My first time back to Calabogie Motorsports Park since 2017, when I blew a turbo in my first session and discovered the real value of my newly purchased 2016 Chevy Colorado tow vehicle and a 2015 Econotrailer. It’s a great facility, with yet another new garage onsite, and has a fantastic track layout. The track has a reputation of being a real tire grinder, and that once again held true. I arrived with a set of Nitto NT-01 tires that had six light sessions from Lime Rock Park on them, and when I left after three days, two tires had the outlines of tread on them, and the other two were worn smooth.
The hot weather that plagued the northeast US the weekend of July 19th, 2019, was also present in western Ontario. Friday’s portion was an open track day for attendees, so I had no students to take care and could focus on my driving. This was to be the coming out of my Evo after a season of mechanical issues, including the aforementioned turbo demise, a rebuilt tranny, a replaced head gasket, and my more recent CV boot replacement and rerouted brake ducting. These changes held up to a last-minute event I attended at the end of June with CT Valley Chapter BMW CCA at Lime Rock, and so I was hopeful they would do the same here. Spoiler alert: the car held up well. I was a bit worn out, but the Evo was good.
Days Two and Three were a traditional HPDE, and I was assigned two students. Neither of my students had been to this track before, so I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to sign anyone off in good conscience at least until the second day of the HPDE. This is no fault of the students, as I had a very difficult time as an A student when I first visited, taking three sessions before I learned every corner. The heat was brutal, and having back-to-back-to-back sessions of an instructor session, the A session, and the B session meant you were in a car for nearly a full hour. I ended up skipping a session or two of my own. As luck would have it, my A student got bumped down to C as it was a lightly attended group and allowed him to better learn the track without having to continuously watch his mirrors and issue point-bys. My B student was a very critical thinker on the track that quickly picked up a set of skills that made him one of the quickest cars out there, despite his modest HP car. Both were very entertaining gentlemen and underscored my sense of track folks being some of the best folks around.
Trillium Chapter put on this event, and they did a hell of a job. Isi P, the president of the chapter, wasn’t driving this weekend, and he did much of the heavy lifting in making sure the event went smooth. Need coolers of ice for the 40 cases of water for attendees? Isi got them. The food shack is no longer on site and can’t feed the 100+ attendees? Isi arranged with a local grocery store to make brown bag lunches each day for attendees to purchase. He did a hell of a job.
Another side story was from a fellow instructor I met from the Quebec BMW CC chapter. He showed us Americans an email that Quebec Chapter and Ottawa Chapter members received an email urging them to boycott this event. We were stumped as to why, but as we dug into the details, we found out that Trillium Chapter, centered in Toronto, was drummed out of BMW Club Canada due to a disagreement between Trillium and the other Canadian chapters based on voting rights – Trillium members represent about 40% of total Club Canada membership, so they wanted proportional voting as opposed to 1 chapter, 1 vote. I heard the arguments from both sides, and I had to agree that Trillium made a good point. Why should another Club Canada chapter with 19 members have the same say as a chapter with 1,000 members? We flew a pirate and beer flag as part of our paddock camp, and we felt the pirate flag held even more meaning after learning about this issue. Oh, the resolution for Trillium is they petitioned and were granted the ability to join BMW Car Club of America, so this move has actually benefited them as they gained
I had done some homework and verified that the local Calabogie Brewing microbrewery had some good stock on hand, so I stopped in and stocked up on some of their Five Island Watermelon Gose and Front Porch Kolsch. One of the highlights of this event is come 5pm when the track goes cold, we gather under our EZ Up and start bench racing with some brews. Being this far into Canada, there’s not much going on in Calabogie, so many just hang around the track and socialize on a regular basis. Our gang of 4 Patroon Chapter members were able to paddock together and visited on a regular basis, and were able to attract a steady stream of characters to stop in and visit with us. Great times!
Crossing the border note: I bring my stepson’s old BMX bike with me, on a rack attached to my trailer. The Canadian border guard took one look at it and said “Who uses that bike?” I told him I do, and I could see he was going to challenge me on that before he broke out into a smile and just accepted my answer.