In the post-war 1950s, the sports car movement grew up in North America based on our love of ‘sports cars’. While many magazine articles were written back then debating the definition of a true sports car, the consensus seemed to be that it was a small, two-seat, open-top roadster (with side curtains) that was equally suited to touring and racing. Indeed, in the era it was commonplace for a sports car owner to drive to the race track, tape up the headlights and go racing. Today, the rough equivalent might be track days, or lapping days. Back then, examples of such true sports cars would be the MG-TC, MGA, Triumph TR3, Austin-Healey 100, the Morgan +4 or the Porsche Speedster. The Sunbeam Alpine, which came out in 1959 and had wind-up side windows had some trouble being accepted as a true sports car on account of its lack of side curtains. Eventually we got past that and dropped the notion that side windows (or coupe bodywork for that matter) disqualified a car from being a sports car. The introduction of the more sedan-like Mustang and Camaro further confused things, but that old notion of a ‘true’ sports car lived on. The Mazda Miata (aka MX-5) which was introduced in 1990 was a deliberate throwback to that older idea. Indeed, the car was essentially a steel-bodied clone of the Lotus Elan from the early 1960s with its 1,600 cc DOHC four-cylinder engine and chassis layout (front engine, rear-wheel drive, wishbone chassis). This was a bare-bones sports car in the traditional form – a manual transmission, no creature comforts added, save for a radio and with a tiny trunk that would barely accommodate your small sports bag. It was such a success at reviving the best of the sports car ideals in a reliable Japanese car that the MX-5 has become the most popular sports car ever. This year, total sales passed the million mark. In the 1990s I owned two different first gen Miatas (the first was written off after it was rear-ended) and I drove them for a combined total of more than over 200,000 km, making many long trips to Florida and to various races across America. The first generation NA became the slightly restyled and upgraded NB. In 2006, the third generation NC was introduced with a 2.0-litre engine. This was a ‘softer’ redesign - slightly more interior space, some more accessories like cruise control and satellite radio, and a bigger trunk - and Mazda started to move away from the ‘Miata’ name in favour of the MX-5 moniker. Miata purists didn’t respond well to that. Personally, I once had rental NC for a week while attending the Monterey Historics event in California and I did enjoy the car. It still offered the genuine open-air experience and the upgraded features were convenient but I never searched the pages of Auto Trader looking for a used NC the way I’ve looked for used first- or second-generation versions. Finally, in 2016, Mazda has seen the error its ways and has produced the fourth gen ND, which is an obvious effort to produce a modern car with the old Miata character. It’s lighter and sportier than the NC, and as an unofficial member of the Miata nostalgia club, I approve. Recently I had to opportunity to borrow one of the new MX-5s to tour the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The car I was given was a mid-range GS with the Sport Option package which includes an upgraded suspension, Recaro seats and 17-inch BBS wheels. The GS and the optioned-up GT models all have 17-inch wheels with 45-profile Bridgestone Potenza S001 maximum performance summer tires while the base GX makes do with 16-inch 50-profile tires. The new car reminds me of my first-gen cars, but with even more precise and confident handling and a bit more power. This new car has a 2.0-litre engine with 155 hp but that’s more than you need for any road situation and more than adequate to make the Sport Option version an ideal track-day car. Indeed, if you want to go racing in competition, there is a ‘spec-racer’ model available for licensed, would-be racers and there are lots of race shops willing to transform your road-going version into a competitive racer. For me, I would simply want a tourer and this car was near ideal for our trip through the hills and valleys of the Finger lakes country. Once off the main throughways, the rural roads wind their way through and around the topography making for ideal sports car touring country. It is easy to see why Cam Argetsinger and others were inspired to carve out a true road-racing course on the roads through and around Watkins Glen. The days we were there were among the hottest of the summer and we wimped out and kept the top up and the air conditioning going full blast much of the time. But we did manage to get in some open car touring and the new version of the soft top lived up to its claims. It’s very easy to drop the top and bring it back up again while sitting in the driver’s seat (a convenience that is definitely not in the old sports car tradition). For sure, this car provided the authentic, traditional sports-car