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Trackchaser update

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  • vndnynd
    Hello colleagues, I m writing this from an internet shop in sunny Toowoomba, Queensland. The first part of my Oceanean trackchasing trip went more or less
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 9, 2006
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      Hello colleagues,

      I'm writing this from an internet shop in sunny Toowoomba, Queensland.

      The first part of my Oceanean trackchasing trip went more or less
      according to plan and in an hour or two I hope to add my first
      Queenland track to my total as well.

      After a nice stopover in Singapore (the best example of a smoothly
      functioning multilingual multi-ethnic country, unfortunately without
      any countable racing), Aline and I arrived in New Zealand on Friday
      March 3. Unlike Colin Casserley, I have very mixed feelings about
      this country. In fact, the only thing I did like about my visit was
      the racing. When entering the country we had to queue for three
      quarters of an hour to get through the food import checks, and while
      leaving Air New Zealand mutilated my suitcase after making us pay NZD
      150 for overweight, while we saw other passengers check in huge bags
      as hand luggage. Moreover, they make you pay NZD 25 per person for an
      allowance to leave the country. As the food was far below Australian
      standards and the weather was windy and damp, the only hugely
      positive thing was the racing.

      I started Saturday March 4 with a club meeting at the Pukehoke Park
      Motorspeedway. Together with Mansfeild, this is NZ premier paved
      roadcourse, but it has a lovely 1950's feel to it. Built around a
      horse racing track, it is a bit featureless, but visibility fro; the
      large covered grandstand is excellent. And so was the racing. A total
      of 9 classes (mainly historic, but also saloon cars and small single
      seaters) rced three times each (once on the Saturday and twice on the
      Sunday). To spice things up some Sunday races involved reverse start
      grids, handicap starts and so on). They needn't do this as most
      Saturday races were harshly contested (especially the single seaters'
      who drove four abreast for the first five laps).

      In the early evening, I moved to the dirt oval Waikaraka Speedway, a
      part of a sporting complex in an industrial estate near Mount
      Welligton. Again, huge covered grandstands were in evidence. The
      racing was mainly for saloon cars and some heats were fierce. However
      good the racing was, I had planned to end my evening with a bang at
      the Spring Speedway near the MOTAT (Museum of Transport and
      Technology) in Western Springs (only a ten minute drive from my hotel
      in central Auckland). This is a first class facility with great
      lights. The midget and sprintcar features catered for the best oval
      racing I've seen in years.

      After a very full Saturday, Sunday March 5 was more leisurely. I only
      went to the dirt oval of the Kihikihi Speedway. As it was on our
      travel itinerary way, Aline joined me for this meeting, thus adding
      another country to her list as well. Again the 25 races were top
      class, and at least this meeting catered for open wheels as well as
      for saloon cars.

      Trackchasingwise, the New Zealand leg was a success, but I'm much
      happier now I'm in Australia. I plan to see three tracks this weekend
      and maybe some more next one, although my plans around the Melbourne
      area need to be revised, as all hotels are fully booked for the
      Commonwealth Games.

      Roland
    • vndnynd
      Hello colleagues, Another message from sunny down under, this time from Brisbane. As I hinted in my previous message, I went to the Charlton Raceway on Friday,
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 12, 2006
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        Hello colleagues,

        Another message from sunny down under, this time from Brisbane. As I
        hinted in my previous message, I went to the Charlton Raceway on
        Friday, March 10, for the first day of the Australian Holden based
        late model championship (over 50 participants from all over the
        country) as well as for the Queensland midget championship. Both
        championships were run in European autocross style mode, i.e. three
        heats every day, with an equal amount of points for every heat and no
        features. The track itself is small and rural, but has a grandstand
        and a few additional bleachers. The organisation was excellent and
        the racing very fierce. Unfortunately, the winged midgets seemed to
        be ill suited to the tight and bumpy dirt track. No less than three
        of them overturned in separate incidents. The first two flipped right
        in front of me, the second one almost clearing the 5 meter fence
        upside down, before coming to a solid standstill on its wheels. The
        third accident, in turn one, was even worse, as the car cleared the
        fence with its rear wheels, luckily getting stuck nose down between
        fence and armco. None of the drivers were injured, but a long delay
        to remove the car and repair the fence was announced and as it was
        rather chilly, I decided to give the third heats a miss.

        We stayed overnight at Toowoomba and on March 11, I went to nearby
        Gatton to watch saloon cars and small single seaters on the dirt
        track at the local showgrounds. The track (only used about five times
        a year) and its environment resembled the midwestern showground dirt
        tracks I saw last year a lot. The actual track looked longer, larger
        and smoother than the one at Toowoomba. On the other hand, the racing
        was a little tame. Unlike Charlton Raceway, there were longish pauses
        between races, so the meeting ran a little late. Spectating in the
        brand new grandstand was pleasant though.

        For the next three days, we have rented a huge appartment in the town
        of Redcliffe (half an hour north of Brisbane). We enjoy it very much
        over there and Aline is seriously thinking about permanently moving
        to the Brisbane area. With the lush vegetation and the low real
        estate prices, who could blame her. I certainly couldn't. So maybe in
        a few years from now, Will shall have to label me as an Oceanian
        trackchaser instead of a European one. In the meantime, I'll soak up
        the Australian sun and laidback lifestyle for another nine days and
        try to add one or two more tracks to my total.


        Roland
      • Steve Rixon
        ... From: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of vndnynd Sent: 13 March 2006 04:08 To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 13, 2006
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          -----Original Message-----
          From: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com]On
          Behalf Of vndnynd
          Sent: 13 March 2006 04:08
          To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [TrackChasers] Trackchaser update
          So maybe in a few years from now, Will shall have to label me as an Oceanian
          trackchaser instead of a European one.
          Roland

          FANTASTIC !!! That means I'd become European #1 again without busting a gut
          trying to catch the mad Belgian !!! :)
          Spike



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        • vndnynd
          Hello colleagues, This is my final update from down under. And the weather in Sydney is more Belgian than Australian with grey skies and a steady drizzle. So
          Message 4 of 15 , Mar 19, 2006
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            Hello colleagues,

            This is my final update from down under. And the weather in Sydney is
            more Belgian than Australian with grey skies and a steady drizzle. So
            maybe after all Aline will decide Australia has got some downsides as
            well and stay put in Belgium (sorry, Spike).

