Event Coverage: ChumpCar Canada
Newly formed on January 1, 2015, ChumpCar Canada is now a distinctly separate organization from the Optima Batteries ChumpCar World Series. Months of planning, working behind the scenes, and a lot of sweat, tears, and laughter erupted into the roar of motors firing up as forty-two cars participated in the inaugural race. Held at Ontario's storied Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, you could sense the excitement in the air. The paddock was filled with drivers, team members, and spectators of all ages – joined to participate in this event. Photo-journalists from several publications, yours truly included, were present to witness this new race organization's first race. The weather was picture perfect on Saturday and Sunday, although it was quite windy the sunshine was present throughout the racing.
Sal Sanfilippo and Wendy Edwards, a husband and wife team, have been going non-stop getting this setup. They were in a prime spot to take the reigns at ChumpCar Canada, as they were the directors of ChumpCar North since it's inception in 2010. The North district included Canada and some Northern States, which have since been redistributed among nearby American ChumpCar districts. With over fifty events under their collective hats, having led the events and seeing the expansion of ChumpCar in Canada, when John Condren was looking for leaders in Canada – Sal and Wendy eagerly accepted the opportunity. And from the time the agreement was signed, they have been working with sponsors, working through legal concerns, coordinating with track management to settle on track dates, and promoting the series across Canada. In March I met Wendy and Sal at Motorama, a race and auto show in Toronto, and they expressed how much interest was being shown in ChumpCar Canada.
The initial series had events planned for Ontario and Quebec in 2015. With the ink on the deal barely dry, the phone started ringing. Racers, prospective racers, sponsors, lawyers – you cannot enter into something like this without lawyers being involved – all wanting more information and looking forward to getting involved at the very beginning. Obviously, expansion is something that is needed in a race business and both Wendy and Sal are race visionaries – with thoughts of a western race in 2016 and an eastern race shortly after. For racers, that was too slow! Before the first race was even held, expansion had already taken place. On August 1 and 2, Castrol Edmonton will be home track for a 24 hour event. There is hope to see events taking place on the East Coast. And Sal and Wendy have been invited south of the border this May to host the Watkins Glen ChumpCar event. As former directors of ChumpCar North, which included Watkins Glen, they are quite comfortable with the track and the racers in that part of the country. They are looking forward to going back! Quite honestly, I would like to find a way there to, because I had a great time the last time I was there with them (See ChumpCar: Watkins Glen International).
The test and tune day at CTMP on Friday, April 17 was the sign of the fulfilment of all of that work. Rain early Friday morning caused some concern, but at eight there was a hint of blue in the sky. By ten in the morning the sun was out and warming up the track. Cars were out and this was not only ChumpCar Canada's first track day, but it was the first event of the season at the big track at CTMP for the spring of 2015. The Driver's Development Track (or small track) had opened one week earlier. I stopped in at the office to say hi to Jen and Paige – CTMP staff – and got to enjoy the beautiful view of the track through their office windows. I can only imagine that it is an awesome place to work!