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IndyCar team manager Phil LePan of Toronto dies

Published January 10, 2013

Sad news today.

Philip Buchan LePan of Toronto, better known to his many friends and admirers in the world of motorsport as Phil LePan, has died. A memorial service and interment is planned for Sat., Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Visitation Centre.

Racer Scott Maxwell emailed me the news earlier this week and said that “before moving on to bigger and better things, Phil was my team manager in Formula 2000 way back in 1989-90. Not only was he a great crew chief but he was one of the kindest and classiest people in motorsports.”

In a tribute published on the Speed Channel’s website, writer Marshall Pruett said Phil had worked for several Indy car teams after starting his big-league career with Team Lotus in Formula One.

He was team manager for Player’s/Forsythe Racing in 2003 when Paul Tracy won his championship and also was team leader with Kraco Racing, Team Green in 1995 when Jacques Villeneuve won the Indianapolis 500 and the CART championship and this past season with Dale Coyne Racing.Tracy and Phil

Pruett quoted Tracy thusly:

“His whole life was about racing. That’s what he lived for. As a team manager and a guy I worked with for seven years . . . he wasn’t a guy who pushed himself out to the spotlight as the star team manager or crew chief. Some people try to become a bit of a personality with a position like that . . . but he wasn’t that guy. If you wanted to find Phil, he was in the garage with the mechanics and I liked that about him.”

Said another Canadian, Alex Tagliani, also to Pruett: “Phil was always one speed, and that was very good for us. He was someone that always was composed and kept things in perspective.”

Phil LePan leaves his wife and two sons.

Auto show season is upon us and Toronto Star Wheels and wheels.ca are gearing up to bring you complete coverage of all of them.

The biggie, right off the button, is the North American International Auto Show at Detroit, which opens to the public next weekend but has media preview days scheduled for this Monday and Tuesday.

We will be there, in force, to keep you fully informed about everything happening at that show.

Starting Sunday evening, wheels.ca’s home page will be humming with live blog files from writers Jim Kenzie and Jil McIntosh on the unveiling by General Motors of the 2014 C7 Corvette. Former Wheels editor Mark Richardson will report on what’s up with Nissan and Peter Gorrie will be dining with Toyota Canada executives and reporting on what they have to say.

I’ll be in Detroit with photographer Steve Russell and writer Brian Early to cover the world premiere of the all-new CLA-Class Mercedes-Benz at a special reception .

Early will blog and I will kick off two days of video reporting, with the help of Russell.

Monday, we’ll be back on the air early in the day with the 7:15 a.m. announcement of the North American Car and Truck of the Year. For the rest of Monday and on Tuesday till early afternoon, writers Kathy Renwald, Tim Miller, Steve Bond, Anne-Marie Marais, Gary Grant and Lesley Wimbush will cover all of the manufacturers’ unveilings on Twitter and Facebook as well as on our rolling blog at wheels.ca.

Yes, we’re promising blanket coverage but for an auto show as important as Detroit, we think our readers deserve nothing less.

And of course, we’ll wrap up the whole show — news, information, photographs and analysis — in next weekend’s issue of Wheels.

I started this piece by using the words “auto show season,” and that’s because the Montreal auto show is opening next week and correspondent Costa Mouzouris will be there to report. The Chicago show opens Feb. 9 and Richardson will be there and, of course, the Canadian International AutoShow here in Toronto will kick off on Feb. 15 and if you think our Detroit coverage is thorough, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Please join us at wheels.ca and Wheels for the Detroit auto show and stay with us through the Toronto show for the most comprehensive coverage you’ll find anywhere.

The Pro Mazda Series (nee Star Mazda) will run six of its 16 scheduled races this season in Canada.

The first two will be held at the Honda Indy Toronto July 13 and 14 and then there will be two run the very next weekend as part of the American Le Mans Series weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (nee Mosport).

The final two will be part of the traditional Trois-Rivieres race weekend Aug. 10 and 11.

The season will open at the Circuit of the Americas in March as part of the Grand Am Rolex weekend there and wind up in Houston as part of the IndyCar meeting in October.

Finally, the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship will kick off June 7-9 at Shannonville Motorsport Park near Belleville. July 5-7 will see the riders doing battle at Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec and then they’ll tow to Atlantic Motorsport Park near Shubenacadie in Nova Scotia July 26-28.

Two races will be held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Aug. 9 to 11 and the season will wrap up Aug. 23-25 at Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant in the Quebec Laurentians

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