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North of the border automotive retail giant Canadian Tire has announced a long-term partnership with Mosport International Raceway. The famed motor racing circuit located near Bowmanville, Ontario, east of Toronto, hosts the only Canadian round of the American Le Mans Series (shown above).
The deal, which will see the track renamed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, includes upgrading the current facilities with such additions as better spectactor stands, improved pit and garage areas for race teams, plus efforts to improve the overall race experience at the track for members of the public, corporate partners and race participants alike.
Upon news of the announcement, Myles Brandt, Mosport’s president and general manager declared, “we are thrilled to partner with Canadian Tire, an important supporter of Mosport and auto racing fans for many years. Together we’re building a world-class facility that will draw racing enthusiasts and grow our fanbase which continues to evolve year over year.”
Visitors to the track are expected to see improvements to the facilities as early as this May, during the annual Victoria Day SpeedFest weekend, which also marks the start of the NASCAR Canadian Tire series.
Meet Aaron Prevost, age 20. He’s a skilled mechanic who specializes in mainly European cars, and he’s been working on them since the tender age of 10. And yet he can’t drive a car—on account that he’s legally blind.
Prevost was born with a damaged optical nerve, and attends a school for the blind with his older brother, who has the same condition. As a mechanic, he’s fully aware of the difference between knowing how something works and feeling it firsthand. But only now does he get to experience the act of driving, something we tend to take for granted, at Mosport International Raceway behind the wheel of a new Porsche Boxster.
Rick Bye is Porsche Canada’s press fleet manager, and also an accomplished Porsche race driver who took the time to teach Prevost the basics of driving. “Aaron was a perfect student,” said Bye. After taking Prevost around for a few fast laps, Bye felt confident enough to hand Prevost the keys.
The difficulties that a learning racecar driver faces are undoubtedly exacerbated by the lack of sight. But Prevost manages to preserve the car, their lives, and his dignity by performing almost flawlessly—measuring the nuances of the track perfectly, telling Prevost exactly where to start turning and how much gas to give the Porsche. At the end of the day, the pit crew was just as astonished as the two, and Prevost finally gets a feel of what it’s like to drive the machines he works on.
He’s not just the “Mayor of Mosport” any more. Racing legend Ron Fellows is now the proud owner of his home track just outside Toronto, Canada.
Fellows, who has won at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans (4 times) along with businessman and car enthusiast Alan Boughton and real-estate developer Carlo Fidani have purchased Mosport International Raceway from the Panoz Motor Sport Group. The new entity the three partners created to complete the deal is called Canadian Motorsport Ventures Ltd.
In a statement, Canadian Motorsport Ventures Ltd. stated the goal is to, “build on Mosport’s storied history and respected reputation to create new and exciting opportunities for race fans, corporate partners and drivers on an international scale.” With a real-estate partner involved, one has to think Mosport may finally get a much needed spruce-up, adding the sort of country-club feel of tracks like Spring Mountain, Autobahn and Monticello, but at a more hard-core track.
“We want to thank the Panoz Motor Sports Group for making Mosport what it is today – a world class racing venue that hosts some of North America’s best road racing series and a place of inspiration for generations of racers in Canada,” said Alan Boughton, Managing Partner, Canadian Motorsport Ventures, Ltd. “We are excited to pour our racing passion and business expertise into Mosport and look forward to working together with local government and tourism authorities to take this historic race facility to the next level in delivering the best excitement and entertainment motor racing has to offer.”
Mosport International Raceway is Canada’s largest racing facility with a 3.96 km road course, 2.4 km driver development track, a 1.4 km karting track and a half-mile paved oval track. Once the home to Formula 1 events, each year Mosport plays host to its largest event, the The Grand Prix of Mosport, when the American Le Mans Series comes to town.
Having competed as a Corvette Racing factory driver for years, Fellows had a special edition Corvette named after him, which then spawned the Ron Fellows performance driving school held at Spring Mountain just outside Las Vegas. Canadian Motorsport Ventures has not confirmed as much, but the creation of a similar school at Mosport seems likely.
The Cadillac Racing Team used the grunt of its supercharged V8-powered CTS-V race cars to achieve some of the season’s best results over the weekend at Mosport International Raceway. And if you’re at all curious as to what its like to be behind the wheel of one of the big coupes, do we have a treat for you.
Ride shotgun for two laps of what Caddy hot shoe Johnny O’Connell calls one of North America’s “fastest and, probably, most dangerous race tracks.” O’Connell and team mate Andy Pilgrim even provide some commentary.
