Major CMS Progress – Bowen Road/QEW Hwy Interchange

Major Progress for Canadian Motor Speedway – MTO Conditionally Approves Bowen Road/QEW Interchange Plan.

Fort Erie, Ontario – After a lengthy and highly detailed process with The Ministry of Transportation of The Province of Ontario (MTO), Canadian Motor Speedway (CMS) has received notice that CMS will not be required to upgrade to a four lane structure and that a two-lane Bowen Road/Queen Elizabeth Highway interchange will be sufficient as long as certain conditions are met.

The conditions require CMS to arrange closure of the Bowen Road interchange at certain traffic thresholds based on the number of attendees to events and traffic queue lengths.  The interchange will remain open to emergency vehicles at all times.  The Region of Niagara and The Town of Fort Erie also have to agree to support the closure parameters, with further agreement by Ontario Provincial Police to provide staff to support the proposed Traffic Management Plan (TMP).

With this decision, CMS now has a clear directive on the highway and road infrastructure required to finalize the TMP and can continue to work with stakeholders to refine the Site Plan for final submission and approval.

Canadian Motor Speedway Partner and Executive Director, Azhar Mohammad says MTO approval for Bowen Road is a major step forward in the CMS time-line.

“This is very positive news for us and another major milestone achieved moving us closer to construction. During the last three years, the Bowen Road interchange issue has been a significant challenge and it was critical for CMS to receive this conditional approval from the MTO.  There are some conditions that need to be met, but our consultants have already prepared most of the responses and we expect to present the final report incorporating a 2 lane interchange format within the next few weeks. We can now focus on the detailed site plan submission and other more challenging infrastructure elements such as water and waste-water. We commend the MTO for their efforts with CMS, our traffic management consultants BA Group, and local emergency services for sharing our priority of developing a safe and effective traffic management plan.”

CMS Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb welcomed the MTO decision enthusiastically.

“This long awaited response from the MTO is great news despite the extensive and costly process to arrive at this point. As always, we steadfastly believe in the CMS project and its location in Fort Erie and Niagara. This is not only good news for racing fans on both sides of the border, this is a sign and trigger for the future growth of the economy in the Town, the Region and the Province. Our entire CMS team, Town, Region and especially the MTO are to be applauded for this achievement.”

Alan Caslin, Chairman of The Niagara Region knows the MTO decision is an important economic step forward.

“Niagara Regional Council is pleased to see action by the Province on necessary steps to make the CMS project a reality. This significant foreign direct investment will create 750 jobs and is critical to drive new growth in our Regional economy.”

Niagara Regional Council supported the CMS project, including it in The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan, which enables receipt of over $3 Million in grants and tax incentives.

Sandy Annunziata, Niagara Regional Councillor for Fort Erie, who’s been a tireless supporter of the CMS project since its inception, says the MTO decision is a critical move in the right direction.

“This is an important milestone that is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work! To our friends at CMS, it confirms they have a partner in the Province. To the residents of Fort Erie and Niagara, it confirms a commitment to helping small communities reach their full economic potential. And to our Foreign Investors, it confirms Ontario is pursuing an agenda that makes investment like this a priority.”

Town of Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop knows maximum effort was needed to secure MTO approval.

“This is extremely good news for all concerned and a relief, I am sure, for the team at CMS.  A great deal of credit goes to Azhar Mohammed and his associates for their persistence, as well as to the staff of the Town of Fort Erie, the Region of Niagara, and their economic development arms.  Now that this major hurdle has been overcome and with a focus on dealing with the servicing requirements for the site, we anxiously anticipate this project moving forward to make the vision a reality.”

Tom Kuchyt, Chief Administrative Officer, The Town of Fort Erie called the MTO decision very positive.

“The Bowen Road/QEW interchange will not require upgrading to a four lane structure, a cost that would have been borne by CMS.  This leaves one remaining major hurdle relating to off-site infrastructure required for the development of the site. Efforts can now focus on providing sanitary and water servicing to the property. The Town couldn’t be happier and we would like to thank the MTO, The Region and all stakeholders involved in this outcome.”

It is hoped the next series of permits can be obtained to allow heavy equipment to return to the CMS site next summer to complete the relocation of Miller’s Creek and to begin excavation of the core property for the oval track and grandstands.

4-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon continues to work with CMS architects (IBI Group) on design refinements for the 3/4 mile oval portion of the CMS complex.

Construction completion is projected for third quarter 2017 barring any approval delays.


Tomas Tales: Super DIRT Week Finale Stamped Niagara! Reason? Friesen!

