Story and photo By Vickie Miller
In the past, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) has visited Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), with 2014 being the first visit for many drivers and the ex-GrandAm series. After the first practice session, I spoke with many of the drivers and found 10% classified the track as â€œOkâ€, commenting that with the traffic and fast corners the race would be interesting; 75% really â€œlikedâ€ the track, and 15% â€œLOVING ITâ€!!
The Continental Tire (CT) race was incredible and action packed. If you go to the track only for Tudor, you are doing yourself an injustice. I have said it before, â€œsupport seriesâ€ races deserve more recognition.
While from the drop of the green flag the race was exciting, the last few laps between Eric Foss, Andrew Carbonell, and Remo Ruscitti was worth the price of admission. Where else can you see a Porsche Cayman, BMW 328i, and a Mazda MX-5 battle down to the checkered flag at a great track under sunny skies, eh?
Years ago, a TV commercial campaign asked winning football players, â€œYou just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do now?â€ and the classic response was, â€œGo to Disney World!â€ Well, if you asked driver Remo Ruscitti, â€œYou just won the CT race, what are you going to do now?â€ He would say, â€œGo win two more races in a car Iâ€™ve never driven in before!â€ Iâ€™m betting the Porsche GT3 teams were checking the entry list for Remoâ€™s name!
In my Watkins Glen recap, I featured Adam Isman and Remo Ruscitti. On Saturday, the 04 Porsche started in the back due to changing to new tires. This team struggled through two previous heartbreak races to find the podium and win! With little time for celebration, Remo hopped in the 8Star Prototype Lites car and returned to the top step of Victory Lane. Just to make things a little more challenging, on Sunday in the pouring rain, Remo won again in the 8Star car! Hmmmâ€¦. So which drivers want me to do a feature on them next? Can I pick talent, or what?
Just when leaving my hotel parking lot on Sunday, the dark cloudy skies started with the pouring rain. By the time I got to the track it was just a drizzle, but the skies were just toying with the race fans. For the morning TUDOR practice and the races of Porsche GT3, Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo and Prototype Lites, the rains continued off and on. But as mysteriously as to why Memo Rojas wrecked on a recon lap, the skies cleared, the sun shone, the birds sang and the fans came out for a great fan walk (where I met two Facebook friends!) and race day. While many teams did their best at a rain dance (Falken tires are better in the rain) the race was dry and full course yellow caution free.
The race was amazing and I was concerned to read so many comments on the number of television commercials during the broadcast. The race fan watching at home missed out on some excellent racing.
When I go to a race, either for the first time or my fifth time, I review the track map and form a plan as to where to watch the majority of the race. When I looked at Mosport, Moss Corner (turn 5a and 5b) intrigued me. With no service road going completely around the track, I drove my rental car along the dusty rough trail on Friday up to turn 8 and 9. On Saturday, I followed the trail along the opposite side of track and noticed good viewing points (with lower fences perfect for photo snapping) at turns 1, 2, 3 on my way to visit race car fans (85_Froggy) camping nearby.
On race day, racing buddy (JumpyBob) and I wondered our way up to Moss Corner, which you canâ€™t drive to. There is a parking lot where you leave your car and hike to the hill. Itâ€™s worth it! It reminded me a bit of spectator hill at Road Atlanta. The tall green trees on the inside of the track provided a picturesque backdrop in which to watch cars approaching up the hill, take the tight right turn at the top, and speed away into the last turn before Mario Andretti Straightaway.
The other interesting spot to watch is pit in. There is no last minute â€œpit now!â€ at this track. The entrance of pit road is at the exit of turn 10. On Friday, when I noticed the tight turn in for pit, I really figured on accidents there but the drivers appeared to have it figured out.
Just a few tweaks and this track could be a contender for my favorite. Overall, the track is nestled in very pretty country and everyone was suspiciously friendly. The track workers from entrance gate to parking lot security greeted you with genuine happiness not like they were being paid and instructed to be nice and say, â€œGood Morningâ€ with forced smile.
This race marked my 50th consecutive GrandAm/IMSA race. On Saturday, I took a break and watched some of the Continental Tire race in the IMSA courtesy tent. I was approached by a guy wearing a white IMSA shirt. Iâ€™ve seen this gentlemen earlier this weekend and at other races but didnâ€™t get his name. He asked if I was Vickie. Apparently this white shirt guy just started handling the IMSA twitter account. He mentioned due to social media pressure (aka Michael), he wanted to introduce me to Scott Atherton who was standing outside the tent. Not moving, I replied, â€œIâ€™m good. Iâ€™ve met him.â€ He continued with, â€œIt will just take a minute and he wants to recognize your 50th race.â€ With a look of â€œcome out to say hello or I will lose my jobâ€ in his eyes I said, â€œOkâ€. Scott (yea, we are on a first name basis) shook my hand, photos were taken, then Scott asks, â€œWill there be 50 more?â€ I said, â€œNo.â€ He did ask why and knowing his time was limited I simply stated, â€œI missed Grand-Am and I donâ€™t like the spilt class races.â€ In my opinion, why merge if the classes arenâ€™t going to race together. He replied, â€œFair enoughâ€, gave me a hug and instructed the white shirt guy to sign me up for a hot lap. Due to track time limitations, there were only six cars allowed on track for one lap each. With six people already signed up, I would only get a lap if there was a no show. I was lucky and someone missed a really cool ride.
My hot lap was with Mazda driver, Tom Long. The hot lap was video taped along with Tomâ€™s commentary of the track. Since it was filmed by Mazda, I couldnâ€™t scream until the lap was done! If you see the in car video of Tom Longâ€™s hot lap at Mosport, I am in the front passenger seat biting my lip and screaming on the inside! Thank you Tom and IMSA for the hot lap!
Big thank you to Ryan Smith and the Corvette Racing for the garage tour. I enjoyed learning more about this team, the cars, and the bouncy house. While I was the lone â€œmeet upâ€ fan to participate, I was not shorted a great experience. I encourage all race fans to follow @SportsCarMeetUp to learn of the meet up events. Thank you, Kelly Brouillet for arranging.
During practice session on Saturday, the Whelen Chevrolet Corvette driven by Boris Said crashed out of turn one. My understanding is that Boris was released from the hospital with broken rib(s), and research continues to find the cause of the accident. Hoping for a full recovery for Boris. He is an icon at the track!
I want to thank everyone especially @sportscar365 (http://sportscar365.com/imsa/tusc/ctmp-pre-race-notebook/), Wes Duenkel Motorsport Photography, JumpyBob, and all the tweet messages for the recognition of my 50th race!
Thank you all for reading and I welcome your comments. I have no affiliation with IMSA, TUDOR, etc. just a fan. There are many blogs and websites where you will find statistics, results, and scoring from the race; this is â€œjust the way I see itâ€. Got a response? Follow and tweet me @viclovesracing