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  • vndnynd
    Will, Some more information in order to identify us. We drive a white Buick Allure, with Ontario licence plate AYEN805. Roland
    Message 1 of 14 , Sep 3, 2006
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      Will,

      Some more information in order to identify us. We drive a white Buick
      Allure, with Ontario licence plate AYEN805.

      Roland
    • RTRYFBAR@AOL.COM
      Will: Unless you went up there, check out the time schedule/event order for Montmagny for this past weekend.
      Message 2 of 14 , Sep 4, 2006
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        Will:

        Unless you went up there, check out the time schedule/event order for Montmagny for this past weekend.

        http://www.autodromemontmagnyspeedway.com/2septembre06.htm

        It appears they ran one of the segments on the road course that you had seen, and not an inner oval as you had read they would use many months ago.

        I wonder if they got the show in or if it rained out?

        gms
        ________________________________________________________________________
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Will White
        Guy, That was a street stock event at Montmagny on Saturday that ran one of the segments on a road course. The other two segments were to run in each direction
        Message 3 of 14 , Sep 4, 2006
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          Guy,

          That was a street stock event at Montmagny on Saturday that ran one of
          the segments on a road course. The other two segments were to run in
          each direction on the oval. I didn't confirm that it was actually held
          but they were only expecting bad weather Sunday and Monday up there. The
          big PASS pro stock event for Sunday was postponed until October 8th. I
          still haven't seen anything else mentioning them running that on an
          inner oval. I can't think of the name of the forum where I read alot of
          Quebec stuff right now but maybe I'll find that eventually.

          Will White


          RTRYFBAR@... wrote:
          > Will:
          >
          > Unless you went up there, check out the time schedule/event order for Montmagny for this past weekend.
          >
          > http://www.autodromemontmagnyspeedway.com/2septembre06.htm
          >
          > It appears they ran one of the segments on the road course that you had seen, and not an inner oval as you had read they would use many months ago.
          >
          > I wonder if they got the show in or if it rained out?
          >
          >
          >
        • Will White
          Bonjour Roland et Aline, Thanks for the car ID. Mine is a red Pontiac Grand Am. The Cambridge-Georgetown double on Saturday is less enticing to me than the
          Message 4 of 14 , Sep 4, 2006
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            Bonjour Roland et Aline,

            Thanks for the car ID. Mine is a red Pontiac Grand Am. The
            Cambridge-Georgetown double on Saturday is less enticing to me than the
            Owen Sound-Sauble but I will probably switch to the former. I'm still
            hoping to make Wonderland but we'll have to wait and see what develops.
            I'm not sure about my Sunday plans either.

            Will White


            vndnynd wrote:
            > Will,
            >
            > Some more information in order to identify us. We drive a white Buick
            > Allure, with Ontario licence plate AYEN805.
            >
            > Roland
            >
            >
          • RTRYFBAR@AOL.COM
            ... From: trackchaser@verizon.net To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com Sent: Mon, 4 Sep 2006 11:08 AM Subject: Re: [TrackChasers] Not New, But Different & Old
            Message 5 of 14 , Sep 4, 2006
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              -----Original Message-----
              From: trackchaser@...
              To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Mon, 4 Sep 2006 11:08 AM
              Subject: Re: [TrackChasers] Not New, But Different & Old Track

              Guy,

              That was a street stock event at Montmagny on Saturday that ran one of
              the segments on a road course. The other two segments were to run in
              each direction on the oval. I didn't confirm that it was actually held
              but they were only expecting bad weather Sunday and Monday up there. The
              big PASS pro stock event for Sunday was postponed until October 8th.


              Will:

              I got the first part about the three segments being the oval in each direction and the road course. What I didn't know was that event wasn't what you had read would be run on an inner oval on Labour Day weekend. That event is not until October now. I guess that means the possibility of the track having an outer and inner oval and a road course all active.
              ________________________________________________________________________
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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • John
              ... of ... in ... held ... there. The ... each direction and the road course. What I didn t know was that event wasn t what you had read would be run on an
              Message 6 of 14 , Sep 7, 2006
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                --- In TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com, RTRYFBAR@... wrote:
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: trackchaser@...
                > To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Mon, 4 Sep 2006 11:08 AM
                > Subject: Re: [TrackChasers] Not New, But Different & Old Track
                >
                > Guy,
                >
                > That was a street stock event at Montmagny on Saturday that ran one
                of
                > the segments on a road course. The other two segments were to run
                in
                > each direction on the oval. I didn't confirm that it was actually
                held
                > but they were only expecting bad weather Sunday and Monday up
                there. The
                > big PASS pro stock event for Sunday was postponed until October 8th.
                >
                >
                > Will:
                >
                > I got the first part about the three segments being the oval in
                each direction and the road course. What I didn't know was that
                event wasn't what you had read would be run on an inner oval on
                Labour Day weekend. That event is not until October now. I guess
                that means the possibility of the track having an outer and inner
                oval and a road course all active.
                >
                The inner oval will not be used this year. Owner Ralph Nason has
                stated that they may try to use it next year. I'll let everyone know
                if I hear anything else.

                John
              • RTRYFBAR@AOL.COM
                Message 7 of 14 , Sep 7, 2006
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                  <<The inner oval will not be used this year. Owner Ralph Nason has
                  stated that they may try to use it next year. I'll let everyone know
                  if I hear anything else. John>>

                  Thanks for the update, John.

                  gms
                  ________________________________________________________________________
                  Check out AOL.com today. Breaking news, video search, pictures, email and IM. All on demand. Always Free.


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Will White
                  Note: I thought I sent this report to the group on November 29, 2006. After several people reported not receiving it, I finally confirmed that I only sent it
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 22, 2007
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                    Note: I thought I sent this report to the group on November 29, 2006.
                    After several people reported not receiving it, I finally confirmed that
                    I only sent it to myself. Thus, I apologize to all and now resend it,
                    hopefully, to everyone.


                    BACKGROUND INFO ON THE TRIP:

                    It all started way back at the beginning of the year when I began
                    scouting early international schedules for a possible multiple new
                    country combination. I was particularly interested in making a first
                    visit to Asia, and as my eventual lifetime goal is to see races in at
                    least 2 countries on each of the 6 inhabited continents, I was looking
                    for a way to score 2 Asian countries in one weekend. This is not so
                    easy, but since some Middle Eastern countries have their weekends on
                    different days to ours, new possibilities were available.

                    I soon discovered a combination that seemed too good to pass up. The
                    Australian V8 Supercars, one of the most highly regarded touring car
                    series in the world, scheduled a first time visit to the Kingdom of
                    Bahrain with races on Nov. 23-24. Why Thursday and Friday races there?
                    Because those days made up that small island nation's official weekend.
                    Forming a perfect fit for me was the scheduling of the FIA GT
                    championship series on Nov. 25 at the Dubai Autodrome, just a few
                    hundred miles south in the United Arab Emirates. What really made this a
                    bargain was the fact that I could fly out after work on Wednesday,
                    return home on Sunday and not miss a single day's work since I already
                    had Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.

                    Normally I don't book any trips very far in advance, but after
                    corresponding with Roland about this weekend plan, he was very keen on
                    it as well, largely due to his enthusiasm for seeing the V8 Supercars
                    again as he had done previously in Australia. Airfares were fluctuating
                    rapidly and we agreed to go ahead and book our flights in February, a
                    decision that didn't prove to be such a good move.

                    As the months went by a number of events occured that affected our
                    plans. First, the GT series moved their Dubai date to Nov. 18. Changing
                    plans to still include races in both countries would have been too
                    costly for me, so we were now down to just Bahrain. We still had to fly
                    from Bahrain to the UAE though to catch our flight back to London, only
                    now we'd have no race to see there. That short flight, set for early
                    Saturday morning, was later cancelled, but luckily we could change to
                    another flight scheduled for later that morning. However, the king of
                    Bahrain then decided to change the country's weekend to Friday and
                    Saturday, which led to the Supercars requesting and receiving a date
                    change as well, now racing on Nov. 24-25. That prompted me to change our
                    Saturday flight to an evening one, allowing us to possibly see all 3 of
                    the Supercars races instead of just one. Since we had no race in Dubai
                    we could then just hang out in the airport for a few hours and wait for
                    our Sunday 3AM departure. Things seemed settled at that point, but the
                    final blow was delivered a few weeks before the trip, to Roland by his
                    boss at the Belgian National Bank. Roland was given an important duty to
                    perform in Frankfurt, Germany, during the time of our trip. There was no
                    way to back out and he reluctantly had to forfeit his airfare and leave
                    me to go it alone.

                    WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (22 hour day)--

                    After working in the morning, with this being one of the year's heaviest
                    travel days and having to drive to JFK Airport on Long Island, I left
                    extra early (1:30 pm) for the scheduled 8:30 pm departure. With very
                    little traffic backup I arrived very early and the plane arrived very
                    late from London. In fact we took off 2 hours late, but due to a very
                    strong tailwind across the Atlantic we were able to make up one of the
                    two lost hours enroute to Heathrow.

                    THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (18 hour day)--

                    With the late arrival my scheduled 2 hour layover in London was cut to
                    just enough time to get me through security and to my second flight. I
                    was glad I decided to stick to my normal short trip routine of just a
                    carry-on bag (no checked luggage). I had no problem with the new rules
                    for how to take liquids in carry-on. All the long flights were on
                    British Airways, still one of my favorites. Tight seating is my only
                    real beef but I'm willing to put up with that inconvenience. I was very
                    lucky though in that I was given an aisle seat on each of the 5 flights
                    of this trip. Every little bit of space helps.

                    Nearing the end of the London-Bahrain flight I happened to awake from a
                    nap and checked the map that shows the flight path taken and it answered
                    a question I had in my mind, that being whether or not we'd be flying
                    over Iraq. The answer was yes, the map on the screen showed that we had
                    already flown just east of Baghdad and were over southern Iraq at that
                    time. Bahrain is just a few hundred miles south of Iraq.

                    After losing a total of 8 hours enroute (due to time zone changes) it
                    was about 7:45 pm local time when we landed at Bahrain International.
                    The single terminal airport is located on a small island off the
                    northeast coast of the country's main island, connected by a couple of
                    causeways. Across the island is a much longer causeway that connects
                    Bahrain with Saudi Arabia on the mainland.

                    In the past few years major racing circuits have appeared in the small
                    Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
                    This fact alone seems to indicate that these are among the most liberal
                    and tolerant of the Middle Eastern countries. Any possible doubt about
                    Bahrain is eliminated as soon as one exits their plane and enters the
                    terminal hall, as the first thing to be noticed is all the decorated and
                    lit Christmas trees on display. Although Arabic is the official
                    language, English is also prominent throughout the country. Combine that
                    with their emphasis on tourism and hospitality and it makes for a very
                    easy and pleasant visit, yet at the same time quite exotic.

                    Upon arrival, tourists who don't secure a visa in advance are sold one
                    on the spot for $15. US or 5 BHD (the Bahrain Dinar is pegged to the US
                    dollar at 1 BHD=$2.65. The single entry visa is good for a stay of up to
                    two weeks.

