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#CTMP60 Podcast Episode Sheds Light on Earliest Events at "Mosport"

"One of the things that is terribly important to me is setting the record straight about the first event ever held at Mosport."


Those were the words of Paul Cooke, a legend in his own right in Canadian racing history, as he appeared on the latest episode of the #CTMP60 Podcast.


Hosted by Sam Fellows along with his father (and CTMP co-owner) Ron, the show attempts to document the history and memories of 60 years of motorsport heritage at the circuit known originally as "Mosport Park" and today as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.


The story that Cooke told recalled a very short period of time where "Mosport" was "the most famous dirt track in Canada." This was of course because the track had not been paved yet.


The history, as we know it, posits that the Oakville Trafalgar Light Car Club was the first entity to hold an actual organized racing event at "Mosport." Race results show that it was June 3, 1961, to be exact - and the event was won by Sam Bird in a Triumph T3 according to records.


Later that month, on June 24th, the first professional racing event was held with spectators. This was the first ever Player's 200 and was won of course by the legendary Sir Stirling Moss in a Lotus 19 Monte Carlo Climax. Jo Bonnier, Olivier Gendebien, and Ludwig Heimrath rounded out the top four finishers.


For many, that June 24, 1961 date is viewed as the de facto "birthday" of CTMP. It was after all the first major spectator event held at the circuit. But was it really?


On the morning of Sunday April 30, 1961, cars left from Montréal on a cross-Canada race known as the "British Columbia International Trade Fair Car Rally." Part of the first day of the rally included a special stage at "Mosport."


As Cooke notes in the podcast episode, the rally was sanctioned by the FIA and he recalls that "the special stage started off at essentially the start/finish and went down through turns one, two, and three, and abruptly made a right turn off the track ... up the hill and into a gravel bed ... then out of the gravel bed, into the infield and that was the end of the section."


Cooke competed in the rally as a co-driver to Ken Chambers in one of several Ford Zephyrs which had been entered by the Ford Motor Company of Canada. He remembers the special section at "Mosport" and that spectators were indeed in attendance.


"There was a crowd control issue," Cooke remembers. Mostly because there was no fencing to keep the fans from getting too close to the special. But Cooke says the whole stopover at "Mosport" was "exciting to say the least."


Cooke shared record of the 1961 rally that verify the story, although no results of the special stage at CTMP specifically have been found yet, and thus we do not currently know who the fastest driver was on that first day of competition.


Regardless, the rally's rules, regulations, and route documents - dated February 1961 - do indicate that the special stage at "Mosport" was to take place on April the 30, 1961, and Cooke's first hand experience seems to be the icing on the cake.


Watch to the episode here including this story and many more from Paul Cooke's years of experience in motorsports ... and please share the podcast if you enjoy! Let us know what you think and feel free to write us at info@ctmpark.com if you happen to have any information on this event from the spring of 1961.

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