2002 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Rubber Race #2

(A Scrappy First Lap)

Saturday, March 2, 2002

I don't know why anyone would want a Front-Wheel-Drive car.  As far as I can see there's no joy in driving one.  Ultimate speed in a straight line is totally uninteresting.  Any idiot can aim a car in a straight line and press the gas pedal down.  The fun is in controlling a car in a power slide as it's drifting sideways through corners at the limits of traction.

On ice, a FWD car undeniably has better traction in a straight line than a RWD car.  But it's been my experience that FWD cars don't corner worth a damn.  Consequently FWD pilots take a completely different approach to cornering compared to us RWD Chevette drivers.  With us, it's all about conserving as much momentum as possible through the corners, which requires us to use wide sweeping arcs.  It's art.  With FWD however, it's just a series of straight line drag races, get the car stopped any way possible, turn it around, and race away again in another straight line.  There's no flow to it.  Because of the different (and conflicting) techniques used, FWD and RWD cars tend to trip over each other a lot in the corners.

This is the first lap of Rubber Race #2.  I considered breaking this up into two or three separate pages because it's rather long.  But, as it was a fairly intense start to this race, you'll get a better feel of it if you see it all together in one clip.

  #23 #22 #21 #20 #19 #18 #17 #16 #15 #14 #13 #12 #11 #10 #9 #8 #3 #2 #1 #25 #24 #7 #6 #5 #4
Track Layout Track Layout
Track Layout
Track Layout

Back to Map 01 There are 28 cars starting in Rubber Race #2.  Jim Graham in Red #78 is starting from 8th just ahead of me on the grid.  Out of view to the left beside me in 9th is Colin Lolacher in the Black #3 Chevette.  And I'm starting from the 10th grid slot.

I'd much prefer to be starting on the left side of the grid.  The first turn is the hairpin to the left and I really don't want to be stuck on the outside going into that.

Back to Map 02 I hate these blind starts!  They make my hair stand on end.

I am getting to know most of the other drivers in the Chevette races.  Even if I don't fully trust all of them yet, at least we drive similar cars with similar performance.  But in this mixed FWD and RWD Rubber Class, there is quite a wide spread in vehicle performance and driver skill levels.

In blind conditions like this you need to put a lot of trust in the other drivers around you.  Unfortunately I don't yet trust the majority of the FWD guys.

Back to Map 03 Ahead of me, I can see Jim squeezing over to the left side of the track to escape the blowing snow.

I move over and slot in behind him.

Back to Map 04 The visibility isn't as bad over here, as we start braking hard for the hairpin.
Back to Map 05 Keeping tight up against the left snowbank prevents anyone from squeezing down the inside and pushing us wide of the apex.

But it doesn't prevent one of the FWD cars from punting me from behind!  Watch the way my head rocks back from the impact.

Back to Map 06 I was already scrabbling for grip under braking, trying to keep from rear-ending Jim's car.

But this unexpected drop-kick from behind shoves me forward and forces me to take evasive action to the right to avoid punching Jim's car.

Back to Map 07 ...and that pretty much buggers up this corner for me.

As the rest of the pack keeps tight left, I'm suddenly burdened with more momentum than I wanted and consequently I'm forced to drift wide to the right on the exit of the hairpin.

Back to Map 08 I thought for sure four or five cars would immediately take advantage of the opening to stream past me.

But I actually lost only one position to the #25 VW Rabbit that hit me.

Back to Map 09 Heading through the kink on the back straight ahead of me is the #27 Honda Civic of Diedrich Will, #78 Chevette of Jim Graham, and the #25 VW Rabbit of "M&M Dan".
Back to Map 10 In the left turn at the end of the straight the faster #25 dives down the inside of Jim Graham's car.

Jim gets on the brakes early, hoping the Rabbit will slide wide so he can re-pass him on the inside.

I'm hoping to do the same to Jim.

Back to Map 11 But instead of maintaining his momentum and allowing his car to drift to the outside of the turn, the VW driver pinches his line tight left and firmly closes the door, forcing both Jim and I to alter our lines.
Back to Map 12 Jim has lost too much momentum, so he decides to take a defensive line tight on the left.

I swing out wide right in order to set up for a better entry into the following left hander.

Up ahead, the #25 Rabbit aggressively cuts down the inside of Diedrich's #27 car.  But Diedrich is already angling back to retake him on the exit.

Back to Map 13 Again Jim is slowed up as he gets boxed in by the two FWD cars crossing back and forth ahead of him.

