PRN Sits Down With CASC-OR Vice President, Nick Majors
Although motorsport competition has been around since the dawn of the automobile, some semblance of organization across Canada took a while to establish. But like any modern form of racing today, some of the roots were admittedly humble. Take for example NASCAR, today’s racing powerhouse originally was run on the sand at Daytona Beach. Competitors drove stripped down vehicles to run the long oval on the beach with nothing restraining them other than a rope tied around their waist. Times have certainly changed and it is that form of organization and standardization that pushes motorsport to new levels of performance, safety and entertainment.
In Ontario, the sanctioning body they adhere to for competition is operated by the Canadian Automobile Sports Clubs - Ontario Region (CASC-OR). Prior to WWII, organized auto racing in Ontario was non-existent. There was nothing other than sporatic stock car races held on a wooden board track at Oakwood Stadium in West Toronto and dirt track racing held on Wasaga Beach and in the Bridal Path area of Toronto (now some of the most expensive real estate in North America).
It wasn’t until 1950 that the variety of racing happening around the province got organized. While Europe was firmly established by that time, the first organized races were held just west of Barrie, ON where clubs began to set rules and regulations. Racing back then was a simple endeavor, drive your coupe or sports car to the track, strip it down and paint a number on the side. Your average weekend warrior brings more racing gear with them for some lapping days now.
For the various clubs to begin forming professional motorsports in Canada, they needed standardized regulations. With that, three independent clubs operating races met in Kingston, ON in 1951 to form the Canadian Auto Sport Committee. The primary reasons for the committee meeting was to establish the ground rules for competitive racing in Ontario and ultimately the rest of the country. After years of standardization, the first professional race in Canada was held at the Edenvale Airport just outside Stayner, ON in 1956. This late model stock car race was jointly sanctioned by CASC and the United States Auto Club (USAC) and began a long history of partnership with other sanctioning bodies such as SCCA and the now defunct CART.
After the official name change to Canadian Automobile Sports Clubs, CASC became affiliated with the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain in order to host international races. It was recognized as the official governing body of motorsports in Canada by the FIA (Federation International De L’Automobile) and within a few years became a full member.
As of the late 1980’s the ASN Canada
FIA wasformed and now oversees the
five regions of CASC.
CASC-OR is an association that includes
over 30 member clubs and is responsible
for sanctioning events.
National motorsport is now sanctioned by ASN Canada FIA, which was born in the late 1980’s. The five regions of CASC (renamed in all regions besides Ontario) continue to administer regional championships. CASC-OR sanctions events, licenses competitors, sets safety standards and handles administrative matters. Associate clubs organize amateur road races at Mosport, Calabogie and Shannonville, as well as rallies, ice races, Solosprint and Autoslalom. In addition, the majority of the timers, corner marshals and safety personnel at events such as the Honda Indy Toronto are active members of the many clubs.
Just how many members are we talking about? There are over 30,000 registered members across Canada. Of those 30,000 are almost 500 licensed competitors who race professionally. There are also 330 officials: timers, corner marshals and safety personnel. to keep the competition runnnig smooth. The categories in which the members are involved are: Road Racing (open-wheel, closed-wheel and vintage ) then there is parking lot racing, Solo and time trials.
“The major challenge this year is naturally corporate sponsorship,” says CASC-OR VP, Nick Majors. “As budgets tighten up, we will continue to work hard towards keeping them intact.” Despite the challenges, corporate sponsorship has been relatively intact for 2009 thanks to the effort of the team. CASC just inked a new deal with sponsor Toyo Tires. Along with sponsorship, Toyo’s new spec-tire, the R888 will be used in various series for 2009.
The crown jewel of the organization has always been the Toronto Indy dating back to 1986. With the recent absence of the event in 2008, the focus shifted to the Mosport Celebration in October. The Mosport Celebration is a huge event, well attended and participants are willing to give it 110%. Their effort equates to an aggressive late season charge with total disregard for blowing up a car or shunting a wall in order to shave off some time, Majors tells us.
With Honda onboard as the title for the 2009 Indy the event has again become priority. Honda has been eerily silent and CASC is interested in putting some ideas in their hands to consider for making motorsports in Canada better. Majors is looking to ramp up the amount of Grassroots involvement at the massive event. “There are so many great racers in Canada,” Majors says “we want to help their development and showcasing them would get them recognized. “By the time they hit 35 it’s pretty much over if they haven’t made it.”