November 17: Metamorphosis of the professional stock car in Canada with the sale of CASCAR to NASCAR

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 by René Fagnan

The Canadian professional stock car world was profoundly transformed on November 17, 2006 when Tony Novotny, owner of the CASCAR Super Series, sold the rights to his championship to the American empire NASCAR.

Let’s take a quick look at the history of the national CASCAR (Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) series. Prior to the 1980s, most stock car tracks each featured its own local championship subject to its own sporting and technical regulations. It was during the 1985 season that Ontario’s Tony Novotny wanted to innovate and reform the local stock car. Novotny was the boss of a company that made plastic bodies for stock cars and was located at Delaware Speedway in London.

« Novotny has started a sort of local championship at Delaware Speedway, » explains Éric Descarries, a Quebec authority on stock cars. “He wanted to create a simple championship. He wanted the used cars to be very affordable. Nothing too expensive, nor very complicated. It was a tubular chassis with standard parts that competitors could easily buy or even find in scrap yards, such as a three-speed transmission from a Fairmount or a nine-inch Ford differential. virtually indestructible.

Thus was born the CASCAR series which presented all of its races at Delawere Speedway in 1986. Then, over the next few years, a few other Ontario ovals were interested in presenting events from this series which gradually grew. expansion. In 1989, a road circuit was added to the calendar, that of Shannonville in Ontario and two years later, the series made its first appearance in Quebec on the triovale of Sanair near St-Pie in Estrie. In 1993, we attended the first CASCAR race contested on the oval of St-Eustache. It was the first time a truly Canadian stock car championship involved multiple tracks.

In 1994, Novotny created a division reserved for Canadian West Coast competitors. Thus, CASCAR presented two Super Series: east and west, with a national point structure and a major sponsorship from Castrol. The stars then were Dave Whitlock, Steve Robblee, Kerry Micks, Mark Dilley, Kevin Dowler, Wade Lee and Peter Gibbons to name a few.

The CASCAR organization had good business value, and Novotny had another idea in mind. “Novotny had wanted to sell his series to NASCAR for a long time, but he was waiting for the price he wanted to be offered,” says Descarries.

However, it was two brothers from London, Ontario who made a proposal to Novotny. Bill and Alan Darmon are two businessmen and the owners of a major machine shop, Windsor Gear and Drive Inc. Interested in the stock car, they make an offer to Novotny to buy the CASCAR organization. The transaction was completed in 1999 and the two brothers retained Novotny as director of operations. The first big news for the Darmons is the participation of the CASCAR Super Series at the Toronto Indy. Then, two new road circuit events were added to the calendar: at Mosport and Edmonton.

Back to square one

However, after just two years at the controls, the Darmon brothers are forced to hand over the keys to the series to Novotny. Several people we contacted maintain, without however confirming it, that the Darmon brothers’ company would have experienced financial difficulties, forcing them to hand over the title deeds of the series to Novotny.

Back at the helm, Novotny continues the development work and its search for a new buyer. The Super Series visits new circuits such as the Autodrome Montmagny, the street circuit of Trois-Rivières, the ovals of Kawatha in Ontario and Sun Valley in British Columbia, the streets of Vancouver during the Indy race and also the Circuit Gilles -Villeneuve in Montreal in 2006.

From 2004, the directors of NASCAR in Florida, who wanted to internationalize their operations, took a real interest in the CASCAR series. Negotiations continued for two years and finally ended on November 17, 2006. The France family company then announced that it had purchased the CASCAR company and its Super Series from Tony Novotny. NASCAR also unveils a 2007 schedule and confirms that the Canadian Tire chain will become the title sponsor of the new national series.

“The CASCAR series, renamed NASCAR Canadian Tire, has come under the full control of NASCAR executives in Daytona, Florida. All the decisions have since been made at Daytona,” continues Descarries.

“Everything has been reviewed. The technical regulations were changed to make the NASCAR Canada cars fairly similar to those of the American K&N East and West series as well as those of the similar series that ran in Mexico. Canadian NASCAR has become much more professional. Officials and race direction come from NASCAR. And then, we witnessed the arrival of a new generation of drivers, often from the road circuit, such as Andrew Ranger, Louis-Philippe and Jean-François Dumoulin, Alex Tagliani, Kevin Lacroix and others, such as Alex Labbé , Donald Theetge and Raphaël Lessard, trained at the stock-car school”.

Moreover, Ranger, who had not been able to find financial support to continue his career in the IndyCar series, had chosen to race in stock cars and had made an agreement with Dave Jacombs to drive the Ford No. 27. With a victory and four second place finishes in 2007, Ranger became the first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion.

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