Enjoy the Track Featuring Driver Steven R. Rochlin -- Formula Continental and Ferrari 308GTS QV

 

 

 

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Calabogie Motorsports Park  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.

Arriving 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 stations, etc.

The 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

 

 

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