With the whirlwind of the first Nissan Micra Cup race behind us, we’ve made our way to Circuit Mont-Tremblant, one of my favourite tracks anywhere around the world.
Why do I like it so much? For one thing, it’s in a gorgeous setting in the Laurentians and I love visiting Quebec. What I really like about the circuit itself is that it’s got some of those old-school characteristics called “high speed” and “danger.”
If you’re the last person on earth who didn’t see my cockpit-view footage of the memorable race at Calabogie, read it here. Long story short, at the start of the race a number of cars crashed in pretty spectacular fashion, and shortly after posting the video of the crash online, it went viral.
By some estimations, some twenty million people watched it, plus your humble writer and racing driver had some media obligations as a result. One lesson I learned is that while a viral video is fantastic from a media exposure standpoint, it’s not good for one’s productivity.
In addition to managing the team’s operations, I’m also getting accustomed to pulling the race car around with a 2016 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X that our friends at Guelph Nissan and Waterloo Nissan have provided.
It’s massive, powerful, comfortable, and tows our little enclosed trailer with ease. Perhaps a little too easily, as I get the impression that it could tow all day long at very, very illegal speeds. Towing three tonnes is nothing for the Titan.
Ease of towing is one thing, but the Titan is exceptionally practical. When I’m alone and have to hitch up the trailer solo, the backup camera with its guide-lines makes it a snap, plus I can check the trailer’s lights with the truck’s remote.
One thing I don’t notice is the truck’s trailer sway control, because even in high winds at highway speeds, the truck and trailer have rock-solid stability. With towing fuel consumption of 19 L/100 km and Infiniti levels of luxury, it makes a brilliant all-around tow vehicle.
Perhaps the only thing I’d like to see – given that it is 2016 – is Apple CarPlay, but the Bluetooth and iPod integration will have to do for now.
For us, driving to Tremblant is a seven-hour pull, which makes for a full day, but the drive is easy. Once we’re there, practice and qualifying go reasonably well. The weekend’s first race started all right after qualifying twelfth. Of course, our expectations are higher, but this series is ridiculously competitive.
It was a tough race for me since I’m really not up to speed with both our Micra and Tremblant. As much as I love it, I know I’m not driving the circuit even close to 100 percent. After it was all said and done, we finished tenth.
For this race, my pal Sam was able to join me. Together we’ve won countless races, a bunch of regional championships, and a couple of really big ones, too, so it’s great to have him here. It’s great to have him working on the car and, for me, I’m more confident when he’s on the radio calling the race for me.
As well, we’ve started working with Motorsports In Action, one of the big Micra Cup teams and the constructors of the Micra race cars. They’re a fantastic group of people and a real pleasure to work with. Their approach to racing is much like ours, so we’re all working hard, but we definitely have some laughs.
Between on-track sessions, there’s always a lot of work to do. Since I’m still working to figure how to drive the Micra, there’s even more work.
As we’ve discovered, tire pressures are super-critical. You’ve got to get them just right, but with near-perfect consideration for weather and temperature conditions. If you get pressures wrong, even by a small amount, well, there goes your advantage.
Now that the adventure of Calabogie is behind us, we’re getting serious about our on-track performance. Our radio system is installed and we’ve got our data acquisition unit working, which means we’re analyzing my driving data after each session. It’s pretty sophisticated stuff and I don’t know how I raced without it in the old days.
There’s an old saying about racing and that’s that there’s a whole lot of “hurry up and wait.” There’s hurry up and get to the track. Hurry up and get the car unloaded. Hurry up and get to the driver’s meeting. There never seems to be enough time.
And if you’re like me and have a lot of friends at the track, the race weekend goes by far too quickly. And then, just like that, it’s time to hurry up and race.
In the weekend’s second race, I’m having some of the most fun I’ve ever had in competition. Racing against my pals Fred Bernier and Carl Nadeau is a blast, and they’re just awesome to race against. We race fair and clean, and this is exactly what Micra Cup is all about. As for Circuit Mont-Tremblant, well it’s a tough track and I love it.
In fact, during the race I’m having so much fun that I don’t even think about my finishing position. After starting fourteenth, I actually finish fourteenth, and despite not moving up in the field, I’ve had the time of my life. We’re taking this humbling experience and analyzing it to pull out some key learnings, that’s for sure.
Unlike me so far, some drivers actually do make it to the podium. Congrats to Xavier Croupal and Kevin King for winning this weekend’s Nissan Micra Cup races at Circuit Mont-Tremblant.