            I topped up my Australian total with an historic club enduro at Oran
            Park and a dirt oval race at Nowra Speedway, both on Saturday, March 18.

            Oran Park is one of Australia's prime road tracks. It's based near
            Narellan, about an hour west of Sydney. The track is on top of a hill,
            but most of it is flat. Visibilty is quite good, though, as the track
            has several loops and one can see the cars on several parts of the
            track from any location. The complex also features a drag strip and a
            four wheel drive dirt track. The race I saw was a small historic club's
            two hour enduro on the Saturday afternoon. Entry was free and I could
            roam the pits and all. I liked to see a bunch of 1980's Holden
            Commodores battling it out for the lead, as they were my first taste of
            Australian motorsport when Allan Grice and Peter Brock ventured out to
            Europe in 1985.

            From Oran Park I drove about 100 miles south to the city of Nowra.
            Although a rather large town to Australian standards (32000
            inhabitants), I have never seen a more featureless place down here. We
            had trouble finding a decent motel, there were no restaurants worth
            trying (very unusual for Australia, as even in remote places, one can
            eat well. Fortunately, the speedway is a gem. It's a large flat oval
            with some very sticky dirt. The racing was American style (3 heats and
            a feature) and catered mainly for stock cars (3 divisions) and
            Microsprints. The racing was fierce, but very fair. At least all my
            memories from Nowra won't be bqd ones.

            Yesterday, I went and checked out a track action day at Eastern Creek
            Raceway, together with Phillip Island near Sydney the most state of the
            art Australian track. This is very different from Oran Park, large
            grandstands, and almost Indy like track entrance road. Very nice
            indeed. Unfortunately, the car track activity was only recreational
            (unlike the bikes, who did race). Anyway, it gives me something to aim
            for on my next Australian trip. Wednesday evening, we're back off to
            Belgium. Not really looking forward to that, but all good things must
            come to an end.

            Roland
          • vndnynd
            Hello colleagues, I m sending this from Stansted Airport, where I wait for my plane back to Rotterdam. My English Easter tour went almost as planned. After a
            Message 5 of 15 , Apr 17, 2006
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              Hello colleagues,

              I'm sending this from Stansted Airport, where I wait for my plane
              back to Rotterdam.

              My English Easter tour went almost as planned. After a very nice and
              fast flight, I set out on Friday, April 14 for my first race at the
              Skegness Stadium. I had scored that when it was dirt, but it's much
              nicer now it's reverted to asphalt once more. Huge fields of BriSCA
              F1, F2 and Ministox and very entertaining races, an enourmous scowd
              and a very nice athmosphere, who needs more?

              No new tracks on Saturday, just club races at Silverstone.

              Sunday April 16 started with a nice autograss meeting at the Hilltop
              Raceway at Tirley. It's on a hilltop, but the oval has pretty little
              grass. The more grass was to be found at the very crude oval of the
              So;erset Bangers Club at Rooksbridge, where I missed Randy by about
              an hour. This track looked like a Belgian or Dutch grassy autocross
              oval and the racing was good also.

              I had dinner last night and breakfast this morning with Randy, and
              during breakfast Colin Herridge called that the races at SAA raceway
              where postponed.

              I see my internet time is running out, so I post this report now and
              send you an update of today's trackchasing activity with Colin and
              Randy first thing tomorrow morning.


              Roland
            • Vanden Eynde Roland
              Hello colleagues, Just as I am a huge motor racing fan, Aline is passionate about plants and gardening. Last year we already made a trip to England during
              Message 6 of 15 , Jun 2, 2009
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                Hello colleagues,

                Just as I am a huge motor racing fan, Aline is passionate about plants and gardening. Last year we already made a trip to England during which we combined a visit to David Austin Roses at Allbrighton with two track visits and last Thursday, we embarked on a roughly similar trip.

                The weather was absolutely brilliant, warm, sunny and not too humid, but my car's air-conditioning had gone on the blink on Wednesday evening and we had to travel old style with open windows. In January, I had discovered a large nursery near Maidstone and barely an hour into England, Aline had already managed to almost entirely fill the large booth of my car with plants. A bit of shopping was also done and we found a nice hotel with a good restaurant just outside West Malling.

                The plan for the Friday was to visit Hever Castle in the morning and then drive up to the Birmingham area, but after a very nice visit to Anna Boleyn's childhood home (she was Henry VIII's second wife), we became stuck in a huge traffic jam on the M25 (the London orbital), because a car had overturned. It took us almost 4 hours to cover less than 20 miles, so we only got as far as Thame, near Oxford, for our second night. The room in our 4 star hotel was a bargain at £70, but the restaurant was way below par. I suppose most pubs do a better job for a third of the price.

                Saturday had another problem in store, this time road works in the Oxford area, that prevented me from taking my preferred route to Allbrighton. I had to make a long detour, so we reached the rose nursery a lot later than planned. That put paid to my plans of going to Rockingham on the Saturday afternoon. I managed to talk Aline out of her intention to buy more plants than I could stock behind the front seats of my car and we found refuge in a nice hotel annex golf course just outside Rugby.

                Unfortunately, there was a nursery nearby and Aline used all her persuasion to make us visit it on Sunday morning. She still found a way to stock plants in a cardboard box on the rear seats and thus loaded, I set off for the Rockingham Motor Speedway at Corby. I had already seen a CART race on the oval, but this time they drove on the road course. Just like at Indy, there's a flat road course in the infield, which is combined with a portion of the banked oval. There was a reasonable crowd in the vast grandstands, but there still was more than enough space to grab some shady and well aired spots. Visibility was very good, but the infield lacks character. Aline is a big fan of the Ferrari F430 model and she was not amused that they were beaten by a Mosler. I liked the slipstreaming Formula Fords quite well, but the numbers aren't anywhere near to what they were in the eighties and nineties. The same goes for the major race of the meeting, the British Formula 3 championship. I was lucky seeing them a few times in the last two years as they had quality and quantity to booth, but this year, they seem to be down on both. We left Corby at 4.30PM and got to the Maidstone area again, where we ended our English foray with a very nice meal in our favourite British restaurant 'The Mughal Dynasty'.

