Mosport Park was Canada’s first permanent motor racing facility and is one of a handful of circuits to have continued in operation for more than 50 years without any layout alterations.
Plans for a circuit were first mooted in 1958, when the British Empire Motor Club (BEMC) formed a development committee to investigate the possibility of selecting and buying a piece of property for a road racing course. By the summer of that year, a 450-acre parcel of land had been located near to Bowmanville in Ontario which at the time was occupied by a farm.
With a location uncovered, plans advanced and it soon became clear that a separate company would be needed to organise the complex task of building and operating a circuit. Mosport Limited – a contraction of Motorsport Limited – was duly formed and would go on to lend its name to the circuit. By 1960 further progress had been made and a swooping track design making the most of the contours of the land was drawn up by one of the Mosport directors, Alan Bunting. The proposals called for considerable groundworks to be carried out; in the one place the whole side of a hill had to be scraped away and leveled.
That same year while on a trip to Toronto, a visiting Stirling Moss was shown the circuit plans. He immediately suggested changes to the carousel-like hairpin at Turn 5. A 90-degree right followed by another right leading onto the back straight would, he felt, provide a greater challenge and duly the plans were modified. The resulting Turns 5A and 5B are known as Moss Corner as a result.
Construction continued, though there were a number of setbacks. Zoning logistics and delays caused by heavy rainfall meant that costs soared. When it was finally completed in May 1961, it had cost double the original $250,000 estimate. A clubman’s race organized by the Oakville Trafalgar Light Car Club christened the new course but, appropriately, the first major race – the Player’s 200 for sports cars which was held in late June – was won by Stirling Moss in his 2.5 litre Coventry Climax-powered Lotus 19.
Stock cars and Can-Am were among the early years highlights but by 1966 the costs of construction had caught up with Mosport Limited, which was put into liquidation. It was purchased from the receiver by a company called Cantrack Motor Racing Ltd, whose accountant was Harvey M. Hudes, who became the driving force behind the track until his death in March of 1996.
Top level motorsport came to Mosport in 1967, when the circuit became host to the first Canadian F1 Grand Prix. A crowd of 58,000 witnessed Jack Brabham triumph ahead of Denny Hulme. Mosport would alternate hosting of the GP with Mont-Tremblant until the latter’s financial troubles saw Mosport become sole host from 1971 onwards. It would continue to host the race until 1977, after which F1 left permanently for Montreal.
Safety at the circuit came under question after a number of large accidents. John Surtees had his biggest crash in 1965 when the suspension on his Can-Am car broke, leading to a violent accident which left him with multiple injuries. Two years later Ian Ashley was also injured when he crashed in qualifying of the Grand Prix. Then, in 1985, Manfred Winkelhock was killed when his Porsche 962 crashed at the sweeping downhill Turn 2 and gradually international motorsport drifted away.
After the death of President and General Manager Harvey M. Hudes in 1996, his longtime business partner, Bernard J. Kamin became President and CEO. By the following year the circuit had changed hands – firstly the lease was sold to International Motorsports Group (IMSG) who in turn divested it 1998 to Don Panoz (founder of the American Le Mans Series and owner of Road Atlanta and Sebring). By October of 1998, Panoz Motorsports had bought the facility outright.
Under the new ownership, a series of circuit improvements began. In 1999 the pit lane was extended and a new pit exit was created and in the autumn of the same year the run-off areas in Turns 2 and 4/5 were enlarged. The entire track was widened to 40ft in 2000 and completely repaved.
Developments continued in 2004 with the opening of a new kart facility, complementing a half-mile oval course which had first opened in 1989. In 2006 50,000 sq ft of lower paddock was paved and Mosport began a two-year program to install new debris fencing around the circuit.
In June 2011 a new company established by famed Canadian racer Ron Fellows, transportation industry leader, Alan Boughton, and real-estate developer Carlo Fidani took over ownership of the circuit. A programme of extensive renovations and facility improvements was begun, which saw an expanded pitlane, resurfacing at key points around the lap and new pedestrian bridges installed at Turns 2 and 7. Meanwhile, a new sponsorship deal saw the circuit officially renamed as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) is located in the Regional Municipality of Clarington, north of Bowmanville, Ontario. It located near major highways that run through Southern Ontario.
When entering information in your GPS unit, enter Clarington as the city (not Bowmanville). The nearest major airport is Toronto’s Pearson International.
