The STANMECH Technologies, Good Cars Only, Gabo Solutions #77 Formula Mazda Team had another eventful weekend, this time at the 2019 VARAC VGP at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Clarington, Ontario. We ran in Group 6 – Formula Classic – a fine collection Lotus’s, Crossle’s, Lola’s, BRD’s, Chevron’s and Brabham’s. The weather was perfect for three of four days, with a mix of both sunny & cloudy/slightly rainy days, ranging from the 14's to the mid-20’s Celsius. It rained all day during the practice on the Thursday test day – a perfect day for us to break in our new engine. On the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we were on track a total of 5 times; practice and qualifying on Friday, a fun race Friday night, followed by Race 1 & 2 on Saturday and Race 3 on Sunday. We did not start Race 4 – more on that issue later. It has been a year since we were last at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – over the course of the four days, we improved our lap times substantially to a respectable 1:26 while breaking in our new engine.
Practicing in the rain on slicks at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park!!
During Friday in practice, we placed 1st of 26 race cars with a time of 1.29. In the qualifying session later that day, we qualified 1st of 33 race cars. Friday evening, we participated in a fun race called the open wheel challenge – there were a total of 24 race cars on the track for the event – we started in 1st position and lead each of the 13 laps to the checkered flag!! Our best lap was a 1:26.683 – lots of fun.
Saturday started out quite cool at about 15°C, we were joined at the track by our VIP guests, Bender Chu and his brothers, Desh and Mosh. Bender had won a “Day as part of the Subject Motorsports Team” as part of a prize we donated to the Nelson Youth Centre in Burlington.
Our VIP Guests Bender, Desh and Mosh
We started Race 1 at about 10 am – in 1st position. We led every lap to the checkered flag with a best lap time of 1:28:796. After the finish of the race, we were stopped by the Stewards on pit lane due to smoke on our exhaust. There was a small amount of oil seeping onto our muffler which caused the smoking problem. Our crew chief, Bill Vallis and I worked on the car to find the leak, we found about an ounce of oil laying in the pan underneath the engine – we thought that the oil pressure sender may have been part of the problem – Bill removed the sender and used new Teflon tape to reseal the unit. We removed the pan and cleaned it in the hopes that we had found the problem.
In Race 2, we experienced a complete comedy of errors!! We were late to the grid as a result of a misunderstanding of our starting time. By the time, we got to the grid the rest of the competitors were on track behind the pace car, about to take the green. Due to a miscommunication at pit-out, we were sent out just in front of our entire race group that had just taken the green flag!!! What a mess race – we were very fortunate that no one injured. As it turned out, we were already a lap down as we did not take the pace lap. We started in 26th place and managed to unlap our self by passing a majority of the field. It started to rain during the last few laps of the race – were fortunate to finish in 10th place setting the fastest lap at 1:28:698. After the race, Bill and I found more oil in the pan underneath the engine – we had thought we had fixed this problem!! Once again, we cleaned the pan and put it back on the race car – this oil leak was turning out to be a real pain.
The weather on Sunday was simply stunning – perfect weather for racing – mid 20’s and a bright blue sky. For Race 3, we started in 10th and quickly made it to the front by lap 5 with a best lap time of 1:26:922. Unfortunately, ou roil leak reared its ugly head and we were black flagged on Lap 5. When we stopped in pit lane, Bill told us that there was a lot of oil sitting in the pan which was blowing onto the muffler causing a lot of smoke. At that point, we made the decision to come in to the paddock for the remainder of the race. Bill and I spent about 30 minutes trying to locate the leak, when we didn’t have any luck, we decided not to go out for the last race. We will be pulling the engine in the coming days to determine the cause of the oil leak!!!
Overall, the weekend was a partial success – the track as fantastic, the #77 Formula Mazda was a dream to pilot, the event was packed with competitors and the entire weekend was very well run. Despite our engine oil leak, our race car performed very well. Of course, we need to give a big shout out to our sponsors; STANMECH Technologies, Good Cars Only, Gabo Solutions. A very special thank you to Bill and Shirley Vallis of Vallis Motor Sport for their excellent track side support, to their ongoing commitment to our race team.
Click here for more photos from this race weekend.
A very big thank you to the VARAC for hosting such a great event!! And last, but certainly not least, we want to thank our long suffering and tormented family which follows us from race track to race track allows us to continue to do this racing thing……….