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Norris Blog: Grand Prix, vintage races are highlights of this month

Wheels Editor Norris McDonald writes about this Busy Season for racing.

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The Canadian Grand Prix is on in Montreal this weekend (wild horses couldn?t keep me away), the VARAC vintage racing festival is planned for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next weekend, followed two weeks later by the Glory Days reunion and then ? before you know it ? we?ll be into July and the United SportsCar Series weekend at Old Mosport and the two Honda Indy races at the CNE in Toronto.

A bit about each follows.

Two-time world champion Mika H?kkinen was in Toronto recently on behalf of Johnnie Walker Scotch (good stuff, by the way) to drive home the message that drinking and driving don?t mix. The retired racer is spearheading a world-wide program to attract a million drivers to sign a pledge ? Join the Pact ? to never get behind the steering wheel while imbibing.

We had a great chat and he was saying that Mercedes ? favoured to win in Montreal tomorrow ? is reaping the rewards of a decision it made several years ago.

?Mercedes saw 2014 as being a big opportunity, with a new formula and new cars,? he said. ?They embarked on an advanced technology program and put themselves in a position to do what they are doing today.

?Everybody else ? Ferrari, Red Bull ? was fighting for the championship, so they couldn?t jump out of that competition to start thinking about the future. Maybe they had a few people but they couldn?t put the whole company into it like Mercedes could.

?Technology influences the future. Software is important. Because electricity is involved and the power can be generated at the factory, the performance can arrive much earlier. If you can run the whole car at the factory all day long, and develop the car non-stop, you would be in very good shape for next year. It?s not like in my time, when it could take three or four years.

?Of course, it also needs massive self-discipline, high focus, no compromises, the right people, great teamwork and loads of money to make it possible. Mercedes had that. They have great momentum and great drivers who are racing very well. To beat them in the future will be a big challenge.?

Qualifying for the Grand Prix of Canada can be seen today on TSN at 12:55 p.m. The race will go tomorrow, also on TSN, starting at 1:55 p.m.

The Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) has named one of North America?s greatest sports car racers, Bob Tullius, as the Grand Marshal for its annual Canadian Historic Grand Prix at CTMP next weekend (June 12-15).

This year, the vintage focus will be on the ?Triumph vs. MG Showdown,? pitting those two great British makes against each other in the ongoing battle for world sports-car dominance. U.S.-based racing clubs ? Friends of Triumph and MG Vintage Racers ? will be on hand to fill out the grids and provide large fields for what should be exciting racing.

Tullius is excited about returning to Old Mosport.

?I have often categorized Mosport as the most exciting and challenging track of all,? he said. ?In fact, it is my personal favorite. Having won six out of the seven times that I raced there may have something to do with my affection for the place, however!?

For more information, go to varac.ca.

Meantime, a brand new event planned for the weekend of June 27-29, also at CTMP, is called Glory Days, a motorsport extravaganza celebrating the wonderful world of speed and beauty (which used to be the name of a TV show, if I recall correctly).

Called the first in North America, the core purpose driving the event is to create a real-life celebration of speed, beauty, sound and smell that welcomes personal participation and direct involvement on the part of everyone who attends.

For complete details, go to glorydayscelebrationofspeed.com.

Wheels will have more on the sports-car and Indy-car races in July in upcoming issues. Lots more.

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