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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, Sandwiched between my trip with Pam and Guy and my North American trip was a weekend on which my initial intention was to go to Germany to
    Message 1 of 331 , Jul 1, 2013
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      Hello colleagues,

      Sandwiched between my trip with Pam and Guy and my North American trip was a weekend on which my initial intention was to go to Germany to try and get three new tracks in: two autocross tracks and the Munich X-Games rallycross.

      However a combination of bad weather, holiday traffic and no fixed time schedules made me opt for a return to the west of France, where both weather and traffic were a lot better. Moreover, Aline could combine it with a visit to her sister at Argenteuil. We arrived over there just before midday and after a little chat I drove through Paris and on the motorway to Le Mans when all the locals had their lunch. The autocross banger races at Neuvy en Mauges (Pays de la Loire) were spread over two days, with the Saturday being a late afternoon - early evening race. The fields were huge and the dirt oval was large and well watered. I always prefer the mild banging variety over the more brutal one and, as usual, the meeting started with the mild banging races. I saw 10 short and very hard fought races, before the heavy hitters were asked to perform. Time to get to a local hotel and have dinner.

      Sunday morning, I drove back into Basse-Normandie to the outskirts of the city of Caen. Only 9 days before this was the starting point for our tour of the 1944 landing beaches. This time, I headed for the historic car event on a small paved street course, curiously called "Circuit de la Prairie" (Meadow track). The website of the event was not up to date at all and it was a shot in the dark to go and visit it. But I was lucky, because on top of classic car exhibitions and auctions, a touristic tour for historic vehicles and various demonstrations, there were two 20 minute races, one for motorbikes and one for cars. It wasn't a very exciting race for mainly French saloon cars, but it was held at midday. Again I was able to beat the Paris traffic and I was even able to have dinner with Aline, her sister and brother in law in our favourite Argenteuil spot, a nearby Vietnamese restaurant.

      It's only days before I embark on my North American trip, which will allow me to meet many of you and even some unexpected folks, as I was happily surprised to learn I could meet Colin Casserley again on very neutral terrain, namely at Terre Haute. It's getting better all the time.

      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

        -----------------------------------------
        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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