Race car fans need only to look at a list of the past winners at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to appreciate the heritage of Canada’s classic road racing facility: Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.
That list includes a total of 16 F1 world champions and 10 winners of the Indianapolis 500.
The circuit started out as Mosport Park and opened up with the Player’s 200, which brought sports car drivers from around the world to race in rural Ontario. Moss won the race in a Lotus 19, and made a suggestion to change a proposed hairpin to two distinct turns to make it more challenging, and the resulting Moss Corner was named in his honour.
Three-time winner Denny Hulme, Gurney and Bruce McLaren were among the winners in the original SCCA Can-Am Challenge that debuted when Mark Donohue won the inaugural race in 1966.
The circuit was also the unofficial home of the second-generation Can-Am, with Patrick Tambay, Alan Jones, Jacky Ickx, Al Unser Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve (brother of F1 driver Gilles Villeneuve) winning prior to Paul Tracy taking the final race in 1986.
|Photo: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park|
Stewart was a two-time winner when F1 competed in the Canadian Grand Prix eight times from 1967 through 1977. He was joined in victory by Jack Brabham, Ickx, Peter Revson, Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt before Jody Scheckter won the final race in a car owned by Canadian Walter Wolf.
The World Sportscar Championship raced twice at CTMP, won by Ickx/Mass and Hans Stuck/Derek Bell, while Gurney, Bobby Unser, Foyt and Danny Ongais won the four USAC Indy Car races held between 1967 and 1978 – before the open-wheeled cars regularly raced on road circuits in the United States.
Formula 5000 – a series combining drivers SCCA road racing with USAC Indy Cars – raced between 1968-1976, with winners including Donohue, Andretti, David Hobbs and Jones. The circuit hosted 15 Formula Atlantic races, with victors including Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Bobby Rahal, Calvin Fish and David Empringham.
The ALMS raced at CTMP every year in its existence from 1999 through 2013. Rinaldo Capello set the track’s all-time record of 1:04.094 (138.116 mph) in 2008 in an Audi R10 TDI. Johnny O’Connell was the leading ALMS winner with seven victories, followed by Jan Magnussen and Lucas Luhr with five each.
And this weekend, it is the United SportsCar Championship's turn to race around the 3.9-kilometre track, Sunday, in a 165-minute race.