Category Archives: Canada

NASCAR Trucks at CTMP Canadian Tire Motorsport Park debrief

For the second time this year I took my little red roadster on another thousand mile road trip north of the border to Ontario, Canada. Much like the trip in the beginning of the season for Victoria Day, Ontario was freezing cold. It didn’t help that I decided to camp… at least for the first few days where I got pretty well cold but with prospect of rain on the schedule I decided to ditch this camping thing and evacuate to Bowmanville where my CouchSurfing friend was kind enough to host me. Warm bed, hot shower, my fortunes turned around really quickly.

I had a hard time deciding whether to go to Watkins Glen for IndyCar or travel twice the distance to Mosport for NASCAR trucks and I’m glad I did… the series was all they were cracked up to be, although on a much lower scale… a budget version of the Monster Energy Cup and the Xfinity Series if you will. Nevertheless this event over Labour Day weekend is the biggest event Mosport gets right now… even though I’m sure IMSA feels bigger.

The Motorsport Marshaling Services club went above and beyond at making me feel welcome back… and so did all of the locals. I had fantastic station assignments. Some I haven’t worked in a while, like Turn 8… and some I never worked before like Turn 3 and Turn 1. Ironically I couldn’t even find my way to Turn 3 on the morning of that assignment because I didn’t realize it was on the other side of the track… I had worked 2A many times before and saw the marshals on our side of the track, but it was a surprise to me to discover the hard station across track and nicely elevated for a perfect view of that turn with all of it’s elevation changes.

We didn’t have many incidents to flag this weekend. The biggest being probably from the feature event… as the series direction refers to it… the Nissan Micra Cup. With the new suspension the cars were less prone to roll over, but they were still very prone to incidents. On Race Day in Turn 1 one had a tank slapper and smashed the wall losing a wheel in the process which continued onwards to Turn 2. I was on comms for that incidents and may have fumbled the call a little bit. It was neat to witness though.

My buddy from Montreal came over to marshal in pit lane. And several more people I worked with at Formula E were working directly for Canadian Touring Car Championship. So it was an awesome weekend to catch up with friends. The boss of CTCC even gave me a few series hats and a lanyard to take home as a souvenir. And for that I’m very grateful.

Would love to go back to Canada again for another event.

Post Card from the Labour Day Weekend at Mosport with NASCAR Trucks, Pinty’s Series, Micra Cup, Porsche GT3 Cup Canada and CTCC

Here’s a bunch of pix from my Labour Day weekend in Canada, volunteering for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the very first time… but also for the second time this year (after Victoria Day in the beginning of the season) working the Canadian NASCAR Pinty’s Series, Nissan Micra Cup, Canadian Touring Car Championship and the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Canada.

It was an excellent weekend… a bit chilly, well more than that, it was freaking cold. And then the rain came for race day so I evacuated Mosport to my CouchSurfing host in Bowmanville and my mood improved (with a few warm showers and a comfy bed).

Here’s some pix of the trip:

Always love seeing the Pinty’s Series, which is Canadian development NASCAR feeder series for the American version of cars and trucks…

Car with my favorite paint job… there was a similar truck too which unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of…

Glad I got to visit my friends at CTCC who were kind enough to give me some series swag like a couple of hats and a nice lanyard!

My favorite TCR car… the Euro Honda Civic Type R

Thanks to Hurrican Harvey gas prices in Canada jumped 30 cents a liter… down in the US it was more like 50 cents a gallon… ugh!

More soon…

Post Card from NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at CTMP in Canada

Mission accomplished! I volunteered for my first NASCAR Truck race… had to leave the US to do it, but what better place to volunteer a NASCAR event than at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park?

Funny enough last week during IMSA at VIR, Mosport came up during Radio Le Mans broadcast a few times… I remember hearing them talk about how similar the two tracks are, and I felt proud and lucky that I’m able to volunteer at both. The NASCAR trucks was a cool experience… the Pinty’s Series that supported it were great. I loved the Micra Cup race and the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada had a make up race from the huge crash at Watkins Glen earlier in the season, also ironically it was the crash that happened in my corner. I’m really happy to participate in all these interconnected events even though they are at different tracks with different series.

And unlike many other tracks, CTMP allowed me to actually access the NASCAR trucks paddock… and while I didn’t have time to go when a bunch of the trucks were out, the few pix that I did get made me quite happy…

Oooh… and we almost had a rain race thanks to Hurricane Harvey… stay tuned for more from Mosport!

