Ernie Martin, the great Pinecrest Speedway announcer whose removed swear word earned him a job for life, or at least for the life of the track, has died. He was 91.
And suddenly, at the age of 81, Ronald John Mutton also died.
In the early days of Formula One at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), locals often stopped by one of its Bowmanville garages to see some of the F1 cars from the day it was hosting for Grand Prix races. Canada and the United States. In fact, in 1967, Dan Gurney changed the engine of one of them.
He was named the best tow truck driver in North America in 1971 and was very happy that Road and Track magazine published a comprehensive article on his racing career.
Ron played a major role in Team Surtees and had a lifelong friendship with John Surtees, former Formula One World Champion and former Motorcycle World Champion.
Ron also had a lifelong friendship with former host and commentator David Hobbs and appeared in books written by Surtees and Hobbs.
Many remember Ron from his Shell stations, one on Scugog St. and the other on King St. next to the old brewery. Ron was also a Service Manager at Cowan Buick GMC in Bowmanville.
Ron was a long time member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 178 in Bowmanville. He is preceded in death by his parents Cecil and Dorcas, his sister Leona Etcher and his brother-in-law Morley Etcher. He is survived by his son John and his wife Ana.
A suppressed swear word landed Ernie Martin his first job at Pinecrest Speedway.
“I was racing myself and my employer, the Toronto Star, said to stop racing or stop working for the Star. So I stopped racing.
“Turns out the Pinecrest announcer that night didn’t show up. So Cappie Smith, who owns the place, said, ‘You just retired, get in the booth,’ which I did. The first race, a guy flipped over a kettle and I was like, ‘Holy crap.’ . . Did you see that guy leave?
“I thought it was fried, but Cappie said the crowd loved it. But don’t do it again or I’ll have to fire you. “
It was so famous, it advertised on the CNE, Sunset and Barrie Speedways next to Pinecrest.
Ernie was active in the community and nothing made him happier than making people laugh with his jokes. He spent many years riding snowmobiles and restoring his prized ’56 Meteor Niagara. Over the years, Ernie also loved watching his grandchildren play hockey and cheer on the rinks.
Previously from Brampton, Ernie was involved in the community, serving as a Councilman in the inaugural years of the Brampton City Council and also on the Brampton Hydroelectric Commission. Ernie was proud of his many years of active involvement with Big Brothers of Peel.
After spending 25 years at the family farmhouse at Lake of Bays in Dwight, Ernie retired there and continued extensive involvement in the community. He continued to be an active driver for the Canadian Cancer Society. He had a passion for snowmobile racing and Kitty Kat rides at the local Dwight and Dorset winter carnivals. He was delighted that his grandchildren were playing for Martin’s Meteors in the Dwight Minor Baseball League. Ernie was a member of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion and the Doric Masonic Lodge.
He will be sadly missed by his loving wife of 69 years, Jeanette June (née Smusiak). Beloved father of Donna (Rick) Sidey, Debbie (Steve) Bradley, and Dianne (John) Terry. Dear grandfather to Pamela (Patrick), Alexandra, Richard, Stefanie, Dustin (Nicole), Chris (Chelsey), Caitlin and great grandfather to Teddy, Willa, Riley, Leah, Mya and Brooks. Beloved brother of Donald, Gordon, and Patricia, and predeceased his siblings Bill, Jack, Lillian, and Edith. BREAK
NASCAR and other news
Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain and Tyler Redick were on the podium in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix on Sunday. Noah Gragson won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix. Taylor Gray won the Camping World Truck Series in Phoenix. Four days earlier, the team’s truck driver was killed.
IndyCar ace Colton Herta has landed a McLaren F1 test role while Michael Andretti awaits a decision from the FIA. . . . JR Hilderand will drive the ovals for AJ Foyt Racing. . . . Hilary Swank will play the first female Indy 500 driver, Janet Guthrie. . . . Alexandre Rossi and Michael Andretti disagree. . . . Austin Cindric says he hopes to race for his father, Tim, in the Indy 500 one day. . . . 62 cars will enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans. . . . Kevin Magnussen returns to Haas F1.
Gary Magwood goes to ice racing, er, car curling
Gary Magwood was a Canadian Formula Ford champion and instructor in his day. He tried something new this winter.
Some very tough motorsports enthusiasts reside in the frozen wastelands of the North American continent.
In the depths of winter, when temperatures drop to less than stupid, these hardy individuals will drive for at least a couple of hours to a small spot in the eastern Ontario landscape called Minden. Here, car club people under the supervision of the eternal Tom Prentice build a kidney-shaped race track and then flood it with lots of water.
Voila, an ice surface that is treacherous even to walk on.
Given Halliburton County’s propensity for a lot of snow, the track is surrounded by large snowbanks which I’ll discuss in a minute. The next part of the ‘activity’ involves many, many rather dodgy looking four-wheel contraptions that, probably over 20 years ago, were used to buy groceries, take the kids to school, or even drive to Florida to sit on a beach in the hot sun. .
These vehicles are towed or towed to the track or simply left in an area loosely called a paddock. The action begins with dozens of floor jacks lifting dented and rusted vehicles to install the most important component that makes this seeming madness possible: very special winter tires that have traction or studs.
Traction means that a very expensive brand of winter tire is offered to a spiked drum and rotated at high speed to create a kind of ‘shredded’ surface which, in theory, allows these vehicles to accelerate, brake and corner on ice. brilliant (more on this later)!
The other option is to embed other very expensive winter tires with tiny (expensive) tungsten studs in a specific number per tire circumference. The end result of all this tire technology is $500 vehicles mounted on a pair of K tires.
Now, I have opted to compete in the rubber to ice class given my age and lack of experience. A call to Zack Wenzel, who has a ‘fleet’ of five or six ice racing cars, secured a questionable-looking Honda Civic of unknown age. My first question to Zack was, “Do you have a working heater?” The second question was: “Where is the simulated grid?” Prior to this stage I had to join a CASC club, request a Class C Competition License and acquire a helmet that was manufactured in this century; all relatively easy to do if you’re a tech wizard.
So, on a frigid Saturday morning, I climb into the ‘roll cage’ Civic, buckle up, line up for practice, flash my wristband and hit the ‘track.’ With a lot of coaxing, smooth braking and acceleration it was doable to get the Civic through the corners, albeit at low speeds.
Turn up the pace and understeer becomes the de facto ‘attitude’, simple, more throttle means more understeer. I should mention that these vehicles are divided into several classes: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive that can compete in rubber-on-ice or studded classes. That was practice. Line up 20+ other vehicles, wave a green flag and the entire grid will move in slow motion, pick up speed and enter the first corner.
That’s when the ‘car curling’ started in earnest: one hit here, one little push from behind and I’m relegated to the back of the field. The leaders quickly disappeared, so I chased after them. About five laps into the 10-lap race, I was presented with a snowbank – poof, straight as a dart!
The rest of the weekend and the weekends after that was spent learning and observing. Seasoned regulars handed me my butt on a plate! Modesty! After watching the studded classes compete, I opted to join them for my final weekend.
The now-studded Civic itself was transformative: suddenly the car’s spin became drift on ice. Lean the car sideways, step on the gas, turn the steering wheel to keep it pointed in the right direction, and accelerate down the straight.