I want to thank the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame for generously agreeing to let me introduce my colleague and friend Norris McDonald.
I haven’t prepared a speech for this evening and I may just ramble a bit, but for those of you who know Norris, well I think you will agree that’s the most appropriate way to honour him.
When I learned that Norris would be the first journalist to be inducted in to the Hall, I wanted to be a part of it.
Norris is more than a just a reporter and editor. He cares about the sport and the people in it. He also goes out of his way to help those coming up the through the ranks, whether they are drivers, team and track owners, or even other journalists.
And that last part is why I wanted to be here tonight.
Norris and I are competitors but that has never stopped him from being the first to send me a quick note of congratulations when he liked something I wrote. He’s quick to offer a tip or two, and constructive criticism when it’s needed. The aggravating part of the last one is that he’s usually right.
And that’s the kind of class and grace and friendship I have come to expect from him.
And now it’s my turn to congratulate him. But being a journalist I figured you’d rather hear the words of someone other than me. So, I asked three people in the sport to offer their feelings about Norris’ induction, one veteran driver, one young gun and a colleague.
I am sure many in this room agree with Scott Goodyear’s words:
“You have made many contributions to the sport of auto racing over the years, including covering the Indy 500. This award recognizes your long hours of dedicated work and your usual spunk to get the facts correct. I enjoy reading your columns and appreciate your view on the host of topics that you tackle. Norris, we all salute you this evening on your dedication and passion of auto racing. Congratulations on your induction into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, your friend, Scott Goodyear.”
The next comes from Robert Wickens who can’t be here because he’s racing at Zandvoort in DTM tomorrow.
“I can only speak about what he’s done for me and my career. Even from my early stages, Norris was promoting various karting championships from Grass roots through to the Sunoco Ron Fellows karting championship. He was always working hard to get the best exposure for young Canadians trying to make their mark in the Motorsports world. I’m very grateful for all articles he’s given me and also the insight on what type of world I was trying to get into.
I can confidently say without his support it would have been more difficult for me to get to where I am today. And I am grateful for that. Congratulations on being the first journalist to be inducted and speak soon!”
The final note comes from Dean McNulty of the Toronto Sun, who wanted me to convey his thoughts on this night because he can’t be here due to a family occasion.
“A prior commitment prevents me from being there to honour Norris tonight, but I want to add my congratulations for his induction into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame. Your record of support as a driver, team owner and commentator in our sport is unparalleled. It is immense capacity for kindness, however, that I thank him for, both professionally and personally and I hope it continues for many more years. Carry on my friend.”
I also wanted to mention two people who aren’t here, but I am sure they would be proud of their old pal. Those men are Norris’ former Toronto Star colleagues, Graham Jones and Dennis Morgan, both of whom left us much too early.
Finally Norris, you didn’t ask, but I am going to give you some advice.
You said you were nervous in the run-up to tonight, especially being inducted alongside heavy hitters like Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy and Scott Maxwell.
My advice Norris is simple: Smile and be proud because you certainly aren’t out of place up here. In fact, those guys are lucky to go in the Hall with you.
Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome Norris McDonald into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.