~ by Chris ‘#16’ Demaras ~
On Saturday April 16 2022, the LDRC series hosted a practice day in advance of their first race of the season that Sunday. Along with full-on race cars, track-day specials like the Mazda Miata were allowed on track for practice laps. The Miata is heavily modified,, and perfectly suited to the track. But I haven’t done a lap of Mosport in more than 10 years. The learning curve is going to be steep.
What is a track-car like on the Grand Prix circuit at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park? Well, the first lap is terrifying. I’ve been practicing on the simulator at HIP Motorsports for almost two months. But nothing prepared me for the elevation changes. Cresting the hill at Turn 4 felt like falling off a cliff.
Fortunately, I had my driving coach John Venditti with me. He helped calm my nerves, didn’t let me chicken out, and was so of enthusiasm, proclaiming:
“Demaras, you are driving on the site of the Canadian Grand Prix, a race won by Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi. You re walking in the footsteps of greatness by driving on this track.”
The Miata is extremely well balanced and gets immense grip from those Hankook RS4 tires. Bet every time I would exit Turn 3 (increasing radius corner) I could hear Coach Venditti commanding me to unwind the steering, let the car drift to the outside of the corner and get on full power. I knew the car would stick, but some laps I just couldn’t bring myself to open up the throttle. There’s still that fear that comes from a lack of experience.
Watching my son Daniel on track helped a lot. I could see the racing line he was taking in the same car, and understood why it worked. I could also see that the Mazda isn’t actually that fast! I just needed to get into a rhythm. By the end of the day, I would even say I felt comfortable.
Can’t wait to get back on track!