Back to the future Mexico Grand Prix- Toronto to Mexico City story

The Toronto Globe and Mail


A girlfriend of mine would listen to all my wild ideas,I would tell her about racing on the streets of Toronto, films, music concerts; then one day she asked me to come meet the people who ran her family company they made beer, and she walked me into the office of the late CEO Sid Oland of John Labatt’s. Sid had a passion for Formula 1 so he and I decided we should be slapping the name Labatt’s all over Formula 1,it would be fun and the parties would be unreal, the rest is now history.

In the 80’s I made some serious money it was relatively easy, considering that I worked with the richest man in the world in those days Adnan Khashoggi, a (YouTube I uploaded in case you want to know more how rich) Saudi businessman and arms merchant. As the richest guy in the world he knew everyone also rich, so I ended up meeting a lot of very wealthy people and ended up looking after some of their investments. Khashoggi introduced me to a race car driver John Graham a Canadian, who wanted to race on the streets of Toronto. None of the big corporations would sponsor this young Canadian. I have always had as my focus support the talent of Canada, so I sponsored John, and the team so he could race.

Later when I ended up meeting Sid Oland of John Labatt he actually got it when I told him marketing in racing really works. I told him “Sid, I spent $100,000 total to sponsor John the race car, had a great party at King Edward and took out a full-page add in the Toronto Globe and Mail (above); imagine what we could do with a Formula 1 Team and few drivers?”. I had one more thing going for me I knew the late John Craig Eaton, who inherited the T. Eaton Company and was on the board of Labatt. Eaton wanted to bring Formula 1 to Canada, loved racing, and liked calling me “Timothy” as that was the name of his father Timothy Eaton founder of the Canadian department store. So began a long relationship with the Williams Racing Team and some of the greatest Formula 1 World Champions.

In 1992, John Graham wanted me to come to Mexico City for the Grand Prix he wanted me to meet Giancarlo Minardi (picture of Giancarlo and myself in the garage was lost in Northridge quake when my house tumbled down); However something very magical and amazing happened in Mexico City at Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, naturally our Labatt sponsored drivers were on the podium, winning one and two for the Williams Team, Nigel Mansell, and Riccardo Patrese. While that was great something really amazing was about to happen, those moments in life that change the course of your future. A team in the garage next to Minardi came third called Benetton, and their driver won his first Formula 1 race ever in Mexico City he was German Michael Schumacher. A man walking down was in emotional tears of joy and I went up and greeted him kissing him Italian style offering my congratulations to Luciano Benetton, with whom I would later try to create ventures between Labatt and Benetton.

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My last time to the circuit in Mexico City was with race car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay whom I had sponsored with my Merlins drink company. Returning to Mexico City is emotional for me as I think of that driver I first met at the track and his current condition Michael Schumacher, and I recall the great times with Ryan Hunter-Reay who when I met him last I told him he was doing a great job in Indy Car and who said, “Would not have been possible without your help”.

Walking around the paddock in Mexico City,the other day I would run into the current richest guy in the world Carlos Slim, he was really proud of the fact that the Mexican Grand Prix was back, the blog story I am sharing above I shared with him he smiled when I told him “Mexico City is just magic for me, just magic”. Will the course of my life yet take another turn? It seems it’s going in that direction.

Carlos Slim photo by @SuttonImages


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