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!