Here’s a copy of Road & Track from May 1968. To give an idea of how much things have changed, the magazine sold for $0.60 back then. But if you want to really see how things were in the good old days, just look at this ad:
Whoa! Can you imagine car companies running ads like this today? Thumbing through the magazine, looking at ads from Fiberfab and Arrow Gauges, the treatment of women was just horrible.
It’s easy to criticize attitudes from 50 years ago. But in today’s enlightened era, one wonders why there still aren’t more women in motorsports?
From the day I turned 16, one of my favourite things to do was to take a drive. Not necessarily with any specific destination. Just go for a drive. I read an article on Jalopnik today where the author describes the almost therapeutic value of driving aimlessly north of Toronto. So…I know I’m not alone in this custom.
As a teenager, I can’t count how many times I would get in my car with a buddy, drive downtown to Lakeshore Blvd, make the right at the base of Yonge St and just drive all the way to Hwy 7, past the city limits. During the earliest days of the pandemic, with not much else to do, my son Daniel and I would drive out to interesting roads around the GTA like the Forks of the Credit, or the Old Finch Bridge.
So when I heard about the curfew in Quebec, where citizens won’t be allowed out of their homes between 8:00 pm and 5:00 am (not even to go for a drive) it bothered me. I’m a freedom loving person; not quite a libertarian, but a strong believer in the rights of the individual. If bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theatres (where people congregate) have to be closed to prevent community spread, I reluctantly understand. But is it really necessary to prevent an individual from firing up their car and going for a drive?
Just the images of Montreal this weekend were haunting.
In Quebec, for the next month, acceptable reasons for being outside include:
People going to and coming from work, or a work-related activity.
Parents picking up teenagers from work.
People going to or coming from an education activity at a recognized school such as a night class or lab.
People who work in the transportation of goods sector.
People who are providing necessary health services to someone else, or attending the bedside of a sick family member.
Driving someone to a medical appointment, either a child or someone who can’t drive themselves.
People who require immediate medical attention, or have an appointment with a dentist or optometrist.
People who are dropping kids off to comply with a custody agreement or parental visitation.
People who are coming from or going to train stations or airports for travel.
People who are shopping for essential items that cannot be deferred (ex. pharmacies).
People who are walking their dog within 1 km of their home.
Those who are circulating during curfew hours may be stopped by police and asked to provide proof of their reason for travel.
As I sit in my living room at home in Toronto, I’m unable to even visit a local indoor track for some fun. Yet I know that there’s racing in Florida right now. Daytona Kart Week just passed, and many Canadians are preparing to compete in the Florida Winter Tour.
Yet this week, Quebec announced a curfew, preventing Canadians from even leaving their homes at night. Do I really expect spring training to begin in March or April when we could be facing a lockdown and curfew in Ontario as soon as next week!
People are willing to do their part to stop the spread of ‘the virus‘. But when increasingly strict measures are being taken, it’s disheartening to read that Canadian public officials (even hospital CEOs) are themselves ignoring public heath guidelines. A member of the province’s COVID-19 science table, who helped draft the ban on non-essential travel due to the risk of COVID-19, went to the sunny Dominican Republic in December. Yet regular Canadians who are being told to stay home, go out only for essential needs and even shop for groceries only once a week are now facing a curfew?
I’m not one of those yahoos who thinks ‘the virus‘ is a hoax, or one of those misguided people who sees wearing a mask as trampling on their freedoms. I’m willing to do my part to stop the spread, but if Canadian leaders lose the public’s faith in them because of hypocritical behaviour … nobody will be willing to follow public health recommendations. They must lead by example!
I just want to see my friends at the track. Spend another summer with other racing families. The question remains if and when racing season in Canada will begin.
One of the greatest car movies ever filmed was 1971’s Vanishing Point. The basic plot of the movie is simple. Kowalski is a car delivery driver, who leads police on a chase across four states. He’s made a bet that he can deliver the supercharged 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours (while high on speed). Reminiscent of today’s concept of ‘going viral’, the police chase to capture Kowalski attracts national attention. Initially, local DJ Supersoul reports on Kowalski’s progress across the US Southwest, and later in the movie, national TV and media arrive on scene. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Kowalski is a former police officer, a motorcycle speedway rider and a stock car racer, who has faced tragedy throughout his life. It is only speed that gives the anti-hero a sense of release from a world he seems to see as largely meaningless.
While the film is a car chase flick, social issues of the late 60s and early 70s are explored throughout Kowalski’s journey. Fringe religious cults, homophobia, police brutality, racism, and oppression are explored…many of the problems which continue to plague society today, 50 years later.
“…the last American hero, to whom speed means freedom of the soul…”
Any motoring enthusiast has at some point wanted to do what Kowalski did. Break all the rules of society that keep everyone caged up with traffic laws and speed limits. Just drive like it’s the last day on earth. Who wouldn’t want to live out that ultimate speed freak fantasy of speeding down the highway with nothing to worry about except the next gas station.
When restrictions are finally lifted, Daniel Demaras and Chris Demaras are looking forward to returning to Toronto Motorsports Park at Cayuga for more laps around the road course. This year, racing friends from New Speed Motorsports will be joining them to make the return to the track even more fun!
This video made the rounds on the local news this week, as a would be thief, trying to steal packages off a porch in a suburb of Toronto, managed to get high-centered on a snowbank. This is the most Canadian ending to a crime.
The cartoon below (translation; ‘The same – just the opposite’) compared how Scandinavian’s views of motoring changed between 1903 and 1928. Try driving north on Woodbine Ave in Toronto, stuck behind a TTC bus, unable to pass because bike lanes have replaced half the road, made me think of how Toronto’s attitude towards the car has changed in the 100 years since.