2013 TrackChaser Report #9--Black Lake, NY
When the ice race on the Circuit ICAR Winter Track was canceled for the second year in a row, it left me with no new track option last weekend. So Pam and I planned a hockey game on Friday, and Mike and I planned a sprint car race on Saturday; with Sunday to be spent at home working on various projects.
But early in the week Edward Corrado discovered an ice race at Black Lake, NY. Black Lake is a place that the CNYIRA had talked about running at for the past couple of years, but they did not do so. Amazingly to me, this was to be the first ever ice race sanctioned by ChumpCar. Edward posted the info to the group via the listserve, and for that we can thank him for this new track.
My first ice race was in NY, with Gordy Killian in 1993. When AMEC canceled at Mayfield Lake for the second year in a row, it looked like there would be no new NY ice racing site this year. In the 21 seasons since my first ice race, Black Lake became my 18th different NY ice racing site. Of those 18, no fewer than 16 were on actual ice, with 2 on land. The 18 were at 17 different locations, with Lake George having an oval one year and a road course every other. Of the 18 sites, 11 were sanctioned by AMEC, 6 by CNYIRA, and one by ChumpCar. A non-countable variation of one CNYIRA site was sanctioned by FLIR. This was only my third in March, the others all in January or February.
During the past 21 years, I've missed at least a half dozen other NY ice race sites as well. Gordy, Will, and I almost made a double with a attempted dash to a CNYIRA show at Maple Bay/Valentine Beach in 2000, but it was an after the first race was over decision and we were not properly prepared, and got there too late. CNYIRA ran Cuyuta Lake in 2004, the Erie Barge Canal in the 1990's, Lamoka Lake in 2001, and Sandy Pond in 1999. Sine the 1990's, AMEC ran at Balston Lake and Sacandaga Lake. There were probably about a half dozen others that were scheduled between the two groups, but never actually hosted racing, like Mayfield Lake the past two seasons.
The Black Lake event was scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. As it was almost five hours from home, we set the alarm for 3:45 and pushed out of the TrackChaser World Headquarters in the Beautiful Pocono Mountains at 4:45. After a couple of stops, we arrived at the lake at 9:45.
There were five TrackChasers on hand for the historic event. Besides Pam and myself, in attendance were Mike Knappenberger, Rick Young, and Edward Corrado. We all expected PJ Hollebrand, as he usually makes NY tracks a priority, but he was a no show. On Saturday while at Lincoln I got an email from Paul Weisel that he and Bing Metz were interested in attending, but they decided against it after weighing the distance and Paul's workload.
There were 13 total cars on hand, six in the studded tire class and seven in the street tire class. Many of the cars were the usual CNYIRA suspects, with some local first timers in the street class.
Apparently ChumpCar has some big plans for organizing ice racing next winter, with a series of regional directors covering the northern US and southern Canada from coast to coast. This could be big. This could be really big as Chump Car is far more organized with insurance and such than the local hobby clubs.
At the driver's meeting, they talked about getting more publicity, cars, and people for future events. For that to happen, they will have to step up their game. The track wasn't ready to go at race time, then they decided to enlarge it from a half mile road circuit to a three quarter mile. While that was happening, one of the plows broke, leaving just one operating. Then they had to have multiple practices before racing could begin.
The ice was pretty rough. I believe that if this were in the heart of winter, they would have deemed the surface unusable and looked to race elsewhere. But it was March and their last chance to host the first ever ChumpCar ice race.
They were finally ready to start racing two hours late. Had they just been realistic, we would not have had to get up in the middle of the night. By that time, the March sun and the multiple practices had turned the course into a slushy mess. It looked like the Swamp Buggy racing from Florida the way the water was spraying. It's a shame, because if they would only have started racing when they said they were going to, they would have had a lot more racing time before it got so slushy.
There are actually four classes of competition. The studded division had a class race and an open race. An open race uses the same cars as the class race but with different drivers. The same happened with the street tire class. Generally about half the cars that compete in the class races also run in the open races.
With the deteriorating conditions, all five of use watched one set of class races so that we saw all of the cars on hand race. At that time, we all headed out. I had no plans for a new track last weekend, and was very thankful to have a fourth new ice race track for the year fall into my lap. Thanks again Edward Corrado for that discovery.
Edward is heading to the indoor Midget race in Wisconsin this weekend. Mike thinks we could make it, but it's too far. Mike is also advocating for Brownstown, IN; a track neither of us have been to. I'm holding out on that one for sprint cars, but if we don't get there Easter weekend I'm going to take it when I can get it. That leaves me with local racing this weekend. My plan is Shippensburg, PA Micro Sprints on Saturday and Selinsgrove Super Sprints on Sunday. Both are tracks I have been to many times before. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with us so we can go racing.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam 4
2013 Events-- Guy 9 / Pam 4
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 9 / Pam 4
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,483 / Pam 841
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