GALLERY: Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Race Car
Watch the video after the jump:
After a trying season, things are finally starting to turn around for Team Cadillac. Competing with a two car effort in the fifth and sixth rounds of the SCCA World Challenge series at Mosport International Raceway, Johnny O’Connell managed two podium finishes in his No. 3 CTS-V Coupe in front of a crowd that included General Motors North America President Mark Reuss.
In race one O’Connell moved from third on the grid to second on the start, then surrendering the position to the Corvette of Patrick Lindsey. O’Connell then took back second place when Lindsay encountered mechanical problems and then held on to second; the team’s best finish of the season.
In race two, O’Connell looked poised for a repeat but managed just a third place finish after a late race caution stopped him from hunting down Patrick Long in the No. 45 Privacy Star Porsche 911 GT3. Both races were won by Mike Skeen in the No. 2 CRP Racing/Cragar Wheels Chevrolet Corvette.
The No. 8 CTS-V of Andy Pilgrim placed fifth in both races of the weekend, helping Cadillac secure second in the manufacturer’s points race behind Porsche.
Rounds seven and eight of the World Challenge series take place August 5-7 at Mid Ohio.
GALLERY: Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Race Car
Several weeks back, while at Mosport International Raceway, we had the opportunity for a ride-along in one of the World Challenge race cars. The series provided a lineup of different models, including a race-prepped Acura TSX, a Dodge Viper and a Volvo S60. Under most circumstances, we’d choose the Viper – but not this time. You see, while the TSX runs in the mid-level GTS class, the Volvo is a serious track monster, competing in the top-level GT Class alongside the Viper and other high-powered machines.
The term “competing” is a bit misleading, however, with series veteran Randy Pobst driving the K-Pax Racing Volvo to victory two and a half seconds head of the Viper in race one of the weekend. Pobst then managed a second place finish in race number two, succumbing to the faultless skills of Ron Fellows, a man who’s won so many international championships for Corvette Racing that they named a car after him. Oh, and did we mention this is Fellows’ home track? They don’t call him the Mayor of Mosport for nothing.
And as excited to get a ride in the Volvo S60 as we were, the decision was made that much easier when we found out the Pobst himself would be driving.
Now at these sorts of ride-alongs the pace is usually set at 6/10ths or 7/10ths, as much for legal reasons as to not scare the participating journalists too much. Having met Randy before and with close ties with both the series and the K-Pax team we made a special request for an all-out hot lap on what is easily one of the world’s fastest race tracks.
Randy said he’d oblige.
GALLERY: K-Pax Volvo S60 Race Cars
As we reported earlier today, this weekend’s World Challenge action at Mosport International Raceway saw Corvette Racing legend Ron Fellows take the GT class win in the Cragar Wheels C6 Vette on Sunday, but that wasn’t the only glory claimed in the name of the General’s all-conquering sports car. Retired Director of GM’s Performance Division and SCCA Runoffs dominator John “The HeinRocket” Heinricy won both rounds of the Mosport double header in his GTS class Torvec/Phoenix/Hawk C5 Chevrolet Corvette.
After taking the Race 1 win over Tyler McQuarrie’s LPL Lotus Exige S and Peter Cunningham’s RealTime Racing Acura TSX, Heinricy started the second race from the same position (2nd) in the No. 35 Corvette. Passing polesitter Tyler McQuarrie up the long back straight, Heinricy fought hard in the first half of the race to hold the lead and then pulled away to a dominating win with a 14.201-second gap over McQuarrie’s Lotus.
“The biggest difference today was that Tyler [McQuarrie] got a really good start, and I couldn’t get a jump on he and Peter [Cunningham],” Heinricy said. “Then, it was a matter of staying close to him through the early laps. I knew if I stayed close I could get by him on the straight, and if I didn”t do that it was really going to be a tough race. I did get by there, and I kept watching my mirrors. Every time I got to Turn 5a, I looked in my mirrors and he was right there. He’d fade a little bit, and then catch back up, and I had to just keep pushing. I used up my car more than I did yesterday, so I was concerned about that. I had to keep it smooth, and try to maintain that gap. When he fell off, it was a relief.”
When asked about the new class system for World Challenge, Heinricy had this to say: “This GTS class is a great move for the series. The cars can be relatively inexpensive, because they’re already prepared for another series. I appreciate the change, and appreciate the opportunity to bring the Corvette out here and get to race with these guys.”
McQuarrie ran second early in the No. 19 Lotus, but dropped back to third behind Cunningham’s No. 43 RTR Acura when his car began to lose power. On lap 24, presumably after allowing the engine and tires to cool down a bit, McQuarrie worked his way past the five-time WC Champion for good to take the runner-up spot on the podium.
