What did you do this weekend…?

I hung out with Jacques Villeneuve & Ron Fellows…

Ok… so “hung out” is a bit of a stretch, but I did spend two days working and schmoozing at the CDN Motorsports Expo.

Think of it as a teeeeeny tiiiiny PRI show or like the exhibit hall that’s part of a race weekend. (which is perhaps when and where it should take place… but I’ll get to that later)

It was a mish mash of a little bit of everything. Some cars (most disciplines), some swag, some equipment, some “completely unrelated to racing but their presence helps pay the bills” booths, some main stage talks, some side room seminars, & some famous faces & names. A little bit of everything for race enthusiasts young and old.

Having not been to the show the previous two years I have no gauge as to how successful or unsuccessful it was comparatively. I heard that there were more people (specifically on Saturday) (thanks Jacques!) but I also heard that it was smaller. Regardless, I thought it was a lovely way to spend the day on a blustery, cold January weekend.

Now… my thoughts upon reflection…
(and this is not in anyway a slam against the organizers who put this together! )

I personally think it would be better served closer to the city (specifically downtown) That trek out to the international centre is a pain in the ass. One of the smaller venues at Exhibition Place for example would be a great locale as it is easily accessible by ttc & GO, could be tied in with a promotion for the Toronto Race. (ya, AGR/Honda Indy Toronto might want to rethink their lack of participation in these events…) (listen to the Media Forum audio for their explanation…)

I also think it should be reduced to 2-days. Saturday was the meat and potatoes of this weekend (All of the appearances and heavy hitting panel discussions took place on Saturday with Fri & Sun just sort of empty bookends.)

Spread it out over the two days instead of three, holding autograph sessions and Q & A’s with top ranking drivers/teams for each racing discipline (karts, open wheel, stock car, etc..) throughout the day over the course of the weekend, rather than on just the one day. And offer a “weekend pass” to encourage folks to be there for both days. (making a weekend out of it) Do tie-in’s with food and beverage vendors leading up to the show, and make sure those vendors have a presence there. (perhaps, again, vendors that have involvement in the Toronto race, and or other local raceways)

Have the “smaller” seminars out where people can see them/hear them, not tucked in a side room. Out of sight, out of mind. People are by nature hunters/gathers. They hunt around for something that looks interesting and gather where they see others starting to gather. (other trade shows set up several little “stages” in all of the corners, out where everyone can see) Then, group the seminars together by genre or discipline, so people can schedule their time wisely and not miss out on valuable information.

I would like to have seen more of a presence by the CDN teams, tracks, schools, etc… I don’t want to see Andrew Rangers driver’s suit hanging randomly at the end of an aisle. I want to see his suit, his car, some of the members of his crew, and perhaps Andrew himself! Maybe have a replica race weekend paddock set up.

Maybe I’m a crew member on a feeder series team and want to talk to the chief mechanic about what the season was like from a technical standpoint. Perhaps I’m a young driver who wants to talk to the team owner about what he’s looking for in a driver, or a young girl who is considering a career in racing, and wishes to talk to the female crew members (of which there were a few on Andrew’s team this year) about what kind of education I should seek and what it’s like for a girl in a male dominated sport. Bring the feeling of a race weekend to the people in January and they will be chomping at the bit to come to you in June!

If it’s held in January again, then I want to see a booth for the Honda Indy, Mosport, Cayuga, etc… and presence from IndyCar, Canadian Tire Nascar Series, etc… with information on the upcoming season, the schedule, perhaps the opportunity to purchase or win tickets or a season pass! (can you imagine!?)
How about a CDN travel agency (hello Flight Centre?!) willing to arrange discounts on travel and accommodations for race fans both for local races and cross border events.

The potential is definitely there and the possibilities endless. Don’t get me wrong, the show was fine, and interesting , but like anything, there is always room for improvement.