Unable to go to the right, and aware that he's slow and that I'll likely try to go left of him, Jim sticks to the centre of the track.

Back to Map 14 But that allows me to build my momentum and let it carry me to the right side of the track to squeeze up alongside Jim's car going into the Esses.

Up ahead, Diedrich takes advantage of his better track position and acceleration to push up beside the #25 Rabbit.

Back to Map 15 The Rabbit is forced to leave room for Diedrich's Honda.

The same thing will happen to me because I still have Jim's car tight alongside me on the left and he's not backing off.

Back to Map 16 I would not have been able to stay on the gas without hitting Jim's car at this point.  Jim knows that and capitalises on it.

I'm forced to ease off and allow him through first as we both crowd through the choke point in the Esses.  But from here my line is better than Jim's for the next left turn.

Back to Map 17 This is the final left turn coming out of the Esses directly across from the Pit entry.

Note how the horizon shifts and how our cars bob up and down relative to each other as we cross the deep ruts already carved into the ice here by the Studded cars.

Back to Map 18 As we cross the finish line to start the second lap, Jim again takes a defensive line to protect the inside going into the right turn.

If I can continue to keep the pressure on to provoke him into running offline like this, I will eventually get an opportunity to pass.  But if I make any mistakes and permit him to recover some breathing room, he'll get straight back to using his regular lines and then I'll be lucky to stay with him after that.

Back to Map 19 As a result of approaching this corner tight on the right, Jim is sliding wide to the left on the exit and leaving the door wide open for me.

I approached the corner from wide on the left which allows me to head up the right side on the exit.  Even if I cannot quite pass him here, it will give me a much better position going into the critical left hander leading onto the long straight.

Back to Map 20 But I misjudged the available traction here.  Over-anxious to get my nose up the right side of Jim's car, I give it too much throttle, get a bit too far sideways, then overcorrect on the steering, and I hit Jim's car.


It was just a light tap.  Fortunately no harm done.  But you can hear the tap quite distinctly on the video clip.  Jim said he thought the fillings were going to drop out of his teeth...

Back to Map 21 Jim is now too far left for a good line through this left hander.  He's a bit quicker going into the corner, but I know I will have the better exit speed leaving the corner due to my wider approach.
Back to Map 22 Way up ahead, Diedrich is still ahead of the #25 Rabbit.  Watch how quickly those two FWD cars pull away from us on the straight sections of track.

At this point I'm expecting Jim to drift wide to the right, so I'm already heading for the left side.  But Jim anticipates what I'm up to, so he again takes a defensive line and crowds the centre of the track.

I do not consider this as blocking.  The track is wide at this point and there are other options available to me.  There is no danger of us colliding.  It's a perfectly legitimate tactical move by Jim in an attempt to disrupt my rythm.

In fact, he actually does me a favour with this move because he needed to sacrifice even more exit speed in order to hold his car away from the right edge of the track like this.

Back to Map 23 By doing that, he has entered and exited the corner too tight, whereas I can now swing out to the right to use the full width of the track to accelerate.  As this is only the start of the second lap, there is still plenty of good traction over here and now I've got a great run on Jim.

If Jim were intent on blocking, now would be the time to squeeze me into the snowbank.  I'm fully committed to running up the right side and if he started to squeeze over now, I would have to stand on the brakes to avoid a collision.

But Jim is an experienced professional who doesn't do that sort of thing.  I'm sure he's kicking himself for allowing me to distract him into taking a defensive line, but I know he would never stoop to blocking me.

Back to Map 24 Because I entered the straight with more speed than Jim, I end up arriving at the hairpin ahead of him.  And because I trust him not to hit me and use me for brakes to slow himself down, I am confident in turning across his nose and taking the corner from him.

Up ahead the #25 Rabbit has no difficulty in passing Diedrich as the #27 Honda slides way too deep off the end of the hairpin.

Back to Map 25 I would like to get on the throttle now and let my car arc all the way out to the right edge of the track.  But I'm forced to hold off until I can figure out where exactly the Honda will go from here.

Instead of accelerating in the shortest distance with a straight line up the right edge of the track (from where he started), in the typical unexplainable FWD fashion the Honda cuts straight across my nose to head over to the left side of the track...

I spent the rest of this race in a heated battle with Diedrich's #27 Honda Civic.

Rubber Race 2 (Scrappy First Lap) - ASF format
Rubber Race 2 (Scrappy First Lap) - MPG format
A Scrappy First Lap.

Some Blatant Blocking in Saturday's Rubber Race #2.

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