Calgarian ups Grand Prix's CanCon

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

MONTREAL - The trouble with the Canadian Grand Prix is that there are so few Canadians in it.

Well, it turns out, Trygve Rangen of Calgary is one of them.

This was news to even Silvia Hoffer, McLaren-Mercedes team media relations officer.

But in dealing with a request through Chef de Presse Nationale Marie-Pierre Laflamme to discover if there was anybody from Western Canada involved in any area in the competitive side of the Formula One event, through a search of paperwork, she discovered one.

Trygve Rangen. Of Calgary.

Not that Hoffer didn't know the guy.

Just didn't know he was Canadian.

ODD OCCUPATION

"He's a design engineer principally dealing with car build and configuration control," she reported before setting up the interview Friday.

What's a 32-year-old guy from Calgary doing in Formula One racing instead of, oh, I don't know, chuckwagon racing?

"It's a long story," said Rangen.

It would be.

It began as a kid who, for reasons he can't explain, ended up addicted to Formula One racing.

"I was hooked. I'd get up at 5 a.m. to watch the races from Europe. Sometimes the sounds of the cars would put me back to sleep and I'd wake up when the press conference started because the sounds of the engines had stopped.

"I'd make pilgrimages every year, six or seven years in a row to the Molson Indy in Vancouver," he said of the race which morphed into the Edmonton Indy seven years ago.

But mostly it was a contest and a man he met at the University of Calgary.

"There was a Formula SAE competition which involved designing and building a single-seat, open-wheel race car. It was based on design, performance and cost. It was part of gaining my engineering degree," he said.

"And there was Warren Rowley, a retired music professor at the U of C, who was involved in sports-car racing. He designed some of his own race cars.

"After a lot of twists and turns I ended up getting my foot in the door with Formula One by going to a trade show in London. He was selling a book he wrote and introduced me to a couple guys I was able to bunk with while I interviewed and waited to find out if I got the job."

That's the short version.

The long version involves traveling long distances, including 44 hours on a bus once to Indianapolis, to try to get jobs. He made trips to California and even Brazil.

Rangen finally landed one with Formula Renault in Virginia and after three years working there, ended up in England trying to hook on with a Formula One team.

"Super Aguri was starting up. They hired me."

His job with Super Aguri was in the development and testing area and he worked with the F1 outfit for two and a half years until it went under.

That was in August of 2008.

JOINED McLAREN

He ended up hiring on with McLaren, one of the giants of Formula One with a history dating back to when Bruce McLaren and Dennis Hulme drove those orange McLaren Can-Am cars at Edmonton International Speedway.

He's working trackside with McLaren and will do so for the next few races before he goes back to the massive McLaren complex.

"That's when I'll go to work on designing next year's car," he said.

A day at the office at McLaren is a daily trip through history, he said.

"You walk to the cafeteria and there are 40 years of trophies. There's a wind tunnel on site."

He said there's no explaining the experience.

"I love the job. Stuff is always happening and stuff happens fast. It doesn't slow down like regular manufacturing. That's slow motion compared to racing.

"Racing is like a drug. It involves lots of hours."

He has friends from Calgary here.

"They've become fans. My dad Lawrence wasn't one, but he is one now. He came over to the Hungarian Grand Prix."

Meanwhile Rangen, who watches most of the Calgary Flames games on a package he was able to buy in England and comes back every Christmas and watches every game he can get to, wonders if anybody knows how he can get his hands on World Junior tickets this year.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones


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