University Bridge in Saskatoon

University Bridge in Saskatoon crosses the South Saskatchewan River–photo taken from the Broadway Bridge. The Delta Bessborough Hotel towers over other buildings on the north shore.

Saskatoon–Saskatchewan’s bridge city–is the perfect getaway, no matter what kinds of attractions you’re looking for! There are lots of things to do, with something for every family member to enjoy.

We booked into Saskatoon for one of the summer’s biggest motorsports events–NASCAR Canadian Tire Series racing, plus the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association’s ninth race day of the season.

Saskatoon stock car races are held at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway. We’ve attended car racing all around the province and found this track to be absolutely awesome!

The checkered flag comes down on winners in this street stock class at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon.

The checkered flag comes down on winners in this street stock class at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon.

Open since 2006, Auto Clearing Motor Speedway [ACMS] is a 3/8 mile paved oval track. It features progressive banking with the straightaways at 5 degrees; corners 7, 9.5 and 11 degrees.

The precision of the banking makes this track Saskatchewan’s fastest from what I could see. But it all comes at a cost, and back in 2009 the provincial government helped finance track improvements in order to bring in the NASCAR event, which is called the Velocity Prairie Thunder 250.

You could say I’m hooked on motorsports after having raced snowmobiles for a decade, and I must admit that the weather conditions for spectators are certainly a lot better in the summer than the winter!

With a grandstand that can seat over 3000 spectators there are no bad seats.

We had our choice–sit above the start/finish line with the cars heading into corners one and two, or watch the cars come out of corner four racing toward the finish line, or stretch out on the grassy banks that rounded corners three and four.

Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, SK

Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, SK. NASCAR cars lined up for the start.

Tuesday night was first come, first served. No seats were assigned for this Saskatoon club points race–Wednesday’s NASCAR event was a different story, of course, as fans purchased advance tickets to ensure they got their favorite seats.

We decided on section F for both nights, which provided the perfect place to see the cars (and trucks!) inching past the competition as they rounded corners three and four, then hit the straightaway.

Competition was keen as cars thundered around the track!

Auto Clearing Motor Speedway is essentially an amphitheater with the track at the bottom of a large oval grassy “bowl,” making it a very safe track for fans and drivers alike. Sound, as in outdoor amphitheaters designed for plays and musical productions, carried well–there’s certainly no talking over a field of a dozen revving engines, that’s for sure.

So, don’t forget to take your noise cancelling headset or earplugs, unless you enjoy the sound of high performance engines like we do.

Stock car #56 doing a tire change during the NASCAR event in Saskatoon.

Stock car #56 doing a tire change during the NASCAR event in Saskatoon.

Luckily, in a week with lots of unsettled weather in the province, both race events ran under sunny skies–the track has light standards so we hardly noticed the transition to twilight then dark.

The pits and staging for drivers at ACMS are in the center of the oval track. I really enjoy this design, as it gives spectators a chance to see what’s happening before the event starts and when cars pull off the track.

I found watching those pit crews change tires in a few seconds is even more exciting in person than it is on tv!

With 250 laps in the NASCAR race, I had the opportunity to see quite a few stops. Luckily, the track also has the latest in electronic display equipment, so it was easy to keep track of what lap the race was on.

For the Velocity Prairie Thunder 250 we’d chosen to sit in row #1, so we were up close enough to feel the rubber pellets flying off tires, hear the engines roar, and feel the warmth the cars left in their wake as they rounded the track in front of us. We loved it!

And so did Scott Steckly, the two-time series champion who grabbed his second win at ACMS after taking away the checkered flag at the inaugural Saskatoon race in 2009.

While our Saskatoon visit was because of the NASCAR event this time, we certainly plan to attend more ACMS regularly scheduled races after discovering this excellent track!

This YouTube video from Randy Lewis will take you around the track in 2011:


Things to do in Saskatoon – Attend a stock car race