experience. As I see it, the version we had, the GS with the Sports Options package, was the best version if you want to drive the car is a very spirited way on the road or during a track day experience. The add-ons that come with the GT are not really in keeping with the bare-bones sports car that this car is supposed to represent, and there may be other cars that offer a better mix of sporty and bells-and-whistles conveniences than the GT MX-5, but even with the top-of-the-line GT there’s not any real competition at that price point. However, for my money, I would opt for the base model GX or the base GS instead, but not just to save money. The Recaro seats are designed to hold you securely in place no matter what but even for people with normal-width butts, the high, rigid side bolsters are confining and they make it difficult to get into and out of the car. The normal seats are more comfortable for everyday driving. Interestingly, so far the Recaro seats are not available in any package offered in the United States. As for the other things the GS offers over the GX, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob are nice extras, but that’s about it. A lot of the $4,400 price difference comes in the form of the touchscreen Mazda Connect which displays navigation, audio, Bluetooth and other information via a central screen. For my money, I would be happy with the basic radio and Bluetooth in the GS (audio entertainment in an open sports car is an iffy proposition at best anyway) and I could use my $150 Garmin GPS in this car or any other car, including rentals. The impression I get from a casual search of Mazda dealers near me (west-end Toronto area) is that they are stocking GS and GT models by preference, so it might be hard to find the GX if that’s the one you’re looking for. There are alternatives within the sports convertible arena to consider, including the include the Nissan 370Z, BMW Z4 and the Porsche 718 Boxster, all of which are generally more expensive. To my surprise, I found that the convertible version of the Mustang comes in at a base price comparable to the MX-5 GX, while the Camaro is a bit more expensive but in the same price range. Of course, neither the Mustang nor the Camaro are ‘true’ sports cars in the manner I’ve described here - each to their own taste, however. The other day I had a chance encounter with a neighbour who is now a successful novelist. As the royalties began to come in one of his first upscale purchases was a NC Miata. More royalties later, the Miata was replaced by a Porsche Cayman. Now he tells me that he has added a new ND MX-5 to his stable in addition to the Porsche. To me that says it all about the allure of the Miata. It’s clear that the Mazda Miata/MX-5 has found its niche. It’s the best-selling sports car ever and there are more of them racing than any other kind of production model. For sure, they are not another cookie-cutter car built to appeal to all tastes. But if you think that an MX-5 might be your cup of tea, it’s well worth a test drive. SPECIFICATIONS – 2016 Mazda MX-5 GS w/ Sport Option package BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $35,300 / $39,700 ENGINE: SKYACTIV-G 2.0L inline 4-cylinder HORSEPOWER: 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm TORQUE: 148 lb-ft. @ 4,600 rpm DRY WEIGHT: 1,058 kg CONFIGURATION: front engine, rear-wheel drive FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY.): 8.8 / 6.9 WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36/ 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: BMW Z4, Nissan 370Z, Porsche 718 Boxster
PORTO, PORTUGAL - After Audi’s popular A4 sedan received an all-new generation version that appeared in North American showrooms earlier this year, you knew it wouldn’t be long before its hot-looking coupe sibling would be similarly revised. But unlike its four-door stablemate, Audi will introduce the A5 Coupe into market at the same time as its hotter S5 performance version, with both scheduled to arrive at Canadian dealers in spring 2017, as 2018 models. It’s the first all-new A5 since the subtly stylish coupe was introduced in 2007, quite a long time even in an era of extended life spans for sporty models – especially German luxury ones. Audi spent the extra time refining the interior and technology of the A5, while lightening and boosting the performance side of the performance-oriented S5, which features a powerplant that has the same displacement, but is turbocharged instead of supercharged, and radically different otherwise. Exterior design adds some CanCon in aerodynamics Neither model looks hugely different, which is a plus as these were subtly some of the best-looking German luxury coupes on the market. The most immediate difference lies in the revised LED headlights, which now has its hockey stick-shaped blade pointed downwards towards its outer edges, in a form that’s similar to 2017 Ford Fusion. A neat touch at the rear are the LED turn signals that move in the direction you want to go, Mustang