Specs & Details
Location Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada Track Configuration 2.65-mile, 15-turn road course Elevation Change 85 feet Other Facilities Timing Tower, restaurant and concessions, Jim Russell Racing School and Karting Academy, Ferrari Driving Experience, Ride & Drive Programs
If there's anything you should know about Montreal, it's that it's the strip club capital of the world. But you should also know that Montreal's legendary nightlife can be combined with equally sexy daytime activities at the nearby Circuit Mont-Tremblant, an old-school road course that Michael Schumacher has described as a "mini Nürburgring."
Built in 1964, back when men were men and racetracks were dangerous and quite often deadly, "Le Circuit" (as it's locally known), was where Formula 1, Can-Am, and IndyCar all raced around this hilly and bumpy circuit built atop the natural topography of the Laurentian Mountains. These days, it's been widened and brought up to more modern safety standards, but thankfully the circuit hasn't lost any of its intimidation factor.
In fact, friend of the magazine and well-known racing driver Gary Sheehan cut his teeth racing at Mont-Tremblant, and had this to say about it:
"Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant will always be a special track for me because it's where I got my first chance at driving a race car on a racetrack. So when my first Grand-Am Cup GS race more than a decade later happened to be at Le Circuit in 2004, I could almost hear the circle closing. And Mont-Tremblant did not disappoint. I qualified Second, led the first half hour of the race, and set a new GS track record to boot. I really feel that spending my first week of racing at Mont-Tremblant helped me quite a bit, because this can be an intimidating track! It is very fast, filled with elevation changes and blind corners, and the guardrails are always looming.
A perfect example of this is the turn 1-2-3-4 complex. As you come down the downhill front straight, the track takes an additional dip down, and right at the bottom of the dip, turn 1 bends the track to the right and takes you quickly uphill. The compression catches the car, giving it a ton of grip as you rocket toward the sky. Just before the top of the hill is the apex for turn 2, and as the car starts tracking out, you hit the crest and the car goes light, moving sideways quite a bit with a lot of slip-angle on all four tires. Don't unwind, though, because the track keeps turning right and proceeds to drop you down the backside of the hill. You quickly run out of track and use all the exit curbing on the left as you plummet downhill toward turn 3, a slight right as the track flattens out, giving you more compression grip. You've got to focus on getting the exit of 3 just right to get the car straightened out quick and pound on the brakes to shed loads of speed for the sacrificial turn 4. It's breathtaking and courage-testing at the same time, a high-speed misstep in turn 2 has the potential to put you hard into the tire barrier all the way down in turn 4!
The back half of the track is also fast and exciting. Over the Hump on the back straight, you fly into the fastest part of the track leading into The Gulch. You've got to get rid of a bunch of speed in preparation for the fast righthand turn 10, but not too much or your competition will eat up car lengths. After that, you're all over the curbing in 11 and track out to the right for The Bridge turn, which has an uphill approach with a blind apex on the left just as the hill flattens out and you have no grip. Slip and slide out to the exit and start yet another climb toward the track's signature turn, Namerow.
There's a slight right bend just prior to it, so your braking across track as the incline steepens and you jump on the brakes, diving the nose into the hillside in preparation for yet another blind apex corner. Once you crest the hill it starts to drop again and immediately starts a downhill righthand hairpin around an outcropping of rocks. It's such a tricky and important corner leading onto the front straight, almost always leaving me with the impression that I could have done that one better.
And that's the great thing about Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant-it's so challenging that it keeps the driver working hard for that perfect lap, every lap. To go fast demands big attachments but also requires precision and finesse in equal measure. It's not a place where you can just chuck the car into a corner and gather it up on the other side, because most times there is no other side! Just a bit of grass on the backside of a hill and a hungry guardrail waiting for you. And really, as a race car driver, what more could you want?"