More than 50 years ago the piece of land that we know today as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was a farm. At that time, standing on a hill, looking over the fields and groves of trees, who could have imagined that the best drivers and the fastest cars in the world would come to this pastoral place and race on what would be named as one the most challenging tracks in the world and provide the best excitement and entertainment that motor racing has to offer.
But they did come: racing legends like Stirling Moss, Gilles Villeneuve, Bruce McLaren and even stock car king Richard Petty. No fewer than 16 Formula One World Driving Champions – men like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti and Nick Lauda have raced here. Some 10 Indianapolis 500 winners including Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears and Gordon Johncock have also raced at Mosport.
There have been Formula One cars, Indy cars, Can-Am, stock cars, World Endurance, Formula 5000, Formula Atlantic and Super Vee. Add Formula Fords, GT cars of every description, Superbikes, karts, snowmobiles and off road machines. Throw in a couple of rock concerts, some air shows, and sky divers and one begins to wonder if there is anything that hasn’t been seen at Mosport. Anyone standing on the hill in 1959 would not believe what has transpired over the last 40 years. Fortunately, there were some people who did believe in what could happen. They had a dream, a plan, and the combination of resources and expertise to make it happen.
As early as 1958 the British Empire Motor Club (BEMC) formed a development committee to investigate the possibility of selecting and buying a piece of property for a road racing course. By mid summer of that year the founding committee, whose members consisted of Dick Byatt, George Hill, Chuck Stockey, Fred Hayes and Ray Liddle, had found a 450-acre tract north of Bowmanville. Recognizing the enormity of the project, the committee members realized that one club (BEMC) could not undertake the entire task and so a separate entity, called “Mosport Limited” was born in the fall of 1958. The name Mosport (a contraction of Motor Sport) was coined and applied to the new business enterprise.
At the start there were seven directors, each on in charge of a particular phase of the project. They were Alan Bunting (track design, site layout and general coordination); George Hill (public relations); Dick Byatt (trade relations and advertising); Harold Hunter (financial planning and fund raising); George Grant (structural architect); and Chuck Stockey (utilities and access roads).
By 1960 development was moving forward, Alan Bunting’s design featured fast, sweeping bends that rose and fell over the contours of the site. In order to accommodate the design, great chunks of earth would be gouged out of parts of the hills; in the one place the whole side of a hill was scraped away and leveled. In the summer of 1960 Stirling Moss paid a visit to Toronto, at which time he saw the plans for the track and the work that had been done so far. While he was generally enthusiastic about the layout of the course, he did recommend that the single-radius carousel hairpin at the south end be changed to a 90-degree right followed by another right leading onto the back straight. Moss was convinced that this combination would be a much greater test of driving skill and provide a more interesting show for the spectators. The two turns, 5a and 5b have since become known as “Moss Corner”.
The development of Mosport did not come easily though. The construction suffered through fiscal restraints zoning logistics, heavy rainfalls causing washouts and a price tag that was double of what was to be expected ($500,000 instead of $250,000). In spite of everything, the necessary facilities were completed, the asphalt was laid down and the track was ready for racing by the end of May, 1961. Responsibility for the operation of the facility was given to Jim Clayton who, as General Manager, was Mosport’s first and only full-time employee. This is what it was all about: 2.459 miles, measured at the centreline of it’s 28-foot width, of twisting, undulating pavement that would challenge the best drivers in the world.
Corner 5 was named after Stirling Moss who suggested the layout during a visit to Canada in 1960. Moss was convinced that this combination would be a much greater test of driving skill and provide a more interesting show for the spectators. The two turns, 5a and 5b have since become known as “Moss Corner”.
See the cars that will be racing in the SportsCar Grand Prix up close on Saturday and Sunday during the pre-race Fan Grid Walk. Teams will be making final preparations in their pit stalls and many of the drivers will be standing by waiting for the race to begin. You can't get any closer to the action than this!
The highest speeds of the race are reached on the start/finish straight where cars battle it out to set the quickest lap times.
Stop by the Marketplace to stock up on race souvenirs and merchandise. The Marketplace is located in the paddock on the east end.
Watch the action between turns 6 and 7 at the Mario Andretti Straightaway. The back straight was named after Mario Andretti who was clocked by Radar at 178 MPH on July 17, 1967 in his Brawner-Ford Indycar.