7 great Canadian events not to miss this season

Canada’s car world is as vast as the country’s geography. The Great White North is packed with car lovers, and they do automotive events right. When all that snow thaws and the temps climb, Canadian car enthusiasts come out in force. This year’s calendar is packed with car shows, auctions, races, and other events all over the nation’s landscape, from coast to coast.

Here are seven you should not miss.

Okotoks Collector Car Auction—May 24–25

Okotoks Collector Car Auction
Okotoks Collector Car Auction

Celebrating its 45th year, this is Canada’s longest-running collector car auction. The Okotoks Collector Car Auction offers classics with and without reserves. Live online bidding is available, as well.

OCCA will take place at the Okotoks Rec Center in Okotoks, Alberta, and there will be a long list of desirable machines offered, including many affordable classics for the entry-level collector, as well as some Canadian-only models. Last year we lusted after a 1974 Hurst Olds, with the very rare W-30 option and the 455-cubic-inch engine, and a 1959 Monarch, which was a somewhat short-lived Canada-only brand based on Mercury.

Montreal Canadian Grand Prix—June 7–9

Canadian Grand Prix turn 1 lap 1
ph-stop

Always one of Formula One’s most exciting races of the season, the Montreal Canadian Grand Prix is also Canada’s premier motorsports event. More than a race, this is a happening, a pilgrimage, a three-day party of massive proportions.

Named for Canada’s greatest racing driver, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is just minutes from downtown Montreal and considered one of the most challenging courses of the season. But don’t just stay for the F1 race, submerse yourself in the lifestyle, take in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and the Ferrari Challenge events, and don’t miss the incredible parties. An estimated 300,000 race fans pile into downtown Montreal over the GP weekend.

VARAC Vintage Grand Prix—June 14–16

VARAC Vintage Grand Prix
VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

One week later, it’s time to check out vintage Formula One action. This year the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) is celebrating its 40th Annual Vintage Racing Festival, a three-day vintage car extravaganza packed with vintage auto racing and the Field of Dreams Car Show. The event takes place at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, located in Bowmansville, Ontario.

This historic facility, once known as Mosport, is one of the most beautiful and challenging in North America. Cars from all over the world will compete, including vintage Formula One and sports cars, and fans are encouraged to walk the paddock, inspect the cars up close, and meet their owners and drivers.

Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals—July 5–7

For some good old-fashioned tire smoke and drag racing action, don’t miss this nitro-powered event at Castrol Raceway in Leduc County, Alberta. Billed as Canada’s largest drag race, the three-day event features fire-throwing jet cars, 300-mph Top Fuel Dragsters, Nitro Funny Cars dressed in old-school bodywork, Alcohol Funny Cars, ProMods, 200-mph Top Fuel Harleys, and plenty of wheel-standing big-bore muscle cars. It’s the best of drag racing past, mixed with its present. Don’t miss the thunder and make sure you bring your ear plugs.

Moparfest—August 18–19

Moparfest Wicked Photography
Wicked Photography

Canada’s largest all-Mopar car show is also celebrating its 40th year in 2019. Once again the event returns to New Hamburg, Ontario, about 90 minutes southwest of Toronto, and it’s sure to bring out Mopar faithful from all over Canada and much of the United States.

The two-day event will include rare classic muscle cars, trucks, wild custom builds, hot rods, General Lee Chargers and modern Mopar muscle. There’s also a cruise, vendors, and a participant grand prize drawing for $15,000. Over the years, the event has raised more than $3 million for local charities in and around New Hamburg.

Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance—September 14–15

Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance

This event began in 2013 and has quickly become Canada’s premiere concours event. It takes place on the scenic 18th fairway of the Cobble Beach Golf Links in Kemble, Ontario, with cars ranging from magnificent turn-of-the-century classics to muscle cars, sports cars, motorcycles, and modern supercars.

Two seminars and a participant tour for cars 25 years and older will take place in Grey County on Saturday. There’s also a Cars and Coffee at Cobble Beach. The Concours takes place Sunday and will benefit two important charities. Judging will take place in the morning and the awards ceremonies will start in the early afternoon.

Targa Newfoundland—September 14–21

Targa Newfoundland
Murphy-Lee Photography

One of Canada’s most exciting motorsports events, for both participants and spectators, is this high-speed tarmac rally held on the public roads of Newfoundland. Now in its 18th year, Targa Newfoundland continues to channel the legendary European road races of the golden era like the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia.

The scenic 1,000-mile course includes competitive sections held on roads closed to the public, and these guys are going for it. There are three distinct divisions of competitors, so there’s a wide range of vehicles entered, from classic muscle cars to European sports cars.

The Targa Tour Division doesn’t compete. It’s a one- to three-day experience that allows enthusiasts to drive the same closed roads as the competitive division but doesn’t require the full week’s commitment.