Cunningham’s third place finish extended his Championship lead over teammate Nick Esayian, who finished fourth in the No. 34 RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Cunningham holds a 67-point advantage over Esayian. McQuarrie is now third in the Championship, with 359 points. Acura maintains a commanding Manufacturers Championship in the GTS Category.
Ron Fellows may have retired from full-time racing duties with Corvette Racing and the American Le Mans Series, but he proved this weekend that he’s still the Mayor of Mosport in a Corvette.
The Mississauga, Ontario native and Corvette Racing legend has always been hard to beat around his home track, Mosport International Raceway, so it should come as no surprise that he claimed the top step on the podium during Sunday’s World Challenge event from behind the wheel of the Carlisle Companies/Cragar Wheels Chevrolet Corvette. The win didn’t come easy though, starting 2nd to Randy Pobst in the K-Pax Volvo S60 and having been passed off the start by Kuno Wittmer’s Dodge Viper.
Fellows quickly battled back against Wittmer, passing his fellow Canadian in Turn 10 before turning his sights on race leader Pobst. Running down the K-Pax Volvo, Fellows turned a record fastest race lap of 1:23.828 (105.602 mph), a feat that thrilled the hometown crowd. On lap 15, Fellows and Pobst went side-by-side down the front straight and through Turn 1, splitting the Touring Car Mazda RX-8 of Eric Meyer between Turns 1 and 2. Fellows managed to take the inside line for the downhill left hander and slowly pulled away from Pobst from that point on.
According to Fellows, ”I got a terrible start, but other than that it was just a matter of being patient. Even though I hadn’t raced here much lately, it comes back to you. To be honest, the slick conditions may have helped. I was hoping it stayed overcast, but our car is lighter than the Volvos and that was probably better. It was a lot of fun, and feels good.”
Having spent the day before at Laguna Seca for Corvette Racing’s 50th anniversary of racing at Le Mans, Fellows’ win at Mosport might not have happened if he’d missed his connecting flight from San Francisco to Toronto, having literally made the connection with 3 minutes to spare. As Fellows reported on his personal website, he was very pleased to have been able to race at Mosport on this historic weekend for Corvette Racing and because he hadn’t raced at his home track since 2007.
Pobst’s runner-up finish in the Volvo, combined with his Saturday race win at Mosport, extended his point lead to 47 over Wittmer and the Dodge Motorsports Viper (541 to 494), followed by Crescentini in the Centric Parts/Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 (420), Andy Pilgrim (383) and Daskalos in his Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper (379). Volvo also extended its point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship to seven (35 to 28) over Porsche. Dodge is third with 26.
Mosport International Raceway Plays Host to Traveling Porsche Experience
Photos: Stew Lawson
For the first time ever the traveling sportscar (and SUV) experience that is the Porsche World Roadshow has made its way to Canada. Held at Mosport International Raceway, just outside Toronto, the former Formula 1 facility played host to the vast majority of Porsche’s fleet of cars, with activities both on and off the track.
The Porsche event will be in Canada for several weeks, offering current and prospective Porsche owners a chance to truly appreciate the capabilities of these amazing machines. But before the event was officially opened, Porsche Canada invited us to bang gears, hit apexes and even go off-roading, to experience just what a Porsche can do.
In total, we had the chance to get behind the wheel and experience a Boxster S, Cayman S, 911 Carrera S, 911 Targa 4S, Cayenne, Cayenne GTS, oh… and a 911 Turbo. Other vehicles on-hand included several Cayenne S models, a Cayenne Turbo and a GT2 (which was strictly reserved for instructors to give hot laps in).
OFF-ROADING IN CAYENNES
First up during the busy day of activities was an off-road course, which was a genuine eye-opener. In just a standard Cayenne I drove through ditches, clawed my way up steep hills and climbed treacherous inclines – even dropping off small cliffs and getting the luxury SUV’s wheels up in the air at times.
Possibly even more amazing is how relaxed such an off-roading adventure can be in a luxurious Porsche cabin that doesn’t creak or squeak. Even the engine seemed relaxed, thanks in part to the low-range gearing that can be selected, a setting that also tells the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) to give maximum range to the active front anti-roll bar, allowing the wheels a greater range of movement.
The only real sounds detectable from inside the cabin are the differentials locking and the traction control ticking and clicking away, giving you maximum grip to get up a dirt slope you never dreamed a Porsche could.
The Cayenne, our instructor informed us (and we experienced), is capable of tremendous off-road feats, even though very few drivers will ever need or want such back-country credentials. Greater off-road capability is possible, however the Cayenne, being a Porsche, needs to sit somewhere in the middle to ensure the best possible on-road performance as well.
