Saturday, August 29, 2009

Canada's race weekend conflict! NASCAR or sports car?

With only about 6 to 8 months of the year to comfortably run on a selection of ovals and road courses, Canadian auto racing only has a few chances to attract the finest international competition on four wheels. With the Toronto Honda Indy and Rexall Edmonton Indy having wrapped up this past July, two race weekends in August consists of closed fender motorsport competition. The Grand Prix of Mosport has been a staple to the summer sports car racing calendar on one of Canada's oldest race courses. On the other hand, the popular NASCAR Nationwide series is being welcomed once again to Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

For 2009, native race fans are being plagued by one of the biggest mistakes in Canadian event promoting. Realizing that both races are pivotal events to Canada's racing calendar, it is amazingly crushing that attendance to these venues will likely come at the cost of the other race. Mosport and Montreal main events will also enter into competition on television Sunday as both races will be under green during the mid-afternoon. Ron Fellows commented about this year's scheduling nightmare by saying "Having two major league car racing events on the same weekend, just hours apart on the highway, is a scheduling screw-up for sure. It’s an absolute shame that race fans have to choose one over the other." Fellows remains hopeful that the conflict will be resolved for 2010 as does many Canadian racing fans wanting to attend both of these top class racing events.

However, with this weekend requiring a tough choice, hardcore Canadian race fan will likely watch one race in person and catch the other shortly after on a DVR (or for less tech trendy people, VCR).

Here are the contenders:

Grand Prix of Mosport

Track Type: Permanent Road Course, 10 turns through 2.459 miles (3.957 kilometers)
Top Series Competing: ALMS, Cooper Tires Toyota Atlantic, IMSA Challenge, Formula BMW, Star Mazda
Top Cars: Acura prototype, Corvette C6R GT2, and Porsche 911.
Length of headliner race: (ALMS) Timed race of 2 hours, 45 minutes
Sample of Canadian Contention: Robert Wickens, Alex Ellis
Race Ticket Price: $50 for Sunday

Fan Tip: A picturesque setting shielded from the nearby City of Toronto by acres of woodland, Mosport International Raceway also operates as a camping ground. This scenic positioning also restricts travel options to driving. For the individual race fan, be aware that there is no grandstand seating. Bring a blanket, towel or even a travel chair and you will be able to find an excellent spot on a grassy hill along the front stretch.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Track type: Street Course, 15-turn along 2.71 miles(4.361 kilometers)
Top Series Competing: NASCAR Nationwide, Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
Top Cars: NASCAR Nationwide stock cars, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Stock Car, Lexus Daytona Prototypes
Length of headliner race: (NASCAR Nationwide) 74 laps
Sample of Canadian Contention: Ron Fellows, Patrick Carpentier, Andrew Ranger, Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Valiante Mark Wilkins
Race Ticket Price: $40 General Admission Sunday, Two-day grandstand seating starts at $95.
Fan Tips: Built on an artificial island created from the excavation for the City of Montreal subway system, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is linked via this exact subway. No vehicle parking is available over the race weekend.

Verdict: If you're a fan of Canadian racers, the NASCAR weekend of Montreal has possibly indulged your interests more than the sports car weekend of Mosport. However, the accessible feel of the Mosport International Raceway would certainly make for a great outing.

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