Was It Worth It?
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, July 19 — Leading up to the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at Mosport ... excuse me, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park ... ah, to heck with it ... Mosport, Angelo and I debated whether we should go up for the Friday test day.
The weather was looking iffy. The heat wave was still in full force and a threat of severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon was ever present. The American Le Mans Series cars were not going out until the late afternoon. See our conundrum? Was the part of the day we care about going to be a washout?
We decided to go for it. Due to the aforementioned schedule, we left in the morning at a leisurely pace. Then, a few miles out of Rochester, I realized I forgot my wallet. I remembered my passport, but having some money was going to be important as well. Thus, 15 minutes after that leisurely departure time, we hit the road for real.
The new Event Centre immediately wows you.
A few more delays later (finding a gas station just before we crossed the border proved to take longer than it should -- gas is much more expensive in Canada, the usual delay at the border -- with the cutest border guard ever, a quick stop at a friend's house in Stoney Creek -- near Hamilton -- to drop something off, and a stop for lunch) didn't necessarily put us behind schedule, but did make the trip longer than usual. Then, we slogged through heavy traffic on the other side of Toronto with many locals leaving early to begin a summer weekend. We finally meandered our way to the track.
The first thing we knew was going to wow us was the new Event Centre. We were not disappointed.
Built on the outside of the front straightaway just past Turn 10, it rivals any track's media and hospitality building. We did not have too much time today to explore its entirety, but initial impressions were stunning. Compared to the old media center, there is so much more room to spread out, the view of the last turn is great, and the bathrooms aren't just large and clean, but there are showers in them. The only thing I did not check out was the effectiveness of the Wi-Fi, something which was extremely dodgy in the old building.
The old building, which was opposite the new Centre on the inside of the track, is completely gone. The pits have been extended in that area, creating more space and boxes for the teams, which will especially be needed when the NASCAR trucks come to the track over Labor, whoops, excuse me, Labour Day weekend.
By the time we explored the Event Centre and got all our stuff together, the Pro Mazda Championship cars were on the track. Near the end of their session, dark clouds started to roll in and the wind whipped in a frenzy.
The wind was so strong we literally felt we were getting sandblasted. Since the skies were not opening up, the GT cars headed out to the track. We originally wanted to watch today's session at the end of Mario Andretti Straightaway, crossing one of the new bridges past Turn 7. However, fearing we would be completely exposed if a storm brewed, we went over to Turn 2 instead.
The total session is two hours. The first half hour is for the two GT classes only. The next hour is for all cars with the final half hour for the prototype classes only. They never got to the final half hour...
Early on, the cars were driving through all sorts of debris which the strong winds were blowing on to the track from the spectator areas. Near the end of the hour for all cars, it finally started to rain. And rain harder. And then even harder, with some "nice" lightning and thunder thrown in for good measure.
Mirco Schultis in the #81 LMPC displayed his inexperience at Mosport.
Needless to say, the teams abandoned pit lane. Except for the #81 LMPC DragonSpeed car. It went out to "test" in the rain, throwing large rooster tails out the back. The irony is this car looked terrible in the dry. It was evident these drivers, especially Mirco Schultis, had never been to Mosport.
They started the session out very, very slowly for many laps. Then, when Schultis started gaining speed, he totally missed the line through Turn 2. Lap after lap after lap. Turn 2 is the iconic turn at Mosport, a wickedly fast, "drop the bottom out from under you" steep downhill with no room whatsoever for error (though, they did make the runoff area a lot safer, paving the entire runoff out to the tire wall, and building up the runoff, making it flatter instead of the fall off the edge of the Earth feeling if you went too wide).
Turn 2 is a double apex turn, and the only way you can nail the first apex is to begin turning as you crest the hill entering the turn, before you ever see the apex. I was once told before my first time driving the track to stand up on the spectator hill and watch other cars to understand where you have to begin the turn-in. Schultis should have taken this advice.
At times, it was downright scary watching him go through the turn, missing the first apex, and fighting hard to pull the car in from sliding off the track, in a vain attempt to get to the second apex. It was not pretty, but at least he never went off. I'd hate to see what he was doing in the rain...
Before the #81 car decided to go out in the rain, eventually joined by another LMPC car, we made our way for some shelter near the pits. Then, we gave up entirely, scooting over the front straightaway bridge and back to our car, wet but not totally soaked.
So, was it worth getting to Mosport for Friday's activities? Well, we did get to see cars on the track for about 90 minutes. When can you ever think watching race cars on a track is not worth the time? Never, of course.
With this storm system passing through, it is finally going to break the oppressive heat. The weather for the rest of the weekend is reasonable temperatures -- even in the low 70s on Sunday, low humidity, and virtually no chance for rain.
It's going to be a great racing weekend. Best of all, Mosport always produces great races.
Copyright © 2013 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.