Mosport: Canada's First F1 Home

Mosport Park Canadian Grand Prix.jpg
The Canadian Grand Prix is inseparably connected to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: This weekend, Formula 1 sets up shop on the Île de Notre Dame for the 44th time, having first run there in 1978. Originally, F1 called another Canadian circuit home, though - Mosport Park, better known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park today, is where the World Championship and Canada first met.

Initially held as a non-championship event from 1961 to 1966, the Canadian Grand Prix gained World Championship status for the 1967 season. The Brabham duo of Jack Brabham and eventual 1967 World Champion Denny Hulme took a dominant 1-2 victory ahead of Dan Gurney in his Eagle-Weslake, who was one lap down. Interestingly, the event was called Canadian Grand Prix as one of multiple rounds of the CanAm championship from 1961 to 1965 - the series continued to race at the circuit until 1968.

Until 1970, the circuit took turns in hosting the Formula 1 GP with the Circuit Mont-Tremblant, but for the 1971 edition, the race was permanently back in Ontario. The winner's list of the fast, sweeping circuit includes F1 greats the aforementioned Brabham, Jacky Ickx (1969), Jackie Stewart (1971, 1972), Peter Revson (1973), Emerson Fittipaldi (1974), James Hunt (1976) and Jody Scheckter (1977). Due to financial disagreements, the race was not held in 1975.

Lotus 49 Mosport Park Canadian Grand Prix.jpg

Mosport was home to the Canadian Grand Prix as a World Championship event in F1 from 1967 until 1977, with 1968 and 1970 being exceptions in favor of Mont-Tremblant.

The final Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport saw Gilles Villeneuve make his Ferrari debut after initially turning heads driving for McLaren in the 1977 British Grand Prix. He finished in 10th after spinning in the race whil erunning eighth - a remarkable comeback from starting in 17th position after an accident in qualifying.

F1 left for Montreal the following year due to safety concerns: Mosport features several fast corners over crests, making them partially blind and tricky to get right - and the consequences dire if drivers got them wrong. The most prominent example of this was Manfred Winkelhock: At the 1985 World Endurance Championship round at Mosport, the German sportscar ace lost control of his Porsche 962C at Clayton Corner, crashing into a concrete wall. Winkelhock, who had also been driving for the RAM Racing team in F1 at the time, died from head injuries sustained in the crash the next day.

racingcircuits.info Mosport track map.png

Image credit: racingcircuits.info

Over the years, run-off areas have been expanded at Mosport to minimize risks of heavy crashes like Winkelhock's, but the layout itself remains unchanged to this day - a rare sight on racing circuits around the world. The elevation changes of the track make it very challenging to drive, but at the same time very rewarding and fun. Today, the IMSA Sports Car Championship races at the track, and it also hosts the Clarington 200 of the NASCAR Pinty's Series, a triple header round of the Canadian National Superbike Championship, and a vintage racing event.

In sim racing, cannot be found in many titles. iRacing features an official version of the venue, as does motorcycle sim RIDE 4. Mod versions are available for rFactor 2 in the Steam Workshop and here on RaceDepartment for Assetto Corsa.


Your Thoughts​

What are your experiences with racing at Mosport? Are you going to give the track a try if you have not already done so? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Oh I've driven it in many titles and like it . Gpl gtr2 both rfactors ac gt legends etc etc etc
 
Oops sorry forgot almost....and do not like the current track they use for gp or anything else that races? There
 
Really great track. Very fun and fast.

As a Montrealer, I am of course delighted that the race moved here, but Mosport was a worthy predecessor.

Fun fact about the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve: there was a project put together in 1962 by Hubert Aquin, a famous writer and intellectual, to host a GP on the island right next to the Notre-Dame island where the track is now located. (Notre-Dame Island is an artificial island and didn't exist in 1962.) Aquin was a somewhat... extravagant character and the project never took off the ground. Aquin went on to write some major novels before taking his own life in 1977, age 47.

As a curiosity, here's what the layout would have looked like:

1686936712583.png


If you read French, here's a link to read more about this subject:

 
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Premium
Mosport is a fantastic track.
Similar in some entend to english tracks because of the elevations
 
OverTake
Premium
I never knew about those plans @Kingkoenig, that's super interesting! Thank you for sharing :)
The layout looks decent, but I think what we have now is a bit better. Still cool to think about what could've been!
 
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Really don't remember which year or sim (or maybe arcade sim?) I pitted out on Mosport first time, but clearly remember first time in memory, speaking real version. It was in a motorsports magazine I read as a boy. And then, just the day before my 10 year birthday, the 1982 F1 calendar entered the Canadian Grand Prix, my only 2nd time of TV live F1 broadcasting experience (my first being 1982 Monaco GP), and I was convinced they were racing Mosport, not done any research by the time. And clearly remember the commentator mentioning on lap 6 or 7 about the Canadian F1 history, and first by then I realized how stupid I was. And the next day I went on the local library to ask a librarian about detail cards of Mosport area and magazines of the historic venues at the places. This is some days ago now and I don't quite remember exact cards, but remember the librarians willingness though he wasn't into motorsports at all, maybe just due to my eagerness.
Nevertheless, I'm quite convinced that this in-race eye-opener for me was my first steps towards a track hunter. And it went horrible mad when simracing really got going.
 
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Really great track. Very fun and fast.

As a Montrealer, I am of course delighted that the race moved here, but Mosport was a worthy predecessor.

