If you do a quick Google search of that name your screen will come alive with gorgeous film photos in digital form, some super 8mm video footage on YouTube and even records and data about the famous Trans Am races held there in the late 70’s. Westwood was the very first purpose-built road course in all of Canada and was a playground for legends like Greg Moore, Gilles Villeneuve, Ludwig Heimrath, Keke Rosberg, and even Michael Andretti. Races were sanctioned by Formula Atlantic, The Canadian Touring Championship, Trans Am, Canon Yokohama Challenge, NASCAR and several other racings series.
Westwood was a heart shaped racecourse running clockwise with everything from a carousel at turn 1 to a high-speed rise and kinked straight at the famous Dears Leap, it even had a Le Mans style starting grid. The elevation changes at Westwood meant cars would be flying down the mountain straight from Valley Corner at the top to Marshalls Hairpin at the bottom. After a hard lean on the brakes and a sharp right the climb began through “The Esses” back to the line past the pit area. The entire track would clock 2.9 kilometers or 1.8 miles for our imperial friends. Being nestled in amongst our beautiful west coast rain forest meant many soggy race days on the mountain and the track was bestowed the nickname “Wetwood” by many of its regulars.
After we had talked to a few local racers who themselves once shot through Deer’s Leap we felt compelled to head up the hill and see for ourselves if anything was left of the track almost 30 years after it’s last race. We grabbed a Cayman S to wind our way through the suburban landscape and search out the names of the corners on street signs, Marshalls Hairpin and any artifacts we could find in the woods along the plowed over Mountain straightaway.
Starting at the lower end of the track area you come across Paddock drive which now curves through what used to be the parking lot and Pit areas. You can make your way from there down to Goodyear creek park that borders both Carousel drive and Firestone place. If you go down Carousel drive there is a footpath into the forest. If you go in and head north you will eventually find remains of the old tire walls from Clubhouse corner. We found an old slick inside of a dead tree stump and a dry rotted and carved up old radial laying among the underbrush. After a bit more walking and fumbling over roots and dead fall we saw a whitewall firestone buried halfway in a small hillside.
The morning turned to afternoon and the breeze starting blowing in from the high clouds coming off the ocean, you could almost hear the ghosts of Porsche 935’s and 914-6’s blasting The Esses or lifting tire through Deer’s Leap. It may look like a regular neighborhood to some but for Porsche lover or lover of cars in general, it’s a wonderful experience to explore motorsports history in our own backyard. Although you really have to squint to see where the track once passed, the moments are frozen in time there and the history is something that we are happy to share and adore with you, our friends.
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