I had a short, restless sleep the night before attending the Cadillac Driver Academy. Not only was I still buzzing from The Stop’s Night Market, which I’d left a mere five hours before my required wake-up, but I couldn’t stop dreaming – intense abstract dreams.
As a child, I grew up hearing stories of my father’s driving adventures. Having worked in the automotive industry for 20 years, he’d been privileged to attend performance driving training courses, winter driving academies, and track sessions at some of the world’s most iconic raceways. For my father, these were his stories. For me, these were my dreams. As I tossed and turned with excitement – playing out vivid montages of speeding through turns on windy country roads – by the time I peeled myself out of bed at 5am I had the feeling that soon I’d have a new reality.
It was a good thing that Jim Martyn was behind the wheel of the shuttle vehicle on our way over to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport Park). Not only was he alert enough to get us there safely (I certainly needed some time to wake up) but as the voice of Mosport Park for over 23 years, he was more than just a reliable chauffeur. Since 1961 Mosport Park has been known as one of the most difficult tracks on the North American circuit, with elevation changes that exceed two-storey buildings and tight corners that require precise timing and a high level of vision.
Alongside 40 lucky Cadillac ATS, CTS and CTS-V owners, the Cadillac Driver Academy is designed to showcase the power and agility that these vehicles were truly meant for. I always find it humourous that we’re drawn (myself included) to luxury automobiles and supercars whose output power is impossible to exploit on our own roads. Today, however, was an exception.
Armed with my sleek, black Cadillac ATS 3.6-litre V6 (321-hp, 275lb-ft.) we went through a series of acceleration and breaking exercises, collision avoidance training and slalom runs. A few cones may or may not have been skimmed, but this gave us the opportunity to feel the raw performance of the vehicle before we took it to the skid pad and eventually ran through hot laps on the track.
While all new cars go through these types of tests during the production phases, it was such a thrill to hear the squeal of the tires, feel the vibration of each mounting RPM, and absorb the adrenaline that came along with pushing one of these puppies to the limits of their capacity (or mine).
After a few hot laps in a 556-hp CTS-V Coupe with one of the pros, I’d successfully scratched one of the first major items off my bucket list. The only downside to this unbelievable experience was that city driving has now taken on a new level of drab. The upside? Now when I dream of finding the perfect line, hugging that apex and accelerating out of the exit point, I see myself at the wheel, not someone else.