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181022014 TrackChaser Report #9--Hippodrome Trois-Rivieres

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  • rtryfbar2
    Mar 12, 2014

      Lincoln 0-3.  New Egypt 0-2. Shippensburg 0-2.  Selinsgrove 0-2. Port Royal 0-1.  Hagerstown 0-1.  Guy and Mike ice racing in Quebec: four for four.

      It was a good week for me.  At work, I was recognized for my work teaching employment skills and helping to get jobs for non native English speakers, with a nice little article and picture about my program in a Spanish community newsletter, which should help grow the program even more for next year.  At home I had settlement on the family home in Allentown, which had been very time consuming for the past six months, closing that chapter of my life.  And in racing, we got to see a very cool ice racing event later in the season than I had ever seen an outdoor ice race in the past.

      Mike Knappenberger and I rendezvoused at my house in the Poconos after work Friday, and headed to our usual Quebec launch point in Plattsburgh, NY.  On Saturday morning, we were on the road at 7:00 a.m. and heading for the track.  As is too often the case, useful information for spectators was hard to come by.

      The race was for the RevStar SpeedSTR's at the Hippodrome Trois-Rivieres.  The event website said that the Saturday races were from 10:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.  Last year at Valcourt, the SpeedSTR’s had only one race and it was the final race of the night, after dark.  We certainly didn’t want to arrive at 10:30 in the morning if that were the case this year.  I first tried emailing Carl Labonte from RevStar.  He said that although he knew the SpeedSTR’s were racing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; he had no detailed time schedule or event order at the time, but promised to forward one to me as soon as he go it.

      By Friday I had heard nothing so I checked again with Carl, who now said he knew that they had Saturday practice from 8:00 to 9:30, with races at 10:00.  Finally, a flyer for the event had the Saturday race time from 9:30 to 5:00.

      With no actual order of events or time schedule available to RevStar to forward, I turned to the event information contact.  At least they responded, although it was that they had no schedule of events from Circuit Pro Tour, but that each class was to race three or four times.  That turned out to be false.

      With starting times of 9:30, 10:00, and 10:30; we tried to shoot right for a 9:30 arrival.  Tickets for just Saturday were available as general admission (outdoor bleachers) or indoor.  The outdoor tickets for just Saturday were $15 in advance and $20 on race day.  Indoor tickets were $25 in advance and $40 on race day.  With the likelihood of being there for hours and hours, we went for the $40 indoor seats and never had second thoughts on that.

      If you have ever been to a horse racing facility, you probably can picture the indoor seating.  It was top notch and comfortable in every way.  The entire building was heated.  The bottom half had stadium seating while the top half had individual tables on one end, or tiered rows with individual seats and counters at the other, which is where we sat.

      At 10:00, the first group of snowmobiles hit the track, but it was just the beginning of practice that was scheduled for two hours earlier per RevStar.  Five SpeedSTR’s came out for their practice, although there were two others in the pits that apparently chose not to practice on Saturday morning but did race.  One of the cars caught fire at the end of the practice.  From our vantage point, it looked like they could not get the fire extinguisher to work and ended up throwing snow at the engine.

      The track is a big half-mile, and by that I mean a half mile around the inside rail.  It’s big for the SpeedSTR’s, but they looked pretty good sliding off turn four and sending up a rooster tail of ice dust.

      The actual racing finally started at about 12:15.  I would say the crowd was OK, but not great.  The outdoor bleachers were pretty full, the large indoor seating area maybe half full.  There was no program or order of events sheet available, so at the start of racing it was frustrating not knowing what was happening, the race order, or how many races there would be.  When the event representative told me that each class would race three or four times, I hoped they would just go through rotations of each of the classes.

      The vehicles tear up the ice pretty much, so they need frequent breaks to re-grade the track.  Despite the fact that they had plenty of track prep machinery on hand, and were very organized and had the procedure down to a science, it still took about a half hour for the whole process to be completed and racing to resume.  They had about five or six races in a session, then had to stop to work on the track.

      When the snowmobiles started the show, then raced a second time with no SpeedSTR’s, I knew they were not just going to take turns.  After the first group of races, I was wandering around and saw a track worker with a schedule of events.  He let me look at it, and I learned there were 46 races.  There were eight track prep sessions.  The SpeedSTR’s were scheduled to race only twice.  Their races were numbers 21 and 45.

      With eight track work breaks, that equaled about four hours of down time.  Add the two hour late start and you have only four hours of racing in a ten hour show.  Luckily, there were some things in our favor.  First of all, the racing was good!  All the classes really were flying on the super fast half-mile, and were exciting to watch.  Most of the races in the snowmobiles, ATV, and motorcycles had about six or so starters and were five or six laps.  On top of that, although the show was very long, we were in what was probably the most comfortable grandstand we could possibly have been in.

      The SpeedSTR’s had the longest races.  On Friday night, they had seven cars on hand.  On Saturday, they had the same seven cars, but one had the engine problems in warmups and didn’t race so there were six starters.  By Sunday they lost another and were down to five racing.  The SpeedSTR’s were great to watch setting up for the turns and broadsliding off turn four with the rooster tails of ice dust.  But six cars on a half-mile are not really enough, and they got spread out that they did not have the close racing of the snowmobiles, bikes, and ATV’s.  However, the crowd really seemed to perk up when they hit the track, as they were the largest vehicles there.

      Once again a thank you to Rick Young for this track discovery.  Rick is responsible for three of the six new tracks I've been to so far in 2014.  This was my 200th track in Canada, joining our Roland Vanden Eynde of Belgium who has 216 in Netherlands, and our Don McAuley of Canada who has 211 in the US as people with 200 tracks in a single foreign country.

      Overall, I was very pleased to have been able to attend the show.  It was something different, something fun, a gorgeous facility, and an ice race in the second weekend of March.  Can’t ask for more than that.  I had planned on Selinsgrove this Friday and Port Royal Saturday for this week, but they both canceled already.  So I am going to accompany Pam to a conference in Columbus, OH this weekend, and we can go to a Saturday hockey game to work on her Roaming the Raceways /Roaming the Rinks Dual Citizenship.  Should be a great time.

      2014 Guy & Pam Smith Summary

      2014 New Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam 2
      2014 Events--Guy 9 / Pam 5
      2014 Total Tracks--Guy 8 / Pam 4
      2014 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 0 / Pam N/A

      Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,544 / Pam 882
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