There’s a semi-famous story about two semi-famous auto journalists-cum-racecar drivers that is often recounted when the topic of racing comes up.
The details go something like this: Racer No.1 would win every race despite the fact that Racer No.2 was faster and more talented. Racer No.2’s team would constantly instruct their driver not to look in the mirrors and concentrate on what’s taking place ahead. After a few frustrating losses, Racer No.2 found himself without mirrors on his car thanks to his crew and consequently won the race, and he never lost to Racer No.1 again.
Sadly for me, I did not heed the wisdom in this tale as on my last lap of my second race, I looked in my mirrors, ended up in the grass, and lost 3 spots. I’ve now gained much experience and how I wish I could get turn 10 back from my Sunday afternoon race at Circuit Mont Tremblant.
Racing: It is something I’ve always wanted to do. Cars and going fast have been indistinguishable in my mind since I got my driver’s license 22 years ago. I got to put my speed desires to good use when I began participating in track days in the late ‘90s. But I’d never raced competitively.
The opportunity to go fast
Life is about making friends and opportunities. Often times, the latter will come from the former and this is exactly how it went down for me. My good friend and journo colleague Jacques Deshaies (JD Promotion & Competition) spoke to me in early 2014 about starting a fun and affordable monotype racing series that would feature the then all-new Nissan Micra; he wanted me to participate in the series as a racer/team owner and journalist ambassador.
I was hooked by the idea from the onset; I was newly single with time and a few bucks in my hand, but unfortunately for the Micra Cup, I fell in love, bought a house and sidelined my ideas of a race team (no regrets!). But Jacques made sure that my dreams of racing were not going to be ignored as he offered me a seat in one of the press Micra racecars for a weekend. All I had to do was select which event, and get my racing license.
Circuit Mont Tremblant is one of my favourite tracks in North America, so picking one of the three events that were to be held there was a no-brainer and mid-season seemed like a great idea. And it was.
If you view my video, you’ll notice that I say it takes two things to race, but the fact is you need three: Yes, you need a clown like me, and a beast like the Micra, but you also need a team.
I had it really good. Like really, really good. Not only was I under the care of a few members of Nissan Canada’s crack team of PR peeps, including Didier, Heather, Roxanne and Jenn, but I had GT Racing by my side the entire weekend. A huge thank you goes out to Paul, Martin, Mathieu, Eric, and the others who made me feel like a champion… Even if I didn’t quite perform like one.
I have extensive lapping experience that I’ve acquired over the last 17-18 years, but never have I been exposed to a competitive setting where passing, pushing, drafting, and bumping have been necessary. I was more of a “point-by” or dedicated passing-zone kinda driver. Friday was a warm-up day but not the kind you and I know. You see, out there on the track with a 109-horsepower Micra, I was being confronted with 1-million hp McLarens, Vipers, prototypes and more horsepower than the weight in kilos of my minute Nissan. But all went well.
Then Saturday morning came, and I went…
Sh*t just got real, yo
Suddenly the pressure was on, the race was real, I had to fight for survival in a setting where we all held ak-47s (so to speak), except I was more like a dwarf and my track-mates giants. As calm, cool and collected as I thought I was, I did not make it past my 4th lap before I lifted off the throttle in turn 7 and ended up gently smashing into a barrier. I was fine, the car wasn’t in too rough shape either, but #egobruised.
This is where the gang from GT Racing stepped in and literally saved my weekend. They replaced the rear torsion beam, made a few adjustments to the front suspension, substituted two wheels and all was said and done only moments before I got back on the track for my first ever real and sanctioned race.
Despite my cock-up, I managed to qualify 18th and finish 16th in race No.1. In race No.2, I started 18th and, well, finished 18th, but I had a firm grasp on 15th until I looked in my rear-view mirror five corners from the end of the race, on the last lap. That day I learned…
I thankfully walked away from my race weekend, but I already miss the camaraderie. I love the atmosphere that surrounds the track, that sense of belonging to something, to a group of like-minded people. Track days are the same and perhaps even friendlier given that the level of competition is not as high. The Micra Cup series is different in the sense that given its monotype nature, everyone must deal with the car’s strengths and weaknesses. The differences all lie in how they’re handled between the seat and the steering wheel.
If you enjoy a good race, a great ambiance and get excited by the idea of a good show, nothing currently beats the Nissan Micra Cup. Nothing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and it’s an invigorating series that needs to be discovered.
If you are so inclined, the next race takes place at l’Autodrome St-Eustache on August 15th and the final race weekend will be held in Tremblant for the Fall Classic from September 25th to the 27th.
Long live the Micra Cup!