Friday, December 11, 2015

NASCAR Action Returns to Streets of Toronto in 2016

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Stock Car Crossing Start-Finish Line
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy
The 30th anniversary edition of Toronto's popular motorsport street race will feature a few familiar touches attendees of previous events had been used to. As expected, the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto will return to its traditional mid-July date after a one-year move to June in order to accommodate the 2015 Pan-Am Games. The July 15th to 17th 2016 race weekend within the area of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds will also feature a support series that had been absent since 2011. After five years away from the streets of Toronto, Canada's top NASCAR series will once again compete as part of the summer festivities alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series.

To be known as the NASCAR Pinty's Series starting in 2016, the former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars will be a popular addition to next year's Honda Indy Toronto race schedule. The stock car racing division and the principals behind the Honda Indy Toronto will return to the event as part of a three-year appearance agreement.

The stock cars first appeared as a companion to the popular Canadian street race in 1999 when the series existed as the CASCAR Super Series. Running until 2005 under the CASCAR banner, the stock car competition was reinstated in 2010. Both CASCAR Super Series and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events had been largely been dominated by drivers with considerable road course racing skill. Multiple winners of stock car races on the 2.824-kilometer street circuit include Kevin Dowler, Jeff Lapcevich, former Players LTD/GM Challenge Series driver Robin Buck and most recently Andrew Ranger. Ranger won both NASCAR Canadian Tire Series turns at the Honda Indy Toronto in 2010 and 2011.

Photo Credit: Matthew Manor/Getty Images for NASCAR

The announcement of stock cars returning to the Honda Indy Toronto accompanied the official word on Canada's NASCAR series' new title sponsor. Pinty's Delicious Foods Inc. will formally become the series' corporate backer starting on January 1st of next year. The full 2016 NASCAR Pinty's Series schedule will be published at a later date.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Canadian Content Expanded for 2016 BMW Motorsports Drivers' Line-Up

Photo Credit: BMW Motorsport

BMW's auto racing program gains some additional excitement in 2016. Two all-new race-prepped versions of the BMW M6 will lead the brand's motorsport charge in the new year. IMSA's WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship competition will gain the all-new BMW M6 GTLM fieled by Team BMW RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). Along with with the two-car GTLM effort, the M6 GT3 will operate in the IMSA series' GTD class as well as other GT racing series across the globe. In addition to upgraded race hardware for 2016, BMW Motorsport's world driving line-up is upgraded with presence of two established Canadian sports car racers.

Returning to the 2016 BMW Motorsport team line-up is 2012 DTM Champion Bruno Spengler. French born, Spengler actively campaigns as a Canadian driver after his family moved to Quebec when he was three years old. A competitor in DTM since 2005, he renews with the German automaker's motorsport effort for a fifth consecutive season in the series. In addition to DTM competition, Bruno Spengler's name will be seen on the side of new BMW M6 GTLM at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. A return trip for the 32-year-old driver called "The Secret Canadian", Spengler finished second with Team BMW RLL in class last year.    

Photo Credit: BMW Motorsport

Alongside Bruno Spengler's one-race participation in the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship top event, Canada can patriotically cheer on Team BMW RLL new driver Kuno Wittmer. The Montreal, Quebec racer arrives in the BMW Motorsports' IMSA program after several successful seasons competing with a Dodge Viper. Part of a factory-backed SRT Motorsports in 2014, he won the inaugural GTLM category drivers' title in the United SportsCar Championship. When SRT Motorsports pulled out of IMSA sports car racing class after Wittmer's championship year, he moved to the GTD class and ran with Riley Motorsports. Driving the Dodge Viper GT3-R, Kuno Wittmer earned class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona alongside his four teammates.

Kuno Wittmer will be partnered with the driving line-up for one of the Team BMW RLL fielded BMW M6 GTLM for longer distance races at Daytona, Sebring and Road Atlanta.

Both Canadian drivers will be part of the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona scheduled for January 30th and 31st.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sprint Hangs Up on Sponsoring NASCAR's Top Series Beyond 2016

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

At the start of the 2017 NASCAR season, the green flag for the Daytona 500 will drop inaugurating a new path for their biggest stakes tour. First and foremost, NASCAR's top series will no longer be known as the Sprint Cup Series. In a brief statement issued by NASCAR on Tuesday afternoon, it was announced cellular phone service provider Sprint would not renew their title sponsor role in the premier stock car racing series.

Citing the need to concentrate on their core business, Sprint has decided not to renew their title sponsorship commitment to NASCAR. Steve Gaffney, Sprint's vice president of marketing commented, “We are proud of our association with NASCAR’s top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years,”. Gaffney also stated, “We genuinely appreciate the fans, teams, drivers, tracks and media who have been so supportive and welcoming to us during these many race seasons,” adding how Sprint looks forward to fulfilling the final years of their current deal.

The series had been known as NASCAR Sprint Cup since 2008 but the original contract began in 2004 through the company Nextel. Called the Nextel Cup Series for a single season, Sprint and Nextel merged in 2005. The original ten-year naming right deal for the NASCAR series was extended at the end of the term to three additional seasons. The Nextel-Sprint arrangement replaced a long-running sponsorship deal with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company resulting in the existence of the Winston Cup Series for 33 seasons. Besides the series title sponsorship, Sprint has also been providing their brand name to the invitational event at Daytona International Speedway and the all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Sprint Cup Series isn't going to be the first major touring division of NASCAR to undergo a rebranding. Starting next year, Comcast's Xfinity brand will be the new title sponsor in the NASCAR division previously known as the Nationwide Series.