Toronto Star Wheels - News

  1. Female drag racer, Indigenous role model named to motorsport Hall

    The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame will induct 16 new members during a special ceremony next February. Last week, I published mini-profiles of the first eight – I put them in alphabetical order – and today I will present the remaining eight. Last week, I concluded with Graham, Brian. This week, I continue with Graham, John.

    JOHN GRAHAM. John was a racing driver (he finished first in class in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans, co-driving with Scott Maxwell and the late Greg Wilkens) and a promoter (he was the first to push for Molson to sponsor an Indy car race, which would have been held at Downsview). In additional to Le Mans, he had podium finishes at Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans (2), Sears Point – where he also won the pole in his class – Mosport, Spa, Mt. Fuji and Adelaide.  He also raced in the NASCAR Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series and the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally.  His most successful promotion was the Moosehead Grand Prix in Halifax, which ran for five years. A master at finding sponsorship, he convinced Gordon Lightfoot to sponsor him in 1986, the last year of the Can-Am Series.

    COLIN HINE. Colin Hine has been involved with motorsports as a driver, team owner and team manager, engine builder, chassis distributor in circuit racing, rally racing, and karting for 59 years in England and Canada. Since he moved to Canada in 1975, he has owned and operated Colin Hine Racing and won national championships in both rally and road racing. Some of his drivers have included world-class drivers like Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy, Walter Boyce, Ron Fellows, Stig Blomqvist, Willy T. Ribbs, Jean-Paul Perusse and Bob Armstrong. After running a racing business and doing what was needed to help young drivers, Colin then became a race official for multiple IMSA series in Canada and the United States. In that role, he trained new officials in the role of technical inspector/scrutineer.

    JIM MARTYN. Not only was he the Voice of Mosport (now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) for many years, he was also the Voice of the American Le Mans Series (he travelled the continent announcing their races) and one of the voices of Radio Le Mans. In short, the late Jim Martyn could do it all. When it’s said he was one of the voices of Radio Le Mans, he was the announcer selected by ALMS owner Dr. Don Panoz to put together and train a team to broadcast the world’s most famous endurance race. Jim nearly lost his life in the early 2000s at Le Mans when he pulled out of a track access road into the sun and was hit by a transport truck. He survived but the shock had a negative effect on his life and career. In later years, he worked for General Motors at auto shows and was a volunteer announcer at karting events.

    KANDY MITTON. A Maritime radio and television personality, Kandy Mittton is an administrator and drag-racing competitor. When the Atlantic Drag Racing Association was formed in 1998, Kandy volunteered as secretary/treasurer and held that job for 10 years before stepping down to race. She was the first woman to win the ADRA championship and the first woman to win Super Pro drag races in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. She raced at Lebanon Valley, N.Y., in September and went seven rounds, making it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated. She was host of a TV series called “2Fast4U” where students from 13 high schools built drag cars over the winter and held a runoff at Miramichi Dragway every 24th of May weekend to determine who was best.

    FRANK ORR. As comfortable talking to Jackie Stewart as he was Dave Keon, the late Toronto Star sportswriter was best known as a hockey writer. But he had a similar impact covering motorsports, including Canada’s first Indy car and Formula One races in 1967. Orr also covered the Can-Am series, which became the leading North American road racing championship. As well as races, he chronicled the careers of drivers such as Paul Tracy, Greg Moore, Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve — all of whom went on to become Canadian Motorsport Hall of Famers. With Canada entering something of a golden era in auto racing in the 1990s, Orr’s writing became a fixture in the Star’s Wheels section. He wrote more than 30 books, including three on racing, the best-known being “Five Minutes to Green,” about George Eaton.

    HOWIE SCANNELL. According to his biographer, Rick Sharples, Howie (Scooter) Scannel started racing in the mid-1950s and numbered his first car 41, which was the reversed number (14) of his hero, Hall of Fame member Wally Branston. His first night out, at Pinecrest Speedway, he crashed and broke his nose. He was not discouraged. Over his career, he drove jalopies, stock cars, B Modifieds, Super Modifieds and Late Models. He raced at the CNE Speedway, Pinecrest, Cayuga, Delaware, Flamboro, Nillestown, Bridgeport, Barrie, Oswego and tracks in Florida, winning races and some championships along the way. He was a fan first but he wanted to race, not watch. Since retiring, he’s been involved in the stock-car racing careers of his son and grandson, while also coaching young go-kart racers.

    GLENN STYRES. In the backyard of his family home on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, Glenn Styres built a 3/8-mile clay speedway where he races sprint cars and promotes races for others. The World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series, which races all over North America more than 80 times a season, named him Promoter of the Year, not just once but twice. A sprint car champion himself, Glenn is also a public figure and role model in the Indigenous Community. Styres has brought major networks to auto racing, including the APTN Network, which is currently airing the Friday Night Thunder Series that takes viewers inside his Ohsweken Speedway. He’s a personal friend of Tony Stewart’s and a sponsor of NASCAR star Kyle Larson’s sprint car program.


    BILL ZARDO, SR. During a 40-year career, Bill Zardo took Canadian stock car racing to new heights, while demonstrating hard work, dedication and commendable sportsmanship. Born in Brampton in 1942, Bill got hooked on the sport in 1960 while helping his longtime friend Jim Halahan at Pinecrest Speedway. In 1981, Zardo went racing in the CASCAR No. 7 Lights Series and won his first CASCAR Super Late Model Series championship. Zardo was arguably the No. 1 stock car racer of the 1980s but that wasn’t enough for him. He set his sights on making a splash on the international circuit in the 1990s, and started racing on the American Canadian Tour.  He achieved his goal by winning the Flexmor Super Late Model title in 1996 when he was 54. He was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

    Bill Zardo


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  2. Interested in an electric car, but finding current prices are a bit too high for your budget? Worry not, as the second-hand EV market is well garnished with a wide variety of appealing zero emission alternatives.

