Location: St-Eustache, QC
Track: 4/10-mile semi-banked oval
Also Known As: Montreal International Speedway, Sportsman Speedway, Circuit Deux-Montagnes
# of ACT Races Held: 34
ACT Pro Stock Tour/NASCAR North – 4
Série ACT – 29
ACT Late Model Tour – 1 (Combo event with Série ACT)
ACT Sunoco Regional Series (Region 3) – 1
ACT Pro Stock Tour/NASCAR North – Beaver Dragon, 3
Série ACT – Patrick Laperle, 11
ACT Late Model Tour – Patrick Laperle, 1
ACT Sunoco Regional Series (Region 3) – Derek Lynch, 1
A Brief History of Autodrome St-Eustache
For more than half a century, Autodrome St-Eustache has been a home for auto racing in greater Montreal. While many outlets list the first year of operation as 1965 or 1966, the facility actually opened its doors in June 19, 1964 with a drag racing event. Here’s what one of the advertisements looked like for the event, as found at http://www.stockcarquebec.com/pistes/steustachephotosjournaux.htm:
Shortly afterward, the 4/10-mile oval (known separately as Sportsman Speedway) also made its debut. Both the oval and drag strip were constructed by Anatole Lavoie, who operated Fury Speedway in Laval (née Fabreville) from 1961 to 1963. Homeowners in the area had opposed the short-lived track almost from the get-go, and landowners Leefort (sic) Realties denied Lavoie’s bid for a new lease following the 1963 season. (A shopping center now sits on the property.) In response, Lavoie moved to the opposite side of the Mille Iles River – about 10 miles away – and set up shop in St-Eustache.
Mr. Lavoie’s new facility quickly surpassed its predecessor in terms of longevity and popularity. This led to an expansion in 1971 with the construction of a 15-turn, 1.8-km (1.1-mi.) road course. With this came a name change to Circuit Deux-Montanges. (St-Eustache is located within the larger Deux-Montagnes Regional County Municipality, which includes the neighboring town of Deux-Montagnes.) That year also saw the biggest event in the track’s history to that point: the NASCAR-sanctioned Molson 300, which was won by Jean-Paul Cabana. While this event moved to Circuit Ste-Croix the following year (and later to Sanair International Raceway), the facility continued to operate successfully throughout the 1970s.
A new era began in 1983 when longtime racer Claude Aubin purchased the facility. He quickly went to work making it a premier motorsports complex that hosted events such as motorcycle racing, drifting, and private track days. He even constructed a shorter 1-km road course. Soon, the complex was in use more than 160 days out of the year. Along the way, he also decided to officially change the facility’s name once again, as it officially became Autodrome St-Eustache in 1991 (though both this and the Circuit Deux-Montagnes name were used for several years). His work really paid off in 1993 when the CASCAR Super Series first came to St-Eustache. CASCAR would continue to make visits in various forms throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. When it became the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (now Pinty’s Series) in 2006, it remained on the schedule for what by then was the only major stock car track in the Montreal area. Separately, the track acquired the NASCAR sanction for its weekly racing and was part of the Whelen All-American Series from 2004-2010 (and again from 2014-present).
The track changed hands again in December 2007 when Alan Labrosse, a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, bought the facility. Under his stewardship, the track has hosted some of the most prominent series and events in Quebec. These include the American-Canadian Tour, the NASCAR Lucas Oil Sportsman Series, the Canadian Super Bike Championship, the Formula D World Championship (drifting), national road racing events, and the annual Diesel Fest. However, the noise from the speedway – which many residents had complained about in recent years, much as they did with its ancestor – will soon be going silent. An agreement was signed on April 9, 2018 that will see electric utility company Hydro-Quebec purchase and demolish the motorsports complex to make way for further public works development. As a result, 2019 will be the final year of competition at Autodrome St-Eustache, with many of the events being moved to nearby auto racing facilities.
Random Track Fact: At the time Claude Aubin purchased Autodrome St-Eustache, he was also the owner of Autodrome de Laval and the promoter of Autodrome St-Felicien. After two years spent running all three tracks, he decided in 1985 to focus all of his promotional efforts on St-Eustache. This led to him selling Autodrome de Laval to the city, which promptly closed the track and eventually turned it into a residential area.
ACT at Autodrome St-Eustache
To say that it took a while for the American-Canadian Tour to take hold at Autodrome St-Eustache would be an understatement. In the inaugural NASCAR North Tour season of 1979, the series made four stops at Circuit Deux-Montagnes – and three of the 100-lap events were won by eventual champion Beaver Dragon. But that would be the last time any Tom Curley-run series came to St-Eustache for 15 years. In 1994, ACT would finally make its first official appearance for a Sunoco Regional Series Region 3 event won by rising star Derek Lynch.
But the Regional Series lasted just one year, andthe ACT Pro Stock Tour shut down after the following season, leading to another long absence from greater Montreal. However, the Série Nationale Castrol LMS Quebec formed in 2005 and made seven stops at Autodrome St-Eustache over the next two seasons. When ACT acquired the series in 2007 and renamed it Série ACT Castrol, it marked the start – finally – of a long and successful ACT partnership with St-Eustache.
Série ACT would end up making 29 stops at the track over the next 11 seasons – an average of nearly three per year. It was a track where longer-distance events were often held, usually at the end of the season. Nearly half the ACT events at St-Eustache were either 200 or 300 laps, making it a place where man and machine were tested. The July 28, 2007 visit was also a combination event with the ACT Late Model Tour as part of the ACT-ion Super Series, bringing U.S. Late Model drivers to the track for the first time in nearly three decades. Patrick Laperle won that day, as he would come to do many times over the next decade. In fact, he made Autodrome St-Eustache his personal playground, winning 11 of the 29 events there – no other driver won more than three.
The year 2018 was looking to be another solid year for Série ACT at St-Eustache with two stops planned. However, the tour was shut down after a series of internal disputes. As a result, the September 2, 2017 event where Jonathan Bouvrette clinched his first Série ACT championship with a victory became the last series event at St-Eustache – and, in all likelihood, the last ACT-sanctioned event there altogether.
Random ACT Fact: While Beaver Dragon was the man to beat in the NASCAR North Tour’s single season of racing at St-Eustache, the first winner was none other than Claude Aubin. He took home the Montreal 100 on May 6, 1979 – just the second event ever for NASCAR North – and would purchase the facility less than four years later. The kicker is that it was also his first year as the owner of Autodrome de Laval, and he carried their colors to Victory Lane at what was then a rival track.
ACT’s Future at Autodrome St-Eustache
Barring a sudden unexpected turn, the history of ACT at St-Eustache appears to be written in stone. The track is about to embark on its 56th and final year of racing, making it a bittersweet swan song for everyone who has enjoyed racing there over the years. Regardless, ACT is proud to have played a role in the long history of this facility, and hopefully the memories remain alive as they have for other tracks.