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.
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!
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!
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:
(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!
Victoria Day Speedfest was my first International event volunteering this year. As such I was really looking forward to the experience and the racing didn’t disappoint. It certainly helped too that everyone was super friendly and welcoming and I took this opportunity to sign up with the local club MMS to finally become one of their members. Motorsport Marshalling Services is a CASC-OR member. Canadian Automobile Sports Car Association – Ontario Region is an FIA accredited ASN. My plan is not to renew my SCCA membership next year and rely solely on the CASM membership to volunteer future international events. We’ll see how that goes.
So having done this event before meant I knew what to expect and took advantage of most of the opportunities which presented themselves. First I took lots of pictures on arrival on Thursday so that I don’t get in trouble (or even the urge) to take any pictures the rest of the weekend.
I had my usual run to get some delicious poutine, and I was set for whatever came my way over the course of the weekend.
Every morning I would stop at Tim Horton’s to get a box of Timbits (Munchkins for those that prefer Dunkin Donuts) two XL French Vanilla Cappuccino’s and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.
The Timbits of course were a big hit with the local marshals, as expected. I was happy to share. Right around 3pm though I really needed a Timbit or two for a sugar rush, otherwise I’d get tired.
I CouchSurfed on this trip, so every evening I would rush back to Bowmanville to have dinner with my host… and what a dinner it was:
They spoiled me rotten with amazing home cooked meals, yumm!
The morning meetings were clearly communicated in advance. Details of the day’s events were laid out concisely and precisely. It was fun and every day a new station was assigned.
Day 1: Turn 2A
We were short so I was rotating on Yellow/Green flag. Good thing I wasn’t on Blue flag because we had a massive impact with a roll over right in the area where the Blue flagger normally stands. That would have turned ugly real quickly. That was also the first of two massive roll-overs of my weekend.
Day 2: Turn 9
This time I was on Blue flag working closely with the mirror station for Yellow/Green flags. This time we were a little less lucky as two Micra Cup Nissan’s smashed into the tire wall at our feet basically sending a ton of debris our way as they rolled. It was nuts!
I walked along the spectator fence to use a porta-potty near Turn 8 and the Canadian fans were a jovial bunch. Until someone caught some debris from our rolling car. I assume a drunk person started screaming for help when rescue services arrived by the rolled car. Weird people would do that instead of reaching out to the medical services available for spectators. I guess there ought to be more education available for spectators about what to do in case of injury without heckling the track services on a hot track.
Day 3, Race Day, Turn 6
Turn 6 isn’t really a Turn, it’s a straight away with elevation change preventing Station 5C from seeing Station 7. It is a fantastic role for a Blue Flagger because the cars go their fastest on this part of the back stretch. Unfortunately someone from Race Control wasn’t happy with us standing next to the catch fencing and instructed us to go behind it… which predictably completely obscured our view of the track. I wish the people at Race Control would come out and work a race or two behind the catch fence and see how much they value their life after that. I would much rather see an incident coming and make moves in reaction to that. Rather than stand behind obstructive barriers that block you from seeing approaching danger and wouldn’t help all that much in case a crash occurs and sends small debris and hot fluids through the fence into you by complete surprise (because you can’t see the fucking crash coming). It just makes me angry when people make decisions that affect your personal safety (negatively I might add).
But enough about that… I joined the MMS… it only cost $10 bux for the membership, so I spend another $10 to invest in some warm clothing for the cold weather… a toque:
Hopefully this membership works well overseas!
Happy Anniversary Canada!
Hopefully I can come back this year again for the Labor Day weekend… to work the NASCAR Trucks around a proper circuit.
The best part about arriving to a race track on Thursday is your ability to see all the teams unload, unpack and participate in the unofficial test day… which means you can take lots of pictures!
I certainly did just that!
My favorite were the PWC cars of course, but also the Canadian CTCC touring cars… especially stuff we don’t get in the US like the Euro-Spec Honda Civic Type R… enjoy the pix:
The field of Porsche’s was significantly smaller than I remember it from previous years. There was also a majority of Platinum class cars, with only a handful of Gold class… but the racing was relatively clean with minimal incidents.
Many of these GT3 Cup Canada cars also run in the US version of the GT3 Cup North America, and they are extremely competitive winning some of the races I’ve been to at Watkins Glen and Sebring.
The GT3 Cup series sponsor Petro-Canada Ultra 94 has an interesting story. It was a Sunoco branded fuel until Petro-Canada took over keeping the Ultra 94 top tier which in the US was discontinued and reverted back to Ultra 93 (some claims were made that were not met). I use Ultra 94 in my Miata while in Canada (along with Ultra 93 from Sunoco in the US) and can’t complain about it’s performance at all. Good fuel!
