2014 TrackChasing Report #35--Ahveniston Moottoriata, Finland
Last Friday Pam and I headed to the Newark Airport to start our 36 hour day which would end in Helsinki, Finland. From Newark we flew to Brussels, Belgium where we would meet up with TrackChasing friend Roland Vanden Eynde who would accompany us on the rest of the trip. This is the fifth year that Roland, Pam, and I have vacationed together for a week in his native Europe.
A severe storm had delayed flights in Newark and the plane took off 45 minutes late. I thought we would make up the time in the air, but we did not. Landing 45 minutes late in Brussels, we made the connecting flight to Oslo, Norway with only a minute to spare.
We landed on time in Oslo, but unfortunately our one checked piece of luggage did not make it onto the plane in Brussels. It would be more than two days later until we were reunited with the bag. After a long layover in the Oslo Airport, we finally made the final leg of the journey, flying to Helsinki. It took us 36 hours to get from our house to the hotel in Finland.
On Sunday we headed to the races at the Ahveniston Moottoriata, a paved road circuit in Hameenlinna. The race was part of the six-event FINRace Series, which visits six different paved road circuits, five in Finland and one in Estonia. This was the second race of the series, having visited Botniaring last month.
Norway does not use the Euros, but Finland does. Hotels and restaurants in Finland are very expensive, but the races were not. Admission was only EU5 and that included a free program. The track is very nice, a modern paved road circuit with a lot of elevation changes and a crossover bridge. A decent crowd turned out on a very nice afternoon for racing. There is also a nice mixed-surface Rallycross track there, but it is hard to tell if it is used anymore.
This was the second of a two-day show. Some classes ran only Saturday, some only Sunday, most both days. On Sunday there were supposed to be 8 races for six classes, but there was no racing for the Mini 1000 class, and they were scheduled to race twice. So there ended up being six races for five classes. We saw all five classes race once, skipping the last race, the second round for the Touring Cars.
The actual main event racing was scheduled for 12:30 and started right on time or even a bit early. The Touring Cars raced 13 minutes but there were only five cars. Second up were the most powerful cars, the V8 Thunder. Their race was 20 minutes and there were 10 cars. The third race was for the single-seater Formua Fords. That race was 15 minutes and there were ten of those also.
The fourth race was for the US Legends. I was very surprised, shocked in fact, that there were 28 Legend Cars racing. Last year Mike and I went to see a Legends road circuit race at Rockingham, NC; and there were not that many cars racing. And Rockingham is in the home state of the Legend Cars. Yet they drew 28 starters in Finland! No doubt that it was the best race, and that the crowd was more into the Legends than any other class.
The last race we watched was a 45 minute Xtreme Cup Race. This one had about 14 starters. We headed out near the end of this one, with only the second Touring Car race to go.
Finland was my 22nd country to see racing, and Pam's 20th. Roland had been to a race in Finland before, but at a different track so now he has two there, the most of the TrackChasers. Mika Salo (from Finland), one of the TrackChaser research project drivers, has four Finland tracks on his list.
After the race we headed back to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and had a nice dinner and a walk near the waterfront. We got a good idea of what Finland was like by spending the late afternoon and evening in Helsinki.
On Monday morning we took a boat to Estonia for a day trip. Estonia is a former part of the Soviet Union, and we were less than a hundred miles from Russia. We spent the day in the old section of the capital city of Tallinn. We had a wonderful day in Estonia, and of course now I have to see a race there sometime too. Perhaps we can team a future Estonian race with a race in Lithuania and/or Poland. Upon returning to Finland, I was finally reunited with my luggage.
Tuesday morning we left Finland and returned to the airport in Oslo. The most interesting food item I saw in Finland was canned Bear Soup. I did not get that, but I did have sauteed reindeer over mashed potatoes for dinner in Helsinki.
We are spending the second half of the vacation in Norway and plan to go racing there this coming weekend.
2014 Guy & Pam Smith Summary
2014 New Tracks--Guy 19 / Pam 12 (Goal 50)
2014 Events--Guy 31 (2 tracks at Salem, 3 at Toledo, 2 at Skyline) / Pam 21
2014 Total Tracks--Guy 34 (2 shows at Sun Bank Arena) / Pam 23
2014 New Rinks--Guy 7 / Pam 7 (Goal 7)
2014 New Ballparks--Guy 5 / Pam 6 (Goal 13 for Pam)
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,557 / Pam 892