And yet, starting in 1962 — the year after the circuit north of Bowmanville opened for business — racing machines other than the “sporty cars” were frequently featured. Stock cars, motorcycles and, yes, even big-rig trucks have entered into battle on the 3.597-kilometre (2.459-mile) road course.
Big-rig trucks, you say?
Yup. In 1987, the Great American Truck Race at Mosport was won by Dick Murtaugh of Central Square, N.Y., who was at the wheel of a Western Star modified diesel. Shawna Robinson, who went on to race in the Busch Grand National Series, finished third.
After that one race, though, trucks as a group did not go at it again at CTMP — until now.
Next weekend, on Labour Day Sunday, the NASCAR Camping World Series for modified production pickup trucks (left) will race in the Chevrolet Silverado 250.
It promises to be one of the most spectacular races seen at “Old Mosport” in years.
Why? Because in the NASCAR hierarchy, the young men racing in the truck series are the next generation of Sprint Cup stars and they are hungry to make an impression.
Many of them have reputations to protect: Jeb Burton, for instance, is the son of retired NASCAR star Ward Burton, and great things are expected of him. Ditto Ryan Blaney, son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, and Ty Dillon, grandson of driver-turned-legendary-team-owner Richard Childress.
Others just know they were born to race in the big leagues, and you can put defending series champion James Buescher in that category. Win in the trucks and you might just find yourself moving up a class to the Nationwide Series and, ultimately, the Sprint Cup.
That’s what’s happening to Austin Dillon, brother of Ty and another Childress grandson. Austin, although still driving the occasional truck race, is in the Nationwide Series now and was the emergency call-up last Sunday to drive in place of the injured Tony Stewart at the Cup race in Michigan, where he finished 14th in Smoke’s No. 14 car.
So there’s a lot at stake in these truck races. Win and you could move up the ladder. Lose, and you might have blown your one and only chance at superstardom, and the potential riches that go with it.
So who are all these young guns expected to do battle in the Chevrolet Silverado 250 next Sunday? Here’s a closer look at some of them.
James Buescher, 23, of Katy, Tex.: From the time he was 12, Buescher was winning races and championships in Texas. In 2006, he partnered with Turner Scott Motorsports — the team he is still with — to run in the national ASA Late Model Series, where he won the championship, Rookie-of-the-Year and Most Popular Driver.
In the following years, he raced in various national stock car series, including ARCA, and made his Camping World and Nationwide Series debuts, winning his first NASCAR pole in his sixth Nationwide start.
He had a breakout season in 2011, eventually finishing third in trucks. In 2012, he won four races and had 10 top-fives and 14 top-10s en route to the Camping World championship. He is currently second in the 2013 points race, with one win.
John Edward (Jeb) Burton, 21, of Halifax, Va.: As well as being the son of Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, he is the nephew of Sprint Cup star Jeff Burton, so Jeb has big shoes to fill.
At 16, he started racing weekly at a local track in Virginia, South Boston Speedway, before moving on to national racing on the late-model ARCA circuit.
He made his Camping World debut in 2012 but had to run a limited schedule because of sponsorship issues. He then signed a two-year contract to drive full-time in trucks for Turner Scott Motorsports and part-time in the Nationwide Series.
In April, Burton won his first truck series pole at Martinsville and, in June, he won his first truck race at Texas. He is currently third in the standings.
Matthew (Matt) Crafton, 37, of Mooresville, N.C.: Crafton (right) started out racing karts and midgets before graduating to stock cars, eventually winning the NASCAR Featherlight Southwest Series in 2000.
Crafton’s first NASCAR win came in 2008 at Charlotte. It was his 178th start, a record for most starts in the truck series without a victory.
Later that season, he filled in for Robby Gordon in practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Homestead, because Gordon was unavailable.
His best season to date was 2009 in which he finished second in the standings behind Ron Hornaday Jr. He is currently in first place in the Camping World standings and has won one race.
Ty Dillon, 21, of Welcome, N.C.: He’s the brother of Nationwide driver Austin Dillon, son of retired driver Mike Dillon and grandson of Richard Childress, a former driver who now owns racing teams in all of NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Just this week, it was announced that Ty would be racing in the Nationwide Series full time in 2014.
After apprenticing in several stock car series, he won the 2011 ARCA championship before moving to the Camping World series in 2012. He won one truck race in 2012 and has one win so far this season, putting him fourth in the standings.
Dillon was the only Camping World Series regular to take advantage of an opportunity to race at CTMP in advance of Labour Day, when he finished seventh in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race on Victoria Day weekend this year.
Miguel Paludo, 30, of Nova Prata, Brazil, and Mooresville, N.C.: Like many drivers nowadays, Paluda (right) started racing karts as a child in Brazil, eventually graduating to the Porsche GT3 Cup Brazil series, where he won championships in 2008 and 2009.
