Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend at Calabogie

This weekend, I headed out to Calabogie to instruct at the Trac Racing School there. It was the first time we had held the school at a venue other then Autodrome St-Eustache. I had been to the track once before this year. The school would be made up of some of the track owners and a lot of the staff. There would be 20-25 students rather than the usual 40-50. There would be 10 instructors, including myself. Alex decided she would like to come along as the hotel room was furnished by Trac, so we made a little road-trip out of it. She didn't plan to actually come to the track, as I would be busy and she could get more work done at the Motel.

We met up with the gang at Trac to form a mini-convoy for the 300 km trip. I was driving the race car, Carl had his Type R, Steph had his A3 and Sam had the Trac Golf Gti. We left before rush hour and hit the highway. It was raining really hard by the time we were at the Ontario border. A short while after that, I noticed early signs of an electric problem, as my speedometer needle started to go haywire. Not good! I radioed Carl and told him that my alternator had died or I had lost the alternator belt and that I would try to make it to the next exit. Luckily, I did, as the next exit was 15 km away. I parked the car at a service center and looked under the hood. The belt was still there, so the alternator must have been fried. My car has been through about 8 alternators in the past 3 years, so I have come to recognize the symptoms.

I called CAA for a tow and they came within an hour. Alex and I hopped in to the tow truck for the 125 km trip back to St-Eustache. I called Carl, and he suggested I join them at Calabogie with my street car by leaving early Saturday morning. Alex wanted us to make the trip right away. We got to St-Eustache around 6:45 pm, I transferred all our gear and a set of race tires to the Mazda, changed my clothes as I had got soaked in the process, and headed off at 7:00. After a gas stop, we finally arrived at the motel at 10:00. Not too bad. Unfortunately, I would still not get to try the track with my race car.

There was a weird variety of cars at the school: 3 Corvette Z06's and a Porsche 911 GT3, a Hyundai Santa Fe, Chrysler Sebring, Ford Focus Wagon, a couple of Pontiac Grand Prix... a real mix of hardcore sports cars and not-even-sporty cars.

The school went pretty well. It was raining off and on Saturday, so I didn't bother to put the race tires on the Mazda. On Sunday, the weather was beautiful, so I swapped tires and went out for a few very pleasant laps with the car. Of course, I was being passed by almost everybody, but I still had fun. The car had no power, of course (82 hp to be exact), but the grip with 205-50-15 Hankook Z214's was phenomenal.

The day ended at 4:30 and we were home by 7:30. All in all, it was a fun weekend, although not as fun as if I'd had the Civic, but still good. Also, Steph offered to have the Civic repainted in the colour of my choice, as the car had served him so well this year, so that will be something to think about in the next couple of weeks.

The 323 on race tires

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