style, though not with three bars following each other, but in Teutonically straight and highly defined yellow strips underneath the brake lights. In between those extremities lie slightly more pronounced fenders meant to highlight an increased muscularity, with the S5 featuring distinctive aluminum trim and mirror housings, as per S-line custom. This car’s super-slippery 0.25 co-efficient of drag helps keep it quiet at highway speeds exceeding 140 km/h (highways in Portugal are largely limited to 120km/h, but even automatic photo radar traps don’t generally trip below 145 km/h, according to locals). This Prius-like aerodynamics figure also provides a bit of Canadian content, as they were honed under the direction of Ottawa-born aerodynamicist Dr. Moni Islam, a Montreal-raised engineer who holds degrees from Concordia and the University of Toronto. Engine upgrades for both These slightly more aggressive accents are backed up by more power under the hood for both the A5 and S5. The A5 receives a healthy bump up in power from the current model’s 220 hp, with 252 hp coming from a turbocharged four-cylinder that continues in 2.0-litre form. On the road, this engine provided a smooth yet lively companion, quietly obedient in urban conditions – though from the outside, its direct injection is surprisingly loud and diesel-like. It offers a responsive urge when called upon, especially if used in conjunction with the shift paddles that are now standard on all ‘5’ models. Audi stakes a credible claim of 5.8 seconds for its 0-100 km/h time, with fuel economy not yet confirmed for North America, but likely close to the ’17 A4 quattro sedan’s 8.7 L/100km average. The A5 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the S5 comes with an eight-speed Tiptronic unit. No manual gearboxes are planned for this side of the world, a reflection of just how few opt to shift their own gears, even in performance vehicles. With the original S5 offering up a muscular supercharged V8 with 354 ponies, the last generation’s supercharged powerplant’s 333 was a kinder, gentler offering, in performance and at the pump. For this 2018 model, power is back up to 354 metric horses, though its U.S. horsepower figure comes in at 349 hp (and 249 hp for the A5 Coupe). Torque rises even more substantially, up to 369 lb-ft, helping to propel the S5 from rest in an official 4.7 seconds. Interior comfort and convenience upgrades the most apparent of all The tech-heavy interior is by far the most improved aspect of the A5 family, especially in our afternoon testing fully loaded models on curvy back roads and highways in northern Portugal. This more advanced feel starts as soon as one sits in the driver’s seat, an electric arm extending out the seatbelt from the B-pillar to make it easier to grasp. This is a long-time party trick of Mercedes-Benz two-door models, but more originality points go to Audi’s available ‘virtual cockpit,’ which trades in actual dials for a super high resolution TFT screen that places the navi map in between digital dials, allowing the driver to select among different GPS and display modes. There’s also a new head-up display that ghosts speed, GPS and stereo information onto the windshield in front of you, with the rotary MMI-controller system now touch-sensitive like a tablet as well. Folks who don’t want to spend much time diving into the specifics of the advanced system may still appreciate hard buttons for radio station presets as well as a real volume knob down by the MMI controller, features that are quickly disappearing from other luxury interiors. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, as will a way to wirelessly charge certain phones, if so equipped. Plus, previously missing luxury features such as a heated steering wheel and ventilated and massaging seats will now be available, as will a way to adjust ambient light patterns in 30 different shades. We spent most of our time in the A5, but the S5’s interior was notable for the full sonic blast of the optional 3D Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker, 755-watt system. Even set to half way its max volume, the rearview mirror shook and bass thumped through our quivering organs. I couldn’t in good conscience push it past three-quarters, even though the sound stayed pinpoint sharp, for fear my driving partner would use the small volume knob next to his knee to cut the sound quickly before delivering a Medusa-worthy death-stare. One annoying aspect of the A5 and S5 had to do with its shifter and automatic parking brake. Though owners would, presumably, get used to the oddly placed Park button located on the lower left of the shifter, the auto-engaging parking brake that doesn’t automatically un-engage when going into Drive quickly becomes tiresome. Increased size, but decreased weight also help dynamics Size-wise, Audi engineers increased both the overall interior and space, the latter now up to 465 litres, with a 40/20/40 rear seat split that allows both rear seats to be occupied