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Sunday morning at Calabogie Motorsport Park started off the same way Saturday evening ended -cloudless and warm. Speaking of Saturday night, it was unusual, unexpected and memorable. After the day's activities, we broke to go back to our respective hotels, motels and other accommodations to clean up and return to town (Calabogie, that is) to one of the two local watering holes for dinner and drinks. Despite being present for registration and introducing ourselves to some of our fellow competitors, this was really the first social event where an in-depth conversation was possible. We were asked to wear nametags with our favourite driver's name on it, which became a great icebreaker, as the drivers discussed the merits of their respective choices. Of course, the conversation strayed to the day's events and our cars. Can't say enough...blah, blah, blah, and three hours later I'm blacked out in bed.
The full track gave us the opportunity to really press the Mustang's advantages on the longer track, such as its great acceleration and high horsepower. The three straight sections were good opportunities to make up ground on the slower and lower-powered cars. In the final analysis, it did little to change our standing whatsoever in the time attack event, finishing 15th overall, same as the results of the previous day.
Not only did the time attack course get longer, the auto slalom track, with its meandering series of orange cones, got longer as well. Despite my confusion with the route of the previous day and my dismal showing as a result, the layout of this track seemed to make more sense to me. I was able to get around the course in 51.8 seconds, good enough for 16th, a seven-position Improvement. I'm sure a more capable driver would have achieved better, but at least the car seemed to be falling into a zone where we would ultimately place – somewhere in the mid-teens in ranking. After the day ended around 4:00 pm, we packed up our gear and headed from Bowmanville, three hours away towards Toronto.
The third day dawned like the previous two – sunny and warm. Indeed, it looked like the entire 5 days were going be this nice. For me, the conditions were perfect for the Grand Prix track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. This is not a fun place in the rain.
I've been coming here since I was a teenager, just after our family moved to Toronto. At first, I went with my father, and once I could drive, I came out for Can-Am, CART, motorcycle, and vintage car races. Although I wasn't living in Toronto when the Canadian Grand Prix was run at Mosport, as it was called for so many years, I can imagine that in its heyday, Mosport, grandstands, paddock, tower and all, must have been world class at one time, and to witness its gradual decline for so many years was kind of sad. That said, I would say that the place has never looked better than it does now.
Perhaps it's just me, perhaps others feel this way, but I always feel somewhat intimidated driving here, for two reasons. The first is just the weight of history of this place; when one considers the number of famous drivers who have raced here and won here, one may think 'what am I doing here?' I know I do. The other reason is that one can go really fast at this track, and not just along the straightaways. Turn 1 is a frighteningly fast right-hander that require confident braking going In and strong acceleration out, only to be followed by an even more terrifyingly fast double-apex, left, with a sharp drop in elevation for good measure.
Fortunately, it's also slightly banked, as pictured above. If you hit both apexes, you can look really good and go really fast. A momentary lapse in attention or a bobble, or some unexpected oversteer as the car gets light and you might need a change of underwear as you hit the secondary pavement. In the old days, you would have slid off in the grass only to hit the tire wall at the bottom of the slope. I didn't have to worry about this in my opening laps, as the car was understeering heavily, but predictably. Turn 3, which feels off camber, requires a steady line and to not be too aggressive. Turns 5,6 and 7, a.k.a. Moss Corner, is legendary for wrecking cars, or spinning them around; I've witnessed this as a spectator and as a driver, the latter occurring at a track day a few years ago, when I found myself staring at the headlights of the Shelby Super Snake in front of me. The driver, his shock clearly visible in the windshield, seemed surprised to learn that in the middle of a hairpin, a careful right foot is required to keep 750 horsepower from spinning the rear tires and sending the car into a graceful clockwise pirouette.
Turn 8, despite being at the end of the Andretti straight, is very fast and to this day I don't think I've ever had the balls to test how fast I could go here. The Esses are just pure fun, with the added danger and distraction of the pit entry, before getting back to the pit straight.
My co-driver Duncan is an instructor at CTMP and therefore knows it better than most. This was reflected in his raw time result of 13th out of the 25 competitors, which was probably outstanding given the under-performing nature of our 2015 Mustang relative to the competition. I finished 17th in the auto slalom and the video evidence has been appended to this story.