Circuit type: Temporary street course
The Citadel Hill street circuit was a relatively short-lived experiment with street racing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home to the Moosehead Grand Prix between 1990 and 1993. Run on the roads around the star-shaped historic military fort, the circuit hosted the Moosehead Grand Prix, with a variety of single-seat and close-roof categories taking part over its lifetime.
The origins of the race lie with the successes of the street circuit races in Toronto, sponsored by the Molson brewing company, and the Labatt's-backed Formula One race in Montreal, other cities across Canada began looking at hosting their own events. Civic leaders were impressed by the opportunity to project a 'world-class' image and began exploring the opportunities with sponsors and promoters. Vancouver soon hooked up with Molson to promote a second Indycar race, while Halifax paired with the Moosehead Brewing Company, Canada's oldest independent brewery, for its venture into high octane action.
It helped that the chairman of the Moosehead brewery, Derek Oland, was a keen amateur racer himself, plus lobbying by prominent local racers like Frank McCarthy brought the event to reality. At the end of the 1990 season, the Moosehead Grand Prix was born, with headlining events from the Rothmans Porsche Cup and the American Indycar Series (the second-tier category which had been established by Bill Tempero two years previously).
The racers found a roughly bow-tie-shaped 1.2-miles course, which started and finished on Rainnie Drive, though the pits and paddock were located at the opposite end on Cogswell Street. A new stretch of tarmac had been laid linking Cogswell Street and Bell Road, which incorporated the pit exit. Grandstands were also erected elsewhere around the course, while the grass banks of the Citadel proved an ideal watching spot overlooking the start and finish for many spectators.
The circuit was fairly bumpy and narrow, with few real opportunities for overtaking, though it still provided plenty of action. The Porsche race was won by David Tennyson, though it was notable for a nasty collision between Uli Bieri and Ron Fellows at the chicane, which pitched both cars into the barriers, fracturing the fuel line on Fellows' car and creating a blaze just below one of the TV camera platforms. Fortunately for all involved, the blaze was soon extinguished and Fellows was helped from his car without serious injury.
Bill Tempero proved the victor in the inaugural running of the American Indycar Series round the Halifax streets, though many of the competitors felt that the circuit's tight corners and short, narrow straights were not ideal for the high-powered single seaters.
Around 30,000 spectators turned out for the inaugural event, which was an encouraging start, if not quite a rip-roaring success on the scale of the Toronto or Vancouver events. The late-season nature of the race meant for colder weather and the race benefitted from warmer days when it switched to the spring for it's final running.
For 1991, there were a number of improvements, with several barriers moved further back to provide a wider course, but bigger changes came the following year, when the chicane was reversed and tightened as a result of the pit lane being switched to the opposite side of Cogswell Street. It did little to ease the basic tightness of the course however, which tended to promote more than its fair share of incidents. Indeed, in the headline American Indycar race that year, only 12 of the 15 entered cars made it to the start and, at race's end, only four were left running, the majority dropping out with mechanical failures.
It was perhaps not surprising that the Indycars did not return for 1993, instead replaced by the Formula Atlantic series and an overseas visit from the British Formula 2 Series (run to Formula 3000 rules). But while the switch to spring brought better weather and improved crowds, it would prove to be the last race run in Citadel Hill Park. The Atlantic Grand Prix company, established by Moosehead to run the race, handed over the reins to John Graham's Motorsport Management outfit, which elected to switch to a new venue for 1994.
So it was that after just four years, the Moosehead Grand Prix moved across the river to Shearwater Air Force base, leaving the downtown streets to fall silent to the sound of racing engines forever.
The Citadel Hill Street Course was located on public roads next to Citadel Hill in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. While the majority of the road layout has remained similar to when the race was held, today a new roundabout means that the section of road where the chicane and final turn were located has been dramatically altered, meaning any future return of racing would be unlikely.