Most motorsports fans in Ontario know that this province has a rich auto racing history and a variety of race tracks, but many do not quite grasp just how accessible grassroots motorsports is here. Gary Wood and friends know better than most, and had that in mind when the Ontario 1500 was first conceived two years ago. Wood says the goal was to raise the profile of motorsports in Ontario, and showcase all of these good tracks. And they have!
Rather than create an event like Targa Newfoundland, which follows a rally format on closed public roads, Wood’s team worked to create a week-long event that would see competitors drive across the province, making competitive stops at six key spots. Organizers worked with the Ontario Provincial Police and other local police forces to show the public that there are proper places where you can drive fast, rather than racing on the streets.
And in mid-September, 13 gung-ho teams began their week in the 2015 Ontario 1500 powered by Motomaster Eliminator at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) with a time attack event before heading northeast to Calabogie Motorsports Park near Ottawa for more competition. From there, competitors headed to Shannonville Motorsport Park followed by the Picton airport before swinging back west to rounds at Grand Bend Motorplex and Toronto Motorsport Park. For the final leg, the convoy made its way back to CTMP, where one last event and the awards ceremony took place at the Driver Development Centre.
The field was made up of a wide range of vehicles from mild, street stock BMWs and Camaros to heavily-modified Subarus and Hondas. Model years dated from a 1966 Studebaker to a 2014 Camaro.
Over the course of the week, teams took part in 11 time attacks, nine autoslaloms and three drag races, one of which was a top speed challenge.
At the completion of a long week of competition, Team Scion was crowned the overall winners. The team consisted of David Pratte and Peter Tarach from Speed Academy in their supercharged 2013 Scion FR-S. Second spot on the podium went to another Scion, this one shared by Andre Corriveau, Norm Wong and Kenny Barbeau. A stock class Camaro SS driven by Hung Nguyen, Ben and Bruce Beacock took third spot.
With a drawn-out competitive battle, there is bound to be some sort of drama, and the Ontario 1500 would not disappoint. The wild-looking Subaru Impreza of Stephen Denaka and Trevor Hancher proved to be very fast, taking the win in four of the first six events. As sometimes happens when pushing the performance envelope, the Subaru’s engine self destructed following the Calabogie round. The car was towed back to Can-Jam Motorsports in Thornhill, where a new engine was hastily installed in time to get the Team In the Red entry back on track at Toronto Motorsport Park. The Subaru’s rapid pace brought the team another three top finishes before again suffering mechanical failure while taking part in another event at TMP along the way. What looked to be a certain win turned into an 11th place finish. Search “Target Reboot” on our website to learn more about the 2013 Team Scion FR-S that helped Tarach and Pratte win it all!
At the podium celebrations, everyone involved had a contentedly happy yet delirious look on their face thanks to long days and lots of driving. Each and every competitor I spoke with had an absolute blast, and planning has already started for next year. We’re definitely looking forward to it, and hope to be in the mix ourselves.