|The 30-minute Relay Race is a just-for-fun special event held at the
very end of the Western Canadian Ice Race Championship weekend.
The relay teams consist of three cars -- one each chosen from the
Chevette class, the Rubber class, and the Studded class.
The teams decide for themselves the order in which they want to run their cars. That means there may be Studded cars from some teams running on the track at the same time as Rubber cars from other teams. Each car must run for 10 minutes. The winning team is the one whose three cars cover the greatest combined number of laps within the 30 minutes.
|This is the start of the Relay Race.
Of course, I'm involved in a collision in the first corner, again...
||Our relay team consisted of me in the yellow #79 car (Chevette Class), running first...|
||...and, running second, Bill Calaghan in his #74 rocket-powered
Mazda wagon (Studded Class).
The poor quality of this image does not do any justice to this car.
The blue Mazda is highly modified, with the driver's seating position moved into the rear seat for better traction. Its Wankel rotary engine emits an eardrum-piercing banshee scream when run at its full 200,000 rpm redline.
||Running third in our relay team was Diedrich Will in the #27 Honda Civic.|
|The Relay Race begins with a modified Le Mans start.
At the drop of the flag a team mate has to run across the pitlane and tag the car before we can take off.
Thankfully the drivers are allowed to wait in their cars already fully belted in.
It usually takes me forever to do up my helmet, seat belt harness, and window net. When I slam the door closed, the outside mirror always need readjusting, so I have to undo the window net again to reach the mirror. By then, after coming into the warm car from the cold outside, my eyeglasses will have fogged up inside my helmet...
|I suppose I could have been a bit more aggressive on the start.
But, our team was positioned at the absolute farthest end of the pitlane; I didn't want to run over anyone who might have slipped and fallen in the dash across the icy pitlane; I didn't want to hit any other cars in the pitlane; I certainly didn't want to hit any of the multimillion dollar Unlimited Studded cars crowded in the pits; I'd otherwise survived the weekend pretty much unscathed and this Relay Race didn't count for points; and I really wanted to be able to return the car to Jim in a "generally rectangular" condition at the conclusion of the weekend.
|Still, it wasn't a bad start. I'm right with all the other
But, as has been happening all weekend long, the black, rainbow-coloured, and orange Chevettes of Jay Esterer, Mark Stevens, and Kevin Sakaluk easily outdrag me on the long straight.
|I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that, unless they make a
mistake somewhere, I'm not likely to ever catch that fast trio.
But I'm convinced I'm quicker than Gord McKay in the #15 Chevette.
Notice how the group ahead has approached the hairpin turn from the extreme right edge of the track and how they are already well into their turn.
Compare that to the line used by #15 on his approach to the corner. He will almost certainly slide wide on the exit.
|To complicate matters, the Relay Race was run immediately following
the last Rubber Class race. The ice surface is really
polished. There is no grip to be found in the braking area for the
hairpin. All of the Chevettes overshoot the apex by a wide margin.
Check the steering angle on the front wheels of #15. As a result of his too fast and tight approach into the hairpin, Gord is now fighting vicious understeer as he struggles to slow his car enough to drag the nose around the turn.
In the video you can see that I also ran too fast and deep into the corner and at this point I'm fighting to get my car turned around inside of #15.
|Okay. I've got my car hooked up again and I'm ready to
#15 is still really slow at this point. I'm confident I will get a better run than him from here, so I expect to end up beside him, or maybe even ahead on the exit. Either way I plan to leave him just a car-width of running space on my right as we head onto the straight.
At this point my attention is already focused on the group ahead. I'm wondering if there's any chance of me slotting in there somewhere as they jostle four abreast.
But then #15 spins in front of me.
|Wait a sec!
What's wrong with this picture?
Where is he going?!
|I'm already at the very limit of traction, and cannot pull any
And it's way too late now to try swinging to the right. I would just end up hitting him in the door.
I can only stand on the brakes and go straight in.
|Fortunately Chevettes have sturdy bumpers, and the impact was not
The worst part was that it took a long long time before he finally moved out of my way.
By then everyone else had long ago disappeared over the horizon. So we were not only dead last, but dead last by an embarassingly huge margin.
Did I mention that the ice is really slick?
Watch on the video how frustratingly long it takes to scrabble back up to racing speed with normal rubber tires on slick ice when starting from a complete standstill.