                    With 2 days at the track, more than 100 miles would be covered in
                    Bahrain. That would have been alot to do by taxi. Surprisingly, car
                    rental is not only as inexpensive in Bahrain as it is in the USA (a
                    little over $20. a day including surcharges), but they also rent all
                    automatic transmission cars. That was a big surprise because in many
                    countries they are scarce and/or very expensive. Throw in the price of
                    gas (about 80 cents per gallon!) and car rental was the only way to go.
                    I rented a Nissan Sunny EX Saloon from Budget right in the airport
                    terminal.

                    My pre-trip memorization of the layout of the main roads paid off once I
                    set out to find my hotel at night. Traffic in this area was heavy and I
                    didn't notice a single sign with a road name between the airport and the
                    hotel, but somehow I managed to go directly to the hotel without making
                    any wrong turns. After a number of internet searches I was able to book
                    2 nights' stay in the Ramada Palace, definitely a higher class hotel
                    than I'm used to, for a total (inc. taxes) of just $80. per night. This
                    was about as low a price as I found for any place that I felt
                    comfortable booking, so why not? The hotel was very nice indeed,
                    although I wasn't thrilled when I learned of their policy of holding my
                    passport and visa at reception. That brought back memories of my 1990
                    Soviet Union adventure which is too long a story to get into here.

                    FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (24 hour day)--

                    Due to the time difference I wasn't able to fall asleep until well after
                    midnight, thus I slept in a little later than planned this morning. The
                    24 hour Blue Cafe, located just off the hotel's lobby, serves a good and
                    varied hot breakfast buffet for just 2.50 BHD. This was a great deal to
                    get each of the two days started on a full stomach and not have to think
                    about food options at the track until sometime in the afternoon. Another
                    benefit of the buffet was that I met up with a young Australian named
                    Julian there the first morning. Julian, who's been living in London,
                    England, for the past 4 or 5 years, made a last minute decision (as in
                    earlier that same week) to go to Bahrain for the V8 Supercars and had
                    arrived the same evening as I, only on a different flight. Julian hadn't
                    arranged transportation to the track yet but was thinking of a taxi. I
                    offered him a ride for the two days and now had a traveling companion
                    for the races.

                    Driving in the daylight was much easier than it had been the previous
                    night. We even noticed some street name signs, although they could have
                    used more. After leaving the capital city of Manama, we could move along
                    at about 50-55 mph on good roads and it didn't take long before we were
                    nearing the track. Most everything in Bahrain is in the northern half of
                    the island. The southern half is mostly undeveloped desert, although a
                    lot of new development is taking place in the central part of the
                    island. Near to the race circuit there is also Bahrain University, a
                    wildlife reserve and a horse racing facility, among other things. Most
                    architecture, apart from some tall, modern buildings in the city center,
                    keeps to the style and earthtones that blend well with the desert
                    landscape.

                    Everything about the Bahrain International Circuit was very impressive
                    indeed. The facility is first class all the way and the organization is
                    impeccable. Everything from the large parking staff that had the traffic
                    out in a flash, to the 4 women cleaning the spotless restroom when I
                    went to use it, to the rapid execution of food orders at the 2 stands I
                    ordered from, to the family oriented activities taking place in the
                    infield area, to the close adherence to the schedule throughout the
                    weekend, combined with the entertaining V8 Supercars, the beautiful
                    track and facility to make for a very pleasant couple of days of racing
                    in the
                    Middle East.

                    The event, named the Desert 400, had the V8 Supercars' oft used format
                    of 3 short races rather than one long one. This alone was a big plus in
                    my book. They held qualifying, the "Top Ten Shootout" and a 27 lap race
                    on Friday. Qualifying is split into a pair of 20 minute sessions.
                    Drivers ranked in the lower half run in the first session and those in
                    the upper 50% have a go in the second. The Shootout is just what I'd
                    call "normal" time trials, one car at a time for one lap, involving only
                    the ten fastest from qualifying and determining the first ten starters
                    in the first race.

                    All races, including the Supercars and 5 support divisions, were
                    conducted on a shorter than usual track configuration, cutting out much
                    of the back portion of the GP circuit. Formula BMW was a last minute
                    addition to the event lineup, joining Mazda, Lumina, Radical and Thunder
                    Arabia as undercard to the Australian V8s.

                    Julian and I opted for a 15 BHD ticket to the track's main grandstand,
                    which was good for the entire weekend. I believe the crowd was probably
                    considerably less than anticipated, numbering several thousand but
                    making the large grandstands look nearly empty. Most of the main stand
                    crowd gathered near the start line area, directly across from a giant
                    screen that offered live television coverage and allowed us to follow
                    the action around the circuit, as most of the back part was totally
                    obstructed by the large stands located in the infield that faced to the
                    back section and also were in front of the facility's drag strip. During
                    Friday's racing we met another Australian fan, Ian, who joined us off
                    and on throughout both days at the track.

                    After the qualifying and shootout were completed we headed down through
                    the spectator tunnel that led to the infield concession area. Several
                    food stands included Dairy Queen (chicken and burger meals), Australian
                    Pie, pizza, corn and ice cream. The first day I just got a chicken meal
                    from the Dairy Queen stand and we ate back in the stands while watching
                    one of the support races.

                    Before that, we were surprised to learn that all 31 of the Australian V8
                    drivers would be involved in autograph signings. Each day, half the
                    field sat behind a row of tables and signed free posters or any other
                    item fans wished to have them autograph. On Friday I got 16 drivers'
                    autographs on one poster, then on Saturday the other 15 drivers plus
                    Miss Supercars signed another poster.

                    Meanwhile, kids could get on one of the trampolines where they were
                    secured to 2 bungee ropes and left to jump and flip about at up to 20-25
                    feet in the air. They also had a mechanical bull for the bigger kids and
                    other rides for the young ones. There were 2 guys dressed in large
                    kangaroo costumes who were hopping through the crowd. A tent full of
                    Arabs was playing music and dancing. The presence of many traditionally
                    dressed Arabs among the crowd at the races was a very unique experience.

                    At 3:23 pm the first V8 Supercars race of the weekend went green from
                    the normal staggered grid standing start. Fast timer Garth Tander and
                    Jason Bright were the men to beat and they dominated the race. There was
                    one mandatory pitstop and I was amazed to see that they only change one
                    tire and the stops only take a few seconds. One full course yellow
                    slowed the action for a couple laps but at 4:06 it was all over for the
                    day with Bright winning over Tander, Todd Kelly, series point leader
                    Rick Kelly and James Courtney.

                    After heading back up the road, Julian and I were surprised to see
                    hundreds of people camping out in the desert. Kids were playing games in
                    the sand, groups of people were gathered under small trees, campfires
                    were going. I guess that was their chance to get away from the city for
                    a day.
                    I was also a bit surprised that it was already getting dark before 5
                    o'clock. Julian was planning to contact a family friend back at the
                    hotel and I was hoping to do a bit of sightseeing after dropping him
                    off, but with the sun already setting I nixed that idea. I did enjoy a
                    very good and filling Chinese dinner at the Blue Cafe later that
                    evening, including 2 heaping plates of fried rice with seafood.

                    SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 (23 hour day)--

                    Again I had trouble getting to sleep and then after I finally did so I
                    kept waking up about every 30-60 minutes for some reason. Nonetheless,
                    Julian and I had arranged to meet at the breakfast buffet around 7:30,
                    wanting to get an earlier start as there was a lot more racing today.

                    Both days featured very comfortable high temps in the upper 70s, with
                    dark clouds rolling in at times and a threat of rain but only a few
                    drops falling each day.

                    There is a gas station located near the track. Next to it is, amazingly,
                    a 24 hour convenience store. What on earth they need with a 24 hour
                    convenience store in the middle of the desert is beyond me. Anyway, we
                    had a good laugh while splitting the fuel bill, 1.6 BHD for 20 litres.
                    It was especially funny after we then each paid 1.45 BHD, almost as
                    much, for a 1.5 litre bottle of water.

                    Another fun day at the races was had with Julian and Ian. We arrived
                    sometime after 9 as the Lumina series was finishing its first of 2 races
                    for the day. The Luminas are a new series of V8 cars, similar to the
                    Australian Holden Commodores that compete against the Ford Falcons in
                    the Supercars. The Luminas are maintained by Bahrain Int'l Circuit and
                    are being used in a new regional championship to be conducted between
                    this track and the ones at Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. The Supercars
                    are a two make series, basically a Ford-Chevy rivalry as Holden is the
                    GM of Australia.

                    Following the 8 car Formula BMW race, the Supercars took to the grid for
                    their second race. Both of today's events were over a 37 lap distance,
                    with their 3 races adding up to 400 km, hence the name "Desert 400". The
                    finish of each race determines the starting order of the next. They used
                    to often invert the field for race 2 but Ian said this practice has been
                    stopped due to the extra crashes caused when all the top cars try to get
                    through the pack at once.

                    At 11:04 the green was out and in this one it was Tander turning the
                    tables on Bright and coming back to score the victory. Mark Winterbottom
                    continued to recover nicely from a 15th place timing on Friday, coming
                    through to finish 8th in the first race and now advancing to 3rd in the
                    second one. Todd Kelly and championship contender Craig Lowndes rounded
                    out the top five this time.

                    We spent more time in the infield today. Not only did we get the other
                    half of the autographs but thanks to a tip from Ian we were able to walk
                    around in the paddock area behind the pit garages. Julian collected an
                    autograph from an older man at one of the garages, then told me it was
                    Dick Johnson who had signed his program cover. Johnson is a five time
                    Australian Touring Car champion, one of the famous names I recognized
                    from the past. He owns one of the current teams and his son Steven is
                    one of the current V8 drivers.

                    Another amusing scene was an Arab gentleman walking the grounds in full
                    traditional garb, accompanied by a 4-5 year old boy wearing the same
                    full outfit and carrying a walking stick to boot. I called him the
                    little shepherd. People were stopping them to take their photograph
                    along the way and every request was met with a smile. They even turned
                    up on the grid before the third race and on the TV broadcast.

                    The Australian Pie stand offered a meal deal of 2 pies and a drink. The
                    pies came in chicken & mushroom, pepper & steak and steak & kidney.
                    Julian and I each went for one chicken & mushroom and one pepper &
                    steak. I must admit I really didn't care for the pepper & steak at all,
                    although the chicken & mushroom was acceptable.

                    Pre-race proceedings at the grid for the final of the Supercars included
                    an aboriginal man in front of the field, starting a fire by rubbing a
                    stick. I thought this would delay the start of the race, but although it
                    took him a while to get the fire started, the race went green at 3:04.
                    Both of today's 37 lappers went through without a full course yellow,
                    just the unusual pitstop with single tire change. Things got interesting
                    after first and third starters, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom, both
                    received a drive through penalty for taking off a little ahead of the
                    green light. This was a death sentence in a race with no cautions. Todd
                    Kelly got the lead from Jason Bright and went on to win the race, which
                    checkered at 3:58, but official series wins are only recorded for the
                    overall winner of each weekend, thus Bright was the winner of the Desert
                    400 at Bahrain. Craig Lowndes took third in the final 37 lap race with
                    Mark Skaife coming all the way from 19th to 4th and Rick Kelly from even
                    further back finished 5th. Tander was starting to pick his way back
                    through the top ten in the final laps and managed an 8th. With one more
                    event at Phillip Island to close out the 2006 season, Rick Kelly now
                    holds a slim advantage over three time former champion Lowndes in the
                    points chase.

