The 2010 Grand Prix of Mosport was a weekend packed full of action and stories both on and off the track. The headliner for the weekend was the always exciting American Le Mans Series, with support from IMSA Lites, Star Mazda, Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup and the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship.
IMSA racing has played a big part in the history of Mosport, so it was fitting that the grand Prix was a key event in Mosport’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Grand Marshal of the weekend was the legendary Bobby Unser, who won his first IndyCar race at Mosport in 1967. I was fortunate to spend some time with him on Friday afternoon and found him to be an absolutely wonderful guy as we chatted about how the track has changed over the years. Joining Unser over the weekend were Canadian racing champions Bill Brack, Eppie Wietzes, Ludwig Heimrath Sr., Craig Hill, Horst Kroll and Ross de St. Croix who all signed autographs and mingled with the fans.
There were some home comings of sorts on track as well, as Paul Gentilozzi returned to the driver’s seat in the JaguarRSR. Johannes van Overbeek also makes a return to ALMS action behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 GT campaigned by Scott Sharp’s ESM Racing. There was a constant line of fans in front of both team trailers over the weekend as Mosport’s knowledgeable fans tried to catch a glimpse or get an autograph.
The Canadian Touring Cars are always fan favorites because the competition is fast and tight. So tight in fact that one might be forgiven for quoting that old stock car adage “rubbin’ is racin” when describing the series. In Sunday’s main event, Dave Ciekiewicz in the Subaru WRX lead from pole to checker as Greg Pootmans’ BMW was often tucked up under the back bumper. At the end of the 20 lap race, there was just 0.837 of a second between the two. A similarly dramatic finish occurred in the Touring Class as Tom Kwok led Kurt Langeveldt and Anthony Rapone to the podium. Rapone’s 3rd place finish secured his place as the class champion for 2010.
Many Mosport regulars were disappointed in the starting grid of the Playboy Mazda MX-5 cup, as there were only something like 14 cars lined up for the start. That’s a far cry from the giant fields they have south of the border. Regardless, the cars were beautifully prepared and they put on a good show. AMG Racing’s Brad Rampelberg from San Jose, California, started in 7th spot on the grid, falling to 9th on the first lap. What followed was a great drive that saw Rampelberg finish in the top spot after a last lap, last corner pass for the lead. Exciting stuff.
In addition to shooting for a few CCTCC teams and an MX-5 Cup team, The Garage was charged with following young Zack Meyer as he entered his first race in the Star Mazda Series. Thanks to some difficulties with the car in practice and qualifying, Meyer started the race dead last in 19th place. As Meyer became more comfortable in the car, he began moving up the charts, eventually running as high as 12th. For a young guy in his first time in a race car that is much more powerful than the karts he is used to, Meyer showed considerable maturity as he waited for the correct time to pass. A block on a late race restart meant that Meyer finished in 14th position. The race was won by fan fave Conor Daly, son of Formula 1 and IndyCar racer Derek Daly.
The American Le Mans race was notable in that it marked the 100th ALMS race for Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham. Brabham finished second in a race that was dominated by Porsches. The GT class was won by Pat Long and Joerg Bergmeisterin their Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, while Shane Lewis & Lawson Aschenbach took GT Challenge in the Velox Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. LMPC was won by Gunnar Jeanette and Elton Julian for Green Earth Team Gunnar.
On lap 92, Jonny Cocker in the stunning Drayson Racing Lola Coupe stuffed the Porsche 911 of Luke Hines into armco on the driver’s left side of the Mario Andretti straight. The massive impact happened almost in the blink of an eye and tore out a very substantial section of the barrier. With many hours of work required to make the repairs needed to continue racing, the decision was made to red flag the race on lap 99. The Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder of Klaus Graf and Romain Dumas had led the entire race and were declared the winners. In fact, the pair were fastest in every session all weekend.
Earlier this morning it was announced that for 2011, the Grand Prix of Mosport will move away from the traditional late summer slot on the schedule. Instead, the annual ALMS weekend at Mosport will be held July 21-24.