Smaller CMS track doesn’t make it substandard

 

Tuning into the radio show the last few weeks, you may have heard a somewhat heated debate with a few listeners concerning the revised track lengths at the new Canadian Motor Speedway (CMS) that has finally broken ground in Fort Erie.

Initially described as Canada’s first one-mile oval and 2.6 mile road course complex that will attract major sanctioning bodies, the protracted and extremely expensive approval process and continued consultation with designer Jeff Gordon, revised the dimensions down to a 0.7-mile banked oval, and a two-mile road course.

But a few listeners sent me complaints, declaring these smaller tracks now make the CMS complex substandard, unable to attract any major events.

Not only is that notion inaccurate, I saw red, and ranted loudly over it!

Why? Because after years of complaining that Canada didn’t have a major league oval, and we had to drive hundreds of miles to get to one in the States, we now have investors ready to pay for one in our own back yard, yet the bellyaching and bleating continues because of track size.

That makes no sense to me at all.

Richmond International Raceway Virginia is also a three-quarter mile banked oval that hosts major stock car and has staged major open wheel events, yet I don’t think too many fans brand Richmond substandard.

Another listener felt the reduced size of the road course would rate CMS as second-rate without realizing the road course is not contained inside the oval arena, but is outside the bowl. The road course connects to use a portion of the oval through a unique tunnel system.

The artist’s rendering of the complex on the CMS website shows you that.

Therefore, it’s logical to believe that the new dimensions won’t have a negative effect on the attraction of big league sanctions, the racing for the drivers, or the experience for the fans.

So then, why are the tracks slightly smaller than first proposed?

In a recent Raceline Radio interview, CMS chief developer and executive director Azhar Mohammad had the explanation, saying to consider two things.

The first was financial. Let us never forget this is a business and not a hobby. CMS backers expect a return on their investment. The long and expensive seven-year process they had to go through, meant a re-think of the product on the ground in terms of final expenditure.

A 0.7-mile oval and a two-mile road course isn’t as expensive to build as a one-mile oval and 2.6-mile road course. The investors have to be able to pay for this thing, and that’s the bottom line.

Secondly, CMS did an examination of existing speedways. and their research showed that the so-called smaller tracks had an easier time filling the seats.

The bump-and-grind, close-quarter racing we enjoy at Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville, and the fan experience on the other side of those fences is working at present.

Not taking anything away from the larger tracks, but empty pews sound alarms.

Even Daytona International Speedway is taking seats out to ease sales pressure.

CMS designer Gordon believes the future of the sport will direct away from the big ovals, and I would lay odds the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion knows just a little bit more about this track size business than we do.

CMS management also realizes the guys already here need to be part of the show too.

There are existing racing sanctions in Canada, and within the CMS marketing footprint that can handle a three-quarter mile oval, but would be wheezin’ pretty good trying to get around a full mile.

When all of this is considered, the claim that a smaller oval and smaller road course at Canadian Motor Speedway won’t attract big-time events and racing series is ridiculous.

Canadian Motor Speedway is Green and GO!

Progress on phase one of the CMS's development

The day race fans in the GTA, Niagara and across Canada — and that would of course include yours truly — had been waiting for arrived on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 7:25 a.m. ET, just as the sun broke over the tree line on the 820 acres in Fort Erie.

The first Aecon Construction bulldozer rolled off to begin work on the $400-million Canadian Motor Speedway project, with the re-construction of Miller Creek.

Just ahead of this historic day, CMS dignitaries staged a mini ground breaking ceremony to mark the occasion.

I am honoured and proud to be the media consultant for Canadian Motor Speedway in addition to my Raceline gig and since I penned the official CMS work-start media release, I have used the text from that release to tell the rest of the story, without the usual stiffness. I hope.

Welcome to a new era in Canadian Motorsport!

After seven years of government regulatory and developmental process, heavy excavation equipment is working the CMS site in Fort Erie Ontario, to commence phase one of the project, the relocation and major environmental enhancement of Miller Creek.

This is a critical step to allow for the second phase of the project to proceed: the construction of the grandstands, the oval track and the road course.

Canadian Motor Speedway chief executive officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb said, “We are making history in Canada and North America for the motorsport fan with this track. It has been a very, very long journey, but now we have a wonderful journey ahead of us! For the Town of Fort Erie, this is a new era. CMS is the hub, but around it you have hospitality, retail, research and development that is like a city in itself. CMS will be an attraction that will bring tremendous value to the Town of Fort Erie and the Province of Ontario.”

For CMS partner and executive director Azhar Mohammad, it’s like a dream come true. “We are ecstatic! If you look at the efforts that have been expended and the milestones we’ve achieved after so many years with extensive support from the community, this is truly exciting for our entire team and partners in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.”

