|This is the first Chevette race of the day, starting from
I managed to complete only one clean race lap before the banging started...
Images #1, #2, #3 and 4 show the opening lap. Not much
happened there. The real action and the video clip starts at
image #5 as we approach the finish line to start the second lap...
|The green flag is waved, and we're off! All sorts of strange
things are going on right here at the start.
For one thing, I was forced to start dead last in 18th spot. The Chevette races feature a standing start, with a full grid inversion. That means the fastest guys are at the back, and the slowest at the front. Since this is the first time I've raced this year, my name wasn't on the list so they stuck me at the very back. Oh well, nobody said this was going to be easy.
The next strange thing is the car of Paul Maire ahead of me, with the white stripes. He would normally be starting much further up the grid. Ahead of him are the truly quick cars; the yellow car of Landon Goudreau, purple Steve Flewwelling, orange Kevin Sakaluk, and red Jim Graham.
New for this year, the Chevette race starts are all done in single file. That means 18th is a LONG way back from the front of the grid! It would have been handy to have some binoculars to help spot the flagman when he waved the green flag at the head of the line.
The other really strange thing was that, to save time, the organisers decided to start us right from the pitlane. That meant starting blind with no warmup reconnaisance lap.
The pits are more than adequately wide at this point, but the whole thing funnels right down at the pit exit. I was worried we'd all end up in a heap, before we'd even left the pitlane!
|Maybe it was because the bizarre start procedure left my nerves jangling. Or
maybe it was because I swore I'd be more careful to not damage the car
this year. In any case, it immediately became apparent that I'd been
overcautious on the start!
In my mind, I had pictured myself latching onto one of the quicker cars in front of me. I would then follow right along as they carved their way past the slower cars and worked their way to the front.
Instead, everyone seems to be disappearing into the distance as I find myself being left behind.
|I had hoped to pass several cars in the drag race down the long
front straight to the hairpin. I did recover a bit of lost
ground. But I'm still dead last at this point, although not
for much longer...
Over on the right, #81 has run too deep and is struggling to get back up to speed. Landon Goudreau in the yellow #31 is getting pinched by Steve Flewwelling in the purple #2, forcing Landon to stay tight left on the exit.
Paul Maire is still directly ahead of me in the dark blue with white stripes #37. But he chooses to follow Landon and also keeps tight to the left on the exit of the hairpin.
Being dead last already I'm not worried about anyone trying to pass me, so I have the luxury of running a wide conservative entry into the hairpin to set up for a better exit.
From here I can accelerate using the FULL width of the track, crossing behind #37, slotting in well ahead of #81, and making up all kinds of ground to find myself right on the rear bumper of Lionel McKernan's #55.
That was neat.
|#81 is well behind me now, and Paul Maire in #37 is just
behind off to my left. I'm not certain whether it's safe to squeeze
him out yet, so I leave Paul lots of room as we enter the left turn on
the back straight.
This is the corner where I spun in the earlier practice session.
Not too bad so far. I made up for my slow start by passing two cars.
|As we complete the first lap, the fast yellow, red, and purple cars
of Goudreau, Graham, and Flewwelling are still in sight up ahead.
I still consider myself in good shape at this point.
Crossing the finish line to complete the first lap, rookie Hiroki Currie wags the tail of his #54 car. In comparison, veteran Lionel McKernan gets the power down smoothly and pushes his way up the inside into the following right hand corner.
But that's a very tricky spot to try an inside pass. I see an opportunity developing here and I close in to make the best of it.
|Hiroki is not leaving much room for Lionel into the right hander.
Lionel is forced to cut the corner a bit and climbs the inside snowbank.
|As Lionel's car drops back down off the snowbank, he slides wide and
nudges door-to-door against Hiroki forcing both cars to slide over to the left.
I have a good run on both of them and ease past on the right.
Yes! I'm brilliant. I'm making encouraging progress now.
They're both still running side by side to my left, on the racing line, where there is lots of traction from the previous studded car practice session.
I, however, suddenly find myself outside of the tractionised groove, out on the completely slick ice surface with no grip whatsoever.
Lionel easily pulls ahead, while I just barely stay alongside Hiroki on the long run down to the hairpin.
|This is where things start getting out of hand.
Conscious of being chased hard down the straightaway, Lionel goes a little too deep under braking into the hairpin.
I really want to turn left and cut inside him at this point, except I still have Hiroki immediately beside me. I'm afraid to turn across in front of him because I suspect Hiroki will hit me if I try it.
|Then I realise that Hiroki cannot turn left yet either because Paul
Maire is charging up the inside of him as we approach the hairpin three cars
But Paul has completely misjudged his braking!!!
He streaks across our path seemingly intent on torpedoing Lionel's car.
|Amazingly Paul missed us all and flies off to the right, now
presumably targetting that other hapless victim who's already stuck over
there in the outside snowbank.
I get a light tap from Hiroki's rear bumper as he struggles to keep control of his car.
That was my first incident of contact for the weekend...
|Lionel, accelerating hard on the throttle, smoothly drifts his green
car sideways all the way out to the far snowbank. Intent on
catching Lionel, I would also prefer to be arcing out to the right edge of the
But because Hiroki has come at this hairpin with a much tighter approach than I did, I'm expecting him to slide wide on the exit. I'm thinking my wider entrance to the corner should now allow me to cut inside him to the left as we both exit the hairpin.
But, to my surprise, instead of unwinding the steering and giving his car free rein to accelerate, Hiroki still has his front wheels cranked hard over to the left.
|When he finally does get on the power, Hiroki's car immediately spins
in front of me.
I desperately try to pull even further left to avoid him, but I run out of room and punch hard into the front corner of his car.
Remarkably little damage resulted to either car from this impact. I think my bumper must have hit only the corner of his bumper.
That was the second incident of contact.
|The impact to his front corner spun Hiroki's car back around to the
right, causing the tail end of his car to slap against mine.
That third hit was so hard it caused my video camera to skip several frames!
The tail slap actually inflicted the most damage of all the hits I took over the weekend. All of the bondo, lovingly applied to fill the scars of previous battles (by Don Pohl, who regularly drives this car), promptly fell out of the right rear fender on my car. And the right tail light assembly was shattered.
On ice it takes forever to get back up to speed, and I now watch in frustration as Lionel disappears far into the distance.
Had I not hit Hiroki, I would have been that much further down the track by now. Instead I've helped him by spinning his car back in the right direction and he's now accelerating back up to speed on my right. I give a frustrated wave and point over to the right edge of the track, wondering how we both ended up so far off line to the left.
|This is what the damage looked like after we taped together the remains of the right tail light assembly.
Although it took 5 more laps, I came very close to catching Lionel. But another near miss put an end to that...