                    The Bahrain circuit is back in action a couple of weeks from now with
                    their first ever 24 hour race. Again, the facility is world class and
                    the presentation was excellent. They have a five year deal with the
                    Aussies so hopefully the crowds will increase in the coming years. I
                    highly recommend the V8 Supercars at Bahrain as the perfect series and
                    venue for any trackchaser to become acquainted with the Middle East.

                    As Julian was to spend another day there, I returned him to the hotel
                    before heading to the airport and awaiting my scheduled 8:30 pm flight
                    to Dubai. This short flight was on Gulf Air. The Dubai airport was
                    another amazing experience. Apparently this is a major connecting point
                    and hub for flights throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, with many flights
                    departing during the middle of the night. I arrived before 11 pm (one
                    hour ahead of Bahrain) and my flight to London wasn't until 3 am. During
                    this time, the terminal was like a big, fancy shopping mall. All the
                    shops were open and literally thousands of people were moving about all
                    this time, a true mix of many cultures. It was quite a sight.

                    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 (33 hour day!)--

                    This is the day when I would gain back my 9 lost hours in a single
                    morning. The flight from Dubai departed at 3:00 am and my arrival back
                    in New York was at around 11:00 am, some 17 hours later. Between the 4
                    meals I was served on the flights, the extra breakfast platter given to
                    me by the man seated next to me on one flight, and eating dinner with my
                    sister and her boyfriend later that afternoon, I consumed 6 meals on
                    this long day. Again I lucked out as the majority of traffic into and
                    out of NYC was going the opposite way, allowing me to drive home from
                    JFK in just over 2 hours.

                    So, Bahrain International Circuit gave me Asia as my fourth continent in
                    which to see countable racing. This breaks a tie with several of you who
                    have three continents. Roland is the only other spectator of those
                    listed trackchasers with more than three. I really wanted to end the
                    year with 20 countries, but it was not to be. I'll have to be satisfied
                    with 19 until next year.

                    Will White
                  • colin herridge
                    Will, Great report it just confirms everything i ve that part of the world. Btw i will never complain about the length of Randy s reports again lol Colin Will
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 22, 2007
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                      Will,
                      Great report it just confirms everything i've that part of the world.
                      Btw i will never complain about the length of Randy's reports again lol
                      Colin

                      Will White <trackchaser@...> wrote:
                      Note: I thought I sent this report to the group on November 29, 2006.
                      After several people reported not receiving it, I finally confirmed that
                      I only sent it to myself. Thus, I apologize to all and now resend it,
                      hopefully, to everyone.

                      BACKGROUND INFO ON THE TRIP:

                      It all started way back at the beginning of the year when I began
                      scouting early international schedules for a possible multiple new
                      country combination. I was particularly interested in making a first
                      visit to Asia, and as my eventual lifetime goal is to see races in at
                      least 2 countries on each of the 6 inhabited continents, I was looking
                      for a way to score 2 Asian countries in one weekend. This is not so
                      easy, but since some Middle Eastern countries have their weekends on
                      different days to ours, new possibilities were available.

                      I soon discovered a combination that seemed too good to pass up. The
                      Australian V8 Supercars, one of the most highly regarded touring car
                      series in the world, scheduled a first time visit to the Kingdom of
                      Bahrain with races on Nov. 23-24. Why Thursday and Friday races there?
                      Because those days made up that small island nation's official weekend.
                      Forming a perfect fit for me was the scheduling of the FIA GT
                      championship series on Nov. 25 at the Dubai Autodrome, just a few
                      hundred miles south in the United Arab Emirates. What really made this a
                      bargain was the fact that I could fly out after work on Wednesday,
                      return home on Sunday and not miss a single day's work since I already
                      had Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.

                      Normally I don't book any trips very far in advance, but after
                      corresponding with Roland about this weekend plan, he was very keen on
                      it as well, largely due to his enthusiasm for seeing the V8 Supercars
                      again as he had done previously in Australia. Airfares were fluctuating
                      rapidly and we agreed to go ahead and book our flights in February, a
                      decision that didn't prove to be such a good move.

                      As the months went by a number of events occured that affected our
                      plans. First, the GT series moved their Dubai date to Nov. 18. Changing
                      plans to still include races in both countries would have been too
                      costly for me, so we were now down to just Bahrain. We still had to fly
                      from Bahrain to the UAE though to catch our flight back to London, only
                      now we'd have no race to see there. That short flight, set for early
                      Saturday morning, was later cancelled, but luckily we could change to
                      another flight scheduled for later that morning. However, the king of
                      Bahrain then decided to change the country's weekend to Friday and
                      Saturday, which led to the Supercars requesting and receiving a date
                      change as well, now racing on Nov. 24-25. That prompted me to change our
                      Saturday flight to an evening one, allowing us to possibly see all 3 of
                      the Supercars races instead of just one. Since we had no race in Dubai
                      we could then just hang out in the airport for a few hours and wait for
                      our Sunday 3AM departure. Things seemed settled at that point, but the
                      final blow was delivered a few weeks before the trip, to Roland by his
                      boss at the Belgian National Bank. Roland was given an important duty to
                      perform in Frankfurt, Germany, during the time of our trip. There was no
                      way to back out and he reluctantly had to forfeit his airfare and leave
                      me to go it alone.

                      WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (22 hour day)--

                      After working in the morning, with this being one of the year's heaviest
                      travel days and having to drive to JFK Airport on Long Island, I left
                      extra early (1:30 pm) for the scheduled 8:30 pm departure. With very
                      little traffic backup I arrived very early and the plane arrived very
                      late from London. In fact we took off 2 hours late, but due to a very
                      strong tailwind across the Atlantic we were able to make up one of the
                      two lost hours enroute to Heathrow.

                      THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (18 hour day)--

                      With the late arrival my scheduled 2 hour layover in London was cut to
                      just enough time to get me through security and to my second flight. I
                      was glad I decided to stick to my normal short trip routine of just a
                      carry-on bag (no checked luggage). I had no problem with the new rules
                      for how to take liquids in carry-on. All the long flights were on
                      British Airways, still one of my favorites. Tight seating is my only
                      real beef but I'm willing to put up with that inconvenience. I was very
                      lucky though in that I was given an aisle seat on each of the 5 flights
                      of this trip. Every little bit of space helps.

                      Nearing the end of the London-Bahrain flight I happened to awake from a
                      nap and checked the map that shows the flight path taken and it answered
                      a question I had in my mind, that being whether or not we'd be flying
                      over Iraq. The answer was yes, the map on the screen showed that we had
                      already flown just east of Baghdad and were over southern Iraq at that
                      time. Bahrain is just a few hundred miles south of Iraq.

                      After losing a total of 8 hours enroute (due to time zone changes) it
                      was about 7:45 pm local time when we landed at Bahrain International.
                      The single terminal airport is located on a small island off the
                      northeast coast of the country's main island, connected by a couple of
                      causeways. Across the island is a much longer causeway that connects
                      Bahrain with Saudi Arabia on the mainland.

                      In the past few years major racing circuits have appeared in the small
                      Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
                      This fact alone seems to indicate that these are among the most liberal
                      and tolerant of the Middle Eastern countries. Any possible doubt about
                      Bahrain is eliminated as soon as one exits their plane and enters the
                      terminal hall, as the first thing to be noticed is all the decorated and
                      lit Christmas trees on display. Although Arabic is the official
                      language, English is also prominent throughout the country. Combine that
                      with their emphasis on tourism and hospitality and it makes for a very
                      easy and pleasant visit, yet at the same time quite exotic.

                      Upon arrival, tourists who don't secure a visa in advance are sold one
                      on the spot for $15. US or 5 BHD (the Bahrain Dinar is pegged to the US
                      dollar at 1 BHD=$2.65. The single entry visa is good for a stay of up to
                      two weeks.

                      With 2 days at the track, more than 100 miles would be covered in
                      Bahrain. That would have been alot to do by taxi. Surprisingly, car
                      rental is not only as inexpensive in Bahrain as it is in the USA (a
                      little over $20. a day including surcharges), but they also rent all
                      automatic transmission cars. That was a big surprise because in many
                      countries they are scarce and/or very expensive. Throw in the price of
                      gas (about 80 cents per gallon!) and car rental was the only way to go.
                      I rented a Nissan Sunny EX Saloon from Budget right in the airport
                      terminal.

                      My pre-trip memorization of the layout of the main roads paid off once I
                      set out to find my hotel at night. Traffic in this area was heavy and I
                      didn't notice a single sign with a road name between the airport and the
                      hotel, but somehow I managed to go directly to the hotel without making
                      any wrong turns. After a number of internet searches I was able to book
                      2 nights' stay in the Ramada Palace, definitely a higher class hotel
                      than I'm used to, for a total (inc. taxes) of just $80. per night. This
                      was about as low a price as I found for any place that I felt
                      comfortable booking, so why not? The hotel was very nice indeed,
                      although I wasn't thrilled when I learned of their policy of holding my
                      passport and visa at reception. That brought back memories of my 1990
                      Soviet Union adventure which is too long a story to get into here.

                      FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (24 hour day)--

                      Due to the time difference I wasn't able to fall asleep until well after
                      midnight, thus I slept in a little later than planned this morning. The
                      24 hour Blue Cafe, located just off the hotel's lobby, serves a good and
                      varied hot breakfast buffet for just 2.50 BHD. This was a great deal to
                      get each of the two days started on a full stomach and not have to think
                      about food options at the track until sometime in the afternoon. Another
                      benefit of the buffet was that I met up with a young Australian named
                      Julian there the first morning. Julian, who's been living in London,
                      England, for the past 4 or 5 years, made a last minute decision (as in
                      earlier that same week) to go to Bahrain for the V8 Supercars and had
                      arrived the same evening as I, only on a different flight. Julian hadn't
                      arranged transportation to the track yet but was thinking of a taxi. I
                      offered him a ride for the two days and now had a traveling companion
                      for the races.

                      Driving in the daylight was much easier than it had been the previous
                      night. We even noticed some street name signs, although they could have
                      used more. After leaving the capital city of Manama, we could move along
                      at about 50-55 mph on good roads and it didn't take long before we were
                      nearing the track. Most everything in Bahrain is in the northern half of
                      the island. The southern half is mostly undeveloped desert, although a
                      lot of new development is taking place in the central part of the
                      island. Near to the race circuit there is also Bahrain University, a
                      wildlife reserve and a horse racing facility, among other things. Most
                      architecture, apart from some tall, modern buildings in the city center,
                      keeps to the style and earthtones that blend well with the desert
                      landscape.

                      Everything about the Bahrain International Circuit was very impressive
                      indeed. The facility is first class all the way and the organization is
                      impeccable. Everything from the large parking staff that had the traffic
                      out in a flash, to the 4 women cleaning the spotless restroom when I
                      went to use it, to the rapid execution of food orders at the 2 stands I
                      ordered from, to the family oriented activities taking place in the
                      infield area, to the close adherence to the schedule throughout the
                      weekend, combined with the entertaining V8 Supercars, the beautiful
                      track and facility to make for a very pleasant couple of days of racing
                      in the
                      Middle East.

