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The Mad Belgian goes Can-AM - part 1

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, PROLOGUE It s tradition that I make at least one North American trackchasing trip every year. As I m an opportunity driven trackchaser, I
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2013
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      Hello colleagues,


      It's tradition that I make at least one North American trackchasing trip every year. As I'm an opportunity driven trackchaser, I plan trips in periods during which, weather permitting, I can visit a fair number of new tracks. However, like many of you, I do have tracks that I really want to score. This year I managed to get two off of my list that were on it for several years. In fact, the Circuit Mont Tremblant has been on my wish list since more than 40 years. The second one I really wanted to see was the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix at Schenley Park. Due to the location of those tracks, I did stay in or very near the regions most of you live in. Being able to meet several of you for the first time was another reason to embark on this July trip.

      DAY 1: FRIDAY, JULY 5

      I usually take the bus to the airport, because most of my transatlantic flights take off mid morning. Not so this time, because I had to be in the airport by 5.30 a.m. Thus, I left my car at my employer's garage on Thursday, as Aline had volunteered to drive me to the airport on Friday morning. Checking in, security checks and my Air Transat flight to Montréal went by without any problem and it was only 10.45 a.m. local time when I landed at Trudeau airport. Immigration, baggage retrieval and administration for my hire car went also very smooth, but as soon as I drove out of the airport, I was confronted with several stretches of large road works and the detours that went with it. I was driving a small Hyundai Accent with only 488 km (that's just over 300 miles) on the clock. It was a nice car to drive, but due to its small tank, I had to take on fuel every 350 miles or so. After a three hour drive, only interrupted for a Subway tuna sandwich, I arrived at Vallée-Jonction. I found refuge in an old motel, called Motel Astoria. The rooms (a sitting room, a very small bedroom and an even smaller bathroom) come straight out of the fifties, but they were clean and only cost $110 for two nights.

      After a little rest, it was time for my evening entertainment, the ACT Late Model meeting at the local Autodrôme Chaudière, only a mile or so from my motel room. When I arrived, the parking lot was full and I had to park in a nearby street. I was very impressed with this excellent paved oval. Although there was a large crowd, I could still get a good spot in the large modern grandstands. The meeting was extremely well conducted, the fields were large and the races excellent. Never a dull moment and no intermission. As I was feeling tired I didn't stay for the last feature after the ACT Late Models. There was only one thing bothering me, but it had nothing to do with the organisation of the meeting. As would be a constant thing on any Québec track, there was enormous beer consumption. At the Autodrôme Chaudière, a very handsome young lady delivered beer in a trolley. When it was empty, she stopped just past my sitting spot to get her trolley filled by a Budweiser employee. That took a few minutes, because it contained at least 50 six-packs. Yet, in the space of 15 minutes they were all sold. Don't they know over there that drinking and driving don't go together very well?

      States visited: none
      Canadian provinces visited: QC
      Number of new tracks on the day: 1
      Total number of new tracks: 1


      After a nice breakfast omelette at a Vallée-Jonction diner, I drove an hour in the beautiful Beauce region of Québec to the little village of La Guadeloupe. While on my way, I heard a news item on the terrible train crash at nearby Lac-Mégantic, but it had no mention of the vastness of the catastrophe. The event at La Guadeloupe was very well signposted, but it had a bizarre name. Apparently, a course where you have to turn left and right is considered an obstacle course. Strange people, these Québecois. It became even stranger when I entered the Ranch Gagnon, the location of the event. I was summoned to open the boot, because they wanted to be sure I didn't bring a cool box with me. Turned out to be that the owners had insisted on this. After a tour of the paddock and drinking a bottle of water to combat the heat, I took a seat on one of the small grandstands and twenty minutes later, I was joined by my good friend Will White. He had not been searched as thoroughly as me and managed to bring in a soft drink. Talking of drinks, when the driver's meeting was broadcasted over the very sturdy PA, I couldn't believe what I heard. The clerk of the course warned the drivers that they were going to breathalyse several of them and they wouldn't be as lenient as during previous meetings. Drivers above the legal alcohol tolerance would be excluded of the meeting. Strange lot, those French Canadians. Anyway, the races on a large and rough course were fierce. Was it the roughness of the course, the bad condition of the vehicles or did alcohol come into play, but the later in the afternoon, the more cars lost wheels or dug themselves in.

      After a long day of continuous racing, I took leave of Will and headed for the village centre of La Guadeloupe, where I had a nice steak dinner before driving half an hour to the Autodrôme East Broughton. Again, the parking lot was full when I arrived and I parked on the street. There was no space in the grandstands anymore, so I watched the races from the standing room on top of the stands. To say the track has a nice backdrop is a massive understatement. It's spectacularly situated on a hilltop overlooking the town and the surrounding valley. The track was well prepared and not dusty at all. The heat races were a bit wild and two drivers were black flagged for continuously running into their competitors. The fields were a little skinny and the cars a bit uneven in quality, but it wasn't a bad meeting.

      States visited: none
      Canadian provinces visited: QC
      Number of new tracks on the day: 2
      Total number of new tracks: 3

      DAY 3: SUNDAY, JULY 7

      No longer would I roam the rural beauty of the Beauce region. I was heading back to the second largest French speaking city in the world. Only Paris has more inhabitants than Montréal. I do like Paris but I have a thorough dislike of Montréal. It's just not my kind of town and the somewhat chaotic maze of motorways did nothing to make me change my mind. However, I was lucky the Circuit ICAR iss on the former Mirabel airport and that was very well signposted. I was expecting a long waiting line for parking spots, but everything was well handled and parking was free. My timing was excellent, for I was bang on time for the NASCAR Canadian Tire race. Upon looking into my programme, I noticed they would hold races on what was labelled the small course as well. Although this track on a former airfield is as flat as a pancake, it has some interesting corners on top of its long and fast straights. The NASCAR race was good, but then I had to sit out a 30 minute GT race with 5 cars in 2 classes, in order to score the Procam Super trucks on the small track. I had seen them on Friday and they had raced well, but this was their very first race on a road course. The small track is a real winner. It cuts out the far end of the track and keeps the part with the difficult corners. The trucks were splendid on this track. It was a bit damp, because of intermittent drizzle and they slided nose to tail through the tight corners. These guys should branch out to road courses more.

      After the race I had to face the greater Montréal area Sunday evening traffic jams. I got off the motorway to seek a place to stay in Saint Eustache and found a nice motel on the outskirts of town.

      States visited: none
      Canadian provinces visited: QC
      Number of new tracks on the day: 2
      Total number of new tracks: 5


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