MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN (3rd instalment 18th June 2017)

WARNING! These BLOGS (Bullshit, Lies, Overstated, Glorified Stories) are meant for Australian consumption only. It has come to our attention that the stories are being sent to the worldwide Formula Junior membership, who must be miffed that their trials, tribulations and triumphs are not being covered. Perhaps I should offer a heartfelt apology to any Poms, Scots, Americans, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders and Norwegians who feel they deserved mention….but sod ‘em! I don’t do “sorry”. Our tales will only cover those brave lads who have crossed the Pacific.

We pick up at Indy, where after a great weekend, Neil McCrudden from Perth has joined us with his Lotus 20/22 to venture over the border to Canada and The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. This is the unchanged ex Grand Prix Mosport track 100kms east of Toronto.

The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Despite a grid of 35 Formula Juniors, and a field of “Masters” F1 cars, plus banners promoting “Celebrating 50 Years of F1 in Canada”, the meeting has a lovely feel of a small country/picnic event (like Mallala or Morgan Park). The officials are friendly, the drivers briefings are short and happy and driver behaviour is based on an honour system (many of you may have to look up “honour” in the dictionary) where if you spin or make contact with anything or anybody, you take yourself to the stewards for a chat.

Test day on Thursday showed this famous old track to be 100% opposite to Indy. Very fast, very flowing, very undulating and very daunting. And you can see trees instead of grandstands. It takes some learning and experimenting. We were advised as first time drivers, to expect 10 seconds a lap improvements by the end of the weekend. We all tested except John Rowe who tested his skills at engine swapping.

Practice on Friday was on a thankfully dry track after a very wet night and morning fog. For afternoon qualifying, the conditions were perfect. Marty Bullock was 2nd by less than .1 sec to Greg Thornton who was flying, even after getting out of his airline business. Bruce Edgar and David Watkins did Elfin proud with 6th and 8th, followed by Neil McCrudden 9th, Lance Carwardine 12th, Bill Hemming 19th, John Rowe finally getting a run (but down on revs and power) at 24th . David Kent with a terminally rattly motor limped in at 29th. Unfortunately Peter’s Pink Panther expired beside the track and both Marty and David Watkins elegantly spun on a very oily track.

That night the party kicked off with a roaming meal. BBQ wings at one end of the paddock, turkey subs at another end and ice cream at the start/finish line. All with lashings of the sponsors ale: Steam Whistle Pilsner (well worth a free plug). A fantastic band (The Mud Men) played into the night and inevitably the ANZACS were first on the dance floor and the last to leave.

David and Kathy Watkins, Tony Olissoff and Mair Rabagliati

David and Kathy Watkins, Tony Olissoff and Mair Rabagliati

Race 1 the next day (Saturday) went for a very, very long 27 minutes (at our ages, this felt like a significant slice out of our remaining years). David Kent (Lynx) and Peter Boel (Panther) elected not to start, Lance (Lynx) ran hot and retired, and David Watkins (Elfin) drenched his motor in oil from a loose fitting. This left Marty (Lotus 27) to assume his normal position as bridesmaid, 28 seconds ahead of the 3rd placegetter. Neil McCrudden (Lotus 20/22) drove hard and well for a 6th, Bruce Edgar (Elfin) 7th, Bill (Tojeiro, but should have brought his Elfin) 15th and John (Lotus 18) 19th.

Getting ready for Race 2 due at 5pm brought rain, and more importantly, a real live Canadian Tornado warning! We all had to take cover and racing was cancelled.

But what a fizzer. A bit of lightning and rain and half an hour later it was all over. Crocodile Dundee would have said: “you call that a tornado?”.

So we lined up for race 2 about 45 minutes late and took to a slightly damp track. Everyone was circumspect and the only casualty was Dave Watkins Elfin which was parked on lap 2 with lost bearings (not just in his engine, he was facing the wrong way on the track). This time a hot local driver relegated Marty to 3rd. Neil 8th, Bruce 11th, Lance 12th and Bill 14th after John retired his Lotus after 5 laps with oil loss issues.

Saturday night was another show of Canadian hospitality with a beaut hot meal and yet another band in the camping grounds.

Sunday morning was billed as our championship feature race, so we all polished our cars and got to the dummy grid on time, except for the dearly departed Elfin (Watkins), Lynx (Kent) and Panther (Boel). At the 1 minute, start your engines sign we were all revved up with no place to go, when the grid marshals ran up and down screaming “get out of your cars”. Another bloody storm warning!

This time, just as we all huddled and cuddled in the marshals tent, it really did piss down. At the all clear after 20 minutes, we were back in the cars and went swimming.

Boy was it wet! And slippery! On the rolling start warm-up lap, 3 cars went off into the wall (including Neil McCrudden. At the green start flag, a leading Cooper spun into the wall on the straight. John Rowe’s Lotus gave up after one lap when his carby socks filled with water. 15 cars didn’t make it to the end. Only 18 cars did the 21 minute distance with everyone nearly 1 minute a lap slower than the previous day.

At the chequered flag (he could have waved a pair of frilly lace knickers and it wouldn’t have looked any more appealing) Marty finished 7th, Bill 12th, Bruce 14th and Lance 17th.

The final race of the weekend started well enough…but not for long! Bill’s Tojeiro lost its distributor cap at the green flag and fortunately got missed by all those following. Lance’s Lynx broke a rear stub axle after 1 lap and his own wheel beat him to the side of the track. John’s Lotus had oil everywhere but in the motor and he bailed out after 2 laps.

But on the final lap we saw a monumental prang when Ed Moore from Texas in a very rapid Cooper T59 went over the front wheel of the Sadler of Nigel Russell from NZ. The Cooper took to the air, missing a bridge by inches, then barrel rolled 3 times. Both cars were totalled and Ed taken for neck MRI’s and a busted hand.

Finishing under a red flag saw the surviving Aussies Marty, 2nd (again!), Neil 9th and Bruce 12th.

Despite a disastrous final race, our Mosport weekend was a triumph. Several cars are now off to JR Mitchells Connecticut workshop for minor and major rebuilds for Mid Ohio next weekend. Those with wives are going via Niagara (probably armed with Viagra) Falls.

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