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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, Even though I have over 200 tracks in Belgium (about the size of Delaware) and the Netherlands (about the size of one of the Carolina s),
    Message 1 of 331 , Apr 29, 2013
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      Hello colleagues,

      Even though I have over 200 tracks in Belgium (about the size of Delaware) and the Netherlands (about the size of one of the Carolina's), there are weeks that I can get more than one track in either of them, but not very often as many as this past weekend.

      On Saturday morning, I went to the northern Dutch village of Ulrum, a part of the town of De Marne. The driving looked like a carbon copy of the week before, as Ulrum is only 8 miles to the north of Pieterzijl. Unlike last week, though, this was a small local meeting, mainly catering for banger races. The track was a crude dirt oval, with lots of potholes. Luckily, they started the meeting at 11.00 a.m. with some non contact autocross races, but those weren't well attended. The banger classes had far larger fields. As there was a cold wind blowing, the not too well watered track soon became very dusty. After about an hour in the open, I retired to my car to eat my lunch salad and to drive back south again into very well known territory.

      After a quick dash into Germany for some grocery shopping at Straelen, I took a little detour that brought me to a town which will bring fond memories to Rick Young. In fact there was an evening autocross at Baarlo, where one of the Netherlands' finest paved oval used to be. The autocross track was a bit further in the fields west of the defunct track complex on a very large and well prepared grassy oval. There was an enduro planned for 8.00 p.m., but in the meantime they had some sprint races. Parts of those were qualifying races for the enduro, but the others were for BriSCA F1's. Both the enduro saloon car as the F1 fields were very nice and so was the racing. Only trouble was a very overcast sky and a blustery cold wind. Two hours into the meeting, I decided to go against the tide of incoming traffic and leave for home. The vast majority of the spectators only came for the evening spectacle. I think they missed the best part of it, for the F1's were a joy to watch.

      After a long Dutch Saturday, I had a far more leisurely and even more successful Belgian Sunday. I only left home at 10.15 a.m. and after a 25 mile drive, I arrived at Lede for the first VRCB sanctioned meeting of the year. They had a difficult winter as many of the locations they used to race on are no longer available. However, they found a new one at Lede. As always, their two tracks (a rather long and fast course for the non contact classes and a small and tight oval for the contact class) were crude clay ones with significant ruts. Due to their late season start (usually they have already three race meetings in March and early April) the field was quite large and the drivers eager to compete. That was very noticeable in the banger class, but also in the non contact classes, with some spectacular dicing in the saloon car field. Unfortunately, in the buggy and lowered Beetle classes, the fields were very skinny. Still, it was a very enjoyable meeting.

      Mid afternoon, I drove another 35 miles to get to a VACB sanctioned meeting on a nice flat grass course in a meadow in the village of Dentergem. This sanctioning body had no real trouble finding locations and they are already well into their season. The standard of car and track preparation as well as the organisation were impeccable, but in order to make this a great meeting, one component was lacking: full fields. The fields in the 9 different classes were very small, only two were in double figures. Most of the time there was a dice between two or three cars and a few slower ones all spread out.

      With five new tracks this is bound to be my most successful weekend of the year and had it not been for Ulrum, all new tracks would have been within less than two hours from home. I'm now at 999 tracks, but I don't have any new track lined up for next weekend. I plan to get my 1000th one on May 9.

      And last but not least, I also wish Gordy a happy and successful retirement. I hope to follow his good example in 2014.

      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

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        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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