|The weather early Saturday morning was clear, sunny, and wickedly cold. After we gave it a shot of quick-start ether, the engine started okay on #79. But I needed both hands on the gearshift lever to drag the transmission into neutral. And then the engine quit the moment I let the clutch out. I had to let it idle for five minutes with my foot on the clutch pedal before the engine warmed up enough to turn the gearbox over in neutral. Yup, it was really good and cold.|
|This year's track layout was roughly similar to last year's. But in an effort to keep speeds down to reasonably safe levels, the straightaways were shortened and the corners squared off. I thought the track was a lot more challenging and fun in this configuration.|
|All the cars first have to run through Tech Inspection in the Pitlane.
The officials and corner marshalls in the background are having their morning meeting, trying to convince each other that the weather will eventually warm up.
These stoic volunteers from the Lac La Biche Lakeland Classic Wheels Club and the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club make the Western Canadian Ice Race Championship such a great event. These people volunteer to stand out on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, suffering frostbite, windburn, and sunburn, in order that we can have fun racing around in our heated cars.
|Still early in the paddock. Many competitors have yet to
Spectators are still having breakfast someplace warm.
|The snow clearing equipment makes final adjustments to widen the pit exit.|
|Jim Graham is installing a set of Blizzak tires on "Fast-78".
In the foreground is the Yellow #31 Chevette of Landon Goudreau.
|Green #79 idling happily now.
Here's a 60-sec panaromic video clip of the paddock (images 1-5) as viewed from the grandstand. Due to the high compression factor used, the ASF clip has a low-resolution jumpy image quality with mono sound. The identical clip in uncompressed MPEG format has much better image quality and stereo sound. Note that the MPEG file size is also 20 times larger.
|Colin Locher's #25 Mazda RX7.
Similar in concept to the spec Chevette series which runs on street legal Bridgestone Blizzak rubber tires, there is a spec RX7 series which runs on limited studded tires.
|The front tire of Colin's RX7.
Bolts are run out through the tire carcass. A threaded collar is welded to each bolt to hold it in place. The protruding end of the bolt is cut to the maximum regulation length and ground into a chisel point.
The RX7 class is limited in the number of studs allowed, hence the wide spacing between the bolts.
|The studs on the rear wheels are reinforced with large washers to
prevent the bolts tearing out of the tire on this Rear-Wheel-Drive RX7.
To keep the wheels inflated, the tires need to have liners and inner tubes. The local tire shop must really love it when these guys come in asking to have their tires balanced!
|Competitors in the Unlimited Studs Class are allowed to put as many
bolts as they please through their tires. There is a practical
limit though. Punch too many holes through the tire and eventually
the perforated tire carcass is no longer strong enough to retain the
bolts. Especially on some of the really high-powered cars.
|This is Lionel McKernan, a.k.a. "Can't drive, 55".
I have somewhat of a reputation [untrue] of being hard on cars. So
when Lionel greeted me, he jokingly asked,
Sheesh. They're never going to let me forget that. It was three years ago when I last rolled the car. And it never actually went upside-down. The car only rolled onto its side.
But my spies inform me that earlier this season Lionel flipped his own #55 car right over onto its roof!
|This is what they use to test whether the ice is thick enough!