TORONTO, Ontario — On Saturday February 15, the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame welcomed a new group of inductees in a ceremony held at the Canadian International Auto Show.
The induction group included McLaren Racing, past British Formula 3 series competitor Allen Berg, ex-Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada general manager Normand Legault, and past European Formula Renault Bruno Spengler.
Berg was able to compete in Formula 1, driving for the Osla Alfa Romeo team in nine Formula 1 events in the 1986 season. His storied career includes experience behind the wheel in British Formula Three, racing against the likes of Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle, as well as running the 1990 24 Hours of LeMan for Richard Lloyd Racing.
He competed in Formula 2 and Formula 3 in the 1990s, before venturing into the business side of motorsports, launching his own driving style at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca in 2007.
“When I was contacted a few months ago by Dr. Hugh Scully, I didn’t know the impact of what it means to be part of this institution,” Berg said. “But over the past couple of months leading up to this, since I was contacted and congratulated by a number of a different people that have been involved in my racing career and school through the years, it was very gratifying to hear the stories that came out into the open through my career. Not only being a part of this is special to me, but having those people contact me and bring back memories of my racing memories. It was very special to me.”
Legault was the man behind the scenes in Montreal, marketing and promoting the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, beginning in 1981 and across the 27 years that followed. His impact was greatly felt by everybody involved, including Formula 1 Head Bernie Ecclestone who requested Legault be the event General Manager in 1987. He also promoted CART and Champcar at Mount Tremblant, as well as brought the NASCAR Xfinity Series (then NASCAR Busch Series) to Montreal in 2007.
“It is a privilege to be here, and to my fellow inductees, I congratulate you,” Legault said. “It is an honor to be part of a select group of individuals here tonight and over the years. The Lord was good to me.”
For Legault, his love for racing started at the age of eight, and he was able to witness the first ever Canadian Grand Prix at Mount Tremblant back in 1968, as well as watching Jackie Stewart at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“I had such a passion for the sport,” he added. “Never would I have dreamed that one day, I would work in this sport. I ended up in motorsports by accident. As a young man, I was working for Labatt’s in the sponsorship division, and one day my boss calls me up and says, ‘We’re starting a new program and you’re looking after it. We’re sponsoring the Canadian portion of Formula Atlantic and will be sponsoring a driver by the name of Gilles Venenuve’. So I escorted Gilles to the races for two years.”
From there, he got involved with the building of the new Formula 1 circuit and being responsible for the sponsorship side, in educating potential fans to generate interest. From there on, you could say the rest was history for him.
Spengler entered into the Formula Renault Championship in 2001, scoring several victories and a championship, before competing in European Formula Three for two seasons. He switched over sportscar in the years that followed, but has been successful, including a runner-up in the 2015 edition of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, and is currently a back-up driver for the Andretti Formula E team.
In total, seven individuals were inducted as part of the ceremony with Robin Buck, Larry Caruso, Ed Hakonson, and Gary Magwood.
The Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame also includes an international category, which recognized McLaren Racing’s success across several levels of motorsports.
Additionally, a new media section has been added to the Hall of Fame with 10 individuals being recognized on Saturday. Some of those included current Inside Track Motorsports New Formula 1 correspondent Jeff Pappone, F1 book author and newspaper writer Gerald Donaldson, Toronto Star columnist Graham Jones, Canada’s first motorsports reporter Len Coates, and Le Journal de Montreal columnist Pierre Lecours who helped Gilles Villeneuve secure a sponsor to enter the 1976 Grand Prix de Trois-Riveres.
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Categories: Formula 1