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Re: [TrackChasers] Re: Not New, But Different & Old Track

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  • RTRYFBAR@AOL.COM
    Message 1 of 14 , Sep 7, 2006
      <<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 2 of 14 , Jan 22, 2007
        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 3 of 14 , Jan 22, 2007
          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 4 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
            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 5 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
              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 6 of 14 , Jan 23, 2007
                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 7 of 14 , Jan 26, 2007
                  #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 8 of 14 , Feb 28, 2007
                    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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