Getting involved in legal forms of racing in Ontario

Here’s a quick reference guide to different forms of legal racing in Ontario, Canada.

Disclaimer: SGR and it’s members do not condone or participate in the act of street racing. The purpose of this page is to provide a reference guide to getting involved in legal, sanctioned racing events in Ontario. SGR does not assume any and all risks involved in or arising from participating in these events. For more information, please visit Ontario’s governing body of automobile sport at www.casc.on.ca.

Q: I don’t have a car and/or a drivers license yet. What are my options?
A: Ontario is home to many go karting facilities that feature a variety of winter and summer leagues at an affordable price. But if the terms “apex, understeer and oversteer” are foreign to you, you may want to check out the Team SGR Advanced Driver Training Programs to get you started on the right foot. The SGR Driving Clinic Series is a progressive series of clinics to increase driving skills, confidence, and speed as well as improve participants’ daily driving habits and practices.
Cost: $72-82/event. Includes instruction & all equipment.
Vehicle: Not required. Go karts, helmets & balaclavas provided.
More info: Click this link for more info, or contact us to arrange for your own group and event.

Q: I have a vehicle that I drive daily to and from work. I would like to gain more car control experience in a safe and controlled environment.
A: If you want to learn more about your car’s handling, improve your driving skills, or get involved in competitive motorsport, then Solo II is a great place to start. You don’t need to make a big commitment of money or time, just a safe running vehicle and the right attitude.
Cost: $20-40/event entry fee. Cost does not include fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
Vehicle: Required and must be registered and maintained to meet certain basic standards.
More info: Visit the Solo 2 Autoslolam website for more info.

Q: I’ve have acquired intermediate to advance level driving skills and own a capable vehicle to bring to the track. What’s the next step?
A: Time Attack is the one for you. It offers a car enthusiast the chance to take his/her car and driving skills to the limit in a safe and controlled environment among experienced racers and organizers. The competition style is that of a single car time attack where it is only you against the clock, and the times of your competitors. You do not have to worry about other cars trying to pass you, or cut you in corners, it is a great way to safely get into motorsports. The best part about Time Attack is that its design allows for a person of any skill level and vehicle to participate, anything from a Hyundai Accent to a Dodge Viper, our multi-class system ensures that you have proper competition regardless of what you drive.
Cost: $150-250/event entry fee plus yearly CASC-OR club membership and licensing costs. This does not include fuel & vehicle maintenance costs.
Vehicle: Required and must be registered and maintained to meet certain basic standards.
More info: Visit the CASC Time Attack or Canadian Sport Compact Series for more info.

Q: I want to spectate first hand the different forms and styles of racing I can get involved in.
A: The Canadian Sport Compact Series (CSCS) is the only series in Ontario that gives participants an opportunity to watch and participate in drag, drift and circuit racing at the same time. Their 2009 schedule includes 7 events held at various tracks in Ontario and Quebec ranging from Toronto Motorsports Park to Napierville.
Cost: $20/event for spectators. Additional ˝ to participate in circuit, drift, or drag drift racing will apply.
More info: Visit the Canadian Sport Compact Series website for more info.

Want to race? A newbie’s first look at Time Attack

Photo: Giancarlo Pawelec, AutoMotoFoto.net

Photo: Giancarlo Pawelec, AutoMotoFoto.net

I woke up Sunday morning to the rumble of butterflies in my stomach and a skip in my heart. My first thought of the day as the beeping of my alarm chirped away was “I can’t believe I’m actually racing today.”

Almost two years ago, I bought my first car – a 1995 Honda Del Sol that had more drama going on under the hood than the Kardashians. I knew I wanted to drive and I knew I loved my car, but to be honest I didn’t know much else. If someone had told me that in less than two years I’d be racing competitively, I probably would have laughed in disbelief, and driven off in my overheating wreck of a “race car”.

