Photos provided by 1morelap.ca
The buildup is simple: Nissan wants me to race in their inaugural season of the Micra Cup, a spec series based in Quebec, currently with approximately 25 cars filling each race weekend with exciting and close racing action.
My venue? Saint Eustache, just north of Montreal, a small race track, home to drifting, drag nights and roundy-round racing. It is a technical track, but is short and not much wider than a go-kart track. Most of the racers in the Micra Cup series use this track as their testing and training ground and it was where the Micra Cup started this year with practice and delivery of the vehicles in May.
Most race weekends are just that, full weekends of practice, qualifying and racing. Typically a Friday practice is held, followed by practice on the Saturday morning, qualification and a race. Sunday is much of the same as well, most race weekends are actually the same from series to series, right from grassroots motorsports at the club level, all the way up to the big dogs in Formula 1. But this one was a little different with everything held solely on the Saturday in a very compressed schedule.
Obviously Nissan wanted me there for a few reasons, they wanted some feedback on their race car, they wanted some press coverage and of course they wanted me to win… right? But of course the racer excuse book must be filled with facts for the day and how the odds were stacked against me – first of all, Nissan didn’t actually want me to win, although I’m sure they would not have been too mad, right?
Excuse Book Entry – The Car
The Micra is not your typical race car, you see, usually when you talk about a race car you are talking about a low slung body design that forces the weight closer to the ground for more stability. The Micra is what I would call a bubble car, made for a roomy experience for four passengers out of an economical car that starts at a base price of $9,995.
The Micra also has a short narrow wheelbase, something also backwards from what one would call a race car. It is driven by the front wheels, or should I say wheel? It’s front wheel drive, it does have a manual transmission which gives you full control, but there is no limited slip differential so when one wheel is off the ground it gives you that lovely one-wheel peel and smoke, hey look a one wheel burnout! – Racer excuse #1
Of course, without the wheel in the air not much burning out happens, with only 109 hp available to the driver at the best of times from a 1.6L engine. – Racer excuse #2
The suspension on the Micra Cup car is not a stock Micra suspension, thank god. But it is still not a stiff, adjustable and roll-resistant suspension. In fact the suspension kind of reminds you of how a canoe feels when sitting in the calm waters of the ocean. – Racer excuse #3
Guess who made the top 10? Stars in Cars: Elvis Stojko
There are some attributes of the Micra Cup car that resemble a race car though, and that is good. All Micra Cup cars are built by MIA (Motorsports in Action) located at the track at Saint Eustache which proves right there that they are dedicated to track performance not street show.
A custom cage is bolted and welded into the Micra to ensure that the driver stays safe in case of an accident or rollover (and roll over they do), OMP belts, seat and steering wheel are also installed and the door panels are gutted and covered over with plastic cover. The cars weigh in at a reasonable 1,050 kg with the driver and fuel on board.
Also installed is an AIM MXL dash that provides data-logging, lap times, oil / water temperatures, RPM, shift lights and more – when you step into the Micra Cup car, you feel like you are in a real race car.