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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Michael Schumacher out of a coma in time for German win at World Cup 2014


The morning began with Michael Schumacher’s manager saying that the Formula One great is no longer in a coma and has left a French hospital where he had been receiving treatment since a skiing accident in December. This is what is known as timing, and a blessing. It was the day Germany would take the pitch in Brazil against Portugal. What a day for German sport.

Schumacher is now at the Lausanne University Hospital in neighbouring Switzerland, hospital spokesman Darcy Christen said, without elaborating.
Schumacher, his wife and their two children live in Switzerland. His accident happened on a family vacation as Schumacher was skiing with his 14-year-old son.
Schumacher’s family “would like to explicitly thank all his treating doctors, nurses and therapists in Grenoble as well as the first aiders at the place of the accident, who did an excellent job in those first months,” Kehm’s statement said. The German football team did not let the great one down, he is the Chairman of the board when it comes to Formula 1. This World Cup has been incredible, to say the least. Germany vs Portugal was billed as a heavyweight of the tournament, and it didn’t disappoint.

A Germany win was expected, given Portugal’s status as a supposed one-man team. But in truth, it was never to be once Pepe was sent off in the first half. But this wasn’t about Pepe. Nor was it about Miroslav Klose, not even Cristiano Ronaldo. This was all about Thomas Muller. The forward raced to become the tournament’s leading scorer, bagging a hat-trick, and always looking a menace up top for Germany.

A great day for Germany.

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Michael Schumacher Lies In A Coma After Ski Accident


I flew in from Toronto to London and was sitting in Flavio Briatore’s home on Cadogan Square. I had this idea which I had shared with the CEO of Labatts to explore sponsorship of another Formula One Team, Bennetton. Flavio in his Flavio way, ( confident and cocky ), explained to me that he had a new driver and he would be sensational, it was Michael Schumacher. Flavio invited me to come visit the team at the Canadian Grand Prix. Michael was clicking the wins, he had not won his first World Championship. It was my first meeting with Michael, his wife and their dog. Michaels wife explained to me she never likes to fly anywhere without the dog. On the car ride back Flavio asked me to jump in the car with Michaels wife and it was on this ride back to our hotel in Montreal that I asked her if she ever feared for Michaels life? “No I don’t, these cars are so safe now”, she said, knowing full well that each time you race you play with death. The car is a shell to protect you, and when you think of all the fatal crashes you understand the technology that goes into building the fast cars that go zoom, zoom and crash and the driver protected by light weight shell of Kevlar walk away.

Michael lies in a coma, the whole world knows what’s going on his family and friends around him, and the only reason Michael has the opportunity of fighting for his life is that he wore a helmet. Some will say what about the doctors? Yes, that too, but Michael would not have made it off the Alps in France if he did not have that outer shell to protect him.

Naturally others including myself are shattered by the fact that Michael is fighting for his life. It is why the wisdom and words of World Champion Sebastian Vettel after his wins and doing donuts over the radio to his team “enjoy this moment guys you never know how long it will last”.

I think of my two  Christmas cards from Team Benetton 1994 and 1995 with Michael and his first two World Championship wins. I get teary eyed. I think of moments standing in the paddocks of the Monaco Grand Prix next to the Ferrari trailer while Michael zipped around on his little scoter. I get teary eyed.

Lets all just say a prayer and may the heavens respond in kind.

As all of you go into the new year, please remember to just enjoy the now, those moments that make you smile, love, kiss just plain life, because you never know how long it will last.

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Sebastian Vettel Makes History With A Win At Brazilian Grand Prix 2013

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In winning Sebastian Vettel equaled the record of Alberto Ascari of nine wins in a year, however Sebastian Vettel stands alone in history of Formula One as the only driver with nine consecutive wins.

Sebastian Vettel also matched Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year.

Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was second in his final F1 race. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third.
Vettel, who had already wrapped up a fourth straight F1 title, was overtaken by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes at the start but regained the lead on the second lap and cruised to his second victory in Brazil, and 39th of his career.

Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren’s best finish of the season. Rosberg was fifth and Mexico’s Sergio Perez finished sixth after starting 19th in his final race with McLaren.
“Yes, we did it,” Vettel said on his radio before his now-traditional donut celebration of spinning the car.
The win capped an impressive season by Vettel, who had already broken Schumacher’s 2004 mark of seven straight wins in the same season last week at the United States GP.

It was the first time this weekend that drivers raced on a dry track at Interlagos after the three practice sessions and qualifying were run in wet conditions. Light rain fell near the end of the race but it wasn’t enough to significantly affect the track conditions.
Lewis Hamilton, who had a flat right rear tire on his Mercedes after contact with Valtteri Bottas of Williams, finished ninth. Hamilton received a drive through penalty for causing the collision.
Mercedes was still able to hold on to second place in the constructors’ championship, finishing ahead of Ferrari and Lotus. Red Bull had already clinched the title.
Home-crowd favorite Felipe Massa, in his final race with Ferrari before joining Williams, finished a disappointing seventh after receiving a drive-through penalty for illegally crossing a pit line while running fourth. Massa will be replaced by world champion Kimi Raikkonen next year.

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Vettel, Rosberg, Alonso It’s Showtime At Brazilian Grand Prix 2013

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Sebastian Vettel won his 45th pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, his ninth success of the season.

Red Bull’s world champion, who is looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 race wins in the same season, beat Nico Rosberg of Mercedes by three-quarters of a second in rain-delayed qualifying. Behind Rosberg on the grid will be Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the other Red Bull and Mercedes cars, driven by Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton respectively.

In the first session, the surprise package was Heikki Kovalainen, who put in a great lap to finish P5. But in his last weekend with Williams, Pastor Maldonado failed to make it to Q2, along with Esteban Gutiérrez, Charles Pic, Giedo Van der Garde, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.

In Q2, which was topped by Romain Grosjean, followed by Vettel, the six who failed to make it to the top-10 shootout were Kovalainen, Paul di Resta, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Pérez – who crashed out on Turn Five – Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil.

It was the fourth time this season that McLaren had failed to get a car in Q3. This could be the first time that McLaren fail to win a podium in a season since 1980 and the first time since 1966 that they have failed to reach the top four.

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Schumacher to retire from F1 “Hasta la vista, baby”

Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One for the second time and at the age of 43 on Thursday after failing to rekindle his old Ferrari magic in a disappointing comeback with Mercedes.

Schumacher’s first retirement came at the end of 2006, after he had won five titles in a row with Ferrari from 2000 and two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

Schumacher has been on the podium only once in his last three seasons, a third place in Valencia this year, and has retired from half of the 14 races so far in 2012. His last win was with Ferrari in China in 2006.

The veteran has also had some embarrassing crashes, including one in Singapore that had even loyal German followers questioning his eyesight and means he will have a 10-place penalty on the starting grid for Suzuka.

Schumacher, his voice occasionally cracking slightly with emotion as he spoke in front of a crescent of television cameras, said he now wanted to enjoy his last six races.
“It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goals… but it is also very clear that I can still be very happy about my overall achievements in the whole time of my career.”

Schumacher, who was restless and searching for a role after retiring from Ferrari and did not say what he might now do after leaving Mercedes, said he had learned a lot about himself in the past six years.

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