Historic track in Canada gets a new lease on life
There is a racetrack northeast of Toronto, Ontario, Canada that is steeped in history. Formerly known as Mosport (pronounced Mo-sport, not Moss-port), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) is a rare track in that it’s barely changed in configuration since the first race was held on the 810-acre property in 1961.
Since its opening, it has been widened, the jump-inducing hump on the back straight-away has been removed and safety run-off areas are constantly being upgraded. But the general track layout is very similar to how it was 50 years ago.
Like the not-too-far-away Watkins Glen International raceway, CTMP has hosted Formula One, Can-Am, Trans-Am and, as of this year, NASCAR. But its best days may not be behind it. The racetrack is currently undergoing a resurgence of sorts. The track went under new ownership in 2011, having been acquired by Canadian Motorsports Ventures. One of the members of this new ownership group is someone many racing fans may know: Ron Fellows. Yes, that Ron Fellows of Le Mans Corvette winning fame and the part-time NASCAR road racing ace. By inking a deal with Canadian Tire (a huge Canadian chain focused on home, auto, yard and sports) as the primary sponsor of the track, vault loads of cash have been infused into the aging park and brought it back from obscurity to world class.
TWO YEAR TRANSFORMATION
Over the past two years, infield and outfield roads have been created, widen or resurfaced to allow fans access to every corner of the complex. On corners with high elevation changes, tiered camping has been cut into the hill to allow spectators even better sight lines. A new media center/events center has been built on the outside of the front straight-away allowing for the pit lane to be expanded to a 43 stall layout – in order to woo NASCAR. As well, the world famous (and scary as hell) corner two has finally had the entire run off area paved over as has another notable problem spot, turn one. Finally, concrete pads located on the inside of some corners has been ripped up and replaced by fresh asphalt.
These changes all make the track safer, and up to spec to allow for a new series to join the CMTP schedule for 2013; the Camping World Truck Series. It will join the stalwarts of the past few years, the American Le Mans Series and Trans-Am Series, as the track’s marque events.
TRANS-AM KICKS THINGS OFF
With the AutoGuide staff being regulars to the track for a long time, and the fact CTMP will continue to attract more major series in the coming years, we had to go see these changes for ourselves. What better time to do that than attend CTMP’s first large race weekend of 2013, the Victoria Day Speedfest, headlined by the Trans-Am Series.
Now divided in to different classes of performance, the Trans Am Series itself is having it’s own resurgence as a field of over 25 cars took the green flag. The expanded rules allow for more makes like BMW and Porsche to partake in the race. The action was great throughout the field as each class had battles during the race. In the end, Doug Peterson in the #87 Chevrolet Corvette took home the checkered flag as the overall winner.
PORSCHE STEALS THE SHOW
But the best racing of the weekend came in the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. Using mechanically identical Porsche 911 GT3 race cars split into two classes, this series pits semi-professional drivers against each other in a championship series. Two races were held at CTMP and both had great back and forth battles throughout the entire field. The series is run in several countries around the world including in the US where it’s billed as IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohoma.
Although unusually nice weather was a helping factor, word has spread about the updated facilities here as a crowd of campers, spectators and racers the likes CTMP has not seen during a Trans-Am weekend in a long, long time was on hand to catch all the racing action. Now bring on the NASCAR Trucks!