In 1986, General Motors Canada, in conjunction with title sponsor Playerís Cigarettes, introduced a new showroom stock series for the Chevrolet IROC-Z Camaro and Pontiac Trans Am Firebird. To attract entrants, the championship boasted a prize fund of $200,000. The winner of each race would collect a cheque for $5,000, with the runner-up receiving $4,000, third getting $3,000 and $2,000 was awarded to the fourth and fifth place finishers. In addition, the races are televised on CTVís Wide World of Sports.

Seventy-four cars were delivered to drivers competing in the series at the Oshawa Ontario General Motors plant. The Camaros and Firebirds were built on Norwood, Ohio assembly line with the engines coming from General Motorís St. Catharines Engine Plant. The power plant is a carbureted high output 5.0-liter V8. The vehicles are also equipped with a window net, roll bar, racing seat and fire extinguishers. Competitors are required to use Esso fuel and Goodyear Eagle VR Gatorback tires.

The series makes its debut at Mosport Park on the Budweiser Victoria Day Sprints weekend in May. This event is followed by another race at Mosport during the Budweiser Can Am. Next on the schedule is the most prestigious event of the season when drivers compete at Circuit Gillies Villeneuve in conjunction with the Labatt Grand Prix of Canada. Then it is back to Ontario for the third of five stops at Mosport. In July, the series participates at the inaugural Molson Indy on the street circuit at Torontoís Exhibition Place. Round six is conducted at Mosport as part of the Budweiser GT weekend. The championship returns to Quebec for the penultimate race of the season at Sanairís tri-oval, with the finale taking place mid-September at Mosport.

The first race of the new Playerís Challenge Series was held a Mosport Park during the Budweiser Victoria Day Sprints weekend. Drivers would compete in a fifteen-lap contest around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.

The start of round one for the inaugural Playerís Challenge Series and forty competitors funnel into Mosport Parkís first turn. Leading the field is the pole-sitter, Robin Buck, in the No. 10 Esso sponsored Pontiac Firebird. Buck was the sixth-fastest qualifier but was gridded first after the six fastest cars were inverted for the start. On the outside of Buck is Ron Fellows driving the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro.
The first Player`s Challenge Series race was won by Canadian open-wheel veteran Richard Spenard. Spenard, driving the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro, was fourth fastest in the qualifying session and started in the third position. Spenard moved through the field for the victory. He was chased by the No. 10 Pontiac Firebird of Robin Buck, who finished second. Unfortunately, Buck was disqualified for an ignition timing issue.
Not only did General Motors sell seventy-four Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds, but they also sold a significant amount of replacement parts. The close competition resulted in a lot of contact, some of which caused substantial body damage. The No. 14 Pontiac Trans Am of Terry DiFrancesco enters the pit-lane dragging the bumper cover. The former Honda series frontrunner finished fourth in round one.
Another open-wheel veteran to join the Player`s Challenge Series was Peter Lockhart. Lockhart was the 1983 and 1984 runner-up in the Canadian Formula 2000 championship. This season, he is driving the No. 11 Esso/Sony sponsored Chevrolet Camaro and was the fastest qualifier. Lockhart started the sixth and crossed the finish line in third place but was awarded the runner-up position after Robin Buck was disqualified.
George Commachio is a long-time Grand Touring driver who has spent many years racing in Ontario, but his outings include visits to tracks in Quebec and the United States. Commachio parked his familiar Alfa Romeo to join the Player`s Challenge Series driving the No. 55 Pontiac Firebird. After qualifying in the twenty-fifth position, the team had problems with the car and Commachio finished thirty-fourth.
After a couple years away from the sport, Formula Ford racer Ron Fellows returned to racing, driving the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro. Fellows was quick and recorded the fifth-fastest time during the qualifying session. He was gridded on the outside of the front row for the start and after fifteen laps, Fellows crossed the finish line in the fourth position. However, he was moved to third place after the disqualification of Robin Buck.
Sixty-seven cars were entered in the opening round, with just over nine seconds separating the entire field. However, there were only forty positions available for the final race of the weekend. Based on their qualifying time, thirty-four drivers moved to the feature. The remainder competed in a consolation race, with the top six finishers advancing. Ian Phillips won the race and finished eighteenth in the finale.