A few months later, I joined Team SGR. Girls on the team connected me with a mechanic who convinced my troubled Del Sol to start behaving itself. I also came on board as a student of the advanced driver training program and a volunteer with the organization.

A year later, here I sat. Pulling up to the front gates of the Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga for the season opener of the Canadian Sport Compact Series (CSCS), enthusiastically answering “Yes – my very first Time Attack!” when asked if I was competing or spectating.

I got in the lineup to register, sandwiched between an M3 and a suped-up Scion, and had a brief moment of doubt that sounded a lot like “girl, what do you think you are doing here – are you serious?”

I hushed the voice in my head, made it through registration, the drivers meeting, and went and parked my now well-behaved race car next to my miracle mechanic at ART Motorsports.

Enter the brief moments of chaos. Empty my car. Where is my helmet? Check the oil. How is my tire pressure? Amidst the hustle, before my brain even had a chance to freak out, I was lining up for lapping sessions, seconds away from hitting the track.

With the help of SGR instructor extraordinaire Anna He in my passenger seat, guiding me and helping me smooth my movements I made great strides throughout the day.

My movements become more coordinated as I was braking and shifting into my corners, my heel-toe technique started to come together for the first time, and throughout the day I got faster and faster.

Pro-tip for the noobs: lap times are on the computer under the tech/registration tent. I was on my third lapping session before I figured that out. From my fourth to fifth lapping session, I got my lap time down to 1:36.0 from 1:39.3.

The tight schedule of 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off to rest driver and car started to wear on me early in the day. To my fellow newbies out there – I can’t tell you enough the importance of managing your energy throughout the day.

The day moved on, and before I knew it, I was back under the tech tent, making friends with my fellow drivers and awaiting the second drivers meeting of the day that laid out the rules for the Time Attack competition.

We were broken up into just over a dozen run groups, and even though I was in the first (read: slowest) bracket, I was at the head of the pack, setting the pace for my group!

A brief break, and back into the pit lanes I went.

Alone in my car, at the front of the line, about to be the first car our on to the track, and the only girl competing, my brain had the time it had been looking for all day and my nerves finally caught up to me.

Then, I was being told to pull over, to let the group I was setting pace for go ahead. I was “too fast” and being moved up into the second group with lappers who I was more closely matched with based on the times I had set in practice.

In the quiet of my purring car, away from the crowds, away from my coaches, friends and family, the butterflies were back.

Butterflies in tow, out I went to lay down my very first competition lap.

My nerves ate at my stomach as I tried to put together everything I had been working on throughout the day. Brake later at corner one, tip my weight forward into turns three and four, settle the car into the chicane, eyes up at the exit of the last corner back onto the front straight and do it all over again 3 more times.

It all came together, but my nerves cost me. My final time sat at 1:38.0 – a full 2 seconds slower than my best time in practice.

I have a long way to go and a lot to learn still, but I know that my amazing teammates, talented coaches and superstar mechanic all have my back.

To learn more about the SGR advanced driving school and how you can compete in your first time attack, check out our schedule.

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Suze first joined Team SGR as an advanced driving student in 2012. She volunteers for Team SGR supporting communications, social media, and events. Suze drives a ’95 Honda Del Sol and currently hails from London, Ontario.

An urban gearhead’s first motorsports camping experience

261750_10151627572021187_1623090256_nMotorsports camping is a relatively foreign concept in my world.

Unlike most families growing up in the 80’s, the idea of camping, cottaging and vacation in general were pretty foreign to my Canadian-Chinese family. My childhood summers and weekends consisted of additional piano lessons, fast-track science and math classes, and the occasional cross-border trip to Buffalo.

So when Shelby, one of our instructors in training, pitched the idea to go motorsports camping at Mosport for the Victoria Day Speed Fest weekend, I enthusiastically agreed, although wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. 

Fast forward four months later, we found ourselves at the top of the hill on the outside of turn two at the newly renovated Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. What better place to try motorsports camping than at a facility with brand new bathrooms?

