What is crazy is that I am writing my May article and we have yet to have our first DE of the season (Lime Rock). Oh well, I need to keep our editors happy, so here goes.
I do not know about you, but at one time I had some trepidation about attending our Mosport DE as I thought it was too far, “way up there in Canada”, amongst other excuses……. Well, it is not that far away and is a fantastic track that has undergone a major renovation in the last two years. First, a little bit of history and then I will cover some frequently asked questions.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (aka; Mosport)
More than 55 years ago the piece of land that we know today as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was a farm. At that time, standing on a hill, looking over the fields and groves of trees, who could have imagined that the best drivers and the fastest cars in the world would come to this pastoral place and race on what would be named as one the most challenging tracks in the world and provide the best excitement and entertainment that motor racing has to offer.
But they did come: racing legends like Stirling Moss, Gilles Villeneuve, Bruce McLaren and even stock car king Richard Petty. No fewer than 16 Formula One World Driving Champions – men like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti and Nick Lauda have raced here. Some 10 Indianapolis 500 winners including Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears and Gordon Johncock have also raced at Mosport.
There have been Formula One cars, Indy cars, Can-Am, stock cars, World Endurance, Formula 5000, Formula Atlantic and Super Vee. Add Formula Fords, GT cars of every description, Superbikes, karts, snowmobiles and off road machines. Throw in a couple of rock concerts, some air shows, and sky divers and one begins to wonder if there is anything that has not been seen at Mosport. Anyone standing on the hill in 1959 would not believe what has transpired over the last 45 years. Fortunately, there were some people who did believe in what could happen. They had a dream, a plan, and the combination of resources and expertise to make it happen.
As early as 1958 the British Empire Motor Club (BEMC) formed a development committee to investigate the possibility of selecting and buying a piece of property for a road racing course. By mid-summer of that year the founding committee had found a 450-acre tract north of Bowmanville. Recognizing the enormity of the project, the committee members realized that one club (BEMC) could not undertake the entire task and so a separate entity, called “Mosport Limited” was born in the fall of 1958. The name Mosport (a contraction of Motor Sport) was coined and applied to the new business enterprise. At the start there were seven directors, each one in charge of a particular phase of the project.
By 1960 development was moving forward and the design featured fast, sweeping bends that rose and fell over the contours of the site. In order to accommodate the design, great chunks of earth would be gouged out of parts of the hills; in the one place the whole side of a hill was scraped away and leveled. In the summer of 1960 Stirling Moss paid a visit to Toronto, at which time he saw the plans for the track and the work that had been done so far. While he was generally enthusiastic about the layout of the course, he did recommend that the single-radius carousel hairpin at the south end be changed to a 90-degree right followed by another right leading onto the back straight. Moss was convinced that this combination would be a much greater test of driving skill and provide a more interesting show for the spectators. The two turns, 5a and 5b have since become known as “Moss Corner”.
The development of Mosport did not come easily though. The construction suffered through fiscal restraints zoning logistics, heavy rainfalls causing washouts and a price tag that was double of what was to be expected ($500,000 instead of $250,000). In spite of everything, the necessary facilities were completed, the asphalt was laid down and the track was ready for racing by the end of May, 1961. This is what it was all about: 2.459 miles, measured at the centerline of its 28-foot width, of twisting, undulating pavement that would challenge the best drivers in the world.
Mosport has had a succession of owners since the original public company created to build the track. In 1998, the Panoz Motor Sports Group purchased the facility, and in 1999, the newly formed American Le Mans Series visited Mosport for the first time. For 2001, the entire circuit was repaved to meet FIA specifications and is now 42 feet (12.8 m) wide. Drivers were consulted to ensure the character of the “old” track was kept; almost all the “racing lines” have been maintained.
Mosport achieved acclaim though a series of international sports car races under the title “Canadian Grand Prix” normally reserved for Formula 1 races. Many events were wildly popular, breaking Canadian sports attendance records with each successive race. The success of these races led Mosport to be seen as a key component in the founding of the Can Am Series. The CanAm first visited the track in its inaugural season in 1966, and Mosport hosted at least one event in every year of the series’ history, except 1968. In 1967, Canada’s centennial year, Mosport hosted Formula One, USAC, and a 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix. F1’s Grand Prix of Canada remained at the track until 1977. Mosport has hosted a wide variety of series throughout its history. The circuit has held Formula One, USAC, World Sportscar Championship, Can-Am, Formula 5000, and many other sports car, open-wheel, and motorcycle series.
Unlike many historic motorsport venues, Mosport’s track layout has remained mostly unchanged from its original form.
Rolling the clock forward to June 2011, Canadian Motorsports Ventures (CMV) which includes Orlando Corp. Chairman Carlo Fidani and Canadian road racing legend Ron Fellows, purchased the facility.
In February 2012, a partnership between Mosport and Canadian Tire was announced. The partnership includes a renaming of the track to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The partnership will help to upgrade the facility and improve the experience for spectators, participants, race teams and corporate sponsors.
Q: When is this DE?
A: July 18-20, a Friday – Sunday event. Take off on Thursday and enjoy the ride.
Q: How far is it?
A: 7hours and 45min from Morristown, NJ
Q: Will I be making this drive on my own?
A: You do not need to as many drivers caravan together. This makes the ride and rest stops more enjoyable.
Q: Do I need a Passport?
A: Yes and here is how you get one if you do not already have one; https://travel-state.us.com/
Q: What Hotel should I stay at?
A: Go to the NNJR list of hotels and pick one. We also have arranged a discount with Quality Hotels;
Q: What happens if my car breaks down at the track?
A: NO MAN LEFT BEHIND! We have had one or two instances where someone’s car broke down at the track, but no fear; we will find a way to get you home. We have had other drivers volunteering to put the disabled car on their trailer and had the other driver drive their car back. We have even had a small tire trailer brought back on one truck, the disabled car on another trailer and the good car being driven back.
Some additional tips:
• If trailering, fill your car up in the states to take advantage of lower gas costs
• This part of Canada is NOT French Canadian and everyone speaks English as a first language!
• Generally entry to Canada is hassle-free
• The ride through the “Thousand Islands” region is beautiful!
• We share this event with our Canadian friends from UCR-PCA and always have a great time.
I highly recommend you make this trip as July is a great time to visit Canada and be a part of a truly memorable DE. See you all soon, aye?