                We were out of our hotel before 7.00AM on Monday and got on the 8.00AM boat back to Calais. As Aline had found some very lovely plants, she agreed to a little detour via the Netherlands. When Gordy visited me, he noticed a flyer of the Marcel Broekhuyzen organised autocross meeting at Lopik. I wasn't paying attention to it, as I already had scored both an oval and a road course there with the Rixon's and a couple of self proclaimed assassins from the West Coast, but Gordy drew my attention to a Figure 8 race on Monday, June 1. We arrived at Lopik after going through the Netherland's longest tunnel and using a ferry. It was a day of fun races rather than regular dirt oval races and half an hour after our arrival, the first heat of the Figure 8 competition started on a very dusty track. Aline had witnessed a Canadian Figure 8 race at Cambridge together with Will (and very briefly the self proclaimed assassin from the West Coast), and she was not impressed by the dusty Dutch variant of it. In fact, she was right, because other than dust clouds, there was very little to see. But thanks to Gordy for getting me this addition to my list. We decided to call it a day after this first heat and get on the road back home before the holiday traffic got too bad.

                I've promised Aline we'll pay another visit to England later this summer. In the meantime, I'm in for a few weeks of intense travelling while Aline visits her mother in her native Guadeloupe.


                Roland

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              • Vanden Eynde Roland
                Hello colleagues, Late last year, Aline and I were scheduled to go to her native Guadeloupe for a fortnight. Unfortunately, I was tied up at work and we had to
                Message 7 of 15 , Jun 9, 2009
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                  Hello colleagues,

                  Late last year, Aline and I were scheduled to go to her native Guadeloupe for a fortnight. Unfortunately, I was tied up at work and we had to postpone our trip to the end of February. At that time there was a general strike on for more than a month, so we postponed again. Aline's sister had recently asked her if she wanted to accompany her on a visit to her mother and Aline gratefully accepted. Thus, on Saturday afternoon, we headed for the Hotel Ibis at Rungis, near the airport of Orly. It's a very convenient hotel: only 5 minutes from the airport in a quiet location and with a good restaurant.

                  After a way too short night and an early breakfast, I drove Aline to the airport. Even though we were more than 2 hours in advance of take off time, there was a huge crowd at the check in desks. But the checking in was done very swiftly and after a last chat with Aline, her sister and her brother in law, I left Orly airport at about 9.00AM. The directions to the motorway I was heading for were somewhat erratic, with roads changing numbers at every intersection, but I managed to get on the right track at the first try. The fact I know the southern suburbia of Paris thanks to my numerous trips to the sadly lamented Montlhéry track certainly helped. Once on the motorway, progress was swift, but expensive. I left the motorway at Artenay (in the department of Loiret), after having driven about 52 miles on it and they charged me EUR 7.80 (or at the current rate $ 10.80). My first track was supposed to be at Sougy, the very next village. This area is as flat as a pancake, so one can see for miles and miles. However, entering Sougy, I could not see any evidence of a race track (no signposting at all). In the village centre, there was a T crossing. I opted for a right hand turn and soon got back in open space again. About 2 miles from the village edge, all of a sudden the track complex appeared. I headed for the car park, where only four other spectator cars were parked. I thought I would be massively early, but upon buying my EUR 8 ticket, I learned they were just finishing practice and would start the first heat in 25 minutes. The Circuit de Sougy is a rather nice complex with two dirt courses, a 600 m long one for motocross and a 1000 m long one for car racing. It was built in 2005 and it also boasts a large paddock. The car track had several nice features: it was very wide (12 to 16 m) and had elevation changes. In this ultra flat landscape, they dug out part of the track and used the dug out earth to bank two corners. This meeting was for crosskarts only. I like crosskarts, they're the midgets of autocross. This was a major meeting, for the three classes of the national championship were on and they drew a large field from all regions of France. Although I was almost 300 miles from home, several drivers had come from further. They started bang on time and as those heats all count for equal points, they raced franticly from the word go. The wide track allowed for very many lines and some unusual overtaking took place left, right and centre.

                  After the first heat, I left this pleasant meeting in bright sunshine, but with a very chilly and sometimes heavy wind, for a trek of about 85 miles south, to the Circuit Municipal des Tourneix at Saint Maur, near Châteauroux (in the department of Indre). The website of this rallycross track gave clear indications as to get to it, but after having forked out another EUR 9.10 for motorway toll, the exit I had to take was blocked by road works and I had to do a 19 mile detour to reach it. Thus I arrived in the middle of the third heat for this 4 division French rallycross championship meeting (also sporting a round of the Dacia Logan one make cup). This track belongs to the town of Saint Maur and given the circumstances, they did a great job. For on Saturday the region had been treated to torrential rain and during the night, much more rain fell. Still, they only cordoned off a very soggy meadow and still got ample parking space for the vast crowd. They even put liberal amounts of straw on the ramp to the spectator enclosures to prevent a quagmire. Unfortunately, the track, which is in a sort of stadium style, is flat, slow and featureless. It also only sports 30% of asphalt, and only in hairpins or sharp turns. The rain had made matters a lot worse, because in both of the longest straights, there were vast pools of standing water, making it a one line track. Only at the first corner a few cars passed others and a few spun, but for the rest of each race, it was a slow procession, unless someone made a mistake and slid wide. Mid way through the B finals, the sky turned black and I headed for my car. I managed to get out of the car park when the first drops fell and many came down to follow my example.

