At any given NASCAR race, Canadian fans make up 10 to 20 percent of the attendance. For their dedication, they are being rewarded as Jeff Gordon is spear heading a project that will bring a track to Canada.
“Jeff has always wanted to come to Canada,” Gordon’s step-father John Bickford told me this past weekend. “He and I were here in 1989/1990. We’ve always been big supporters. Canadian race fans have supported Jeff throughout his entire career. So I think the idea of giving back is an important component. We’re just advocates of giving back to the Canadian race fans and we’re not giving up.”
The one mile oval that is currently in the planning stages is set to be built in Fort Erie, Ontario. Gordon has been working alongside Paxton Waters, who designed Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway just to name a few.
A 821-acre property has been purchased just west of the Queen Elizabeth Way. The plan calls for a grandstand could seat up to 100,000 people, a one-mile oval track, 2.5-mile road course and other facilities. One of those facilities is a research and development centre overseen by McMaster University.
On March 21st, a hearing will take place before the Ontario Municipal Board and if the track is approved, the ground breaking ceremony is set to take place in the near future. This is just one of the many board meetings that CMS project members have had to attend since 2010 due to concerns over noise level, pollution and traffic congestion.
Once the track is built though, the plan is to get the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to travel cross the border. Within a year of having it built, they want to get the Nationwide Series up here, and then catterpult that into getting the Cup stars on the one mile oval.
Ron Fellows knows the feat of getting a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Canada at his facility, and says that it’s not so simple. NASCAR moves slowly, noting his deal took three years of discussing, as they need to make sure the product they are putting out there for fans is top of the line. That’s why he went about continuing to improve the facility – track improvements along with a new event center – while talking with NASCAR behind the scenes.
Now that he has his race, he will get to roll in all the glory this September. Canadian Motor Speedway hopes they get to feel that same gratification in the coming years.