CIRCUITS: MOSPORT

Name: Mosport

The first major racing facility in Canada was Mosport Park (the name is a contraction of Motor Sport). Located near the town of Bowmanville, 60 miles to the east of Toronto, Mosport was opened in 1961 in the hills close to the north shore of Lake Ontario. The scenic and spectacular track hosted its inaugural race -- the Players 200 -- which was won by Stirling Moss in a Lotus. The same meeting saw the first Canadian Grand Prix -- for sportscars. The two events at the 2.46 mile circuit continued throughout the Sixties as sportscar races until the introduction of CanAm in 1966 and the arrival at Mosport of F1 in August the following year. This was granted by the FIA as it was Canada's centenary year. It was raining when the race began and Jim Clark led most of it before his Lotus broke down and Jack Brabham led Denny Hulme to a Brabham 1-2.

The Grand Prix went to Mont-Tremblant in 1968 but returned to Mosport the following year in late September and witnessed a close battle between the Brabham of Jacky Ickx and Jackie Stewart's Matra. The two cars collided but Ickx managed to get going again and won. The race returned again in 1971 and Stewart won for Tyrrell and again in 1972, Mont Tremblant having ceased to hold races by then.

Peter Revson won in the rain in 1973 and the McLaren team made it a hat trick with wins in 1974 and 1976 courtesy of Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt, the 1975 race being canceled. The last F1 at Mosport was in 1977 and was won by Jody Scheckter for Wolf.

Mosport was also a regular fixture of the CanAm series and was highly popular with the drivers who loved the challenge. There were a number of large accidents, notably in 1965 when John Surtees suffered very serious injuries when he suffered a suspension breakage on his CanAm Lola. In 1977 Ian Ashley flipped his Obex Oil Hesketh and somersaulted over the barriers and into a television tower. Ashley was seriously hurt and rescue operations were inefficient and time-consuming.

Sportscar racing continued to visit Mosport in the 1980s and in 1985 the race saw Jaguar return to sportscar racing. Manfred Winkelhock was killed in a high-speed accident in the downhill sweeping Turn 2. World Championship sportscar racing did not return.

In the 1980s Mosport hosted many American events including rounds of the IMSA, TransAm, SuperVee and Formula Atlantic Championships. The facility was eventually sold to IMSA in 1997 but was then taken over by racing magnate Don Panoz who instigated a major safety upgrading program in 2000 with the intention of using the circuit for major international events once again.

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