The first event was held on August 3, 1964, on the short 12-turn, 1.5-mile circuit (north loop). Canadian Ludwig Heimrath drove his Cooper-Ford 289 to victory in the 32-lap feature race.
In 1965 the circuit was expanded to its current 2.65-mile layout. British driver John Surtees, the 1964 Formula One World Champion, won driving a Lola T-70 Chevrolet.
||4.26 km / 2.65 miles
|No. of Turns
||2.46 km / 1.53 miles
||1.91 km / 1.19 miles
||11 m / 36 feet
TRACK RECORD: 1:16.776 June 29, 2007 Tristan Gommendy, 2007 Panoz DP01 * with chicane
PDF: Circuit Mont Tremblant Track Info
Mont-Tremblant, located in the Laurentian Mountains some 90 miles north of Montreal, is famous for skiing and motorsport, with both proving major draws to the area in winter and summer respectively.
What many people may not realise is that close connection that the ski resort and its motor racing neighbour share. It was in 1938 that an explorer from Philadelphia named Joe Ryan came to the region prospecting gold, only to discover what glistered was in fact coloured white. Climbing Mont-Tremblant to the summit with friends Harry Wheeler and the noted journalist Lowell Thomas, Ryan vowed to turn the landscape into an alpine village.
Within a year, the vision was a reality with the opening of the Mont-Tremblant Lodge and soon aided in no small part by keen skier Lowell’s frequent radio reports from the resort the area became a destination for winter sports enthusiasts and today ranks among the top resorts of Eastern North America. Seasonal success came at a price; the summer period was much quieter and left locals particularly those who worked at the ski resort little chance of employment.
Enter Leo Samson, a local hotel keeper, painter and racing enthusiast, who had the idea for a motor racing circuit germinating in his head ever since his father had taken him to watch races in Montreal as a boy. After several years raising the necessary support and buying suitable land, he became the second man to turn his Mont-Tremblant dream into a reality. Carved out of the rolling hillside and surrounded by the most picturesque of scenery, Circuit Mont-Tremblant was born.
The links with the skiing world were formalised as the new circuit was dedicated to the memory of Pete Ryan, Joe Ryan’s son who, after a successful skiing career was cut short by injury, turned his hand to racing. He was just a promising a prospect in his new sport and won the first ever Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in 1961 (run to sportscar rules) but was killed at Rheims, France, during a Formula Junior race the following year.
The course was inaugurated in August 1964, initially as a 1.5 mile course, Ludwig Heimrath having the privilege of being the first victor. ‘Le Circuit’ as it was affectionately known was a true test of a driver’s ability. From the start the course headed uphill to the flat out turn one, which had its apex on the crest before plunging downhill through a cutting to a series of esses. A couple of short straights and 90-degree bends brought the cars back up the hillside and under a bridge, before a blast up to the challenging uphill Namerow hairpin before sweeping back to the start through the Paddock Bend.
A year later and Mont-Tremblant’s full majesty was complete with the opening of the extended 2.65 mile Grand Prix course. This continued down the hillside through a series of fast sweeping bends before turning through 180 degrees to head up the back straight and rejoin the previous ‘short’ circuit. The back straight featured a huge elevation change, known as ‘The Hump’, at around its midpoint. Cars would easily go light as they hit the crest, with a tree-lined fate awaiting anyone who became seriously airborne. It was not hard to see why the circuit quickly drew comparisons with the Nurburgring.
The key to a good lap time was maintaining momentum, particularly through the sweeping turns which lead onto the straights. Adding to the difficulty was the bumpiness; the harsh winters soon took their toll on the racing surface meaning cars would skit from bump to bump as they traversed the course.
In 1966 the circuit was host to the inaugural Can-Am race, won by John Surtees in a Lola. The event saw ‘The Hump’ claim its first casualties when two Lola T70 cars were launched into the air during practice, fortunately without serious injuries to their drivers, though both cars left were beyond immediate repair.
Soon after the circuit attracted even more prestigious events, hosting two Indycar double header events in 1967 and ’68, with Mario Andretti winning all four! Then in 1968 and 1970 came the Formula One Grands Prix. The bumpy surface exacted a heavy toll on the thoroughbred cars at both events and many cars retiring with mechanical difficulties. Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren finished the 1968 race to give the McLaren team a 1-2, while Jacky Ickx won for Ferrari in 1970, perhaps some recompense for the Belgian who had broken his leg in a crash during practice at St-Jovite in 1968.
