. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

It was a brow-wiping moment earlier this year when I saw that the race in Montreal was on the 2011 Nationwide Series schedule. It would have been a fist-pumping moment had I seen that a race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would have been included on the Sprint Cup schedule.

When it comes to auto racing, I’m a Canada kind of guy.

Perhaps my favorable feelings toward Canada come from big-smile memories of long-ago fishing trips to Ontario. Perhaps because during conversations, I often end sentences with the interrogative “eh?” Perhaps because I love maple syrup and Moosehead beer.

When it comes to auto racing, I like Canada because of what I see at events held up there. Like at Sunday’s Nationwide Series race.

Large crowds of great fans attended  the weekend events at the track named after one of auto racing’s great drivers.

I’m tempted to call Canadian fans “among the most knowlegeable”, but I won’t. I won’t because it makes me ill when I hear media members use that phrase to describe, say, New York Yankees fans.

Yeah, right, like Yankee fans sit down and study baseball more closely than do fans in Milwaukee or Atlanta. They sit in libraries pouring over stats and history. Right.

I guess if being the most drunk and belligerent equals knowledgeable, then Yankee fans – home or on the road – are downright professorial.

But great fans the Canadians seem to be.

They sit in the rain to watch and they do so with looks upon their faces which make it appear as though they view the raindrops as tiny gifts from heaven.

On nice days, they take it all in with a sense of perspective. They enter the track not grimly looking like they’re headed into the battle of Bull Run. They leave with the satisfied looks of having just stuffed face at a wonderful yet inexpensive buffet.

And Canadians Dominic Fugere and Dean McNulty are among my favorite people in motorsports journalism.

Broad brush strokes and subjective analysis, I know.

But there is also the tangible.

Sunday, the Canadian crowd wanted hometown hero (the track is named after his late father, for the gosh sakes) Jacques Villeneuve to win in the worst way. But they wanted him to win in the best way.

They rose and applauded the slightest hints of good driving. They went mental when he would take the lead. And when Villeneuve was moving in on the leaders on the final laps, mon dieux.

But when American Boris Said edged Italian Max Papis for the victory and Villeneuve was relegated to a third-place, the Quebecois wildly applauded a good show.

Hey, the people up there even applaud Robby Gordon.

In what has become a yearly event, Marcos Ambrose had his face kicked in at The Circuit. Fastest car, big leads, disappointing finish.

Afterward he was asked when he thought he would start liking Montreal.

Ambrose, a native of former the British Empire penal colony of Australia, said, “About now. It’s a great track. It’s a great city. Huge crowd. I love coming here. Just cause I’m not winning doesn’t mean I don’t have fun.”

So, Nationwide racing again next year in Montreal. Great.

Just wish a Cup race were headed up that way.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 30 2010
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • tom1194 says:

    Let Canada submit themselves to the Iron fist of the France family. NASCAR SPRINT CUP CANADIAN SERIES. Let them run the same number of races as the US series and the top ten drivers join the top ten US drivers for a 10 race show down in both countries.

  • Keith says:

    Yep take a date from a track in the USA give it to someone else and Layoff a bunch of people here give them unemployment and the track a goverment bailout then complain that the trade deficit and taxes are going up. Why does the USA always have to give our stuff to the rest of the planet if someone wants to see a Cup race come here and see it they are more than welcome and I’ll bet you a Canadian can understand this look what happened to their great game of hockey.

  • john says:

    The Montreal NASCAR race continues to bring big crowds for two reasons:

    1) It’s the best chance Canada has to see all its greatest drivers in one race. There’s only a few rarely-known Canadian drivers in Grand-Am or ALMS, and none in Formula One. The NASCAR race every year usually has Jacques Villeneuve, Ron Fellows, Patrick Carpentier, Andrew Ranger, DJ Kennington, JR Fitzpatrick and sometimes others. Those ARE big names in this country, that matter MORE than Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon. Especially in Montreal. To have a Cup race with THOSE big names AND the big names from Cup would be huge.

    2) The race, while unfortunately caution-heavy, is ALWAYS exciting, always produces crazy finishes, and more importantly, often results in surprising fan-favourite winners (ie. Ron Fellows, Boris Said.) Sometimes NOT having the big names dominate IS the fun part.

    That, and there’s no ovals in Canada with the facilities to handle the Cup series. :(

  • Robbie says:

    Jim, you hit it right on the head. The place is beautiful, competitive, & the people love this type racing. Give it a Cup race, & my wife & I are ready for a trip North.