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2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

The VARAC Vintage Grand Prix is honoured to have to so many photographers clicking their shutters at VARAC’s annual event.

Below is a growing list of photography links we have assembled from the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix.  Please be sure to contact the photographers if use of their photos is desired.

If you have photos you’d like to add to the collection, please contact Ted Michalos

Full coverage of the event was captured by Giancarlo Pawelec

50 Years Ago There Was This Formula 1 Race…

Article by Perry M. Mason
Photos by Perry M. Mason

2017 marks a very special anniversary for Motorsport in Canada, 50 years since the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1.  The race was held at Mosport in Bowmanville Ontario, now known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).

Recalling this event fills me with awesome childhood memories and excitement. It was the first major international motorsport event I ever attended. A special thrill as well, since I got to watch my father, Al compete in the support races and win that weekend in his Corvette.

Seeing iconic drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham and getting their autographs are memorable moments I’ll never forget. At the time I had no idea that the drivers I met and watched would be such iconic and influential figures in the sport.

A sharp dressed dapper looking man I saw near driver Jim Clark intrigued me, he looked like “the boss” in that pit.  I was told he was Colin Chapman and “better get him to sign your program” my Dad said.. so I did, right on the Lotus ad on the back..and yes he WAS Lotus, the owner and creator!

My Mother, a big race fan, was in on the action as well. With her Kodak Super 8 camera she captured a lot of the action in the sixties silent colour movie medium. I particularly like her shots of stars Graham Hill and Stirling Moss giving her “the look and a wink” as most ladies of the race paddock would get from these ’60s era playboys.

My most memorable F1 driver encounter was sharing the condiments at the snack bar with a very nice fellow, we were dressing up our fries and I asked him to pass the vinegar..”you like that?” he asked in a European sounding accent. I said “yes”. I guess he was not thrilled about putting acetic acid on his, passed it to me, then he smiled and walked away eating his fries with ketchup.

Then a family friend Gary and formula Vee racer at the time, said “you do know that was Jochen Rindt?” Really??!! I scooted over before he was out of sight and he also signed my program without hesitation, and said thanks to me..he thanked ME..a kid.

Jochen, while leading the championship in 1970 sadly was killed in a brutal crash during practice for the Italian GP at Monza. He was the only posthumous F1 world champion. In the paddock, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart all the greats were there. So were two Canadian drivers entered as well, Eppie Wietzes and Al Pease, both unfortunately did not finish. Australian driver Jack Brabham won the inaugural race on that rainy day in September.

In 1973, that same family friend I mentioned earlier Gary, took me to the Mosport F1 race that year. We went only on Sunday race day, and as I recall it was wet again. Hmm.. Mosport wet in September?

Anyway, I remember him pointing out all the quirky things going on at that time. Jackie Oliver spinning his wheels from exit of one to the top of two in the wet without lifting, “not a mature driver yet” he told me, my opinion he was just a nutty driver!  Jackie Stewart craftily getting his way around in what was my favourite car that year the Tyrrell.

One of the drivers there intrigued me as well, he looked like Hollywood movie star, the women seemed to give him two or three double takes, he drove his Tyrrell like he stole it. Francois Cevert was Jackie’s teammate at Tyrrell. He got into a mess in turn two and destroyed his car. I remember fans running away with the iconic Elf blue cowling and the mirrors on those two foot high supports. Wonder where those are today? Sadly Cevert lost his life at Watkins Glen two weeks later during qualifying. He was Stewart’s last teammate as Stewart promptly retired from racing a race earlier than he’d planned due to this and still won the world championship that season. American Peter Revson won that ’73 GP in a McLaren,  Jackie finished fifth.

Mosport (CTMP) was host to this race for F1 from 1967 to 1977 with only the ’68 and ’70 seasons going to Le Circuit in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

In 1978 the event permanently moved to Montreal. The first edition of the Canadian Grand Prix at the new Montreal location in 1978, was on a purpose built circuit created on the site of Expo ’67 on Île Notre-Dame.

The race was won by our most legendary Canadian race driver Gilles Villeneuve driving for Ferrari. He was presented the winners trophy at this new venue by car enthusiast and Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau.

I attended the 1981 edition of the Grand Prix in Montreal. Driving into the track that morning, I was passed by a crazy person in a Ferrari, deck-lid flapping loose, passing on the inside and against traffic all at breakneck speed. Who the hell is that? When stopped at the gate to show my pass, I could clearly see it was Gilles..somehow it that made that illegal display ok.

During the race, to see Villenueve fans in the stands go wild was something to behold. Once again it was another wet race and it wasn’t even Mosport, I walked around with my umbrella and took it all in. Villenueve came into contact with someone or something, and the front wing was standing vertical in front of him, it never slowed him.

I caught that last lap on my camera that day, a cherished photo. The fast and fearless Villeneuve tragically lost his life qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

The organization for the circuit in Montreal honoured our Canadian race hero by renaming the facility “Circuit Gilles Villeneuve”. Gilles son Jacques followed in his father’s footsteps and made to Formula 1, winning the 1997 world Championship. He however never won in Canada at his namesake’s track. 

