Circuit Trois-Rivières

August 20, 2019

One of the reasons I planned an overnight stop in Trois Rivières, Québec was that it is part way between Québec City and Ottawa, Ontario, my next multi-day stop.  The MAIN reason I planned an overnight stop there was so I’d have time to check out the race track.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a race fan – primarily NASCAR stock cars, though I enjoy other forms of racing as well.  For many years I have known that many major series (other than the NASCAR series I enjoy), at one time or another, have held, or continue to hold, races at “Three Rivers”.  Let’s talk about that name first….

My grasp of the French language isn’t very firm but even I know that Trois Rivières means Three Rivers.  Unlike Pittsburgh PA’s Three Rivers Stadium, which in named for the confluence of three rivers in that town, Three Rivers in Quèbec is named for only one – the Saint-Maurice River which has three “mouths” where it meets the St. Lawrence River:

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(Photo credit: cruisemapper.com)

The main downtown part of the city (where I ate dinner, anyway) is left of the river as seen in the photo above.  The two bridges in the upper left corner of the photo above carry Highway 40 just north of town and the racetrack is located on the opposite side of Highway 40 from town.

Now let’s talk about the race track.  Three Rivers, as far as auto racing is concerned, is what’s known as a street course.  Unlike a formal race track, like Indy or Charlotte, which are known as “closed courses” and are used exclusively for racing, a street course is a temporary track which is run largely on normal city streets which are, obviously, closed to the public for the duration of the event.  Temporary concrete barriers and chain-link fencing is installed at various points around the track to help confine the vehicles and protect the viewing public.  Once the event is completed those barriers are taken away and the streets are once again used by the public.

Here is a map showing the current configuration of the Three Rivers Circuit:

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(Photo credit: gp3r.com)

I say “current configuration” because I have seen other maps showing a different, slightly longer race surface.  In the map above, the orange band represents where the cars race.  In the bottom portion of the photo you see a gray oval.  That is a permanent HORSE race track known as the Hippodrome (a Greek and/or Roman term for venue).

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In researching this post I saw track configurations which included the car track encroaching on major parts of the Hippodrome, across the horse oval (which is NOT paved) as well as through the “infield,” and I am quite surprised to learn that ever was the case!

Well, I’m interested in CAR racing and given that the races were held several weeks before I was there I was now able to walk and drive on many of the areas where the cars raced.  These photos are in the order they were taken which, as it turns out, is almost the exact OPPOSITE of how the cars raced.  The cars travel counter-clockwise.  I parked in the Paddock to the left of the horse oval in the track configuration photo.

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The Stop sign in the photo above is moot.  First, the cars would be going through this turn in the opposite direction.  Second, it is likely covered or removed during the event.  By the way, the white and blue car you can see below the Stop sign is a police car, not a race car.  The brick building on the right side of the second photo of this sequence is a local police substation.

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The photos above were taken near the end of a normal “lap,” on the left side of the track map.  The following photos were taken near the beginning of a lap, on the right side of the track map.

Unlike a “regular” race track, cars make two 90-degree turns shortly after getting the green flag, right then left, and descend a slight hill towards this stone gate, then make a hard left turn (Turn 3)…

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… and continue away from the camera up this narrow city street and on to other parts of the course (Turns 4-11):

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As they descended down the straightaway towards the 3rd turn they passed the racetrack “office” on top of the hill to the right as seen below:

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GP3R is the abbreviation for Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, what the marquee event held at the track is called.