RICK @ the RACES (20/21 Feb)

Date: 2/24/2010 11:19:53 PM

RICK @ the RACES (20/21 Feb)

20 Feb          Lac Champlain. St Armand, (Phillipsburg) Que

21 Feb          Clarence Creek, Ont

After returning from my recent trip to Florida, I had nothing planned for this past weekend. I was wondering where I could go, so in the middle of the week I started checking out various web sites. By luck, after hitting on www.fsaq.qc.ca I stumbled across a new ice racing track scheduled for Saturday ( 20 Feb). The FSAQ ( Federation du Sport Automobile de Quebec) were organizing some races on Lake Champlain at St Armand close to the US border.

This was great news so on Wednesday night I quickly posted the information on the official TRACKCHASERS forum. Most of us in the TRACKCHASING group share information when new tracks become known.  

Later that evening I had a message from one of my media friends, Sylvain Lauwers with more good news. On Sunday ( 21 Feb) it was the annual Winter races at Clarence Creek, Ontario which is just an hours drive from my place. My weekend diary was now full !

Like most ice racing events, the first race at St Armand was programmed to take place in the morning. This meant a reasonably early start from my place in Cornwall (Ont) for the two hours (plus) drive. It was snowing when I left home and it continued for the duration of the journey. St Armand is located close to Phillipsburg, Quebec which is south of St Jean Sur le Richelieu and just a few miles from Vermont in the USA.

On arrival the local fire service were on hand to take the five dollar fee which allowed spectators to drive down a ramp on to the ice to watch the races. I'm always a bit skeptical about driving my car on to frozen water, but what the heck ! I've done it before . In the past I've driven on the frozen St Lawrence Seaway, The Batiscan River and Lac Cayamant.

As I drove on to the lake and towards the track I spotted the Buick Rendezvous of Pennsylvania TRACKCHASER Guy Smith, so I parked up beside him. Accompanying Guy was fellow Pa. TRACKCHASER'S , Mike Knappenberger and Paul Weisel from the Allentown area. They had set off at 2-30 am in the morning in their quest to claim this new track.

Prior to my arrival they had been watching the warm ups, so it wasn't long before the racing got started. The snow was still falling as the cars took to the track for the first race, so it proved to be a real challenge to get any decent photos.

It's always hard to understand what's going on at events in Quebec, because of the language difference, but there appeared to be three different divisions. One group had a larger field than the others, their race was fiercely fought and twice came under red flag conditions.

It was great to meet up and chat with my TRACKCHASING friends , but we all agreed it wouldn't be wise to stay on the ice too long. The snow was starting to settle and none of us fancied the idea of being stranded. There was quite a steep gradient to get off the ice and Mike who was driving the Rendezvous had a hard time getting up the icy slope. He made it on his third attempt. Lucky for me my Chevy has snow tires and I made it up in one go.

Lac Champlain, St Armand, Que became Track # 180 for me.

On Sunday morning , following a hearty breakfast at Cornwall's Fifth Wheel Truck Stop I was on my way to Clarence Creek. Racing was due to begin at noon and I wanted to be there early. It's a popular event and I wanted to get my car parked close to the track.

This annual event in the predominantly French speaking Ontario town is organized by the local Lions Club on a piece of snow covered ground at the rear of the hockey arena. I'm told that it's been part of their Winter Festival for the past 40 years.

Sylvain had mentioned to me that Sebastien Chabot, one of my friends from Lee Ladouceur's Sprint Car team would be taking part and as I entered a very full pits, he and and his girlfriend Jacinthe Lepage were the first people I met.

The cars that race at Clarence Creek are Enduro type cars and are split in to three divisions. Ladies 4 cylinder, Mens 4 cylinder and 6 cylinders. There was a total of about sixty cars taking part and Sebastien was racing a black Dodge Dynasty # 88 in the 6 cylinder class.

Both he and Jacinthe are no strangers to Enduro racing and are regular competitors in the annual 'big one' that takes place at the Cornwall Motor Speedway each September. At Cornwall's event in 2008 , Jacinthe became 'star of the show' after rolling her car twice in the same race. Only Sebastien was racing today, so she was busy helping him out in the pits.

The weather was not too cold and there was a large turn out of spectators. I stayed for most of the races before making my exit.


PIC 1 to 6    Ice racing action from St Armand , Lake Champlain.

PIC  7    Jacinthe Lepage at Cornwall in 2008 after rolling her Enduro for the second time.

PIC  8    Sebastien Chabot in the # 88 Dodge Dynasty at Clarence Creek

PIC  9 to 16   Action from the winter races at Clarence Creek


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