NASCAR Camping World Trucks Spotter Guide for Labour Day Weekend at CTMP – Mosport

Since I haven’t done a NASCAR Camping World Trucks race yet, I’ve been doing some homework on what the liveries of these racetrucks look like… a spotter guide if you will, or as NASCAR calls them: paint schemes. Unfortunately nascar.com didn’t have them handy. So after some research online, and some weird links to ESPN’s Jayski web site and a random blog, I found a great source here:

http://nascarmockseason.weebly.com/2017-paint-schemes2.html

(to be perfectly honest this site’s spotter guide looks much better than the official ones that NASCAR had on their web site for the Monster Energy and Xfinity Series cars I posted about for WGI)

I’m pretty excited about watching these guys race this weekend. Last year’s event was nuts with crashes happening all the way down the front straight under the starter’s stand. Curious to see if there will be racing if the weather turns wet with what’s left of Hurricane Harvey making it’s way Northeast from Texas and the Gulf Coast. Pinty’s series were amazing in the rain last time I went to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for Victoria Day weekend, so hopefully this Labour Day lives up to all the hype… can’t wait!

Formula E Montréal e-Prix the debrief

It doesn’t happen often, but everything went right during the Formula E Montreal ePrix weekend. So I have nothing but praise to everyone involved in making this event a special one for me.

As I mentioned previously my friend Denis C. played a major role in helping me volunteer the event in the first place. I’m really grateful. The folks he introduced me to at GP3R were so super welcoming I was amazed with their warm hospitality. Thank you again to all involved.

I’m probably going to write too much about this so, I’ll try to focus on a few points I definitely should make. First and foremost, the event was better than the Formula 1 events I’ve done in the past. I don’t say that in a critical way to make myself uninvited from future F1 events, but instead to point out the good things any organization could do to promote participation in their events, and making marshals feel welcome so they are eager to come back.

As with the NYC ePrix event the communication about the venue and various organizational planning was excellent. There were frequent e-mails and information sharing via a closed social media format, and the information was super useful and necessary for all of us to arrive prepared and ready to do the work expected of us.

The organization was well prepared and fully staffed to tackle the issues that arose. They provided uniforms. Credentials. Lunches and drinks on a regular basis, that left nothing to be desired. It helped that the weather was perfect. There were no major incidents except for the Buemi crash that contributed to the excitement of the event. And there was plenty of downtime to explore the paddock and eVillage areas to satisfy even the most curious marshals with stuff to see and all the new technology. I really loved it!

My role for this event, like in NYC, was in pit lane. And that was an amazing location to be working. I felt super privileged and very lucky! We had action. We had lots of cars to look at. And it was awesome.

It seemed like the extent of our role was to whistle as the FIA requested in order to warn everyone, and I mean EVERYONE! about electric cars silently moving along the pit lane. But perhaps my favorite two stints were those of a lollipop boy working on the grid for the start of the two races. That was super cool!

I thought working at Start was as good as it gets, but maybe Pit Marshal is what I should focus all my efforts on for the future. It’s a bit more low key and the line of interested participants is not as long that desire to work this role. I like doing this job and Montreal was a major contributor to making that decision. I definitely want to do more Formula E events in the future too, and I’m hoping that maybe Hong Kong or Marrakech in Morocco may be in the cards.

Besides the Montreal ePrix next year, I need to find an opportunity to find a way to work the Grand Prix du Trois-Riviere’s in the future. The crew is fantastic and I want to be a part of it again!

Thanks so much for everyone that contributed to making my experience so excellent.

All-Electric Taxi’s of Quebec at the Formula E Montreal e-Prix

Bonjour Taxi Electrique!

One of the coolest things that jumped out at me during Formula-E Montreal ePrix was the visibility of the all-electric fleet of Tesla’s on the city streets… even at the airport as soon as I cleared customs I was greeted with an ad for a TESLA MODEL X taxi, and my mission for the next few days of the visit was to find one in the flesh… I did!

It took some effort, but I  spotted the BONJOUR labelled all-electric Kia Soul’s in service first… There were quite a few of them downtown and on the streets of Old Montreal.

Then there was a TESLA MODEL S in Old Montreal:

A few TOYOTA Hybrids from a competing company:

and finally… there was a TESLA MODEL X taxi on display in the eVillage of the event:

What’s so interesting and/or exciting about Tesla’s being used as Taxi’s? After all many countries have these cars being used in similar manner, I’m sure I shared a comment how the majority of taxi’s at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport wear the Tesla Model S badges…

What jumped out at me in Montreal, is how relevant the racing technology is to the future of our public transportation systems. And having a company put their Tesla Model X on display for the race fans to check out up close in personal would at the very least encourage people to rely on this form of public transport, and specifically encourage other companies to participate in an all-electric, emission-free future!

