Running Cadillacs at the Ron Fellows Driving Experience

Ask any pro racer about the most intimidating tracks on this continent and the list will invariably include Mosport.

Now known as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, the 2.5-mile (four-kilometer) track located an hour’s drive east of Toronto has struck fear into the hearts of the most hardened drivers for the better part of six decades. It’s fast and unforgiving, with blind turns and epic elevation changes that make it as challenging as it is rewarding. In short, it’s an old-school course that commands respect.

I know a few good drivers — and a few others who merely think they’re good — who have been humbled by the treachery of Turn 2, the blind, downhill, double-apex, and off-camber corner that ranks with some of the most white-knuckle turns in all of motorsport. Then there’s the similarly scary Turn 4, followed by the tight and technical Moss Corner, named in Sir Stirling Moss’ honor, and the mile-long — not to mention lightning-fast — Mario Andretti Straight.

So I was obviously a little nervous as I made the journey across the top of Toronto towards the track. What awaited me wasn’t simply an open lapping day — though hitting the famed circuit in the 2017 Honda Civic Type R I was driving did make for an intriguing proposition. Instead, I was headed for an evening session behind the wheel of a collection of Cadillacs ranging from the often underestimated CTS V-Sport to the absolutely insane CTS-V, with a few examples of the ATS-V mixed in for good measure.

It was all part of the all-new Ron Fellows Driving Experience, a program designed for corporate-type groups to get out and bond. At CAD$950 a head, it’s a pricey proposition. But it’s also incredibly unique. Forget trust falls and trivia challenges; this could be the ultimate team-building exercise.

As the name would suggest, the program is organized by legendary sports car racer and all-around good guy Ron Fellows. But this isn’t a matter of simply slapping his name on the program in a ploy to convince people to pony up the cash to participate. On the contrary, Fellows designed it himself and is intimately involved in how it operates. It’s also not some sort of performance car rental program either. Instead, it includes classroom and on-track instruction from pro racers who know a thing or two about driving.

While the media session I attended focused on the Cadillac lineup, the Ron Fellows fleet at Mosportalso includes Chevrolet Camaros and Corvettes — a natural fit given Fellows’ history with the bowtie brand. But before climbing behind the wheel of the high-horsepower arsenal on hand, the evening starts with a brief but beneficial classroom session covering the intricacies of the track, as well as the all-important safety briefing and the basics of performance driving.

Less than an hour later, it’s time to hit the track. With two and a half hours or so earmarked for lead-follow lapping, getting comfortable on Mosport’s undulating asphalt takes no time at all. Ever-aware instructors in lead cars are constantly feeding information over the radio about finding the ideal driving line, as well as when and where to hit the brakes when entering a corner, and when to hit the gas on exit. It’s all valuable information that benefits novice and experienced drivers alike — especially at a track like Mosport, with challenging turns aplenty.

With sweaty palms, I climbed between the wheel of a Cadillac CTS V-Sport for my first lead-follow session of the evening. And after a few short laps, a funny thing happened. The nerves were wearing off, and I started to feel comfortable through even the most menacing corners as speeds increased. Finding the right line through Turns 5A and 5B resulted in an ideal exit, setting the car up for speeds in excess of 120 mph (193 km/h) down the Andretti Straight, not half bad for a bunch of Caddys.

The track time breezed by as quickly as a hot lap around the track with an instructor, a humbling experience no matter the self-perceived skill level. And so it was time for dinner, where we chatted about what we did right — as well as what we did wrong — as the sun set somewhere beyond Turn 10. We were all walking a little taller when it was time to leave, confident in the knowledge that we had all tamed Mosport without twisting any sheet metal or tearing up any grass. And now it’s your turn.