ChumpCar World Series at CTMP (aka Mosport)

by Frank Ewald

Two seven-hour endurance races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), formerly known as Mosport. That was the ChumpCar location on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I joined 'No Budget Racing' as they fielded two cars. A 1990 Civic DX was car one driven by Rob Pacione, Afshin Montazeri, Sergio Inclima, and Steve Carageorgopoulos and car two was a 1997 Miata driven by John Dattomo, Pat Telanti, Ralph Gilles, and then myself. Saturday was an absolutely beautiful track day with lots of sunshine and a temperature in the seventies. It was a good day for our team with the Civic finishing fourth and the Miata eighth. Sunday the Civic placed third but, sadly, an incident took the Miata out of the competition. Months of planning for these fourteen hours of racing and they were over in, well, fourteen hours. Here’s how we got there.

In the spring of 2013 my good friend, John Dattomo, called me up and told me that he was preparing his car for ChumpCar and that in October the series would be racing at Mosport. Then he asked if I wanted to be on the team. I am pretty sure I said yes before he even finished asking the question. Mosport! Not only my home track but also one of the fastest tracks in North America. Yes! Two seven-hour endurance races. Yes! Wheel to wheel racing! Oh my, Absolutely yes! After hanging up the phone I then ran to my wife and told her about this amazing opportunity that was waiting for me. She stared at me with loving eyes and … well, we had a long discussion about finances, safety and how this did not make sense. Plus it would involve being away on a holiday weekend as the races would take place during Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend. But that is for another story. John rescued the Miata from auto heaven and rebuilt it into a beautiful machine –the paint scheme on it is beautiful. It was now caged and ready to race.

I have been very active driving at lapping days and participating in Time Attack events - mainly Canadian Automobile Sports Club's Ontario Time Attack and this year one CSCS event. In fact, John and I met through OTA events. We both started driving time attack in the Touring Car classes (read that as pretty slow) and we were very evenly matched. That meant that we were usually on pit row together and had lots of time to chat. That expanded into participating in lapping days together, for several years I organized events and always made sure that John was present. But I am procrastinating, back to the discussion with my wife.

Pamela puts up with a lot, something that the spouse of every car enthusiast has to do. Initially she thought that me going out to a lapping day once would be all of the 'fix' that I required. After the first couple of years and several holidays involving racetracks, Pamela realizes that my addiction to speed goes way back but was dormant while our children were little. This was due to lack of finances combined with the responsibility of parenthood – and simply not knowing how to get involved. Looking at my face, remembering how much fun I had experienced driving in a mock race at Mosport (a mock race, staged and controlled, with three cars abreast at 110 mph on the straight and two wide in the corners - I wonder how mock it really was!), I quickly had my wife's permission to participate.

I truly had the easy part. We were running John's car. He had already had all of the safety equipment installed into the Miata. I just needed to show up. Piece of cake. Of course, I did need the appropriate safety gear - I had the SA2005 Bell helmet, FIA gloves and DefNder neck restraint but needed everything else. After getting suggestions from a few friends, I found a supplier who had a great deal on suits and shoes. I picked up all of the necessary undergear also, to enhance the fire protection. Personal gear was all set.

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Friday, October 25, 2013 7:01 AM
You know I have had that same conversation with my wife. *sigh* We have kids at home for another 16 years so a Chump Car event may be out of my reach for a while. I did go and crew for some friends down in Des Moines IA a couple of years ago. That was a great time. We shared a garage stall with Tubby Butterman and crew. The people you meet at these events are just flat out awesome and they are so much fun because of it. Great article. I hope you were not in the car when it was taken out.
Friday, October 25, 2013 8:46 AM
I never expected to see someone like Ralph Gilles participating in a chump car race. How cool.
Friday, October 25, 2013 2:40 PM
I've done 3 Chump races, and it was a blast each time. The first time you pass people is a little strange if all you've done before was lapping events. My first time out, my radio came unplugged, so I was in the car for 2 hours with no feedback or any concept of time. I just ran the car until it was low on gas and came in. The best part for me, was coming up on 2 slower cars on the straight part of the oval (track was a NASCAR track with a road course in the middle), and needing to use the skirt to pass them. 3 wide going into a fast corner, and taking the inside line, and some of the grass, was awesome. I need to get back out there and find a seat for sale soon.
Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:47 AM
Blackdb10si, those conversations continue at our household! And you are so right - these folks are awesome. I was not driving - my stint had finished in the morning and it was constant rain. The back end would skip out accelerating out of corners in fourth gear. I love driving in the rain, but I was wishing for my FWD Nissan during this event.
Protodad, it was way cool to drive and hang out with Ralph.
Eric, we had a clock and pit times recorded on the dash but no radio. That would be a good investment. And there's nothing like passing cars through corners. A pure adrenaline rush!
Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:48 AM
Sorry but to clarify, the rain was Sunday. Saturday was picture perfect!
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