|Okay, so it's not exactly Formula One. There are no other
distractions to worry about, like how much longer I can run on this tank
of fuel before the next pitstop, or whether I should change the
wickerbill (whatever the heck that is).
Nonetheless, driving any racecar requires your full concentration, even if it's just a Chevette running at the relatively low speeds attainable while skating around with normal rubber tires on ice. It is vitally important that you always stay calm and use your head to anticipate whatever might occur next. Hopefully you'll be ready to react appropriately whenever something unexpected happens, like for instance when someone surprises you by suddenly turning left to cut you off on a straightaway.
No matter what happens, the absolute last thing you ever want to do is allow your emotions to get out of hand. If you let Road Rage take over, guaranteed it's only a matter of time before you screw something up badly...
|As a result of being blocked by Diedrich and his #27 Honda
Civic, then nearly spinning out and just barely missing the snowbank, I
lost a lot of ground before finally getting back up to speed.
I'm rather pissed off. You probably can't see it because of my helmet, but there's steam coming out of my ears and it's fogging up my eye-glasses and clouding my judgment.
Way up ahead the #77 CRX has passed the #27 Civic and they're both already turning into the Kink on the back straight whereas I'm only just now leaving the hairpin.
|But once again my trusty RWD Chevette catches up dramatically because the FWD Civic is dead slow through the Kink.|
|Exiting the Kink, the gap has already come down noticeably.|
|By the time we reach the left turn at the end of the back straight,
I've caught right up again.
The ice is getting polished really slick. Notice how Greg in the #77 CRX has given up entirely on trying to make his understeering FWD car turn corners and he's now using the "Bobsled Line".
Instead of trying to make his car turn, he relies on bashing along the outside snowbank, in the process carving a huge rooster tail of snow out of the snowbank.
|Obviously conscious of the fact that I am angrily homing in on his
tail, Diedrich is already crowding left to take a defensive line on the
short straight before the second left.
Meanwhile the CRX is still bouncing along the outside snowbank, laying down a thick smokescreen of blowing snow.
|Instead of concentrating on getting his own lines right for an
optimal cornering speed, Diedrich seems to be spending too much time
watching me in his mirrors.
Because he's not paying enough attention to where he's going, or as a result of his tight defensive line into this left turn, or because he's just going too fast, Diedrich now understeers straight off to the right.
It's hard to see anything in this image because of all the snow hanging in the air from that darn CRX, but it's clear on the video clip that Diedrich is understeering off in a straight line rather than turning left.
|Diedrich's mistake gives me the opportunity I've been looking
for, and I dive right in there to take advantage of it.
I'm on a good line for the right hander into the Esses, whereas Diedrich is approaching it from too tight on the right and will have to slow.
Note the flagman at the next flagging station is holding up a blue flag to warn Diedrich that someone (me!) is close enough to attempt a pass on him.
|Note that the flagman is now conspicuously waving the blue
flag high overhead to indicate that someone is actively making a passing
Admittedly this is not like Formula One where a waved blue flag is a signal that obliges a backmarker to move over for a faster car. In our case the blue flag is merely a warning that you should wake up and take a look around you because another car is making a move on you and you should be careful not to cause a collision.
Diedrich evidently has a different interpretation for a waved blue flag, as he seems to think it's his cue to suddenly turn left into my path again. I try to swing left to avoid him, but it's too late...
That's twice on the same lap that we've come together like this!
|Now that he has successfully pushed me off-line, I cannot turn into
the corner the way I had planned and I'm forced to watch in frustration
as he charges through in front of me again.
And from here he has the better line into the left-hander.
|I'd like to get my nose in there to the left, but I can't anymore.
Diedrich is pulling his car to the left to keep that avenue firmly shut.
Because I came at this corner all wrong, thanks to the nudge, I won't be able to hold my car to the left on the exit and will need to drift wider to the right.
Okay, so I'll just go around him to the outside on the right.
|Of course the moment I decide to go to the right, Diedrich changes
his mind again and abandons his previous line of hugging along the snowbank
and instead lets his car take a big step out to the right.
How the heck am I ever going to get past this guy when he's constantly changing his lines and weaving back and forth like this?
I'm forced to swing way out to the right side of the track, but I still manage to get alongside him.
|Coming past the finish line, Diedrich is just out of view to my
left. I'm not quite far enough alongside yet to steal the inside
line into the sharp right turn.
I've had just about enough of this blocking. My blood pressure is boiling and I'm nearly ready to blow a gasket. I'm really tempted to torpedo Diedrich as he tries to turn across in front of me.
That's when I spot Hal standing on the snowbank, and (gulp) is that a shotgun he's carrying?
Of course it could be a baseball bat, or maybe it's just a rolled up flag, but I wouldn't want to take a chance on that. Hal has very likely already been informed by the corner marshalls of our misbehaving antics, and now he's keeping a close eye on us.
|Up until this point I've been a relatively innocent victim of
Diedrich's weaving and blocking maneouvres. If I were to launch any
sort of deliberate retaliatory strike within shotgun range of Hal's
observation post, even if he didn't shoot me on the spot, I could count
on being castrated immediately following the end of this race.
Since that would be generally a bad thing, I forced myself to back off the throttle and slowed as much as possible for this tight corner.
|It's a good thing I slowed as much as I did.
The ice is incredibly slick in this corner and, although I pitched my car sideways, right to full lock on the steering, I only just barely squeaked in behind Diedrich's car without touching him as he swept by me on the outside.
|And now I'm right back where I was one lap ago.
Despite nearly crashing out on the previous lap and losing a lot of ground, I'm right back on his tail again now.
It's obvious that I'm lapping quicker than he is. I just can't find any way to get around him. And he's certainly not cooperating much.
Damn this is frustrating.
|On the critical corner leading onto the fast straight, Diedrich
again has his front wheels cranked over hard to the left as his car
plows along with massive understeer. Yeuch!
I suppose it's possible that not all Front-Wheel-Drive cars are as bad as this one. But from what little I've seen of FWD, I think they're butt-ugly to watch in action. And I've had enough of watching this particular one...
Judging by the steering angle of his front wheels (which I've learned is not to be trusted as an accurate indication of where he's actually going to go), I'm assuming Diedrich has no intention of allowing me to get past him on the left. Not that I'm even tempted to try that again.
Instead I stand on the throttle and head for the right side.
|This move worked very nicely on Jim Graham in the opening lap of this
race. See A Scrappy First Lap.
However, there was an important and crucial difference that I, in my blind anger, failed to take into proper consideration before attempting the same move on Diedrich.
There was a lot more traction available here on the opening lap.
|Several laps later into the race, the ice in this area has
been buffed smooth and it's now very slippery over here.
Jeez, one moment everything's under control and the next moment it's just like driving on ice...
Over-committed, with too much speed, and not enough traction or brains, I run out of talent and room and hit the snowbank.
|The car climbs the snowbank and violently slews around to the right.
The idiot light on my dash immediately starts flashing a warning telling me I'm in imminent danger of rolling over!
|After thoroughly scaring the *&%$ out of me, the car miraculously
decides not to roll over and instead slides down off the snowbank
and deposits me back on the track facing in the right direction.
That was just dumb luck (with stress on the "dumb").
Once again all my speed is gone, and I watch in frustration as Diedrich pulls away down the straightaway.
|Note only that, but before I can get back up to speed two more cars
cruise past me.
Jim Graham in the #78 Chevette and Nathan Satinove in the #35 Honda Prelude both say thank you very much, and blow by me on the straightaway.
This is what happens when you let yourself get angry and stop thinking straight.
I'm so stupid, stupid, stupid...