Three drivers of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup look to add to the history of Canadians in motorsports as the series rolls on to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the only Canadian race on the 2013 schedule.
The Mazda MX-5 Cup enjoys strong ties north of the border, as the series has visited a Canadian venue at least once in five of the previous seven seasons.
Rookie James Vance, of Toronto (ABOVE), will have many supporters at the track hoping to see him contend for a win. About 50 friends, family and other guests will be at the track cheering hard for the 20-year-old driver. While Vance does not have experience at the track in a Mazda MX-5 Cup car, he will be looking to rely on past experiences at the track to help him get to the front.
“I have raced in two club races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park,” Vance said. “The track is only 30 minutes from my home and I always find time to go up there on track days and have some fun.”
Like many professional race car drivers at their ‘hometown' race, Vance will make some special appearances and get involved in some promotions leading up to the event. Vance will visit two Toronto-area children's hospitals with fellow Mazda MX-5 Cup driver Emilee Tominovich. He is also involved with the Make-a-Wish foundation, granting the wish of some children who wanted to spend the day with a race car driver.
While Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, located in Bowmanville, Ont., is closer to Toronto than Charles Paquin's hometown of Ottawa, the event will serve as a ‘home' race for him, as well.
While Paquin is not considered a rookie, this will be his first taste of competition at the famous Canadian circuit. In the past, his only experience in relation to the track was via a TV screen.
“I watched Paul Tracy a hundred times on TV growing up,” Paquin said. “Given my late adoption of racing as a sport, I never got the chance to drive there, until now.”
For Tominovich, the Canadian round of the Mazda MX-5 Cup will hold special meaning. While she lives less than an hour's drive from Washington, D.C., the race will be a homecoming for the second-year driver as she holds dual citizenship in both Canada and the United States. Her mother, Fran Becker, is from the Toronto area and Tominovich still has plenty of family in the area.
“It's pretty awesome to race on Canadian soil,” Tominovich said “Especially near Toronto, because half of my family is from that area. So, it's pretty cool to be able to share what I do with them.”
Of the three Canadian drivers, Tominovich may have the most valuable experience at CTMP, having raced there last year as part of the Mazda MX-5 Cup. Unfortunately, she will not be able to use any of that knowledge as she sustained a broken right hand at a race at Watkins Glen International on July 6. However, she will still be on hand to support her C.J. Wilson Racing teammates.
With the history the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup has with Canadian venues, it is important to note that no Canadian driver in series history has scored a win on Canadian soil. In fact, there has yet to be a Canadian driver to score a win in the eight-year history of the series. Tominovich said she felt good about her chances to become the first Canadian to notch a win, but her injury will keep her from doing that this year.
“It would be incredible, which is why I'm even more bummed that I can't race there this coming week,” Tominovich said. “I have been feeling great behind the wheel and I really would have liked to get some good results at CTMP.”
While one Canadian will not be racing, Vance said his team may have the pace to break through for his first career win and the ‘hometown' victory.
“I would be delighted if I could get the victory at my home track,” Vance said. “I really do think we have the pace to do it. We showed we can run at the front at Mazda Raceway and Mid-Ohio, but we just had some bad luck. The guys at Speedcraft are continuously working as hard as they possibly can to give me the best possible car, and think we have a victory in our sights, hopefully on home soil.”
For every driver, it is important to have a strong showing at the race closest to home. It is a chance for family, friends, sponsors and other supporters to see the hard work and dedication required in racing pay off in the form of a win. With that said, there can be enormous pressure to perform. However, Vance is looking to take the extra attention in stride.
“In terms of additional pressure, I don't really think of it like that,” Vance said. “At the end of the day, it's another race and the same processes will be used to make sure we are as successful as possible. The difference is that I will have a lot more support on hand from family and friends, which will be awesome.”
While Vance will look to succeed by staying the consistent course, Paquin will use national pride as fuel to propel him toward the front of the field.
“Being Canadian, it's rare that we go to a race in the States and not have a fellow Canuck approach to introduce themselves and wish us luck,” Paquin said. “We enjoy tremendous camaraderie as countrymen and racing in Canada is going to be special. To do it at a track that was a short drive away from my childhood home, makes it even more so.”
The drivers of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will do battle July 19-21 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Rounds Seven and Eight will be contested in the first doubleheader event for the series at this track.
For more information on the series visit www.mx-5cup.com, follow us on Twitter @MazdaMX5Cup and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/48522898534/.