A pair of former NASCAR champions lead an impressive group of eight drivers into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
It was a who’s who of Canadian racers, organizers and partners inducted into the 2018 class during a ceremony Saturday evening at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto.
Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame chairman, Dr. Hugh Scully, and master of ceremonies and legendary motorsports reporter Norris McDonald, kicked the evening off before the eight inductions.
NASCAR competitors Scott Steckly and D.J. Kennington shared their thoughts on being honored as some of the best to ever compete in motorsports in Canada.
Steckly, a four-time NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion, was the first inducted during the evening. He last competed in the series as a driver in 2015, but has since continually fielded cars for championship contenders such as fellow CMHOF member Alex Tagliani, Donald Theetge and Marc-Antoine Camirand.
“When won our last championship three years ago I thought my speech-giving days were over,” said Steckly. “But no such luck. Twenty-six years ago some friends and I build a race car and competed at Varney Motor Speedway, although we won that first feature that night I never dreamed that would lead me to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
“This is such an honor. Thank you to everyone this means so much to me.”
Kennington joined his father Doug – who was inducted in 2004 – as the second father-son combination to become members of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.
The younger Kennington won series crowns in 2010 and 2012 and still competes in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. He holds the record as the only driver in history to start every NASCAR-sanctioned event.
“True honor to be here tonight, I never dreamed in a million years I would wind up here when I started racing go-karts when I was five years-old,” said Kennington. “My journey has been an awesome one.”
“We’ve come a long way from Delaware Speedway. My whole career has been presented by Castrol and I wouldn’t be here today without them. To have won two championships and partner with them for 25 years that’s almost unheard of in this sport.”
In addition to his accomplishments in his home country, the St. Thomas, Ontario, native has also competed frequently in NASCAR’s highest level in the United States.
“To come from there to run two Daytona 500’s, it’s not just me, I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive and have my name up on the board,” said Kennington.
“My dad, everybody knows, is my hero. My dad said I got here much sooner than him but the only reason I did was because of him. I wouldn’t be here without you.”
Also inducted in the ceremony with NASCAR ties is legendary television producer Jim Robinson.
Robinson was instrumental in broadcasting motorsports in Canada and his legacy continues today with his son Joel, who continues to produce not only all NASCAR Pinty’s Series broadcasts throughout Canada, but various motorsports events every year.
“I want to thank the nominating committee for this honor,” Robinson said. “There are great similarities between drivers and people making television productions — we both want to win and set us apart from the others.”
Robinson who helped pioneer in-car camera coverage, shared a special story of when they first tried to use one in a race at what is now Jukasa Motor Speedway with NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Mark Martin.
“I decided to put an in-car camera in an old stock car so I rented a VHS camera,” Robinson said. “I told him I was shooting a wedding and I got insurance. I got with Mark Martin who said I could put it in his car and punched the record button.
“Mark puts his car in the wall and the camera dismounts and breaks into a thousand pieces and I returned the camera and thought ‘Insurance, that was a good idea’, and although we couldn’t use the footage, it helped me break through and try something new and unique in our broadcasts.”
The 2018 inductees are:
- Formula Atlantic championship winning engineer Doug Crosty
- Grand Prix du Canada promoter Francois Dumontier
- Two-time NASCAR Canada champion Douglas James “D. J.” Kennington
- Television producer and filmmaker Jim Robinson
- Championship driver and race association official John Sambrook
- Four-time NASCAR Canada champion Scott Steckly
- Honda Indy Toronto official Jim Tario
- Formula One world champion, CART champion, and Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve.
- Honda Canada