Designer of the track, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon is thrilled. “We have cleared a lot of hurdles along the way. We’ve had to be very patient during the entire process, but I’m excited for Canada, I’m excited for auto racing. CMS will definitely be Canadian pride at its best. It’s a Canadian Speedway built by Canadians, just 45 minutes from Toronto, 15 minutes from Niagara Falls and Buffalo. I think Canadians are going to be very proud to have a 1.2-kilometre, three-quarter-mile track that’s going to put on some great racing once it’s completed.”

The other half of the CMS complex is a 2.6-mile road course that will link up with the oval through a unique system of tunnels. Seating capacity starts at 60 thousand, with five thousand club seats.

The speed-plant will also comprise a research and development component from McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering. There will also be retail and hotel space.

The core property for the oval, the grandstands and the road course is in CMS hands, while work to finalize site planning and the archaeological clearances of the periphery properties has been scheduled over the next three months.

Aecon Group Inc., one of Canada’s largest construction companies, is the project’s construction manager. They will be responsible for managing the entire 820-acre development, working with local construction resources to ensure CMS is positioned for timely completion, within targeted cost, with the highest level of quality and safety.

“We are thrilled to be working with Canadian Motor Speedway, and pleased to bring our expertise to the development of this world class race track,” stated Teri McKibbon, Aecon’s president and chief operating officer.

CMS plans a formal ground-breaking in late spring of 2014 to green-flag eighteen months of construction of the sports’ first Carbon Neutral, and Canada’s first world class oval and integrated road course hosting a variety of racing platforms, notably stock car and open wheel racing, which is slated to be race-ready in 2016.

Seven years and some $17-million dollars just to get that first bulldozer to move, but I supposed what they say is true: “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!”

Canadian Motor Speedway is underway!

Let the new era begin!

Heavy Equipment Finally Rolls into Fort Erie!

Progress on phase one of the CMS's development

L to R: Bill Clarke – Aecon VP Business Development, Azhar Mohammad – Partner & Director, Ibrahim Abou Taleb – CEO & Director, John Bickford Sr. – VP Jeff Gordon Inc., Frank Ross – Sr. Advisor, Aecon Group

A Canadian Motor Speedway Milestone Reached as Heavy Equipment Finally Rolls into Fort Erie

Canadian Motor Speedway (CMS) is extremely proud and delighted to officially announce a truly historic moment in CMS history and a new era in Canadian Motorsport.

After seven years of government regulatory and developmental process, heavy excavation equipment is making its way to the CMS site in Fort Erie Ontario, to commence Phase-One of the project, the relocation and major environmental enhancement of Miller Creek. This is a critical step to allow for the second phase of the project to proceed, that being construction of the grandstands, the oval track, and the road course.

Canadian Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb said: “We are making history in Canada and North America for the motorsport fan with this track. It has been a very, very long journey, but now we have a wonderful journey ahead of us. For the Town of Fort Erie, this is a new era.  CMS is the hub, but around it you have hospitality, retail, and research and development that is like a city in itself. CMS will be an attraction that will bring tremendous value to the Town of Fort Erie and the Province of Ontario.”

For CMS Partner and Executive Director Azhar Mohammad, it’s like a dream come true: “We are ecstatic. If you look at the efforts that have been expended and the milestones we’ve achieved after so many years with extensive support from the community, this is truly exciting for our entire team and partners in Kuwait and The U.A.E.”

Designer of the oval track portion of the CMS project, 4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon is thrilled: “We have cleared a lot of hurdles along the way. We’ve had to be very patient during the entire process, but I’m excited for Canada, I’m excited for auto racing. CMS will definitely be Canadian pride at its best. It’s a Canadian speedway built by Canadians, just 45 minutes from Toronto, 15 minutes from Buffalo, 15 minutes from Niagara Falls. I think Canadians are going to be very proud to have a 1.2 kilometer, three-quarter-mile track that’s going to put on some great racing once it’s completed.”

The core property for the oval, the grandstands and the road course is in CMS hands while work to finalize site planning and the archeological clearances of the periphery properties has been scheduled over the next three months.

Aecon Group Inc., one of Canada’s largest construction companies, is the project’s Construction Manager. They will be responsible for managing the entire 820 acre development, working with local construction resources to ensure CMS is positioned for timely completion, within targeted cost and the highest level of quality and safety.

“We are thrilled to be working with Canadian Motor Speedway and pleased to bring our expertise to the development of this world-class race track,” stated Teri McKibbon, Aecon’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

CMS plans a formal ground-breaking in late spring of 2014 to green-flag eighteen months of construction of the sports’ first Carbon Neutral, and Canada’s first world-class oval and integrated road course to host a variety of racing platforms, notably stock car and open wheel racing, which is slated to be race-ready in 2016.