    But while it’s true that an electric vehicle requires less maintenance than a gasoline one, resulting in second-hand models that are in great mechanical shape, consumers must stay on the lookout for a rapidly spreading problem in the second-hand EV market: battery fraud. Here’s what you need to know to avoid being trapped in an EV headache.

    What kind of fraud are we talking about?

    By battery fraud, we’re talking about batteries that are being replaced by older, degraded models. As demand for second-hand electric vehicles climbs, so does the demand for parts. The EV industry has also seen a rising trend in specialty shops stuffing newer, more potent battery packs in older EVs.

    This is the case with Ingenext, a Quebec-based EV specialist located in the city of Trois-Rivières. The company purchases salvaged EVs for parts, but also to pimp up older models.

    Guillaume André, the founder and president of Ingenext, realized that the Nissan LEAF Plus’s he had purchase from a U.S.-based auction site didn’t come with their original 62 kWh batteries. After inspection, he noticed that the cars were in fact equipped with degraded 24 kWh units from early 2011 to 2015 first-generation LEAFs.

    Guilliame Andre

    After doing some research, Guillaume André was able to pinpoint where the fraud had taken place. No, it didn’t come from IAA, the auction site who sold him the car. It came from EV Rides LLC, a specialized shop located in Portland Oregon who, just like Ingenext, installs new batteries in second-hand electric cars. EV Rides had kept the healthy batteries for itself before sending the dead LEAFs to auction.

    André was able to contact the shop, and they agreed on some form of compensation. For reference, André told us his company paid a little over $20,000 (including shipping) for two useless Nissan LEAFs. But after exchanging a few times with EV Rides LLC, all communication suddenly ended. Guillaume André hasn’t heard back from them since.

    We attempted to contact EV Rides to hear their side of the story, but they never wrote back.

    How this affects you

    But what does any of this have to do with you, the consumer? It turns out that this fraudulent battery swapping isn’t only happening on salvaged cars, but also on clean, well-running second-hand electric vehicles. What’s even more worrying is that in some cases, the dealership selling you the car isn’t even aware that the battery has been swapped.

    In the aftermarket world, healthy batteries are worth a healthy sum. For instance, a 62-kWh battery from a current Nissan LEAF Plus can sell for $15,000. A Tesla battery? Anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000!

    And it doesn’t end there. André tells us that he once saw a Tesla Model X return from the auction with sandbags where a battery cell module normally sits. Apparently, these modules sell for $1,500 a pop. A Tesla Model S or Model X battery has 16 modules in total. Do the math.

    Most dealerships are simply not aware of such practices. And since auction purchases are typically done quickly, there’s very little inspection taking place. And no, there is currently no law that prevents these fraudulent acts from happening.

    “The auction has no legal responsibility over the quality of the items sold, so obtaining compensation from a fraud like this is pretty much impossible. We (retailers) end up stuck with vehicles that have very little market value,” Guillaume André told us during an interview.


    Perhaps what’s most alarming about this, is that it’s still all very new and that no governing body has yet imposed regulations on it. Finding concrete hard data on the matter turned out being much more difficult than we had anticipated.

    For some insights, we contacted Daniel Breton, the current president of Electric Mobility Canada. We figured his vast knowledge of these vehicles and consistent devotion to EV consumer adoption would help us find more information on this growing phenomenon. Here’s what he told us:

    “I have recently heard of this phenomenon as well. What I’ll say is that governments need to quickly impose regulations similar to rolled back odometers on ICE vehicles, or consumers will once again end up paying the price for these fraudulent practices,” explains Breton.

    What to do before buying

    The first thing you need to do before signing that check is asking to have the car inspected. If possible, try to have the car checked by an EV specialist. They tend to have the proper tools to evaluate battery degradation. They’re also typically very knowledgeable about EVs, so they should be able to pinpoint if the battery is original or not.

    Once the car is up on the lift, remove the plastic covers protecting the battery and start looking for signs of battery replacement. If the plastic covers appear to have been manipulated, that’s an indication that something has already been fiddled with. Check the bolts holding up the battery. Do they look like they’ve been removed and put back on? That’s a dead giveaway.

    All EV batteries have some form of inscription showing their model number and capacity, but some inscriptions, like the one on a Nissan LEAF, are harder to access since the sticker is located on the top part of the battery. This will require a full removal of the battery unit to properly inspect it, something an EV specialist can do rather easily.

    The EV specialist can also connect the car to a computer to access the battery’s state of health. Every EV has one of those. However, Guillaume André tells us that he has seen situations where the software has been rolled back, because yes, one can reset an electric vehicle’s state of health. In other words, you can have a fully degraded battery, but your car is telling you that everything is fine. The only way to really know what’s going on is by removing that battery and properly inspect it.

    If you think your electric vehicle has been subjected to battery fraud, know that the dealership is immediately responsible even if they didn’t do the swap. As a consumer, you are entitled to compensation or a refund if this applies to you.