and the centre section to still offer a usefully large pass-through for skis or hockey sticks, though bags for either one may be a stretch. That trunk also now offers the ability to rise with a sweep of the foot. Even with its larger size, Audi was able to trim the curb weight by as much as 60 kilograms (132 lb). That’s not a huge decrease, but combined with the more powerful engines, certainly helps in the dynamics department. Full-time all-wheel drive sends 60 percent of the A5 torque’s rearward under most conditions, but can send up to 70 per cent to the front and up to 85 per cent rearward, such as when accelerating hard from a stop. In the S5, a more advanced sport differential can vary torque side to side as well, sending most power to the outside rear wheel, and thus fighting the understeer that sometimes plague safety-oriented all-wheel drive systems. There’s also now a predictive and electronic damping function to the new suspension that reads the car’s various inputs (engine rpm, steering angle, transmission mode, etc.), that promises increased comfort as well as performance, depending on the driver’s mood and the condition of the road ahead. Impressive, but evolutionary In the end, both the A5 and S5 lead to much-needed but not-terribly-ambitious remakes to the popular luxury and performance coupes, respectively. While the S5 is more technically interesting for its new turbocharged V6, its compressor now nestled tightly in between the V6’s cylinders, most of the changes are based on the new Audi A4. This helps its interior convenience and comfort aspects more so than its performance ones. at least so far. Then again, we haven’t seen what Audi has in store for a potential RS 5 model, so the best is likely yet to come. SPECIFICATIONS – 2018 Audi A5 / S5 Coupe BASE PRICE: $44,700 / $57,800 est. (A5 / S5 – 2016 model pricing) ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. / 3.0L turbocharged V6 HORSEPOWER: 252 / 354 TORQUE: 272.9 / 368.8 CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / all-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual clutch automatic / 8-speed Tiptronic automatic DRY WEIGHT (KG): 1,390 / 1,615 FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (NEDC COMB.): 6.3 / 7.4 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: BMW 2-Series / M2, Cadillac ATS/ ATS-V Coupe, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe / C 63 Coupe Photography by Michael Bettencourt and Audi AG
Lincoln’s turnover of its staid lineup has been chugging along for the past few years with new MKC and MKX crossovers, but it will really pick up steam in the second half of 2016. An all-new Continental sedan is on the way, but it’s not the only new Lincoln bound for dealerships. A refreshed 2017 MKZ mid-size sedan is has just gone on sale with new front-end styling and powertrain updates among other changes, On the powertrain front, the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 replaces the 3.7L V6. The 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder carries over, as does the normally aspirated 2.0L four, which powers the MKZ hybrid. Power output has been increased in both EcoBoost units, slightly (5 hp / 5 lb-ft.) with the 2.0L (245 hp / 275 lb-ft.) and significantly with the 3.0L (400 hp / 400 hp). The latter produces and extra 100 hp and 133 lb-ft. of torque over the outgoing 3.7. The hybrid’s numbers are unchanged at 188 total system horsepower with 129 lb-ft. of torque. The engines are paired with two transmissions, a six-speed automatic goes with the EcoBoost mills and the hybrid comes with a CVT. On the inside, the MKZ sports a redesigned centre stack with buttons and knobs replacing the slide controls of the outgoing model. Other changes include redesigned door panels with new trim materials. The touchscreen infotainment / navigation system, powered by SYNC 3 software operates beautifully and utilizes its unique Lincoln graphics and colour palates. The 2017 MKZ comes in two trims, Select and Reserve for both regular and hybrid models. I sampled two of the three powertrain combinations. Sadly, no V6 models were made available for the press preview. On the road, the MKZ is a quiet and comfortable car to cruise along in. Both models were quiet at highway speed and in city traffic. What surprised a little was how responsive they were to stabs at the throttle. Launches were quite quick but they filled the cabin with buzzy engine noise, which is bit disappointing for a car born out of quiet luxury. One can toggle the modes (comfort, normal and sport) of Lincoln Drive Control, but it doesn’t change the car’s character much. Steering effort, throttle response and suspension damping felt much the same regardless of setting. Might as well just leave it in normal and never touch it again. Besides, fiddling with driving modes and mashing the accelerator seems to be at odds with the MKZ’s nature. This car, and the Lincoln brand generally, is all about taking the road less traveled in comfort and style. SPECIFICATIONS 2017 Lincoln MKZ BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $42,000 / $46,000 ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 HORSEPOWER: 245 hp / 400 hp TORQUE: 275 lb-ft. / 400 lb-ft. DRY WEIGHT: 1,769 kg / 1,901 kg (AWD) CONFIGURATION: front engine, front and all-wheel drive FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 11.8 / 8.4 / 10.3; 14 / 9.2 / 11.8 (V6) WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Lexus ES Photo by Lee Bailie