The new Bimmer 235M completely dominate the TC class in PWC
Team M&S started out with this Canadian-spec Civic Si but switched to the Euro-spec Civic Type R for the final day of the weekend (running number 66)
And there’s the Euro-spec Civic Type R run by a team of brothers that run different flags of convenience… some race with a Canadian flag on the side window, others with the flag of Hong Kong
A bit sad with this feature PWC series. Ever since Sprint X was introduced they reduced running the normal GT class stand alone. And with the weather on Sunday at Mosport the race was cancelled.
Started mid pack and finished on the podium for the first race!
This year’s Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was a blast!
I had such a tremendously great time I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the people that make the event possible.
There were some hiccups, as there always are, but things worked out perfectly. I was in good spirits from day 1, although it was hard to overcome my displeasure with the state of the roads in Michigan. Many of the highways and roadways in suburban Detroit suffer from incredible neglect and my Miata was the wrong vehicle to navigate these streets. Specifically Interstate 75, Chrysler Freeway and parts of Ford Freeway (Interstate 94) had such big pot holes I’m surprised I didn’t suffer a blowout. My GPS didn’t help me either, sending me along Mound Road or Metro Parkway (Metropolitan Pkwy) which had pot holes so big they had their own pot holes within them, it was so rough I cringed every time I found myself falling into one. And with the car being so low most of the time I couldn’t see it coming until I was in it…. So with that off my chest, to the positive.
Or at least sort of positive. My GP experience I found out, is what I make it… and on the first day of the event I found out I was flagging at Turn 11 which is along the Detroit River on the back straight just past a few sharp turns from Turn 7, 8, 9 and 10. Turn 11 was spectacular both with the views of Canada across the river, Windsor Ontario hustle and bustle can be seen and heard quite easily. But also because once the cars come out of the turn they come so close to the concrete barrier which we flag from, sometimes they brush up against it. Often times I had to yank my Blue flag back after displaying it because it was possible for the cars to rip it out of my hands and take it along for the ride… the rush was incredible!
Yet… Turn 11 has the identical views I’ve seen before from Turn 7 which I worked the last time I went to Detroit Grand Prix in 2013. And that bummed me out…. I was hoping to experience something new, something unique… even if it wasn’t the best view I wanted for it to be different…. so after contemplating whether or not I’d be a pain-in-the-ass for asking, I reached out to my corner captain and asked if I could be switched. He told me “NO”, the assignments were set in stone… Hmm. I asked a few more people on the ride back to the dinner tent after the day’s events were finished, and they said if I feel it is a legitimate reason I should go ahead and make the request, but it would be better if I present the Flag Chief with a solution, otherwise find someone from a different station to switch with me.
While I knew some people at the event, I didn’t know enough to have this conversation about switching so I went straight to the Flag Chief. I presented him with my dilemma and suggested that he could even put me on a “Shitty” station but my goal is to have a different view. He kind of “whoah’ed!” at my “Shitty” comment, as if there’s no such thing at the track and all stations are “good” but then after some thought told me he’d take care of it. I told him no pressure with the decision, I’m quite impressed with the views of Turn 11 and I had a great time working with all the people on there, but honestly I’d prefer a different view, and left it at that.
During dinner the flag chief asked one of the corner captains if he wouldn’t mind trading people, he agreed… and I found out I’m going to work Turn 1 for the rest of the weekend… Holly Fucking Batman! Turn 1!!!! WHOA… that was very surprising and not at all expected.
I couldn’t wait to come back Saturday and Sunday because I knew Turn 1 would be awesome… the switch totally made my day!
The team on Turn 1 welcomed me even if they probably thought I was a jerk for even requesting this move. I can’t say I was terribly concerned what other people thought, I noticed that as long as I look out for my own interest, I have a great time. But we all had an amazing time working together. I tried to share with the team what I learned working a few IndyCar, IMSA and Trans Am events this year… possibly even too much info. But I thought it was helpful. We had a great rotation, I got to do what I wanted. I even said it would be a nice thing to have an incident at Turn 1 so we could all learn from it, and sure enough we had quite a tangle on the very first lap of the IndyCar race on Sunday. Nobody got hurt except some pride maybe, but we learned a lot… Especially from our Holmatro Safety Team crew that scolded us for blocking their exit with the truck. Sadly, their exit coincided with our escape route in case an incident such as this happened. So no matter how much they think they’re doing Godly work with their God-like attitude towards the volunteers who stand between a moving concrete barrier and the swing of their open door as they rush out to the scene. I wouldn’t have changed anything about the way we reacted to the multi-car crash that moved our station a few inches in making the truck exit hole even smaller.
