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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, If there is one area in which Europe is a clear second to North America, it s in the area of racing during the winter months. On the outside
    Message 1 of 331 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Hello colleagues,

      If there is one area in which Europe is a clear second to North America, it's in the area of racing during the winter months. On the outside front, the number of ice races is far less high than in the USA and Canada (and at high altitude as well), and indoor races are extremely few and far between. Over the years I've visited almost all available indoor venues within 300 miles from home, except the Veltins Arena at Gelsenkirchen (Germany), where, unaware to me, for the last two years a banger meeting was organised by German television network ProSieben. This year, I was better informed and I could attend the third edition of this indoor banger event, this time held on the evening of Saturday, November 29 at the LTU Arena of Düsseldorf.


      Aline had to attend the funeral of her next door neighbour and thus, I go on my way alone towards this very unusual event at an equally unusual venue. In fact, the LTU Arena is none other than the football (soccer to most of you) stadium of German third division club Fortuna Düsseldorf. It's a partially open stadium with a retractable roof, but its side walls are a sort of glass cocoon. When the roof is closed, the stadium is surrounded by a second skin of glass, which really gives the impression of being inside a giant glass shoebox.

      Seating was a lot less crammed than at the other football stadium I saw a race in, the Stade de France. The plastic bucket seats were comfortable and had plenty of leg room. Moreover, the Arena was very well heated. The downside was that the seats were very far from the track. They had dismantled the athletics track and the concrete layer under it was used as paddock and pit lane. The course was a very entertaining dirt one.

      The programme was also unusual. The competition was between ten teams, each consisting of three cars, one in the -1500cc division, one in the -1900cc division and one in the up to 3500cc division. Teams consisted of one professional driver (and fellow trackchaser Hans Joachim Stuck was one of them), one television entertainer and one other figure of showbiz or arts. The competition had three distinct parts. The first part, starting at 6.00PM, consisted of regular ten minute races for all three categories. In these races, banging was allowed, but only the number of laps driven and the finishing order netted points for the teams. These races were also used to determine the starting positions for the full contact banger race in each division, where additional points were given for spinning or overturning other cars. This stage and the following demo derby were televised live from 8.30PM. The first races were very good and even the full contact races were entertaining. DTM champion Timo Scheider turned out to be a very skilled banger driver as well, he won the -1900cc race with double of the points of the second finisher. The only thing that was a bit annoying, was that they stopped these races a few times to retrieve wrecks. As l had a three hour drive home to go, I left the Arena just before midnight, when the demo derby was started.

      I'm now only one track away from the 700 mark, so I will probably go for at least one more track in 2008. There are several possibilities, but at the moment no firm plans.



      Roland

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    • Vanden Eynde Roland
      Hello colleagues, Long before I found out trackchasing ever existed, I had a habit of going to some late season races on southern French road courses. I ve
      Message 331 of 331 , Nov 12, 2013
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        Hello colleagues,

        Long before I found out trackchasing ever existed, I had a habit of going to some late season races on southern French road courses. I've long since exhausted those new track opportunities, but still there are a few French road courses I have to visit. Last weekend I added a rather remarkable one to my portfolio.

        Why drive an entire day if a high speed train brings you there in half that time? Since I discovered the multitude of possibilities of the French high speed trains, I like to take advantage of their services whenever suitable. Unlike my two previous train travels, this time, I couldn't get round Paris, but still that wasn't such a problem. I boarded a train to Paris Nord just past 11.15 a.m. and 75 minutes later it got me to Paris. In the north station of Paris, I had 85 minutes to get to Paris Bercy station by underground. It only took me 25 minutes to do so and I had ample time to take my numbered seat on the train to Clermont-Ferrand. Another 90 minutes later I got there. I had booked a hotel (Hotel des Commerçants) only yards from the railway station. The weather was a little cold, but sunny and after a long walk I had enough of an appetite to go for an early steak dinner at a Hippopotamus. These are chain restaurants a bit reminiscent of Applebee's.

        On Saturday morning I got back to the railway station to fetch my hire car at Sixt. They gave an excellent rate and handed me a Renault Twingo with only 75 miles on the clock. Unlike in Montréal, I didn't add thousands of miles to it, as my target for the day was less than 35 miles from the town centre. The French tyre manufacturer Michelin has its roots in Clermont-Ferrand and the centrepiece of those roots is its research centre at Ladoux (Auvergne region). This complex, officially called "Centre de recherche Michelin de Ladoux", is a beauty. It's in lush green surroundings. Inside a 5 mile high speed trioval, it harbours several testing grounds for dry weather tyre testing, wet weather tyre testing, braking, etc. The dry weather testing is done on a 2770 metres long flat track with numerous corners. It is on this track that twice a year countable races are held. Last Saturday, two Porsche clubs (one local and one Swiss) held a sprint and endurance meeting. This being a tyre test track, it has neither pit lane nor specific paddock area. I had to park my hire car on a piece of concrete where trailers and cars of team members were parked. Another part of that concrete area was turned into an improvised pit lane. In the morning, they held three 20 minute sprint races for various Porsche classes, while after a two hour lunch break (although there was only a local hot dog stand to get food from), allcomers got on the track for a two hour endurance race. The twisty nature of the track made for good racing, but the track surface was rather slick and there were spins galore. But as this track was surrounded by large grassy runoff areas, no cars were severely damaged. Not being a great fan of Porsches (I like Ferraris and Maseratis better), I left halfway the endurance race and had a nice drive in the hills surrounding Clermont-Ferrand. The entire landscape consists of extinct volcanoes and it's really gorgeous. I got back into town at dusk, handed the car back in and after another nice dinner, I had a good night sleep.

        Sunday morning, I got on the train back to Paris. Just like on Friday, the journey went by smoothly. So much for my contribution to tracks in November, as the rest of the month will not involve any new trackchasing for me.

        Roland

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

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