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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, I have a habit of sending you the reports on my trackchasing activities as soon as possible. This time, there has been a bit of a gap between
    Message 1 of 331 , Mar 1, 2011
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      Hello colleagues,

      I have a habit of sending you the reports on my trackchasing activities as soon as possible. This time, there has been a bit of a gap between my new track additions and my report, because Aline and I have indulged in a week of dolce vita in Italy.

      But on Sunday, February 20, the day before we went to 'Bella Italia', I went to the Dutch village of Maarssen, a little north of Utrecht, for an unusual ice race. It was performed on an oval outdoor ice skating rink of about 250 m length. There weren't many spectators and we all found nice spots on the outer terraces that were about a metre above the track. The races consisted of short 8 lap blasts with fields of four. There were two classes: saloons (11 cars) and crosskarts (15 of them), both fitted with autocross mud tyres, not giving much adherence on the ice. While the saloon cars were rather ill at ease on the narrow icy surface, the crosskarts were a joy to watch. They slid through the turns as if they were ice speedway bikes and a few races ended with cars crossing the line almost together. However, the rather mild weather (a few degrees above freezing and a light drizzle) made the ice melt and once the concrete surface peeked through, the races became faster but less spectacular. All in all, it was an enjoyable meeting. This Dutch ice race also gave me a few firsts. I'm the first trackchaser to score a Dutch ice racing track and, much more fulfilling, I now have seen crosskarts on all countable track surfaces (dirt, paved, ice and mixed).

      On Monday, February 21, Aline and I flew to the Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci of Rome. Our Alitalia flight was bang on time and the wait for our luggage was short. However, in this airport it's a long and difficult journey to the car hire firms. We got a black Citroën C3 Picasso, which was nice to drive but had too small a booth for our entire luggage. It was late afternoon when we headed for Rome city centre, where I had booked at the Hotel Royal Court, only to be informed they had a water supply problem and they had booked us at a sister hotel, which had very small rooms. We decided to swap hotels for our second night and found a much nicer one (Hotel Marconi) just a block away. We spent a day and a half in Rome, before driving down to Bari for three days in the lovely Villa Romazzini Carducci (a hotel in a large garden and with huge rooms). I love Italy and within Italy my favourite region is Puglia. Its inhabitants are extremely friendly and the quality of life is among the best in Europe. Aline also appreciated I had downloaded the entire stock of addresses of shoe and clothing stores of Bari. She came very close to visiting 95% of them, as well as the splendid town of Alberobelli with its trulli. A trullo is a house with a conic roof. They were invented in the middle ages by people reluctant to pay housing taxes to the local rulers. In fact they are the first houses on wheels, for they could be dismantled within an hour, put on ox carts and reassembled somewhere else. Clever people, these Pugliesi. Unfortunately, the weather had been unseasonally cold and grey, but still Bari is a charming city, despite its rather chaotic traffic. On Friday morning, we headed north and followed the Adriatic coast to Misano Adriatico. It's another of my favourite places to stay in Italy. Not only is it very near the Santamonica road course (if Gordy wants to score an Italian track, he should make it this one, for its the only track I know where a local caterer puts up a large tent to serve succulent three course meals to drivers, marshals and the paying public). One of the more odd things about Italy is that it has a very short tourist season. Even in May, most hotels along the coast line are still closed, let alone in February. But I know a spot where they let you stay even when the hotel is closed. In fact, you can choose any room at the price of the smallest one. Misano consists of two parts, one between the beach and the railway line, which is geared towards tourism, and the local living quarters, between the railway line and the main road linking Rimini to Ancona. There is a splendid restaurant there which serves gourmet food in very large portions. And there open all year round. Yummy.

      After our very nice stay at Misano Adriatico, we drove 140 miles northwest to the small hamlet of San Giacomo delle Segnate for the first autocross to be held in Italy in 2011. The track is a permanent course (in fact almost an oval, but with very fast esses on the back straight). It's rather short; I suppose about 500 to 600 metres. With at least 10 races a year, this is one of the busiest Italian autocross tracks, but it's very basic, with no buildings and very few spectator facilities. As the weather was damp and cold, we watched the races from our hire car. There were only a few other cars parked alongside ours; Unusual on this track is that the start and finish straight had a grass surface, while the rest of the track was sandy. The fields were varied but very small. There were 4 saloon car classes and three buggy classes (of which one FWD). No class had more than 7 starters and except a few old FWD rally cars all saloon cars were rather small ones. The meeting started at noon with time trialing, followed by 3 heats at which all cars in each class participated. These very short races (lasting about 3 minutes each) were only used to determine the starting positions in the slightly longer finals (lasting about 4 minutes). Shortly after 2.00 p.m. the meeting was over and we got on the road again.

      We spent our last evening in Italy at a small hotel near Bologna, which I had discovered during my 2007 trackchasing trip in Italy. It had very nice rooms and an extremely good restaurant, a nice end to a splendid trip. Yesterday afternoon we were back at the Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci for our flight back to Belgium. Being in my favourite country has put me in a good mood for many more international trackchasing trips this year, beginning with next week, when I hope to add my first track variant under the new road course counting rule.


      Number of races in 2011: 4
      Of which on new tracks: 4
      Number of countries in which trackchased: 4


      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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