The Buick Enclave feels a bit like the forgotten member of the brand’s crossover / SUV lineup. While the compact Encore will get a facelift for 2017 and the mid-size Envision is new to the North American market, consumers will likely have to wait until the 2018 model year for an all-new Enclave. The current gen full-sized Buick SUV, which was last updated in 2013, will soldier on for at least one more year beyond 2016. Despite its age, the Enclave still offers room for seven, a comfortable ride and plenty of premium content (4G LTE Wi-Fi, heated and cooled leather seats, navigation, satellite radio, etc). Available in front and all-wheel drive, the Enclave is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 (288 hp / 270 lb-ft.) mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Power delivery is linear and a flat torque curve (peaking at 3,400 rpm) ensures good off-the-line acceleration. The Enclave may be a bit long in the tooth, but it delivers a compelling luxury package that is competitive with its German and Japanese rivals. SPECIFICATIONS 2016 Buick Enclave AWD Premium BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $49,035 / $58,995 ENGINE: 3.6L V6 HORSEPOWER: 288 hp @ 6,300 rpm TORQUE: 270 lb-ft. @ 3,400 rpm DRY WEIGHT: 2,930 kg CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 16.1 / 10.8 / 13.7 WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Acura MDX, Dodge Durango, Infiniti QX60, Mazda CX-9
Here is our list of 5 (Five) Best and Worst Things About The Upcoming 2018 Audi A5 Coupe. BEST 1) Slippery style: Super refined but sporty style, with aerodynamics honed down to a slippery 0.25 coefficient of drag by Ottawa-born aerodynamicist Dr. Moni Islam, who holds degrees from Concordia in Montreal and the University of Toronto. 2) Whisper quiet: Also helped by those sleek aerodynamics, as well as the platform it shares with the A4 and pricier Q7, the A5 is whisper quiet and hugely refined when cruising at highway speeds, and even extra-legal highway speeds. 3) Power healthy for “base” model: Major power boost from the redone turbocharged 252 hp four-cylinder engine, as on the A4 sedan, with a healthy 293 lb-ft of torque, standard paddle shifters and quattro all-wheel drive that combine to power it to 100km/h in a claimed but believable 5.8 seconds. 4) Kicking sound: a brief burst to what I thought must be nearing full blast of the optional 3D Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker, 755-watt system was barely up to half way. Even though I warned my co-driver of the audio test, I couldn’t in good conscience push it past three-quarters, even though the sound was still pinpoint sharp. 5) Virtual wow factor: Audi’s flashy virtual cockpit is now available here, which first debuted on the TT, which trades in analog gauges for a super high resolution screen that uniquely bleeds the navigation system across much of the space in front of the driver. Worst 1) Too similar-looking for some: a quick poll of attendees at the launch had a few thinking it looked a bit too much like the outgoing version, especially with the similar-looking five-spoke wheels on some test models – with a hint of ’17 Ford Fusion in its headlights especially. 2) Still tiny back seat: even with 23 more millimetres (0.9 inch) of knee room in the back, the plus-two seats back there are still very tight, and made slightly tougher to access with the automatically extending and retracting seatbelt arms, as Mercedes-Benz has used for a while on its big two-doors. 3) Lack of engine choice: the A5 will arrive with one turbo 2.0-litre four, and that’s it; though the sportier S5 benefits from an all-new turbocharged V6 engine, A5 drivers in North America won’t be offered any of the other four engines available in Europe (three diesels, one other gas). A plug-in offering would be a great option here. 4) Parking pain: Though A5 drivers would (likely) get used to the oddly placed Park button located on the lower left of the shifter, the auto-engaging parking brake that doesn’t automatically un-engage when going into Drive had multiple drivers cursing the combo of the two, even by the end of our half-day preview drive. 5) ‘Diesel-gate’ collateral damage? Though the emissions control defeat device scandal is most closely associated with parent company Volkswagen, Audi may still have a trust issue with consumers not impressed with the brand heavily pushing ‘clean diesels’ that were found to be anything but, and removed from the market for 2016 by government regulators in both Canada and the U.S.