I think this display was absolutely brilliant!

And the same company had two Kia Soul’s race each other for a lap around the Formula E track during the downtime. That was both funny and cool to watch.

And then as I was leaving the event venue for the very last time, we walked past a Police station that had a Mitsubishi EV in their fleet:

The future is certainly electric… and this comes from a very enthusiastic Miata owner that relies on traditional forms of fuel.

Foodie Tour: Delicious Montreal Quebec Canada

Bonjour Delicious Montreal!

While it was not my first visit to this part of Canada, I’ve been to Montreal a bunch of times before… for F1 as well as “just because the flight was cheap” visiting for the very first time in the freezing cold of Quebec’s winter in January. This trip however gave me an amazing opportunity to check out some of the best the city has to offer in terms of delicious food. I got to try the poutine. I got to try the bagels, the smoked meat sandwiches and much more.

Some may laugh but for one of my Formula 1 trips I decided to bring a dozen bagels for my gracious host on CouchSurfing. I figured bagels is something New York has that’s unique… and not really replicated elsewhere. Well, little did I know, Montreal is famous for it’s own style of bagels. And on this trip I committed to try them out. Visiting both of the places that claim to be “the best!” (for scientific research purposes only, of course…)

Since I had three days of sightseeing before Formula E activities kicked in, the first order of business on Day 1 was to check out St. Viatur and Fairmont Bagels in the Jewish neighborhood of Montreal. I had bought an unlimited metro-card pass for three days, so it was easy to get around. I made a list of places I must visit, and checked them off one by one.

First stop: St. Viatur Bagels:

The atmosphere was no different than many deli’s in New York… however these guys sold bagels and all the add-on’s separately. If you want to schmear your bagel with some cream cheese you gotta do it yourself. Want locks, smoked salmon… buy your own separately. It’s all good. I ordered a sesame and a poppy bagel and ate them on my way to my second stop:

Second Stop: Fairmont Bagles

Yesterday’s bagels anyone?

Same scheme in this place. Small counter. Big line outside. Some benches to sit down and relax in the shade. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two sessame bagels. But they are certainly different from the New York style bagel…. not least the size… I think the Montreal bagel is significantly smaller and far more sweet than what we find here in New York/New Jersey. They’re like a snack more than a meal.

My favorite was a blueberry bagel which was bursting with flavor!

For lunch I went for poutine at Frits Alors! But it was not particularly good, so I’ll skip this step…

For dinner I joined my buddy Denis who gave me a tour of Old Montreal near to where he works. We ended up at the Old Port and luckily there were some food trucks bringing delicious restaurant food (restaurants that are spread around the city) to the masses at the very touristy part of town.

Here we sat down for a delicious sampler of poutine which was much better than Frits Alors! but still, in my opinion, not as great as the little food truck I go to in Ontario near Mosport… (that is sure to piss off some Quebecoise foodies).

Desert was a delicious few scoops of strawberry ice cream:

That I got all over my shirt lol

Walking back through Old Montreal you could see many restaurants of various caliber clearly targeting many tastes of tourists. One thing that popped out at me was a Thai Poutine place… WTF?

Next day I decided to do a Jewish deli for breakfast.

I took the Metro to Berri-UQAM central stop and walked the rest of the way passing many restaurants along… as well as a filming for a Formula E car on the streets of Downtown:

My destination was Schwartz’s Deli with their delicious serving of smoked meat for under $10 bux ($12 with tax in CAD)

This sandwich was super tasty… and once again I’m going to compare it to NYC food because just a few days earlier I visited Katz’s deli in Lower Manhattan with friends and ordered a similar pastrami sandwich… this was much cheaper though.

Walking to/from Schwartz’s you could see many eastern European storefronts selling different meats/foods. There was a Slovakian joint, a Polish place, a Hungarian one, and many others.

For lunch I decided to expand my tour of the island of Montreal and put my public transport pass to good use. So I took the train to the very northern tip of the island, and then another ten minutes on a bus to arrive at Dic Ann’s Hamburgers. I saw their food truck in Old Port / Old Montreal but wanted to check out the original:

The tiny hanburgers were very good… I ordered one, and then one more to sample this unique delicacy. And then visited Petro-Canada gas station on my way back to the bus stop for some Coke to help with digestion lol

Once I crossed the traditional dishes off my list, I ended up going to random places my friends from the Formula E event were in a mood for (typically during dinner). We spend a lot of time near the circuit, hanging out on Saint Catherine Street in Gay Village and going to places in that area.

