In 1974, the Canadian Auto Sport Clubs (CASC) formed the first professional Formula Atlantic series in North America. Prior to this, the Canadian drivers’ championship was determined using Formula 5000 cars - (originally named Formula A). But the grids were small and supplemented by a healthy supply of Formula Atlantic machinery - (called Formula B at the time). With a healthy sponsorship package from Players cigarettes and television coverage, the series flourished. It became a route to Formula One and attracted drivers such as Gilles Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg.

By 1978, the CASC and Sports Car Club of America joined forces to sanction events in Canada and the United States.

The chassis’ used in the series are similar or the same as those used in Formula 2 and Formula 3. They are produced by race car manufacturers such as Ralt, March, Lola and Chevron. The major difference between these different Formula categories is the engine. Competitors in Formula Atlantic initially used the double-overhead camshaft Lotus cylinder head with a 1.6-liter Ford Kent engine block. However, a more powerful version was developed by Cosworth Engineering, called Ford Cosworth BDA. Later, Cosworth developed the BDN and BDD.

The 1981 North American Formula Atlantic Series opened on the streets of Long Beach, California, in early April. Next, the championship travelled south of the border for an event at Mexico City, followed by a trip to Canada and a visit to Mosport Park. Upon returning to the United States, race weekends were held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America. The remaining four rounds would be conducted in Canada, starting in the west with Edmonton and then Westwood. The penultimate round was held at Trois-Rivieres, with the finale in Montreal as a support race for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Round three of the North America Formula Atlantic Championship was held at Mosport Park. Drivers would compete in a forty-lap contest around the ten turn 2.459-mile road course.

Last season, Jacques Villeneuve won the championship in a March 80A. This year he returned to defend his title in a new March 81A, which wasn’t as competitive as the Ralt RT-4. Villeneuve qualified on the pole at Mosport. However, a mechanical issue forced him to start from the rear in his spare car. He charged through the field to finish second but was awarded the win after Rogelio Rodriguez was penalized.
Finishing 6.264-seconds behind the winner, Jacques Villeneuve, in the runner-up position was Whitney Ganz. Ganz drove the No. 17 Silhouette/Karges Sport Ralt RT-4. His best result during his rookie season of 1980 was a sixth-place finish at Trois-Rivieres. Ganz was not a factor in the first two races of this year. However, his season turned around at Mosport when he qualified third fastest and finished second.
Last season Canadian Allen Berg competed in a Formula Ford and finished third in the AFFA Pro series and second in the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs – Ontario Region championship. He started his 1981 campaign in an outdated Ralt RT-1. By round three at Mosport, Berg was driving the No. 68 Ralt RT-4. After extensive testing of the new car, he was on pace. Berg started and finished in the third position.
Rogelio Rodriguez was quick in the first two rounds of the season. At Long Beach, Rodriguez finished fourth and despite a pitstop in Mexico, he was second. Rodriguez put the No. 11 Ralt RT-4 fourth on the grid at Mosport. With Jacques Villeneuve starting at the rear, he moved into the lead early. Rodriguez finished first but received a ninety-second penalty for passing the pace car. As a result, he was moved to sixth place.
Jacque Villeneuve’s teammate in one of three Doug Shierson Racing March 81A was Tommy Grunnah. In the season opener, Grunnah finished in the sixteenth position – five laps behind the leaders. He fared much better at Mexico, earning a sixth-place finish. At Mosport, Grunnah was gridded in the fifth sport for the forty lap contest. Unfortunately, he fell out of contention and crossed the finish line in eighth place.
The Ralt RT-4 of Dan Marvin dropped oil in corner one at the beginning of the race. Caught out by the slick track, the eighth-fastest qualifier, Mike Rosen, driving No. 10 Ralt RT-4, hit the guardrail. The pace car was dispatched just in front of the race leader, Rogelio Rodriguez. Rather than letting the pace car repass him, Rodriquez drove around until he caught the rear of the field, which resulted in a ninety-second penalty.

11Jacques VilleneuveMarch 81A40-
23Whitney GanzRalt RT-440-
32Allen BergRalt RT-440-
46Norman HunterRalt RT-440-
512Bill ScyphersRalt RT-440-
64Rogelio RodriguezRalt RT-440Penalty
77Chris KneifelMarch 81A39-
85Tommy GrunnahMarch 81A39-
916James OppermannMarch 79A38-
1013Jeremy HillMarch 78B38-
119John David BriggsMarch 81B37-
1210Jim Van HornMarch 81A37-
1318Peter LerchMarch 78B37-
1414Ed MidgleyMarch 80A36-
15-Erik PhelanMarch 77B34-
1617Hubert PhippsMarch 80A8Handling
178Mike RosenRalt RT-41Accident
1811Dan MarvinRalt RT-41Accident
1915Mark MooreMarch 79B1Accident

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