July 1: A one-of-a-kind race in the ChampCar Series contested at Mont-Tremblant in 2007

Thursday, July 1, 2021 by Renee Fejnan

After a 33-year absence, the single-seater IndyCar returned to the Mont-Tremblant circuit on July 1, 2007 with the arrival of the ChampCar Series.

Organizers of the F1 Grand Prix in Canada have held the right to present a second motoring event at the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit in Montreal. Between 2002 and 2006, IndyCar cars came to compete in an annual race on the track usually reserved for Grand Prix cars.

However, NASCAR and the Grand Prix organization were courting one another, and so the IndyCar race had to be moved elsewhere. The perfect venue was the Mont-Tremblant circuit, which has been completely renovated by Lawrence Stroll and meets international standards.

“At that time, I was part of the F1 Grand Prix organization and worked for Normand Legault [le patron du GP du Canada à cette époque] » explained François Dumontier, current president and CEO of Canadian GP.

“A consortium of businessmen consisting of Legault, Lawrence Stroll and Guy Laliberté of Cirque du Soleil obtained the rights to present a race in the ChampCar Series at the 2007 Mont-Tremblant circuit. Normand [Legault] Stroll took care of the competition component, while Guy Laliberté took care of the entertainment component. “

The design had to be changed because it was out of the question for ChampCars to negotiate the first turn at full speed. If something goes wrong, we sure have found the car in St-Jovite! Hence, the cars will negotiate the chicane area located within Turn 1, and then begin descending towards Esses.

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«Normand [Legault] I was entrusted with organizing the race, but obviously I was able to rely on the entire Grand Prix team, for example, selling tickets, selling corporate boxes, accreditation, security, setup circuit, etc. » sets Dumontier.

In May, several teams came to test two days on the Laurentian Road. Sebastien Pordes set the fastest time, followed by Justin Wilson and Tristan Gomendi. These tests showed that additional work was necessary.

We had to add fences and guard rails. We also installed other higher fences, because during testing Paul Tracy told us we saw a deer wandering on the edge of the track. So we had to prevent wild animals from getting in the way. With the help of Vince Lugram [le directeur du circuit]We also had to find more space in the track, because we had to park a dozen huge team trucks there and we quickly ran out of space. We also had to add a bridge to extend the road between the rink and the car park in the center of the rink. So we moved and modified one of the bridges of the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit to allow spectators and team members to cycle over the circuit. Not only did this bridge have stairs, but it also had a ramp that allowed golf carts to take it. We also installed stands for spectators. “

Everything was ready for the weekend on Canada Day 2007. During qualifying that was disrupted by local rain, PKV Racing’s Frenchman Tristan Gomendy finished first with a time of 1’16” 776 ahead of Will Power (Team Australia) and Sebastien Bordes (Newman/Haas) / Lanigan) and Justin Wilson (RSports). Tracy, whose car was damaged on the morning of the race, had to start at the end. Quebec Alexandre Tagliani qualified his car in eighth place.

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The start is of the stopped type, as in F1, which is the first type. Gumendy’s engine refuses to start and his car is evacuated from the grid. In green, hiccups in Bauer’s engine and his car is not moving. Bordes, who “slightly” skipped the start, took the opportunity to take the initiative.

Soon after the first round of refueling, heavy rain began. Bordes made a small mistake and fell to eleventh place. Then Robert Dornbos, a former F1 driver, took over. It rained and all the pilots went back to the pits to put carved tires. Upon the attack, Bordis was captured again and was now driving in the wake of Dornboss.

Bordes gets the impression that the Dutchman is blocking his way and tells him over the radio to the showrunners who have decided not to raise the black flag. Dornboss crossed the finish line in first place, 2″9″ ahead of Bourday and 7″3″ ahead of Bauer and Simon Pagenaud.

During interviews after the race, Pordes complained about his opponent’s behavior, which infuriated the fans, who shouted at him loudly. As for Dornbos, he says he was looking to dominate on this wet track and that he never blocked the road in Bordes.

Evening activities were also disrupted by the choppy weather. “Guy Laliberte organized a race night party in Manetho, atop Mont-Tremblant,” says Dumontier. “The mercury dropped at the end of the day and it was -2℃ on the mountaintop in the evening! However we were in July! It was too cold for the acrobats at Cirque du Soleil to perform their numbers. So everything that was planned outside was called off.”

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Getting to the competition venue, then leaving the parking lot and leaving the track was a hell…” Obviously, the infrastructure wasn’t enough to host such a big event. The road to the track, Ryan’s entire climb, and the entrance to Route 117 in St. Jovitt, quickly saturate completely,” concludes Dumontier.

This contract was not renewed for one year, and the ChampCar chain, later renamed IndyCar, has not returned to Quebec since that date.

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