There are many forms of racing and all have their merits and challenges, but where does someone start when they do not have the experience or a limited budget to compete? The Ontario Time Attack (OTA for short, and previously known as SOLO 1) is a grassroots discipline that has been established since 1980 as an affordable alternative and stepping stone to other forms of racing. Here is a comparison of OTA and other racing disciplines: ONTARIO TIME ATTACK OTHER NON-CASC FORMS OF RACING Use your daily driver to compete in most cases. Need to have a series specified and dedicated car, which is not “streetable” and requires tow vehicle and trailer. Safety equipment minimum is an approved helmet and factory safety belts. Usually a roll cage is required with safety 4- or 5-point harness and, consequently, a neck restraint required with approved helmet. Race “solo” like you’re qualifying for pole position in every race. You race with others sharing the track with the chance of making contact with other competitors with your car. Choose up to 6 events and 2 schools. Usually you must compete in a minimum number of races to maintain your involvement in the series. Affordable drivers education dovetailed into the race events. Driver education is not usually run in conjunction with the race schedule, and costs usually are over $1,000 plus. You decide which modifications you want to make. A performance index ensures you’re fairly matched with similar competitor groups. Modifications are usually standardized which can result in large expenditure to make your car competitive. Usually the teams who can maximize expenditure on the cars can lead the race. All the events are close to the GTA and scheduled on weekends. Many of these races are either out of province and/or have Friday test and tech days. Our drivers are competitive but are more than ready to assist novice drivers in both mechanical and driving skills. Drivers are often overly competitive and rarely share experiences to help you become a better driver. We offer lots of track time to practice your skills and also compete. Track time can be very limited. We hire professional racetrack marshals and safety crews to keep our drivers safe. Professional racetrack marshals and safety crews keep drivers safe. You win awards and get satisfaction developing and honing your driving skills. Win awards and develop your driving skills in a highly-competitive environment. We are a volunteer-run organization and depend on fellow competitors to run a safe event while maintaining the cost of racing to a minimum. We are a volunteer-run organization and depend on fellow competitors to run a safe event while maintaining the cost of racing to a minimum. 2016 MOBIL 1 ONTARIO TIME ATTACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIESPresented by JRP, Toyo Tires & Yokohama Tire SCHEDULE TRACK DATE HOST CLUB LOCATION DDC May 14 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA TMP June 4 TAC 1 hour South of Hamilton CTMP June 25 SPDA 1 hour East of GTA CTMP June 26 SPDA 1 hour East of GTA DDC July 9 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA DDC July 10 OMSC 1 hour East of GTA SMP August 20 SPDA 2 hours East of GTA SMP August 21 TAC 2 hours East of GTA LEGEND TRACKS CTMP Canadian Tire Motorsport Park DDC CTMP Driver Development Centre SMP Shannonville Motorsports Park TMP Toronto Motorsports Park CLUBS SPDA SPDA Motorsport Club (spda-online.ca) OMSC Oshawa Motorsport Club (oshawamotorsportclub.com) TAC Toronto Autosport Club (torontoautosportclub.ca/tac-solosprint.html) Can’t wait to get started? Contact Gerry at email@example.com or phone/text him at 416-505-9559.
Jen Horsey in her first national event in the race car she bought built. The best racing advice I ever got was to buy built. It sounds counterintuitive – especially to the mechanically inclined who imagine weekends in the shop with friends when they daydream about starting a team. But if you survey a driver’s meeting in just about any discipline, you’ll find experienced racers generally agree on this point: for your first race car, don’t build it. Buy built. My very first race car was a 1993 Mazda 323 rally car (pictured) originally built and maintained by the capable team at Four Star Motorsports in Georgetown, Ontario. It was a straightforward build with a few aftermarket parts, reinforcement where it needed it, and safety gear to the rules of the day. It came with a log book guaranteeing it was race legal in its class, and a well-developed spares package. I loved that car: it was well-sorted and dead reliable. Somebody else had done the development work on it, so any DNFs on my early career record were due to operator error, rather than of the mechanical variety. So in my first season, I got to learn a lot, including what I wanted in a race car. When I bought the Mazda, I would have told you that what it needed was a ton more power, a racier gearbox and a new paint job. When I sold it, I knew I wanted my next ride to have a modified pedal set-up that was more conducive to left-foot braking, different seats installed a little lower and on a better angle for weight balance as well as my comfort and visibility, a better handbrake set-up, and a suspension upgrade. Nowhere on the list were the power or gearbox upgrades