                      The event, named the Desert 400, had the V8 Supercars' oft used format
                      of 3 short races rather than one long one. This alone was a big plus in
                      my book. They held qualifying, the "Top Ten Shootout" and a 27 lap race
                      on Friday. Qualifying is split into a pair of 20 minute sessions.
                      Drivers ranked in the lower half run in the first session and those in
                      the upper 50% have a go in the second. The Shootout is just what I'd
                      call "normal" time trials, one car at a time for one lap, involving only
                      the ten fastest from qualifying and determining the first ten starters
                      in the first race.

                      All races, including the Supercars and 5 support divisions, were
                      conducted on a shorter than usual track configuration, cutting out much
                      of the back portion of the GP circuit. Formula BMW was a last minute
                      addition to the event lineup, joining Mazda, Lumina, Radical and Thunder
                      Arabia as undercard to the Australian V8s.

                      Julian and I opted for a 15 BHD ticket to the track's main grandstand,
                      which was good for the entire weekend. I believe the crowd was probably
                      considerably less than anticipated, numbering several thousand but
                      making the large grandstands look nearly empty. Most of the main stand
                      crowd gathered near the start line area, directly across from a giant
                      screen that offered live television coverage and allowed us to follow
                      the action around the circuit, as most of the back part was totally
                      obstructed by the large stands located in the infield that faced to the
                      back section and also were in front of the facility's drag strip. During
                      Friday's racing we met another Australian fan, Ian, who joined us off
                      and on throughout both days at the track.

                      After the qualifying and shootout were completed we headed down through
                      the spectator tunnel that led to the infield concession area. Several
                      food stands included Dairy Queen (chicken and burger meals), Australian
                      Pie, pizza, corn and ice cream. The first day I just got a chicken meal
                      from the Dairy Queen stand and we ate back in the stands while watching
                      one of the support races.

                      Before that, we were surprised to learn that all 31 of the Australian V8
                      drivers would be involved in autograph signings. Each day, half the
                      field sat behind a row of tables and signed free posters or any other
                      item fans wished to have them autograph. On Friday I got 16 drivers'
                      autographs on one poster, then on Saturday the other 15 drivers plus
                      Miss Supercars signed another poster.

                      Meanwhile, kids could get on one of the trampolines where they were
                      secured to 2 bungee ropes and left to jump and flip about at up to 20-25
                      feet in the air. They also had a mechanical bull for the bigger kids and
                      other rides for the young ones. There were 2 guys dressed in large
                      kangaroo costumes who were hopping through the crowd. A tent full of
                      Arabs was playing music and dancing. The presence of many traditionally
                      dressed Arabs among the crowd at the races was a very unique experience.

                      At 3:23 pm the first V8 Supercars race of the weekend went green from
                      the normal staggered grid standing start. Fast timer Garth Tander and
                      Jason Bright were the men to beat and they dominated the race. There was
                      one mandatory pitstop and I was amazed to see that they only change one
                      tire and the stops only take a few seconds. One full course yellow
                      slowed the action for a couple laps but at 4:06 it was all over for the
                      day with Bright winning over Tander, Todd Kelly, series point leader
                      Rick Kelly and James Courtney.

                      After heading back up the road, Julian and I were surprised to see
                      hundreds of people camping out in the desert. Kids were playing games in
                      the sand, groups of people were gathered under small trees, campfires
                      were going. I guess that was their chance to get away from the city for
                      a day.
                      I was also a bit surprised that it was already getting dark before 5
                      o'clock. Julian was planning to contact a family friend back at the
                      hotel and I was hoping to do a bit of sightseeing after dropping him
                      off, but with the sun already setting I nixed that idea. I did enjoy a
                      very good and filling Chinese dinner at the Blue Cafe later that
                      evening, including 2 heaping plates of fried rice with seafood.

                      SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 (23 hour day)--

                      Again I had trouble getting to sleep and then after I finally did so I
                      kept waking up about every 30-60 minutes for some reason. Nonetheless,
                      Julian and I had arranged to meet at the breakfast buffet around 7:30,
                      wanting to get an earlier start as there was a lot more racing today.

                      Both days featured very comfortable high temps in the upper 70s, with
                      dark clouds rolling in at times and a threat of rain but only a few
                      drops falling each day.

                      There is a gas station located near the track. Next to it is, amazingly,
                      a 24 hour convenience store. What on earth they need with a 24 hour
                      convenience store in the middle of the desert is beyond me. Anyway, we
                      had a good laugh while splitting the fuel bill, 1.6 BHD for 20 litres.
                      It was especially funny after we then each paid 1.45 BHD, almost as
                      much, for a 1.5 litre bottle of water.

                      Another fun day at the races was had with Julian and Ian. We arrived
                      sometime after 9 as the Lumina series was finishing its first of 2 races
                      for the day. The Luminas are a new series of V8 cars, similar to the
                      Australian Holden Commodores that compete against the Ford Falcons in
                      the Supercars. The Luminas are maintained by Bahrain Int'l Circuit and
                      are being used in a new regional championship to be conducted between
                      this track and the ones at Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. The Supercars
                      are a two make series, basically a Ford-Chevy rivalry as Holden is the
                      GM of Australia.

                      Following the 8 car Formula BMW race, the Supercars took to the grid for
                      their second race. Both of today's events were over a 37 lap distance,
                      with their 3 races adding up to 400 km, hence the name "Desert 400". The
                      finish of each race determines the starting order of the next. They used
                      to often invert the field for race 2 but Ian said this practice has been
                      stopped due to the extra crashes caused when all the top cars try to get
                      through the pack at once.

                      At 11:04 the green was out and in this one it was Tander turning the
                      tables on Bright and coming back to score the victory. Mark Winterbottom
                      continued to recover nicely from a 15th place timing on Friday, coming
                      through to finish 8th in the first race and now advancing to 3rd in the
                      second one. Todd Kelly and championship contender Craig Lowndes rounded
                      out the top five this time.

                      We spent more time in the infield today. Not only did we get the other
                      half of the autographs but thanks to a tip from Ian we were able to walk
                      around in the paddock area behind the pit garages. Julian collected an
                      autograph from an older man at one of the garages, then told me it was
                      Dick Johnson who had signed his program cover. Johnson is a five time
                      Australian Touring Car champion, one of the famous names I recognized
                      from the past. He owns one of the current teams and his son Steven is
                      one of the current V8 drivers.

                      Another amusing scene was an Arab gentleman walking the grounds in full
                      traditional garb, accompanied by a 4-5 year old boy wearing the same
                      full outfit and carrying a walking stick to boot. I called him the
                      little shepherd. People were stopping them to take their photograph
                      along the way and every request was met with a smile. They even turned
                      up on the grid before the third race and on the TV broadcast.

                      The Australian Pie stand offered a meal deal of 2 pies and a drink. The
                      pies came in chicken & mushroom, pepper & steak and steak & kidney.
                      Julian and I each went for one chicken & mushroom and one pepper &
                      steak. I must admit I really didn't care for the pepper & steak at all,
                      although the chicken & mushroom was acceptable.

                      Pre-race proceedings at the grid for the final of the Supercars included
                      an aboriginal man in front of the field, starting a fire by rubbing a
                      stick. I thought this would delay the start of the race, but although it
                      took him a while to get the fire started, the race went green at 3:04.
                      Both of today's 37 lappers went through without a full course yellow,
                      just the unusual pitstop with single tire change. Things got interesting
                      after first and third starters, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom, both
                      received a drive through penalty for taking off a little ahead of the
                      green light. This was a death sentence in a race with no cautions. Todd
                      Kelly got the lead from Jason Bright and went on to win the race, which
                      checkered at 3:58, but official series wins are only recorded for the
                      overall winner of each weekend, thus Bright was the winner of the Desert
                      400 at Bahrain. Craig Lowndes took third in the final 37 lap race with
                      Mark Skaife coming all the way from 19th to 4th and Rick Kelly from even
                      further back finished 5th. Tander was starting to pick his way back
                      through the top ten in the final laps and managed an 8th. With one more
                      event at Phillip Island to close out the 2006 season, Rick Kelly now
                      holds a slim advantage over three time former champion Lowndes in the
                      points chase.

                      The Bahrain circuit is back in action a couple of weeks from now with
                      their first ever 24 hour race. Again, the facility is world class and
                      the presentation was excellent. They have a five year deal with the
                      Aussies so hopefully the crowds will increase in the coming years. I
                      highly recommend the V8 Supercars at Bahrain as the perfect series and
                      venue for any trackchaser to become acquainted with the Middle East.

                      As Julian was to spend another day there, I returned him to the hotel
                      before heading to the airport and awaiting my scheduled 8:30 pm flight
                      to Dubai. This short flight was on Gulf Air. The Dubai airport was
                      another amazing experience. Apparently this is a major connecting point
                      and hub for flights throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, with many flights
                      departing during the middle of the night. I arrived before 11 pm (one
                      hour ahead of Bahrain) and my flight to London wasn't until 3 am. During
                      this time, the terminal was like a big, fancy shopping mall. All the
                      shops were open and literally thousands of people were moving about all
                      this time, a true mix of many cultures. It was quite a sight.

                      SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 (33 hour day!)--

                      This is the day when I would gain back my 9 lost hours in a single
                      morning. The flight from Dubai departed at 3:00 am and my arrival back
                      in New York was at around 11:00 am, some 17 hours later. Between the 4
                      meals I was served on the flights, the extra breakfast platter given to
                      me by the man seated next to me on one flight, and eating dinner with my
                      sister and her boyfriend later that afternoon, I consumed 6 meals on
                      this long day. Again I lucked out as the majority of traffic into and
                      out of NYC was going the opposite way, allowing me to drive home from
                      JFK in just over 2 hours.

                      So, Bahrain International Circuit gave me Asia as my fourth continent in
                      which to see countable racing. This breaks a tie with several of you who
                      have three continents. Roland is the only other spectator of those
                      listed trackchasers with more than three. I really wanted to end the
                      year with 20 countries, but it was not to be. I'll have to be satisfied
                      with 19 until next year.

                      Will White






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                    • Will White
                      Colin, Thankfully I only have about one of those in me per year. I ll try to give your weary eyes a rest for awhile. =+} Will
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Colin,

                        Thankfully I only have about one of those in me per year. I'll try to
                        give your weary eyes a rest for awhile. =+}

                        Will


                        colin herridge wrote:
                        > Will,
                        > Great report it just confirms everything i've that part of the world.
                        > Btw i will never complain about the length of Randy's reports again lol
                        > Colin
                      • Andy Ritter
                        Interesting report Will. Sounds like you had a good time and a unique experience. Keep it fun! Andy Ritter ... 2006. ... confirmed that ... it, ... first ...
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Interesting report Will. Sounds like you had a good time and a
                          unique experience.

                          Keep it fun!

