2001 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Chevette Race #3 - Red Flag!

Saturday, March 3, 2001

Jim is starting to wonder about my poor finishes so far.  He's been up fighting with the leaders while I'm floundering about at the back of the pack.  I'm convinced there's something wrong with the car.  I've made a few mistakes, okay.  But it's more than that.  The car is down on power.

In the few minutes available to us between sessions, Jim performs quick surgery on my car and swaps carburettors.  The carb jets are one of the few things allowed to be modified in this spec series.  Jim insists that I've already got the "good" carb.  Don Pohl has scored two podium finishes this season with this car using this carb.  Nonetheless something is definitely wrong now and, not knowing what else to change, we swap in an older carb.

It didn't help.  Not only that, but now the throttle linkage sticks...

Coincidently, Kevin Sakaluk has been complaining of poor performance in his Orange #8 car having finished only 4th, 7th, and 13th in Saturday's three Chevette races.  Jim lends him our "good" carb and Kevin promptly finishes 1st and 2nd in Sunday's two Chevette races!  Sheesh.  Of course there was a little more to that story besides the carburettor change -- something about discovering a touque stuffed in his engine's air inlet...

Anyway, this is the start of Chevette Race #3 on Saturday, again with a standing start from the pitlane.

I finally make a reasonable start, so of course the race is immediately stopped with a Red Flag...

#12 #11 #10 #9 #2 #1 #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3
Track Layout Track Layout
Track Layout
Track Layout

Back to Map 01 Expecting great things from my new carburettor, I'm starting this third Chevette Race from 6th on the grid behind the dark blue/white stripes Chevette of Paul Maire.
Back to Map 02 Paul, in #37, makes a great start, launching his car all the way to the right, and immediately moving past three cars into 2nd place.

That's what I want to be doing too!

Back to Map 03 In the run down the long straight I manage to pass only #54.  But after shifting up to third gear, I'm only keeping pace with the other cars, not gaining on them at all.

In fact, #88 has just passed me.  He started 7th, right behind me.  But he's left his braking very late and will slide too deep to the outside of the turn, and I will surely get ahead of him again.

Although it is encouraging to still find myself with the front of the pack as we enter the hairpin, it is disheartening to realise that I'm only just as fast as the slowest cars.  Remember, due to the inverted starting grid, it's the slowest cars starting up front.

But, for a refreshing change, none of the fast cars have come up to pass me yet before the hairpin...

Back to Map 04 I already know I'll get past #88, because he's run too deep, and I have a good shot at also passing #3 if I could just cut inside him at the apex.

But, damn.

My path is blocked by the Red #78 of Jim Graham, who passes me cleanly on the left in his charge up from a 13th spot grid position!

Back to Map 05 Not only that, but...


I get clouted by Jay Esterer's black #9 as he (up from 17th!!) barges past me on the left.

You can tell it was a big hit from the way my helmet bounces around.

Back to Map 06 I've already been fighting with understeer.  The car just doesn't want to turn into the corner.  With this sudden extra shove from Jay, I now have no hope of turning into the apex and am forced to run much wider around the hairpin.

Fortunately no one else was close enough to take advantage of my leaving the door open like this.  I was expecting everyone else to squeeze right into the gap, but nobody did.

Note the fresh damage to the front fender of Jay's #9 car.

Note also how #88 is bogging down in the deep snow at the far edge of the track.

Back to Map 07 Still struggling to regain control, Jay's #9 car pendulums sideways and slows in front of me, forcing me to swing even wider off line to avoid him.
Back to Map 08 As a result, I'm really slow on the exit of the hairpin.

Look at how Jim in #78 has cut inside and passed the #3 car of Colin Lolacher.  That's exactly what I had hoped to be doing, but things haven't been turning out the way I think they should.

Back to Map 09 Nonetheless, this has been my best start so far of the weekend.

If I'm counting this right, I've passed one car #54, been passed by #88 but got him back exiting the hairpin, and been passed by Jim Graham #78 and Jay Esterer #9.

So, as we enter the fast left/right kink on the back straight, the net result is I've lost only one position since the start and am now running in 7th spot.

Back to Map 10 We're flying at this point, full on the gas in 3rd gear.  Luckily visibility is not a problem since there is a bit of a gap between me and the group of cars up ahead.

Jay in #9 blasts around the outside of Colin in #3, while...


That guy (marked with the arrow) is completely stopped, square on the racing line!

Oh man, that's a really bad spot to be stopping at this point in the race.  He's going to get creamed if someone doesn't see him in time.

Back to Map 11     JEEEZ!!!

Now Colin is stopping right in front of me!

I swerve around Colin to get clear of this dangerous corner before realising that everybody is stopping.

That's when I first notice the red flags flying at each flagging station.

Back to Map 12 Something bad must have happened somewhere behind me on the start.  That usually means someone has rolled their car.

Everybody comes to a stop and waits until the safety car comes around to collect us and leads us back to the pits, where we form up and wait for a restart.

#13 13 We find out that two cars have crashed on the straightaway leading to the first hairpin, and both cars rolled over.

Steve Flewwelling's Purple #2 car doesn't look all that bad as it's being towed back to the paddock on the end of a rope.  The roof lights were smashed as the car rolled over, but otherwise there doesn't appear to be a lot of damage.

Nonetheless, the car suffered some terminal injury to its driveline and Steve, previous champion and always a strong contender, is forced to retire for the rest of the weekend.

#14 14 Much more dramatic is the damage inflicted on the Red #98 Chevette of Chris Zuke!
#15 15 Amazingly, after shovelling the broken glass out of the back of the car and slapping a new lens on his roof light, Chris continued to drive this car in the remaining races.

Of course now he had an advantage due to the streamlined fastback body style of his slightly modified car...

ASF format
ASF format
Here is the video clip;
RedFlag.asf (1.0M)
  There are plenty of lessons to be learned from this incident.
  • No matter how bad it looks, never give up. 
  • No matter how good it looks, and no matter how good a start you've made, something will always happen to surprise you.
  • No matter what else is happening around you, have a look at the flagging stations every now and then...
  Watch those yellow flags!

On the subject of not looking at flags often enough...

Take a look at what happened to me in my other racing adventures (driving the 1967 Lotus in Grand Prix Legends) when I failed to notice a waved yellow flag.

See the full story and video at http://icerace.crosswinds.net/Gpl/GPL-Spa.htm.

When the green flag is waved for the restart, I make a fabulous start!

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