    The post What You Need To Know About EV Battery Fraud appeared first on

  3. Mazda says it is planning even more crossovers to join the company’s lineup by 2023. This would start with a new model called the CX-50 that will share a platform with the new CX-30 as well as the Mazda 3 sedan. The company says it will be an addition, not a replacement for the CX-5, but they said that about the CX-30 as well. Two more additions will be the CX-70 and the CX-90, with the latter replacing the CX-9. The latter two crossovers will ride on Mazda’s new longitudinal engine platform, meaning they’ll be essentially rear-drive biased. They’ll also get a new inline-six and are expected to have PHEV drive options. The -70 will be a two-row and the -90 a three-row and expect the 70 to have a more sporting look.

    Honda is in the midst of an all-new Civic lineup, and the next up are the Si and the Type R. The compact sports sedans were teased with the R wearing a load of camouflage and a massive rear wing. Expect larger vents, more prominent side skirts, and both front and rear arches are pushed out to fit wider rubber. Three big tailpipes are reminiscent of the last-gen Type R, though this time around, it’s the center one that is the largest instead of the other way around last time. The Type R is getting ready for testing around the Nurburgring. The 2022 Civic Si was shown with an even bigger wing, though that one isn’t bound for production. Instead, Honda is making a race-ready version of the car for actual on-track dedicated use. Honda says the street Si will be revealed soon.

    2021 Honda

    Toyota’s all-new Corolla Cross is ready to hit dealers in Canada this month, with the new small crossover starting from $24,890. The model will offer all-wheel drive as an option on L and LE for $1,400, and it is standard on higher-spec Crosses. Toyota calls it “right-sized”, slotting in between RAV4 and C-HR. The company has also added 24 “easter eggs,” Corolla Cross logos scattered around the vehicle. TSS 2.0, though not the newest version of Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance comes with lane departure, road edge detection, radar cruise, and auto high beams. A 7.0-inch display is standard as are wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    2022 Toyota

    General Motors says that Ultra Cruise is coming, pushing Super Cruise to the limit and allowing hands-free driving in up to 95 per cent of all driving situations. GM says the system will include more than 3.2 million km of roads when it launches in the US and Canada and will eventually cover all paved roads. “Ultra Cruise is not just a game changer in terms of what it enables ­− a door-to-door hands-free driving experience − but a technological one as well,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice-president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It’s been developed completely in-house.” GM says it plans to offer Super Cruise on mainstream models and Ultra Cruise on premium vehicles. Ultra Cruise is set to launch in 2023, starting with select Cadillac models.

    GM Super Cruise

    Lexus previewed an all-new LX luxury SUV. The LX is the Lexus version of the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser, though in recent years the Lexus has developed a legend of its own. All we have seen so far is the tailgate including some very upright styling and an LX 600 badge. The global version of the Land Cruiser uses the same new frame as the Toyota Tundra and we expect a version of that platform here. The model will be revealed on Wednesday.

    2022 Lexus


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  4. Semiconductors are tiny computer chips that are part of nearly everything electronic. Washing machines, game consoles, TVs, and, of course, cars. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been wide-ranging shortages of these chips. Cancelled orders over virus fears followed by buying surges resulting from much of the world staying home. Combined with natural disasters and fires, and you have a supply issue that’s been ongoing and will likely continue for years.

    Some estimates put the damage to the auto industry at more than $200 billion worldwide, cutting production by more than seven million units across the globe. Some automakers seem less affected, and one of those is BMW. We spoke with BMW Member of the Board of Management for Production Dr. Milan Nedeljković to find out why, how this shortage may reshape vehicle design, and how long it might last.

    BMW Production

    “It’s always a different chip which at the end of the day is missing,” said Dr. Nedeljković. “Now we are trying to somehow gain time and maneuver through these different shortages.”

    “One big advantage at BMW,” he said, “is that we are set up on a very high flexibility level. Our target was always to produce the car the customer wants, in as short [of a] term as is possible. We are able to change our production program, the sequence of products we produce on our line, six days before production starts.”

    This extends to the company’s whole supply chain, he said.

    This tight timeline gives the brand serious flexibility. “With this flexibility,” he said, “if we realize there will be a shortage in one or two weeks, we can rearrange the whole production sector and just avoid the one component. If possible, to avoid the one component which is missing.” When that component comes back into stock? “Then we change again to a different sequence,” said Dr. Nedeljković.

    While mainstream automakers look to reduce the number of configurations they sell as much as possible in order to cut costs and streamline inventory – Ford notably cut the Fusion from 35,000 configurations to just 96 a few years back – offering a wide range of options and choices including the ability to build cars and crossovers on the same line, has helped BMW through the shortage.

    “In this case, it is [an advantage]. The amount of derivatives we have and the amount of different packages we are offering to the customer gives us the opportunity that, for certain components which are missing, we can compensate it with other derivatives which don’t need this component,” he said.

    “It is rarely that the component hits the whole fleet and everything is somehow blocked. It’s primarily based on certain accessories which you offer or electronics which some components have [and] others don’t. The fact that we are manufacturing up to six [or] seven models on one line. Even [if] one model is in particular shortage, we can still run the others and overcome the time [lost],” Dr. Nedeljković said.

    BMW Production

    Electric vehicles have much simpler drivelines in terms of moving parts and external components. They do not, however, use fewer chips, he said. At the same time they go electric, vehicles are becoming more connected and adding more features. “It’s not the electronic drive which creates the need for more chips,” said Dr. Nedeljković. “In general the cars are more connected. More driving assistants, with all the cameras, the sensors. All this needs semiconductors somewhere in the program so each part has a chip on it itself. All that needs to be steered and brought together in the computer which is then reacting to all the sensors and analyzing them.”

