This past weekend was the OTA Ontario Time Attack school at the Mosport DDT. The track isn’t as glamorous as the Grand Prix Circuit at CTMP, but it was a great place to shake down the No. 16 MagiSeal Miata for its first track outing of the year, with Chris Demaras behind the wheel, and Daniel Demaras taking a well earned weekend off after his podium finish at the BEMC Spring Trophy Race a week earlier.
The well structured course started off with a driver’s meeting and classroom sessions. Some of the drivers were rookies, so reviewing flags was a solid idea.
Out in the paddock, experienced OTA members swapped out tires and brake pads, while others just removed their license plates, and sat around in lawn chairs trying to keep out of the sun. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.
Drivers would alternate between the classroom, autocross, and race track, For the Miata the first exercise was the skid pad, a place where its light weight and nimble handling could really shine. The car is so well balanced, it’s difficult to even break the rear end loose (even when trying to do it on purpose).
Next up was the Driver Development Track. This an 2.8 km advanced driver training facility (being run with the chicane this weekend) is a real technical challenge.
The DDT is 17 corners long, and in many ways is the complete opposite to the CTMP Grand Prix Circuit with its long straightaways and flowing corners. The DDT has ‘esses’, decreasing radius corners, and even a banked corner that seems like it was left over from when the place was still the Mosport Speedway 1/2 mile oval (1989-2013).
The Driver Development Track is a little rough around the edges. None of the kerbs have been painted in years, making it just a little more difficult for developing drivers to keep an eye on the apex they’re trying to hit. It’s actually a little disappointing, since the rest of the facility is top-notch.
Demaras’ OTA instructor Dora decided to show him how the track was meant to be driven, and took him out for hot laps in her red Porsche Cayman.
Returning to the paddock for lunch. the Mazda Miata met it’s twin; a second-generation Dodge Viper in sunny yellow with twin racing stripes over it’s long hood.
Some starry-eyed auto enthusiasts have noted the similarity in looks between the Viper and the NB Miata (the ‘baby’ Viper) but those two cars couldn’t be more different. The Mazda has a 1.8L inline four pumping out 140 HP on a good day, while the Dodge has an 8.0 L (488 cubic inch!) V10 that produced north of 415 HP..
The big roadster inspired Demaras to remove the Miata’s hardtop, and enjoy the rest of the sessions on the race track with the wind in his hair, enjoying the sunshine.
Back on track, the afternoon sessions went much more smoothly. The mind of 48-year-old Demaras isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and it took hours for him to memorize the track configuration. But with the patient help of Dora calling out corner numbers, and pointing out ‘points’ to focus on a corner ahead of time, Chris started the understand how to take the corners as sequences rather than individual features. Many of coach Venditti’s lessons from last season flooded back.
Other than a raspy exhaust rattle, the No. 16 MagiSeal Miata performed like a champ. But it didn’t matter. With the engine screaming at 6,000 RPM and the wind buffeting around the cockpit, any nasty sounds were drowned out. The OTA event was a success for Demaras, back on track after a long winter.
With the hardtop secured, Chris headed back onto the 407 to head home, looking forward to the next Ontario Time Attack event at Cayuga in a few weeks.