                  My evening turned from bad to worse, for after driving for two hours, I thought I found a nice refuge in the town of Pithiviers. It was at the Relais de la Poste, a Logis de France hotel. This is an association of small family hotels with nice rooms and a very good restaurant serving local cuisine. They had a room alright, but their restaurant was closed on Sunday evenings. The owner must have had a weird sense of humour, for he said there were plenty of other restaurants around. When I went out to look for one at 7.30PM, it turned out each and every one was closed as well. I took my car to look if there was something open out of town and came upon a sign for a nearby McDonald's in the industrial area. On the way to it, I passed two more closed restaurants and a Chinese buffet one that was open. I reckoned my chances of leaving France without food poisoning were better if I stuck to American 'haute cuisine'. At the Mickey Dee, there was a huge waiting line. I seem to have chosen the best of the three lines, because the girl running it was incredibly fast. Less than 30 seconds after placing my order, I was all set (if in the USA they can pull this trick off within three minutes, I can't complain). Anyway, after my burger and fries, I still felt a bit peckish, but decided to leave it at that, until I had to take a one way route back to my hotel and stumbled upon an open North African snack bar, where I had two lovely sandwiches with kofte (spicy grilled beef meat balls). After my American fast and tasteless food, it was a feast.

                  Yesterday, it rained all day, but that didn't stop me from visiting the splendid castle of Vaux-le-Vicompte. I wasn't the alone in there, because at least 15 school groups of children under the age of 10 were there as well. They made lots of noise, but didn't bother me at all, in vast contrast to the flock of teachers accompanying them and who were only interested in taking tons of pictures inside the castle. The long run to my car had made me hungry, but I would leave France on a positive note, as the small local restaurant in a little town in the Brie region was up to standard. Within an hour twenty tables were served by one waitress, who did her job to perfection and entertained the clients by yelling the drinks orders to the bar tender. This was particularly funny when two municipal workers ordered two cognacs and the whole restaurant started laughing and pointing their fingers at them.

                  As Aline is gone for two weeks, I don't see many reasons to stay in Belgium for long. Next weekend will be used for another fly away race and this time it has to be on, as there's no chance I'll find an alternative as was the case in Serbia. And of course the weekend after, I have to pick up Aline on her return. Another nice alibi to trackchase in France again. And I will make sure I'll stay at the Rungis Ibis on Sunday night. At least their restaurant is open 7 nights a week.

                  Roland

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                  "DISCLAIMER: The content of this e-mail message should not be
                  construed as binding on the part of the National Bank of Belgium
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                  of this message, or part thereof, is private by nature or does not
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                • Vanden Eynde Roland
                  Hello colleagues, Last Sunday, I added the 41st country to my trackchasing list, but it was not the country I had planned. In fact, I saw races in a totally
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jun 18, 2009
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                    Hello colleagues,

                    Last Sunday, I added the 41st country to my trackchasing list, but it was not the country I had planned. In fact, I saw races in a totally different country on a totally different continent.

                    Several months ago, I had booked two flights with Germanwings, one to Beograd, the capital of Serbia, and one to its counterpart in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo. Both times my targeted meeting was a major one: a round of the FIA sanctioned Central European Zone Touring Car Championship. Both meetings were to be held on road courses, partly in army camps. Both were still firmly on the calendar a week before their scheduled date, but were cancelled at very short notice. In Serbia I was extremely lucky to stumble upon a countable race I had no knowledge of, but the nearest race to Zaluzani was at the Hungaroring, more than 5 hours of driving and two border crossings away from Banja Luka.

                    In this case, I was first alerted Wednesday of last week, when a Serbian site didn't mention the June 13-14 races, but a car race included in a bike meeting a week later. As the Zaluzani meeting also sported a round of the Croatian touring car championship, I logged on to the HAKS site (the Croatian sporting authority) and got confirmation of the cancellation of the Bosnian races. As this is the one and only race meeting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I decided not to travel to this war torn and still rather tense country.

                    This decision left me with two possible options: trackchase near home or try to find another new country at short notice. Both options had their advantages and drawbacks. As I had already filled for two days leave on Monday and Tuesday, I could trackchase further away from home than usual. But the most interesting events were rather close to home. On the other hand, I could theoretically opt for three countries not yet on my list, but that depended on still finding an affordable way to get there. I searched for many options, even a combination of a new country and a meeting nearby. In the end my choice was purely based on economic figures. And it was not the most obvious one, as I was embarking on a trackchasing first: watch a race on another continent without using an airplane for transport.

                    In fact, I went to Morocco by bus. Brussels has a very large Moroccan community (when Gordy visited me we had dinner in a Moroccan fish restaurant near Brussels South railway station). There are several transportation firms providing daily non stop bus services to Casablanca in Morocco. in the recent past, many of these busses were very badly maintained, but after a fatal accident, with 31 casualties, three years ago, only licensed operators with modern busses are allowed on these trips. Friday noon, I had purchased my ticket for the 6.00PM departure to Casablanca. I had enquired about busses going all the way to Morocco's capital, Rabat, but there were none. Thus I left my car in the NBB parking lot and walked to the bus departure spot. I was lucky, for the bus was only half full. I was the only Belgian on it and when someone asked why I was going to Morocco and I answered it was to watch a motor race, they must have thought I was a lunatic. It resulted in the fact they left me alone and I had ample space on the bus to lay down and grab some sleep. The bus was surprisingly comfortable with reclining seats and airco. We took off a few minutes past 6.00PM and made swift progress. The bus was operated by two drivers, who changed position every two 4 hour stints. Every four hours or so, the bus stopped for half an hour at a motorway service station. The only exception was at 7.00AM on Saturday when it stopped for 75 minutes at a truck stop with showers. I had slept rather well through the night and now had an unexpected chance to shower and shave. It was most welcome. The weather had been rather bad in Belgium, but once we reached Spain in the afternoon of Saturday, it became very hot. The bus made surprisingly good progress and at nightfall, we passed Valencia, home of Aline's niece. At 5.00AM on Sunday, the bus drove onto the boat getting us from Algeciras in Spain over the Gibraltar straight to the Moroccan town of Tanger. Being the only non Moroccan had its downside here, because I was subjected to a thorough drug search, which I passed with flying colours. The last stretch went by without a hitch and just before 10.00AM, the bus dropped us in Casablanca's town centre. I went in search for a hotel and a car hire firm and found them both within walking distance from the bus station. I got a room for the equivalent of EUR 50 at the Hotel Mercure and after a little rest, another shower and shave, and putting in my lenses for the first time since leaving the office, I stepped into the nearby Europcar office, to hire a Škoda Felicia for one day (EUR 42).