    The result? “The amount of sensors is significantly increasing per car, and that’s a trend in the automotive industry.” Dr. Nedeljković says this is actually making the chip problem worse.

    Shortages often lead to innovation, so we asked Dr. Nedeljković if he expected automakers to start spending money to reduce the number of sensors required or to make them more efficient. He said no, that he thought supply would climb to meet demand. “I don’t think it [the trend] is really reversible. The fact that more sensors are going into cars, the fact that we are [adding] more and more autonomous driving capabilities into the vehicles, that’s an ongoing development. It will not be reduced.”

    He instead expects that automakers and chip suppliers will reduce the number of different microchips needed. “The effect I can think of is that the amount of different chips will be reduced. Today we have for each particular component a very specific chip. I think that there will be some tendency to try to bundle them and to have more standardized components in place. The second thing, of course, will be that we want to get better transparency of the whole supply chain.”

    Dr. Nedeljković said that in Europe, “most OEMs”, as well as significant suppliers, have combined to use a new IT platform to help develop standards for better digital solutions across the process and supply chain. To see which part is where in the supply chain, spot issues, and to use this transparency to reduce shortages.

    Can he see the end of the chip shortage? “Very difficult to predict. Now we see waves, and with each lockdown, which is Corona-based right now, we are getting a new shortage with other components. And it’s hard to predict how long the different countries have lockdowns.”

    “I’m quite sure once we are out of these specific lockdown situations that, in general, the market will move on and the capacities will grow. Still, it will take many more months before we calm down,” he said.

    “I think markets [are] always reacting to something. Usually, the reaction would already be visible, but the fact of these lockdowns, which are then for four to six weeks, cannot just be un-realized. If the components are missing, these periods of lockdowns are just stumbling blocks you cannot avoid.”

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  5. Save for a couple of half-hearted attempts, Jeep has only recently gotten serious about the three-row SUV segment. This may flummox the casual observer. After all, why wouldn’t one of the most recognized (and decorated) off-road brands have an entrant in this popular – and profitable – segment?

    For 2021, Jeep’s fixed that oversight – and then some. In addition to tacking a few extra inches onto the new Grand Cherokee to create the three-row L variant, they’ve also created a pair of truck-based brutes intended to take on GM’s Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade triumvirate. For this post, we’ll focus on the former.

    Setting a starting price of $52,495, Jeep has jumped into the premium end of this pool with both feet. After all, witness the three-row Telluride which bears an introductory sticker several thousand bucks south of that figure. Nevertheless, Jeep feels comfortable with their pricing choices and, given the clout of its brand, they’re probably onto something. As is tradition, the Laredo trim is the entry-level model, though you’d never guess it by peering at Jeep’s build-n-price tool since that option is absent.

    2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Laredo is powered by the brand’s ubiquitous 3.6-litre V6 engine, good for roughly 300 horsepower and hooked to an 8-speed automatic which works in concert with the Quadra-Trac I 4WD system. It’s worth noting the latter since it is a single-speed active transfer case that uses input from multiple sensors in the vehicle to pre-emptively adjust torque distribution and will continue to reactively make corrections if tire slip occurs. When wheel slippage is detected, as much as 100 percent of available torque is instantly routed to the axle with the most traction. This is fine for many, but Jeepheads may be disappointed in the lack of a low range setting.

    Save for a few flat-not-gloss trim pieces and different wheels, it’ll be tough to visually discern the Laredo from a next-level Limited. Its heated mirrors and door handles are colour-keyed, LED lamps peer fore and aft, and the same dimensions await as in more expensive trims. There is dual-zone climate control aboard the base model, along with a snazzy 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster and Jeep’s excellent 8.4-inch Uconnect system (though the enormous bezel is kinda depressing). The front cloth seats are heated, as is the leather-wrapped steering wheel. That’s a manually operated liftgate out back, however.

    2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    What We’d Choose

    Save for the lack of a low-range setting (which, in reality, most drivers will never use), there’s a lot to like in the Laredo trim. Your author will strongly recommend the optional Trailer Tow Group, if for nothing else than the load-levelling rear suspension and full-size spare tire. The GCL is good for 6,200 pounds of trailer, by the way. Meanwhile, a so-called Lux Tech Group adds wireless device charging and addresses my carping about the absent power tailgate.

    With this Grand Cherokee L – plus the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer – Jeep’s jumped into the three-row game in a big way. While they may have taken their sweet time bringing something to market, it seems they’ve used their development time wisely.

    The post BASE CAMP: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L appeared first on

  6. When my mom finally handed over the keys to her 1973 Ford Pinto, I knew I had to do something to bring the much-maligned pony up to my 16-year-old standards. With little money to spend on real modifications, I headed to Canadian Tire.

    By the time I was through, the Pinto sported several kilometres of pinstripes (less than $10), storage thingies that strapped onto the sun visors ($7.99 each), a faux leather steering wheel cover ($8.99) and a tire cleaner compound ($5.99) that made the wheels look blacker and meaner.

    Accessorizing cars is as old as the automobile itself. But as cars became more popular, more people wanted to personalize their wheels.

    A hundred years ago, the most prestigious aftermarket accessory was a radio, with the very crude first non-factory installations showing up in 1922 for $200 U.S. (equivalent to $3,250 U.S. today).

    White wall tires — tires with a circular white stripe tracing the outline of the wheel to provide contrast with the black of the rubber — first appeared around 1914 for horse carriages. Ford then offered them as options ($11.25 U.S., about $225 U.S. today) in the spring of 1936. They lasted as popular options well into the 1980s and are still available as special orders from aftermarket suppliers. To keep the sidewalls nice and bright, drivers installed curb feelers, little metal whiskers extending from the car, to give an audio warning that you were coming too close to the curb and thus risking a scuff.

