There’s nothing worse than a long gap between races. In the F1200 series’ month-long hiatus between the BARC Spring Race and the VARAC Vintage GP, I couldn’t stand spending every weekend at home. So, I spent this time exploring the different racing disciplines on offer in Southern Ontario.
Ontario Time Attack
In the No. 16 MagiSeal Miata, I took part in my first Ontario Time Attack event at Toronto Motorsport Park. A familiar car and a familiar track, but my first time competing in the Miata, and the first time driving it at Cayuga.
With overtaking being outlawed, Time Attack is all about pure lap time. Cayuga is a fun track to drive for this purpose, with the first sector being full of opportunity to make up time, depending on your level of courage over the kerbs through the esses. This event focused on the driver’s ability to push the limits of themselves and the car as they grew more comfortable as the day went on. I took some tips from experts on the best way to attack the track, and found laptime as the day went on. The Miata would not be able to top the timesheets over the various cars sporting horsepower levels twice that of our rotary engine, but of the six drivers in Miatas, I took top honours with the best laptime. Sadly, there was no trophy for best Miata.
At the high-banked short oval where I’ve watched many races over the years, I got the opportunity to turn my first laps around an oval. First was at the King of The Hill event, where spectators got to take their cars out for one lap shootouts, during a night of racing. The Miata took on an 80s GMC 1500, which was clearly up to racing spec. I got off the line well, pulled slightly ahead around the outside of turn one, but the V8 of my opponent carried him to a big advantage down the straight into turn three, where I drove in deep and held my line around the outside. With a slight lead, all I could do on the straight was watch the GMC get bigger in my mirrors, and eventually, pull up right beside me. We finished in a near dead heat, but I was eliminated.
Still hungry for oval track action, I came back a week later to test with SKLD Motorsports in an actual race-prepped oval-racing stock car. I spent the afternoon figuring out the technique of driving the short track, pushing to the limits of grip, trying different lines. By the end of the day, I felt ready to get into a race!
The plan is now to compete in a Stock Car race this summer. I’ll be with SKLD Motorsports in the No. 9 Integra competing in the ‘bone-stock’ class, but first another afternoon of practice first.
Away from the smooth pavement of Sunset Speedway, I took part in the RaceLab rally driving experience at Millhaven Quarry. In a Subaru Impreza, I ventured into the gravel terrain with champion rally driver Crazy Leo, who guided me around the circuit.
Rally driving is completely different from anything I’m used to, with very low levels of grip forcing the driver to work with the sliding, rather than trying to avoid it. Once I got that through my head, it became incredibly fun to drift through the trees, across the quarry and into the ravine. With scrap metal and trees lining parts of the circuit, coming in too hot could be costly. With Leo’s guidance, I got smoother and faster as the day went along, and more comfortable when the car loses grip. This is a particularly important skill to have for racing of all kinds, the ability to keep control even when grip is low.
With these new experiences, I showed up at the VARAC Vintage GP to get back in the F1200 car at Mosport. A familiar car at a familiar track, it was a walk in the park compared to what I’d spent my last month doing.
With yet another long gap before our next race, I look forward to getting back on the oval, for practice, and hopefully competing in my first race. I’m also scheduled to compete in the K1 Speed e-World Electric Karting Championships in California. Perhaps there’s one more racing discipline I’l get a chance to try later in the season. Time will tell.
~ Daniel Demaras ~