That said, Big kudos and a pat on the back to Glenn Butt for his tireless efforts to make this happen each year! Additional kudos go out to our amazing CDN motorsports reporters. The cream of the crop, on a national level, were there for most of the day on Saturday, not only for their session, but just hanging out chatting with whomever was around. (even I had the privilege of some major one on one chit chat with “the boys”, which is always a special treat, especially in the middle of winter)
Some perspective…
Just imagine a little local show in Indianapolis in January with a panel of Miller, Oreo, Kirby, Phillips, Harris and Malsher, answering questions for an hour then standing around for a few more having individual conversations…
Ya, exactly. )

Alright. That’s my 24cents. (I also over tip 😉 )

Below you will find a photo gallery, and two audio clips (disguised as videos as that was the only way to get them uploaded) (no, really, I did some serious hoop jumping to get these on here) First audio is of the press conference with Jacques Villeneuve & the second audio is of the media forum/Q&A. (basically, I’m too damn lazy to transcribe… and figured you’d enjoy hearing the actual events)

Throughout both you will hear me gaffawing (apologies) and I even stutter my way through a question to the media panel. (hint: I’m the one who starts my question with “hello boys” hehe… ) I lost my train of thought at one point, but eventually recovered… LOL.

oh yeah, and I was captured in action snapping pics sporting my signature braids and PT Monster cap (LOL!) by fellow media type Bill Mehlenbacher (http://www.nxphoto.com)

Alright… enjoy the pics and interviews!

img_84871Click here for gallery!

Jacques Villeneuve press conference: (audio only)

*direct link if player doesn’t work*

Media Forum/Q&A: (audio only)

*direct link if player doesn’t work*

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3 responses to “What did you do this weekend…?

  1. I’d love to see JV do a one-off at Indy this year. Maybe we could convince Scott Goodyear to drive too.

    A rematch of ’95 (sans the corvette pace car!) lol

  2. Fair comments and thanks for attending the show. The show was an excellent idea the first two years but there were no people there.

    Yes, Saturday was the big day which meant that the show has gone from a good idea that ‘should’ be supported… into something that racing businesses have to attend.

    As one of the promoters, I can honestly say that we were blown away by the reaction of the exhibitors. Some had incredible weekends. Some have very good weekends. During Sunday clean-up, Glenn was blown away that he never received a complaint. One guy said it was too bad that it snowed on Saturday night… so not bad.

    Our lesson was that we need stars on each day of the show to drive the gate. Having several Cup drivers on Sunday next year is, we believe, a realistic goal.

    Thank you for bringing up the PRI comparison. We hope that aspect is a lot less teeeny next year. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have something like that up here (with fans welcome, too, of course). Early indications are that the vendors who were at the show are going to do their best to tell the race part manufacturers that they need to be at the CME.

    For the record, I believe we contacted every group you mentioned. We offered space to the Toronto Indy group to kick off their ticket drive… bring Danica… have a press conference, etc…. but they opted to focus on the Cdn. Int’l Auto Show next month. From my perspective, that’s like trying to throw a party at a funeral given the state of the auto industry… but we tried. Hopefully next year, they will come to a different conclusion.

    We could have had a Cup driver at the show on Sunday to promote Cayuga’s race with NASCAR drivers in August… but they refused to participate in any way, as well.

    In terms of local talent, we had a presentation to the top ashphalt stock car drivers on Friday night, which was very good. We hope to build on that.

    Thank you for the post about our show and I believe your comments are fair and that we share your views on what the show can be. My company (Inside Track) got involved relatively late and we’re proud of the impact we made.

    We’re also giddy thinking about how good it will be next year, based on what happened on the weekend.

    All the best,

    Greg MacPherson
    Inside Track / CME

  3. Hi Greg!

    Thanks so much for dropping by my little soap box on the interweb and taking the time to respond! Thank you also for taking the comments/criticisms in the spirit with which they were intended.

    Being passionate about the racing, I am equally passionate about promoting it and seeing the events, especially my local ones, put their best face forward to the public in order to champion and grow the sport I love.

    From the sound of it, you guys are on board for next year as well and plan to expand on the expo and it’s offerings, which is very good news. Hopefully the larger venues and sanctioning bodies will get onboard. (FYI, bringing Danica isn’t the way to go to capture the interest of actual racing fans who will in turn bring other non-fans… Especially in Canada with all the real drivers (not walking publicity stunts) out there… just my opinion… 😉

    As discouraged as I am that Honda/AGR chose not to participate this weekend, I am encouraged that they will have a presence at the Auto Show, which although, like you said, has a bit of a cloud hanging over it in these economic times, is a nationally recognized and thus publicized event. They (AGR/Honda) seem to be sitting on their hands with respect to creating a buzz for our event, assuming, quite wrongly my gut tells me, that the city and the fans will be or are so grateful for the return of the race that very little effort is required to entice us back. That assumption could not be farther from the truth and will come back to bite them in the ass come July if they’re not careful.

    Glad to hear of your enthusiasm and the success of the show from a sponsor/vendor standpoint. Onward and upward!

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