|The Chevette race began with a single file standing start.
The much larger Rubber Class races begin with a rolling start
with the field gridded in two-by-two formation.
Don Pohl was ranked 15th in the season's Rubber Class points standing, so I am gridded in his place, on the inside of the eight row, 15th on the grid.
There is a mix of thirty-one FWD and RWD cars, all on regular rubber winter tires, taking the start of this first Rubber race. Similar to the system used for the first Chevette race, the starter is positioned at the beginning of the straightaway after the zig-zig following the finish line.
|The moment the flag drops the snow started flying and, Omigod, I can't see a darn thing...|
|In grid formation, we round the corner onto the straight, the flag
drops, and we're off.
Chris Zuke is beside me in the Green #98. Ahead of me is Jim Graham in Red #78, Chris Brandt in Silver #71, and Colin Lolacher in the Black #3 Chevette.
|Spoiled as I am from starting on Pole in the previous Chevette race,
I am now completely unprepared for the truly miserable lack of visibility
here in mid-field.
Whereas I'm initially hesitant, Chris Zuke gamely charges away into the blizzard on my right.
I decide to go as far left as I can to escape the blowing snow and slot in behind Jim Graham, barely visible up ahead on the left.
|As the field slows for the hairpin turn, the speeds drop and the
flying snow diminishes.
It's not bad at all here.
Chris Zuke is tight alongside me on the right.
|Trying too hard to stay in touch with Jim, I make a mistake here by
giving a bit too much throttle on the exit of the hairpin.
The rear end swings to the right and I have to walk the car sideways a bit in order to keep it pointed down the straight. As a result, because I've moved away from the left snowbank, I'm now back in the middle of the thick flying snow.
Furthermore, I've given Chris Zuke an opening on my left and he slides right in.
|Oh, man. This is crazy, nuts, NUTS!
We're in 3rd gear about halfway down the first section of the back straight, approaching the left-right kink, and I'm completely blind.
I have no idea of what's ahead or behind me, but Chris Zuke is tight on my left side, and one of those damn FWD cars is squeezing me from the right.
I'm not exactly sure when, but sometime very soon we will need to turn left into the kink. I'm absolutely certain this will not end well if we go blindly charging in there three abreast.
|Sometimes this game reaches a point where we need to bring out the
cojone calipers to find out who has the big ones.
But I'm painfully aware of the fact that I'm driving someone else's car, and that I have an unfortunate history of abusing this privilege.
So I decided that it's far too early in the weekend to be gambling with this high level of risk. I did the sensible thing and backed out of it.
Okay, in others words, I chickened out first.
|A gap in the snow storm provides a brief glimpse of what lies ahead
in the kink.
Watch in the video how spooky it is as, one-by-one, the cars disappear from view as they punch into that wall of snow hanging in the air up ahead.
|Note by how far we've all missed the apex here on this right turn.
You wonder about the idiots you hear of on the news sometimes where a hundred cars pile into each other on a highway somewhere because they were driving too fast in the fog.
And here we're paying good money to do exactly that, just for fun!?!
|We're up to speed on the second part of the back straightaway and
the snow is flying again.
I'm searching for a clearer view over to the left, but I don't want to go too far left and get a nasty surprise by blindly discovering the snowbank is closer than I thought.
I'm also trying to keep Chris Zuke's car in sight. He's my only reference point in this blizzard. I should be okay as long as I keep pace with him.
Nonetheless, I'm keeping my feet close together in case I need to start clicking my heels and chanting, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home..."
Note to self:
|I can't see a thing.
In my head I'm imagining a perfectly clear view of the track, and I'm counting down the distance to where I picture the left turn should be.
I wasn't even halfway through my countdown when Chris surprised me by suddenly jumping on the brakes!
I'm forced to swing left to avoid rear-ending Zuke's car. Had I been following directly behind him, I'm sure I would have hit him.
|It was so premature to be braking this early for the corner that I
actually had time to get back on the gas for a moment before slowing again.
In the process I drive down the inside of Chris Zuke and take the corner from him.
Note how much the visibility improves in the corners where everyone flings the snow off to the outside.
|Chris is still beside me on the right when...
...wait a moment, what the heck is that?!
It's Konrad Komuniecki's #46 Chevette being towed away. But how did he get up there ahead of us? He started behind us and this is still just the first lap. His car must have died on the warmup lap before the race even started.
More importantly, if there's a tow truck on the track in this corner, that means there must have been a yellow flag flying at the previous marshalling station.
Ya right. Did you see any yellow flags?!? Heck, I didn't even see any marshalls!
|Nonetheless, it's a dead certainty that the observant marshalls have
already reported the fact that I just passed Chris Zuke in a yellow flag
Not only that, but Chris realises what's happening as well, because he's leaning on his horn to warn me to get back behind him.
|I get out of the throttle to allow Chris to regain his position, hoping this will be enough to appease the ever-vigilant marshalls. Otherwise I can expect to be penalised a full lap.|
|Rounding the final turn onto the Pits straight, the cars are
beginning to string out and visibility is improving.
Ahead of me are, Chris Zuke in the Green #98, Chris Brandt in Silver #71, Hiroki Currie in the #66 FWD Festiva, and Jim Graham in Red #78.
|Over the finish line and into the first right turn, I notice that
Chris Brandt in Silver #71 is still exiting this turn too wide.
And Zuke appears to be doing it too.
My tight line does make me slower than them here in this turn, but it should result in a quicker exit than either of them from the critical left-hander coming up.
|Sure enough, because he approached the left-turn from the left side
of the track, #71 now runs out of room on the exit and biffs the
I was really hoping to pass Zuke on the left, but he's taking evasive action and swerves left to avoid Chris Brandt's potentially spinning car.
|So I try to pass on the right side instead. Except I can't see
anything again because of all the snow flung into the air by Brandt's
All of this crazy action took place in just the first lap of the Rubber race. I don't know if I can take much more of this. I'm already debating whether I have enough time for a quick pitstop to change my shorts...
Unfortunately the tape ran out in my video camera shortly after this, so I have no record of Hiroki Currie's Festiva later hitting me and spinning me around in the first corner after the finish line...
I started this race 15th of 31 entrants. At the end of the race Jim Graham, Colin Lolacher, and I were classified 8th, 9th, and 10th respectively. Chris Brandt is shown as 13th, and Chris Zuke must have fallen victim to some catastrophe as he was listed way down in 21st.