                          Andy Ritter








                          --- In TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com, Will White <trackchaser@...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          > Note: I thought I sent this report to the group on November 29,
                          2006.
                          > After several people reported not receiving it, I finally
                          confirmed that
                          > I only sent it to myself. Thus, I apologize to all and now resend
                          it,
                          > hopefully, to everyone.
                          >
                          >
                          > BACKGROUND INFO ON THE TRIP:
                          >
                          > It all started way back at the beginning of the year when I began
                          > scouting early international schedules for a possible multiple new
                          > country combination. I was particularly interested in making a
                          first
                          > visit to Asia, and as my eventual lifetime goal is to see races in
                          at
                          > least 2 countries on each of the 6 inhabited continents, I was
                          looking
                          > for a way to score 2 Asian countries in one weekend. This is not
                          so
                          > easy, but since some Middle Eastern countries have their weekends
                          on
                          > different days to ours, new possibilities were available.
                          >
                          > I soon discovered a combination that seemed too good to pass up.
                          The
                          > Australian V8 Supercars, one of the most highly regarded touring
                          car
                          > series in the world, scheduled a first time visit to the Kingdom
                          of
                          > Bahrain with races on Nov. 23-24. Why Thursday and Friday races
                          there?
                          > Because those days made up that small island nation's official
                          weekend.
                          > Forming a perfect fit for me was the scheduling of the FIA GT
                          > championship series on Nov. 25 at the Dubai Autodrome, just a few
                          > hundred miles south in the United Arab Emirates. What really made
                          this a
                          > bargain was the fact that I could fly out after work on Wednesday,
                          > return home on Sunday and not miss a single day's work since I
                          already
                          > had Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.
                          >
                          > Normally I don't book any trips very far in advance, but after
                          > corresponding with Roland about this weekend plan, he was very
                          keen on
                          > it as well, largely due to his enthusiasm for seeing the V8
                          Supercars
                          > again as he had done previously in Australia. Airfares were
                          fluctuating
                          > rapidly and we agreed to go ahead and book our flights in
                          February, a
                          > decision that didn't prove to be such a good move.
                          >
                          > As the months went by a number of events occured that affected our
                          > plans. First, the GT series moved their Dubai date to Nov. 18.
                          Changing
                          > plans to still include races in both countries would have been too
                          > costly for me, so we were now down to just Bahrain. We still had
                          to fly
                          > from Bahrain to the UAE though to catch our flight back to London,
                          only
                          > now we'd have no race to see there. That short flight, set for
                          early
                          > Saturday morning, was later cancelled, but luckily we could change
                          to
                          > another flight scheduled for later that morning. However, the king
                          of
                          > Bahrain then decided to change the country's weekend to Friday and
                          > Saturday, which led to the Supercars requesting and receiving a
                          date
                          > change as well, now racing on Nov. 24-25. That prompted me to
                          change our
                          > Saturday flight to an evening one, allowing us to possibly see all
                          3 of
                          > the Supercars races instead of just one. Since we had no race in
                          Dubai
                          > we could then just hang out in the airport for a few hours and
                          wait for
                          > our Sunday 3AM departure. Things seemed settled at that point, but
                          the
                          > final blow was delivered a few weeks before the trip, to Roland by
                          his
                          > boss at the Belgian National Bank. Roland was given an important
                          duty to
                          > perform in Frankfurt, Germany, during the time of our trip. There
                          was no
                          > way to back out and he reluctantly had to forfeit his airfare and
                          leave
                          > me to go it alone.
                          >
                          > WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (22 hour day)--
                          >
                          > After working in the morning, with this being one of the year's
                          heaviest
                          > travel days and having to drive to JFK Airport on Long Island, I
                          left
                          > extra early (1:30 pm) for the scheduled 8:30 pm departure. With
                          very
                          > little traffic backup I arrived very early and the plane arrived
                          very
                          > late from London. In fact we took off 2 hours late, but due to a
                          very
                          > strong tailwind across the Atlantic we were able to make up one of
                          the
                          > two lost hours enroute to Heathrow.
                          >
                          > THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (18 hour day)--
                          >
                          > With the late arrival my scheduled 2 hour layover in London was
                          cut to
                          > just enough time to get me through security and to my second
                          flight. I
                          > was glad I decided to stick to my normal short trip routine of
                          just a
                          > carry-on bag (no checked luggage). I had no problem with the new
                          rules
                          > for how to take liquids in carry-on. All the long flights were on
                          > British Airways, still one of my favorites. Tight seating is my
                          only
                          > real beef but I'm willing to put up with that inconvenience. I was
                          very
                          > lucky though in that I was given an aisle seat on each of the 5
                          flights
                          > of this trip. Every little bit of space helps.
                          >
                          > Nearing the end of the London-Bahrain flight I happened to awake
                          from a
                          > nap and checked the map that shows the flight path taken and it
                          answered
                          > a question I had in my mind, that being whether or not we'd be
                          flying
                          > over Iraq. The answer was yes, the map on the screen showed that
                          we had
                          > already flown just east of Baghdad and were over southern Iraq at
                          that
                          > time. Bahrain is just a few hundred miles south of Iraq.
                          >
                          > After losing a total of 8 hours enroute (due to time zone changes)
                          it
                          > was about 7:45 pm local time when we landed at Bahrain
                          International.
                          > The single terminal airport is located on a small island off the
                          > northeast coast of the country's main island, connected by a
                          couple of
                          > causeways. Across the island is a much longer causeway that
                          connects
                          > Bahrain with Saudi Arabia on the mainland.
                          >
                          > In the past few years major racing circuits have appeared in the
                          small
                          > Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and
                          Qatar.
                          > This fact alone seems to indicate that these are among the most
                          liberal
                          > and tolerant of the Middle Eastern countries. Any possible doubt
                          about
                          > Bahrain is eliminated as soon as one exits their plane and enters
                          the
                          > terminal hall, as the first thing to be noticed is all the
                          decorated and
                          > lit Christmas trees on display. Although Arabic is the official
                          > language, English is also prominent throughout the country.
                          Combine that
                          > with their emphasis on tourism and hospitality and it makes for a
                          very
                          > easy and pleasant visit, yet at the same time quite exotic.
                          >
                          > Upon arrival, tourists who don't secure a visa in advance are sold
                          one
                          > on the spot for $15. US or 5 BHD (the Bahrain Dinar is pegged to
                          the US
                          > dollar at 1 BHD=$2.65. The single entry visa is good for a stay of
                          up to
                          > two weeks.
                          >
                          > With 2 days at the track, more than 100 miles would be covered in
                          > Bahrain. That would have been alot to do by taxi. Surprisingly,
                          car
                          > rental is not only as inexpensive in Bahrain as it is in the USA
                          (a
                          > little over $20. a day including surcharges), but they also rent
                          all
                          > automatic transmission cars. That was a big surprise because in
                          many
                          > countries they are scarce and/or very expensive. Throw in the
                          price of
                          > gas (about 80 cents per gallon!) and car rental was the only way
                          to go.
                          > I rented a Nissan Sunny EX Saloon from Budget right in the airport
                          > terminal.
                          >
                          > My pre-trip memorization of the layout of the main roads paid off
                          once I
                          > set out to find my hotel at night. Traffic in this area was heavy
                          and I
                          > didn't notice a single sign with a road name between the airport
                          and the
                          > hotel, but somehow I managed to go directly to the hotel without
                          making
                          > any wrong turns. After a number of internet searches I was able to
                          book
                          > 2 nights' stay in the Ramada Palace, definitely a higher class
                          hotel
                          > than I'm used to, for a total (inc. taxes) of just $80. per night.
                          This
                          > was about as low a price as I found for any place that I felt
                          > comfortable booking, so why not? The hotel was very nice indeed,
                          > although I wasn't thrilled when I learned of their policy of
                          holding my
                          > passport and visa at reception. That brought back memories of my
                          1990
                          > Soviet Union adventure which is too long a story to get into here.
                          >
                          > FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (24 hour day)--
                          >
                          > Due to the time difference I wasn't able to fall asleep until well
                          after
                          > midnight, thus I slept in a little later than planned this
                          morning. The
                          > 24 hour Blue Cafe, located just off the hotel's lobby, serves a
                          good and
                          > varied hot breakfast buffet for just 2.50 BHD. This was a great
                          deal to
                          > get each of the two days started on a full stomach and not have to
                          think
                          > about food options at the track until sometime in the afternoon.
                          Another
                          > benefit of the buffet was that I met up with a young Australian
                          named
                          > Julian there the first morning. Julian, who's been living in
                          London,
                          > England, for the past 4 or 5 years, made a last minute decision
                          (as in
                          > earlier that same week) to go to Bahrain for the V8 Supercars and
                          had
                          > arrived the same evening as I, only on a different flight. Julian
                          hadn't
                          > arranged transportation to the track yet but was thinking of a
                          taxi. I
                          > offered him a ride for the two days and now had a traveling
                          companion
                          > for the races.
                          >
                          > Driving in the daylight was much easier than it had been the
                          previous
                          > night. We even noticed some street name signs, although they could
                          have
                          > used more. After leaving the capital city of Manama, we could move
                          along
                          > at about 50-55 mph on good roads and it didn't take long before we
                          were
                          > nearing the track. Most everything in Bahrain is in the northern
                          half of
                          > the island. The southern half is mostly undeveloped desert,
                          although a
                          > lot of new development is taking place in the central part of the
                          > island. Near to the race circuit there is also Bahrain University,
                          a
                          > wildlife reserve and a horse racing facility, among other things.
                          Most
                          > architecture, apart from some tall, modern buildings in the city
                          center,
                          > keeps to the style and earthtones that blend well with the desert
                          > landscape.
                          >
                          > Everything about the Bahrain International Circuit was very
                          impressive
                          > indeed. The facility is first class all the way and the
                          organization is
                          > impeccable. Everything from the large parking staff that had the
                          traffic
                          > out in a flash, to the 4 women cleaning the spotless restroom when
                          I
                          > went to use it, to the rapid execution of food orders at the 2
                          stands I
                          > ordered from, to the family oriented activities taking place in
                          the
                          > infield area, to the close adherence to the schedule throughout
                          the
                          > weekend, combined with the entertaining V8 Supercars, the
                          beautiful
                          > track and facility to make for a very pleasant couple of days of
                          racing
                          > in the
                          > Middle East.
                          >
                          > The event, named the Desert 400, had the V8 Supercars' oft used
                          format
                          > of 3 short races rather than one long one. This alone was a big
                          plus in
                          > my book. They held qualifying, the "Top Ten Shootout" and a 27 lap
                          race
                          > on Friday. Qualifying is split into a pair of 20 minute sessions.
                          > Drivers ranked in the lower half run in the first session and
                          those in
                          > the upper 50% have a go in the second. The Shootout is just what
                          I'd
                          > call "normal" time trials, one car at a time for one lap,
                          involving only
                          > the ten fastest from qualifying and determining the first ten
                          starters
                          > in the first race.
                          >
                          > All races, including the Supercars and 5 support divisions, were
