IMRRC Honoring 50th Canadian Grand Prix on June 24
The International Motor Racing Research Center is marking the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Grand Prix with reminiscences from three long-time insiders.
The Saturday, June 24, Center Conversations program will be presented by George Webster, chief steward for the Formula One race at Montreal for three years; motorsports photographer Lionel Birnbom; and Timothy Meddaugh, who flagged at 25 races.
The Center Conversations talk, sponsored in part by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, will begin at 1 p.m. and is open to all. The Racing Research Center is located at 610 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen.
A $5 donation for admission is requested to help defray costs.
The talk will be live-streamed at www.youtube.com/user/IMRRC/live or via the Center’s website at www.racingarchives.org/stream/. The talk also will be archived on the Center’s You Tube channel to watch in the future.
The first Canadian Grand Prix Formula One race was on Aug. 27, 1967, at Mosport Park, north of Bowmanville, Ontario. It was moved to Circuit Mont-Tremblant, north of Montreal, Quebec, for the 1968 and 1970 races. After a six-year run at Mosport, the 1978 race was held at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Notre-Dame Island in the St. Lawrence River in Montreal.
The first Montreal race was won by Quebec native Gilles Villeneuve. The course was named the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after his death in 1982.
The race has taken place in all but three years since 1967, with the missed years of 1975, 1987 and 2009 blamed on sponsorship and financial disputes.
Lewis Hamilton was the victor in the 50th anniversary race on Sunday, June 11.
The Center Conversations speakers will share decades of insight into Formula One competition in Canada.
Webster was a Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs appointee to the stewards committee for the Grand Prix races during the Mosport years and the early Montreal years. He was chief steward, chairing the committee of race stewards, from 1977 through 1980. He has attended 71 Formula One Grands Prix.
Webster is a retired high school teacher from Oakville, Ontario, and has been working part-time as a motorsports writer and photographer since the mid-1970s. He has covered road racing, NASCAR, CART and Formula One racing for publications including Autosport Canada, PRN Ignition, National Speed Sport News and the website goracing.com.
As a self-taught photojournalist, Birnbom of Ottawa began attending motorsports events in the late 1950s. He was widely published in most major racing magazines and papers in Canada; Road & Track, Car & Driver and Competition Press in the U.S.; Autosport and MotorSport in England; and many racing books, including both of Pete Lyons’ Can-Am books.
He recently self-published “The Golden Years of Motorsport in Eastern Canada and the U.S.A., A Photographic Journey from the Late 1950’s to the 1980’s.” It contains more than 2,100 photos.
Photo selections from the book will be displayed during the talk, and the book will be available for purchase.
Meddaugh was a pit and paddock marshal, as well as a flagger, for four years at Mosport. He then worked as a flagger at every station at Montreal, until his last race in 2012. Overall, he has worked at 65 Formula One races in Canada or the United States, including the first USGP at Austin in 2012.