On tap this week:
- Stewart is 2015 CMHF international inductee
- Where's Toto when you need him?
- California crowd disappoints
- It won't be McLaren's worst year
- Quote of the Week: Allmendinger gets testy
- Carpenter demonstrates tone deafness
A dyslexic in an era when few even knew the learning disability existed, Jackie Stewart spent much of his early life escaping bullies, beatings, and a constant barrage of insults due to his inability to read.
Once in the cockpit of a racing car, the future three-times Formula One world champion went to the head of the class, a success story Stewart firmly believes got a boost from his disability.
"The dyslexic cannot think like the 'clever' folk, so they have to be thinking out of the box and if they are doing that, they are finding new ways of doing things," said Stewart, who will be announced today as the 2015 international inductee into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at its Oct. 17 gala in Toronto.
"I could paint pictures of how my car was behaving, what it felt like, how it did this or that, and I could explain it graphically and make the engineers feel it, so they had a better chance of thinking 'Hey, I never thought of that.'"
It's hard to argue with the Scotsman, who scored 17 poles, 27 wins, and 43 podiums in 99 F1 starts between 1965 and 1973, including two victories in Canadian Grands Prix at Mosport International Raceway (now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park). Stewart isn't off the mark with his theory about the learning disability being a plus in the car. Vancouver neurotherapist Mari Swingle insisted that dyslexics' brains have an affinity for things like racing.
"There's a different form of spacial perception that dyslexics have, so it's almost fundamentally what hurts them in their learning to read actually helps them on courses and tracks," said Swingle, author of i-Minds: How Cell Phones Computers Gaming and Social Media Are Changing Our Brains Our Behaviour and the Evolution of Our Species.
Stewart, 76, wasn't diagnosed until he was 42 years old — a decade following his retirement from racing in 1973. He only came to realize later that the disability helped him in ways he never knew.
"In the Formula One crowd, I was the first to be driving with seat belts," said Stewart, who was the only racer to line up on the grid for the maiden Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in 1967 after being strapped into his car.
"I started using them in 1966 because I had gone to Indianapolis [to race in the Indy 500] and it was compulsory to wear them. They were very primitive and not all that comfortable with a lot of metal and huge buckles."
While Mercedes' Formula One boss Toto Wolff has made it clear his two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, are free to fight for wins, the memo seemingly hasn't made it to the manufacturer's Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) headquarters. In Saturday's DTM race at the Norisring, Guelph, Ont.'s, Robert Wickens reeled in eventual winner Pascal Wehrlein late in the race, but he and two other Mercedes drivers behind were obviously ordered to hold station for the final 12 laps. Almost to prove a point, Wickens dominated the second race of the weekend on Sunday to score his first win of 2015.
By the numbers
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse after IndyCar's stop in Toronto attracted 10,000 fans at most on race day earlier this month, Saturday's MAVTV 500 at California's Auto Club Speedway saw an estimated 3,000 show up. The pitiful crowd underlines the series' ill-advised strategy to end the season before Labour Day, which meant the California race was scheduled for daytime in June rather than its usual evening running in the fall. With temperatures hitting 33 C under a sunny California sky, it takes little imagination to figure out why the locals found something else to do on a hot Saturday afternoon that didn't include being grilled in the stands at a racetrack.
This year won't turn out to be the worst season ever for the once mighty McLaren team, - which finished 10th in its sophomore year of Formula One competition - but it looks pretty bad so far statistically. Then again, in 1967 McLaren ended the season ahead of eight other teams in the championship standings and scored a best result of fourth at the Monaco Grand Prix, something this year's edition will struggle to match. Using the 2015 points system, the 1967 McLaren outfit scored 18 points in only six starts, while the 2015 edition has four going into this weekend's ninth race of the year, the British Grand Prix. The good news is that having lowly Manor team in the field means there will be an F1 outfit below McLaren in points this year.
Quote of the week
"The thing is missing bad and it's getting worse. I'm not an idiot."
— A terse NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger on the radio during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway attempting to convince his skeptical crew chief that he really did have an engine problem.
The last word
Several IndyCar drivers expressed relief following Saturday night's MAVTV 500 that the spectacular accidents caused by the close quarters didn't result in a serious injury. Many in the race felt the race recreated the pack racing conditions that led to 2011 death of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon in a huge pile-up at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The frustration in most of the drivers' voices after the race was clearly heard. On the other hand, IndyCar driver/owner Ed Carpenter saw things differently, and went on Twitter to respond to the criticism. "I love close @IndyCar racing. Hate to see drivers bad mouthing a series. If you want to race, race. If not, retire," he tweeted.
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