The street is closed to vehicular traffic in the summer time and an excellent place to go for food and entertainment, though some of it was a bit out there. Go with an open mind!

One stop was Thai:

I had Massaman Curry which seemed to be way off, not spicy at all, but cheap and very filling at Bangkok Cuisine Restaurant.

Sticking with Asian theme we ended up at a Viatnamese place:

Here finally we found the clear spring rolls and a tasty bowl of Pho, which was just spicy enough and had a ton of sliced beef in it which was a great value for the money. The location was near to the Berri-UQAM stop on Boulevard de Maisonueve.

The food at the track was outstanding. The marshal organizers did an excellent job feeding the volunteers. I’ll write more about it in the Motorsport post, but will mention one little snack I enjoyed a lot, Bear Paws… soooo good!

Oh and I of course guzzled down many cups of Tim Horton’s french vanilla cappuccino’s along the way. Love that stuff!

Thanks for treating me so well Montreal… I will be back for more!

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Canada: Montréal, Québec

I failed once again to meet any local Miata owners in Québec on my visit to Canada for the Formula E events on the streets of Montréal. Can’t say I was surprised. After all I had failed to meet any Miata owners on my previous trips to Mosport, Ontario as well. Just like on the last trip to Bowmanville I also failed to see a Canadian-spec Miata at the local dealership in Montreal as well.

However, I was very much impressed with the Amount of Mazda dealers in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and there surely are plenty of Mazda’s on the streets of the city… they just aren’t the little Roadsters. So here are some pix from my experience.

The closest dealer with easy public transport system access was Mazda Gabriel St-Jacques… I took the Metro, walked over to where it should have been, didn’t see it and walked around the block lost between a highway and a hospital. But on the second pass I found it! Lots of construction on the streets of Montreal, the orange flowers (orange cones) are in full bloom this summer!

At first… no Miata’s to be seen on the lot!

Oh putain…

But that’s no different from the Mazda dealer I visited in Ontario. So I went in to have a chat with the staff and see if I can get a Canadian-spec Miata brochure at least… surprise! they didn’t have any. The receptionist managed to find a 2016 spec sheet, and sent me on my way. I also visited their parts department to inquire about the Canadian-spec window washer fluid bottle, which is a different design, and much bigger than the American-spec. They didn’t have any in stock… no surprise there. But they could order one for $137 bux… YIKES! However, a stripped down version without a motor (which could be transferred over from the original on the car) was only $66 CAD… phew!

The staff were super helpful it’s just a shame there wasn’t any Miata’s on the lot I could sit in and look around.

I remember reading a Miata.net post that complained: Do they want to sell cars or not? It appears if you want to buy a Miata in Canada it’s a long term process with possible multiple visits to the dealership, ordering and waiting for the car to arrive.

I was so focused on looking for a new ND on the lot that somehow I missed this colorful combination of used-Mazda’s a yellow RX-8 which is probably my favorite color for this rotary car and a red NB… How do you miss something so bright? Glad I spotted them on the way out of the dealership.

Initially I didn’t even see any Miata’s on the streets of Montreal… but then I was proven wrong Thursday night where I spotted half-a-dozen, mostly NB’s in all different colors roaming around downtown Montreal… I suspect they drove in from the suburbs to get a front row view of the fireworks that were scheduled to start after dark on that night. The next day I saw a beautiful NC3 PRHT in white with the top down that came up behind me and left too quick for me to snap a shot of it. Here’s a few Miata’s I did spot on the streets of Old Montreal:

Ironically there were far more Porsche’s on the streets of Montreal than Miata’s.

I even spotted a right-hand-drive Nissan Figaro… twice!

Anyway… while the Miata community of Quebec is very hard to spot, other Mazda’s are all over the place. Tons of CX-5’s and Mazda3’s roaming around. Even used for official city business:

The older Mazda’s make it seem obvious why people hide their precious Roadsters… the rust isn’t kind in this part of the world:

I suspect the salt use in the winter eats right through the metal.

Anyway, I had such a blast in Montreal for the Formula E event even though I completely failed to make any contact with the local Miata community… and I even researched several Quebec MX-5 Clubs and sent them facebook messages asking for help.

Maybe I’ll get more lucky in the future…

Merci Denis Castilloux et Équipe Course Sécurité / Puits E-Prix Montréal 2017 GP3R Organisation!

Merci, merci, merci beaucoup Denis!

This is a time I really wish I spoke enough French to express my gratitude to my friend Denis Castilloux for an excellent time at this weekend’s Formula E Motreal ePrix! Not only did Denis go out of his way to make me feel welcome, the entire team from GP3R and the local Quebec marshals made me feel part of their family and I appreciate that very much. Merci a tous!

