Fellows Returns to His Racing Roots for ALMS Grand Prix of Mosport
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – Thirty years ago, a young man stood near Turn 5 and marveled at the skill of the race car drivers he watched at Mosport International Raceway. This weekend he will return to the track near Toronto – not as a spectator, but as a racing champion and a homegrown Canadian motorsports hero. For Corvette Racing’s Ron Fellows, Mosport is where it all began.
“When I was a kid, I spent many days at Mosport watching Can-Am, Trans-Am, and Formula 1,” Fellows recalled. “I remember Ronnie Peterson was spectacular. He put a move on James Hunt in the first lap of the ’76 Canadian Grand Prix, going outside in Turn 4 and then up the inside into Turn 5. What he did was extremely difficult in a closed-wheel race car, and almost impossible in an open-wheel Formula 1 car.”
Now it’s Fellows who is inspiring youngsters with his driving skill on the challenging 2.46-mile circuit. He and teammate Johnny O’Connell drove their Compuware Corvette to three straight GT1 class titles (2001-03) in ALMS events at Mosport. He’s also won in his last two appearances at Mosport with Team Cadillac in SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT races. Fresh from a victory in the preceding ALMS race at Road America, Fellows and O’Connell are hoping to notch another win in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Mosport.
“Mosport is really my home track,” said Fellows. “Not just because I live nearby, but because I literally learned how to race there. I’ve seen the place grow, and the fan support is overwhelming. It feels very special there.”
Before he receives the accolades of his legions of fans in the winner’s circle, Fellows will have to turn back not only his rivals at Aston Martin Racing but also his Corvette Racing stablemates, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. The “two Ollies” have won the last two ALMS races at Mosport. Beretta also won in 1999 and 2000 with the Viper factory team, while Gavin was the fastest GT1 qualifier in 2003-04 with the No. 4 Compuware Corvette.
“Mosport has been a good track for me since I came to ALMS in 1999,” said Beretta. “The circuit is very challenging because we are going up and down hills, with a long straight and a very fast corner at the end. We are running in fourth and fifth gear in many of the corners. It is a fantastic track.”
Gavin agreed: “It’s a great track, really challenging and a lot of fun,” said the Briton. “It reminds me of Brands Hatch and some parts of Spa, with sweeping corners and blind crests.”
“We’ve had good success there in the past, but it’s going to be a tough event for us this time,” Gavin continued. “Last year the Maserati was very fast there and I believe Aston Martin will be quick this year. Corvette Racing is facing yet another performance adjustment before the event, but it’s simply another challenge for the team and I’m sure they’ll rise to the occasion.”
Under the sanctioning body’s “balance of performance” handicaps, the Corvettes’ small-block V-8 engines must use 30.8 mm engine intake air restrictors at Mosport, 6 percent smaller than the 31.8 mm restrictors stipulated by the ACO rules and used at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In contrast, the Aston Martins are permitted to use larger 31.2 mm restrictors on their V-12 engines and weigh 199 pounds less than the Corvettes.
“The race at Mosport will be a challenge because we will have a smaller restrictor, which is not ideal for this type of track because power is very important,” said Beretta. “But Corvette Racing will have good strategy and fast pit stops as always, and we will do our best to win.”
The two-hour, 45-minute Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport, the eighth round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 3. The race will be televised live on the SPEED Channel.
Release Date: August 29, 2006