By Mike Edmonds, UCR Club Race Chairperson
photos by Michael A. Coates
Those of us who follow the history and pedigree of Porsche automobiles know one thing for certain…their true home is on the racetrack. Porsche’s racing heritage is unequalled by any other auto manufacturer in the world, constantly setting the benchmark for performance.
There are few better ways to experience Porsche racing past and present than Porsche Club of America’s Club Racing. With year-round events at tracks all across North America, PCA Club Racing is an exceptional program that allows members to experience the thrill of competition with their Porsches in a safe, fun, and exciting venue. From 944s, early 911s, modern Boxsters and Caymans, to GT3 Cup cars, the breadth of Porsche engineering is showcased along with the passion and dedication of the drivers who compete.
Upper Canada Region is always excited to host our annual CanAm Challenge, the only PCA racing event in the calendar north of the border, which this year took place fittingly on Canada Day weekend June 28-30 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). With two PCA race groups, an advanced solo lapping group, and the return of our special guests, the BMW Club of Canada Trillium Chapter hosting a concurrent BMW CCA Club Race, there were plenty of great cars and driving action showcased. CTMP is known as one of the most challenging and thrilling circuits in North America, so drivers and race teams from across Canada and the United States come out to experience this great event weekend. The racing promised to be even better this year with the great improvements the new ownership group have put into the track and facilities, with additional paving providing even more speed to the already daunting corners.
One of the most satisfying moments for me is feeling the anticipation in the air when I get to the track on Thursday, seeing all the trailers, cars, drivers, and teams of dedicated enthusiasts in the paddock getting ready for the intense driving and fun competition to unfold over the next three days.
An event of this magnitude is not possible without the immense commitment of our club, in both the planning and execution of the weekend, which begins with registering and preparing for all the drivers, team members, and volunteers who make everything happen. A special thanks to our official race registrar Brent Muir, Laurel Ward, Horst and Marie Petermann, and Mick Oliveira for receiving everyone and making sure they’re processed and ready for their driving run groups or work assignments.
PCA Club Racing is made possible by both our region and a dedicated group of national staff volunteers, who are assigned to races and function as the chief operating officials, ensuring the rules and principles of the program are followed and the competition is fair and safe. Working our event this year was Bruce Boeder (Chief Steward), Donna Amico and John Cotter (Scrutineers), and Roland Nieves (Timing & Scoring).
Friday is when all these great cars and drivers enter the track for their first full day of practice runs. However to make all this happen there is an incredible amount of support which has to be in place for a competitive racing event. A full complement of marshals at every station, paramedic crew, race doctor, and fire and rescue crew have to be in place and ready before race cars can roll onto the track.
We also have a strong group of dedicated UCR volunteers who help with every facet of the event weekend. Guided by the tower announcements of John Adam, our grid captains Terry Cassan and Neil Dowdell direct the crew to stage the cars and release them onto the track. Once the runs are completed, every racer wants to know how their times were, so they can see where they can improve and compare to the other cars and drivers in their class. This is the responsibility of the timing and scoring crew, led by long time UCR friend Tim O’Brien, with Janice and Rick Ritz and Denise and Jim Norman helping in the tower, and the trackside copy centre running smoothly under the direction of Jack Webb and Rosemary Adam. A big thank you to everyone who came out to volunteer, without your help an event of this magnitude would never happen.
After a great day of practice runs, famed Canadian racer Rick Bye once again graciously provided an informative track walk. Surely those drivers who participated were aided by his intimate knowledge of the track and insights into how to maximise their speed and track awareness.
Saturday is when the real action begins, with morning warm-up and qualifying, then two sprint races for each race group in the afternoon. It was certainly a full slate of racing action, and by the end of the day all the drivers certainly had their share of excitement and fun around the track, testing their skills and competing with their peers.
After a long and action-packed day on the track, it is then time for UCR to show our hospitality to everyone with our Saturday night dinner and awards reception. This year we were lucky to enjoy this at the fabulous new event centre facility at CTMP. Janet and her team prepared a wonderful meal, and over our food and drink we all had a chance to reflect on the day’s excitement and enjoy the company of all the Porsche enthusiasts who make this event such a great success. It also provides an opportunity to thank our sponsors, with this year our title sponsor Braidan Tire and Porsche Cars Canada generously giving their support.
Sunday concludes with my personal favourite event, the 90-minute endurance race. This longer format tests both the drivers and crew, with the additional concentration involved in the longer run and the complexity of pit stops. We had a tremendous race, with a large grid of Porsches from every era. The speed differentials can be challenging, but all the drivers showed amazing poise and skill in running a very clean race.
For those of you who have never experienced a PCA Club Race, I highly recommend watching the calendar for next year’s UCR CanAm Challenge. Our region produces one of the best events on the schedule, thanks to our amazing volunteers, Canadian hospitality, and one of the most exciting tracks. Get involved in racing, volunteer with our amazing crew, or just come out to watch the great Porsche cars and PCA drivers compete around the track. After three years of volunteering as the race chairperson, I have certainly enjoyed my experiences with the great team of people I have met and worked with. Next year I am looking forward to stepping back slightly into an advisory role, with a special thanks and warm welcome to UCR member Mick Oliveira who will be taking the reins as event chairperson for 2014.