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Z-car club driving tour through Central Ontario

In late September, my car club the Ontario Z-Car Owners Association, held our annual Calabogie weekend tour of Central Ontario.

  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - main
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - driving 1
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - lunch
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - Ash Grove
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - flatbed
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - driving 3
  • JO Calabogie Road Trip - final stop

The best part of being in a car club is the camaraderie with like-minded people. The epitome of this is going on road trips together, driving our sports cars as a group and socializing along the way. In late September, my car club – Ontario Z-Car Owners Association, held our annual Calabogie weekend tour of Central Ontario. This road trip is approximately 1,100 KM (round trip from Toronto) of invigorating driving on some of best secondary roads in Ontario.

Most of my car club’s road tours are short afternoon cruises outside of the Greater Toronto Area, which anyone can enjoy. The “Calabogie Adventure Tour” is a full weekend commitment that appeals to the iron butt driving enthusiasts in the club. We hold one road tour per month during the driving season (May – October) and each tour has a designated leader who plans the route, itinerary and promotes the event. The Calabogie Tour is Erle’s baby as he is the most enthusiastic road warrior in our group and the best guy to organize two days of action packed driving.

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Our group met at 8am at a Tim Horton’s in Whitby on Saturday September 26. We were 12 cars including 240Z, 300ZX, 350Z, a Subaru WRX STI and Porsche Cayman. While Ontario Z-Car is primarily a Nissan/Datsun car club, we welcome all sports cars to join us for our driving events.

Tour leader Erle Strauss briefed the group about the day’s itinerary before we departed. It took a half hour to get out of Whitby and into the countryside before we could start moving at a steady pace. We took Thickson Road to get out of the suburbs then several secondary roads taking us through the scenic Kawartha Lakes Region. Our first stop was Buckhorn Lift Locks for a picnic lunch. From there we visited the Kawartha Winery to sample their vast selection of unique fruit wines.

We were blessed with beautiful weather for late September and the leaves were just starting to change colour. The convertibles and T-tops took advantage of the fresh country air. The best roads on day one were Elephant Lake Road around Haliburton, Moscow Greenview Road and Siberia Road. We reached our lodging destination – Ash Grove Inn on Barry’s Bay near Algonquin Park at 4pm having completed 250 KMof driving from the starting point in Whitby.

After we got settled into our rooms, a smaller group ventured out again for a short hour drive around the area while the rest stayed back to relax and socialize. For me, the social aspect was the best part of the weekend. We gathered in the motel restaurant for dinner and drinks to share stories and discuss the highlights of the day.

Unfortunately, one of our cars broke down and barely made it to the motel. Randall’s 1990 Nissan 300ZX was burning oil at an alarming rate. We could smell and see lots of black smoke coming from the exhaust. Good thing Randall had CAA and was able to have his car brought home to Mississauga on a flat bed. We all helped Randall feel better about the situation and he carried on with the group for the rest of the weekend as a passenger in the cars that had a spare seat.

There would be a lot more driving on day two. Our group met at the motel restaurant for a hearty breakfast fueling us for the long day ahead. Erle gave a pep talk and got us hyped up for the amazing roads on the course. Indeed day two proved to be exhilarating with lots of twists, elevation changes and long stretches of non-stop driving through beautiful and captivating scenic landscapes.

Highlights of the Sunday portion of driving were Matawatchan Road, Calabogie Road, S Lavant Road, Elphin-Maberly Road, Westport Road and Desert Lake Road. Stops included visiting the Black Donald Hydro Dam, Calabogie Motorsports Park and a late lunch at the corner of Country Road 36 and Highway 7.

Day two was 600 KM and nine hours of solid driving. It was a long tiring day but worth it to experience the amazing roads that you can only find outside of the city. As in Randall’s case, it’s wonderful how supportive everyone in the group is when someone has a car problem.

What a great weekend of cars, amazing roads and the fellowship of being in a car club. We call it the Calabogie Tour because we go through the quaint town of Calabogie but more than that; it’s a driving adventure through some of the best roads that Central Ontario has to offer. My recently acquired 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo ran well and the tour was an unforgettable experience.

I recommend this type of driving adventure to anyone with a sports car or motorcycle who wants to escape the city for a day of driving pleasure in Ontario’s countryside. Just be sure to bring a mobile phone and have roadside assistance coverage when travelling through these remote areas.

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