What is that i hear, eh? Like,
me and my hoser friends went to Canada to this new track called Calabogie
Motorsports Park. Canada, you
know, like, home of the rock group Rush so how bad could it be. Well, other than
the long drive, rain, and traffic conditions in downtown Montreal, Canada was actually a
great place to be May 28th and 29th.
Ok, enough of my try at Canadian humor as this was another
one of those great events you leave with a big grin from ear to ear. Will get
the major questions out of the way first, as this is a very new track that has
been opened for only a handful of weeks as of this writing. First off, the
track is tight and tidy, with good runoff room. There are many challenges
and do not think this slightly over 3-mile course is like Watkins Glen
International because it is not! While there are some good full throttle bits, your main goal
will be to learn the 20 turns and the best way to trail brake, and trust
your memory for those ever so new blind apexes. The tarmac is very grippy and found my front tires and brakes
getting quite a workout.
the day before the event, the first thing i saw was brand new, clean and
tidy tarmac and facility. Wish more tracks had such a clean environment, as
the incredibly sticky Hoosier 35's tend to pick up anything and everything.
Many tracks have plenty of dirt, small rocks and other bits that dirty one's
tires. This needs to be scrubbed off as soon as possible when on track.
Another point of interest is the very friendly and helpful tracks staff, who
were always eager to please and made sure everyone's needs were met. They
had great enthusiasm for us being there and were always willing to lend a
hand when needed. Add to that, they allowed us to freely walk or bicycle
ride the track the night before the event so we could get a better
understanding of the track. As the track is brand new, there are no permanent
pit bays, no concession stand, no electrical hookup, no compressed air
morning of the event was the usual technical inspection followed by the
track staff doing a sound pressure level (SPL) check. This is conducted in
front of and behind the car with a limit of 104dB at 3 meters and 92dB at 20 meters.
Cars will not be allowed on track if they fail this test. Fortunately my car
passed with flying colors and so began the first session with overcast skies
and temperatures around 60F.
Following Mr. Hot Shoe, who just came off the track from 50
minutes of on-track time to help his student, it became quickly obvious how
tight Calabogie Motorsports Park is. While the tarmac is wide, the turns are
generally tight and controlled, with quite a few decreasing radius turns.
Without going into too many details, it took me the first three 20-minute
sessions just to become comfortable with all 20 turns. My lines were getting
tidy and faith concerning going full throttle into blind apexes built up to
an acceptable-yet-not-perfect degree. Did i mention there are many turns to
this track to remember?
The only minor event was a small track off due to not quite
getting a downshift correct and whilst trying to get her in gear was then
faced with the need to trail brake. While this was happening the car was
losing aero down force and also had the weight shifted too much towards the
front. As luck would have it this new track has excellent grassy runoff
room, with it being a flat area, and so finally getting her in gear at 40mph
the extremely low to the ground car came out of it without any damage other
than dirty tires. No harm no foul.
Day 2 of the event consists of a morning run for you to get
a baseline of your best time, then another session for more tweaking and
tuning. Then comes lunch and your three laps of fame for COMSCC's recorded
time trial. The weather consisted of clear skies, ambient temperature
reaching 80F and the perfect day for evenly hot tarmac. During lunch Mr. Hot
Shoe said he was running about about 10 seconds a lap faster than my best
efforts. Add to this, he was also a few seconds faster than the best laps
ever run on the track to date. He gave me words of wisdom and also said that
i needed to trust the car more. Of course he was right, yet being day seven
of experience in the car one can have faith, and then there is 'oh G-d tires
hold your grip and please car don't run off track damaging the entire car faith.'
Yes, knew the car had more in her and made some small changes for the Three
Laps Of Fame.
The good news is that the car felt hooked up right from the
get-go! She was gripping the tarmac like a piece of bubble gum stuck to your
running shoes! Taking the main straight full throttle, getting the first
apex at Kink correct and staying full throttle we achieved some impressive
G-forces while also a fast prayer to the G-d Of Almighty Grip And Downforce
commenced as the car got closer and closer to the right side of the track.
Then came having the car at the left side of the track for the first braking zone
and a right turn at Jacques. Wow, that went great as did Gilles and full
throttle from there all the way to the braking point for Mulligans.
Instead of doing a turn-by-turn analysis, will surmise here
and continue that Temptation is a wonderful decreasing radius turn and trail
braking is key to not losing time. Beak kinda reminds me of the lefthander
at Lime Rock Park, yet swap going left for going right. From Spoon to Quarry
One is nice and fast and then come an interesting set of turns (Watts Up,
Wilson and Wicked) and it took me some time the day before to really
understand the best line for that sequence of events.
On my last of three laps i was on the tail of the car that
was sent out about 25 seconds in front of me, so obviously my lap times were
better than any other session previous run. As said earlier, the car felt
totally hooked up and there was no perfect time for that to happen than
during the time trials. Perhaps the G-d Of Almighty Grip And Downforce
heard my prayer? Whatever the case may be, my best recorded time was 2:14.59
while Mr. Hot Shoe did 2:10.39, a Porsche 911 Turbo at 2:20.56, Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
at 2:25.30, and lil' zoom zoom best Miata did 2:29.99. After the time trial i did the usual pit area bolt
check, car cleanup plus checkup, and rolled her back into the trailer the
same way she came off it. That is always a good thing!
Heading home with a huge grin on my face and eventual
reaching the usual Montreal traffic was fine by me. Am very much looking
forward to the next event at Calabogie Motorsports Park. The atmosphere, the
staff, and of course the track was a 1-2-3 knock out combination not to be
missed by any true track junkie!
There is still plenty more to get out of the car and now my
determination is to get on with the program and seek out everything this car
has to offer. It is time to get serious, stop being overly cautious and really
see what this car can do on the track! Am going to be laying down the gauntlet
and from here on out it is time to make her fly.
As always, huge thanks go out to the owners and staff at Calabogie Motorsports Park for
building an impressive track, and the flag staff for their excellence at
alerting drivers to whatever situation needs our attention.
Alas, my old video system could not handle the brutal nature
of the open wheel car, so no video with the new car. A Chasecam
is on order and hope to have it on the car for the next event. As always, in
the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Track,
Steven R. Rochlin