'99 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Day #1  -  Saturday, Feb. 13, 1999

Saturday Page 2 of 5 - Chevette Race #1

When we took to the track on Saturday, I promptly spun out in the very first corner of the morning's first practice session!  Obviously this was directly caused by lack of sleep.  (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)

Green #79 Actually, this year's Green Chevette handled very differently from the White Chevette that I drove last year. White #09

Last year's car was much more forgiving.  It could be drifted much further sideways in corners with no ill effects.  But the Green car really didn't like being any more than about 45 degrees sideways.  Any further than that and it would resist all efforts to bring it back into line.

I really should have paid closer attention to this nasty trait because it caught me by surprise again later that day under rather more embarrassing circumstances.

Track LayoutThe first practice session was brought to an early halt by a red-flag after only four or five laps because someone got stuck in a dangerous spot.  This was NOT a good thing because I hadn't learned any of the proper lines yet and was still just trying to figure out where the track turned left or right.

They quickly cleaned up the stuck cars, ran the first Studded Race, and followed that up shortly thereafter with the first Chevette race, ready or not.

Earlier that morning, during the Driver Meeting, it had been decided that the Chevette Races would start using a fully inverted grid.  No, that doesn't mean the cars were up-side-down (at least not yet).  It meant that the starting grid would be determined in reverse order of the Championship points, with the fastest guys starting from the very back of the grid, and the slowest from the front.  Since Green #79 was currently second last in the Chevette standings, that would mean I start from the FRONT ROW!!!

Unfortunately the people that print up the grid sheets weren't advised of this decision until after the grid had already been set using the safer system of inverting only the top ten positions.  This meant that instead of starting from dead last, the current points leader got to start from 10th on the grid, 2nd started from 9th, 3rd from 8th, ..., and the guys 9th and 10th in the standings got to start from the front row.  Everyone else from 11th position down in the standings started 11th and back respectively on the grid.

So, instead of starting from the front row, I started this race from 15th on a grid of 19 Chevettes.  I still don't quite understand how I ended up 15th but, oh well, that's racing...

Flag!When the green flag waved for the first Chevette race, I initially made a great start heading up the left side, which was mostly clear of traffic.

But I soon realised why the left side was clear of traffic.  Apparently everyone else, except me, had already discovered that there was a lot of deep snow along this edge of the track.  That (combined with lack of sleep) somewhat hindered my progress.

Andy SpinningFrom this point, the track turns sharp right, then left, leading onto a long fast straight which eventually ends at a tight hairpin to the left.

As I followed the pack around the left turn onto the fast straight, still keeping to my left edge of the track, I encountered the #13 car of Andy Normey spinning directly in front of me.

I guess Andy was still nervous about his Chevette's immaculate new paint job.  So he eagerly presented it broadside to the rest of the pack as soon as possible at this crucial corner of the first race!  I managed not to hit him or anyone else in my evasive manoeuvres and set off chasing the others through blinding snow down the straight.

First Vette Race Start Here is an ASF video clip (0.4 MB) replay of the start of Saturday's first Chevette race.

I behaved myself in this race, stayed calm, took it easy, kept out of trouble, didn't hit anyone, didn't get lost in the blowing snow, and even managed to pass several cars.  As it turns out, from 15th on the grid, I finished 9th in this first race.  That was really quite clever of me (even if completely unintentional) because with the usual system of inverting the top ten finishers, I should then have started the next Chevette race from the FRONT ROW!!!

Naturally, it again did not turn out that way.

As part of the great Western conspiracy to keep Eastern Canadians from placing well in the Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship (I'm from Ottawa), the organizers had by now been informed of the earlier decision to use FULL inversions for the Chevette starting grids.  So I got to start the next Chevette race, not from the front row, but 9th from the back.  With 19 cars on the grid, this meant starting from 11th in Saturday's second Chevette race.

But, before we get to the next Chevette race, I still have to explain how the rear fender got crushed.

Go to the next page (page 3 of 5) for lots of pictures, another movie, a painful sound clip, and all the unfortunate fender crushing details...

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