James and the Mazda CTCC media race car
James and the Mazda CTCC media race car. Click image to enlarge

Video: Race 1
Video: Race 2
(Links courtesy YouTube)

Article and photos by James Bergeron

Photo Gallery:
CTCC B-Spec racing

There are a lot of myths when it comes to racing. Many people believe you need a budget the size of a small city. Although you do need to have a budget, depending on what series you race in and what you drive, it can vary greatly. Another myth is that you need to take a car and spend tens of thousands of dollars making it race ready—and this is not necessarily true either. Other myths include: without 1,000 horsepower you are not going to be winning any races; and, the car must be rear-wheel drive or don’t bother.

These myths are exactly why the B-spec Series was invented and the CTCC has adopted it for the 2012 racing season.

What is CTCC?

CTCC is the Canadian Touring Car Championship, presented by Continental Tire. The CTCC is Canada’s only professional road racing championship and features race cars based on their original street stock version.

The Mazda CTCC media race car
The Mazda CTCC media race car. Click image to enlarge

There will be 16 rounds in the 2012 CTCC season hosted at 5 different racetracks over 8 weekends. The season began at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly MoSport) and ends at Calabogie Motorsports Park, September 1st and 2nd. The season includes a support race at the Montreal Grand Prix as well as the NASCAR weekend at Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal and stops at Circuit iCar in Montreal, Mont-Tremblant, and Trois-Rivieres.

What is B-Spec?

B-spec is a showroom stock class that only allows simple modifications to the suspension—which means driver skill counts for everything. The B-Spec class was developed through a collaboration between Honda Performance Development and Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development with the goal of creating a common set of rules that could be adopted by various racing series.

The B-Spec class features showroom stock vehicles using stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat, and other safety equipment, along with 205/50/15 Continental ExtermeContact race tires. No aerodynamic devices are allowed; cosmetic plastic engine covers may be removed; brakes may be improved; and only OEM suspension or an upgraded suspension from the manufacturer may be used. These rules ensure that cost does not become a limiting factor.

The Mazda CTCC media race car
The Mazda CTCC media race car
The Mazda CTCC media race car. Click image to enlarge

Vehicles currently eligible to participate in B-Spec in the CTCC include the Mazda2, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris.

For the 2012 season, Mazda, in collaboration with the CTCC, is campaigning a Mazda2 race car for the entire season; the vehicle will be driven by various media and celebrity guests. For the weekend of June 23rd and 24th at the Circuit iCar in Montreal, that guest was yours truly from Autos.ca.

The Track

Circuit iCar is a 2.8-kilometre road course located in Mirabel, Quebec on the grounds of the old Mirabel Airport. The track is primarily used as a driving school and includes facilities for karting, drag racing and, of course, the road course itself. The track was updated in 2011 to offer a more flowing design and more excitement for drivers and spectators.

The karting track was designed by Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who also owns and operates a driver academy based at Circuit iCar.

The Car

For the weekend of June 23rd–June 24th, I was the “professional” driver behind the wheel of the Mazda2 race car. And let me just start by saying it was an absolute blast—the Mazda2 race car proves that you certainly can have fun driving a slow car fast.

The B-Spec series features showroom-stock cars, so this Mazda2 was no different. The Mazda2 is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that outputs just 100 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. My race car had a five-speed manual transmission and no air conditioning (the compressor was removed but not the lines).

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