Day one consisted of scouting and securing a spot, and setting up our tents, air mattresses and BBQ.

As the team started to arrive, the sound of practice sessions set the tone for the weekend as drivers in the Porsche GT3 Cup, Canadian Touring Car Championship, TransAm Series and Nascar Canadian Tire Series hit the track for the first time.

Friday night, we decided a track walk was in order and we found ourselves jumping over fences and crawling over tires while admiring the newly paved asphalt between turns two and five. It was a great chance to see the track up close, and for the team to break down and strategize some of the most technical components of the track.

By the time we made it back to the campsite, the sun had set, and our position at the top of the hill provided little to no protection from the wind that was fiercely blowing. After roasted marshmallows, a few drinks, and some great stories, we all turned in for the night.

We thought we were prepared, but Mother Nature had something else in mind. Who said motorsports camping was going to be easy?

Arctic. That pretty much describes my first motorsports camping experience.

While the temperatures picked back up to the mid-twenties the next day, and the rest of the group appeared unaffected by the icy nights, I remained in my layers of boots, long-sleeves and winter jackets, unable to shake off the cold in my bones from the night before.

The racing however, made up for it. The “motorsports” part of my motorsports camping experience was definitely agreeing with me more than the “camping” was.

The sounds of the Porsche GT3 cars zooming by our campsite at 8 o’clock in the morning was a brilliant and thrilling way to wake up from a cold nights sleep. Quite frankly, that experience alone made the cold nights of motorsports camping worth it.

Highlights also included celebrating with the Honda Canada factory team, and driver Scott Nicol in his first doubleheader win and meeting Amy Ruman, Trans Am Cup’s first female series-winning champion.

The pulled pork, festive music, and ice cream trucks weren’t that bad either.

When all was said and done, my very first motorsports camping experience was a success and I know there will be plenty more to come.

______________

Anna He is the President CEO of Team SGR, an active instructor in the community, and works in marketing when she’s not on the track. Anna hails from Markham, Ontario and currently races a 1989 Honda CRX.

 

Feeling the Need for Speed at SGR’s Intro to Kart Racing

Photo: Jason Wong

Today, we’re at Grand Prix Kartways at Toronto’s Downsview Park for our SGR 1st gear Intro to Kart Racing. Our clinic will be less about getting dirty with our cars and getting behind the wheel of an electric-powered go-kart to build a foundation for safer, faster and smarter drivers!

We start off the day with a quick introduction, schedule breakdown and summary of topics we’ll be covering during the track walk. Most importantly, we cover the importance of vision, smooth inputs and the three components of a corner. Participants quickly realize that these three components – the turn-in point, apex point, and exit point – are critical to understanding the optimal driving line of the karting track.

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Girls’ Night at the Garage


In celebration of car care month, SGR teamed up with Emily Chung at AutoNiche, a family-friendly auto repair shop located in Markham to conduct the first of many SGR car care clinics on May 29, 2011. We were excited to bring together a group of women from all over the Greater Toronto Area, armed with notebooks and many questions in hand for an evening of car care empowerment!

In true SGR fashion, we kicked off the night with a spread of delicious snacks and goodies including fresh fruits, delicious cupcakes, and race car-shaped chocolates courtesy of Sonia’s Buttercream Dream – a friend of Dana’s. We’d also love to go into detail on some wonderful wrench-shaped sugar cookies that, however, turned out to be rather inappropriately shaped for the occasion. What it lacked in execution, more than made up for in blushes and laughter for the rest of the evening!

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Testimonial: first time at the track!

Photo: Dana Young

My dad is the driving columnist for the Globe and Mail – when he told me I should go out to the racetrack to take advanced driver training with Team SGR I thought he was crazy.

At 25, I hold a G1 license. Living downtown my whole life I never really needed a car: everything was central to me and I biked and walked everywhere. While this was great for my health and for the environment, I realized I needed to be able to drive.

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