                          > conducted on a shorter than usual track configuration, cutting out
                          much
                          > of the back portion of the GP circuit. Formula BMW was a last
                          minute
                          > addition to the event lineup, joining Mazda, Lumina, Radical and
                          Thunder
                          > Arabia as undercard to the Australian V8s.
                          >
                          > Julian and I opted for a 15 BHD ticket to the track's main
                          grandstand,
                          > which was good for the entire weekend. I believe the crowd was
                          probably
                          > considerably less than anticipated, numbering several thousand but
                          > making the large grandstands look nearly empty. Most of the main
                          stand
                          > crowd gathered near the start line area, directly across from a
                          giant
                          > screen that offered live television coverage and allowed us to
                          follow
                          > the action around the circuit, as most of the back part was
                          totally
                          > obstructed by the large stands located in the infield that faced
                          to the
                          > back section and also were in front of the facility's drag strip.
                          During
                          > Friday's racing we met another Australian fan, Ian, who joined us
                          off
                          > and on throughout both days at the track.
                          >
                          > After the qualifying and shootout were completed we headed down
                          through
                          > the spectator tunnel that led to the infield concession area.
                          Several
                          > food stands included Dairy Queen (chicken and burger meals),
                          Australian
                          > Pie, pizza, corn and ice cream. The first day I just got a chicken
                          meal
                          > from the Dairy Queen stand and we ate back in the stands while
                          watching
                          > one of the support races.
                          >
                          > Before that, we were surprised to learn that all 31 of the
                          Australian V8
                          > drivers would be involved in autograph signings. Each day, half
                          the
                          > field sat behind a row of tables and signed free posters or any
                          other
                          > item fans wished to have them autograph. On Friday I got 16
                          drivers'
                          > autographs on one poster, then on Saturday the other 15 drivers
                          plus
                          > Miss Supercars signed another poster.
                          >
                          > Meanwhile, kids could get on one of the trampolines where they
                          were
                          > secured to 2 bungee ropes and left to jump and flip about at up to
                          20-25
                          > feet in the air. They also had a mechanical bull for the bigger
                          kids and
                          > other rides for the young ones. There were 2 guys dressed in large
                          > kangaroo costumes who were hopping through the crowd. A tent full
                          of
                          > Arabs was playing music and dancing. The presence of many
                          traditionally
                          > dressed Arabs among the crowd at the races was a very unique
                          experience.
                          >
                          > At 3:23 pm the first V8 Supercars race of the weekend went green
                          from
                          > the normal staggered grid standing start. Fast timer Garth Tander
                          and
                          > Jason Bright were the men to beat and they dominated the race.
                          There was
                          > one mandatory pitstop and I was amazed to see that they only
                          change one
                          > tire and the stops only take a few seconds. One full course yellow
                          > slowed the action for a couple laps but at 4:06 it was all over
                          for the
                          > day with Bright winning over Tander, Todd Kelly, series point
                          leader
                          > Rick Kelly and James Courtney.
                          >
                          > After heading back up the road, Julian and I were surprised to see
                          > hundreds of people camping out in the desert. Kids were playing
                          games in
                          > the sand, groups of people were gathered under small trees,
                          campfires
                          > were going. I guess that was their chance to get away from the
                          city for
                          > a day.
                          > I was also a bit surprised that it was already getting dark before
                          5
                          > o'clock. Julian was planning to contact a family friend back at
                          the
                          > hotel and I was hoping to do a bit of sightseeing after dropping
                          him
                          > off, but with the sun already setting I nixed that idea. I did
                          enjoy a
                          > very good and filling Chinese dinner at the Blue Cafe later that
                          > evening, including 2 heaping plates of fried rice with seafood.
                          >
                          > SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 (23 hour day)--
                          >
                          > Again I had trouble getting to sleep and then after I finally did
                          so I
                          > kept waking up about every 30-60 minutes for some reason.
                          Nonetheless,
                          > Julian and I had arranged to meet at the breakfast buffet around
                          7:30,
                          > wanting to get an earlier start as there was a lot more racing
                          today.
                          >
                          > Both days featured very comfortable high temps in the upper 70s,
                          with
                          > dark clouds rolling in at times and a threat of rain but only a
                          few
                          > drops falling each day.
                          >
                          > There is a gas station located near the track. Next to it is,
                          amazingly,
                          > a 24 hour convenience store. What on earth they need with a 24
                          hour
                          > convenience store in the middle of the desert is beyond me.
                          Anyway, we
                          > had a good laugh while splitting the fuel bill, 1.6 BHD for 20
                          litres.
                          > It was especially funny after we then each paid 1.45 BHD, almost
                          as
                          > much, for a 1.5 litre bottle of water.
                          >
                          > Another fun day at the races was had with Julian and Ian. We
                          arrived
                          > sometime after 9 as the Lumina series was finishing its first of 2
                          races
                          > for the day. The Luminas are a new series of V8 cars, similar to
                          the
                          > Australian Holden Commodores that compete against the Ford Falcons
                          in
                          > the Supercars. The Luminas are maintained by Bahrain Int'l Circuit
                          and
                          > are being used in a new regional championship to be conducted
                          between
                          > this track and the ones at Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. The
                          Supercars
                          > are a two make series, basically a Ford-Chevy rivalry as Holden is
                          the
                          > GM of Australia.
                          >
                          > Following the 8 car Formula BMW race, the Supercars took to the
                          grid for
                          > their second race. Both of today's events were over a 37 lap
                          distance,
                          > with their 3 races adding up to 400 km, hence the name "Desert
                          400". The
                          > finish of each race determines the starting order of the next.
                          They used
                          > to often invert the field for race 2 but Ian said this practice
                          has been
                          > stopped due to the extra crashes caused when all the top cars try
                          to get
                          > through the pack at once.
                          >
                          > At 11:04 the green was out and in this one it was Tander turning
                          the
                          > tables on Bright and coming back to score the victory. Mark
                          Winterbottom
                          > continued to recover nicely from a 15th place timing on Friday,
                          coming
                          > through to finish 8th in the first race and now advancing to 3rd
                          in the
                          > second one. Todd Kelly and championship contender Craig Lowndes
                          rounded
                          > out the top five this time.
                          >
                          > We spent more time in the infield today. Not only did we get the
                          other
                          > half of the autographs but thanks to a tip from Ian we were able
                          to walk
                          > around in the paddock area behind the pit garages. Julian
                          collected an
                          > autograph from an older man at one of the garages, then told me it
                          was
                          > Dick Johnson who had signed his program cover. Johnson is a five
                          time
                          > Australian Touring Car champion, one of the famous names I
                          recognized
                          > from the past. He owns one of the current teams and his son Steven
                          is
                          > one of the current V8 drivers.
                          >
                          > Another amusing scene was an Arab gentleman walking the grounds in
                          full
                          > traditional garb, accompanied by a 4-5 year old boy wearing the
                          same
                          > full outfit and carrying a walking stick to boot. I called him the
                          > little shepherd. People were stopping them to take their
                          photograph
                          > along the way and every request was met with a smile. They even
                          turned
                          > up on the grid before the third race and on the TV broadcast.
                          >
                          > The Australian Pie stand offered a meal deal of 2 pies and a
                          drink. The
                          > pies came in chicken & mushroom, pepper & steak and steak &
                          kidney.
                          > Julian and I each went for one chicken & mushroom and one pepper &
                          > steak. I must admit I really didn't care for the pepper & steak at
                          all,
                          > although the chicken & mushroom was acceptable.
                          >
                          > Pre-race proceedings at the grid for the final of the Supercars
                          included
                          > an aboriginal man in front of the field, starting a fire by
                          rubbing a
                          > stick. I thought this would delay the start of the race, but
                          although it
                          > took him a while to get the fire started, the race went green at
                          3:04.
                          > Both of today's 37 lappers went through without a full course
                          yellow,
                          > just the unusual pitstop with single tire change. Things got
                          interesting
                          > after first and third starters, Garth Tander and Mark
                          Winterbottom, both
                          > received a drive through penalty for taking off a little ahead of
                          the
                          > green light. This was a death sentence in a race with no cautions.
                          Todd
                          > Kelly got the lead from Jason Bright and went on to win the race,
                          which
                          > checkered at 3:58, but official series wins are only recorded for
                          the
                          > overall winner of each weekend, thus Bright was the winner of the
                          Desert
                          > 400 at Bahrain. Craig Lowndes took third in the final 37 lap race
                          with
                          > Mark Skaife coming all the way from 19th to 4th and Rick Kelly
                          from even
                          > further back finished 5th. Tander was starting to pick his way
                          back
                          > through the top ten in the final laps and managed an 8th. With one
                          more
                          > event at Phillip Island to close out the 2006 season, Rick Kelly
                          now
                          > holds a slim advantage over three time former champion Lowndes in
                          the
                          > points chase.
                          >
                          > The Bahrain circuit is back in action a couple of weeks from now
                          with
                          > their first ever 24 hour race. Again, the facility is world class
                          and
                          > the presentation was excellent. They have a five year deal with
                          the
                          > Aussies so hopefully the crowds will increase in the coming years.
                          I
                          > highly recommend the V8 Supercars at Bahrain as the perfect series
                          and
                          > venue for any trackchaser to become acquainted with the Middle
                          East.
                          >
                          > As Julian was to spend another day there, I returned him to the
                          hotel
                          > before heading to the airport and awaiting my scheduled 8:30 pm
                          flight
                          > to Dubai. This short flight was on Gulf Air. The Dubai airport was
                          > another amazing experience. Apparently this is a major connecting
                          point
                          > and hub for flights throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, with many
                          flights
                          > departing during the middle of the night. I arrived before 11 pm
                          (one
                          > hour ahead of Bahrain) and my flight to London wasn't until 3 am.
                          During
                          > this time, the terminal was like a big, fancy shopping mall. All
                          the
                          > shops were open and literally thousands of people were moving
                          about all
                          > this time, a true mix of many cultures. It was quite a sight.
                          >
                          > SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 (33 hour day!)--
                          >
                          > This is the day when I would gain back my 9 lost hours in a single
                          > morning. The flight from Dubai departed at 3:00 am and my arrival
                          back
                          > in New York was at around 11:00 am, some 17 hours later. Between
                          the 4
                          > meals I was served on the flights, the extra breakfast platter
                          given to
                          > me by the man seated next to me on one flight, and eating dinner
                          with my
                          > sister and her boyfriend later that afternoon, I consumed 6 meals
                          on
                          > this long day. Again I lucked out as the majority of traffic into
                          and
                          > out of NYC was going the opposite way, allowing me to drive home
                          from
                          > JFK in just over 2 hours.
                          >
                          > So, Bahrain International Circuit gave me Asia as my fourth
                          continent in
                          > which to see countable racing. This breaks a tie with several of
                          you who
                          > have three continents. Roland is the only other spectator of those
                          > listed trackchasers with more than three. I really wanted to end
                          the
                          > year with 20 countries, but it was not to be. I'll have to be
                          satisfied
                          > with 19 until next year.
                          >
                          > Will White
                          >
                        • Bruce Eckel
                          Will, Very well done report. Got a real feel for the overall experience. It is always nice to meet other race fans and have someone to hang around with.
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Will,