                    As the races were scheduled to start at the Circuit automobile de Salé, about 45 miles south of Casablanca, at 2.30PM (the morning was devoted to qualifying), I had time on my hand and stopped halfway at a small restaurant for a Tuna brik (a sort of fried pancake with fish and vegetables) and a mint tea. Both were excellent and it was thoroughly in the Moroccan mood that I got onto the track's parking lot somewhere round 2.00PM. I had seen pictures of the Marrakech WTCC race and found the track abominable, but this was a very different kettle of fish. The track was on a military airfield outside town (Salé is a twin town of Rabat), adjacent to a fairly new industrial park. There was a nice crowd on hand and the track, a little over 1 mile long, reminded me a bit of Padborg Park in Denmark. It not only had the flat and featureless parts of any airfield, but also a more technical and slow section. Visibility wasn't bad, but not exceptional either. There were races for four classes, mostly for small to medium touring cars, but one class also catered for small sports cars and prototypes. The fields weren't very large, but quality of both the cars and the racing was quite good.

                    I got back to Casablanca on time to have a nice couscous dinner with mechoui (steamed lamb) and a nice bottle of Sidi Brahim (a well known Moroccan red wine). Afterwards, I had a short stroll, before hitting the sack in preparation for my return trip to Brussels with the 9.00AM bus. This time the bus was only one third full and I wasn't the only European passenger, for three Dutch backpackers were also on it. That was a good thing, because the Spanish customs left me alone this time, yet let the sniffer dogs lose on the Dutchmen. Lucky for all of us, the dogs found nothing and with minimal delay, we could get back on our long trip north. As much as the trip south had been smooth, this one was long. The bus had the knack of getting stuck in traffic at least four times and it was only late afternoon on Tuesday that I was back in Brussels, knackered, but richer of a unique experience.

                    Tonight, I'm going to a concert by the Eagles in Antwerp and on Saturday, I'm off to France to watch two new tracks and to meet Aline at Orly very early on Monday (6.40AM) on her return from Guadeloupe.


                    Roland

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                    Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

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                  • Vanden Eynde Roland
                    Hello colleagues, The last two weeks it has been scorching hot over here and yesterday was no exception, although the morning was more overcast than usual. I
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jul 6, 2009
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                      Hello colleagues,

                      The last two weeks it has been scorching hot over here and yesterday was
                      no exception, although the morning was more overcast than usual.

                      I went north, to the Dutch province of Drenthe, to watch two local
                      autocrosses. The first one was at Nieuwlande, not very far from the
                      famous TT track of Assen. It was a meeting for the provincial
                      championship and there was a vast crowd when proceedings started bang on
                      time, at noon, on a wide and well watered sandy course. There were seven
                      classes, but only two of them drew a field of more than 10 cars (the
                      locals and the standard cars with 12 each). Anyway, the racing was
                      rather nice and the organisers did their best to keep the track in good
                      condition by regrading it after every bunch of heats. The track in
                      itself was challenging and it allowed for several lines, a certain
                      recipe for some overtaking. Unlike most meetings, they had four heats
                      and a final, with the entire field driving in every race. I watched two
                      heats, before cooling off a bit on my way to another local meeting, 40
                      miles up north, at Yde de Punt.

                      The meeting at Yde de Punt was very different from the one at
                      Nieuwlande. First of all, it was not a regular autocross, but a meeting
                      for combined harvesters, with three autocross races bookending it (one
                      for standard cars, one for bangers and one for lady drivers only). When
                      I arrived after 4.30PM, the combined harvesters were having their final.
                      It took some time to retrieve the stranded beasts from the ultra wide
                      track, with lots of artificial bumps. Just before 5.30PM, the second
                      bunch of autocross races got on the way with the lady race (with only
                      four participants). Not the most exciting ten minutes of the day. They
                      rushed the programme through before the 6.00PM curfew, although they had
                      to shorten the banger race by two laps.


                      Roland

                      -----------------------------------------
                      Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

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                    • Vanden Eynde Roland
                      Hello colleagues, One of the many differences between trackchasing American and European style is that while in the USA and Canada the months of July and
                      Message 10 of 15 , Aug 3, 2009
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                        Hello colleagues,

                        One of the many differences between trackchasing American and European
                        style is that while in the USA and Canada the months of July and August
                        are the most appropriate for seeing races every day of the week, these
                        two months are lean ones in Europe when it comes to trackchasing. The
                        last weekend of July, I found no new track racing within 550 miles from
                        home. And anyway, going south was out of the question, due to enormous
                        traffic jams as a result of holiday traffic. Last Saturday, France broke
                        its traffic jam record on motorways, establishing a new mark of 866 km
                        (or 542 miles) of tailbacks.

                        This weekend seemed hardly any better, for my prime objective, a Belgian
                        autocross at Deerlijk, was cancelled 10 days ago. This left me with only
                        one 'nearby' choice, a Dutch autocross on the island of Texel. I was all
                        set for a Sunday in the Netherlands, when I woke up to a heavy shower at
                        3.30AM. Lucky I did, because the drain evacuating the water from the
                        canopy was blocked by debris. I had to go outside and free it. As I was
                        wide awake from venturing out into the pouring rain, I took a look at
                        the Viamichelin printout for my backup race. It was a German race on the
                        Sollingring at the hamlet of Heinade. It was a less than 5 hour's drive
                        and the meeting started at 10.00AM. Moreover, it was in a direction (to
                        Berlin) not much affected by holiday traffic and where the weather would
                        be less humid than in the Netherlands. It was nice driving on the almost
                        deserted motorways and at 7.30AM, I took ample time to have a nice
                        German breakfast at a motorway restaurant. The weather in Niedersachsen
                        was dull but dry when I turned into the parking lot at 9.45AM.

