2019 Can-Am Challenge

The 2019 Can-Am Challenge Club Race sponsored by Pfaff is now in the books

After four days of intense Porsche and BMW motorsports action at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Grand Prix track (aka Mosport), I can finally sit down and have a quiet coffee to reflect on the weekend activities. For the Upper Canada Region (UCR) members who did not come out, you missed a fantastic weekend of friendly people, fabulous cars and incredible racing. Kudos to an incredible PCA National team, dedicated volunteers from near and far, skilled drivers from across North America and unusually cooperative Mosport weather.

In addition to the drivers, the huge success at the race could not have happened without the support of a few generous sponsors. Thanks to Pfaff Porsche for the generous financial support as well as the beautiful new 991.2 C2S pace car and draw prizes. Thanks to Porsche Cars Canada for their support of the paddock BBQ Friday night and the racers award banquet at the CTMP Events Centre Saturday night. This was the 24th year that Porsche Cars Canada has been our National Sponsor at our club race. Thanks to Braidan Tire for their generous financial support and dedication to keeping the racers on the track with their amazing trackside tire support services. Thanks to another new sponsor, Cowbell Brewing, who helped cool everyone down at the barbecue with a sampling of a great range of beers as well as stocking the bar for the Saturday racers award banquet. Thanks to G-Tek for again keeping the volunteers dressed sharply at the grid and at the registration desk.

2019 CanAm Challenge club race weekend started with a Test and Tune on Thursday August 1 and the event was managed by Walter Murray, (2013-2014 UCR President and 2016-2018 Club Race Co-Chair). A great array of black and red run group DE drivers and racers did 100+ laps in seven 30-minute sessions to prepare for the race weekend. Thanks Walter for running a very smooth Test and Tune event.

The club race weekend kicked off on Friday, August 2 with PCA and BMW practices in the morning and PCA and BMW qualifying sessions, PCA practice rolling starts and a 60-minute BMW enduro race in the afternoon. After the track was closed at 5pm, we started to prepare for the tailgate party under the tent at the paddock. Thank you to our barbeque sponsor – Porsche Cars Canada, and beer sponsor – Cowbell Brewing. We had an excellent turnout and the tent was filled with many incredible racing stories. The barbecue was followed by a track walk and corner by corner seminar presented by Derek Hanson. 

Saturday August 2 race day began with the 8:30 am racers meeting. Four candidates successfully completed the racing school on Friday. Bryan Henderson (PCA National Race Steward) presented PCA Club Racing licenses to four candidates who are UCR members: Tim Cusimano (already has a provisional license), Phil Leja, Peter Rothe and Michael Sylvester. The Saturday race day included two 30-minute sprint races for PCA Yellow and Red groups and two 30-minute BMW races. It was another great racing day with no serious issues. A bunch of PCA drivers did jump on the whirl around ride when one of the 944 race cars, blew an engine and dumped oil exiting turn 8 during the Yellow Sprint Race 1. Several other cars also had some mechanical issues. 

The Saturday race day finished with the 6:00 pm racers award banquet, which was sponsored by Porsche Cars Canada at the CTMP Events Centre overlooking the front straight of Mosport. At 7:30pm, Isi Papadopoulos (BMW Club Racer and Past President) presented awards to the BMW Club Racers. Kathleen Wong (UCR President 2017-2018) then wished all enduro racers good luck at the PCA enduro race on Sunday. She also introduced John Tipper, the advocate of 914 Special Interest Group, who arranged for 17 UCR members’ 914s to do parade laps during the lunch hour on Sunday to celebrate the 914 50th anniversary. The parade lap was led by a 914 pace car driven by Mark Gohlke from Texas. Mark was one of the PCA club racers who raced his red and white 914 (#123) at the two red sprint races on Saturday. Kathleen then introduced Lori Schutz, who was one of the two PCA National Scrutineers at the club race. Lori is the daughter of Peter Schutz, who was the President of Porsche AG during the 1980s and he was also named “the Man who saved the 911”. Lori gave a quick inspirational speech about the book “Driving Force: Getting Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People” written by her father. Lori’s speech was well-received by the racers.

Kathleen then introduced Lori Schutz, who was one of the two PCA National Scrutineers at the club race. Lori is the daughter of Peter Schutz, who was the President of Porsche AG during the 1980s and he was also named “the Man who saved the 911”. 

After Lori’s speech, Bryan Henderson presented PCA National Rookie of the Race award to Phil Leja, and PCA National Novice Racer Award to Jon Dunski. Jackie Metcalfe (Club Race Grid Captain and Volunteer Co-ordinator) and I presented PCA award certificates to PCA club racers, and Workers Choice award to Jon Dunski. The ceremony was done together with prize draws of Porsche accessories provided by Pfaff Porsche; UCR T-shirts and jackets donated by UCR Goodie Store which is run by Andy Hunt; and Gulf racing engine oil, gear oil and racing brake fluids and pads donated by Jay Lloyds (14 year UCR member and Classic Porsche Specialist).  

