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Parker Thompson takes his first win in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA

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Thompson Earns His First Sports Car Win in a Wet and Wild Weekend at Mid-Ohio
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE, LEXINGTON, OHIO

In a weekend mired in rain and cool temperatures, Parker Thompson navigated treacherous conditions to win his first sports car race in Race 3 of the 2019 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA at Mid-Ohio. For Race 4, the second of two races at the Acura Sport Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, Thompson finished 2nd. That result put him on the podium four times in four races to kick off his career in sports cars.

Weather was a big factor for official practice sessions on Friday, where many cars did not even venture out on track. Thompson however, showed promising pace in the #3 JDX Racing / Hertz / Byers Porsche, eclipsing the fastest lap time of his competitors by nearly 3 seconds.

With wet conditions continuing into Saturdays qualifying session, there were high expectations for Thompson. Multiple incidents on track however, ended the session with no timed laps completed. As a result, the starting order for Race 3 was determined by driver championship points standings. Thompson would start in third position, on the inside of the second row.

In steady rain, Thompson cleanly piloted the #3 car past championship contenders Riley Dickinson and Roman DeAngelis, before pacing away from the pack. In an incident filled race, with eleven out of 22 laps driven under a yellow flag, all except for five cars would fall a lap down to Thompson. In only his third race in the car, Thompson showed a dominant victory and solidified the fact that he is a contender for the overall championship.

With clearer conditions on Sunday, Race 4 began with Thompson on pole position, and championship leader Roman DeAngelis immediately behind him on the second row. The two Canadian drivers battled hard for ten laps before DeAngelis squeezed by to take the lead position. Thompson held second for the remainder of the race. Four races into the 2019 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA season, and Thompson’s sports car career, he has found the podium in each of four races.

“The results this weekend are truly exciting. With the help of Hertz and Byers Porsche, the JDX Racing crew has put together a great race car. While I was happy with my pace right from the start of the season, there is still room for improvement. This weekend was a great indicator of progress, and a sure sign that we can contend for the overall championship. I’m honoured to work with a great team of people, and so excited for what the future holds.” – Parker Thompson

Now sitting second in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA championship standings, Thompson finds himself vying for two unique racing championships. He is the current championship leader in Indy Pro 2000,where he will be competing May 10th –12th at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  ThePorsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA season resumes June7th at the Montreal F1 Grand Prix.

 

Alberta

A Small, Important Opening

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A Small, Important Opening

Chances are pretty good that all major-league sports and some of the lower-profile ones will manage to complete partial 2020 seasons despite growing signs that COVID-19 will not give up without a long and continuing fight for dominance over sports and all else in today’s world.

Experts and observers of all athletic and public disciplines agree, however, that nothing is certain: baseball players are opting to stay home; basketball players express discontent and confusion every day; the NHL waffles over naming so-called hub cities for a wacky playoff proposal that continues to raise more questions than answers.

In the midst of all this uncertainty comes one simple burst of optimism: the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the public on Thursday, 98 days after the rampaging coronavirus pandemic forced closure of the building on the edge of Red Deer on March 16. It is fair to concede that reopening a small-city building warrants little public interest when compared with the billions involved in professional sports, but it’s also reasonable to accept that every step of progress in this deadly world-wide struggle is worth recording.

Although none of the $302,000 committed to the Hall in the current provincial budget has been received – a $75,000 commitment has been made but no cash has appeared and a review is already promised for later this year – executive director Tracey Kinsella said some pleasant things have been achieved during the lockdown.

“We have been extremely busy giving our Hall of Fame an update,” she smiled. “Our goal is to improve the entire experience for our visitors from the moment they walk in the door.”

Cleanliness was, and is, essential in the reopening. Sanitizers, directional signs and plenty of obvious messaging are part of the opening, of course. There is no plan for an opening ceremony, Kinsells said. “We would like to do something of a celebration, maybe later in July.”

At one time, fingers were crossed that induction of the 14 members selected several months ago but “we had to decide (last week) that there will be no induction banquet in 2020. We’ve had to tell all the inductees that we’re having to wait until next year.”

