The Road to Racing: Grassroots Racing Good for the Soul

Written by Kelly Ball. Photos by Will Parsons on .

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The Mobil 1 Ontario Time Attack (OTA) season has come to another successful end, and the 2015 Championship Shootout results are in. Sanctioned by the Canadian Automobile Sports Club Ontario Region (CASC-OR), the final event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s DDT course in late September, saw an 18-car field whittled down to the three fastest, most consistent drivers. And after five rounds of shootout eliminations, Carsten Gieschen and his 2003 BMW M3 have claimed the top spot followed by Kyle Beatty in his 1990 Toyota Celica, and Mohamed Hussain’s 1989 Honda CRX Si.

It was a great event, and the perfect way to end an excellent season! My congratulations and warm thanks go out to everyone that’s been involved this year. In my role as the CASC-OR’s Ontario Time Attack Director, I have also been reflecting on the nature of our lapping and competition opportunities for autosport enthusiasts. So, I decided to go directly to the root of the matter and talk to one of our regular competitors to find out what the attraction is, and what some of the things one can expect to get out of participating.

Perry Rautanen is an experienced “time-attacker” and grassroots competitor. He’s also the chief timer for OTA events, and has a very nice-looking, great-sounding black Mustang that’s a joy to see and listen to at the track. When I got started in time attack, it was Rautanen who first offered words of advice and assistance to me. That was so greatly appreciated as I was very “green” when I began. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I also tracked a Mustang, and before long we were enjoying our own small competition with one another within the overall competition. Here’s what he has to say about being involved with the OTA.

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CASC-OR: How long have you been involved in Ontario Time Attack competitions?
Perry Rautenen: My first full season was 2010, although I did volunteer and took part in some lapping in 2009.

How did you get started in OTA?
It seemed like a logical thing to do after ice racing, and Dave Barker helped convince me!

What attracted you to OTA?
The chance to drive my own car at a race track and develop my driving skills.

What do you enjoy most about OTA?
Getting in the zone and being totally immersed in the driving experience is what I enjoy the most! It takes total concentration and blocks out all other day-to-day distractions. It is also great to be on track with other drivers of a similar caliber that you know you can trust.

Is it costly to be involved in OTA competition?
It is moderately expensive to run in the OTA. One can expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 to $5,000 for a full season, including entry fees and car maintenance and prep.

Is it time consuming to be involved in OTA?
It can be quite time consuming if you run a full season, and in 2015 it took up six weekends. Of course, you can always choose to run fewer events – it all depends on how bad your “addiction” (or need for speed) is!

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What advice can you offer to a novice who wants to get involved in the OTA?
Take the school and don’t worry about car prep other than maybe brakes and tires. In your early days, your money is more wisely spent on instruction.

Have you improved as a driver and as a competitor as a result of being involved in OTA?
Most definitely! Like most things in life, practice improves the skills you have acquired, and allows you to hone the finer nuances that the average driver isn’t even aware of.

What is one thing you have learned that really stands out?
There are two things really. First, you can’t brake and turn at the same time. And second, your car goes wherever you happen to be looking at the time!

What do you enjoy the most about OTA competition?
The skill levels possessed by the other competitors and their willingness to help out a fellow competitor in any situation always amazes me.

Are you involved in any other motorsports?
Used to do some motocross/hare-scrambles with my kids, but that has all but disappeared as they’ve grown older. In fact, I just sold my motocross bike this past spring. And then there’s always ice racing to help get through the winter!

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How does the OTA compare with your other motorsports?
It’s about on par with the others. I find the majority of motorsport enthusiasts have the same desire to compete while on-track, but will bend over backwards to help a fellow competitor off the track.

Do you plan to continue competing in the OTA?
Yes, although going forward I will likely just compete at the minimum number of events to qualify for a full season to help keep costs down. I find lapping days to be less stressful on the car, which equates to lower maintenance costs, so I will likely do a mix of OTA events and lapping days in 2016.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the OTA?
It needs to survive into the future to allow a venue for the average “Joe” to get out on track and experience the thrill and exhilaration of navigating a track such as Mosport GP. The greatest challenge always seems to be getting the word out to potential enthusiasts who don’t even know it exists!

That is indeed true, and thank you Perry for pointing that out. So, if you and anyone you know is interested in taking part in the Ontario Time Attack series, or even just our lapping days, I encourage you to investigate further and don’t be shy about contacting me directly. You’ll be glad you did, and we’ll be stronger with you!

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