                        The Sollingring is a flat permanent dirt course in very rural
                        surroundings. The paddock was large, and so was the track. However, the
                        track lay-out was a little basic, with a long straight and a few slow
                        corners. They had three races for each of the six car classes and three
                        heats for quads, which had their premiere on this track. I've been used
                        to seeing huge car counts on German autocross tracks, but this time they
                        were somewhat small: 7 and 8 in the two modified saloon classes, 10 in
                        the youth class, 11 in the buggy class, 16 in the small saloon class and
                        22 in the large saloon class. In those last two classes, cars raced in
                        two heats. Points were awarded based upon race placings (10-8-6-4-2-1
                        for the first 6) and race time (5 points for the winner and .1 point
                        less for every second a car was behind the winner). It's a little
                        complicated and results in some event wins with scores between 33.2 and
                        23.5. The racing was more than decent and there were a lot more position
                        changes than in Belgian autocrosses. Germany also has a fair number of
                        women drivers and there are more to come, for the youth class had 4
                        girls among the 10 starters and was convincingly won by Anna-Lena
                        Kietzmann, who had also won 3 out of 4 previous rounds of her
                        championship.

                        By mid afternoon, the Belgian rain had reached Heinade, which I took as
                        a sign to start the journey home. Next week, I intend to have a Dutch
                        programme and in two weeks time Aline has persuaded me to go back to
                        England for some plants and a bit of shopping in London. Being a good
                        sport, she agreed to me booking an early ferry on the Sunday morning, to
                        get in a Belgian autocross on the way home.

                        Last but not least, I've noticed a lot of you have been extremely busy
                        during the last 10 weeks. Will can add another name to the 2009
                        trackchaser list, non other than the most eastern based of all listed
                        trackchasers: Hans Joachim Stuck. On July 5, 2009 he and his oldest son
                        Johannes flew in by helicopter to see his other son Ferdinand race in
                        the ADAC Formel Masters on the road course of the Euroring Lausitz. Some
                        do it more in style than others.


                        Roland

                        -----------------------------------------
                        Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

                        "DISCLAIMER: The content of this e-mail message should not be
                        construed as binding on the part of the National Bank of Belgium
                        (NBB) unless otherwise and previously stated. The opinions
                        expressed in this message are solely those of the author and do not
                        necessarily reflect NBB viewpoints, particularly when the content
                        of this message, or part thereof, is private by nature or does not
                        fall within the professional scope of its author."
                      • RPMGORDY@aol.com
                        Roland, I m reminded of those nice, German breakfasts. The memories remain as strong as ever. I watched the Formula 1 race from the Nurburgring with a much
                        Message 11 of 15 , Aug 3, 2009
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                          Roland,

                          I'm reminded of those nice, German breakfasts. The memories remain as
                          strong as ever. I watched the Formula 1 race from the Nurburgring with a
                          much different perspective. The one camera must have been stationed near
                          where we stood. The sights on tv had a much better meaning, even that hotel
                          along the track itself. It looked as if they had completed the construction
                          we saw in progress. Thanks again for an unforgettable weekend.

                          Gordy


                          In a message dated 8/3/2009 9:55:12 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                          roland.vandeneynde@... writes:

                          Hello colleagues,

                          One of the many differences between trackchasing American and European
                          style is that while in the USA and Canada the months of July and August
                          are the most appropriate for seeing races every day of the week, these
                          two months are lean ones in Europe when it comes to trackchasing. The
                          last weekend of July, I found no new track racing within 550 miles from
                          home. And anyway, going south was out of the question, due to enormous
                          traffic jams as a result of holiday traffic. Last Saturday, France broke
                          its traffic jam record on motorways, establishing a new mark of 866 km
                          (or 542 miles) of tailbacks.

                          This weekend seemed hardly any better, for my prime objective, a Belgian
                          autocross at Deerlijk, was cancelled 10 days ago. This left me with only
                          one 'nearby' choice, a Dutch autocross on the island of Texel. I was all
                          set for a Sunday in the Netherlands, when I woke up to a heavy shower at
                          3.30AM. Lucky I did, because the drain evacuating the water from the
                          canopy was blocked by debris. I had to go outside and free it. As I was
                          wide awake from venturing out into the pouring rain, I took a look at
                          the Viamichelin printout for my backup race. It was a German race on the
                          Sollingring at the hamlet of Heinade. It was a less than 5 hour's drive
                          and the meeting started at 10.00AM. Moreover, it was in a direction (to
                          Berlin) not much affected by holiday traffic and where the weather would
                          be less humid than in the Netherlands. It was nice driving on the almost
                          deserted motorways and at 7.30AM, I took ample time to have a nice
                          German breakfast at a motorway restaurant. The weather in Niedersachsen
                          was dull but dry when I turned into the parking lot at 9.45AM.

                          The Sollingring is a flat permanent dirt course in very rural
                          surroundings. The paddock was large, and so was the track. However, the
                          track lay-out was a little basic, with a long straight and a few slow
                          corners. They had three races for each of the six car classes and three
                          heats for quads, which had their premiere on this track. I've been used
                          to seeing huge car counts on German autocross tracks, but this time they
                          were somewhat small: 7 and 8 in the two modified saloon classes, 10 in
                          the youth class, 11 in the buggy class, 16 in the small saloon class and
                          22 in the large saloon class. In those last two classes, cars raced in
                          two heats. Points were awarded based upon race placings (10-8-6-4-2-1
                          for the first 6) and race time (5 points for the winner and .1 point
                          less for every second a car was behind the winner). It's a little
                          complicated and results in some event wins with scores between 33.2 and
                          23.5. The racing was more than decent and there were a lot more position
                          changes than in Belgian autocrosses. Germany also has a fair number of
                          women drivers and there are more to come, for the youth class had 4
                          girls among the 10 starters and was convincingly won by Anna-Lena
                          Kietzmann, who had also won 3 out of 4 previous rounds of her
                          championship.