Fun fact about the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve: there was a project put together in 1962 by Hubert Aquin, a famous writer and intellectual, to host a GP on the island right next to the Notre-Dame island where the track is now located. (Notre-Dame Island is an artificial island and didn't exist in 1962.) Aquin was a somewhat... extravagant character and the project never took off the ground. Aquin himself went on to write some major novels before taking his own life in 1977, age 47.

As a curiosity, here's what the layout would have looked like:

View attachment 672087

If you read French, here's a link to read more about this subject:

Wow! This map delivers quite some old flashbacks here, thanks!
 
I never knew about those plans @Kingkoenig, that's super interesting! Thank you for sharing :)
The layout looks decent, but I think what we have now is a bit better. Still cool to think about what could've been!
You'll notice that there's no start/finish line on the plan... :D

That said, I know the island extremely well and the track would have been about as long as the Gilles-Villeneuve track.

I agree with you: the current track is better. The layout changed quite a lot since the first edition in 1978. It used to be slower, there were a few more chicanes. I remember Lauda absolutely hated it when he raced here in 1978.

If you want to see some rare and *amazing* photos of the 1978 GP, check this out:

 
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You'll notice that there's no start/finish line on the plan... :D

That said, I know the island extremely well and the track would have been about as long as the Gilles-Villeneuve track.

I agree with you: the current track is better. The layout changed quite a lot since the first edition in 1978. It used to be slower, there were a few more chicanes. I remember Lauda absolutely hated it when he raced here in 1978.

If you want to see some rare and *amazing* photos of the 1978 GP, check this out:

Now we're going a bit off-topic, but I've enjoyed the onboard vid of Patrick Depailler dancing in the rain on the mentioned layout of Montreal at Grand Prix du Canada.


Now, back on track

I've enjoyed Mosport in simracing for a long time. Remember in F1C a mod combo of single seater Indies at modern layout, but since first Mosport track versions popped up for GTR2 and later rF1, Race07 and AC, I've really enjoyed endurance racing classic version of the track in Can-Ams and SCCA's all classic versions in first place. But also 00's GT classes still with H-stick and Heel&Toe work before paddlemania really overtook everything.

Now a certain sim for the time being a certain sim flies around the 1971 season like a fly buzzing around a delicious dough, this reflects well my main time on Mosport simwise:

 
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Mosport is a few mins away when I lived in the Oshawa/Whitby area.
Great track, which I've been to several times to watch the IMSA series, and enjoy it in iRacing.
 
My very, very first memory was at Mosport, with my father, when I was 3 or 4 years old. It was the moment I fell in love with the sport. I next attended some years later in '99 for the ALMS race, and then I made it to the track at least once a year (often 2-3 times) every year through 2018. I've since moved to the other side of the country and haven't been able to attend for financial and pandemic reasons, but I'll be back for the IMSA weekend this year. Can't wait! It's definitely the main thing I miss after moving away.

Mosport has always been my favourite circuit. Not just for the sentimental connection, but also it's just an absolutely brilliant piece of tarmac. It's easy to drive, but extremely difficult to drive fast. Surprisingly technical despite the fantastic flow. Requires massive commitment at all times, especially if you're going to attempt a pass. Turn 1 is deceptively fast. Turn 2 is blind, requiring turn-in before you go over the crest into the steep downhill drop which is partially off-camber. Turn 4 is similarly blind with a steep drop. Then Moss corner comes at you, looking like an absolute wall. COTA might have more height leading to T1, but Moss is more extreme. It's actually a challenge to walk up. It's such a fast circuit, and it isn't buttery smooth which just adds to the challenge. I've never spoken to a pro driver that doesn't love the circuit.

I will note, though, that it's not quite accurate to say that it's layout has never been changed. The track was widened in the early 2000s. It was done in such a way that the racing line itself stayed the same, however. Additionally, at some point (probably in the early 2000s updates) I believe Moss Corner was also squared off a little bit, particularly in 5A. Depending on your interpretation of the word layout, you could also argue that the runoff paving changed things a lot; especially in turn 2 where the runoff meets the edge of the racing surface, seriously neutering the challenge and fear of the corner, sadly. I wish they left a grass verge between the racing surface and the runoff there like they did in turn 8.

Either way, it's still a fantastic example of a proper natural elevation circuit and I absolutely adore that place. Can't wait to be back, sun stroke and all.

As far as representation in sim racing, GPL had an official version of it in '67 (accuracy can be questioned) and SCGT had it as well; though almost comically inaccurate. Project Wildfire did a scratch build for NR2003 back when their Trans-Am mod was popular, and I think that got converted around to several other sims after that. Eternally grateful to @Johnr777 for the immaculate recreation for Assetto Corsa. It's been one of my most used circuits since.
 
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one of my favourites in iRacing not the least because so many fellow players underestimate especially the hairpin and the quick downill lefthander, map tells me it's Clayton. Had some great online races there.
 
Premium
One of the best tracks there is in my opinion, luckily we are blessed with such a wonderful recreation in AC. North America really knows how to build a good circuit, this sits right up there with Roads America & Atlanta, Sebring, Watkins Glen... I mean, I could go on.
 
What I wouldn't give for a late 70's/early 80's Montréal track. It can,t be that hard to do if you already have the basic layout, could it?

Reiza folks could easily port it into AMS2, eh?
 
My first encounter with Mosport was in EAs Sportscar GT game…


I loved this circuit in SCGT, it was one of my favourite tracks, just watching this video brings it all flooding back

I know I mentioned SCGT's track being comically inaccurate in my comment, but I forgot just how inaccurate it is. :roflmao:

Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I spent many an hour flogging anything and everything around it in SCGT.
 

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