These are but a few of the memories I have from witnessing our Canadian GPs over the years. I can’t wait to participate in VARAC’s 50th Anniversary of the first F1 event at Mosport.

I don’t have a Tyrrell or Gilles Ferrari but in my mind I’ll feel like I’m in one!

 

 

A Spectator’s Delight at the Canadian Historic Grand Prix

Come one, come all – if you haven’t been a spectator at a racing event for a while then we may have the perfect weekend for you!

June 17, 18 and 19, 2106 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is the Canadian Historic Grand Prix.  We have over 200 entries running on 6 grids that include:

  • Monoposto cars – historic single seat race cars.  Formula Juniors, Club Fords, Sport 2000, and even more powerful open wheeled cars from the past
  • Vintage Historic Small Bore – 50 cars from the 50s and 60s including Minis, Sprites, Midgets, Triumphs, Alfas and a couple of MG Ts
  • Vintage Big Bore – another 50 car grid including  MGBs, MGAs, Triumphs, Alfas, Porsches, BMWs and many, many more
  • Classic – again over 50 cars from the 70, 80s and 90s including Porsches, BMWs, Corvettes, Mustangs, and Datsuns just to name a few

The Toyo Tires F1600 Championship is also running a 25 car grid.  This is some of the best racing you can watch anywhere!

New this year is the Formula Vee Spectacular which has drivers from two F1200 Series competing.  The Challenge Cup Series is a cross-border Formula Vee groups is being joined by CASC-ORs Millers Oils F1200 Championship.  We expect 6, 7, 8 car trains drafting up the back straight.  If you like to watch close racing – these guys are it!

Off track on Sunday (Fathers’ Day!) there is the Field of Dreams Car Show by corner 8, as well as the Legends of Motorsport discussion panel that is open to the public at noon in the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Conference Centre.  Bring your lunch and meet some of Canada’s greatest motorsport personalities.

The final on track session for the weekend is the VARAC Grand Prix open to any and all Vintage and Historic cars, as well as Classic cars weighing less than 2500 pounds.  We expect this to be a grand finale indeed!

What more do you need?  The weather will be beautiful.  The racing outstanding.  Come and watch 200+ drivers compete for glory under the summer sun…”

 

Can-Am Roars Again at VARAC CHGP June 17-19, 2016

TORONTO, ON (May 20, 2016) – Mosport will echo once again to the powerful sound of four Can-Am cars doing demonstration laps at the Canadian Historic Grand Prix, June 17-19, 2016.

“The Spirit of Mosport” Can-Am cars will include a McLaren M8E, a McLaren M1B (tribute car), a Lola T70 and a Chaparral 1. These fabulous cars will do laps on all three days and fans will also be able to get up close and personal at “The Spirit of Mosport” static display in a large tent on the west side of the upper paddock.

VARAC Can-Am

The Canadian Historic Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious events on the annual vintage and historic racing calendar in North America and it is the largest and most popular event of its kind in Canada, counted as a major spectator event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) since 1999.

Feature Race
This year we are featuring “Flat 6 versus V8 Muscle”, which will be a race between Porsche and American horsepower. Fitting, we have invited well known Porsche driver and 1977 Trans Am Champion Ludwig Heimrath to act as Grand Marshall for the weekend. He will be joined at “Legends of Motorsport” event by another Trans Am Champion, Eppie Wietzes, winner in 1981 driving for Corvette.

Racers from across Canada and the United States will be competing in cars such as Porsche, Formula Ford, MG, Triumph, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Mini, Corvette and many more, racing on the world famous Mosport Grand Prix Circuit, one of only three true historic Grand Prix tracks in North America, along with Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec and Watkins Glen in upstate New York.

Fans will enjoy three full days of exciting racing for six groups of cars including Monoposto (single seat open-wheel vintage & historic race cars), Small Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (under 2000 cc), Big Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (over 2000 cc), Wings & Slicks (very fast purpose-built racing cars running on slick tires), G70+ and G90 Cars, (cars dating from 1973 to 1994 including all kinds of Alfas, Corvettes, Porsches, Mustangs) and a host of others.

This year VARAC celebrates our 40th anniversary! The club was founded in 1976 and now has more than 220 members. Approximately 100 of those members are active racing drivers, who compete in vintage and historic racing events across North America and abroad. Our club is made up of racing enthusiasts from all walks of life. If you are interested in historic race cars we invite you to join us, on the track or as non-racing members! As you will see this weekend, VARAC members know how to enjoy their racing!

