Road Racing in Ontario
This posting–courtesy of the Toronto Autosport Club–is intended to provide an introduction and overview of road racing in Ontario; the official rules and regulations covering the events, categories, classes, and car preparation requirements are available from the CASC-OR office.
Road racing can be simply defined as an automobile race event that is held on a closed circuit that contains both left and right hand corners, plus elevation changes. Ontario road racers are fortunate to have ready access to tracks at Mosport (near Bowmanville), Shannonville Motorsport Park (near Belleville), and circuits in Quebec, New York State, Ohio, and Michigan.
Road racing is broadly divided into two main categories; open wheel, and closed wheel but there are many different competition classes beyond that. This introductory pamphlet explains the six steps you’ll need to take before your first race.
Joining a CASC-OR Club:
In order to participate in road racing in Ontario, you must be a member of a Canadian Automobile Sports Club – Ontario Region (CASC-OR) affiliated club such as the St. Lawrence Automobile Club. Joining a club will prove to be your biggest source of information and on-going help as you get started in racing. St. LAC membership information is available elsewhere in this site.
Obtaining a Racing Licence:
Joining a club is the easy part of obtaining your racing licence. Next you must attend an authorized driving school. Proof of your graduation, a completed CASC-OR licence application form (which also requires a physical examination and a completed medical form signed by your doctor), and a photocopy of your club membership card must be sent to the CASC-OR office, along with the licence fee.
Driver’s schools fall into two broad categories; amateur and professional. Amateur schools are run by the CASC-OR clubs and costs approximately $750. Your ‘street car’ is usually sufficient for these schools.
Professional schools (for example, Bridgestone Racing School at Mosport) cost approximately $2,500 but include the use of fully prepared race cars, and all other safety equipment and supplies you may require over a multi-day programme.
It is also possible to obtain your license by proving that you’ve accumulated sufficient skill, without necessarily attending a school. For example, experienced Soloprint Time Trials drivers may ask to have their driving observed at a race track, and a license issued upon satisfactory performance and understanding.
Your enjoyment of your early racing weekends will depend heavily on your school experience. It is hard to appreciate the difference between driving fast and racing until you learn the techniques, skills, and strategies which make racing possible.
Safety Clothing and Equipment:
Racing involves risk. Acquiring, wearing, and looking after your personal safety equipment protects you and helps to safeguard the master insurance policy which the whole sport relies upon. Consult the official regulations, talk to experienced competitors within your club, and compare prices and quality at the stores that service the sport. Do not skimp on these items; they are crucial for your safety, and, properly looked after, will last for many years.
Driver’s Suit: Requirements are listed in the CASC-OR rules and regulations, but generally speaking, the more layers the better. Made to measure suits are available, but allow time for delivery. Fire retardant underwear can be combined with a multi-layer suit to give the required number of layers. Cost: $400 and up.
Gloves & Shoes: Fire retardant socks, gloves, balaclava and shoes are also covered in the rules and regulations. Their selection, use and care is as equally important as your driver’s suit. Cost: $350 and up.
Helmet: Motorcycle helmets (‘M’ rated) are not appropriate for road racing. Road racing helmets are rated ‘SA’ (Special Application). They also have dates (for example, SA2015) to indicate the standard to which they were built; again, consult the rules and regulations. Cost: $250 and up.
Great care must be taken with all the above items to avoid purchasing an item that does not meet CASC-OR required standards.
Acquiring a race car:
Once again, the information and support network of your CASC-OR club will become your best resource for locating a racing car which fits into the category of racing that you wish to do. You should also consider ‘renting’ rides from other competitors or from race car preparation shops until you locate a car which suits all of your needs.
Canadian racing magazines and newspapers are available on newstands (for example, Inside Track, Performance Racing News) to inform you of local racing action in all categories, and what is for sale in the way of race cars, trailers, and trucks. Cost: $5,000 and up
Preparing a race car:
CASC-OR has written standards to which race cars must adhere. These are clearly spelled out in the rules and regulations, and cover safety items (roll cage construction, belt anchor points, etc.) as well as vehicle weights, wheelbase and track dimensions, and permitted modifications. Cars are closely scrutinised before each event, and only those vehicles that meet these standards are allowed to compete. If you are mechanically inclined, you might choose to do this work yourself; if not, there are a wide variety of professional shops that can help you.
Let’s go racing !
As you can see from the above, road racing is not an inexpensive proposition. But you really don’t need a huge bank account to participate; many competitors start with an initial investment of $10,000 to $15,000 and then find that they can compete on a regional basis for an annual outlay of about $4,000 to $6,000.
Special thanks to GT at Toronto Autosport Club for permission to use the above.