For years, I spent all my Easter weekends in Great Britain. As Rick Young pointed out in his most recent posting, it's a very busy racing weekend over there. However, since I became a trackchaser, I didn't very often return to tracks already on my list and after a few years, I started to have as many new track opportunities in the Low Countries as in the UK. But things go round in circles and now I'm running out of tracks near home. As I was able to get in a very nice programme with a possibility to go to a Wednesday race on the Knockhill trioval, I went back to my old habits.
FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2011
This day was entirely spent travelling to get into position for my Saturday tracks. The first part, to the port of Calais, went smoothly. Although I arrived largely on time to take an earlier ferry, Seafrance didn't let me on it. I had to wait for almost two hours for a Channel crossing that started 45 minutes late. In Dover, some more delays were added when there was only one lane open for custom control, due to a coach having a breakdown in the other one. Add to that a 15 mile road works site on the M1 at Luton and lots of delays due to heavy traffic, I was running out of time to get to North Wales. After passing Tarporley, I began looking for a place to sleep. Whereas years ago Bed and Breakfast places where everywhere, they seem to have become scarce these days. Therefore, I looked for hotels and found a very nice one in Chester: the Mill Hotel. It was situated at a canal and to get from the lobby to my room, I had to cross the canal via a bridge at second ground level. I did have a nice room and went for a splendid dinner in a restaurant with Bangla Desh cuisine: the Chester Tandoori. I had a succulent fish lunch for a very low price.
Number of races on this trip: 0
Number of races in 2011: 14
Of which on new tracks: 13
Number of countries in which trackchased: 7
SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 2011
The day started at 8.00 a.m. with a traditional English breakfast. Although this is too salty and greasy for my diet, I couldn't pass it, as in the morning I have to eat in order to be able to take my hypertension medicine. Moreover, I had a long day before me, in which I would hardly have time to eat a lot. After breakfast, I got on the road to Cymru (also known as Wales to the Anglo-Saxons). Chester is only 5 miles away from the border and soon I was in Celtic culture. I'm a big fan of this ancient culture and have seen many a track in Celtic countries and regions (Cymru, Alba, Eire, Breizh, better known as Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany to English speakers). The road was very nice, but the weather became ever worse. I had left Chester with bright sunshine and 16° C, when I crossed the Britannia Bridge to get onto Mon (Anglesey in English); it was pouring with rain and 8° C. As this was only 10 miles from Aberffraw, where Trâc Mon a.k.a. Anglesey Circuit is located, this didn't bode well. The service road to the track was full of potholes, but the complex itself is a real beauty. It consists of 4 track variants and is bordered by the Irish Sea. Today's races would be on the second largest variant: the Coastal Circuit. There's ample parking from which one can watch this undulating bunch of roads with a breathtaking sea backdrop. Being a native speaker of a language that is only spoken by 0.04% of the world population, I'd like to report this track with its local name as well as his English one. In fact, adding to the Celtic theme, the major race was for the Irish Touring Car Championship. This sounds more important than it is, really. Due to the economic situation in Ireland, motor racing is also in the doldrums and this championship consists of a bunch of ill prepared cars of different vintage. Their race was not as entertaining as the two Formula Ford ones, for modern and classic cars. As all races were on damp soil, the spins were galore. I'd like to go back there to score the national circuit once.
I drove exactly the same route as in the morning, only I didn't stop at Chester, but repassed through Tarporley again on my way to Stoke-on-Trent. I had some difficulty finding a hotel room, but I got one at a Premier Inn a few miles from the town centre. Still, I just had time to put my bag into the room, hop in the car and drive to the Chesterton Stadium for the 5.00 p.m. start. This dirt oval, at the Loomer Road industrial area, has had a chequered history and it now reopened for car racing after a nine year break. There were several unusual things about this track. I've never been stopped by a track employee telling that getting the car in cost £ 5 extra, but I could also park on the road, which I opted for. Although this was the first meeting after nine years, the programme was ambitious enough to state a start time for each race. Not only did they start on time, they got ahead of programme and ended 20 minutes earlier than anticipated. They had a varied programme with Modstox and V8 Hot Stox, which are both budget classes reminiscent of BRISca F1's, bangers and above all, F1 Heritage races. I've been an avid reader of Rick's stock car racing memoires and it was nice to see these cars for the first time. The track and its amenities are basic, but the organisation was excellent and very spectator friendly. For each presentation, young lads were picked out of the public to hand over the trophy. This is nice to get youngsters interested, for they will become the future customers. For a first race at an unusually early hour, there was a vast crowd, with very many families. I hope this track keeps up the good work and will get in nice and spectator friendly events for many years to come. The early finish allowed me to have a not too late dinner at a restaurant adjacent to my hotel. It was a New York style Italian restaurant, but I dearly wish there were some like these in the USA. The food, the music and the service were all way above average. My first racing day in the UK got me two very nice events. I now have seen both paved courses in Wales and a nice oval near Stoke. What on earth made me stray from those British Easter weekends? Must have been brain fade.
Number of races on this trip: 2
Number of races in 2011: 16
Of which on new tracks: 15
Number of countries in which trackchased: 8
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