Azzi a driving force behind Canadian racers

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

When Canadian Olympic gold-medal snowboarder Jasey-Jay Anderson went looking for career advice, he sought out Montreal financier Andre Azzi.

Between the two of them, they formed their own team that developed sponsorships and a plan that allowed Anderson the time and resources to become the best in the world at his chosen sport.

Now Azzi is aiming his considerable skills at getting another Canadian athlete — Montreal’s Alex Tagliani — an Indianapolis 500 championship.

Azzi, 36, first bought Toronto’s Marty Roth’s racing equipment and race shop in Indianapolis last season.

Now, nearly halfway through his first IZOD IndyCar series season with Tagliani behind the wheel, Azzi has some bigger plans.

“We are going to win the Indy 500 next year,” he promised in a meeting with the media in a downtown Toronto hotel on Wednesday.

Oh yes, and he also wants to corral some of Canada’s corporate elite to help him do that and to establish a system to help other up-and-coming Canadian race car drivers.

“This country has a wonderful history in motorsports,” Azzi said. “I still remember watching Gilles Villeneuve and admiring how his achievements brought so many Canadians, and people from other nationalities, together.

“After careful reflection, I have made a decision to spend the next years of my life building a Canadian race team and driver development program that ensures that young drivers in this country get the support they need to reach the higher echelons of the sport. No one can do this alone, so I will be reaching out to corporate Canada to join me in filling this important need.”

This is no pie-in-the-sky sort of effort.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Azzi revealed that Hot Wheels — Mattel’s iconic brand of toy race cars — would be part of his effort to get Tagliani a win in Toronto on Sunday and Edmonton next week.

And he has his eyes on some other Canadian racers, who he said, haven’t had the opportunity to drive up the racing ladder since Player’s were outlawed by the federal government from sponsoring sporting events.

Don’t count him out. Just ask Jasey-Jay Anderson.


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