Post race we had a great photo op with the cars that couldn’t continue:
The views from Turn 1 were pretty awesome, we could see almost everything that went on in that part of Pit Lane, including penalties and all vehicles exiting onto the track. Prior to the IndyCar incident we had a few scuffles and spins in Trans Am, while IMSA was pretty well behaved and civil through our corner.
Every night Detroit SCCA Region treated us to a tasty dinner, which was so appreciated!
The food was excellent, from sign-on/registration throughout the event… I especially like the Thursday night welcome party at Sindbads, for all the bad things being said about Detroit, this was an excellent view of what Detroit is really like, and that there are multiple experiences to be had in the D, not just bad ones like people assume every time. Sindbads is great!
Believe it or not, this is Detroit!
The other thing I’m a big fan of is the Michigan State Police cars with their traditional light bubble and the stop sign on the hood… What in the world is that still all about?
Anyway I had such a great time I can’t wait to return again and again! I will marshal another Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix if I have the money to do it. Next time I’ll rent a car though!
Fantastic, absolutely fantastic weekend spent in Canada over the Victoria Day weekend flagging for some local NASCAR, touring car and SCCA Pro World Challenge series… what a hoot, eh?
It’s been three years since the last time I went to volunteer in Canada, the last time I did a double header working Toronto Indy followed by American Le Mans Series (hey remember ALMS? ) 🙂 back-to-back. That was 2013 and somehow the closest International destination to marshal fell off my radar, until now. I picked a relatively small pro weekend but full of excitement and variety. Variety because there was a lot of interesting stuff on track… from NASCAR stock cars, to local CTCC – Canadian Touring Car series, and my favorite Pirelli World Challenge with all groups on track including PWC GT/GTA/GT Cup, PWC GTS, PWC TC/TCA/TCB and a brand new class PWC Sprint X featuring a mix of GT/GTA/GTS cars… amazing!
In a typical CTMP fashion every day I was assigned a new station to work… I got to check out Turn 6 which is more of an uphill straight along the back straight… Turn 10 which is the last turn before Start/Finish and Turn 5 which is a very dramatic double apex hair pin with elevation changes… pretty awesome. I requested to Blue Flag the PWC series since I knew that IF I didn’t ask, they’d appoint another Blue Flag specialist and I’ll be stuck on Yellow Flag for the weekend, as that’s the way they do things in Mosport. Luckily my blue flag request was honored and I blue flagged like crazy. I even got to use the blue flag for NASCAR Pinty’s series which means a completely different thing… for them Blue Flag is local caution while Yellow Flag is full course caution. I volunteered to work on flags for the NASCAR sessions even though it was meant to be my time off, and I feel like I got my money’s worth.
This time around I stayed with a fellow marshal in Bowmanville… he’s a Canadian legend in the marshaling world having been born into Motorsport and marshaling for a very long and impressive career. I really enjoyed my stay!
The food was amazing as usual. I couldn’t wait to try new things as much as I wanted to try things I’ve had before just to stick to the local diet. I had poutine a few times. I had fish & chips. I even went to Timmy’s for some Timbits!
But for me this whole weekend was about cars, and I got plenty of action to enjoy… What a great time! I can’t wait to go back again.
While working at 10 and having pit entry in my direct line of sight I spotted someone with an SRO shirt moonlighting before the start of one of the PWC races… it was Stefan Ratel from Belgium. I’m really impressed with this guy, someone I’ve now seen in COTA and I think at Barber Motorsports Park too… I cannot wait to see what becomes of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The new race of Sprint X which combined some of the GT/GTA cars with GTS was brilliant. I want to see more stuff like that taking place in the US!
Question: “Is Mazda MX-5 Miata a good Road Trip car?”
Answer: Yes, absolutely!
I keep asking myself this question and always come up with the same enthusiastic answer… Yes! My MX-5 Miata is a great Road Trip vehicle and I’ve proven it once again on my latest 1,123 mile drive up to CTMP in Clarington, Ontario.
The distance from my home to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is roughly 500 miles each way. I spend my nights in Bowmanville, which is closer to Lake Ontario and the 401 highway, some 17 miles south of the track, so that accumulated a few miles. Along the way I got awesome fuel mileage and generally enjoyed the drive… the only thing that really made me curse outloud were the massive pot holes I found myself diving into every now and again, as roads in both US and Canada were pretty awful.
