O Opinions & Commentary

The Next Step Episode 11

Episode 11: Tales From the Road

Magic Stick
GP3R: Trois-Rivières Grand Prix
Trois-Rivières, Quebec
2 ft. plastic tube. Duct tape. Velcro.

Demonstrating how the Magic Stick works.I love the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. Everything about it: the fans, the buzz, the history and the track itself. The track is a proper street course where most of your turn-in points, apexes and exit points are a concrete wall. Many modern day street circuits have the walls recessed from the actual curbs, which provides a lot of wiggle room should you run a little wide or turn in too soon for an apex. Not at GP3R - clip an apex by an inch too much and you are tearing something off your car! The honorable King Richard Spenard taught me the racing line around the track with great emphasis on getting your front tires INSIDE the yellow line that followed the perimeter of the circuit – the line is about 6 inches from the wall. It was with great pride that I would later show Richard concrete dust on the sidewalls of my Formula Ford! Racing there in a sedan is slightly different. Leaning on fenders can cut a tire so the trick becomes scraping the wing mirrors or even better: bending them in off the walls. Only problem is, in a two hour Grand Am race, a bent in wing mirror renders you blind on that side of the car – and even if you loosen your seat belts they are still to far away to pop back into place with your hand (don’t ask). So this year, while driving for APR Motorsports, I came up with what I now call the Magic Stick. Simply Velcro a stick into the cockpit and use it to pop the mirror back into place after whacking an apex wall. It worked to perfection – I ended up using it three times in the heat of battle on my way to a hard fought 5th place!

Advanced Driver Training Days at Toronto Motorsports Park (ALL WINTER LONG!)
TMP: Toronto Motorsport Park
Cayuga, Ontario
Gerry Low and Captain Terry Henry

Gerry Low and Captain Terry Henry of Advanced Driver Training.TMP is one of my favorite tracks because it is pretty much the safest track I can think of in North America, which makes it perfect for driver training of any and all types. You can do crazy stuff there without much worry of damaging your equipment. I bring drivers there all the time to work on advanced car control and drifting!! Gerry and Terry of ADT host a wide array of events ranging from exotic car lapping days to open track events every Monday. They also offer full driver training curriculums that include classroom instruction, dynamic exercises (braking, accident-avoidance, skid-pad), and controlled lapping with an in-car instructor. And here’s the coolest part: they are open ALL WINTER!!! If you are reading this and drive in winter conditions, you’d be well served to get out there and learn some skills or practice up on the ones you have! That goes for anyone you care about as well! (Mom, Dad: I know your read this column – that means YOU TOO!) Seriously, even if you have zero interest in track driving, learning to be a safer driver is well worth the time. And for all your track driving fans – don’t hibernate this winter, get out practice car control and have some fun!! Call or email Gerry for dates and details: 416 809-6803 Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stratmosphere new facility grand opening
Rochester, NY

Stratmosphere in Rochester, NY.Back in September, I was fortunate enough to be a guest at the grand opening of the new Stratmosphere facility in upstate New York, just outside of Rochester.

Stratmosphere is one of the oldest and most well respected tuners in North America specializing in VW, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mini and more. What a great afternoon! Lots of cool cars and enthusiasts, not to mention the staff and facility – all top notch. It was only a matter of time before I got asked to “test drive” their new “lightly tuned” Audi S4. What followed was an afternoon of fun demo rides for everyone there. What can I say – I’m a sucker for a great car and an empty parking lot! Below is a fun link that tells the story of the whole event, complete with video.


No only do they retail some of the very best performance parts they also design and build many components as well. Definitely a must if you are looking at doing any mods to your car. You can find them online at www.stratmosphere.com

Just for Fun
General Lee – Dodge Charger
Hazard County Sheriff’s Police cruiser – Dodge Monaco
Somewhere outside of Berthierville, Quebec

Dukes of Hazzard replicas in rural Quebec.Wow, talk about an automotive icon. To my generation these cars were right up there with Knight Rider (insert Hasselhoff joke here). I stumbled across these beauties sitting in the middle of a gas station parking lot this summer. I’ve seen the odd General Lee replica in big cities or car shows but this was pretty much in the middle of rural Quebec - love it! All I need now is to stumble across a Red Kenworth from BJ and the Bear and I’ll have ticked off pretty much everything on the list (I’ve already met the stunt rider from the original CHIPS TV show!!) No wait – I still want a ride in Air Wolf.

Victory in Utah
Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
Miller Motorsports Park
Tooele, Utah
APR Motorsport / VW Driver Gear
AP and DJ Ian Baas

The_Next_Step_Ep11_7What a dream result! Driving for my favorite team, APR Motorsport, we scored the perfect weekend: quickest in every practice session, most laps led, fastest lap and a win – not to mention making history by becoming the first man on the planet to put an Mrk6 VW GTi on pole for a pro race. It looks pretty straight forward when you have a great car, but you just can’t imagine how much effort it takes from an entire team to pull off a weekend like that. It was a true example of what a group of hugely talented individuals all working together at their max, all weekend long can achieve. We threw big set up changes at the car in every session looking for perfect handling, (the crew busted their butts just doing that alone), nailed perfect pit stops and strategy and both Ian and I drove the whole 2.5 hour race without missing a mark. This result is the culmination of nine solid months of developing that car. That weekend served as a great reminder of just how rewarding it can be to give your best along with along with a crew of like minded individuals doing exactly the same thing. In fact, it serves as a reminder and highlights one of the best aspects of our sport: individuals pushing themselves to be better. It is the essence of what, I for one, love most about this game. When it comes together, the energy is incredible, the vibe contagious and the results are darn near limitless.

Yours in motoring,


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