                          By mid afternoon, the Belgian rain had reached Heinade, which I took as
                          a sign to start the journey home. Next week, I intend to have a Dutch
                          programme and in two weeks time Aline has persuaded me to go back to
                          England for some plants and a bit of shopping in London. Being a good
                          sport, she agreed to me booking an early ferry on the Sunday morning, to
                          get in a Belgian autocross on the way home.

                          Last but not least, I've noticed a lot of you have been extremely busy
                          during the last 10 weeks. Will can add another name to the 2009
                          trackchaser list, non other than the most eastern based of all listed
                          trackchasers: Hans Joachim Stuck. On July 5, 2009 he and his oldest son
                          Johannes flew in by helicopter to see his other son Ferdinand race in
                          the ADAC Formel Masters on the road course of the Euroring Lausitz. Some
                          do it more in style than others.


                          Roland

                          -----------------------------------------
                          Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

                          "DISCLAIMER: The content of this e-mail message should not be
                          construed as binding on the part of the National Bank of Belgium
                          (NBB) unless otherwise and previously stated. The opinions
                          expressed in this message are solely those of the author and do not
                          necessarily reflect NBB viewpoints, particularly when the content
                          of this message, or part thereof, is private by nature or does not
                          fall within the professional scope of its author."


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                        • Vanden Eynde Roland
                          Hello colleagues, My initial idea was to spend the Easter weekend in England, like I did so many times in the past. However, I ve seen so many tracks active
                          Message 12 of 15 , Apr 6, 2010
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                            Hello colleagues,

                            My initial idea was to spend the Easter weekend in England, like I did
                            so many times in the past. However, I've seen so many tracks active
                            during the Easter time that I could only find three new ones. When,
                            about a month ago, my Monday track cancelled his race, I decided to save
                            a bit of money and stay closer to home.

                            Instead of England, it was two trips to the Northeast of the Netherlands
                            again. However, the weather would render one of my journeys useless.

                            Saturday morning, I braved the rain and the low temperatures and went to
                            the little hamlet of Marle, a part of the town of Hellendoorn. There was
                            a non sanctioned autocross as part of much larger festivities. On the
                            Friday evening there had been an enduro bike race on the greasy and
                            heavy clay oval. When I arrived for the 10 a.m. start, the track
                            attendants were still busy ironing the ruts and draining the track. It
                            was raining heavily and the clay was very slippery. It was not at all
                            easy to stay on one's feat in the spectator enclosures. But the track
                            attendants did a fine job and with a delay of about 45 minutes, the
                            event got on its way. There were three classes and, although this was
                            autocross heartland, the fields were small. They drove three heats and a
                            final for which the first three in every group qualified. In between
                            heats, I ate the tuna and green salad dish, I bought in a Dutch
                            supermarket on the way to the races. I also visited the large collection
                            of vintage tractors on display in a large tent. Many of them came over
                            from nearby Germany, where gatherings of vintage tractors are common.
                            The heats were short, although the running was so heavy many a car got
                            stuck in the mud. The final was girl power as local driver Sabine van
                            der Steen not only won her class, but the final as well. By 3 p.m. the
                            whole event was over. It had been cold and rainy all day, so I was happy
                            to warm up a bit in the car.

                            Monday, I headed in the same direction, but a bit more westerly, to the
                            small town of Makkinga. This time the weather was dry, but the rains of
                            the previous days had left the field in which the event was scheduled
                            looking like a swamp. Therefore the race had been cancelled on Sunday
                            evening. I got home again in the early afternoon and had a long walk in
                            by now nice sunshine.

                            Next week, it's the Northeast of the Netherlands again (hopefully with
                            less damp weather), but in two weeks time the new track at Mettet will
                            have its inaugural car meeting. A new paved track in Belgium and my
                            third countable one in the friendly town of Mettet, is something to look
                            out for with much eagerness.

                            Roland

                            -----------------------------------------
                            Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

                            "DISCLAIMER: The content of this e-mail message should not be
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                          • Vanden Eynde Roland
                            Hello colleagues, On the forum, I regularly read posts about the not always fine communication with track or race promoters. When trackchasing in Europe, I
                            Message 13 of 15 , Oct 18, 2010
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                              Hello colleagues,

                              On the forum, I regularly read posts about the not always fine communication with track or race promoters. When trackchasing in Europe, I almost never contact promoters, because in the vast majority of the cases, they never answer a mail. When I look for programmes for my guests, I do contact them, to be sure they really can see the events I promise to take them to. When the Smiths came over I contacted two promoters, one for an event in France and one for an event in Belgium. The French promoter did write back, unfortunately only to tell his event had been cancelled through lack of sponsorship. The Belgian promoter, Robin Van Hoovels, never wrote back, but last Tuesday, I received a mail from him, alerting me to an event I was totally unaware of. During the supermoto event at Namur (capital of the Wallonie region), there would be a Saturday devoted to crosskart races on the supermoto track (this is a competition with cross bikes on road tyres driving on a course half paved and half dirt). In this case the dirt would be shale, according to the message.

                              It had rained heavily on Friday evening, but Saturday was a bit drier, with just an occasional shower. I arrived early for the 9.30 a.m. start and I seemed to be one of the few spectators not being there as part of a team. The track, called the Circuit Supermoto de la Citadelle de Namur, was indeed half tarmac and half shale. It was rather fast, with two jumps and it was in a natural bowl on this rocky hill overlooking the city of Namur. In the early nineties, I had seen a hill climb at this spot, partly on the same cobblestones that were part of the fifties street track on this citadel. Due to very good contacts with some French drivers there was a vast field of over 30 crosskarts (of which only 8 were driven by locals). They would drive three 20 minute races between 9.30 and noon. The track was splendidly suited to these nimble cars. They were invented for autocross tracks, but the person who had the idea to let them drive on paved tracks must have had a stroke of genius. They are the best category one could see on a paved track: fast, sliding all the time and allowing super close racing. They deserve far better publicity and far more races on tarmac.

