My Weekend at the Canadian Superbike Championship

This epic race just east of Belleville, Ontario, makes a great weekend destination ride.
Motorcyclists racing on a track.

If you are a motorcyclist, there are three things you must do before the good Lord calls you home. Write these down.

  1. Ride the Long Sault Parkway during the golden hour.
  2. Ride a supersport bike (that includes you, Harley Boys).
  3. Hear the sound of 18 superbikes launching off a starting grid.

Well, I was able to do all three in one day by visiting The Canadian Superbike Championship races at Shannonville Motorsport Park over the May long weekend.

2 superbikes racing around a bend in the track at a racing event on a rummer day.
 The Canadian Superbike Championship // Photo credit Kevin Bushell

At $40 for the entire 3-day weekend, The CSBK races are the best deal in town. Friday is practice, Saturday is qualifying, and Sunday is the races. Because we were coming from Montreal, my buddy and I decided to camp trackside Saturday night and catch the races Sunday. We left Montreal and took a leisurely route along Highway 7 to Kaladar before turning south and riding Highway 41 down into Napanee. The track is off Highway 2 between Napanee and Belleville, just south of Highway 401.

two small tents set up next to a camper and a motorbike in a field of knee-length, very green grass. Behind them is a chainlink fence and green forest.
 If you’re not a camper, there are accommodations in nearby Belleville and Napanee. // Photo credit Kevin Bushell

We arrived late but, no problem, there was a guard at the gate who just took down our names and plate numbers and said to come in the morning to get our tickets and wristbands. After a little reconnaissance, we set up in time to catch the fireworks display, since it was the Victoria Day weekend. Quebec doesn’t celebrate Victoria Day so it was a treat.

2 large bursts of glowing red fireworks lighting up a black night sky. Dots of lights and tents are below them.
A great fireworks display at  Shannonville Motorsport Park. // Photo credit Kevin Bushell

The show was impressive, lasting about 15 minutes long. “It was better than the display in my hometown,” said the lady at the gate who sold us our tickets the next morning.

I’d brought my camping stove and cooking equipment but ended up not using it the entire weekend. Thankfully, there’s a family-run canteen at the track, and by the time I crawled out of my tent they were open and serving coffee and breakfast.

3 people standing in line at a concession booth window at a Superbike event. One is ordering at the window under a sign that says "order here". A menu is posted on the wall of the concession that reads "Victory Lap Cafe", and lists breakfast foods, sandwiches, grilled and fried foods.
Hot food on-site at the canteen. // Photo credit Kevin Bushell

One of the things I like about these races is that you can stroll through the paddocks and chat with the racers. They are friendly and happy to talk about bikes and racing. In fact, there’s very much a community feel to these races, with families and their dogs all enjoying the weekend.

You can check out the work being done on the bikes to prepare them for the races and see each’s set-up. If you are a tool nerd like me, you will find yourself in a little slice of paradise. I really liked this tool board one racer had made.

a stand-up pegboard with rows of motorbike repair tools mounted neatly to it.
Resourceful mechanics with their own favourite set-up. // Photo credit Kevin Bushell

You can see the blue and red threadlocker in the bottom left corner of the board, but I wondered what the third item was. I asked and he said it’s an orange liquid that hardens when dry, but instead of threadlocker that goes in the threads, you put this on at the joint after the bolt is tightened.

“It’s basically a lazy man’s version of safety wire,” he explained. He went on to say that he was the mechanic for his wife who, at the age of 64, was giving the teenagers a run for their money. RDS were there to cover the professional classes, but there’s a thriving amateur class as well.

We strolled on a little further and came upon the Kawasaki booth offering demo rides. I’m an ADV guy, but I’m always game to try a new bike and the next thing I knew I was showing my driver’s licence and signing up to test the ZX-6R supersport. My friend Steve used to ride a KZ650, so he took a ride down memory lane on a Z900RS.

The test ride was a real hoot—once I found the foot pegs. If you’ve never ridden a supersport, you have to at least once. The torque on the inline four-cylinder engine will have you hallucinating fireworks, and rev-matching as you downshift into corners will make you think you missed your calling as a racer. It’s great that some manufacturers are offering demo rides at these events, especially since it’s getting harder to find a dealer offering them.

By now the races were about to begin so we climbed up into the stands. As a pre-show, we were treated to some freestyle motocross, which I’d never seen before.

The CSBK organizers really put together a full package of events for those who love two wheels.

There were seven races throughout the afternoon, one for each of the national classes, and a pro race was up first. After the opening ceremonies, the racers took their formation lap and settled onto the starting grid. When the starting lights went out and the superbikes screamed down the opening straight, I will admit I had goosebumps. And what was even better was when they came around through the grandstand section at the end of the first lap. There’s a hairpin turn into it and you can see the bikes twitch as the top racers crack the throttle into the straight. At the end of the straight is a sweeping turn that they accelerate through so fast that it’s a little scary and surely humbling.

(The video doesn’t capture the sense of speed and power—you have to be there!)

In the opening race, Sebastien Tremblay rocketed off the starting grid from third to first. Ben Young, the 2023 champion and pole-sitter, clawed his way back and was poised to make a challenge on the penultimate lap when a radiator hose broke, spilling coolant onto his tire and sending him off the track. These are exciting races and the closest thing we have to MotoGP in the north-east. There are several top racers vying for the podium and no race’s outcome is predictable.

3 racers stand smiling on a low multi-level podium behind their parked motorbikes, posing with their first, second and third place trophies.
Photo credit Kevin Bushell

After several races, and with it getting late in the afternoon, we wandered back to pack up our tents and load the bikes. It would be highway back to Montreal, but we pulled off to enjoy the 1000-Islands Parkway and the Long Sault Parkway as the sun was beginning to set and golden light spilled across the water.

The CSBK circuit returns to Ontario August 9 - 11 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just east of Toronto in Bowanville and for the finale again at Shannonville August 30 – September 1. Whether you’re coming from Montreal or The United States, these tracks are within a day’s ride and make a great destination for you and your riding buddies. 

About Kevin Bushell

Kevin started riding in 2015 and quickly took to off-roading and adventure touring. He has travelled extensively across Canada and the northeastern states. In addition to writing about his travels, he writes poetry, and his book Invisible Sea—a collection of poems on the theme of flight—is published by DC Books. He is an English teacher at Vanier College and lives with his wife and border collie in Montreal.

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