'99 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Day #1  -  Saturday, Feb. 13, 1999

Saturday Page 3 of 5 - The Crushed Fender

The crushed fender incident happened during Saturday's first Rubber Class race.  My primary interest was in the Chevette Class, but I also ran the Rubber races in order to get as much track time as possible.  Many of the other Chevette drivers regularly compete in the Rubber Class, which is comprised of a mix of 30 front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars.

The Green #79 Chevette and I started from the 24th grid position, from where we made steady progress through the field.  With only two laps remaining in the race, I had just passed the Red/Yellow #91 Honda of Reimer Roth (who eventually finished 11th !!), when I tangled with the Black #3 Chevette of "Dale Earnhardt".
Below is a series of images showing the events leading up to the crushed fender.  The green numbers on this circuit diagram indicate the locations of the following 14 images.

The map is not to scale, but it gives a rough idea of the track layout.

Track Layout

01 01 In my trusty Green Chevette, I have been chasing the Red #91 Honda for most of the race.  We've both just been passed by a very fast White Honda CRX, who is now setting up to pass the Black #3 Chevette of "Dale Earnhardt".
02 02 At the next corner, Black keeps tight to the inside in an attempt to protect his position, so White goes around the outside.

Red is trying to sneak inside both of them.  And I'm setting up my approach in the hope they will all slide wide on the exit leaving me room to pass up the inside.

White bounced off the outside snowbank.  Black swerved to avoid him.  Red backed off, and I had to hit the brakes.

03 03 White passed Black in the short drag race across the start/finish line.  But as a result, both of them carried too much speed into the next right hand turn.  White again biffs the outside snowbank.  Black slides wide of the apex and drifts to the left edge of the track.

Aware that I am threatening his position, Red keeps to the right, preventing me from going up the inside.  I stay wide again in order to achieve a tighter exit, from where I will set up a faster line through the following left turn.

04 04 White is heading straight for the outside snowbank again.  Black is following him.

As a result of his defensive line approaching the previous corner, Red has exited well to the left side of the track.  I'm now in a strategically better position, over to the right side of the track.

05 05 White has brushed up against the snowbank.  Black is trying hard not to do the same.  Red cannot slow enough for the upcoming left hand corner because he's on the really slick polished ice surface.  He's destined to slide wide.

I'm smiling, because there is much better traction over here on the right.  I know I can turn in behind Red and get a good launch down the long straight.

06 06 Amazingly, the brush with the snowbank hasn't slowed White at all!  I'm starting to believe this is his preferred line.  Carving a huge rooster-tail of snow from the outside snowbank, White sets off in hot pursuit of his next target, the Black&White #67 Chevette.

Perhaps because he is blinded by all the snow in the air, or perhaps because he has run into the snowbank himself, Earnhardt's Black #3 suddenly slows up dramatically.

Red is committed to sliding wide on the exit of this turn and now finds himself bottled up behind Black.  I cut straight across the slick portion of track, and head for the solid traction on the left.

07 07 I'm really pleased at how well this turned out!

Red and Black were both slow coming onto the straight, whereas I got a great launch and easily passed them both down the straightaway.

Up ahead, the White Honda CRX is gobbling up the gap to #67 as the Black&White Chevette slows for the hairpin.

08 08 The Black&White Chevette is at the hairpin.  The White Honda has him in his sights.

I use a wide and conservative approach into the hairpin in order to maximise my exit speed when leaving the hairpin.

09 09 But just as I'm starting to turn into the corner, JEEEZ here comes Earnhardt in the Black car slicing down the inside!

To avoid a collision, I have to yank the wheel to the right to leave enough room for him.

10 10 It would have been an admirable move, had he been able to make it stick.  But he was simply carrying way too much speed into the corner!

I just had to wait for him to slide straight across in front of me, before turning in behind him.

11 11 Sure enough.  Earnhardt goes shooting across my bows.

And to top it off, it looks like he's going to spin out.

12 12 Up ahead, the White Honda CRX has passed the Black&White Chevette.

Collision avoided, I'm concentrating on also catching the Black&White Chevette, as Earnhardt spins harmlessly off to the right and out of my view.

13 13 Things are looking really good from here.

I have no hope of catching the White Honda CRX, who eventually finished 3rd.  But I'm still ahead of the Red Honda, who went on to finish 11th.  And it looks like I should still be able to get ahead of the #67 Black&White Chevette, who finished this race in 13th position just ahead of Earnhardt's Black Chevette.

Fighting my way up to 11th place, after starting from 24th of 30 cars, would have been a satisfying result in only my second race of the weekend!  Not to mention that I hadn't raced at all since last year's Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship event.

But as they say, never count your Chevettes before they're hatched...

14 14 KaPOW!!!  I got nailed in the right rear fender.

The impact spun me around to the right and into the snowbank, where I was stuck facing oncoming traffic for a good 40 seconds until I finally managed to rock the car free.

When I finally got underway again, the tire was rubbing against the buckled fender.  The noise from the tire was such an awful tortured shriek that I was afraid the fender would cut through the tire at any moment.

I pulled straight into the pits instead of taking the chequered flag and was scored as finishing 26th,  bummer.

Tire Rubbing on Fender This is a WAV file sound clip (338 KB) of the tire rubbing on the fender.

Impact! And this is an ASF file video clip (0.3 MB) of the impact as recorded from my in-car camera.  I've censored out the "colourful" language.

Go to the next page (page 4 of 5) for pictures of the fender aftermath, and the astounding results of Saturday's second Chevette race...

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