Canadian Open Wheel Racing – Business As Usual In 2017

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It will be business as usual for Formula Ford racing in Ontario in 2017.

By: Mike Sullivan/RaceCanada.ca
October 3 2016

Since the news of Move Motorsport stepping away from the Ontario Formula Ford series came out late last week, there have been some greatly exaggerated reports of open wheel racing's ultimate demise here in Canada, with a lot of unfounded speculation, and the usual somebody needs to do something.

Once again it's the cry of racing is too expensive for all but the richest among us. I started racing more than 30 years ago and the same arguments were made back then as now. Racing is expensive. It always has been and it always will be. There are definitely challenges, but nothing greatly different now than from any time in the past.

It can leave people who also don't know any better with the impression that there may not be a Formula Ford series next year. And that is wrong and irresponsible.

One thing needs to be made perfectly clear – it will be business as usual in the Ontario Formula Ford series in 2017. The 2017 season will look no different than the 2016 season did.

Make no mistake, Jason Sharpe and Diane Dale of Move Motorsport did a good job with the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship in their time there, I don't think anybody involved would disagree. I like both Jason and Diane, really nice people and great to work with.

But their departure hardly leaves the fate of Canadian open wheel racing hanging in the balance.

Grid numbers rise and fall, marquis events come and go, sponsors come and go. Maybe more than the rest, promoters come and go. The Ontario Formula Ford series has seen better days and it's seen worse days.

That's not to say open wheel racing in Canada doesn't face it's share of challenges. Any and all racing in Canada, including F1, faces challenges. In fact, any sport that isn't hockey faces challenges in Canada, so open wheel racing is hardly alone in that respect.

When we ran in the Formula Ford series starting in 2008 and ending in the wall on the backstraight at Mosport in 2010, there was no Move Motorsport running the show. It was run then, like it probably will be in 2017, by the teams, my suspicion all along was that Brian Graham would step up again.

Since I was at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the final race of the season, I actually took the time to talk to some of the F1660 guys there, notably Brian Graham and Stephen Adams.

While both acknowledged the work that Move Motorsport did, neither were particularly concerned by their departure. As suspected, Brian will step back into his previous roll of unofficial series leader, while Stephen will continue on in his role with the steering committee, ensuring continuity on the technical and sporting side. Between Brian and Stephen alone there is more than 40 years of Formula Ford experience. They have been through this before. It also seems likely that Toyo Tires will be back next year as well, so, essentially everything will be back in place for 2017, except for Move. It's unfortunate that they've opted not to return, but the series will go on.

People need to understand that the Formula Ford series in Ontario is not Move Motorsport. It's not Toyo Tires. It's not Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. It's Brian Graham Racing and Britain West Motorsport. It's the Adams, Michael and Stephen. It's Graham and Keith Lobban, Byron Leis and Mike Lee. It's a solid base of 15 to 17 cars & drivers that are out almost every event. A nice mix of young kids and veterans that always puts on a great show, and that isn't going to change any time soon.

There are a lot of very capable people who will step up and not just bitch about the problems, and make 2017 as successful as 2016 was, make no mistake about it.  

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