Oakville’s Hinchcliffe headlines newest class of Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame

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Published November 2, 2023 at 12:57 pm

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe

Former Indy car driver James Hinchcliffe headlines the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame induction class of 2023, with racing legends from Georgetown and Burlington also honoured.

The Oakville racer won six races for Andretti Autosport and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports during his storied racing career but was probably best known for a horrific crash in 2015 in which he was impaled by a piece of his car’s suspension during a practice run for the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchliffe, who suffered massive blood loss that required several transfusions as a result of the accident, would recover and famously go on to win the pole position in the following year’s race. His accident would also lead to a number of improvements to IndyCar safety equipment and trackside protocols, including the requirement that a refrigerator with blood be on hand at all races.

James Hinchcliffe

The self-proclaimed ‘Mayor of Hinchtown,’ who replaced Danica Patrick as the driver for the GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosports in 2012, qualified second in that year’s Indy 500 while carrying a pair of gloves inside his driving suit that belonged to the late Greg Moore, a Canadian racing legend who was killed in a crash at the Marlborough 500 in 1999.

Hinchcliffe retired from racing at the end of 2021 and signed on as an IndyCar Series commentator for NBC Sports. The Oakville racing legend, who married his Trafalgar High School prom date, actress Rebecca Dalton, also appeared on Dancing with the Stars and has featured in several notable commercials in Canada.

Ernie Jakubowski of Oakville

Fifty-six names in all were submitted for selection and 12 individuals and one racing duo were selected in the Competitors/Motorsport Builders category. Two veteran Canadian motorsports journalists will also be honoured in the Media category following a public nomination process that ended in late July.

Oakville’s Ernie Jakubowski, who competed in the Canadian Touring Car Championships, the Pirelli GTS World Challenge and the SCCA GTS World Challenge between 2010 and 2016 and was a long-time owner of Mantis Motorsports on Speers Road, will be headed to the hall in February.

So will the racing duo of Frank and Dan Sprongl of Georgetown, who ruled the rally racing world in the 1980s and 1990s. Their rally career began in 1986 when the brothers won the novice class in the Ontario Rally Championships and they would go on to win five Canadian Rally Championships and three North American Rally Championships, cementing their legacy in the sport by winning ten consecutive races in 1997.

Frank and Dan Sprongl of Georgetown

The brothers also own Four Star Motorsports in Georgetown.

Other competitors to be enshrined include Jeremy Dale, Norm Jennings and Brad Moran of Toronto, Mark Dilley of Barrie, Patrick Richard of Squamish, B.C., Didier Schraenen of Mont-St-Hilaire, Quebec, Bill Vallis of Welland, John Waldie of Stratford, Kuno Wittmer of Brossard, Quebec and the late Claude Aubin of Bois-des-Fillions, Quebec.

The two media members include Wally Nesbitt of Port Perry and the late John Massingberd of Burlington, who died from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2008.

John Massinberd of Burlington

Massinberd, a larger-than-life personality in the racing world, founded the Raceline Radio Network in 1993, Sno Trax Television in 1994 and Dirt Trax Television for the all-terrain market in 2004.

“We’re excited to announce this year’s new inductees to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame,” said Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame Chair Peter Lockhart. “On behalf of the Board we celebrate their contributions to racing in Canada. And we look forward to welcoming them to the (Hall) in February.”

The ceremony will take place during the Canadian International Auto Show on February 17 with the public welcome to attend the ticketed event.

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