    White Wall Tires

    The modern bumper sticker, probably the cheapest way to accessorize a car, first appeared after the First World War. A silkscreen printer from Kansas City, named Forest P. Gill, adapted new self-adhesive materials to create stickers that could serve as rolling advertisements. By the early 1950s, not only were they used to tell everyone what tourist attraction you visited, but who you supported in an election. The 1952 presential race between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson was the first to use such campaign stickers.

    The iconic fuzzy dice on the rear-view mirror was a product of both 1950s car culture and returning soldiers from the Second World War. Fighter pilots used to place a pair of dice on the instrument panel, both as a token of good luck and a reminder that every mission was a “roll of the dice.” When the pilots got home, they kept up the tradition. In some places, rolling up to a stoplight next to another car with dice hanging from the mirror meant that you were ready to race.


    In the era before radio antennas were embedded in windshields, they were long, slender pieces of metal rising out of the car’s body known as “whips.” In the 1960s, antenna-toppers were the rage. They could be a piece of foam in a particular shape or something like a coloured ping-pong ball. The originators seem to be Union 76, the chain of gas stations with an orange ball as part of their logo. Starting in 1962, they started giving out millions of these things.

    Audio gear made huge inroads starting with the first 8-track players installed by Ford in 1966 Mustangs, Thunderbirds, and Lincolns. Cassette players, better speakers, subwoofers, and amps would follow over the decades. And for a while in the 1970s, a CB radio was the coolest thing to have. My dad’s 1978 Dodge Magnum had a factory unit in the dashboard.

    The 50s, 60s, and 70s were boom time for customizers: Fat tires, custom rims, flaming paint jobs, sunroofs, body kits, aftermarket engine modifications.

    At around the same time, spoilers started sprouting on trunk lids. The 1968 Plymouth Superbird, a NASCAR-inspired street machine, had a huge wing that extend higher than the roofline. Porsches’ “whale tale” first appeared in the summer of 1974 on the 911 Turbo. Spoilers continue to be popular today, both as sophisticated factory options and aftermarket installations, even on vehicles where they serve no practical purpose.

    The purpose of a rear spoiler is to create downforce on the rear wheels to increase traction, thereby making it easier for the engine to put power down on the road. A rear spoiler does nothing if your car is front wheel drive.


    There must be a zillion car accessories available today from the classic (like a dancing hula dancer or a waving cat for the dashboard) to “car lashes” for headlights (blame inventor Dottie Small of Park City, Utah). When it comes to dressing up your ride, the sky’s the limit.

    But if you’re still just 16 and mom just gave you the keys to the Kia, you might want to wander around Canadian Tire to get yourself started.

    Alan Cross is an incurable petrol head who also happens host the rock radio documentary series, “The Ongoing History of New Music” for Corus Radio. Find him

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  7. With the goal of putting Canada at the forefront of design-forward electric vehicle charging stations, news platform Electric Autonomy Canada is setting out to explore the potential of future EV charging stations in its recently launched competition. In partnership with fuel and petroleum supplier Parkland, the “Electric Fuelling Station of the Future” competition is focused on the roadside havens we could all be pulling up to soon for refuelling.

    Considering Canada’s new electric-vehicle sales goal targets (10 percent share by 2025, 40 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040), the way in which we fuel our cars is set to change dramatically. “On a highway journey, gassing up is often viewed as a detriment to driving. But with an EV, drivers say they use that stopping point as a positive in their journey,” said Nino Di Cara, founder of Electric Autonomy Canada.

    Charging Stations Charging Stations

    “They plan to make the most of that 10- to 40-minute stop to take a washroom break and check their emails,” he said.

    These future roadside oases could be not only a place where you can stretch your legs and grab a meal, but also provide a spot for kids to play, and also where you can get a massage, adds Di Cara.

    There’s a lifestyle that’ll develop down the line around how we fuel our EV cars and the stations will reflect that, much like the state of the art Nathan Phillips Square Bicycle Station—the sleekly designed $2.5-million award-winning project designed for the urban bike commuter’s lifestyle. This membership-based space features Toronto-inspired art on the walls, 170 bike parking spots, industrial-chic washrooms and even showers complete with towel service so members can freshen up from their commute before heading into the office.

    The design of EV charging stations

    Futuristic EV charging stations might conjure up visions of Jetsons-esque updates of current canopied gas stations, but Di Cara says there’s no reason EV charging stations can’t be enclosed. “The vehicles will all be electric—no gas pumps—so there’s no fumes or toxic fuels, so you could potentially charge your car indoors,” he said.

    Di Cara points to some station designs in Europe and Asia as what prompted Electric Autonomy Canada to launch this competition.

    “Canada can be a leader in this transition to EV charging stations,” he said.

    The design entries will be judged by a panel of leading architects on innovation, design, sustainability and feasibility, and the best concept could be developed down the line.

    Today’s EV charging stations

    Today’s EV charging stations, like those from Petro-Canada’s Electric Highway—the first coast-to-coast EV fast charge network—feature standalone posts with the typical amenities nearby (restaurants and windshield washing stations and the like), a couple are equipped with dog parks. ONroute, the operator of 23 plazas along the 400 and 401 in Ontario, has yet to enter the EV charging market; the company is looking to have a plan in place for 2022.

