'99 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Day #2  -  Sunday, Feb. 14, 1999

Sunday Page 2 of 2 - The Rollover

Rolling a car is a very educational experience, but I'm not anxious to repeat it.  Jim Graham deserves an extra big thank you for providing me with a car and the opportunity with which to learn this valuable lesson!

The Rollover Except for the rollover at the finish, this was an otherwise pretty good race.  Having placed 1st and 2nd in Saturday's last Chevette Race, Jim Graham and I both started from the last row of the starting grid in Sunday's first Chevette Race.

Jim had a much better start than I, and he finished in 4th place!  I was slow off the start, and later lost some more ground when I was held up by a slower car.  But I was running comfortably in 6th place during the closing laps of the race when I had a "misunderstanding" with another car leading to dramatic consequences.

Initially I was furious.  I was utterly convinced I had done nothing wrong and the other guy was entirely at fault for the incident.  But having studied the video tape, I now realise that it was mostly my own fault.  The other guy was not totally innocent, as it was a risky move on his part that started all this.  But it was a chain of several mistakes by me that caused the outcome.

Like I said.  It was a learning experience.  I'm pretty sure I'll do things differently next time.
If you haven't looked at the previous page yet, Sunday - A Good Pass, you should do that first because it sort of explains why things turned out as they did in this rollover incident.

The earlier Sunday - A Good Pass showed how it is possible to pass and re-pass in this corner sequence if we leave room for each other.  My biggest mistake, a dangerously naive mistake, was to expect that another racer was under any sort of obligation to leave racing room for me.

Below is a series of 11 images, and a movie clip showing the rollover.  The green numbers on the Lac La Biche circuit diagram indicate the location of the image sequence.

Track Layout

1 1 Nearing the end of the race, I was in 6th position and unlikely to catch the 5th place car.  The 7th place car was closely following me but, as I had just recently passed him, I wasn't really too worried about him.

Approaching the start/finish sequence of S-corners, I set up as usual well over to the left of the smooth black ice line, planning to cut over to the right on the exit so I can get a good run out of the left hander that follows.

2 2 I rounded the apex, content in the knowledge that I'm on the correct line for a smooth exit from the next left which should set me up nicely for the following critical right hand corner.

That was my second mistake.

At the same moment, I suddenly realised that my first mistake was in not noticing the "Last Lap" sign being shown on my previous lap.  Because right now the chequered flag is being waved up ahead!

The finish line is just around this next corner.  The flagging stand was moved upstream slightly because it would otherwise be in a very dangerous spot on the exit of this left hander.  That turned out to be a very wise decision, because both of our cars ended up over the snowbank, where the flagging stand used to be.

3 3 A good line through the critical right hand corner (third in this right/left/right sequence) is now completely irrelevant.  All that counts is this final left turn, and I've just left the door wide open for the guy behind me to make a move up the inside.

Just as I started to turn left on my usual line, I could hear the car behind me taking a run up the left side.

4 4 I turn my head to the left to check if I can still turn in ahead of him.  But it's way too late to close the door.

When I slowed (as usual), he just kept his foot in it and came roaring up the inside.  I can no longer turn left with him alongside me like this.

My next mistake was deciding to keep going around the outside.

5 5 He's really flying up the inside!  And he's committed himself to the slick dark ice surface.

I still have my doubts as to whether he would have made this left turn at all.  He claims he had it under control.  But there is no doubt whatsoever that he had no intention of leaving any room for my car between him and that outside snowbank.

The moment I realised that, I got hard on the brakes and tried to turn in behind him.  But we touched.

6 6 As you'll see from the video clip, this all happened very quickly.  At the time I thought his excessive speed, coupled with his crossing in front of me, is what caused the collision.

But having studied the video, I now believe the marshalls who said it looked more like I turned and hit him.

The impact turned both of our cars sharp right and now we're both heading for the outside snowbank.

The high snowbank straight ahead is where the flagging stand was previously located.  The other guy's car went right over that!

7 7 My car is still rotating to the right as it hits the snowbank.  So rather than just punching through, it is tripped by the snowbank and rolls...
Contact! Houston, we have a problem... "Houston, we have a problem..." 
9 Touchdown "Houston, this is Tranquility Base.  The Eagle has landed."

It's one small mis-step for Ferdinand.  One giant leap for the Chevette.

The sudden yellow flash that lit up the car's interior was thankfully NOT an explosion!

It was merely the late morning sun momentarily shining through the passenger side window as the car rolled up and over onto its side.

10 10 Forget gravel traps and guardrails!  Formula One needs SnowBanks!

It was an abrupt, but relatively soft impact.  There was no harm done to the car (or its occupant) beyond a bowed door panel resulting from the car's weight resting on it.  It didn't even damage the outside mirror.

The only potentially serious problem I could observe was a steady stream of fluid running out from under the hood as oil drained from the engine breather.

11 Red Flag The race was immediately stopped with a red flag.

I was comfortably reclined on my side, with my helmet resting in the snow which pushed up through the window net.  I didn't even need to unbuckle my belts.  The rescuers simply rolled the car back on its wheels and pushed it off the snowbank onto the track.  The other guy's car had to be winched out using the tow truck.

The Rollover. This is an ASF file video clip (0.2 MB) of the rollover as recorded from my in-car camera.

I was scored as finishing that race in 7th position, which meant starting Sunday's Chevette Race #2 from 7th last on the grid.  But by now I had figured out the secret on how to get a front row starting position.

On the second lap of the race, I was battling with a group of five other cars and had (almost) passed them all on the outside of the straight leading to the hairpin.  There wasn't quite enough room to cut in front of the leader of this group, so I had to wait for him to start braking for the corner before I could decide whether to cut in front or behind him for the hairpin.

The result was that we both left our braking way too late!  And the cars that were following closely behind us (blind in the blowing snow) were waiting for our brake lights to indicate to them when it was time to start slowing for the corner.  We led the whole train of cars straight onto the outside snowbank at the hairpin.

Fortunately I have no more hard disk space on my website.  So I cannot share with you a video of this embarrassing moment.

I sat out the entire race, stranded high and dry on top of the snowbank, and was scored dead last in 20th position.  But that meant I finally got to start Chevette Race #3 from the FRONT ROW!!!

I still didn't manage to win from there.  But I did finish that race in 2nd, ending the 1999 Lac La Biche Weekend in 4th place overall in the Chevette Class.

Oh well, I guess that's racing...

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