This trip was my first International drive in my own Miata… while I’ve done other International MX-5 events all around the world including Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia) and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) this was the first time I was able to make a direct comparison with my car using different fuels… in US I was experimenting with Speedway gas while in Canada I tried both Shell 91 and Petro-Canada Ultra 94. What I found out is that Ultra 94 gave me a better fuel mileage than all the other fuel I used! That said, Speedway didn’t disappoint either and I got better fuel mileage than I normally get using BP fuel.
Since the Miata get together I was planning to have didn’t materialize, I focused on my other passion: food. And when it comes to Canada few things are more uniquely Canadian then Poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds). While I admit that I was in the wrong province for this dish, they are native to Quebec where they don’t even celebrate Victoria Day over this weekend. Poutine is delicious and the best I found is served out of a little food truck just a few miles up the road from CTMP on Durham Road 20 intersection with Route 35. Located conveniently at Race Trac gas station. The food is excellent, the portions are huge and the price is right… I managed to sneak out of the track during lunch on Saturday while working at Turn 10 to pick up their XL portion of this wonderful goodness… it was excellent!
At the track they fed is well also… including this excellent dinner on Saturday night with pulled pork, cross bun and cake!
I’ve had a few more delicious foodie experiences on this trip, both home cooked and at various restaurants. Probably the most delicious was a BBQ dinner at my CouchSurfing host’s house whom I’ve stayed with for a few times in the past but we weren’t sure if she’ll be around this time so I made plans to stay with a fellow marshal Craig. Nonetheless I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to go visit her after the last day of racing once I learned she was around, and the meal was fantastic…. we joked that everything on the menu was Canadian, and because it was home made, it was sooo good! The following day Craig and I went out for some Fish & Chips which I was craving. Halibut House was the only place open on Victoria Day and they didn’t disappoint.
On the drive home I made it a point to visit Tim Horton’s… I realize the chain of stores now extends to New York (I made another stop in New York State as I felt I was falling asleep on my drive) but I had to visit the original place in Canada, and the French Vanilla drink they offer is incredible, it’s like sucking on a tit, sooo amazing!
Timbits at Timmy’s!
The border crossings both into Canada and back to the US were incredibly quick and painless and I’m very pleased with the folks that work at 1000 Islands crossing because they do a fantastic job. They were pleasant and courteous and I appreciate that kind of treatment. I found that roads in Canada were far smoother than ours in the US, especially at bridge joints on the highways, in Canada they were nice and smooth while in the US there’s a definite jolt every time you drive over them… I had to check tire pressures when I got home to make sure they still had enough air in them, because there were so many pot holes I hit on my drive. I’m cringing about the drive to Detroit in a few weeks, as Detroit and Michigan in general is the capital of pot holes in the US.
I like how the traffic signage in Canada gives you the penalties for speeding… there was another sign that said 40km/h over the limit and you get an instant license suspension and vehicle impound! They do not joke around, though I was the slowest car on the highway, everybody was speeding around me!
I’ll talk about my fuel mileage in greater detail in another post as I will also talk about the debrief from Vic Day at CTMP… as for this ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE MILE trip, I am delighted to report that it went super well!
Another most excellent weekend in the books… Lots of racing action, good passes and spectacular crashes that I got to wave some flags for. Since this wasn’t my first time to CTMP I knew what to expect and capitalized on the opportunities that presented themselves… I’ll do a more detailed debrief later, but for now some photos:
Apparently Pinty’s Series is the Canadian version of NASCAR which was at some point in the past called…. CASCAR 🙂
I got to work three different stations over the three day weekend, blue flagging from each point at Turn 6 (which is actually a big uphill climb on the back stretch), Turn 10 (which is the very last turn before Start/Finish) and Turn 5 (which is a double-apex hairpin). Besides blue flagging the SCCA Pro series including PWC GT/GTA/GT Cup class, GTS class, Sprint X class which included GT/GTA/GTS, and the TC/TCA/TCB class; and the local Canadian Touring Car Chamipionship CTCC; I got to blue flag NASCAR Pinty’s Series which is the Canadian division of NASCAR and requires similar flagging as we do in Watkins Glen where blue flag means local caution (where for every other series we would display a yellow) and yellow flag means full course caution.
Canadian ingenuity? creativity?
Turn 10, with Petro-Canada Ultra 94 ad tempting me to refuel there.
Flag stand at Turn 6 on the back straight.
Turn 6 is also the Black flag station we got to throw a few Meatballs.
The stations layout at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Logo looks familiar? Nope, that’s not SCCA.
From Turn 6 looking towards Turn 7.
Can’t wait to go back to Canada for another event at Mosport!