I thought it needed because once I started racing, my priorities completely changed. (I repainted the car when I crashed it badly enough to need to replace some panels – the first time). After that, I built. And I discovered first-hand that it is usually not a fun experience to fight through a season with a new car. I experienced no shortage of what we in the biz like call “teething troubles.” Think it won’t happen to you? They’re almost inevitable. Look up your favourite team’s first season results and you’ll see the telltale pattern of new-car woes: DNFs, inconsistent lap times, and flashes of brilliance marred by gutting disappointment. Better still: Google “teething trouble” and “motorsport.” Formula One’s McLaren-Honda’s 2015 season to forget is only the first result to come up in a long, long list. The best way to learn and grow as a driver when you’re new to motorsport is to maximize your time racing and minimize your time in the garage. A sorted-out build is critical to your success. But that’s not the only reason to buy built. A driver I used to work with was fond of saying that you had to hate your car a little bit to put it through the abuse it sees in competition. And if you fall in love with every rivet while you’re building it, you might discover that driving it becomes a little less fun. The last thing you want to be thinking about as you’re throttle down and working on a last-corner pass for the lead is how much work it’s going to be to fix the crash damage. But once you decide to buy built, how do you avoid a lemon? There are no CarProof vehicle history reports for race cars, of course, but you’ll find the paddock grapevine is just as accurate – if not more so. There are few off-the-books wrecks in racing. Ask around and people will be happy to tell you what they know. A vehicle’s build history is important – that will tell you how sturdy its fundamentals are – but when you’re buying built you also need to know a car’s racing record and service history. The longer it’s been since the builders had it, the more important the service reference. Officials, competitors and team mechanics will all have an opinion on a given car, and if you’re hearing a mostly positive slate of reviews, then you’re in business. And for the mechanically inclined among you, never fear: if there is one guarantee for a grassroots racer, it’s that you will spend plenty of time working on your car. It’s been seven or so years since I sold my dear old Mazda, but each time it has come up for sale, somebody has tagged me on Facebook or sent me the listing. It was blue the last time I saw it in person. It’s yellow now. And it’s been crashed and fixed and modified enough times since I’ve owned it that I’ve lost track of its condition and wouldn’t be able to give a reference on it anymore. But the people who know it from recent track days and races sure can. And that’s true for just about every race car on the market. Once you let it be known that you could be a buyer, you’ll have no trouble finding your next weekend warrior.
Always wanted to go car racing, but didn’t know what or where to race? This year, the Western Canada Motorsport Association (WCMA) has made it even easier to “race what you’ve got.” For two of our classes, we have adopted National Auto Sports Association (NASA) Performance Touring (PT) and Super Touring (ST) rules. The PT class is for cars with greater than 10.5 pounds per horsepower, and ST for cars that have less than 10.5 pounds per horsepower. This means you don’t need a highly-modified car to race in a competitive class. You add a roll cage and safety equipment to whatever car you want to race, plug your car and modifications into the PT class calculator spreadsheet, and you will be placed in a competitive class for the level of modification of your car. The WCMA will be holding two race licensing schools this spring: April 30-May 1 at Castrol Raceway in Leduc, Alberta, and May 7-8 at Gimli in Manitoba. Each school provides two days of instructor-driven track instruction for a fraction of the cost of taking a professional racing school. And the FIA licensing obtained at these schools will allow you to race anywhere in the world through our FIA affiliation. The WCMA has many other classes to race in as well, including Open Wheel Formulas, Challenge Car for early RX7s, and Spec Miata for 1989-2005 cars. The Spec Miata field reached 17 cars last year at Castrol, which was the largest field for a club level race in North America. Four race dates are scheduled at Castrol Raceway Leduc and five race dates are confirmed at Gimli Manitoba in 2016. As well, tow funds are available for selected racers traveling to away races in B.C. and the Prairies. Not ready to hit the track this year? The WCMA’s 17 affiliated clubs have autoslalom events where you can race your street car against the clock on some exciting venues, such as the Fort Macleod Airport runway and portions of Castrol Raceway. Participation in these events can start you off on a graduated progression to get your race licence and hit the big tracks! So, if you’ve been thinking about racing in Alberta and/or Manitoba and didn’t know where to start, think about the WCMA! Visit our website for details on events and registration for the upcoming summer racing season.
The Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs (CACC) holds motorsports events all year long on the west coast. In the winter months, a very dedicated group of racers look forward to the freezing weather and the trek up the Fraser Canyon to Barnes Lake for a season of ice racing. Unfortunately, the track is dependent on how cold it is and how much ice is on the lake. If it isn’t cold enough that means no ice. No ice means no track. No track means no racing. While there’s still some time for things to turn around, this winter’s warm weather saw things get off to a slow start, with only a single icecross having been run on the lake as of this writing. Fortunately, the weather in the Greater Vancouver area and in Victoria on Vancouver Island affords us the opportunity to run slalom events year round, with only a short break over the Christmas holidays. Check the CACC web site for a listing of clubs that organize slalom events throughout B.C. during the year. The CACC will have a booth at the Vancouver International Auto Show again this year (March 23-27), which always attracts lots of enthusiastic spectators. This usually brings new people out to our events, and we invite you to come out and learn more about our organization. Both the Victoria Motorsports Club (VMSC) and the Sports Car Club of British Columbia (SCCBC) will also be hosting their annual Race Driver Training Events in March, too. The VMSC will hold its school on March 26-27 in Victoria while the SCCBC will hold its on March 13-19- 20. These schools are for people wanting to go wheel-to-wheel racing as well as those who want to learn better car control. Spots fill up early and fast. The 2016 CACC race schedule is set for the events at Mission Raceway Park’s road course, with the first race weekend set for April 16-17 with a practice day on Friday the 15th. It will be a full field of cars with racing for novices on Saturday, and full grids of open- and closed-wheel cars both days. Plus, there will be a time attack on Saturday, with Sunday set aside for racing Vintage cars. The full schedule is on www.sccbc.net. Time attackers are also looking forward to the Annual Knox Mountain Hillclimb, which takes place on the Victoria Day long weekend in Kelowna, BC this year. This long-standing event continues to be the only sanctioned hillclimb in Canada, and draws entries from all over western Canada and the U.S. The vintage racing discipline will be holding races on all regular CACC race weekends, but The British Columbia Historic Motor Races standalone race weekend will take place on August 19-21. This event always features a great display of old race cars doing what they were built to do – RACE! – as well as a superb car corral with lots of old cars to check out. There is a fun social atmosphere at the Saturday night banquet – a must attend event – so what are you waiting for? Before signing off, the CACC wants to congratulate Rick Payne of Mission, BC, who took his Van Dieman RF99 Honda from 10th on the grid to victory at the 2015 Formula F Championship during the SCCA Runoffs in Daytona Beach, Florida in September. Well done Rick! The CACC is looking forward to another great season in all of our different facets of motorsport. And we invite you to come out and join us. Check our web site www.CACCautosport.org to find contacts for our affiliate clubs.
Truro, Nova Scotia – Here we are again, two months into 2016 and it is looking like a repeat of the winter of 2015, albeit with less snow and crazy temperature shifts so far. With most of the club and region annual general meetings over, it’s time to start getting down to the business of preparing race cars and karts for the start of competition in May. Hopefully, Santa was good to everyone this year and brought all kinds of go-fast goodies because it’s time to turn up the heat in the garage, forget about the snow outside and get those parts installed and everything tuned up. After all, in less than three months, ARMS members will get their first chance to drive the new improvements at Atlantic Motorsport Park (AMP), the kart track at Scotia Speed World (SSW) or even a parking lot nearer to you for some autoslalom fun. I’m not saying you should stay inside on weekends for the rest of this winter, but it won’t be long now. Returning for its 14th year, the Bluenose Autosport Club RallyCross Challenge has been in full swing since November though, with events split between AMP near Shubenacadie, NS and SSW near the Halifax International Airport. Turn-outs have been great this season with a high of 46 competitors so far. No frost in the ground has made for some very interesting, very mucky courses, and there is still some fun to be had. For more info and upcoming dates visit www.BluenoseAutosport.ca. The Moncton Motor Sport Club and Fredericton Motorsports Club are each planning to hold two AutoCross events at some point over the winter. These events will most likely be at Magic Mountain in Moncton, NB and Speedway 660 in Geary, NB, and are very much weather dependent. For further info on these events be sure to visit www.MMSC.ca and www.FrederictonMotorsportsClub.ca. AutoCross and RallyCross are great ways to learn better car control in less-than-ideal conditions and, for those willing to venture out into the crazy winter weather, it’s a great way to get the thrill in a low cost, controlled and fun atmosphere. Conditions range from sunny and cold to rain and snow on surfaces ranging from bare ground to snow covered and shear ice. ARMS calendar of 2016 events at www.ARMSinc.ca including all Regional Championships in Race, Rally, AutoSlalom and Time Attack. • Race has a five-event Regional Race Championship, known as the TRAC Championships with info available at www.TRACracing.ca and the Jack Canfield Memorial 3-Hour Enduro Race. • Navigational Rally Championships for both Novice and Experienced drivers and navigators. • Time Attack has a three-day Championship event planned for early October. • AutoSlalom has an eight-event series at various locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The various ARMS member clubs all have their own championships as well. More detailed event info is available on the ARMS forum and club web sites. It’s looking like 2016 will be a great year for motorsports in Atlantic Canada! We’ll see you at the track! ARMS, TRACTwitter Facebook