'98 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

In-Car Video, Chevette Race

Part 1  of  2

Ferd #09 and Jim Graham #78
In-car video recorded from Jim Graham's car #78.
Below is Part 1 of the frame-by-frame story.  Part 2 is on the following page.
Starting Grid #01 - This is the start of Sunday's first race, the one I missed due to carburetor problems.  Jim Graham is starting this race from 11th on the grid, on the inside slot of the sixth row.  There are another 14 cars behind him on this 25-car grid. 

Note the tachometer, just to the right of Jim's hand, which shows the engine is running quietly at idle speed. 

The arrow points to the flag-man who starts the races.  The group of people behind him are marshalls at the start/finish line. 

The starter holds the green flag high, walks slowly across the front of the grid, then slowly back to the left side, before waving the green flag.  That's when all hell breaks loose...

Green Flag #02 - Normally the flag-man prudently climbs out of harm's way up onto the snowbank before waving the green flag.  This helps people at the back of the grid see the flag drop. 

But this time the flag man surprised a lot of people by waving the flag before climbing onto the snowbank.  See circled area. 

Note the tachometer again.  Jim keeps the rpm barely above idle, just enough to prevent the engine stalling on take-off.  That's a good indication of his experience in ice-racing. 

The rookies like to pretend that they're driving Formula One cars and they'll sit on the grid loudly revving their engines, while waiting for the flag to drop.  When it's time to go, they drop the clutch at high rpm, and then sit going nowhere while their wheels spin. 

Experienced ice-racers will first allow the car to creep gently off the mark, nearly at idle-rpm, to ensure the car is actually moving forward before getting on the power.  Otherwise you might just dig a hole under the spinning wheels and never get off the grid!

Let's GO already! #03 - It's a real bitch if you have to start from the back of the grid and cannot see the flag-man.  You mustn't risk jumping the start, otherwise you'll be black-flagged and penalised a lap.  So you have to wait until you see cars ahead of you starting to move.  Or you could just wait for the brake-lights(?!!?) to go out on the car ahead of you. 

Why would anyone want to be on the brakes at the start of the race?  It's not like the car is going to roll away on its own.  After all, we're racing on a completely flat frozen lake! 

Compare the time displayed in this and the previous images.  It's fully THREE seconds after the flag has dropped, and the guy ahead of Jim is still on the brakes!  If this was a Formula One race, that guy wouldn't even be able to see the rest of the grid anymore because they would already all be through the first turn and out of sight!!! 

Note again that Jim's engine rpm hasn't changed a bit as he calmly pulls to the right and around the slow car.

Still green. #04 - Another three seconds go by and the rpm is finally starting to climb. 

And speaking of climbing, the flag-man has by now retreated to a relatively safe location on top of the snow-bank from which he is, now prominently, waving the green flag. 

Jim Graham can usually be counted on to pass at least a couple of rows of cars at the drop of the flag.  But this time he lost precious time in swinging around that guy who was sleeping at the start.

Drag race. #05 - Another three seconds later and Jim has recovered, starting to close up on the brown car.  He's aiming for the big empty space to the right of the brown car. 

The arrow points to a pickup truck parked on the access road which circles the outside of the track.  Keep in mind that somewhere before reaching that truck we have to remember to turn left. 

(Check the rearview mirror!)

Boxed in. #06 - Just one second later and, damn!  Jim can no longer get to the inviting opening because that purple car has come up out of nowhere and boxed him in! 
Try the other side. #07 - Forget going up the right side.  Let's squeeze left and try the inside line instead. 

And we're getting steadily closer to the pickup truck...

Visibility is not good. #08 - Jim lost a bit more ground when he was forced to change course again. 

Right about now you start noticing that it's getting difficult to see anything.  And where exactly did that pickup truck go?

Can't see @#$% all !!! #09 - Jim must be getting close to the left edge of the track, because I don't see anyone running much further left than him. 

For that matter, I can barely see anyone else - period! 

For some reason the guy in the purple car has given up trying to pass the brown car on the outside, has tucked in behind him, and is now starting to angle across to squeeze in front of Jim.

<-- Where'd he come from? #10 - Yikes!  There was someone to the left of us!  Where'd he come from?
Lost another spot. #11 - Sure enough, the purple car squeezes in front.  We're not really making any useful progress here. 

But the speed is still climbing...

brakes? #12 - Am I imagining it, or do I see brake-lights?
maybe not. #13 - Nope.  Must have been imagining things. 

But that car on the left is conspicuously sideways.  And the trees on the horizon seem a lot closer now. 

(Check the rearview mirror.  There's someone following so closely that his headlights are below the line of vision of the mirror.)

Yes, BRAKES, Now! #14 - Whoa!  Throw out the anchors!  We've arrived at the corner! 

That sure got his attention.  Look at Jim's hands flying on the wheel and dropping to the gear shift lever. 

Everyone immediately pitches their car sideways (100 km/h) and tries to find the right line into the corner.

Start turning any time now. #15 - Fortunately the first corner is very wide, and pretty much any line will do.
Uh-oh.  It's gonna get crowded. #16 - But here's where it starts to get interesting, and crowded! 

Corner one, which we're in right now, leads into the much tighter corner two.  Given the choice, the preferred line would be to approach corner two on a wider line.  We really should be positioned much further out to the right. 

But Jim can't slide any wider without hitting the purple car that's still crowding him from the right.  And several cars are jostling directly behind Jim looking for a chance to get inside into the next corner. 

And that's when the bumping and pushing started...

See Part 2 of the story on the next page.
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