    For many suppliers, the current focus is pinpointing the best urban locations rather than developing amenities to cultivate the future lifestyle of how we fuel. “At FLO, our users tell us that in urban areas, EV charging is very convenient because it can be a passive or enabling activity: you park your car, plug in, and move on to whatever activity is on your agenda. Level 2 charging takes place while you shop, eat, watch your kids play sports, work, etc.,” said Vincent Lévesque, senior director of design and experience at FLO. Similarly, ChargePoint compares charging your car to plugging in your smartphone—you charge it wherever you are, when you’re not using it, close to existing amenities.

    Charging Stations Charging Stations Charging Stations

    Retail partnership opportunities

    The area brands like ChargePoint and FLO are developing and seeing growth is in the form of synergistic partnerships. At ChargePoint, their ChargePoint Connections program has evolved from its beginnings as a free or discounted charging benefit to employees, to a program that enables businesses hosting a ChargePoint spot to connect with the public. In the case of retail store parking lot locations, Chargepoint Connections can now offer personalized discounts to drivers who plug in to charge.

    “We’re working with retailers to bring this next level of experience to customers,” said Suzanne Goldberg, Canadian public policy director at ChargePoint. This year, they launched EcoCharge with IGA and Earth Day Canada, a network of 100 fast-charging stations at IGA locations throughout Quebec and New Brunswick. Besides providing an added service to a retailer’s customer base, hosting stations benefits the bottom line: research shows that the average time an EV driver spends in that retail store is 50 minutes longer than the average customer, and with increased shopping time, comes increased revenue.

    “Stores are offering free charging at their FLO stations to members of their loyalty programs (such as at two locations of La Maison Simons), or even integrating charging stations with solar parking lots, to help get more renewables included,” said Lévesque.

    Flo Flo

    The past few years of innovation have birthed strategic brand partnerships and design-forward innovations. Sweden will lead the way for another innovation: the world’s first electrified road that actively charges cars as they drive along it is scheduled to open in 2025.

    “As the number of EV drivers grows, this is definitely an area where we can expect even more initiatives and creativity,” he said.

    Design Competition: The Electric Fuelling Station of the Future

    This design competition, hosted by Electric Autonomy Canada in partnership with Parkland, is looking to architects, engineers, landscape architects, designers and cross-disciplinary practitioners to reimagine today’s gas station as a highway oasis for electric-vehicle charging. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 15, 2021. A panel of industry experts will select the top three winners of the competition, who will receive $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.

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  8. Every year around this time, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame distributes a media release announcing the latest inductees. Not every outlet uses every name. Some newspapers, including this one, will only write about the Hall if an employee makes the grade. Others, primarily radio and television, will only name someone if they are on the tips of everybody’s lips.

    Sometimes it takes awhile for that to happen. Once, I was in the newsroom of the Star and I mentioned the name James Hinchcliffe.

    “Who’s James Hinchcliffe?” an editor asked.

    I said he was an IndyCar driver.

    “Never heard of him,” the guy said.

    Two weeks later, Hinch won a race and his picture was in the papers and on TV. I bumped into the editor in the men’s washroom. Before I could say anything, he said: “Now I know who James Hinchcliffe is.”

    The power of the press. . . .

    This year, the Hall announced it was inducting 16 new honourable members: 10 racers and builders, and six in the Media category. It falls to me, then, to tell you about each of these people – half of them this week and half next. They will all be inducted at a special ceremony next February. Here we go, then:

    JOHN BONDAR. Bondar co-owns Shannonville Motorsport Park, which is just east of Belleville. He’s been preparing for this just about his whole life, starting first in 1982 as a volunteer marshal and then as an amateur racer,  winning three championships. Realizing he would never be world champion or an Indy 500 winner, he turned his talents to administration, serving the sport as vice-president and then president of the amateur Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs – Ontario Region. He created the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2006 to provide the Canadian motorsports marketplace with a professionally organized sports car racing series. A friend and admirer, I urged him to do with Formula 1600 what he’s done with Touring Cars — or to take over ASN Canada when it became available — but he just laughed at me and bought a racetrack instead.

    John Bondar

    PHILIPPE BRASSEUR. One of the most important motorsport reporters and commentators in Quebec, Brasseur created Pole-Position Magazine in 1990. A website,, followed the next year with an emphasis on Canadian drivers, series and events. He has been the play-by-play announcer and analyst for the RDS Network’s coverage of NASCAR, the DTM and the Nissan Micra/Sentra Cup races since 2006.  Brasseur has also hosted all of the Canadian Rally Championship shows on RDS since 2007. He has been one of the track announcers at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres since 2002 and the narrator of a documentary about that legendary race weekend. As well as being a journalist, Brasseur has also been a competitor, with two victories in the Quebec Rally Championship in 1998 and ‘99.

    PATRICK CARPENTIER. There are few drivers in the world who can honestly say they drove just about every racing machine going. Patrick Carpentier of LaSalle, Que., raced everything from karts to CART Indy cars to NASCAR stock cars.

    He is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and one of the most talented. But it was nearly not to be. In 1996, right here in Toronto, Carpentier won the Toyota Atlantic race and when he opened the bottle of champagne to celebrate, the cork was stuck momentarily before leaving the bottle and when it came loose it hit Carpentier near the corner of his eye. A millimetre closer and it might have been calamitous. Since then, on podiums going right up to the one in Formula One, the corks are taken out of the bottles before being handed to the drivers.

