Happy New Year!

2015 looks to be an enormous year for The Canadian Motor Speedway development, when all the planning components of the project come together so equipment can be re-deployed to resume activity on site.

As documented several times on this website and in media reports and articles, 2014 was taken up with seemingly endless hours of meetings with the MTO at Queens Park, trying to get the Bowen Road/QEW issue settled, to secure the financial commitment from The Province for this off-site infrastructure, and to meet final site plan conditions.

When dealing with government, things often do not progress rapidly. That’s frustrating for race fans who are solidly behind CMS, but naturally want to see things move ahead quicker.

As a life- long race fan, and somebody who makes their full-time living covering the sport on Raceline Radio, nobody wants to see this thing built and operating more than I do.

We just need to keep in mind there has never been a development like CMS attempted in this Province. There is no “book” on how to process a $400 million auto racing and entertainment facility. The layers of process and approval seem staggering. And they are very time consuming.

But several key occurrences in 2014 show clear progress and commitment from the developers and partners.

Oval track designer Jeff Gordon’s visit to Toronto in September focused on his involvement with CMS, and his work on track design on a simulator in his office. He’s already supplying architects with data on straightaway length and banking.

And just before Christmas, CMS opened a corporate office in The Town of Fort Erie that will provide CMS management and staff a primary meeting place to conduct Speedway business as well as to oversee the next phase of engineering and construction work targeted for the Spring of 2015.

Jeff Gordon Incorporated Vice President and General Manager John Bickford came up with the best description of the significance of the new office. He called it “one more footprint that says this project will be completed. It’s the CMS flag in the ground. We have an address and we are moving forward.”

You will see more clear signs of that forward movement for Canadian Motor Speedway in 2015.

All the best to you and yours for a safe, prosperous New Year!

And The Coverage Never Stops!

Gordon_at_Martinsville_by_Rich_IcelandTomas Tales, Inside Track Motorsport News. December 2014 Issue

The Latest Progress Report on The Canadian Motor Speedway Project.

I continue to get asked constantly about what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway ( CMS ) project in Fort Erie Ontario, that’s going to deliver Canada’s first major league oval and road course auto racing complex.

Most of the questions about progress are from fans, frustrated and anxious since they have not seen heavy machinery moving on the 823 acre site just west of the Queen Elizabeth Highway at Bowen Road, since the initial phase of the project started in the Fall of 2013.

The simple response to the question of CMS progress? Not all progress involves the moving of dirt.

There has been vigorous effort and progress on the CMS project administratively. There is a mountain of paper work to shuffle through when you’re trying to build a $400 million dollar auto racing facility of this magnitude, a first in Canada.

The number-one task of CMS investors and management is to secure financial support from the Ministry of Transportation of the Province of Ontario for off-site infrastructure, namely, the re-build of the aging Bowen Road/QEW highway interchange, that will serve as the main access and egress point for the complex.

The widening and the reconstruction of the interchange has to be finalized for the development to continue to advance. And environmental assessment of the land for the interchange needs to happen as well.

The MTO and CMS also need to come to an agreement if the interchange will be a two or four lane design. Again, building this interchange or overpass requires an incredible amount of engineering input and data, and that can be very time consuming.

The Province committed in 2010 to support infrastructure near the site, and CMS is still waiting for that support to arrive. CMS hopes to have a decision from the MTO by the end of the year.

At the same time, The Town of Fort Erie needs to secure a commitment from the Province for other necessary infrastructure improvements. The Town is the main beneficiary of Provincial support, and they need that commitment for an investment to secure an investment the size of CMS.

Once this all comes together, CMS can start its site plan approval process with the municipality to obtain the permits necessary to continue on-site work.

While discussions with the MTO roll on, other arms of government are repeating their sustained support for the complex and what it will bring the Town, The Region and The Province in revenue, commerce and jobs.

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates recently told Bullet News Niagara reporter Kris Dube his position has always been very clear. He fully supports the project and its major economic benefits in his riding.

Ontario Minister of Economic Development Brad Duguid told Bullet News he is aware of an application by the local municipality for support on the project under the Small Communities Fund. Duguid is excited about the economic and tourism potential CMS could bring to Fort Erie and Niagara, and his Ministry will continue to work with CMS and the local municipality to ensure any additional improvements required are provided so the community and the province are able to benefit from the jobs and increased tourism this exciting project has the potential to deliver.

So while this explains what’s been taking up most of the time with the development to this point, let’s offset it with some positive “racing” news on the project.

CMS’ architectural firm, The IBI Group Inc., is reviewing project data and studies to formulate a landscaping plan to determine the elevation of the oval, the road course and grandstands for the initial capacity of 65 thousand fans.

And here’s the really exciting stuff: CMS oval designer Jeff Gordon, when not focused on NASCAR Chase drama, has been working on the speedway on a simulator. He talked about this in detail during his recent promo tour in Toronto that we reported on in our last installment of Tomas Tales.
Jeff already has the elevation figured out, the degree of banking into turns one and two and the length of the straightaways for the ¾ mile oval. He’s also working with engineering firms on things like drainage and surfacing.

Eventually, Goodyear Tire and Rubber will be brought into the discussion to work with local Niagara engineers on a special asphalt aggregate that could be used on the oval track surface.

There’s some honest to goodness racing stuff to grab onto.

And to move ahead with concrete, brick and mortar integration into the Fort Erie business community, CMS has opened an office in the Town on Garrison Road, a short drive away from the site.

This will be a place where fans and interested parties can go to get the straight goods on what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway project, without having to deal with rumours and inaccurate information.

As CMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad put it, “The new CMS office will be a physical presence in the Fort Erie business district that says we’re here… we’re staying here and we’re moving ahead!”
And that’s very encouraging news for race fans across Canada!

A Little More CMS Coverage for Christmas!

Latest piece in The St.Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review and their “Search Engine” feature, responding to a reader’s comment they had not seen any progress on The Canadian Motor Speedway site in Fort Erie. The article by reporter Karena Walter, SUN Media:

The site may lack bulldozers, but officials from Canadian Motor Speedway in Fort Erie say work has been carrying on.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of progress administratively and behind the scenes,” said Canadian Motor Speedway spokesman Erik Tomas. “You’re just not seeing it with bulldozers and dirt, but that stuff does need to get done and that’s exactly where we are in the project right now.”

The company just opened a corporate office at 168 Garrison Rd. on Nov. 26. around the corner from the speedway site off Bowen Road.

Tomas said the project is now entering the detailed site plan design phase for the $400 million speedway and entertainment complex. It’s hoping to deliver the plan to the town before the end of the year so it can get the necessary permits to resume on-site work in the spring.

Work started a while back with the re-routing of Miller’s Creek behind what will be the grandstands in an effort to have the least amount of environmental impact. That re-routing will continue once work resumes, including more planting of vegetation and trees.

CMS has also been in discussions with the Ministry of Transportation to finalize the Bowen Rd/QEW interchange off-site that will serve as the main access and egress to the site. Tomas said the discussions centre on whether the interchange will be a two or four-lane design. “You have to have proper access and egress into the project. That has to be decided, that’s for sure. It’s critical to the overall project,” he said.

“The province needs to come through with their commitment for that kind of off-site infrastructure support that they pledged in 2010.”

The completion of the complex is now anticipated for 2017.

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Fact Finder! Canadian Motor Speedway said it’s recruited Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion, to design its oval track. CMS spokesman Erik Tomas said Gordon is working on a computer simulator from his office in North Carolina to determine the straight-away length and corner banking of the three-quarter mile oval track. The complex will also incorporate a two-mile road course.