Formula One departed for Mosport and then Montreal in the years that followed; the relatively remote nature of Mont-Tremblant counted against it, as did the all-too evident dangers of racing such high-powered machinery on the narrow, bumpy course. Soon it was only Can-Am that brought visitors from overseas and even then the big sportscars stopped visiting after 1971. The revived series paid two further visits in 1977 and ’78, the first of which was notable for Brian Redman’s huge crash at The Hump which left the British driver with injuries that leave him out of racing for nine months. After that even Can-Am departed for good and Mont-Tremblant only held local racing.
By the 1990s, the circuit was something of a time capsule, well below the standards required for modern contemporary racing. The circuit had changed hands a number of times over the years but in 2000 the whole complex was purchased by Lawrence Stroll, a Montreal fashion mogul who had made his fortune through the Tommy Hilfiger label and had been a sponsor during the dying days of the Lotus team in the 1990s. Stroll appointed Alan Wilson to redevelop the circuit to modern FIA standards, though he was keen to keep the essential character of the course.
The redevelopment had to be extensive, with room created for greater run-off around the course, new crash barriers and a widening of the entire course to 11 metres. The Hump got a major overhaul, being lowered considerably, while Turn One also received a makeover, with an optional chicane added for the fastest cars. A new south course was also added which could operate simultaneously from the north (short) course, thanks to its own pit lane and paddock. The changes necessitated the track’s closure for two years, so it wasn’t until 2002 that the circuit could reopen in its new guise.
Rather like Goodwood, the efforts to keep the essential character of the old track have been a success, with many of the old buildings preserved or upgraded in keeping with their original design. The iconic control tower now boasts and additional floor level, but you’d be hard pressed to notice, so close in design is it to the original.
Historic racing has become the main fodder of the refurbished circuit, with a number of popular meetings throughout the year, though there have also been a number of visits by contemporary racing series. From 2002-05, the Grand Am Series included a stop-off at Mont-Tremblant, with a six hour race reviving something of the spirit of sportscar races of old. In 2007 the circuit hosted a ChampCar race as well, which was eventually won by Dutchman Robert Doornbos after numerous lead changes and a late-race rain shower spiced up the action. With the unification of Indycar racing in 2008, there was no longer a place on the calendar for Mont-Tremblant, which is something of a shame as all involved were captivated by the circuit and its setting.
As well as racing, the circuit has long been home to a Jim Russell Racing Driver School, through which all three racing Villeneuve’s first learned their trade perhaps explaining why they all went on to great success. Anyone who could master Mont-Tremblant was probably ready to take on any other circuit motor racing could throw at them.
Circuit Mont-Tremblant is located a few miles north of Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. The nearest international airport is Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, around 1 hour and 45 minutes away. Mont-Tremblant itself has a smaller airport with connections to Montreal and Toronto, though these tend to cater for winter seasonal traffic to the ski resort.
By road, the circuit is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from Montreal. It is easily accessible via the Laurentien Autoroute 15. Head north to Sainte-Agathe, where autoroute 15 North merges with Route 117. Continue north to Mont-Tremblant (approximately 15 miles / 25 km). Take exit 119 (Montee Ryan) and turn right. After approximately 3 miles / 5 km on Montee Ryan you’ll arrive at a roundabout. Turn left onto Chemin du Village. The circuit’s main entrance will be on your right after half a mile (1 km).
On race days, parking is free with a general admission ticket. Infield parking is available for an extra charge.
Uli Bieri of Toronto purchased the facility, which only housed the dragway at the time, in 1997. Throughout his business career Bieri always had a passion for racing, doing so professionally throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, which gave him the vision to build a road course at the 480 acre facility. In the year 2000 that vision became reality when a 3.0 kilometre Road Course was built. The track was designed so it could be operated in 3.0 km, 1.8 km and 1.2 km configurations to suit driver skills from novice to pro. Safety was the first concern in designing and building the track which led to the creation of a flat course which provides plenty of run off area. In 2001 the track name was changed to Toronto Motorsports Park and lapping days for cars and motorcycles, as well as a variety of instructional programs were introduced, all of which continue today.
The objective of Toronto Motorsports Park remains to encourage people to enjoy motorsports, but to do so in a controlled and safe environment. On-track practice and instruction not only provide the opportunity to experience the potential of their vehicles, but also to develop skills that make on-road driving and riding safer.