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Victoria Day Speedfest the debrief

WOW! What a fantastic weekend!

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.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Cup Cars Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport

All of these cars you have already seen before on this blog… a few weeks ago at VIR, but now Canadian Tire Motorsports Park is in the background and since I left home at the crack of dawn to make sure I can’t them on the track for their Thursday test session, I’m going to share the pix separately from the general Paddock post card I wrote about in another blog post… so here it goes, lots and lots of Miata pix

Only a handful of teams ran the MX-5 cup car in the Pirelli World Challenge TC and TCA class. The TC cars of the past were NC Miata’s running a 2.5L engine and a big wing, which didn’t come standard on the car. The TCA class ran a standard 2.0L and a Mazdaspeed lip spoiler which carried over from the Playboy MX-5 Cup of the past. The cars literally came from Playboy Miata Cup once NC cars were phased out for ND Miatas. Now this year is a transition year as ND MX-5 Cup cars are eligible to run PWC. Unlike last week at VIRginia International Raceway, all the cars had their hard tops in place, and some teams like SAC above even wrapped them to match the livery. The SAC example above is especially interesting as they did the same thing at VIR, running both the NC and ND #74 car with identical liveries, transferring their knowledge gathered from data from one car to the other. Very cool!

Crunch….

Same same… but different!

The reflective wrap on this Winding Road car always makes my phone camera go haywire…

I have to say that the new ND lid looks so much better than NC lid.

Skittles!

The new Mazda CX-5 posing in the Victory Circle

Spectating from Turn 2

Parking near my station at Turn 9

Notice the Sunoco Race Gas Pump near Ultra 94 Petro-Canada pump

Fin

Post Card from the Victoria Day Speedfest paddock at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

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!

more to come soon…

Post Card from the Nissan Micra Cup at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during Victoria Day Speedfest

I survived my first Nissan Micra Cup at CTMP this weekend!

What is the Micra, you may ask?

It’s only the coolest race series in North America at present… so cool they are almost guaranteed to roll while crashing into your station, and I had two of them launch my way spraying the whole team with debris and a cloud of dust.

In many ways this series reminds me of the very similarly arranged Suzuki Swift Cup in New Zealand. It was extremely popular and good fun to watch because those cars, very similarly, had a tendency to roll whenever something happened. They were built like tanks, bounced off each other and various barriers around the track, and buzzed along to slow but hard earned victory. The Micra is a similar beast and for me that was basically the feature race of the weekend.

I was a little surprised to learn that they no longer sell Micra’s in the US… but the model racing in Canada, as new as it looks is actually at least three years old… that was the 2014 fourth generation model according to wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Micra

The field started out with around 30 cars on Thursday, when I arrived at the track to register for the event and take some pictures… but the time the weekend progressed a significant amount of cars dropped off the list. With many of them being written off completely. There were several roll overs each day. The two that hit us at Station 9 on Saturday were especially crazy! But I’ll wait for the video of the incident to come out in a couple of months to share the story…. hopefully there is some good footage of what happened.

For now here’s some pix from the paddock:

According to the locals this is a very French Canadian endeavor with most of the teams and drivers coming from Quebec (many of the races take place in the French speaking province since they have so many circuits)… there’s of course the Nissan-Renault tie up, and similar series exist in Europe like the Renault Clio Cup (off the top of my head)…

I thoroughly enjoyed this event. Despite getting way too close for comfort with a couple of out of control cars.

Can’t wait to do another one… maybe at Circuit Mont-Tremblant, QC or Circuit Trois-Rivières, QC

Victoria Day Speedfest at CTMP: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Featuring NASCAR Pinty’s Series and SCCA Pro Pirelli World Challenge debrief

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!

ctmp victoria day speedfest chevy safety team

ctmp victoria day speedfest chevy official vehicle

ctmp victoria day speedfest audi r8 lms sprint x

ctmp victoria day speedfest audi r8 lms

ctmp victoria day speedfest bmw z4 gta

ctmp victoria day speedfest bmw z4

ctmp victoria day speedfest ferrari 458

ctmp victoria day speedfest gainsco mclaren red dragon

ctmp victoria day speedfest mclaren red dragon

ctmp victoria day speedfest dodge pinty's series nascar

ctmp victoria day speedfest nascar pinty's

ctmp victoria day speedfest nascar pinty's series dodge challenger

ctmp victoria day speedfest gmg porsches

ctmp victoria day speedfest porsche 911 r gmg pwc gt

ctmp victoria day speedfest porsche 911 r gmg pwc

ctmp victoria day speedfest sin r1 gt4 side scoops

ctmp victoria day speedfest sin r1 gt4 sprint x

ctmp victoria day speedfest sin r1 gt4

ctmp victoria day speedfest trg-amr aston-martin gts

Au revoir Canada… until next time!

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ Mile International Road Trip to Ontario, Canada

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.

mazda mx-5 miata 1000 mile road trip new jersey to ontario canada via 1000 islands

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.

poutine at canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario from chip truck at race trac gas station

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!

poutine at canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario from chip truck at race trac gas station 3

At the track they fed is well also… including this excellent dinner on Saturday night with pulled pork, cross bun and cake!

marshal dinner at ctmp canadian tire motorsports park for victoria day weekend

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.

fish and chips at halibut house in bowmanville clarington ontario canada

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 tim hortons in ontario canada

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.

construction zone in ontario canada near 1000 islands crossing to usa

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!

speeding fines in ontario canada

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!

Can’t wait to the next one.

Post Card from Mosport: Victoria Day Speedfest at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Howdy from Canada, eh?

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:

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 16

Apparently Pinty’s Series is the Canadian version of NASCAR which was at some point in the past called…. CASCAR 🙂

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 11

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 10

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 10

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 9

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 8

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 7

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip to ctmp canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario 6

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 tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 12

Canadian ingenuity? creativity?

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 9

Turn 10, with Petro-Canada Ultra 94 ad tempting me to refuel there.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 8

Flag stand at Turn 6 on the back straight.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 7

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 6

Turn 6 is also the Black flag station we got to throw a few Meatballs.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 4

The stations layout at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 5

Logo looks familiar? Nope, that’s not SCCA.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 3

From Turn 6 looking towards Turn 7.

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 2

canadian tire motorsport park victoria day weekend nascar pinty's scca pro pirelli world challenge ctcc 1

Can’t wait to go back to Canada for another event at Mosport!