    CLARE DEAR. As a staff reporter for nearly 30 years with the London Free Press, Clare Dear persuaded the newspaper to expand its motorsports coverage beyond the local speedway (Delaware). As a result, he enabled the newspaper to provide regular coverage of major racing events with a local touch that appealed to its readers, while helping boost awareness and interest in the many facets of Canadian motorsports. Dear covered events at such far-flung venues as Le Mans, the Nurburgring, Indianapolis and Daytona and was the first (and only) Canadian to win the ARCA Series Motorsports Media Award. He also covered motorcycle and drag racing and conducted manufacturers’ reveals and road tests. Ask him about the time I got us lost in Montreal when we were reviewing a car.

    ALLAN DE LA PLANTE. Allan de la Plante is probably best known as the official photographer of Gilles Villeneuve. They first crossed paths when Villeneuve was racing a Formula Ford at Mosport in 1973, and later in the Canadian Formula Atlantic championship. Allan then followed Villeneuve around the world until May 8, 1982, when the driver was killed at Zolder, Belgium. In the fall of 1982, Allan published “Villeneuve,” a photographic essay. The book featured images of the drivers, tracks and personalities of Formula 1 and has been reissued several times. His photos were used as the basis for Canadas Post’s two commemorative stamps issued in Villeneuve’s memory. When I worked at the Globe and Mail in the 1960s, Allan’s father, Don, was a police reporter.

    GERRY FRECHETTE. The best-known motorsport reporter in Western Canada, without doubt, is Gerry Frechette. Over the course of 55 years, starting with the first Can-Am race at Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant in 1966 — and including Gilles Villeneuve’s first F1 Grand Prix victory at Montreal in 1978 — Gerry has covered hundreds of races as a photographer and a writer. He has worked for all of Western Canada’s racing publications and, during the 1990s, he was employed by Performance Racing News and Formula magazine. He has been awarded numerous citations for his work and was invited by the developers of Area 27 to document, in photos, the circuit’s progress from a corn field to a world-class racetrack.


    BERTRAND GODIN. Karting, Formula 1600, Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights, Formula 3000 – you name it and you’ll see or hear the name Bertrand Godin of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. He started kart racingin 1986 when he was 18. His many successes led him to Europe where he raced Formula Fords. He returned to North America  to replace Claude Bourbonnais in the Indy Lights series for four races. In 1997, while racing in the Canadian Formula Atlantic championship, he won arguably the most important race of his career at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal as part of the Canadian Grand Prix. That again took him to Europe where he raced in the Formula 3000 championship but his career fizzled after that. He now supports himself as an automotive columnist and lecturer and a Formula E analyst for TVA Sports.

    BRIAN GRAHAM. Not all members of the Hall of Fame are racers. This new inductee, Brian Graham, teaches others how to race. To say he’s been successful would be an understatement:

    Kyle Marcelli – Grand Am Continental Tire (since 2013), ALMS driver, IMSA Lites, NASCAR Pinty’s

    Conor Daly – IndyCar driver, F1 test driver, GP2, GP3, Indy Lites, Pro Mazda;

    Spencer Pigot – 2018/19 IndyCar, 2015 Indy Lites Champion; Zachary Robichon – 2019 Weather Tech GTD, 2018 GT3 Porsche Cup Champion, 2013 Team Canada Scholarship Recipient (created by Brian Graham, by the way)

    Megan Gilkes – FIA W Series, British Formula Ford

    Josef Newgarden – IndyCar (since 2013), IndyCar Champion 2017 and 2019.

    And about 20 others. Not bad, eh?

    I’ll be back with the rest next week.

    Norris McDonald , a past Wheels editor in chief, covers the Canadian automotive and global racing scene for the Star. He is a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. or follow him on Twitter @NorrisMcDonald2. 

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  9. Canada’s racing season is winding down seemingly as quickly as it began, with announcements of champions bringing closure to another COVID-challenged year of motorsport.

    One of the first series to come to a close is the Nissan Sentra Cup, which wrapped its inaugural season recently amid falling leaves and temperamental weather at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. The title fight came down to the 12th and final race, which would see it decided between the same two drivers who battled it out in 2020: 29-year-old Kevin King of Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, Que., last year’s overall champion in the previous iteration of the series, the Nissan Micra Cup; and Montreal’s Jesse Lazare, a 24-year-old racer who already claims professional accolades such as a class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona and a Platinum-level championship in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA.

    Sentra Cup

    If you just wondered to yourself whether the talent level in this series is higher than you’d assumed: yes, it probably is. Plus, to make things even more interesting, an un-forecasted rain shower rolled through on Sunday afternoon right before the scheduled start time, which dropped just enough water to make the track surfaces slick and throw into question whether wet tires might be needed for the start.

    In the end, everyone started on slick tires, and the race got under way without incident. A heated battle ensued between King, Lazare, and eventual race winner Alexandre Fortin, who exchanged positions and went three-wide into corners more than once. But it was a little less than halfway through the race when Lazare broke loose in the No. 21 Door Doctor Sentra on his own, causing him to leave the track surface at the bottom of the hill and slide across the wet grass at speed. The car made hard contact with the Armco barrier and rotated up onto its side before landing on its wheels just shy of the tire barrier.

    Sentra Cup

    Fortunately, Lazare was unhurt. But his dramatic exit secured King’s title, allowing him to keep the No. 1 on his Nissan Gabriel/L&P Apparel Sentra for another year and making him the first-ever champion of the Nissan Sentra Cup in its new form.

    “Going into the final race and being this close to either winning or losing the championship, it’s quite uncommon,” King said following the race. “Even if it’s not how I wanted to win the championship, it’s still very, very exciting.”

