2002 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Chevette Race #2

(Burst my Bubble)

Saturday, March 2, 2002

I am really pleased at how this second Chevette race turned out.

Like I said before, I believe Jim Graham and I are evenly matched in skill and experience.  It's a lot of fun racing with him.  But I'm sure Jim would agree with me that the real competition is going to come from those two guys who finished ahead of us.

It takes more than a good car and some luck to win at this game.  You also need to make fewer mistakes than anyone else.  There's a lot of thinking required during any race.  It's not just a question of who is fastest or bravest.  It's also very much a question of who's the smartest and who makes the right decisions at the right times.  It's a high speed game of chess and you need to be paying attention all the time.

Landon Goudreau and Kevin Sakaluk are undoubtedly the two quickest and smartest drivers in the Chevette Class.  Quick and smart is a tough combination to beat and it's why those two always end up winning Championships.  I'm still not convinced that I'll ever manage to get into the same league as either of them.  But with the encouraging results of this race, I was just starting to realize that it might actually be possible for me to finish the weekend ahead of both of them in the points standings!

I won the first Chevette race mostly due to the blind luck of getting to start from Pole position, and I finished 3rd in this race.  Landon finished 5th in the first race, and won this one.  Kevin finished 3rd and 2nd, and Jim was 2nd and 4th.

As we drive around to the pits on our cool down lap, I add up the points in my head and come to the startling realisation that I'M IN THE LEAD!!!  This is too good to be true.

Sure enough, right away something happens to burst my bubble...

  #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1
Track Layout Track Layout
Track Layout
Track Layout

Back to Map 01 After crossing the finish line, we continue around on a cool down lap, then peel off here into the pitlane.  That's Landon and Kevin ahead of me.

Have I mentioned yet that I finished 3rd in this race?

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm feeling quite pleased with myself at the moment, and I'm still gloating over my daring last lap outside pass on Jim.  Damn I'm good!

There's just one more gauntlet to run before we're home free.

Back to Map 02 Waiting on the left is a group of senior officials, consisting of the clerk of the course, the chief steward, the official executioner and hangman, etc.

If you are involved in any incident on the track, such as contact with another vehicle, the corner marshalls will report you by radio to these people.  After the race, if you've been involved in such an incident, you are required to stop your car before this group and explain your actions to them.

These guys wield enormous power and, depending on the severity of the infraction, they have the discretion to assess various penalties.  You could receive a public flogging and be kicked out of the event, or you may get off with just a stern reprimand.  You could be assessed a one lap penalty in the finish results.  Or you might have to start the next race from the penalty box, where you'll be forced to cool your heels and wait patiently while the rest of the pack gets the green flag and disappears from sight until the Steward decides you've suffered enough and lets you join the race.

You really don't want to mess with these guys.  These are people to be treated with the utmost respect.  You don't ever want to give them an excuse to get mad at you.

Back to Map 03 These people carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders on our behalf to ensure that this event is run smoothly and safely, so that we can all enjoy ourselves without the fear that any one of us would be allowed to run rampant and create mayhem on the track.

I didn't hit anyone, get hit by anyone, or do anything bad.  I thought I drove a smart race.  So, innocent of any wrongdoing, and with a clear conscience, I sail straight past without even slowing.

That's Hal on the left with the white hair, and Uwe.

It gives me goosebumps now looking at this picture.  I can see Hal is pointing at me.  But I didn't notice that at the time because I was looking over to the right, at the lady wearing the orange safety vest.

Back to Map 04 That's Sally Burkell.  She's one of the many volunteers that stands out here in the cold all day long.  It's her job to organise everyone in the pitlane into the proper order on the pre-grid.

Sally is always so friendly and cheerful when, as in previous years, she leans into my window to inform me once again with a happy smile, "You'll be starting right at the back of the pack."

So this time, as I drive past her in the pits, I'm looking at her and waving, thinking, "Look at me!  I'm not last anymore.  I'm actually leading the points standings!  Damn I'm good!"

Because I'm busy waving and smiling at her, I don't notice that off to the left Uwe is shaking his clipboard in the air trying to get my attention...

Back to Map 05

I almost drove right past them before someone shouted,  HEY!

Stunned, I turn and ask,  Me?!?

Chevette Race 2 (Burst my Bubble) - ASF format
Chevette Race 2 (Burst my Bubble) - MPG format
  If you already know ahead of time that you're guilty of some offence, you can make constructive use of the time available during the cool down lap to try to concoct a plausible excuse to present in your defence to Hal and Uwe.  But this came at me straight out of the blue.

I was sure they had me confused with someone else.  I had no idea whatsoever of what I could have done wrong until they asked me whether or not I had passed #78 (that's Jim Graham) at any time during the race.  Still baffled, I reply that I did indeed pass Jim, right on the very last lap, and it was a brilliant pass, there wasn't anything wrong with that, was there?  Please say it ain't so.

No.  It was earlier in the race.

I really can't remember that far back.  No, wait a sec.  I'm sure it was the other way around.  Jim passed me earlier in the race.  But, wait another sec.  Jim started the race ahead of me.  So, in order for him to pass me, I must have passed him once even earlier on...

Oh ya, right!  I remember now.  I did pass Jim once early in the race.  That was when I almost hit him.  But I didn't touch him, I swear.  There was no contact at all.  Ask Jim.

That may be so, but at the time there was a yellow flag flying at that corner.


Well apparently there was some confusion about that call because the Marshalls reported you for passing Jim under a yellow, but the next time you came around the track you were behind Jim again.

Yes, Jim passed me right back on that lap.

And then they let me go.  Perhaps they understood my explanation to mean I had voluntarily waved Jim through to let him regain the position that I had illegally taken from him in a yellow flag zone.  I suppose, in a stretch, I did voluntarily let him re-pass me.  I mean I didn't actively resist in any way or deliberately try to run him off the track when Jim legitimately made his move to pass me back.

Truthfully, I was completely unaware of the fact that I had passed anyone under yellow.  That admission alone should have been enough to warrant a penalty, because it's dangerous for a driver not to be paying attention to the flags.  But since (fortunately) Jim passed me back when he did, they ruled that I hadn't gained an illegal advantage, and they let me off with a warning.

Back to Map 06 If there really was a flag shown at that corner, why didn't I see it?

Between races I rewound the tape on my video camera to review the incident.  You can see it for yourself in the video clip of when I was Passing Jim & Steve.

Sure enough, there it is.  It's as plain as the nose on my face.  In fact, it's even plainer than the nose on my face, because you can't see my nose when it's hidden in my full-face helmet, eh?

One marshall is showing a steady white flag, and behind him on the left another marshall is holding up a steady yellow.  Jim saw the yellow flag.  That's why he aborted his passing attempt on Steve and why he slowed so suddenly in front of me.  He later told me that he was surprised as hell when I drove right past him.

I was focused so intently on the action between Jim and Steve that I completely failed to notice either flag.  It's rather worrying.  In my old age, I'm turning into a blind old geezer.

There I was, one moment gloating over my success, congratulating myself for being such a smart driver, high speed chess and all, thinking I'll soon need to buy a bigger helmet to fit my swelled head, and the very next moment someone sticks a pin in my party balloon, completely deflating my confidence by pointing out to me that I have some serious shortcomings as a race driver if I can't see an obvious yellow flag, and I better smarten up immediately or I just might find myself penalized a full lap.

Talk about the highs and lows of racing...

With my tail between my legs, I slunk back to the paddock to prepare for Rubber Race #2.

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