Stewart Friesen wins SDW 44 Oct 2015Tomas Tales, October 19, 2015

When the CMS project was first proposed, it was our mandate to make immediate and direct connection with the rich and long-standing auto racing platform and fan base already entrenched in Niagara’s sports tradition.

Dirt track racing in the region and just over the river in Western New York goes back to the early 1950’s, and this fan base will form the foundation for the CMS fan base going forward.

We will cross-promote each others’ events, and so we should.

So what happens at Merrittville, Ransomville, Humberstone and Lancaster Speedways and their operators, and what happens to the drivers and teams that compete at these facilities is very important to CMS management.

So we enthusiastically congratulate the hottest driver on clay ovals in the North East this season, who made darn sure Canada and more specifically Niagara, left a lasting impression in dirt track auto racing history over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

This year’s Super DIRT Week Championship in Syracuse was wrapped in emotion, as SDW this year was billed as “The Finale at The Fairgrounds”, with the race moving to a smaller track next year due to government re-development of the New York State fairgrounds site.

32 year old Stewart Friesen, son of Jamie and Yvonne Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, added a cool $50 thousand dollars to his 2015 winnings with his 4th Super DIRT Week big block DIRT modified championship in 6 years.

In 2010, Friesen first made Super DIRT Week history as the first Canadian driver to win the big block title.

His wins on “The Moody Mile” have come in bunches. He’s now won the title back-to-back twice, 2010-2011, and 2014-2015.

The accomplishment is monumental, because winning Syracuse, just once, is a herculean task.

Stewart’s crew spent hours leading up to the race replacing the rear end in the car, and once underway from the outside pole, the entry was a handful and he fell back a few positions.

But a change of tires and some adjustments improved the handling, and Stewart started moving ahead again, despite the pace being slowed by 18 cautions.
Saving something for the late going as you often have to do to take checkers at Syracuse, he was never seriously challenged over the final quarter of the race.

Stewart says it was your typical run at Syracuse. You never really know how it’ll play out!

“Every year we’ve won it’s been something different. Last year we had mechanical problems. This year we had to fix the car. The first two years we won it gambling on fuel mileage. You never know how this track is going to change. It was a different track even from the small block race on Saturday. It was wider in turns 2 and 3 with two lanes. Guys were running the extreme outside, but we kind of found something on the bottom for some decent two-wide racing.“

Along with the operation of Ransomville Speedway, Ransomville NY, a regular weekly DIRT sanctioned facility with racing Friday nights and specials during the summer, Super DIRT Week is very important in Friesen family racing history.

Stewart’s late grandfather Stan drove in the earliest days of the race. His uncle, the late Alex Friesen is also a former Syracuse winner, a last chance Sportsman qualifier in 1996.

Stewart then applied the finishing touch for the family at Syracuse with his 4th big block championship, as the curtain came down on the classic on The Mile.

Super DIRT Week will now shift 19 miles north to soon-to-be-completed Central New York Raceway Park, near Brewerton NY, owned by DIRT ( Drivers Independent Race Tracks ) sanction founder Glenn Donnelly.

Friesen says the adjustment to the smaller half-mile dirt oval will take some time.

“Syracuse was all about pit stops and re-fuelling, and Syracuse-only bodies with ground effects. The month-long preparation for this race was unbelievable. Going to a smaller half-mile track, we don’t know how many laps the race will be, or if we’ll need pit stops. There are a lot of unknowns, but it should be an awesome event regardless. At least the event doesn’t die!”

A big part of Stewart’s success in DIRT modifieds and sprint cars, especially this season, is attributed to his wife Jessica Zemken, who’s also a sprint car driver of note herself.

Despite being almost 7 months pregnant, Jess still works on the race cars at Stewart’s side, dressing tires, while helping with set-ups and strategy.

Their faithful German Shepherd dog Charlotte is never too far away. Growing up in the pits at race tracks, the furriest member of the clan never gets underfoot and knows her place in the hauler when things get a little frantic.

“Jessica’s feeling good! We welcome a baby boy Christmas day. Jess is going to have to slow down a little bit though! I am very proud of her! She’s an awesome car owner, crew chief and wife!”

2015 has been a story book season of success for the newest branch of the Friesen racing family. They’re having the time of their lives carrying on the tradition of winning automobile races, often big, historic automobile races.

“Representing all the Canadian fans and all our friends is something we are very proud to do. Hopefully we can continue to do that for a few more years to come!”

Tale Pipes: The “Finale at the Fairgrounds” was Super DIRT Week 44. Stewart Friesen’s car number? 44. Just spooky enough to take us into Halloween!


-Friesen celebrates in victory lane in the final SDW run at the Moody Mile.

Photo courtesy of Super DIRT Week Media.