    In doing so, King – who has turned his passion into a career as co-owner of PSL Karting in Trois-Rivières, Que., where he helps other young racers break into the sport – is a David among Goliaths. Lazare is one of three cars racing under the Motorsports In Action banner, a team with professional equipment, driver coaching, and engineering prowess – and, it must be noted, first-hand knowledge of the cars as the official series fabricator. King races in a single-car, family-run operation, working through many early mornings of arriving at the track with his four-year-old daughter in tow. At the conclusion of the race, King climbed out of his car after pulling it under his 20-by-20-foot awning, and his daughter leapt into his arms and declared to the small crowd around, “Papa, il a gagné!”

    “I wasn’t sure about doing this season because it’s a fair amount of money, and I knew we would be running on a very, very tight budget,” King said. “To be honest, I’m not going to be done paying for this season for a while. But as a small team, a one-car team, I don’t think I can be more proud. To beat a big team with a big budget, I’m just really happy.”

    That’s the magic of single-make racing: on an equal playing field, miracles can happen.

    Sentra Cup

    The Nissan Micras that headlined the series in the past carried forward into their own class in 2021, which was won by 52-year-old Sylvain Ouellet. The Senior class champion from 2019 held off talented Ontario rookie Nicholas Hornbostel in a battle so close that it took officials more than an hour to declare the championship official after the conclusion of the race.

    The 2021 Rookie of the Year title went to 17-year-old Jesse Webb, an accomplished sim racer from British Columbia who made his live car racing debut this season with Motorsports In Action. Éric Chaput of Louiseville, Que., competing with the father-son Chaps Racing Team, became a repeat champion by winning the in 2021 Senior class.

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  10. I’ve been getting away with writing about cars for a living for almost a decade now, and I recently reached a new milestone: for the first time, I experienced an incident that made me feel genuinely threatened while doing my job.

    To explain what happened, I need to get a little inside-baseball about how automotive journalism works. It’s different elsewhere, but here in Toronto we automotive reviewers usually pick up a test vehicle at an automaker’s head office on a Monday, drive it for a week, drop it off on the following Monday, then head off to pick up the next one. Most of us use our own cars for those in-between trips, which we drive for less than an hour a week on average. The rest of the time, the vehicles we’re driving are the property of the automakers, loaned to us for objective professional evaluation.

    Two weeks ago, I was driving a 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS – the vehicle itself is only mildly consequential, but more on that in a minute – when I stopped at my local bank for a quick errand. My part of the city isn’t what anyone would call a rough part of town, but it’s also hardly a bastion of privilege. And this Cayenne was in no way attempting to be understated: it was bright red with 22-inch wheels and enormous centre-mounted gloss black exhaust tips. It was designed to attract attention, and it did, of both the wanted and unwanted varieties.

    cayenne GTS

    (That said, Porsche is hardly the only automaker building vehicles with this intent, and this commentary shouldn’t be taken as being directed at Porsche specifically. I could have ended up in this situation with any similarly equipped high-end SUV.)

    Anyway, the Cayenne looked out of place in its surroundings, to be sure. Still, I visit this bank regularly, and I didn’t think twice about leaving the car outside while I went in to see a teller.

    When I came out to leave, I was shocked to find a passer-by had left me a message: a large, all-caps, angry-looking four-letter expletive starting with the letter F—, scrawled in an unidentified liquid on the pavement and followed by the word YOU, greeted me as I approached the driver’s side door.

    I don’t think the person who did this connected me with the vehicle in any way. Regardless, I’m a woman and I was alone, so the idea there might be an aggressor nearby put me instantly on edge. I jumped into the Cayenne, immediately locked the doors, and high-tailed it out of there. I left so quickly that I forgot to snap a photo, which is just as well since we couldn’t have run it anyway.

    Once I started to gather my thoughts about this incident, I realized I have a lot of them.

    Whether this person’s anger was directed at the blatant display of privilege, clear disregard for climate change concerns, or something else, I can’t say. And judging people for the cars they drive is nothing new, of course. It doesn’t help that a study released early in 2020 shows some of our prejudices may be founded.

    But there’s also that old saying about what happens when we assume, and this situation brings that to mind. Whoever created these profanities was making presumptions about who I am based on the car I was driving at that moment. That person couldn’t have known that I felt self-conscious behind the wheel of it more than once, or that I’m acutely concerned about climate change and my once-a-week vehicle is an eight-year-old hybrid, or that this targeting put me through reliving some deeply personal trauma.

    Granted, that I’d be driving such a vehicle without owning it is unusual. But that’s precisely why it’s not right that these snap judgments were made in the first place. It shows a tragic lack of empathy, and it serves as a glaring reminder of just how angry and isolated so many of us have become.

    Whatever this person’s beef is with the car, it’s not worth making another human feel frightened or threatened over. Mental health is a much bigger issue than cars, but the fact that the topic has made it to these pages illustrates just how widespread this issue is in today’s world. In this age of rapid-fire, internet-fueled angry discourse, too many of us are too quick to react and to judge others superficially.

    I was raised to treat every person around me as I would want to be treated, even those who may not be right in front of me at a given moment. So, if this article happens to fall into the perpetrator’s hands: I see you, I forgive you, and I hope you’re able to find help with managing your anger and recovering your compassion.

    Please, let’s all try to remember that whatever situation we may find ourselves in, we never know what the people around us are living. We all could stand to benefit from approaching the world around us with open hearts and open minds — about the cars we drive, and a great deal more.

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