IndyCar: Toronto features only one Canadian driver for first time since 1990


Canadians are known for being some of the most dedicated, hearty and passionate fans of open-wheel racing.

Ordinarily at the Honda Indy Toronto around the streets of Exhibition Place, they’ve had two or more Canadians to root for in the main race.

This year, there is but one: James Hinchcliffe. And Hinch, the sole Canuck in the field of 23 during this weekend’s pair of Verizon IndyCar Series races, is the first driver to fly the flag solo in this event since 1990.

Two veterans have seen their full-time IndyCar careers come to an end in the last few years since Hinchcliffe was a rookie in 2011, in the form of Alex Tagliani (a 14-time Toronto starter) and two-time Toronto winner Paul Tracy (a 19-time Toronto starter).

PT is, of course, now in the booth for NBCSN for coverage (Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra). A 19-time starter, a 16th-place finish for Dragon Racing in 2011 marked Tracy’s last ever race finished in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He’s also the most recent Canadian to win on home soil, having captured the 2003 Champ Car race there.

Here’s the Canadian honor roll between the first Toronto race in 1986 and today. But it’s been 24 years when the last Honda Indy – then Molson Indy – went off with just one Canadian. In 1990, it was Scott Goodyear.

  • James Hinchcliffe, 2011-present
  • Alex Tagliani, 2000-2013
  • Paul Tracy, 1992-2011
  • Andrew Ranger, 2005-2006
  • Patrick Carpentier, 1997-2004
  • Greg Moore, 1996-1999
  • Scott Goodyear, 1987, 1989-1994, 1996
  • Jacques Villeneuve (II), 1994-1995
  • Ross Bentley, 1992-1994
  • John Jones, 1988-1989, 1991
  • Jacques Villeneuve (I), 1986

It’s worth asking, then, who the talented Canadians are in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Here’s the quick summation of who’s where at the moment. Keep an eye on this group, particularly Hargrove, to see who could be next after Hinchcliffe to make his debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series:

  • Indy Lights: Zack Meyer, Matthew Di Leo
  • Pro Mazda: Scott Hargrove, Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett
  • USF2000: Daniel Burkett, Nathan Blok, James Dayson

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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