Revitalizing the Birthplace of Champions!
Shannonville Motorsport Park has a long and rich history in the Canadian racing industry.
It was announced back in October 2019 that John Bondar and Steve Gidman acquired the long-time privately-held Shannonville Motorsport Park (Shannonville). The new Bondar/Gidman team plans to revitalize what is widely known as the Birthplace of Champions! Who would have thought that just a few months after the aquisition, a pandemic would sweep across the nation and shut down the start of the racing season under the new ownership, but a pandemic won’t stop these two.
Shannonville is one of the few multi-purpose motorsport facilities in Canada. Sitting on 146 acres, it features a 4.03km multi-configurable racetrack, a go-kart track, a drag strip and a skid pad with three grandstands overlooking the main track.
The new management team will provide a new vision and energy to build the facility into a multi-use event hub with an emphasis on corporate events while keeping a dedication to driving/racing/training programs. The facility is uniquely located approximately equidistant between Montreal and Toronto which allows it to attract customers from the two key markets in Eastern Canada. Also, conveniently close to the international border, it provides access to the north-east United States, adding to its potential market another two million people within a three-hour drive of the facility.
“There is a lot to be done and we will chip away at it. Our strategic plan will address the needs of our customers. Shannonville will change the way people think about a motorsport park. We believe in providing a stimulating and comprehensive experience that will inspire our future generations of Champions. With a focus on excellence, our vision is to grow Canadian motorsport by creating a facility that will benefit the racing community. We have turned a historic page. I am proud to be part of this transformation and I am grateful that Steve has joined me in this thrilling endeavour,” shared John Bondar, Managing Partner of Shannonville Motorsport Park.
“John and I share a great enthusiasm for motorsports and I look forward to working together to create a revitalized Shannonville Motorsport Park. There’s plenty of work ahead and it will take time, but the result will be worth the wait,” explained Steve Gidman, Partner of Shannonville Motorsport Park.
Shannonville has a long and rich history in the Canadian racing industry. Here are a few historic milestones:
1974 – John Nelson builds the racetrack to organize motorcycle race events.
1979 – Jack Boxstrom buys the facility. Mr. Boxstrom operated car racing schools and motorcycle racing schools until he eventually sold the racing property.
1986 – Val David Motorsport Group (Raymond David) acquires Shannonville. Mr. David made substantial improvements and invested significantly. From that moment, Shannonville Motorsport Park became very successful and an important player in the motorsport industry. It was the go-to place for many years, where future racing champions were trained to be the best.
1992 – While at its peak, Jean Gauthier saw a very profitable opportunity and purchased the racing facility.
2019 – The Motorsport Group Inc. (John Bondar and Steve Gidman) acquires Shannonville Motorsport Park.
About John Bondar
Driven from genuine passion, John has been involved in motorsport for over fourty years. From early beginnings as a track marshal, he then raced at the amateur level with his father as the team mechanic. A few years later, he explored the administration of motorsport in Canada. From 2003 to 2007, John was the President of CASC Ontario Region. While serving on the national advisory board, he became a trusted mentor to the other Regions across Canada and he has also been called upon by the Minister of Transportation Ontario to provide expertise in strategies to curb street racing activities.
In 2007, John launched the Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) and has grown it into the premiere Canadian sports car racing series that we know today.
About Steve Gidman
Steve was brought up in a family that modified everything with wheels to go faster and occasionally they still worked! Steve began racing Formula Libre in the early ‘80s including numerous trips to Shannonville. After taking a 30 year hiatus to raise a family and grow a technology business, Steve returned to racing in vintage sports cars.
Total Sports Quinte Podcast hosts Randy Uens and Mike Bonn caught up with John Bondar recently to discuss what some of the plans include for future events and expansion of the track.
John says they have a plan to revitalize the birthplace of champions. “The property has been in a state of steadiness for a very long time and needs a lot of cleaning up” says John. The first thing they did when taking over the track was to begin cleaning it up and making it more appealing. They also changed some branding, the website, added a few amenities to get things started and now are embarking on a five year plan to take it back to where it should be.
TS: What’s the state of racing in Canada right now and do you see some of that action coming back to Shannonville?
Bondar: We have been in this a long time and 14 years ago we launched a sports car series called CTCC (Canadian Touring Car Championship) so that has attracted drivers from across Canada and the USA to race really at the top level of sports car racing. We own the only sports car series in Canada and now that we have the race track we are going to make the track part of it’s home. And what we expect to see over the next few years is some bigger events here featuring our racing series but also being able to attract some other series from the North East States and what ever else comes along in Canada.
TS: Just given the name I am assuming it is kind of picking up on the BTCC and the German touring car championship too, which are just fabulous series over in Europe. Is that kind of the inspiration for that and similar kind of cars?
Bondar: Yes absolutely. The BTCC has grown to where the least expensive car is around $200 thousand dollars its just insane, this year in the series you will see a collection of Honda’s, Hyundai, Audi’s, all factory built race cars and that will be mixed with a Mclaren, Mercedes-Benz and some Mustangs and all of these cars are factory built. That’s what has changed over the years. It’s just different now. If you are fortunate enough to buy a racecar, that same racecar you can race anywhere in the world.
TS: So when you say factory built, you mean it’s a car someone can go and buy?
Bondar: Yes so for instance when you talk about the Audi, the Audi is an RS3 so you can buy the street version of it or obviously a racecar version but it is based on the street stock car.
TS: So John, do you see making any changes to the track itself to accommodate these races? I know traditionally Shannonville was a bit tight in some of the corners for some of the cars? Will you make changes or keep it traditional?
Bondar: I want to keep it traditional because it is unique in that when they say it’s the birthplace of champions, like you mentioned the Spenard David School, the formula 2000 school, this is where you can really learn to race because of all the unique corners and that’s what makes the racing here great also. Particularly in touring cars and motorcycles. The two really shine here because they test everybody with our combination of fantastic high speed turns while we also have some technical turns so the good drivers really flow to the top here.
TS: Yes from what we have always heard, Shannonville was always a technical course that really tested people to draw those top drivers here.
Bondar: Yes and many years ago Jacques Villeneuve worked here at the Spenard-David Racing school. We have pictures of Jacques here
and obviously he went on to be a formula one star. And just over a month ago Nicholas Latifi our newest formula one star was here just getting some seat time before he went to England to get going in the F1 season. It’s pretty cool to see these guys on the track.
John goes on in our podcast to explain how they are working very hard to fill the grandstands again and they are getting in front of all the manufacturers. “It is such a unique track, you can see every corner of the track during a race and its really something for our community here to be proud of says John.”
Shannonville officially opened on June 1 of this year and they have a couple of great events for people to bring their own cars and participate in Motion Mondays – which is basically every other Monday. Just $60 for the evening (about 5:30 to 7:30 PM) and we also have full lapping days a number of times per month – you pull in at 9am and spend the whole day, we even buy you your lunch. It’s a great way to get that speeding out of your system and Shannonville hopes to eventually network with the local police force to suggest here is an alternative to speeding down the 401 or down Front street.