                            Very well done report. Got a real feel for the overall
                            experience. It is always nice to meet other race fans and have someone to
                            hang around with. Again thanks for sharing.







                            Bruce









                            _____

                            From: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com] On
                            Behalf Of Will White
                            Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 8:01 PM
                            To: TrackChasers@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: [TrackChasers] #668 Bahrain International Circuit--Sakhir, Bahrain



                            Note: I thought I sent this report to the group on November 29, 2006.
                            After several people reported not receiving it, I finally confirmed that
                            I only sent it to myself. Thus, I apologize to all and now resend it,
                            hopefully, to everyone.

                            BACKGROUND INFO ON THE TRIP:

                            It all started way back at the beginning of the year when I began
                            scouting early international schedules for a possible multiple new
                            country combination. I was particularly interested in making a first
                            visit to Asia, and as my eventual lifetime goal is to see races in at
                            least 2 countries on each of the 6 inhabited continents, I was looking
                            for a way to score 2 Asian countries in one weekend. This is not so
                            easy, but since some Middle Eastern countries have their weekends on
                            different days to ours, new possibilities were available.

                            I soon discovered a combination that seemed too good to pass up. The
                            Australian V8 Supercars, one of the most highly regarded touring car
                            series in the world, scheduled a first time visit to the Kingdom of
                            Bahrain with races on Nov. 23-24. Why Thursday and Friday races there?
                            Because those days made up that small island nation's official weekend.
                            Forming a perfect fit for me was the scheduling of the FIA GT
                            championship series on Nov. 25 at the Dubai Autodrome, just a few
                            hundred miles south in the United Arab Emirates. What really made this a
                            bargain was the fact that I could fly out after work on Wednesday,
                            return home on Sunday and not miss a single day's work since I already
                            had Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.

                            Normally I don't book any trips very far in advance, but after
                            corresponding with Roland about this weekend plan, he was very keen on
                            it as well, largely due to his enthusiasm for seeing the V8 Supercars
                            again as he had done previously in Australia. Airfares were fluctuating
                            rapidly and we agreed to go ahead and book our flights in February, a
                            decision that didn't prove to be such a good move.

                            As the months went by a number of events occured that affected our
                            plans. First, the GT series moved their Dubai date to Nov. 18. Changing
                            plans to still include races in both countries would have been too
                            costly for me, so we were now down to just Bahrain. We still had to fly
                            from Bahrain to the UAE though to catch our flight back to London, only
                            now we'd have no race to see there. That short flight, set for early
                            Saturday morning, was later cancelled, but luckily we could change to
                            another flight scheduled for later that morning. However, the king of
                            Bahrain then decided to change the country's weekend to Friday and
                            Saturday, which led to the Supercars requesting and receiving a date
                            change as well, now racing on Nov. 24-25. That prompted me to change our
                            Saturday flight to an evening one, allowing us to possibly see all 3 of
                            the Supercars races instead of just one. Since we had no race in Dubai
                            we could then just hang out in the airport for a few hours and wait for
                            our Sunday 3AM departure. Things seemed settled at that point, but the
                            final blow was delivered a few weeks before the trip, to Roland by his
                            boss at the Belgian National Bank. Roland was given an important duty to
                            perform in Frankfurt, Germany, during the time of our trip. There was no
                            way to back out and he reluctantly had to forfeit his airfare and leave
                            me to go it alone.

                            WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (22 hour day)--

                            After working in the morning, with this being one of the year's heaviest
                            travel days and having to drive to JFK Airport on Long Island, I left
                            extra early (1:30 pm) for the scheduled 8:30 pm departure. With very
                            little traffic backup I arrived very early and the plane arrived very
                            late from London. In fact we took off 2 hours late, but due to a very
                            strong tailwind across the Atlantic we were able to make up one of the
                            two lost hours enroute to Heathrow.

                            THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (18 hour day)--

                            With the late arrival my scheduled 2 hour layover in London was cut to
                            just enough time to get me through security and to my second flight. I
                            was glad I decided to stick to my normal short trip routine of just a
                            carry-on bag (no checked luggage). I had no problem with the new rules
                            for how to take liquids in carry-on. All the long flights were on
                            British Airways, still one of my favorites. Tight seating is my only
                            real beef but I'm willing to put up with that inconvenience. I was very
                            lucky though in that I was given an aisle seat on each of the 5 flights
                            of this trip. Every little bit of space helps.

                            Nearing the end of the London-Bahrain flight I happened to awake from a
                            nap and checked the map that shows the flight path taken and it answered
                            a question I had in my mind, that being whether or not we'd be flying
                            over Iraq. The answer was yes, the map on the screen showed that we had
                            already flown just east of Baghdad and were over southern Iraq at that
                            time. Bahrain is just a few hundred miles south of Iraq.

                            After losing a total of 8 hours enroute (due to time zone changes) it
                            was about 7:45 pm local time when we landed at Bahrain International.
                            The single terminal airport is located on a small island off the
                            northeast coast of the country's main island, connected by a couple of
                            causeways. Across the island is a much longer causeway that connects
                            Bahrain with Saudi Arabia on the mainland.

                            In the past few years major racing circuits have appeared in the small
                            Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
                            This fact alone seems to indicate that these are among the most liberal
                            and tolerant of the Middle Eastern countries. Any possible doubt about
                            Bahrain is eliminated as soon as one exits their plane and enters the
                            terminal hall, as the first thing to be noticed is all the decorated and
                            lit Christmas trees on display. Although Arabic is the official
                            language, English is also prominent throughout the country. Combine that
                            with their emphasis on tourism and hospitality and it makes for a very
                            easy and pleasant visit, yet at the same time quite exotic.

                            Upon arrival, tourists who don't secure a visa in advance are sold one
                            on the spot for $15. US or 5 BHD (the Bahrain Dinar is pegged to the US
                            dollar at 1 BHD=$2.65. The single entry visa is good for a stay of up to
                            two weeks.

                            With 2 days at the track, more than 100 miles would be covered in
                            Bahrain. That would have been alot to do by taxi. Surprisingly, car
                            rental is not only as inexpensive in Bahrain as it is in the USA (a
                            little over $20. a day including surcharges), but they also rent all
                            automatic transmission cars. That was a big surprise because in many
                            countries they are scarce and/or very expensive. Throw in the price of
                            gas (about 80 cents per gallon!) and car rental was the only way to go.
                            I rented a Nissan Sunny EX Saloon from Budget right in the airport
                            terminal.

                            My pre-trip memorization of the layout of the main roads paid off once I
                            set out to find my hotel at night. Traffic in this area was heavy and I
                            didn't notice a single sign with a road name between the airport and the
                            hotel, but somehow I managed to go directly to the hotel without making
                            any wrong turns. After a number of internet searches I was able to book
                            2 nights' stay in the Ramada Palace, definitely a higher class hotel
                            than I'm used to, for a total (inc. taxes) of just $80. per night. This
                            was about as low a price as I found for any place that I felt
                            comfortable booking, so why not? The hotel was very nice indeed,
                            although I wasn't thrilled when I learned of their policy of holding my
                            passport and visa at reception. That brought back memories of my 1990
                            Soviet Union adventure which is too long a story to get into here.

                            FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (24 hour day)--

                            Due to the time difference I wasn't able to fall asleep until well after
                            midnight, thus I slept in a little later than planned this morning. The
                            24 hour Blue Cafe, located just off the hotel's lobby, serves a good and
                            varied hot breakfast buffet for just 2.50 BHD. This was a great deal to
                            get each of the two days started on a full stomach and not have to think
                            about food options at the track until sometime in the afternoon. Another
                            benefit of the buffet was that I met up with a young Australian named
                            Julian there the first morning. Julian, who's been living in London,
                            England, for the past 4 or 5 years, made a last minute decision (as in
                            earlier that same week) to go to Bahrain for the V8 Supercars and had
                            arrived the same evening as I, only on a different flight. Julian hadn't
                            arranged transportation to the track yet but was thinking of a taxi. I
                            offered him a ride for the two days and now had a traveling companion
                            for the races.

                            Driving in the daylight was much easier than it had been the previous
                            night. We even noticed some street name signs, although they could have
                            used more. After leaving the capital city of Manama, we could move along
                            at about 50-55 mph on good roads and it didn't take long before we were
                            nearing the track. Most everything in Bahrain is in the northern half of
                            the island. The southern half is mostly undeveloped desert, although a
                            lot of new development is taking place in the central part of the
                            island. Near to the race circuit there is also Bahrain University, a
                            wildlife reserve and a horse racing facility, among other things. Most
                            architecture, apart from some tall, modern buildings in the city center,
                            keeps to the style and earthtones that blend well with the desert
                            landscape.

                            Everything about the Bahrain International Circuit was very impressive
                            indeed. The facility is first class all the way and the organization is
                            impeccable. Everything from the large parking staff that had the traffic
                            out in a flash, to the 4 women cleaning the spotless restroom when I
                            went to use it, to the rapid execution of food orders at the 2 stands I
                            ordered from, to the family oriented activities taking place in the
                            infield area, to the close adherence to the schedule throughout the
                            weekend, combined with the entertaining V8 Supercars, the beautiful
                            track and facility to make for a very pleasant couple of days of racing
                            in the
                            Middle East.

                            The event, named the Desert 400, had the V8 Supercars' oft used format
                            of 3 short races rather than one long one. This alone was a big plus in
                            my book. They held qualifying, the "Top Ten Shootout" and a 27 lap race
                            on Friday. Qualifying is split into a pair of 20 minute sessions.
                            Drivers ranked in the lower half run in the first session and those in
                            the upper 50% have a go in the second. The Shootout is just what I'd
                            call "normal" time trials, one car at a time for one lap, involving only
                            the ten fastest from qualifying and determining the first ten starters
                            in the first race.

                            All races, including the Supercars and 5 support divisions, were
                            conducted on a shorter than usual track configuration, cutting out much
                            of the back portion of the GP circuit. Formula BMW was a last minute
                            addition to the event lineup, joining Mazda, Lumina, Radical and Thunder
                            Arabia as undercard to the Australian V8s.

                            Julian and I opted for a 15 BHD ticket to the track's main grandstand,
                            which was good for the entire weekend. I believe the crowd was probably
                            considerably less than anticipated, numbering several thousand but
                            making the large grandstands look nearly empty. Most of the main stand
                            crowd gathered near the start line area, directly across from a giant
                            screen that offered live television coverage and allowed us to follow
                            the action around the circuit, as most of the back part was totally
                            obstructed by the large stands located in the infield that faced to the
                            back section and also were in front of the facility's drag strip. During
                            Friday's racing we met another Australian fan, Ian, who joined us off
                            and on throughout both days at the track.

                            After the qualifying and shootout were completed we headed down through
                            the spectator tunnel that led to the infield concession area. Several
                            food stands included Dairy Queen (chicken and burger meals), Australian
                            Pie, pizza, corn and ice cream. The first day I just got a chicken meal
                            from the Dairy Queen stand and we ate back in the stands while watching
                            one of the support races.

                            Before that, we were surprised to learn that all 31 of the Australian V8
                            drivers would be involved in autograph signings. Each day, half the
                            field sat behind a row of tables and signed free posters or any other
                            item fans wished to have them autograph. On Friday I got 16 drivers'
                            autographs on one poster, then on Saturday the other 15 drivers plus
                            Miss Supercars signed another poster.

                            Meanwhile, kids could get on one of the trampolines where they were
                            secured to 2 bungee ropes and left to jump and flip about at up to 20-25
                            feet in the air. They also had a mechanical bull for the bigger kids and
                            other rides for the young ones. There were 2 guys dressed in large
                            kangaroo costumes who were hopping through the crowd. A tent full of
                            Arabs was playing music and dancing. The presence of many traditionally
                            dressed Arabs among the crowd at the races was a very unique experience.

