Last Weekend at Mosport
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park aka Mosport is Canada’s most legendary race track. Over the years it has hosted:
- Formula 1
- SCCA Trans-Am
- NASCAR-Pinty’s Series as well as Truck Series
- Blancpain GT World Challenge
The current facility has an FIA spec road course, amazing karting track that holds national level events each year as well as a driver development track. At one point in time there was also a 1/2 mile oval.
Pretty much anything with wheels can and has raced there.
In the NASCAR Pinty’s Series we are fortunate to get to race there twice in each season; in the spring during Victoria Day Weekend and then again in the fall during Labour Day weekend.
Racing is similar in a lot of ways to golf which lets me borrow a quote from one of my favourite athletes of all time, Mr. Arnold Palmer: “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” Replace “golf” with “racing” and the quote still holds up.
From the outside, when you walk into a racing garage, something is always happening. Teams will be working on some, or multiple, parts of a car. They could just be doing a “nut and bolt” check to ensure everything is ready to go or finishing installing elements that they ran out of time before loading to get to the track.
For our #18 team we have a brand new car. While that can be a benefit we weren’t able to properly test it to work out the gremlins. The schedule on Saturday had one hour for practice before our qualifying session later on that day. All activities were cancelled Saturday due to rain.
Saturday was largely spent sitting in the hauler with periodic stops to chat with fellow competitors and the people who work within our series.
Left pic was Saturday, right pic is the garage in the dry.
In essence, we were hitting the track blind.
That being said, Alex Tagliani is as good of a driver as there is, Terry Simpson is an unmatched crew chief and our #18 crew are also as good as they come. On paper we should still have a fighting chance.
Sunday was a far more active day. We had a few guests join us and without doing too much name dropping the most notable was our very own Dean Blundell. Dean and I have spoken for many hours on the phone over the past year, I’ve been a guest on his show and he mine but this was the first time we met in person. Dean is exactly what he presents on his show: friendly, thoughtful and curious. It was an honour to get to show him our world from inside the ropes.
We started in 5th position, surrounded by lots of fast cars, we lost a couple of positions on the start but our car didn’t fall off as much as some of the others around us. By the midway point in the race we were up to 2nd, we were the fastest car on the track but still had to make our pit stops for tires.
Another aside: we can only change two tires at a time meaning that we have to make separate stops for left-side tires and right.
After our stops were done we were cycled back to about 13th position with 20 laps to go. Our car was quick but the balance was a bit off, making passing extremely difficult.
Aside #3: balance refers to how the suspension and the tires interact. In NASCAR we often refer to “tight” (the front end lacks grip and “loose” (the rear end lacks grip). That’s more specific to ovals where the car mostly turns left. On a road course we take far more into consideration like how much dive the front end has on braking, what that does to the rear, how much does the suspension travel, do we have adequate side-bite and on and on.
I won’t share the specifics of our car’s performance other than to say it wasn’t responding the way Alex needed, specifically in the corners.
At the end of the day we were only able to get back to 6th place. We know that there’s a ton more speed in the car, we just need a bit of time to work it out.
Our lucky break of the day came when our front grill took a rock which, in turn, hit our radiator. Typically this would have killed the rad and potentially our engine. Somehow, the rad stayed in tact.
The positives were that the car came back in one piece as did our driver.
We now have the next three weeks off before hitting the track again at Autodrome Chaudiere, June 10th.