Calabogie Motorsports Park
Calabogie Motorsports Park. Click image to enlarge


Article and photos by Chris Chase

It’s not everyday that a new road racing circuit is built. In fact, eastern Ontario’s Calabogie Motorsports Park is the first new race track in Canada in 25 years. The significance of that wasn’t lost on us when we attended an invitation-only grand opening ‘lapping day’ at the track in late September.

So new was the facility – the asphalt had only been finished a few weeks previous to the opening – that it almost sparkled in the autumn sun. Of course, just a few years ago, the track was little more than a twinkle in the eye of designer Alan Wilson, President Marc Steenbakkers and marketing VP John Hamilton, among others. But what began as a dream of bringing grassroots auto racing to this little ski resort town became a bit of a nightmare as local residents and business owners raised concerns about excess noise and traffic, and the project got bogged down by a complicated zoning process.

But after years of anticipation, Calabogie Motorsports Park got the green flag to open its gates to the public, and the consensus is that is was well worth the wait.

Drivers piloting everything from high-dollar exotics like Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches to more pedestrian vehicles like a Chevrolet Impala, a Mazda3 Sport and even a Chevrolet Silverado SS lined up in the paddock, awaiting their turn – or turns, as it were: Calabogie Motorsports Park boasts 23 of them on the 5.05 km main course. The track can also be split into two smaller circuits – a 2.22 km west course and 2.81 km east course – to accommodate two groups of racers at once.

Calabogie Motorsports Park
Calabogie Motorsports Park. Click image to enlarge

As important, perhaps, as the quality of the track itself, is that it’s so close to Ottawa. Geoff Wright, a veteran of the Targa Newfoundland rally, says the track’s location – a 45-minute drive west of Ottawa – is perfect.

“You can finish work at five, grab dinner and get here for seven,” he said. “Then you can lap for two hours and be home at 10 o’clock. It’s going to be terrific for Ottawa.”

Wright and other drivers at the event also praised the challenging nature of the track. Many felt it was as challenging as the renowned Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, and much more so than Shannonville Motorsport Park, located near Belleville, Ontario. Drivers were also unanimously pleased with there being another venue for lapping, as even with three other tracks (the third being at Mont Tremblant, Quebec) within a two to three hour drive from Ottawa, it can be difficult to book track time.

Calabogie Motorsports Park
Calabogie Motorsports Park. Click image to enlarge

The only concern expressed by some drivers was that little run-off space at some of the toughest corners could prove dangerous for less experienced drivers.

According to the Ontario Municipal Board’s guidelines for the track, Calabogie Motorsports Park’s owners must renew the park’s zoning permit every three years to allay the concerns of local residents over excessive noise.

There’s no doubt, though, that this new facility will only do good things for the economy in and around the town of Calabogie. We hope that’s the case, as we’d like to see the people of Calabogie warm up to their newest neighbour and help this new facility feel at home here.

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