[TrackChasers] North American Tour 2000 (Part 5)
- **Friday, July 7**
After 3 rough days on the road, and with another 3 starting this morning, this was my
only chance for some quality bed rest. I wanted to be on the road at 9 for the drive up
to Saskatoon. However, I overslept and just made the 11 o'clock motel check out time.
Today would be the first really frustrating day of massive road construction on the
trip. It seems ridiculous to me that they have so many miles of the highways ripped up
at one time, with North Dakota the worst of all. Why don't they just quickly complete a
few miles at a time instead of messing up the whole state at once?
I was even farther behind schedule by the time I reached the Saskatchewan border. Oh,
great. Border patrol decided to send me inside the building for the more thorough check
that happens more frequently at these smaller crossing points. "We're just doing a
routine check", I was told as they took my driver's license. "Have a seat". Just what I
needed. I sat there for about 15 minutes while the clock ticked away. But wait a minute.
The clock on the wall had a sign beneath it reading Central Standard Time. I had
forgotten that SK was like IN in that they didn't observe Daylight Savings Time. I got
an hour back! Now I might miss less than half the show.
By 8:30 that evening I had made my way to Bridge City Speedway on the north end of
Saskatoon. The lot was overflowing and I had to park along the dirt road. Action was
underway on the 1/3 mile paved oval and the main stands were pretty full. Very cheap
admission price of $8.00 CAN for the regular show.
They were already running the 2nd last heat when I entered, which was for the thunder
stocks. I was only there for about an hour and a quarter, as after intermission the
first feature was for the late model sportsmen. 30 laps with 13 starters. Pits were in
the infield and I couldn't see well in the main stands, so I watched the feature from
the smaller turn four bleachers. There I could go to the top and take some video. From
the little I saw Bridge City seemed a pretty average Canadian paved stocker track,
nothing to write home about.
Now it was time to do some serious TrackChasing. This next one would be the one the
entire trip was built around. If I got this next track it would be the crowning
achievement of the North American Tour 2000. I wouldn't be the first to go there but I
would be the first to drive there. Yes, my friends. It was Hay River time.
**Saturday, July 8**
The 680 miles from Edmonton to Hay River was nearly all forested. My main concern, with
time being of the essence as usual, was the condition of roads through northern Alberta.
I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were, especially when you consider the
extreme winter conditions that prevail most of the year in the Canadian interior.
Close call! I came frightfully close to hitting what appeared to be a young moose at
full speed. I shuttered with the thought of what very nearly happened. By the time I hit
the Mackenzie Highway traffic was very sparse. I made really good time and before
midafternoon I had already reached the 60th Parallel.
A large sign welcomed me to the Northwest Territories. I just had to stop and video the
sign. No sooner had the car come to a stop when I found out just what kind of a
welcoming I was in for. Within 2 seconds the car was completely surrounded by all manner
of insects, repeatedly flying against the car windows all around me. I guess with such a
short summer to live their lives the bugs up there are naturally much more abundant and
aggressive. I decided to remain in the car, and as I drove on I began to imagine the
horror of the attack to come at the races that evening.
Reaching the town of Hay River a few hours before race time, I drove around a bit before
finally braving the outdoors. Getting out of the car, I immediately had my own personal
swarm of flies. I could feel my entire head crawling with them. Actually, it wasn't so
bad when I found out that for some reason they didn't follow me into the car.
With some time to kill I stopped at a restaurant and hoped to find something exotic on
the menu. No problem, they had buffalo, caribou and musk oxen burgers. I had already
eaten buffalo (delicious) before so I went with the musk oxen delight. It was very good.
The waitress told me they had their last snow of the season there in June. Now it was
quite comfortable there, even later in the evening.
I found the track, located in a corner of town in a clearing in the woods. The 3/8 mile
dirt oval facility was actually a bit less primitive than I imagined it might be. There
was bleacher seating for a few hundred, with close to 100 fans on hand that night. The
parking area was tiny, although the announcer proclaimed that it had been enlarged this
I was greeted by the woman who I had been in phone contact with prior to my trip. It
turned out she was a driver. She had a box of track teeshirts and gave me a medium (she
had nothing larger). Guy may have been here first but I got a teeshirt!
Hay River Speedway runs every other Saturday night with 2 classes of stock cars,
modified and street. The interesting thing about them having 2 classes of cars is that
they actually run 4 divisions with them. The street stocks are driven by regular
drivers, ladies and mechanics in separate events. There were a total of 10 races for 9
cars! It had to be the first time I went to a track that had more races than race cars
in the pits (actually one was a truck).
Admission was a mere $5.00 CAN for this one, but I was waved in as they were amazed that
I drove up from PA for the races. I was told the car counts have been down this year.
Better hurry Gordy! Another first for me at Hay River was a track that runs night races
having no lights. The entire show was completed around quarter to ten with the sun still
up. Was I ever relieved at that. I managed to live with the swarm of flies, but I sure
didn't want to find out what the mosquitoes were like there!
So I did it, I got Hay River. Alas, there was no time to savor the moment as I had one
of my trickiest runs coming right up. I would immediately head south again and try to
catch at least one feature at Hinton, AB's Yellowhead Raceway on Sunday afternoon. No
rest for the seriously Ill. I was back on the Mackenzie Highway and back in Alberta at
Stay tuned for part 6, coming soon.