                              At noon, I got back to my original weekend plan, which called for a rallycross at Dreux and an enduro autocross near Péronne, both in France. Because there is a general strike in France and most oil refineries are blocked, I took on a full thank before crossing into France. The advantage of petrol being scarce was that the usual traffic congestion in the greater Paris area was far less than usual. I was on the N12 to Dreux in no time. The rallycross track is situated in the Boys Guyon complex, but this particular track is called Circuit de l'Ouest Parisien. It's mainly flat and quite fast. Because it had rained in Western France as well, the dirt sections were a little muddy. Rallycross is popular in France and all four divisions had large fields. Therefore, they start their meetings late on Saturday afternoon and I arrived at 4.30 a.m., half an hour after the start. They start with the small cars first, so I didn't miss very much. The races were good, but the wet dirt made passing not very likely, unless someone made a driving error. There were a few of those and by the time the 4WD division was in play, the dirt sections had dried out a bit, making the racing more spectacular.

                              I stayed at the local Etap Hotel and had a nice beef dinner at the Courtepaille grill, both being chains I regularly go to. Sunday was bright and sunny, yet very cold. Again, the drive round Paris was easy (French people like to sleep in on Sundays anyway). I arrived at Flaucourt, near the city of Péronne, well ahead of the noon starting time for the 6 Heures de Santerre, an off road enduro for not only standard and modified 4WD cars, but also for real off road prototypes of the Paris-Dakar variety. France is the only country to have such a championship and although the field was not very large at 27 cars, there was a lot of variety in the paddock. In fact, this can best be described as an off road version of the ALMS, with cars being driven by two or three drivers on a rather long track. Picardie being a flat and fertile region, the track was in the fields. It contained a very, very long straight (at least a mile long), a few visible 90% turns and a section in a wooded area, which wasn't visible from the spectator enclosures. The surface was hard sand and considering the recent rains, it was in excellent condition. The track's length wasn't mentioned, but it was several miles long. The straight was also quite large. The entire field had a rolling start, but soon it became a bit strung out. There was a constant ballet in the paddock, for like any long distance autocross track, there wasn't a proper pit lane. I stayed for about three hours, but by then, I was feeling very cold and needed the warmth of my car to get my temperature up again. The drive back home went smoothly.

                              Next week, there's absolutely nothing on my programme. I guess it's going to be a weekend off for my trackchasing, before another North American foray the next two weekends.

                              Roland


                              -----------------------------------------
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                            • Vanden Eynde Roland
                              Hello colleagues, For the third weekend in a row I added a new Dutch autocross track to my list. This time it was the very fast and large clay oval at
                              Message 14 of 15 , Apr 22, 2013
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                                Hello colleagues,

                                For the third weekend in a row I added a new Dutch autocross track to my list. This time it was the very fast and large clay oval at Pieterzijl.

                                It was in bright sunshine, but with a chilly wind, that on saturday morning I got on the way to the most northerly province of the Netherlands, Groningen. Traffic was fluid and I arrived at the track early enough to take a tour of the paddock before the first heats. As this was the first meeting for the Dutch autocross championship, there was a huge field. The 8 divisions drew no less than 223 competitors. Even the usually skinny fields for the buggies drew 18 and 21 starters. Funny was that both buggy divisions were dominated by people having driven as far as me to reach this meeting. In fact, with Patrick Claeys and Patrick Mommen two of my compatriots won. The touring cars drew such a large field that they had to divide the cars into 4 groups in every heat. The track was in excellent condition and the racing was fierce. There was also a rather large crowd on hand.

                                Being invited at Aline's place for dinner, I only watched the first and second heats. On the drive south, the traffic was a lot denser and it took me almost an hour more than the drive up north.

                                Next week, I'll try to get my new 2013 track total into double figures as I hope to watch racing on four new tracks at three different locations.

                                Roland

                                -----------------------------------------
                                Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

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                              • Vanden Eynde Roland
                                Hello colleagues, We had a very nice summer, and the best thing about it was that it lasted till last Tuesday. However, since then the weather has been really
                                Message 15 of 15 , Oct 14, 2013
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                                  Hello colleagues,

                                  We had a very nice summer, and the best thing about it was that it lasted till last Tuesday. However, since then the weather has been really autumn like, cold and damp. Because the sun sets rather early this time of the year, the organisers of the autocross I attended yesterday at Malderen (VLG) had set the starting time of their meeting at 10.00 a.m. I was happy they did, for the weather forecast was bleak. Heavy rain was predicted for the early afternoon. However, when I arrived at 9.45 a.m., the weather was dull but dry. The rain from the early hours of morning had made the large and fast clay course very slippery, but it was well prepared and the racing in the 9 different classes was quite good, even though only two of them had more than 10 cars. The organisation was slick and by 1.00 p.m., they had finished the second of three planned heats. That was the time the heavens opened up and within minutes, the track and the paddock looked like a swamp. I was prepared because not only had I parked my car on asphalt a few hundred yards from the track, but I also left in a hurry once the first drops fell. I managed to reach my car before it really became stormy, but when I passed the track on the way back to the main road, I saw people running towards shelter and cars stuck in the parking lot's mud. It brought back memories of my first visit to Knockhill, when the weather was just as bad. I had parked my car on top of a sloping parking lot and before getting out I did a recce on foot and found a path where no other vehicle had driven. I got out without a problem, but those using the beaten path were less lucky and had to get out of their cars and push them out of the ankle deep mud.

                                  On the motorway, conditions were appalling. The rain was so heavy one couldn't see further than about 50 yards, but still some people drove in the middle lane at only 45 MPH without their light on.

                                  Last week, I found two additional Dutch autocrosses replacing others that were cancelled earlier this year. Therefore, weather permitting, I will have two more weekends in which I hope to add another track to my list.

                                  Roland

                                  -----------------------------------------
                                  Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

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