MOTORSPORT- No task too small to keep Old Mosport roaring
From the concessions to the on-site gas station, lots of work needed behind the scenes at the racetrack
For many motorsport fans, whether they hail from Southern Ontario or further afield, there’s no greater way to spend a summer weekend than watching cars go fast at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
But from the fan’s perspective, taking it all in is so easy that it happens without a second thought. You buy your tickets, show up, eat a hot dog, watch the races, leave your trash in the bin, and head home happy at the end of the day.
An enormous amount needs to be in sync behind the scenes ‘ not only at Old Mosport, but every race track or speedway around the world’ to make that experience as effortless as it is.
For most visitors, the food and beverage is a high priority, of course, and the staff at CTMP have made a concerted effort in that realm as part of their recent improvements. Much to the chagrin of the old-timers, the restaurant that sat in the paddock area for much of the track?s history was torn down recently, but few will argue the value of what has replaced it: a new five-window take-away bar outfitted with state-of-the-art kitchen equipment to keep the eats moving at a clip befitting a world-class race track.
CTMP president and general manager Myles Brandt says that ‘thousands of hot dogs, thousands of hamburgers, tons of French fries, and thousands of cases of Coca-Cola products’ move through the new restaurant and the facility’s other three snack bars to keep hungry fans and competitors sated, not only on major race weekends but often all week long during the summer to serve the enthusiast clubs and lapping groups.
For the largest events, external vendors are brought in to supplement the park’s own variety and capacity.
The roughly 400 acres of property also needs to be kept in prime condition, which involves everything from trash clearing to groundskeeping and track maintenance.
Fortunately, the latter is less of an undertaking these days.
‘The track’s in great shape, so it?s basically just maintaining what’s there,’ Brandt says.
For the rest, an internal staff that hovers between 10 and 15 people during the summer months takes care of grass cutting and reseeding as well as maintaining around 1,000 garbage barrels situated throughout the property, a task that is a constant job during the largest weekends.
To help take the load off and keep landfill contributions to a minimum, Mosport still maintains a relationship with The Beer Store that offers mutual benefits.
‘They give us some marketing tools inside of the stores, and we allow them to come out and pick up throughout the event and have drop spots to leave cans,’ Brandt explains, while adding that the track doesn’t allow glass bottles on the property these days because of the risks created by broken shards.
None of the work to make the fans happy means a thing if the competitors can’t play, though, and several of the facilities on the grounds exist specifically to support their activities.
For example, it’s difficult to miss the Petro-Canada station situated beside the victory podium between the new restaurant and pit lane. The equipment there is not merely for show ? it’s a fully functional gas station in the middle of the paddock.
Most of the major racing series, such as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that will race at Mosport next weekend, use a customized fuel spec and bring their own supplies with them. The infield Petro-Canada gas station is geared more to serving the midweek club days and some of the smaller sports car series, but it still moves tens of thousands of litres of fuel in a season by track estimates.
Racers also need wheels and tires, helmets, visors, gloves, boots, HANS devices, and much more in order to get out on track. Fortunately, specialty store Braidan Motorsport is open on pit lane and offers it all.
Owner Brad Shimbashi, who set up shop five years ago, started out focusing on supplying performance tires ‘ he is the main tire supplier for Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada and the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, among others ‘ but he decided to branch out into other race-related accessories shortly afterward.
He’s now open six days a week and sells products to professional racers, amateur karters, and everyone in between. Even setup equipment and GoPro products grace his shelves these days.
Teams and competitors will sometimes forget tools, lose them, or find them broken on arrival. Shimbashi has endless stories about the folks who have passed through his doors and the unique needs he’s been able to fill.
‘We sold a pyrometer (to a sports car team) because they were fighting over one,’ he recalls. ‘They had one on the team and they needed two, so they bought an extra one.
‘We can pull rabbits out of hats. We do it a lot.’
There’s so much more that happens to keep Old Mosport operating smoothly throughout the racing season.
The front office also organizes ticketing and credentials, catering and suite rentals, podium ceremonies, facilities and services for the media, and the list goes on.
They also lead co-ordination efforts with their many essential external partners, such as the local EMS crews, on-site rescue crews and physicians, tow trucks, marshals, grid crew, and timing and scoring, to name only a few.
No job is too small or too insignificant to be recognized.
‘There are people who look after getting the lunches to all the volunteers and things like that,’ Brandt says. ‘There are lots of different groups looking after different jobs on a weekend.’
Chevrolet Silverado 250
If you want to save some money, buy all your tickets before Aug. 27, which is Wednesday.
Right now, a Weekend Superticket (good for all days) costs $70. Weekend camping starts at $75. A race day ticket costs $55. Children 12 and under will be admitted free if they are with a paying adult. Go to: canadiantiremotorsportpark.com for at-the-gate prices.
Check the website for the weekend schedule ‘ practice for everybody starts Friday. The feature event, the Chevrolet Silverado 250, a 64-lap race, will start Sunday, Aug. 31, at 1:30 p.m.