Huge Contingent of Canadians On Hand for IMSA Racing At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Saturday, July 6, 2019

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada – Officially, Canada Day was celebrated throughout the country last Monday – as it is every year on July 1.

Apparently, nobody told that to many drivers competing in one or more of the four IMSA-sanctioned series this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park who extended the celebration into this weekend in Bowmanville.

Between the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (four drivers) – which headlines the weekend with Sunday’s two-hour and 40-minute Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Acura – the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (12), the IMSA Prototype Challenge (six) and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama (12), there are a total of 31 drivers from Canada. Three drivers – Cameron Cassels from Coldstream, British Columbia, Scott Hargrove from Vancouver, B.C. and Marco Cirone from Bolton, Ontario – are competing in multiple races this weekend.

The WeatherTech Championship weekend entry list includes four Canadians – Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon from Ottawa, Ontario, who are sharing the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Canada-based Pfaff Motorsports; Cassels in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA in the LMP2 class, and Dalton Kellett, who is making his IMSA debut this weekend in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA in LMP2.

Kellett, from Stouffville, Ontario, has been on the open-wheel driver development ladder for the past several years, racing in Indy Lights full-time since 2016. His early impressions of IMSA have been positive.

“I'm happy to be here,” Kellett said. “The paddock is great. You know, you come from the IndyCar paddock, which is obviously a healthy, strong group, but then you come here and it's like, 'Wow, this is great as well.' It's like a really healthy paddock. A lot of drivers, you know, great drivers here, a lot of cars. So, it's really exciting to see the sport is this strong on this side of it as well.”

Whereas Kellett is making his first IMSA appearance this weekend, Montreal’s Kuno Wittmer is on the other side of the spectrum. He was the 2014 WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion and is racing in Saturday’s two-hour Pilot Challenge race at CTMP.

He’s made a total of 39 starts in IMSA’s premier series [WeatherTech Championship, American Le Mans Series (ALMS) or GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series] and has competed full-time in Pilot Challenge the past few years. He shares the No. 75 McLaren GT4 with Paul Holton driving for another Canada-based team, Compass Racing.

Wittmer knows what it’s like to race in front of the home crowd at CTMP, having done so many times in IMSA and other events over the years. That’s why he’s thrilled to be here.

“Being on home soil is always a nice thing,” Wittmer said. “I mean, you have your support system around you. You have your family and friends, fans that have, honestly – I've seen some of the fans this weekend so far that have been here since Day 1 when I've come here, which was '98.

“So, it's like, 20 years or 21 years now, and it feels pretty good to always come back to the same place and compete. And now to compete in a series – a really, really high-caliber series in IMSA, in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, you can't ask for better.”

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park co-owner, Ron Fellows, is proud of the strong turnout of his countrymen competing this weekend. Fellows is a sports car racing legend – a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame and one of the 50 Great IMSA Drivers named as part of the IMSA 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019 – who knows what it feels like to win IMSA races in front of his home fans at CTMP.

The three-time ALMS series champion also won three races at the racetrack formerly known as “Mosport.” He has a pretty good idea what the experience will be like for the 31 Canadians this weekend.

“To race in front of the home crowd – back when I was doing it with Corvette, you knew where the people had signs up and it was really cool to see,” said Fellows. “It's, I dunno, gotta be worth a few tenths (of a second) to be in front of the home crowd.

“I know the prototype guys, back in the ALMS days, they sort of dreaded the fact that if Ron and [then-Corvette Racing co-driver] Johnny (O’Connell) won the GT Le Mans class, that's all that got reported in Canada. It was that and 'Oh, by the way, an Audi won or something like that.’

“But you're racing in front of friends and family and all the Canadians will have that opportunity. So, it's important for them and it's a track that most of them will have grown up learning how to race on. A little bit of home court is not a bad thing.”

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