For more information see event information or contact chgp@varac.ca

Inside Track Excerpt – The 1977 Canadian Grand Prix

1977 Canadian Grand Prix: Gilles Villenueve Makes His Canadian Ferrari Debut, But a Different Canadian Steals The Show

For Canadian Racing fans gathered at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) on October 9, 1977, there was to be drama aplenty. Number one, and the big focus for fans and I was the debut of Gilles Villenueve in a Formula 1 Ferrari. A Canadian, driving for Ferrari? What could be better? With flimsy credentials I had scammed a photo pass, so I could go pretty much anywhere I liked…

The following article is an excerpt from an article written by VARAC member Jeremy Sale for Inside Track Motorsport News:

ITMN

Successful Weekend at VARAC Test & Tune April 22, 2012

The season has started off with an excellent turn-out to the VARAC Test & Tune that was held on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport).  A large number of new members and “new” vintage and historic cars along with a strong turnout of our regular members teched their cars and hit the track.

The day served as an excellent warm-up for the first race of the season to be held on May 4/5 as part of the BEMC Spring Trophy Races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as well as for the Canadian Historic Grand Prix coming up on June 15 to 17.

A visit from Ludwig Heimrath was a special treat and an honour for our club whos passion lies in the history of race cars and racing legends.  Media personality Gary Grant was on hand to capture the visit and even wrote about it in the Wheels section of the Toronto Star – see the posting here.

Our first annual edition of “Pit Signals” by Jeremy Sale will be released shortly with more coverage on the event, in the meantime pictures of the event can be found here.

2012 Canadian Historic Grand Prix – June 15-17, 2012

CHGP Poster

Toronto, Ontario (April 18, 2012) – The Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) will hold its 33rd Annual Vintage Racing Festival, renamed for 2012 as the “Canadian Historic Grand Prix”  sponsored by Wilson-Niblett Performance of Richmond Hill at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) .  Wilson-Niblett is Canada’s largest Corvette Dealer and agent for Callaway Performance Cars.

Fittingly, this prestigious historic racing event is Canada’s premier vintage and historic race meeting.  The annual event will be held at the world-renowned circuit from June 15 through 17, 2012. This technically demanding, very fast 2.459 mile track and former home to the Formula One Grand Prix, Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula 5000 is just one hour northeast of Toronto.

Corvette will be the featured marque for 2012.  Corvette racing cars from across Canada and the United States will descend on the Toronto-area track for the second major historic Corvette focus event following the very successful Corvette World Tribute held at Road America in Wisconsin this past August.

In addition to Corvette racing, VARAC will make High Performance Driving and Touring sessions on the Grand Prix track available and there will also be lots of activities both on and off the track for Corvette Clubs and other enthusiasts including a rally/tour of the area.

Subject to finalizing personal schedules, Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim have tentatively agreed to act as Grand Marshals for this prestigious event. .

There will be racing for six groups of cars including Monoposto (single seat open-wheel vintage & historic race cars), Small Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (under 1800cc), Big Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (over 1800cc), Wings & Slicks (very fast purpose-built racing cars running on slick tires), G70+ Cars (cars dating from 1973 to 1989 including Porsches, Mustangs, etc.) and of course Corvettes.

The weekend will also play host to the only Canadian round of the Small Bore Challenge Cup, an enduro series for small bore vintage & historic racing cars.

VARAC extends a special invitation to all drivers, crew, marshalls, volunteers and media involved with racing in past years to join in the ”Great Canadian Racers Reunion” on Sunday morning.  This will be a fantastic opportunity to re-connect with old friends and celebrate the history of Canadian racing.   As in important and integral part of the larger gathering, former Canadian National Champion, Gary Magwood will host the “Legends of Mosport” driver’s reunion and many of Canada’s racing greats will be in attendance.

The VARAC – 2012 Canadian Historic Grand Prix is about more than racing. This year VARAC has added a new event on Friday evening – the “Checkered Flag Charity Cruise”, which is open to all cruisers with proceeds going to the Wounded Warriors of Canada.  The cruise will be held on the Start/Finish Straight of the famed racing circuit and will give participants and spectators alike a glimpse of the excitement surrounding this race weekend and an opportunity to walk where champions have walked, while viewing a fabulous mix of machinery from hotrods to race cars with the best of rock & roll music and good food and drinks. We encourage everyone to come out for the cruise, join the party and support the Wounded Warriors of Canada, the designated charity for the event.

Other features of the weekend include the fast growing “PartSource Field of Dreams Car Show” and welcomes sports cars, hot-rods, car clubs and enthusiasts from far and wide.  Mosport offers a special discounted day pass for those attending the car show.  Also, parade laps of the Grand Prix track will be available to registered car show entries with the proceeds going to Wounded Warriors of Canada. Also, take in Canada’s largest Mini gathering, Mini Meet North while you’re there.

Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the VARAC Canadian Historic Grand Prix where you are encouraged to take it all in. Walk through the paddock and get up close to the cars and drivers who will be happy to greet you. Youngsters will enjoy meeting the drivers and being photographed with the race cars. Enjoy free camping. Explore the booths of vendors of all types. Within the park you’ll also find good food and beverage and modern comfort facilities.  That’s a lot of action and a super value!

Vintage racer, cruiser, motorsport enthusiast, sports car or Corvette owner, you won’t want to miss this event! Be sure to put it on your calendar today, June  15,16,17,  2012. For more information contact Bob DeShane tel: 705-878-5422 email: bob.deshane@varac.ca

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PDF version of this press release