By: Tony DiZinno, Sports Car Correspondent
- Sale is first ever for Panoz Motor Sports Group
- Ron Fellows’ name recognition set group apart
Canadian Motorsport Ventures, Ltd. entrusted with taking Mosport to next level
On Wednesday morning, Panoz Motor Sports Group announced the sale of Mosport International Raceway to a group of Canadian investors, Canadian Motorsport Ventures, Ltd. However, rumors that this might be the first of several assets PMSG is looking to sell off were quickly dismissed by Scott Atherton, president and CEO of PMSG and the American Le Mans Series.
In what he called sale “one-of-one,” Atherton said the legendary Canadian permanent road course just outside Toronto is in better hands given the legitimacy and stature of the individuals that make up CMV. The trio that makes up the new ownership group are Al Boughton, a transportation industry leader, Carlo Fidani, a real estate developer, and Ron Fellows, one of Canada’s and the ALMS’ most successful road racers.
“The sale of Mosport is in fact one-of-one,” Atherton said. “There are some people that would love to think Don Panoz has lost interest, is liquidating, and put whatever negative spin on it. That’s simply not the case. I’ve been involved with this organization for 11 years, and this is the first sale of any Panoz asset, ever.
“This is a unique one-of-one that involved such a high caliber ownership group, and the opportunity to put Mosport in such good hands and keep the ALMS sanctioning agreements intact — it’s the best of all possible combinations. I don’t want any jumping to conclusions.”
Only when Atherton and PMSG saw what this group had to offer did they consider selling Mosport from the PMSG-owned family. Atherton called the day “bittersweet” since Mosport has been under the PMSG umbrella from the start of the organization.
“Mosport wasn’t for sale,” Atherton said. “We weren’t actively looking for a buyer. We got a fair amount of inquiries, of people kicking the tires, so to speak. About nine months ago, this happened in this instance. At first we rebuffed, and said we were not interested without being disrespectful.
It had enough substance that made it more than just a brush off.
“This time around, they educated us as to who was involved and their plans and vision for the future. It had enough substance that made it more than just a brush off. That started the process, and yesterday it ended with the final closing of the sale to Canadian Motorsports Ventures, Ltd., led by Carlo Fidani, Al Boughton and Ron Fellows.”
As part of the change, track president and general manager Myles Brandt will continue in both roles. Atherton expressed a great amount of excitement at the changes and upgrades Brandt and the Mosport team of workers will have “at their fingertips.”
Additionally, Fellows’ name recognition is part of what set this group apart to make PMSG an offer they couldn’t refuse.
“In my opinion, that’s what set this group apart from similar approaches,” Atherton said. “I have nothing but high respect and regard for Ron Fellows. Since he had aligned himself with them, we thought this group must be worthy of our attention. To have his name attached in a true capacity, not just in a press release, we know he has skin in the game. It’s like Wayne Gretzky buying into your ice rink. You can’t have a higher endorsement.”
The new ownership group will host the ALMS July 21-24, the fourth of nine rounds in the 2011 series championship.
The timing of the announcement comes during an 81-day period without on-track activity for the ALMS in-between races at Long Beach in April and Lime Rock in July. Given the revival of the April test day in advance of this month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, those teams going for Le Mans have been full speed ahead in preparation while others have had to wait through the downtime.
“Since this year there’s new technical rules and tires, virtually everything in LMP, no one felt comfortable without testing,” Atherton said. “This is a one-time situation to get through it.”
Several ALMS full-season teams, including Level 5 Motorsports in LMP2 and Corvette Racing, Flying Lizard Motorsports and Robertson Racing in the GTE Pro and Am classes, are making the trip to Le Mans. A number of ALMS-affiliated drivers and crewmembers are also aligning with European efforts for the grandest spectacle in sports car racing, for one-off opportunities.