On Saturday October 14 2006, the Ottawa Citroën Club Fall Drive was combined with an invitation to participate in the “Goodwood in the Valley” Festival at Calabogie Motorsports Park (CMP). This event was the first organized by the Motorsport Club of Ottawa (MCO) at the newly opened CMP.
MCO, one of the oldest car clubs in Canada, invited racers, sports car clubs and vintage clubs to join them in this celebration of the opening of the first new road course race track to be built in Canada in 25 years. The event was intended to allow car enthusiasts of all stripes to experience and enjoy this exciting new facility, in the beautiful Calabogie Highlands region located two hours north of Kingston. Overall, more than 200 drivers seized the opportunity.
Ottawa Citroën Club members from Ottawa, Winchester, Montreal, Arnprior, Renfrew and Perth headed out from their homes under threatening skies, to their rendezvous at (what could be more Canadian?) Tim Hortons near Perth. From there, the convoy of five 2CVs and one SM headed north on the lovely Highway 511. This road is one of the hidden treasures of the region, winding through the autumn forests, with climbs and drops that presented an entertaining challenge for the 2CVs, and encouraged Werner Seigrist in the SM to look for passing opportunities.
Most of the convoy arrived together at CMP, to find very impressive infrastructure of paddocks and pit lanes, serving a massive 20-turn 5.6 km long road course, in a scenic setting of forests and rolling hills. One of the first people they saw was Bob McLeod, who had organized the convoy, although he was not able to participate since he was working as a grid marshall for MCO during the event. Bob brought the arrival of the Citroëns to the attention of chief organizer Ron Woltman, who greeted them warmly. In fact, Ron was so pleased by the arrival of the group that he interrupted practice on the track to send the Cits out for a ceremonial Parade Lap, behind one of the Pace Cars. The Citroën drivers could hardly believe it! To the enthusiastic support of corner workers and the other participants the five 2CVs of Christian Thurler, Cor Baars, Pierre Gagne, Michel Larouche, and John Fisher, with various other Club members as passengers, circulated proudly around the track and back to the pits.
The remainder of their time at CMP was spent watching other drivers explore the new circuit, in everything from regular daily-driver Touring Class cars, up to out-and-out single-seat open-wheeled race cars in a variety of Performance classes.
Two other Ottawa Citroën Club members were participating in the Performance classes, albeit in cars other than their Citroëns. Jaro Dvorsky, 2CV owner and former sedan-class racer entered his famous Tatra 603. 2CV Camionette owner Neil Bryson, who has extensive racing experience, including a vintage-class Renault Alpine, drove his very quick new Lotus Elise.
As is so often the case, the Citroëns attracted a lot of attention in the paddock. Many of the other participants shared stories of their encounters with the cars, over many years. One notable story comes from Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, former commander of NATO forces in Bosnia, and currently a formula car racer. When he was with the Canadian Forces in Europe in the 60s, the 2CV was a common choice for local transportation. Due to the unreliable nature of the old-style hold-open latches for the flip-up side windows, it was possible to tell someone’s rank by the resulting bruises on the elbow. If the bruise was on the left arm, it meant the individual was a ranking officer, who rated his own car. A bruise on the right arm indicated the victim was a mere passenger, and so a lower rank. We even met a racer, Ted Rance who told us that he owns a 1957 2CV that he has been waiting years to restore. He was very excited to have made contact with the Citroën Club.
Later in the afternoon, the Citroën group drove from the track to the home of Nancy and Pierre Gagne, who live in nearby Renfrew. Refreshments were served, the usual relaxed atmosphere prevailed, and the group swapped stores from their “big moment” lapping CMP. Finally, the group broke up for the return home to their various starting points.