Intent on a career in NASCAR, he moved to the U.S. in 2010 and went, first, into the K&N Pro Series East and then the Camping World series.
His 2011 season was so-so but, in 2012, he won the pole for the truck race at Daytona and did two races in the Nationwide Series. He is currently sixth in the 2013 truck series standings.
Other “name” drivers expected to race at CTMP next week:
Ron Hornaday Jr., 55, of Palmdale, Calif.: A 45-race Sprint Cup veteran who finished third in Nationwide Series standings in 2003, Hornaday is a four-time Camping World champion and the all-time leader in truck wins, with 51. Hornaday is 12th in the standings.
Johnny Sauter, 35, of Necedah, Wisc.: He’s got 82 Sprint Cup races and 220 in the Nationwide Series under his belt, but his best success has been in the trucks, where he’s started 120 races and won eight, including this year’s race at Martinsville. He’s running ninth in the points.
Joey Coulter, 23, of Miami Springs, Fla.: A university student when he’s not racing (studying mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Coulter finished third in Camping World standings a year ago and is now racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He is 10th so far this year.
Darrell Wallace Jr., 19, of Concord, N.C.: The second-youngest driver in the field, Wallace also races for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is also doing a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is 11th in the points race.
Ryan Blaney, 19, of High Point, N.C.: A third-generation racer and son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, Ryan is employed by Brad Keselowski Racing in the Camping World series and makes occasional starts for Penske Racing in the Nationwide Series. He’s currently seventh in points.
Brendan Gaughan, 38, of Las Vegas, Nev.: Winner of half-a-dozen championships in various classes throughout his career, Gaughan has experienced many ups and downs. At one point, he drove in the Sprint Cup series for Roger Penske. For 2013, he is driving for Richard Childress Racing in the trucks series and sits eighth in the points.
Timothy Peters, 32, of Danville, Va.: Primarily a Camping World Series truck racer, where he has won six races during his career (including one this season), Peters has also raced in the Nationwide Series for Richard Childress. He won the race at Bristol in 2012 and very nearly repeated that on Wednesday when he finished second there to Kyle Busch. Peters is running fifth in points going into the CTMP round.
Although it was hoped — nay, expected — that a number of talented Canadian racing drivers would “rent” rides in the truck series to take on these heavyweights in CTMP’s first big international NASCAR event, it hasn’t happened — yet.
Unlike the situation in Montreal in recent years, where upwards of a half-dozen Canadians would arrange for cars in which to take on the Yankee invaders in the annual (but now cancelled) Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve (Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier, to name some), the only “native son” as of this writing to signal his intentions of racing in the Camping World event is 17-year-old Alex Guénette of Mascouche, Que.
Guénette races in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, in cars prepared by Dave Jacombs, who’s entered winning cars for Andrew Ranger for years. No stranger to truck racing — he raced last year in the Quebec Pro-Cam Supertrucks Series, where he was named Rookie of the Year — Guénette will drive for Mario Gosselin in the Camping World race next weekend.
And why haven’t more Canadians signed on for the truck race? The price to rent a ride for the weekend, which starts at $100,000 and can go as high as $175,000, is beyond the reach of most Canadian racers.
On the other hand, three of the truck regulars — Ty Dillon, James Buescher and Jeb Burton — will be racing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race that will precede the Chevrolet Silverado 250 next Sunday. They are renting cars for the race from J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge (Dillon) and two-time Canadian Tire champion Scott Steckly of Milverton (Buescher, Burton).
And why won’t Steckly be taking on the NASCAR up-and-comers in the truck race?
“I’m preparing four cars for the stock car race,” Steckly said, “for me, regular driver L.P. Dumoulin and then two additional for James Buescher and Jeb Burton. There are only so many hours in the day and I have a championship to win.”
With three races remaining, Steckly is leading the NASCAR Canada points race over defending champion D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas by four points. Then, Jason Hathaway of Dutton, Ont., is just six points behind Kennington.”
“It’s (the championship) too close,” Steckly said. “I don’t need the distraction of a truck race.”
Fitzpatrick, who once nearly won a truck race at Daytona International Speedway, is angry that he won't be in the 250.
"It's a joke," he said. "The top teams want $175,000. I told them I could win this race and they just laughed.
"I think a lot of them are going to crash on practice day. In fact, I think when they go out to practice that I'm going to take a deck chair and some popcorn and go over to turn four and watch them go off. I'm going to have a sign beside my chair. It's gonna say: "Free Agent."
- NORRIS McDONALD
Go to wheels.ca next Friday morning, where Wheels editor Norris McDonald and reporters Gary Grant, Stephanie Wallcraft and Matthew Strader will provide comprehensive coverage of the Chevrolet Silverado 250 all Labour Day weekend.