Auto racing is all about money and, for that very reason, I am not convinced we will never again see unlimited prototype sports cars racing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
There is a theme to conversations and news stories surrounding this weekend’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix: that this will be everybody’s last chance to see cars race in that series’ exotic P1 class.
Which is true — in the short term.
But I’m not so sure that we won’t see P1 cars again and maybe even sooner, rather than later.
What is significant about this weekend’s racing is that this is the last time that we’ll see the American Le Mans Series at Old Mosport. The series, patterned after Le Mans-style racing in Europe, is in the midst of its final season and, when the checkers fall at the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in October, the ALMS and the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series will fold together to become the United SportsCar Racing Series.
Although many people were initially worried about this merger (including me), those fears mostly went away when the new series announced a class structure that would incorporate all of the classes currently operating in both series — except, of course, P1.
The new SportsCar Prototype class will incorporate the Daytona Prototypes (Grand Am), the P2 cars (ALMS) and the Delta Wing. The Prototype Challenge (ALMS) will continue as will the GT classes (GT Le Mans from the ALMS and the GT Daytona from Grand Am that will also include the GT Challenge from ALMS). The fifth class will be the technologically-oriented GX class that now runs in Grand Am.
These class structures and rules are for 2014 and 2015. After that — well, that’s where things could get interesting.
In March, SportsCar and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest signed agreements that, among other things, will see them “work together to craft compatible technical regulations for the top sports car categories from each side. Such work is expected to expand manufacturer involvements, increase the sustainable relevance of sports car racing and enhance the overall event experience for all fans.”
I interpret this to mean that if Audi and Peugeot, say, want to build super-exotic Prototype 1 racing cars for the P1 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series, and then want to either run the entire North American series schedule, or just cherry pick select races like the 24 Hours of Daytona, I can’t imagine it not happening. Can you?
As I said: money talks. Which means that as early as 2016, P1 cars could be in play once again.
Meantime, at Old Mosport this weekend, three teams have entered cars in the P1 class — the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda ARX-03c rocket piloted by Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr, the Mazda Lola B12 with Toronto’s Tony Burgess aboard (he’ll be partnered by Chris McMurry) and the Delta Wing driven by Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge.
Now, like just about everybody else, I like watching the Corvettes and the Porsches and the BMWs and the Ferraris and the Vipers duking it out around the hills of CTMP but nothing beats the thrill of watching a guy like Luhr in a P1, flirting with the track record literally ever lap he completes.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear — Aug. 24, 2008, to be exact — when I wrote these words:
They broke the track record so many times at Mosport International Raceway yesterday that they almost lost count. In total, 10 cars broke the old track record.
When the dust had settled and qualifying was over, Italy’s Dindo Capello sat on the pole in his Prototype 1 Audi R10 diesel with a time of one minute 04.094 seconds (which translates into a speed of 138.116 miles per hour).
One hundred and thirty-eight miles an hour. Now, that’s what gets a spectator’s juices flowing.
Enjoy watching the P1s this weekend. And trust me: they’ll be back.