Insider Report: From trucks to slaps, Chevrolet Silverado 250 made quite the debut
Great weather, great crowds, great races — and of course, 'the slap heard around the world'
Before ticket prices and availability were announced, the phone lines at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park were lighting up as fans called looking to secure their camping spots for Chevrolet Silverado 250. This historic event would mark the first time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had stopped in Canada and their first road course race in 13 years. Racers, fans and media alike were chomping at the bit with anticipation for what promised to be the greatest race weekend that “Canada’s Home of Motorsport” had ever seen.
Many, myself included, expected that the show itself and the fan attendance, would rival (and maybe exceed) the glory days of Can-Am and Formula 1. We were not to be disappointed.
I arrived at the track late on Thursday afternoon, when some fans had already moved in, as had the CWTS teams. The stream of vehicles coming through the gates would not abate until Sunday afternoon. In fact, as I stood at turn 10 to shoot the start of the race, there was still cars coming in as the green flag fell. The crowds of RVs was simply beyond belief and the number of fans watching by the fences around the track were staggering. It was a great community event in every sense of the words, with activities for young and old. A flotilla of extended length golf carts shuttled fans from one end of the property to the other, making it easy to watch from different spots around the track.
As I made my way through the camping areas over the weekend, I was shocked to see that perhaps 95 per cent of the cars and RVs were sporting Ontario license plates. I had expected a huge contingent of American fans. This immense hometown crowd not only shows how big NASCAR’s fan base is here in Ontario, but that both Canadian Tire and General Motors of Canada picked a real winner of an event to support.
Of course you will never make everyone happy and there have been a few complaints that the security was too tight surrounding the truck series paddock. Likewise, some fans were unhappy that the paid camping spaces along the fence in some spaces took up valuable viewing space. I call poppycock on the viewing complaints, because Mosport has never had so many fantastic viewing areas. Add in the extra mobility options and the place is a winner. As for the NASCAR paddock, I spoke with truck series championship contender James Buescher on Saturday about the paddock arrangements and he said the security is normal, but he just loves the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series paddock, because “we never really get to interact with the fans in the paddock. It’s fun.”
Most road racing fans expected a crash fest from Friday morning onwards, and yet the on track mishaps were surprisingly rare occurrences over the weekend. It wasn’t until the last lap of the race that all hell broke loose. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that action – except for the racers of course.
To give those who weren’t on hand a taste of the action, I put together this bit of video from the weekend. Next year, and my gut tells me there will be a next year, be sure to get your tickets early, because the crowds are going to be even bigger!
Whether you are a racing fan or not, you would have to have completely avoided any and all sports programming over the past 24 hours to have missed the footage of “The Slap.” One of several incidents on the action-packed last lap of the Camping World Truck Series race involved road racers Mike Skeen and the aptly nicknamed “Mad” Max Papis. The Italian racer has a reputation for crashing other drivers to move himself up the leaderboard. When Papis left a bit of room at the entrance to the last turn of the race, Skeen took advantage and dived down the inside. At the apex, when Papis clipped the left rear corner of Skeen’s truck, the Hawk Brakes machine owned the corner before spinning into the tires. During the cool down lap, both drivers showed their displeasure by playing bumper cars on the track. Once they reached pit lane, the crews got into it before being separated. As Mad Max finished up an interview with television crews, Skeen’s girlfriend, Kelly Heaphy, burst onto the scene and smacked Papis hard across the face. Naturally, the hit was caught on camera, so it wouldn’t be the Insider Report if I didn’t share it! Papis has since been quoted as saying the slap “dislocated his jaw.” He told ESPN: “I was in disbelief. Complete disbelief. If she would’ve closed her hand it would have been a bad punch, because she hit me so freaking hard. I went to (Mike Skeen) and said, ‘I guess we know who’s the man in the family here,’ because the guy didn’t even have the (guts) to talk.” (Note: The slap occurs at the very end of the video)
As Wheels Editor Norris McDonald called it, The Slap Heard ‘Round the World