2013 Grand Prix du Canada

Since I joined the Motorsport Club of Ottawa in 1997, I have wanted work at the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. In our club’s 50th Anniversary book, there were many photos of MCO members working at the pinnacle event of Canadian motorsports.

This year, through my involvement with the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, I have been able to work as a scrutineer and pit lane official during the 2013 Grand Prix du Canada weekend.

The weekend began on Wednesday when I drove to Montreal to help with the setup of the IMSA tech area. This involves setting up the car lift and scale, then levelling both (very difficult in this case because the pavement was sloped) and setting up the awning.

On Thursday we completed our technical inspections of all competitor vehicles and driver safety equipment.

Friday was the first of the track sessions. This introduced me to the special procedures for the support series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. All the support series were paddocked north of the hairpin, at the far end of the island from the pits and starting grid. An hour before our session starts, we line up the cars on a false grid near the paddock, on the narrow road along the Olympic rowing basin. At 30 minutes before the session, we move the false grid further up the road to the next false grid area. This is right next to the track fence, so we could watch the other sessions, including one of the Formula-1 practice sessions.

Pit lane for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, 2013 Canadian Grand Prix weekend.
Pit lane for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, 2013 Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

Finally, when the previous session ends, we are ready to move to the pit lane. Moving from the last false grid area to pit lane is only possible via the track, so it can only be once all the vehicles in the previous session are off the track. If the previous session was another support series, they are moved out of pit lane and drive counter-race back to a different track exit near the first false grid area, at the same time as our series moves up into pit lane. As it is a long distance, no one can even walk to or from pit lane – they must be on golf cart or pit bike. There is no way to enter the pit lane without a Formula-1 paddock pass, and we were not issued with those valuable passes.


In pit lane, we had to stay on the right hand side, away from the Formula-1 garages. There was a row of pit lane marshals down the centre of pit lane keeping us away from the garages. All the pit equipment for the Porsche teams was pushed up against the outer pit lane wall.

But just being at the circuit and being in pit lane during the Formula-1 weekend was so amazing. I have wanted to be part of the weekend for so long.

Our final race was the last event before the Formula-1 race on Sunday. This meant we were told we had a hard cut-off time. Unfortunately the previous session had caused damage to the track guardrails, which delayed our start. The Clerk of the Course (Support Series), Cindy Armstrong, was able to get the Porsche GT3 Cup series most of our track time by pushing out the session end time.

The IMSA team, 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.
The IMSA team, 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.

After the final post-race technical inspection on Sunday, we started the teardown of the IMSA equipment and trailers. We got everything down and most equipment packed away when we walked over to the hairpin to watch the first few laps of the Formula-1 race. We left the island after that, while the race was still on; if we had not left then we would be forced to stay for 2 hours after the race before they allow cars on the exit bridges.

This weekend was a dream from me, to be part of a Formula-1 weekend.

I did something stupid

Tonight I did something potentially stupid, but it was awesome.

As I was leaving the office (March at Terry Fox: map) this evening around 8:30 PM I heard a noise in the area beside the building and it sounded like “Baaaaa.”

I thought to myself ‘was that a goat?’

I put my things in my car and looked around. I looked through the woods and saw the nearby Indian restaurant. I thought, would the restaurant have a pet goat? Or maybe it was tomorrow’s lunch.

Then I heard it again. “Baaaaa.”

I listened into the wind. I thought maybe I’m hearing something else further away, partially muffled by the wind. Like children playing in the distance.


Nope, that was close. It was coming from the woods. I could hear rustling in the trees. At first it sounded like something stepping very cautiously and carefully. There was more rustling and suddenly two shapes burst out of the woods into the grass field in front of me.

It was a coyote and a deer running straight towards me.

Coyote (capture from video)
Coyote (capture from video)

Then I did something potentially stupid. I stepped closer to get a better look at the coyote.

At first I thought the coyote was chasing the deer. Then I realised, no, it was the deer chasing the coyote. A moment later I could see a baby deer running across March Road towards the Alcatel-Lucent building. It barely made it across the road safely. The mother deer had been protecting the doe. It was the doe I had been hearing.

The chase looped through the grass right in front of me three more times before the coyote finally left, defeated by the determined doe.

I managed to get a few seconds of the chase on my iPhone but only remembered later that I had a Canon DSLR and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in the trunk of my car, just metres away.

Drove to Nova Scotia

I spent this past weekend helping move my mom from St. Thomas, Ontario back to HalifaxNova Scotia. The major task was to drive her car down; she had hired a moving company to move the rest of her belongings.

We agreed that the easiest way to do this was for her to drive to Ottawa, then we would continue together to finish the trip. She made it through the traffic on Highway 401 in Toronto to arrive in Ottawa Friday afternoon. We left early Saturday morning. I did most of the driving to Nova Scotia, but she took over for a few hours through New Brunswick.

It gave us an second opportunity to talk. Although we have always tried to be close, we did not always understand each other. So these opportunities for uninterrupted discussions have really helped. Now, I better understand how to show her that I appreciate who she is as a person and as my mother.

Once we arrived in Dartmouth, we checked into the Ramada. My sister Michelle had made reservations of us and her family for the night.

Burke, Kayli and Portia
Burke, Kayli and Portia

On Sunday, we had the day to spend together with nearly all of the family. Only my sister Sue and my nephew Liam were absent (my parents are divorced – sort of). It was the first time in years I met Michelle, Portia, Burke, and Ali, and the first time in a decade to see Kayli. I was so happy to see them all again. I especially enjoyed the long talk I had with Ali and her fiancé Sean.

Very early Monday morning, my mom dropped me off at the airport for my flight back to Ottawa. The visit was short, especially after such a long driving day on Saturday, but I was so glad to spend time with everyone in Nova Scotia.