                            At 3:23 pm the first V8 Supercars race of the weekend went green from
                            the normal staggered grid standing start. Fast timer Garth Tander and
                            Jason Bright were the men to beat and they dominated the race. There was
                            one mandatory pitstop and I was amazed to see that they only change one
                            tire and the stops only take a few seconds. One full course yellow
                            slowed the action for a couple laps but at 4:06 it was all over for the
                            day with Bright winning over Tander, Todd Kelly, series point leader
                            Rick Kelly and James Courtney.

                            After heading back up the road, Julian and I were surprised to see
                            hundreds of people camping out in the desert. Kids were playing games in
                            the sand, groups of people were gathered under small trees, campfires
                            were going. I guess that was their chance to get away from the city for
                            a day.
                            I was also a bit surprised that it was already getting dark before 5
                            o'clock. Julian was planning to contact a family friend back at the
                            hotel and I was hoping to do a bit of sightseeing after dropping him
                            off, but with the sun already setting I nixed that idea. I did enjoy a
                            very good and filling Chinese dinner at the Blue Cafe later that
                            evening, including 2 heaping plates of fried rice with seafood.

                            SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 (23 hour day)--

                            Again I had trouble getting to sleep and then after I finally did so I
                            kept waking up about every 30-60 minutes for some reason. Nonetheless,
                            Julian and I had arranged to meet at the breakfast buffet around 7:30,
                            wanting to get an earlier start as there was a lot more racing today.

                            Both days featured very comfortable high temps in the upper 70s, with
                            dark clouds rolling in at times and a threat of rain but only a few
                            drops falling each day.

                            There is a gas station located near the track. Next to it is, amazingly,
                            a 24 hour convenience store. What on earth they need with a 24 hour
                            convenience store in the middle of the desert is beyond me. Anyway, we
                            had a good laugh while splitting the fuel bill, 1.6 BHD for 20 litres.
                            It was especially funny after we then each paid 1.45 BHD, almost as
                            much, for a 1.5 litre bottle of water.

                            Another fun day at the races was had with Julian and Ian. We arrived
                            sometime after 9 as the Lumina series was finishing its first of 2 races
                            for the day. The Luminas are a new series of V8 cars, similar to the
                            Australian Holden Commodores that compete against the Ford Falcons in
                            the Supercars. The Luminas are maintained by Bahrain Int'l Circuit and
                            are being used in a new regional championship to be conducted between
                            this track and the ones at Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. The Supercars
                            are a two make series, basically a Ford-Chevy rivalry as Holden is the
                            GM of Australia.

                            Following the 8 car Formula BMW race, the Supercars took to the grid for
                            their second race. Both of today's events were over a 37 lap distance,
                            with their 3 races adding up to 400 km, hence the name "Desert 400". The
                            finish of each race determines the starting order of the next. They used
                            to often invert the field for race 2 but Ian said this practice has been
                            stopped due to the extra crashes caused when all the top cars try to get
                            through the pack at once.

                            At 11:04 the green was out and in this one it was Tander turning the
                            tables on Bright and coming back to score the victory. Mark Winterbottom
                            continued to recover nicely from a 15th place timing on Friday, coming
                            through to finish 8th in the first race and now advancing to 3rd in the
                            second one. Todd Kelly and championship contender Craig Lowndes rounded
                            out the top five this time.

                            We spent more time in the infield today. Not only did we get the other
                            half of the autographs but thanks to a tip from Ian we were able to walk
                            around in the paddock area behind the pit garages. Julian collected an
                            autograph from an older man at one of the garages, then told me it was
                            Dick Johnson who had signed his program cover. Johnson is a five time
                            Australian Touring Car champion, one of the famous names I recognized
                            from the past. He owns one of the current teams and his son Steven is
                            one of the current V8 drivers.

                            Another amusing scene was an Arab gentleman walking the grounds in full
                            traditional garb, accompanied by a 4-5 year old boy wearing the same
                            full outfit and carrying a walking stick to boot. I called him the
                            little shepherd. People were stopping them to take their photograph
                            along the way and every request was met with a smile. They even turned
                            up on the grid before the third race and on the TV broadcast.

                            The Australian Pie stand offered a meal deal of 2 pies and a drink. The
                            pies came in chicken & mushroom, pepper & steak and steak & kidney.
                            Julian and I each went for one chicken & mushroom and one pepper &
                            steak. I must admit I really didn't care for the pepper & steak at all,
                            although the chicken & mushroom was acceptable.

                            Pre-race proceedings at the grid for the final of the Supercars included
                            an aboriginal man in front of the field, starting a fire by rubbing a
                            stick. I thought this would delay the start of the race, but although it
                            took him a while to get the fire started, the race went green at 3:04.
                            Both of today's 37 lappers went through without a full course yellow,
                            just the unusual pitstop with single tire change. Things got interesting
                            after first and third starters, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom, both
                            received a drive through penalty for taking off a little ahead of the
                            green light. This was a death sentence in a race with no cautions. Todd
                            Kelly got the lead from Jason Bright and went on to win the race, which
                            checkered at 3:58, but official series wins are only recorded for the
                            overall winner of each weekend, thus Bright was the winner of the Desert
                            400 at Bahrain. Craig Lowndes took third in the final 37 lap race with
                            Mark Skaife coming all the way from 19th to 4th and Rick Kelly from even
                            further back finished 5th. Tander was starting to pick his way back
                            through the top ten in the final laps and managed an 8th. With one more
                            event at Phillip Island to close out the 2006 season, Rick Kelly now
                            holds a slim advantage over three time former champion Lowndes in the
                            points chase.

                            The Bahrain circuit is back in action a couple of weeks from now with
                            their first ever 24 hour race. Again, the facility is world class and
                            the presentation was excellent. They have a five year deal with the
                            Aussies so hopefully the crowds will increase in the coming years. I
                            highly recommend the V8 Supercars at Bahrain as the perfect series and
                            venue for any trackchaser to become acquainted with the Middle East.

                            As Julian was to spend another day there, I returned him to the hotel
                            before heading to the airport and awaiting my scheduled 8:30 pm flight
                            to Dubai. This short flight was on Gulf Air. The Dubai airport was
                            another amazing experience. Apparently this is a major connecting point
                            and hub for flights throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, with many flights
                            departing during the middle of the night. I arrived before 11 pm (one
                            hour ahead of Bahrain) and my flight to London wasn't until 3 am. During
                            this time, the terminal was like a big, fancy shopping mall. All the
                            shops were open and literally thousands of people were moving about all
                            this time, a true mix of many cultures. It was quite a sight.

                            SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 (33 hour day!)--

                            This is the day when I would gain back my 9 lost hours in a single
                            morning. The flight from Dubai departed at 3:00 am and my arrival back
                            in New York was at around 11:00 am, some 17 hours later. Between the 4
                            meals I was served on the flights, the extra breakfast platter given to
                            me by the man seated next to me on one flight, and eating dinner with my
                            sister and her boyfriend later that afternoon, I consumed 6 meals on
                            this long day. Again I lucked out as the majority of traffic into and
                            out of NYC was going the opposite way, allowing me to drive home from
                            JFK in just over 2 hours.

                            So, Bahrain International Circuit gave me Asia as my fourth continent in
                            which to see countable racing. This breaks a tie with several of you who
                            have three continents. Roland is the only other spectator of those
                            listed trackchasers with more than three. I really wanted to end the
                            year with 20 countries, but it was not to be. I'll have to be satisfied
                            with 19 until next year.

                            Will White





                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Mike Leone
                            #122 Ohio Expo Center (Coliseum), Columbus, OH (1/10-mile indoor concrete), 1/20/07... I began the 2007 racing last Saturday with a trip to the Buckeye State
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jan 26, 2007
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                              #122 Ohio Expo Center (Coliseum), Columbus, OH (1/10-mile indoor
                              concrete), 1/20/07...

                              I began the 2007 racing last Saturday with a trip to the Buckeye State
                              at the Ohio Expo Center and the Ohio State Fairgrounds located right off
                              Interstate 71. It was another "Rumble Series" event promoted by Tony
                              Barhorst. I've seen his events at Toledo, Fort Wayne, and outdoors at
                              Columbus Motor Speedway.

                              This was the first ever show inside the Coliseum building. Last year I
                              took in racing a few buildings down at the O'Neill Building. This event
                              included the highly-touted USAC Midgets along with the 600cc wingless
                              Micro Sprints, and various classes of go-karts.

                              The Midgets had 26 cars on hand and less talented field than the one's
                              held at Fort Wayne, IN. It was Ken Schrader Day as he was signing
                              autographs and then competed in Midget competition. Schrader transferred
                              to the feature by winning one of the two B mains, but was the second
                              drop-out of the feature.

                              The Midgets were the only class to time trial, which started a few
                              minutes before 5 p.m. and was followed up by various last chance races
                              and features for the karts. Before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time for
                              the midget heats, ABC commentator, Jack Arute, interviewed Sarah Fisher.
                              Arute was competing himself in the Micro class.

                              The heats and last chance races for the Midgets were better than the 50-
                              lap feature. Twelve cars were scheduled to start the Midget feature, but
                              pole-sitter Matt Westfall was unable to fire, which slid third-place
                              starter Blake Fitzpatrick to the pole. Fitzpatrick, a 15-year-old, led
                              all 50 laps of the non-stop event which really stirred up the fumes in
                              the non-stop action. The Midget feature was last and wrapped up well
                              before 10 PM.

                              The various go-kart races and especially the Micro Sprint feature was
                              better. Joey Payne, who won the week prior at Atlantic City, NJ, made it
                              back-to-back wins taking the Micro Sprint main. Indoor standout and Ohio
                              410 Sprint Car racer John Ivy spun twice in the main, but charged back
                              from 18th to finish 3rd and most likely was the fastest car on the
                              track.

                              It was a good show. Admission is always high for these indoor events,
                              which aren't cheap to put on. Adult grandstand admission was $21 with
                              pit passes $30. Parking set you back another $5. The show was very
                              organized and professionally run with little delays. The Coliseum
                              provided an excellent view of the racing action as there wasn't a bad
                              seat in the house. It was stated the Coliseum held 5,000 and the
                              announced attendance was 4,000, but that seemed way overstated. Even
                              with all of the people from the pits it may have approached half-full.
                              It was nice to hear Paul Szmal (sp?) behind the mic. Paul is veteran of
                              the Northeast racing scene especially the Modifieds. doing various media
                              gigs and promotions.

                              It was sunny skies on Saturday with temps in the 30s in Columbus;
                              however, the weather turned nasty the following day as snowstorm came
                              through thankfully a day late.

                              The Coliseum made for my 26th track in the Buckeye State and #122
                              overall.

                              #122 Ohio Expo Center (Coliseum), OH 1/20/07

                              ###
                            • Will White
                              The schedule on www.600racing.com shows legends running at Millbridge Speedway in North Carolina on a number of Sundays, beginning with last Sunday. Will
                              Message 14 of 14 , Feb 28, 2007
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                                The schedule on www.600racing.com shows legends running at Millbridge
                                Speedway in North Carolina on a number of Sundays, beginning with last
                                Sunday.

                                Will
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