CC Day Trip: Vintage Racing at Mosport

When I was young, my friend’s parents would take me along to the races, which was a great experience for me.

Now that I’m a grownup I try to do that for other kids, to give them a fun experience and maybe ignite a spark.  I’ve worked through my own children and some of my nephews, this year I went with my friend Mike, his son Cal and nephew Jeremy to Mosport.

If you’ve never heard of Mosport, it’s a jewel of a road racing course northeast of Toronto, Canada.  A challenging 4km track with lots of elevation changes, it opened in 1961 to replace ex-airport circuits like Edenvale and Harewood Acres.  Back in the day it hosted high profile races like the Canadian Grand Prix, and the mighty Can-Am series.  It was a bit of a backwater for many years but new ownership has invested a lot into the facility and it is now known as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

As an aside, don’t you just love the evocative names of old tracks?  Edenvale, Mosport, Harewood.  Ah, the days before sponsorship name changes, but I digress.

On this day we were there to take in the VARAC vintage festival.  This event included cars from 1947 to 1999 (yes, 1999 is apparently vintage now, although for some of us it seems like last week).  This results in some unlikely groupings, like the Mazda RX3 and Merlyn MK6 in the lead photo.

Cal and I are both car nuts, although on the Venn diagram of interesting cars we don’t have a lot of overlap.  On the way there we saw several modern exotics, which would excite Cal.  He would say “Look, a Lamborghini Diagallarador” or something like that.  Grownups would say “A what?” and he would haul out his phone and show us a photo, identifying the model for us.  Smart kid.

I on the other hand tried to impart my love of vintage racing.  The boys seemed interested in my explanation of why Fiat Abarths always race with the engine hatch propped open.  However I refrained from trying to explain why the Daimler SP250 is simultaneously the ugliest and most awesomest car in the world.  Didn’t want to push it too much.

We were prepared for mid 20’s partly cloudy weather, but the day turned out to be blazing hot and sunny.  Cooking lunch back at Mike’s van, the hot dogs just about fried themselves lying out on the dark grill.

Unlike modern racing, vintage racing is all about the cars.  We were free to roam around the track, so went through the pits during the lunch break to see what we could see.

The owner of this 1993 Ferrari 348 was kind enough to let the boys sit in it.  Memorable moment, check!


In the Polito Ford tent Cal and Jeremy were all over the new Ford GT, while I admired the Shelby Mustang which I have seen race several times over the years.

You can see in car footage of the Polito Mustangs here, these are some seriously well prepared and seriously fast cars:


Did I mention it was hot?

Here we are taking refuge under one of the pedestrian bridges over the track while the F1600 racers go by.

I hadn’t been to this event in a few years and a few things surprised me.  There was a very large field of racers, and about twice the number of spectators as I’d seen on previous visits.

I was also surprised by the amount of crashing.  Contact is frowned upon in vintage racing, but we saw the results of three pretty significant incidents while there, and later in the day one racer lost his life after hitting a wall.  Not good.

We were hiking toward Turn 5 but wound up taking an extended break in the shade at Turn 2, where we checked out the parking area including this JDM Nissan Skyline with right hand drive.  Then the boys amused themselves by trying to throw pine cones into a paper ice cream cup.  Although they had brought their bikes to ride around the track at day’s end, by about 2:30 everyone was hot and tired so we walked back to the van to head home.

When we had arrived in the morning Mike had found a key in the grass.  I thought it looked like a Toyota key so we tried it in a nearby Echo and it fit!

Mike skewered this note in the door lock and when we came back the car was gone.  Hopefully we helped the owner and not the thief.  🙂

Fun was had, memories were made, ice cream was eaten and pine cones were thrown so it was a successful racing day for us.  I wonder who I can snag for next year…