By on July 23, 2012

Sunday mornings are for sleeping in. Since the invention of the Digital Video Recorder, all my motorsports viewing has been pre-empted until the afternoon, when a big mug of coffee, some eggs and a spoonful of hot sauce has been ingested, and I’m comfortably ensconced in my couch, with no exposure to fresh air or natural light.

Unless my friend is racing.

I was invited to head out to the historic Mosport Canadian Tire Motorsports Park to watch Brian Makse, my friend, mentor, driving coach and fellow journalist race my favorite car, the Mazda MX-5, against a field of Mazda MX-5s. There would also be American LeMans and Porsche GT3 Cup cars there. I decided to set my DVR to record Formula 1, and head out mid-afternoon. Brian has had a long, successful career in both pro and club racing, and has coached and raced against our own Jack Baruth, while helping to fine tune my own driving skills when we both have a chance to get away to the track. Today, I’d get a rare chance to watch him at work.

No matter how wretched my hangover was after a Saturday night out on the town, I was determined to be there and lend some moral support. Luckily, my transportation for the day was a brand new Shelby GT500 – 662 horsepower, 24.5 MPG on the journey there, doing 80 mph with the A/C on full blast. Who says modern cars are boring? Brian had a 991 Porsche Carrera, which got next to no attention in the tiny town of Bowmanville. The bright blue Shelby was the winner in the land of chain restaurants and tract housing. I’ll take the Porsche, electric steering and all.

The paddock area was Miata heaven; race-prepped MX-5s everywhere, for both the Challenge and the Playboy Cup (which use slightly different setups, and tend to run a bit faster). Mazda had some displays with the parts needed to turn a regular MX-5 into a Playboy cup car. Suspension nerds, note the Sachs remote reservoir dampers.

I missed most of the ALMS race, after yakking about Miatas to the owner of a 1993 with 27,000 original miles, but some of the faster stuff was on display. There were also a couple of banged up MX-5s on display.

This one’s got a bit of a crooked smile. A trip to the orthodontist is likely.

Here’s Brian getting into his MX-5. The cars use revised shocks and springs, BF Goodrich race tires and proper safety equipment. Nothing more. They are very close to stock.

Oops, I lied. There’s an awesome Supertrapp style muffler out back. Not too loud, but still buzzing and frenetic.

Playboy Cup race tires

Don’t forget that memo!

Brian ended up finishing 4th, not losing a position but not gaining one either.

While Brian generously provided a free pass, I’ve come to realize that watching racing without trackside credentials is inferior to watching it on TV. Even though the sounds, smells and other details aren’t there, TV cameras give a superior vantage point. Standing on a hill overlooking the front straight, I’d be peering down, waiting to see Brian’s car fly by and then re-appearing a minute and a half later.

Even better is participating…but I’m still not there, just yet. Though Mosport technically is my “home track”

Too bad the kart circut was closed that day.

 

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8 Comments on “A Day At The Races: We Ignore ALMS In Favor Of Some Girly Cars...”


  • avatar
    mitchw

    Where’s that street MX-5 that drives like the CupCar, eh? SkipBarber’s car has some 30hp more, and is set up for real oversteer. If you put your foot down without straightening the wheel, the rear’s going to run around a bit. No ABS on the one I drove, either. And it ruined me for the public roads.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      A Miata can be made to oversteer easily and cheaply. Thanks to very adjustable alignment, you can probably get there, or close, without even changing any parts. Sways will get you the rest of the way. My ’99 is pretty neutral on Flyin’ Miata suspension, despite conservative settings on the alignment (more negative camber on the rear than front) and on the adjustable rear sway bar. The rear actually has come around unexpectedly on me at the track, although it wasn’t power oversteer. It’s no remote-reservoir unobtanium goodness, of course, but for a daily streetable car that I have about $10k into total and wouldn’t hesitate to take on a long trip, I bet it would be hard to find a more fun-handling car.

      I don’t know as much about the NCs, but on the NBs up to 15 whp can supposedly be found just by going to standalone fuel management.

  • avatar
    Morea

    The last few laps of the GT class in the ALMS race were great. Porsche, Corvette, and Ferrari 1-2-3 nose to tail with the Ferrari making a great move on the second to last lap to pass the Chevy but in doing so they both lost a few tenths of a second and that was enough to give the Porsche the win. Can’t wait for the Vipers to join the party at the next race at Mid-Ohio.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      Just to close the loop, the Porsche was disqualified when it failed the post-race tech inspection:

      http://www.motorsport.com/#!/alms/news/flying-lizards-motorsport-explains-stall-test-failure-at-mosport/

  • avatar

    “While Brian generously provided a free pass, I’ve come to realize that watching racing without trackside credentials is inferior to watching it on TV. Even though the sounds, smells and other details aren’t there, TV cameras give a superior vantage point. ”

    At the Detroit Grand Prix, the only place from which you could see the fastest part of the track was on television. There are no grandstands with line-of-sight to the straight along the river.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    yall need to make it down to Sebring. You can walk around nearly the entire race track. Some of the best fan access to the track I’ve ever found. The sights sounds and smells of racing there beat TV any day. The ALMS position lighting makes it very easy to keep track of whos on first, what’s on second, etc

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Road America is also a good track with lots of access.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    SAE BAJA (at the Wisconsin race) no longer offers access to the entire track during the race either. Bummer… (seriously) Fun watching those student built buggies do their thing. Even more fun as they start falling apart and their flaws are revealed. What did this school do right, what did that school team do wrong?


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