I had the pleasure of working with Denis at the New York City ePrix just a few weeks before we met again on the Canadian soil. Although we’ve known each other for a bit longer through various projects on the Internet including my very own #MarshalCam to which Denis generously contributed with an interview at last week’s event:

So I’m super thrilled to have had this opportunity. I can say with certainty that this visit to Montreal was way better than any of my previous trips up there before. Things went very smoothly, and perfectly. I had only positive experiences and I’m happy to share them with the world.

Denis was also kind enough to introduce me to his colleagues at GP3R, the organizing body behind the marshals at Formula E Montreal ePrix and they all made me feel absolutely welcome, which makes such a huge difference when travelling to volunteer for events. Even though I spoke no French everyone I came in contact with was super friendly and went out of their way to make sure we understood each other, which was awesome. In fact I feel quite guilty that I didn’t do my part and study up a little bit more to at least try and speak in the local language. So Franklish had to do… But it’s certainly on my to-do list. And I definitely want to volunteer for the amazing Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in the future as well.

So, Merci a tous! Merci beaucoup… A plus tard!

Post Card from the FIA Montréal e-Prix

Bonjour a tous!

If I had any doubt before about Formula E being my new favorite series, I can say for sure it rocks! and my participation at the Montréal e-Prix this weekend cemented that feeling!

Here’s the mega gallery of pix from this weekend:

Walked into a TV shoot on the streets of Montreal on my way to lunch… for whatever reason Team Jaguar took charge of promoting FE to Quebec

Registration with the GP3R folks running the show…

Friday at the track… first sight of cars

Saw a promo at the airport for these all-electric Taxi-cabs, featuring a Model Tesla X, so for the next few days my mission to spot one!

Office for the weekend in Pit Lane

I had the privilege of working the pits of Mitch Evans, a kiwi I got a chance to watch race in New Zealand where this young kiwi is from in the Toyota Racing Series during the New Zealand Grand Prix

The GP3R folks came out in force, and it looked like no expense was spared, they were well staffed, perfectly organized, and took good care of us Benevole’s

So not only is a large number of former Formula 1 drivers represent the current Formula E grid, many of the team staff come from F1, like this fella from Marrusia… remember them? Da, da!

Following many of the European FIA rules, our Pit Lane staff was fully decked out in brand new overalls.

I have to say working in Pit Lane is my new favorite spot! Constantly in front of cars, always something happening, I love it! So different than being on a flag point somewhere, bored out of your mind.

The backdrop of the Montreal, Ville-Marie was just gorgeous. Formula E got it so right holding the races downtown, instead of having people come to the race track, they bring the race track to the people. Love it!

The government of Montreal dumped a ton of money into this event, which of course resulted in some sour grapes from the locals, but I think everyone would agree they got their money’s worth!

First briefing with the FIA big boss about the safety features of the Formula E cars… love the fact he did the demo with an actual car!

The FE cars are all spec-SPARK cars with similar cues to an IndyCar made by Dallara, but more tastefully done, so that the front wing and rear bumpers don’t look so obnoxious.

Huge props to the GP3R organizers for getting the lunches soooo right, they were super tasty! Major thanks for that!

So unlike NYC, the garages/paddock was in a separate location. And part of me wishes they used this as pit lane, but the way they had it set up was perfect! The long pit lane proved to be an active spot for incidents of all sorts I got a chance to report.

The locals were quick to point out this fella did a great job taking pix of the marshals and posting them on his photography web site. Wish more media people would do that.

But until that happens we’ll be taking our own pix, and I have to say there was lots of great views to pose with. The temporary circuit was in a beautiful spot. I enjoyed being there.

Oh and quite a few anniversaries were happening this year… 150th anniversary of Canada, 375th of Montreal… there were fireworks several days over the bridge leading to Ile Notre Dame where Circuit Gilles Villenueve resides (that hosts Formula 1) but I was way too tired to actually watch them… could definitely hear them from my bed at the AirBnB I rented.

And there it is, I finally spotted the Tesla Model X taxi cab:

Didn’t realize this before but apparently Formula E has mascots… meet AC and DC

As if being in pit lane wasn’t close enough to the action, I think the highlight of the event for me was working the lollipop at the grid.

Another delicious lunch on race day…

Let’s Race!

While I’m sure all cities that host Formula E have some sort of electric car infrastructure, I’m looking forward to the day when the series races at it’s full potential… with remote recharging along bus lanes, etc… it’s nice to see this new technology being adapted.

More to come in my debrief later… stay tuned!