After two straight weeks of striking out with our planned new ice race track, this past weekend the plan worked to perfection. For the weekend, we had three choices: 1) The RevStar SpeedSTR's at the Grand Prix Valcourt in Quebec; 2) Ontario Demolition Derby Figure-8 racing at the Wasaga Beach Fairgrounds in Ontario; or 3) An indoor Champ Kart race at the WNC Agricultural Center in North Carolina.
Will White had discovered choice one, I uncovered choice two, and Roger The Wildcat" Ferrell told me about choice three. Our first choice was Quebec, and that worked out well for us this time. This week's crack team of expert TrackChasers included Mike "The Snakey 1" Knappenberger, Will "The Professor" White, and myself. We would meet up with "Mighty" Rick Young at the track.
We met at my house at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and headed to Quebec. Everything was smooth sailing, and we arrived at the track in Valcourt around 2:00. The Grand Prix Valcourt is the largest snowmobile event in North America, drawing crowds of 15,000 for three days of racing on a half mile ice oval, a snocross course in the infield, a drag strip, and a freestyle course. A few years ago they added ATV and UTV racing, and this year for the first time they added cars from the RevStar Tobias SpeedSTR group, which is what brought the event to the attention of TrackChasers. The facility is a test track for the snowmobile factory located in Valcourt.
Carl Labonte from RevStar has been keeping me informed about the RevStar winter season, but before last week it was only to let me know that they had canceled their events. This time he assured me they would be racing, and to expect about ten of the SpeedSTR's.
The SpeedSTR's were scheduled to race at the end of the day, as they feared the cars would chew up the course. Their racing was scheduled for two heats and a feature, and was planned for either 4:40 (according to the Grand Prix), or 5:00 (according to RevStar). Admission was $30, but Will found out that at 4:00 the admission dropped to $10, so we decided to wait it out and save the collective $60 that we could use to TrackChase another day.
At 4:00 we entered and the $10 admission also included a free program. The place was packed, and there were seats on both sides of the track. We soon met up with Rick Young, who told us we missed the SpeedSTR warmups. Before they had their races, there were still two snowmobile finals to go, one on the snocross course and one on the oval. Those took awhile, as they had to wait between races for the sun to set, then they had two red flags in the oval race, and then they had to do track prep before the SpeedSTR race.
One interesting entrant in the SpeedSTR's was Andrew Ranger. Ranger has race in Champ Car (top finish of second), NASCAR Cup (Watklns Glen 2011), NASCAR Nationwide (top finish of third), NASCAR Canadian Tire (many wins and two championships), and ARCA (winner at NJMP last year). Modified fans remember him on the dirt mile at Syracuse, while we had seen him race on ice before on two wheels with CMRC. In other words, a real racer.
Because they were running late due to the earlier crash and injury to Jacques Villeneuve (leg and lung last I heard), the two heats were canceled and the nine cars came out to run a 15 lap feature. The half mile is a little big for these cars, and even from the top row of the backstretch bleachers it was not possible to see the entire track due to the "tabletop" section of the infield snocross course. By this time it was dark, and the available lighting wasn't that good. They had a red flag on lap two, at which time three cars were eliminated including Andrew Ranger. The rest of the race, shortened to ten laps, went without incident with the six cars that remained. Eric Boisvert took the win. The next three cars raced pretty closely together in the "pack", while the other two cars were a bit off the pace.
Rick and I watched from the backstretch bleachers. We couldn't see the start/finish line due to the tabletop. It was hard to see the cars in the turns after the leader passed due to the ice rooster tails from the sliding cars and their studded tires chewing up the ice. Mike and Will watched from ground level between turns one and two. They reported the same sight problem, except they had the ice landing on them. Will described it as like having a "brain freeze" from eating something cold too quickly, on every lap.
The event was a personal milestone for me as it was my 60th official ice racing track (in Ontario, Quebec, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont), although I would unofficially add a couple more to that list that I personally would have considered ice tracks. I'm sure it won't be too long before I can no longer distract Mike from his goal of seeing ice racing in Wisconsin to add to my ice racing region tally as well.
By the time the race ended it was 16 degrees and completely dark. We did not stay for the freestyle event, nor the Johnny Cash tribute concert later that evening in the tent. He headed back to Plattsburgh, NY for the night; and returned home Sunday afternoon with another fun and successful trip in the books.
Our hope for this coming weekend is to return to Quebec to the course de bazous race in Saint Theodore, another Professor White discovery that was already visited by Rick Young last month. Can't wait for the weekend.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 3 / Pam 3
2013 Events-- Guy 5 / Pam 3
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 5 / Pam 3
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,480 / Pam 840
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