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Re: [TrackChasers] TrackChaser update

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  • Brian
    Roland Congrats on the major milestone. Brian ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Message 1 of 331 , May 13, 2013
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      Roland

      Congrats on the major milestone.

      Brian

      On May 13, 2013, at 9:04 AM, Vanden Eynde Roland <roland.vandeneynde@...> wrote:

      > Hello colleagues,
      >
      > When I first discovered trackchasing, I was what can be dubbed as a race chaser. Through following various types of motor racing in as many countries as I could, I had a list of 196 tracks when I first contacted Will White in November 2002. At that time, Will's website only listed the top 20 trackchasers and I was overwhelmed by the vast number of tracks they had seen races at. I would never had imagined back then that ten and a half years later I would join the club of those having seen competitive wheel to wheel racing on 1000 different tracks.
      >
      > I had reached 999 tracks late last month and I wanted my 1000th one to be somewhat special. I knew about the Tournai (WAL) track since January and I found it fitting to make it my millennium one. In fact, I have a long history with this city. When I was a student, I was a member of the Scuderia Tornacum (Tornacum was the Roman name of Tournai), mainly because one of my favourite drivers at the time, Teddy Pilette, was also affiliated. Later, when I became a board member of the Club Jacky Ickx, our chairman was also from Tournai. In both cases, I was the first native Dutch speaker iof the group.
      >
      > The weather was bright, but very windy, when last Thursday, I drove about one hour to this southern Belgian city. The track was called Circuit Quai Donat Casterman (named after a member of the family that printed the Tintin cartoons). This was indeed a quay to the river Scheldt and the track was laid out in an industrial area not far from the town centre. I parked my car in a much secured spot, opposite the headquarters of the Federal Police, paid my EUR 10 to get in and found a very fast track, consisting for 95% of tarmac and for 5% of a very wet dirt dogleg. Although I arrived at 10.45 a.m. which should be bang on time for the first rallycross heat, I had to wait for more than an hour before being able to score my 1000th track. In fact, they had a crash during bike practice and decided to alter the chicane before start/finish. But the wind made that very difficult and they spent quite a lot of time putting fallen barriers back up. But when they finally started, the races f ollowed at an excellent pace. This was a meeting jointly organised by a Dutch and a French speaking organisation and they worked well together, except for one detail. The commentator spoke only French and was not at all acquainted with rallycross and crosskarts. He was handed a wrong list of participants. I was standing next to a PC with all timing results and the correct names of the drivers. I tried several times to attend the commentator to it, but he ignored my signals, continuing to give an enthusiastic, but not very factual, commentary of the races. I can understand his enthusiasm. The rallycross cars were good, but the crosskarts were their usual fabulous self with slides and passing manoeuvres gallore. I still think the person who had the brilliant idea to put these little jewels out on a tarmac surface should deserve the Nobel Prize for motor racing. After seven rallycross heats and four crosskart races, they were going to start the races for bikes and quads. Time t o head home and grab a bite to eat.
      >
      > On Sunday, the weather was a lot more on the dull grey side. That turned somewhat into a bonus, as I had to take the motorway for the coast to get to the Aalter (VLG) dirt course for the first heat of the 2013 autocross Europokal. And if the weather had been sunny and warm, I would have had a traffic jam all along the way. The Smiths have seen an Europokal meeting at Terwolde in the Netherlands a few years ago. These races are very popular and draw large fields. Although a bit less than a few years ago, 254 cars in 11 divisions is something most organisers can only dream of nowadays. The track was only a mile from the motorway and round midday the going was a bit rough thanks to the vast amounts of rain we got on Friday and Saturday. It was a flat and fast course, with just one twisty section. The field consisted for about two thirds of Dutch drivers and one third of Belgians, topped off by a few German and Luxemburg drivers. What is especially nice with these Europokal event s is that they put a large emphasis on buggy classes. In Belgian autocrosses, the buggy fields are skinny, but here they are large and varied. It was cold and windy which made the track drier and even faster in the afternoon. I didn't stay for the final allcomers race, as I wanted to beat traffic and get home at a decent hour.
      >
      > Next weekend, I plan to trackchase in Denmark. Now that track 1000 is in the bag, why not try to make Denmark another country in which I saw countable racing on at least 10 different tracks? .
      >
      > 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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