The list includes four athletes: skier Deirdra Dionne, hockey player Chris Phillips, chuck-wagon racer Kelly Sutherland and snowboard-cross star Michael Robertson. Five builders – Jan Ullmark, figure skating; Terry Morris, curling; Ken Babey, hockey; Derek Douglas, soccer – were selected along with five Hall of Fame Award winners Nancy Southern and Ian Allison (equestrian broadcasters, Bell Memorial Award), John Currie (Western Canada Summer Games 1983, Achievement Award); Stan Wakelyn (1922 Canadian soccer champions 1922, Pioneer Award); Dennis Kadatz (coach of Edmonton Huskies national junior football champions 1962-64).

Those awards show clearly how broad is the effect of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Every winner spent years working and practicing toward the world’s most elusive goal: perfection. There is no suggestion that it was reached, just as there can be no hint that they have inspired thousands to follow them.

Discussing the government’s failure to live up to its contracted financial commitment, Kinsella was not especially critical: “We’re sad, disappointed, maybe a little alarmed.” During a lengthy discussion, she finally confirmed receipt of the government’s letter providing the limited amount and mentioned “I’ve asked for meetings, have not had a direct, face-to-face conversation with anyone in the area of culture.”

My unsolicited opinion: this is unreasonable. As the Hall opens its doors, perhaps a government department should also open up.

Learn more about the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Our sports history has value

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Alberta

The Votes Tell the Story

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The Votes Tell the Story

On this amazing day for hockey fans, especially in Alberta, it’s a personal joy to realize two men I have known and appreciated for decades are now members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As much satisfaction as supporters are sure to feel for Jarome Iginla and his selection in his first year of HHOF eligibility, the same level of pleasure is sure to be shared by Kevin Lowe, who has waited many years for his combination of steadiness, competitive fire and team intelligence to be recognized at the highest possible of the game both he and Iginla have loved since childhood.

It’s a bonus for Edmontonians, and for all in sports, that Ken Holland was welcomed as a builder. He deserves the accolade as much as anyone can and the fact that he achieved most of his front-office success before he was hired as the Edmonton Oilers general manager before the start of last season. It’s still a shock to recall how many dedicated Oilers lovers objected in words and in print to the thought that he would be hired after being escorted away from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

You want another shock? Iginla came much closer to being potentially a career Oiler than media wretches were allowed to know.

He was drafted 11th overall in 1995. Steve Kelly became a mistaken sixth-overall choice in the same year. He was picked as Number 6 — one spot ahead of Shane Doan despite loud demands for the Oilers to go for Doan with their first pick of the graduate draft.

Barry Fraser, Edmonton’s head scout, told me before the draft that Iginla “is going to be a good pick for somebody.” He also Iginla as a potential first-rounder, a clear sign that he would become part of the mid-90s Oilers if rival selections made it possible.

Doan, like Lowe, was a productive but not brilliant offensive player. If his character and leadership are taken into account in a future year, he will also become a more promising candidate for Hall of Fame membership.

Dealing with Lowe during the Oilers’ Stanley Cup run was always a pleasure. When he sensed a criticism, and if he missed some of the credit headed his team’s way, he was likely to be edgy. It was impossible to do a pre-game Sportstalk segment and still find time for a moment to talk. Then I learned that he sharpened his skates very early on game night. That meant he would be available for brief conversation.

Somehow, it evolved that we would speak before the first home game of every series. I still remember the intensity of his preparation.

Iginla’s brilliant junior record and his lifelong connection with Edmonton and St. Albert made it obvious that we would meet during the 1995 junior draft countdown. He and several other top prospects were made available for live appearances for about week.

Iginla was not a logical choice to talk: he did not blow his own horn. Others seemed more interested than he was at the thought of speaking for 30 minutes on radio. After about three days, someone asked about giving Jarome some time on the microphone. Said I: “It doesn’t look like he’s interested” but his supporter suggested that I approach the quiet young man. He agreed to join the chow and was a sensational guest, showing a confident streak that was well-balanced with modesty.

One question was a natural for presentation to any young athlete: “Do you think the NHL will be a good fit for you?” His answer, as I learned gradually over time, was typical for him.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn,” he said. “I have to improve my skating quite a bit. If I do that, I can probably do all right.”

As they say: Now we know the rest of the story.

Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It

 

 

 

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july, 2020

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