Road Racing in Ontario

Reprinted without permission (but with the best of intentions) from CASC-OR - Always check there for the latest info. This info is admittedly old, but it should give you the basics of an understanding of the sport.

This article is intended to provide you with 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 at very little cost.

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 Park (near Bowmanville Ont.), Shannonville Motorsport Park (near Belleville Ont.), 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 article 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 Sport Club - Ontario Region (CASC-OR) affiliated club. The clubs listed here are actively involved in road racing; call them as soon as possible - they'll be glad to hear from you - and ask about their club's philosophy, experience, number of active racing members, and do try to attend one of their meetings. Once you've identified the club you would like to join, do so; it will prove to be your biggest source of information and on-going help as you get started. Average annual membership dues are in the $50 to $75 range.

Obtaining a Racing Licence

Joining a CASC-OR affiliated 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 (IE. Horizon Racing Club at Shannonville, and Ottawa Motorsport Club at Sanair) and cost approximately $500. Your 'street car' is usually sufficient for these schools.

Professional schools (IE. Bridgestone Racing School at Shannonville and Powell Motorsport 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.

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 (IE. SA'90) to indicate the standard to which they were built; again, consult the rules and regulations. Cost: $350 and up...

NB. Great care must be taken with all of 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 compete in. 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.

Racing magazines and newspapers are available on newstands (IE. 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 our 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.

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Let's Go Racing

As you have seen 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 they can compete on a regional basis for an annual outlay of about $3,000 to $5,000.