Normally a Cayenne has 215mm (8.46-inches) of ground clearance, while selecting the High Level I will give 241mm (9.49-inches) of clearance for speeds below 50 mph. A special High Level II, which we used, stretches the maximum ground clearance to 271mm (10.67-inches) and stays that way for speeds below 19 mph.
In the High Level II setting the Cayenne has an approach angle on gradients of 31.8 degrees and a departure angle of 25.4 degrees, with a ramp breakover angle of 24.7 degrees – all of which we used to their full extent.
OUT ON THE GRAND PRIX RACE TRACK
And so with mud covered SUVs we headed back to the main tent and exchanged our Cayenne keys for a set of sportscar starters. In groups of two we followed instructors out onto the Mosport Grand Prix track (officially the third fastest race track in the world), where we had the chance to toss around a Cayman S, Cayenne GTS and two 911s (a Carrera S and Targa 4S).
I felt the most at home in the Carrera S with the Targa 4S a close second. Both cars kept me pushing the instructor harder in his Boxster S, with the roadster’s smaller and less powerful 310hp 3.4-liter engine no match for the 385hp 3.8-liter engine in the 911s – especially on the back straight.
Having never had the opportunity to track drive a Cayman, I wasn’t as blown-away as I expected to be. There was nothing wrong with the car, as it delivered a well-balanced and neutral experience. I think I can chalk up my experiential discrepancy to the fact that unlike a lot of folks I’ve always felt at home in a 911, despite its rear-engine layout.
The final vehicle was a 405hp Cayenne GTS, which was certainly a surprise. It handled fabulously for a big SUV and I had no problem hanging with the Cayman driver in front of me. Body lean was incredibly minimal and the brakes were equally as good.
BOXSTER AUTOCROSS, 911 TURBO BRAKE TEST
The final two events of the day involved the Boxster S on a large autocross track and a 911 Turbo, which we used for a braking exercise.
The Boxster really is a fabulous vehicle for autocross and when combined with Porsche’s PDK double-clutch transmission (which automatically upshifts, taking one element of difficulty out of the equation) is incredibly easy to drive hard. Even when the body does pitch and roll (as evidenced by the photography) it never felt that way inside the cabin.
As for the braking exercise, it’s arguably a waste of the 911 Turbo’s acceleration talents, however, it proved an excellent way to get a feel for the Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes (PCCBs).
We did also get a chance to try out the Turbo’s torque converter that allows the car to build boost while sitting still for better off-the-line performance. Just place your left foot on the brake, with your right foot on the gas and watch (and hear) the boost build on the dash gauge. Once you’re at a suitable level (0.8 bar or 11.6 psi in our instance) just release the brake and hold on.
HOT LAPS… AKA REVENGE
As the day drew to an end, there was one final event left. Referred to as “Hot Laps” a more accurate name would be “Revenge,” as the instructors took willing journalists out for a full-speed romp on the Mosport track.
Unfortunately, with the huge number of journalists in attendance it wasn’t possible to get a ride in every vehicle. We all drew straws for our “hot laps” and unfortunately I didn’t draw the GT2. Instead I got the Carrera 4S and Cayenne Turbo.
First up was a Carrera 4S, which rocketed around the track with precision and poise. Next was the Cayenne.
As both the Cayenne off-roading experience the Cayenne GTS track drive proved to be the most surprising events of the day, I decided it wouldn’t be wise to pass up a tour around the track in a Cayenne Turbo. Boy was I right… this was no Sunday drive.
Along with two other writers I went for the ride of my life as our 26-year-old instructor manhandled the Porsche SUV with frightening vigor. Throwing the big truck around with the fearlessness of youth on his side, it wasn’t until we reached turn 8 at the end of the back straight that things got really hairy. After shaving off some speed, he flicked the steering wheel and sent us into a completely sideways drift, all four tires screaming for their lives as we defied gravity and never even came close to rolling over. Knowing full well that we were moving at a good clip, I chanced a glimpse at the German-spec speedometer and sure enough it read 160 km/h (100 mph)!
Porsche needs to work this into its marketing materials for the event. “The Porsche World Roadshow: 100 MPH… Sideways!”
AN EASY SELL
As I mentioned earlier, this was the first time the Porsche World Roadshow was held in Canada, and it’s not likely to be the last time either. Every aspect of the experience leaves participants with a specific impression of just how capable a Porsche is.
It’s hard not to think how successful this sort of event must be for securing vehicle sales. Who wouldn’t want to take this experience home with them?
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