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· Brian Ferguson
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4,318 Posts
Seems I'm the same age as Russell! Guess that means I'm about to reminisce!


So... move on if boredom scares you!

Without a doubt, Mosport Park is the track that epitomizes motor racing to me. Having grown up in Toronto, Canada, I had a world class circuit (back then!) within about an hour's drive of my house. Unfortunately, I was far too young to drive, so I had to take bus tours which meant that a day at the track was really half a day at the track and half a day getting there and back! Thankfully, that only lasted for a few years before I had wheels of my own.

Mosport is a 2.5 mile road course set in wooded and very rolling hills northeast of Toronto.



My first trip there was for the Canadian GP in 1967, at the age of 13. It took weeks to convince my parents that I was capable of travelling there on my own, but I finally managed it. I wouldn't, quite honestly, even consider such a thing in today's world.




I was hooked on racing from that day on. Any chance I got to head out for an event, I was there! The sounds, the smells, the sheer speed of the cars, all combined to turn me into a motorsport fanatic.

Sports car pic, taken from turn 3 looking back toward the very wild turn two:



The elevation changes and fast, blind corners are what give Mosport its personality. To walk the track for one lap is an incredibly tiring experience because of the hills. Pictures don't portray it well but every part of the course is a challenge to the driver - as I would find out in later years.

It its hayday, Mosport hosted GPs (alternating with St. Jovite every other year), Can-Am races, WSC events, IMSA, Trans-Am, IndyCars, and even one NASCAR race! Today, the big races there are Trans-Am and American LeMans.

The Can-Am cars were impressive at Mosport. The lap record would fall first to them, and then later to the F1s when they returned. The Can-Ams would take it back the next time, and so on. Lap times of just over one minute tell you that the 2.5 mile course was anything but slow!



By the late 70s, Mosport had been left behind by the progress of the very cars it was built to entertain. It was just too fast and too dangerous. Formula One went to Montreal when the FIA understandably declared Mosport as being too out-of-date for the F1 rocketships. When I bought my F4 in 1980, I quickly realized why! Even at speeds some 25-30% slower than F1s, one quickly learned that the track didn't ask for respect, it demanded it!

A shot of F4s exiting the ultra-fast turn four (the "Chute") in top gear and approaching the famous "Moss Corner" (turn 5 - slowest turn on the track):



The climb into turn 5 is amazing! It's tough to walk up it! And you can see absolutely nothing as you climb into the turn! In a Formula 4, that means braking from 135 MPH to 50, over a blind hill, and then needing to slow even more for the second part of the hairpin that drops away from you! Imagine what the F1 drivers must have experienced - they were approaching it at 175 MPH!

My favourite memory as a spectator at turn 5 was the year that Matra unveiled their V12. (And unless you've heard it, you won't know what I'm talking about!) Turn 5 is like a natural amphitheater - the cars exit the turn 4 trees and scream into a large, natural bowl shaped area. With silence over the course before practice, one could hear a pin drop. Then, suddenly, the distant sound of the Matra leaving the pits. We could hear the occasional, high-pitched wail as it negotiated turns 2 and 3, and then the increasing note as it rushed toward turn 4. Then silence. All of a sudden, the most unearthly howl as it blasted under the bridge and through the trees approaching Moss Corner, and downshifted to first gear for the hairpin. More revs than was imaginable! Then, the scream as it accelerated out of the turn and disappeared up the back straight. Again silence. Then, as if recovering from shock, I remember thousands of people standing up and cheering at what may have been one of the all-time audio moments in motor racing!

Mosport has made massive changes in recent years, and has attracted the likes of the American LeMans series.

Obviously, I'm biased because I live nearby, but I honestly think that Mosport is one of the world's finest true road courses - fast, demanding, and unforgiving.

....okay.... wake up, I'm done!
 

· Brian Ferguson
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4,318 Posts
Tropi, I doubt that Mosport is the hilliest course ever, but it must be close. A lot like Spa in some ways. The only level ground at Mosport is in turns 9 and 10 before the pit straight - even the pits slope downhill! The drops off turn two and off turn four are phenomenal, and cars get soooo light 'cause you're turning as the road literally falls away, and you're going over 120 MPH at the time even in a F4! - gotta do it to appreciate it - likewise the climb up into five. Even the backstraight is wild - 3 different crest points at places where the track is also gently curving! More than one car has flipped backwards at the final crest on the straight! I honestly don't know how the F1 drivers ever did it!

The Matra was definitely a wild audio experience, for sure!


My favourite quote at Mosport though came from my wife. We were running my somewhat modified 240Z in a time trial event for fun. She hadn't driven Mosport before, but her times were very impressive - she was less than a second off my best, and I was swapping the top time in class with another 240Z. She came into the pits after a session. We talked about how the car was running while I bled the brakes for my next run. Then I asked her what speed she was pulling at the end of the straight. She said "Oh, I was touching 135 coming into 8. Not very fast, really! That's km/h, right?". "No dear... it's a '73.... that's MPH!" (I didn't tell her till later that I was only hitting 135 too!) She did a similar thing later when street racing a Corvette.... but that's another story!
 
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