1(3) 4Richard SpenardChevrolet Camaro / Golden Mile Chevrolet15-
2(1) 6Peter LockhartChevrolet Camaro / Esso/Sony/Bob Johnston15-
3(5) 2Ron FellowsChevrolet Camaro / Golden Mile Chevrolet15-
48Terry DiFrancescoPontiac Firebird / Addison Pontiac15-
59Michael RivetChevrolet Camaro / Anderson Chevrolet15-
616Tom Jones JrChevrolet Camaro / Humberview Chevrolet15-
7(2) 5Marc DancoseChevrolet Camaro / Plaza Chevrolet15-
8(4) 3Scott MaxwellChevrolet Camaro / MEG/North York Chevrolet15-
97Brian CullingfordPontiac Firebird / Georgian Pontiac15-
1019Horst KrollChevrolet Camaro / Yonge Chevrolet15-
1110Joe De MarcoChevrolet Camaro / Kane Chevrolet15-
1222David WhiteChevrolet Camaro / Appelwood Chevrolet15-
1314Raymond DavidChevrolet Camaro / Spenard-David Racing School15-
1426Derek JohnsonChevrolet Camaro / Snyder Chevrolet15-
1520Ray CoffeyChevrolet Camaro / Humberview Chevrolet15-
1627Norman Brioux JrChevrolet Camaro / Applewood Chevrolet15-
1715Stephen KosaChevrolet Camaro / Roy Foss Pontiac15-
1838Ian PhilippsChevrolet Camaro / Highland Chevrolet15-
1933Rudy BartlingChevrolet Camaro / Kane Chevrolet15-
2018Jock AddisonPontiac Firebird / Addison Pontiac15-
2123Scott McCollPontiac Firebird / ICG Propane15-
2211Hunter JonesChevrolet Camaro / Humberview Chevrolet15-
2337Rolf von EngelbrechtenChevrolet Camaro / Golden Mile Chevrolet15-
2439Uli BieriChevrolet Camaro / Sheridan Chevrolet15-
2535John GrahamChevrolet Camaro / Wilson/Nibblett15-
2634Ed DelongPontiac Firebird / Vince Grande Pontiac15-
2736Tony CorcoranPontiac Firebird / Condie Pontiac15-
2831Drew FesarChevrolet Camaro / Humberview Chevrolet15-
2913Claude PoirierChevrolet Camaro / Michel Patenaude Chevrolet14-
3032Oliver ClubineChevrolet Camaro / Queenston-Towne Chevrolet14-
3112Paul LamoureuxChevrolet Camaro / Wihelmy-Lamoureux Chevrolet14-
3229Ken TaitPontiac Firebird / Parkway Pontiac Buick14-
3337Pierre KittsChevrolet Camaro / Harold Cummings Chevrolet14-
345George CommachioPontiac Firebird / Old Mill Pontiac Buick14-
3518Robbie MattaPontiac Firebird / Roy Foss Pontiac Buick10-
3626Ian CoristineChevrolet Camaro / Salois Chevrolet9Did Not Finish
3721John CadmanChevrolet Camaro / Appelwood Chevrolet5Did Not Finish
3825Rupert Bragg-SmithPontiac Firebird / Neal Pontiac4Did Not Finish
3921Wayne HarperChevrolet Camaro / Herron Chevrolet4Did Not Finish
-25Robin BuckPontiac Firebird / Esso/Sony/Roy Foss15Disqualified

Copyright Notice:
All content (photographs and text) appearing on this website are the exclusive property of © and are protected under International copyright laws. The subject matter on this website may not be reproduced, copied, stored or manipulated.

© Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016

Return to home page.