A Donut Run for the Border
What does it take to cross the border into Canada? I bet your gut response is - a passport. Yes, this is true, but that's operating under the assumption that you're a race fan traveling across the border to see the gutsiest track on the schedule: Mosport (I mean Canadian Tire Motorsport Park). However, if you're driving a truck carrying millions of dollars worth of equipment, you better have more than a passport on you when you hit Peace Bridge or Port Huron etc.
The process for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón caravan to cross into Canada begins months before the race and with a lot of paperwork. Every truck crossing the border must submit paperwork detailing everything about who owns the truck, who's driving the truck (fingers crossed no one's been convicted of a crime!), where it will cross the border, what is on the truck, where it came from and how much it's all worth (yes, that includes the value of the truck). The team sends this paperwork to the incomparable Mr. Mike Simons, director of logistics at IMSA. Mike works with a broker hired by IMSA to input all the information into a customs database and create a "manifest" for each truck. This document has a barcode on it that customs agents can scan at the border and instantly retrieve all the information they need. In theory, this allows the truck to pass with ease.
Not all teams choose to work with the IMSA broker, but one of the major benefits of doing so is that IMSA puts up the required bond for border crossing. This bond needs to be enough to cover Canadian tax on any items that go into Canada but don't come back (which is a no-no as race teams don't have commercial licenses). The broker charges IMSA (several hundred dollars) per manifest, which IMSA then bills back to the team.
Each year there are horror stories about paperwork not filled out correctly, drivers not following instructions or just plain cranky customs agents. Best-case scenario, you're forced to pull aside and answer more questions; worst-case, he can make you unload everything on the truck. One might convince the agent to change his mind, however, if you inform him that you're carrying $3 million in Porsche parts and will be happy to send the customs office a bill for anything damaged…
Speaking of that, keep in mind that any truck carrying spares, tires, parts etc. will have to keep a record of everything they sell at the track and pay Canadian taxes on it when they return to the border.
Personally, I understand why Canada is so protective of its border… it needs to ensure the safety of its donuts. It's glorious, delicious donuts. Have you met my friend Tim Horton?
His donuts put all others to shame. There are more Tim Horton's in Canada than there are Starbucks in the U.S. I made the most of my week in Canada by stopping by a Timmy Ho's every morning. My favorites are the Old Fashioned Glazed, Chocolate Glazed and Sour Cream. (People tell me the coffee is good too, but I'm not a coffee drinker)
Now, to be fair, I conducted a very scientific experiment with the various donut chains of Canada. I purchased a sour cream donut from Tim Horton's, Coffee Time and Country Style (actually, I had to buy a cinnamon twist from CS because they didn't have sour cream - strike one!) Although I had high hopes for the CT donut, which you can see was larger and had more glaze (two very good qualities in a donut), the TH donut still won. It just had an extra smooth, luscious, spicy flavor to it, which the others lacked, though the CT donut was well-glazed and had good texture. The CS donut was dry, chewy and the glaze was melting (a.k.a. not fresh). Plus, the TH donut was the cheapest (0.90)! Canadian trivia note: The founder, Tim Horton, was a popular Canadian hockey player. He died when he crashed his De Tomaso Pantera, drunk, driving 100 mph on Queen Elizabeth Way. He was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from the car.
I put that nugget of trivia to the far back corners of my mind as I consumed the last of my Tim Bits (a.k.a. donut holes) and returned to the good old U.S. of A… where they have Circus Animal Cookies!