Sunday August 4 included the third BMW 30-minute sprint race and a 90 minute PCA enduro race. The enduro race is my favourite race of the weekend because of the hot pit action. The race weekend finished with 3 1/2 hours of Advanced Solo Lapping (“ASL”) by a group of extremely dedicated black and red group drivers from our Driver Education program. 

Congratulations to the following UCR racers for their podium finishes at the 2019 CanAm Challenge Club Races:

Yellow Sprint Races and Combined Yellow and Red Enduro Race: 

1. SPC Class: Matt Distefano – 1st in race 2; 1st in enduro race. 
2. SPC Class: Francois Faust – 2nd in race 1 and 3rd in race 2;  2nd in enduro race
3. SPB Class: David Dal Bello – 1st in race 1 and 2; David Dal Bello and Matt White – 1st in enduro race
4. GT6 Class: Mike Mallais – 1st in race 1 and 2; Mike Mallais and David Fawcett – 2nd in enduro race
5. GT6 Class: Tim Cusimano – 2nd in race 1 and 2
6. SP3 Class: Robert Linder  – 1st in race 1 and 2; 2nd in enduro race
7. SP2 Class: Jon Dunski – 1st in race 1 and 2nd in race 2, Workers’ Choice award, and PCA National Novice Racer award
8. SP2 Class: Michael Sylvester – 3rd in race 1
9. F Class: Kathleen Wong – 3rd in race 1 and 2nd in race 2

Red Sprint Races and Combined Yellow and Red Enduro Race: 

10. GTC7 Class: Phil Leja – 1st in race 1 and 2; PCA National Rookie of the Race award
11. GTC6 Class: Gerald Penneton – 2nd in race 2; Gerald Penneton and Larry Caruso – 3rd in enduro race
12. GTC5 Class: Andrew Gucciardi – 2nd in race 1 and 2
13. GTC3 Class: Michael Beler – 1st in race 1 and 2; and 1st in enduro race
14. GTB1 Class:  Joeie Tsang – 2nd in race 1; and 3rd in enduro race.
15. GTB1 Class: Graham Choquette – 3rd in race 2

Enduro Race: 

16. SPC Class: Benjamin Pook – 3rd in enduro race
17. Andrew Gucciardi – Workers Choice Award
18. Matt Distefano – Workers Choice Award

Some UCR Racers’ Highlights: 

  • At the yellow sprint race 1, Francois Faust came in second overall with the best lap time at 1.32.322 and he was only 0.3 seconds trailing the overall winner with best lap time at 1.31.974. Francois broke his own record by having his best lap time at 1.31.436 during the 90 minute enduro race. 
  • At the yellow sprint race 2, Matt Distefano came in first overall with the best lap time at 1.31.694.
  • At the red sprint races, Phil Leja came in six overall with best lap time at 1.23.669 in race 1 but third overall with the best lap time at 1.24.197 in race 2. And, he won the PCA National Rookie of the Race award. 
  • Michael Sylvester, who received his PCA Club Racing license, was late to grid at race 1 due to a dead battery. But, he caught up to the grid at the back just before Corner 8. Three seconds later, the green flag came out. And, he ended up hard charger gaining 16 spots!
  • Benjamin Pook was having major mechanical issues changing an idler pulley in the paddock for seven hours, missing qualifying and practice on Friday, and the sprint races on Saturday. But, he came in 3rd during the 90 minute enduro race on Sunday. 

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to PCA National and UCR volunteers, and all drivers and teams for including CanAm Challenge Club Race in their 2019 club race calendar. Special thanks to our PCA National Team – Bryan Henderson (race steward), Keith Fritze and Lori Schutz (scrutineers) and Roland Nieves (timing & scoring) for travelling from the States to volunteer at our event. Bryan told me our 2019 CanAm Challenge club race was one of the best run events he has ever seen and this was the first ever club race that had zero car-to-car contact during his 20 year tenure as a race steward. Congratulations to all the PCA racers that competed at the race! 

2019 Club Race pictures taken by Adrian Chan and Frank Tsang.
2019 Club Race at Mosport – Cars
2019 Club Race at Mosport – People

I would like to thank UCR volunteers, Renate Weidner for her unconditional dedication to the role of registration and Jackie Metcalfe for wrangling our volunteers, managing the grid with precision and solving many on-site problems before they develop into real issues. I’d also like to thank our club race photographers – Adrian Chan for taking on-track pictures for the racers award certificates, and Frank Tsang for taking pictures of people at the event and printing the racers award certificates. The huge success of our club race weekend is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the 55 club race volunteers, the sponsors, and the participation by PCA and BMW racers and DE participants. This weekend was a true testament to PCA’s slogan “it’s not just the cars, it’s the people.” 

The first sanctioned PCA Upper Canada Region Club Race took place at Mosport in 1996. Next year, we will be hosting the 2020 CanAm Challenge Club Race, the 25th running of our race at Mosport. The schedule dates for this special anniversary event will be announced later this year. As soon as the dates are confirmed, we will forward updating information to all of you.

Again, thank you very much for participating in this year’s Mosport race. We hope to see you all again in 2020! </>

Story by Terry Cassan, Director and 2019 CanAm Challenge Club Race Chair | Photos by Adrian Chan

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