The ALMS Experience

Affordable family Entertainment

By Robert Moniz, UCR Member; photos as credited

Nestled comfortably within the Oak Ridges Moraine lies a gravitational pull that consumes more enthusiasts each year. Those in the know…know. For those who do not, we promise it’s better than the side effects of your significant other picking up the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

This haven for the racing experience is no other than the annual American LeMans (ALMS) race at Mosport. The spirit of the ALMS at Mosport is directly fused to the visceral experience at Le Sarthe in the town of Mans. Why/how? Easy: Local heroes making good in an international race on a track that would never be built to today’s nanny standards. The ability to camp out, make new friends, enjoy real bonding time with your spouse and/or kids, and most importantly, walk from turn to turn to humble oneself at the ability that stands just outside our reach when presented with the same opportunity at Driver’s Education events.

This past July marked my third consecutive anniversary at the event. I have attended F1 races in Montreal, Indy races in Toronto, and Grand Am races in Tremblant, and the ALMS at Mosport ranks among the best for overall spectator experience, based on price, sightlines, and mobility. Sure, sipping champagne while nibbling on a shrimp cocktail in one of the F1 hospitality suites overlooking the paddock is a great experience, but at $5,000 per head, it’s something very few ever get to enjoy. Surprisingly, most of that race is viewed from monitors within the air-conditioned suite.

The ALMS at Mosport, on the other hand, does attempt to offer the exclusivity of hospitality suites, but the true value lies in the flexibility of leaving those tents, and being unobstructed in roaming the access points around and inside the track to explore the event. That flexibility makes it the perfect family venue. It’s very easy to make the ALMS weekend at Mosport an annual ‘family weekend’. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, which is a counterpoint to the intensity of the mechanical rhythm passing by within a stone’s throw.

If you do bring your young ones, there’s plenty for them to enjoy. There’s the predictable collection of tents selling racing paraphernalia and mementos. However, my boys are spoiled, and they seek model cars. The vendors this year did not disappoint. They provided plenty of miniature dream cars for collector or novice aficionado to haggle for. I was pleased to see Ron Fellows signing some model Corvettes. What a fantastic piece of Canadiana for a young car buff.

Speaking of Ron, his involvement in improving Mosport has been fantastic. He and his partner, along with Canadian Tire, put on a great show. Notwithstanding the furor this spring over the renaming of the track. But you know what, they pulled it off! If nothing else, they made the event more hospitable. From a general store to stock up on late night camping (partying) supplies, to complimentary shuttles by golf cart escorted by a crack team of blondes with pony tails.


Tips To Plan Your ALMS 2013 Experience

1. Do it! You won’t regret it.

2. Book your accommodations early. If you decide to camp instead, you can always cancel your reservation just before the event, depending on the weather.

3. Bring mountain bikes and helmets. Next to the pony tail express, it’s the best way around the track.

4. Buy a program. Don’t be thrifty. It’s an excellent passport to the entire event. My sons used it to help differentiate the drivers, to help track lap times. It also makes an autograph book during the paddock walk.

5. Bring a camera capable of taking high speed pictures. The scenery is beautiful, and the vantage points provide excellent opportunities for professional looking photos.

6. If you have kids, bring them. It’s a safe, comfortable environment to let them explore, and more importantly an opportunity to spend precious time together building memories.

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