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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, I live in a very small country, but one with a lot of one off autocross tracks. One of my main sources of new tracks in my home country is
    Message 1 of 331 , Apr 4, 2011
      Hello colleagues,

      I live in a very small country, but one with a lot of one off autocross tracks. One of my main sources of new tracks in my home country is that the location of a number of track change, because the farmer who gave his OK for a race in the past may not always do so again, once he's contemplated the state in which he found his field afterwards. This year, it seems most Belgian farmers were rather satisfied with the way last year's autocrosses were organised and thus not many new Belgian venues pop up. In fact, my very first new track in my home country is scheduled for May and in the meantime, I'll go and watch races in two more countries, of which on Saturday Germany became the first.

      It was in summery conditions that on Saturday morning I started my journey to the hamlet of Grafel, a part of the town of Anderlingen in the German federal state of Niedersachsen. Aline was scheduled to accompany me, but she has a severe allergy for blooming fruit trees and therefore, she elected to stay home. The first part of the trip down Germany's motorways went by quickly and smoothly. It's always a pleasure to be able to do parts of the trip at 100 mph. Once I left the motorway, south of Bremen, progress was less swift. Germans like to drive fast on open roads, but nowhere speed limits in villages are better observed than in Germany. It was around 5.00 p.m. when I arrived in the town of Zeven, not far from Anderlingen. Both small towns are in the heathland area known as the Lüneburger Heide. It's very rural flatland with quaint little towns. I found a nice hotel in Zeven's town centre, the Ringhotel Paulsen. It was quiet and had an excellent restaurant. The Bremen region is well known for its lamb dishes and my dinner certainly confirmed this reputation.

      After a good night sleep and one of those splendid German breakfasts my American trackchasing guests of the past few years will also fondly remember, I drove the 5 miles to the little hamlet of Grafen, where the autocross meeting was due to start at 10 a.m. in splendid sunshine. First surprise was that the meeting was free of charge. I always think we Europeans are unlucky when it comes to fuel prices, but very lucky concerning entrance fees of race meetings. Most autocross tracks charge between EUR 6 and EUR 10 and, of course, roaming the paddock is always part of the deal. But getting in for free is better still. And it was not that this was a small local meeting either. The fields were not too large, but none of the seven classes had less than 5 cars and the small saloon car class even boasted a field of 21. The track was a flat sandy course with a few very slow and two fast corners. It was about 600 m long and allowed for good clean racing. The only negative point was that the track was a bit too dry and thus rather dusty. On the other hand, even in the lower classes, German cars look a lot better prepared and turned out than is the case in Belgium or the Netherlands. I watched two heats for all classes and at 2.30 p.m., got on my way for the 5 hour trip back home.

      In the next few weeks, I'll revert to my current trackchasing bread and butter, Dutch autocrosses, before adding the UK to my countries visited list at Easter. If all my plans become reality, April might be a very prolific trackchasing month for me.

      Number of races in 2011: 9
      Of which on new tracks: 9
      Number of countries in which trackchased: 6


      Roland

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

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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 6:43 AM
        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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