How Fast Is Fast?

Dindo Capello in the Audi R10 TDI. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Dindo Capello in the Audi R10 TDI. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster

I remember the first time I went to Mosport, back in 1972 for the CanAm race. It was the debut of the Porsche 917/10, entered by Penske Racing and driven by Mark Donohue.

The L&M Porsche was beautiful and it was fast. Donohue put the car on the pole, but it faltered in the race, which was eventually won by Denny Hulme in the also brand new McLaren M20.

Those CanAm cars were fast, very fast.

However, I started thinking recently if it all remembered as well as it lived at the time and how being fast is such a relative term.

Was there a track in North America where you could make a direct comparison to lap times in the past to lap times in the present? Most tracks had changed somewhat over the years, changing their configuration or adding a chicane or two. But there was one track that had remained original and unchanged. It was Mosport (now known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park). The track is literally the same as it was when it opened back in 1966. Save for repaving and widening in 2000, the track is still the exact same 2.459 mile (3.957km) length today as when it was when brand new. It is a 10 turn, very fast track.

As such, it is possible to make pretty direct comparisons to lap times of a variety of cars which have raced at Mosport over the years – from CanAm cars to Formula One to Group C to American Le Mans and finally to IMSA DPi.
So the question is – who was the fastest at Mosport?

One would automatically think it would be Mark Donohue, who in 1973 drove the 1500+ horsepower Porsche 917/30 in its debut race and qualified at 1:14.10 (119.465mph). I was there, and the car looked blindingly fast and literally launched off of the corners. But that run by Donohue was not the fastest lap at Mosport.

How about Mario Andretti in the Lotus 78 Formula One car in 1977? A car with outstanding power, a driver second to none and ground effects? Mario qualified at a 1:11.385 (124.009mph). Yet Mario in a Formula One car does not own the outright track record at Mosport.

Then how about Hans Stuck in the Porsche 962C? Surely, the turbocharged Porsche with state of the art ground effects and Stuck behind the wheel would be the fastest combination. Hans put the Porsche on pole at 1:09.775 (126.871mph). Even at that speed, he does not have the fastest lap at Mosport.

Perhaps this past season, where Ricky Taylor put the Cadillac DPi V.R. on pole with a time of 1:08.459 (129.309mph) – almost three seconds faster than Mario Andretti qualified the JPS Lotus Formula One car in 1977? Wow, think about that. The DPi Caddy almost 3 seconds faster than the Lotus 78! No, even that is not the outright track record. One has to look a bit further.

The outright track record was set on August 23, 2008. The time was 1:04.094 (138.116mph). The race was the American Le Mans series event. The car was the Joest Audi R10 TDI and the driver was Dindo Capello. To put that time in perspective and to show how far motorsport technology has come, that record run is over 10 seconds faster than Mark Donohue’s time set driving the most powerful sports racing car ever built – the Porsche 917/30. Over 10 seconds! Let that one sink in for a minute.

That lap by Capello in the Audi was the fastest ever recorded at Mosport, going all the way back to 1966 and encompassing Formula One, CanAm, F5000, IndyCar, Group C cars, IMSA, NASCAR and Superbikes. It looks to be a record that may stand for quite some time.

Well going, Dindo. You are the fastest man in the history of Mosport.

Now, that is fast.

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