Back when Formula 1 began racing in Canada, it was Mosport Raceway which held the event. Ron Fellows, one of the current owners of the track, got to attend one of those races in 1969.
“Certainly for me, going to the Canadian Grand Prix was great for an 11-year-old,” he told a group of reporters at the Canadian International Auto Show. “I got there in the morning, sat at the top of the corner. Seeing the cars come out for the first time was incredible. I can remember it like last yesterday. It obviously had an effect as then; I wanted to get on the other side of the fence and been very fortunate to have a nice career.”
While the event was a success in those days, the race hasn’t remained there. With the track and scenery fading away, F1 pulled the plug, and a new location was chosen – Montreal, Quebec.
Now under the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park banner, Ron Fellows along with his partner Carl Fidai have revitalized the track, building new buildings, trackside suites, improving the corners, as well as putting together a new karting track. Their efforts have been rewarded as IMSA Sportscars, and NASCAR each visit the facility during the year, with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 being a must-attend event for fans every year.
“Certainly with my partner Carl Fidani, we are simply caretakers of the next generation of the facility,” Fellows said. “We’re here to take it to another level. One of the good things about this sport is it has so much passion, more than any other sport. We’re pretty passionate about hockey, but there’s like auto racing. It’s just a privilege to be racing at, and now being a track co-owner. It’s been a great adventure. I’ve learned a ton from my partners.”
Despite the changes, F1 has yet to return to the road course in Bowmanville, Ontario – and understandably so, with everyone enjoying the picturesque views and challenge that Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve poses every year.
It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been discussions surrounding a possible return, though. While Sebastien Vettel was at the track for a sponsorship event, a conversation between Fellows and Vettel led to the question being asked.
“We went to the board room, and he wouldn’t stop talking,” Fellows said. “We talked about track rental, track times and he goes, ‘Why don’t we race here?’ I go, ‘Can I quote you?’. He thought a lap time would be in the 55-second rage – and the track record is 1:04.”
Though while the F1 cars of today don’t look like they will return, the F1 cars from the previous decades will be returning this June, when the Masters Historic Racing Series takes to the track.
For fans that are interested in Formula 1 history, there’s a special exhibit currently on display right now at the Canadian International Auto Show.
Taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from February 17 and 26, the event offers manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their new car line-ups for the year, as well as concept cars. There is also other significant automobile-related exhibits featured throughout the event – including 50 Years of Grand Prix Racing in Canada. The display features seven racecars, including the Williams F1 car driven by Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix in Spain to the championship. Details surrounding the show can be found at http://www.autoshow.ca.
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