Just like his racing hero did, Tony Cove has dedicated pursuits on both two wheels and four – though in the case of the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship competitor, his chosen method for the former is pedal power! A very involved Formula Ford vintage racer, he is also extremely supportive of the modern cars and championship. A familiar entry is his blue #40, he is also a series sponsor, supports the Team Canada Scholarship program and this year is even helping grow the grid! Read to the end to find out how!
How long have you been racing?
Bill and Jon Hirst got me started over ten years ago. Bill was racing his lovely Lola sports racer at the time. Jon was running a Van Diemen in the Ontario Formula Ford Challenge. It didn’t take long for Bill to find me the Merlyn Mk17a Formula Ford which I ran in Vintage events. Ferret Formula Fords were pretty special to Bill and after he passed, Jon and I tracked down the third of only four. It was rumoured to be in a sorry state with a tree growing through the chassis. In fact it was in great shape with a collection of excellent spares. The Ferret was quick, even in my hands. At the time, the Dunlop Tyre was accepted in Vintage and OFFC events so I ran here in Ontario and many Vintage events from The Glen to VIR. Eventually I got the itch to try a newer car so a ‘97 Van Diemen fit the bill. I am still trying to get the best out of it.
How long have you raced F1600?
With the exception of a guest appearance in Dean Baker’s Swift DB2 and ice racing this past winter, I have only raced F1600.
How many race cars have you owned?
Well, I have mentioned the Merlyn, Ferret and Van Diemen. I was lucky enough to run an ex Chip Ganassi Crossle for a few seasons. I also took Glyn Walters’ March FF to Silverstone to run in the Historic Sports Car Club Historic Formula Ford series. Fifty pre 1972 Formula Fords on the grid, fantastic!
What is your # and why did you choose it?
Number 40. I chose it because it was available on the Vintage FF grid and the OFFC grid so I could run the Ferret in both.
What other classes have you raced?
I had a go at ice racing this winter. What a blast and a great opportunity to have my Dad and my son Chris as co-pilots. Russ Bond is putting together a series for RWD Lexus IS300s for next season. Should be great!
What track raced has been your favourite?
Has to be Mosport, followed by Watkins Glen and Road America.
What track would you love to race around?
I have to come clean and admit that I haven’t run Tremblant yet and that is definitely on the list. Lime Rock and Road Atlanta are up there.
What is your greatest racing memory?
In my first season, Bill Hirst really took me under his wing. I remember coming into the pits a bit sheepish after my first big spin at Mosport. Bill stuck his head in the cockpit and said, “Well, you got that out of your system, now get back out there.” Next time past the pit wall, Bill was hanging over, waving his arms urging me to go faster. I can still see that massive grin on his face.
Favourite driver from any generation?
John Surtees. Only world champion on two and four wheels.
Do you plan to be on the grid in 2018?
Absolutely! I am not sure we can run every round but the Ferret will be out for the VARAC weekend which is also on the Toyo F1600 calendar. The ‘97 will be out and I am hustling to get another Van Diemen ready for my friend Ross Drybrough who is making the trip from the UK to race with us.