To the untrained observer, most tracks that hold flat track races may appear to be very similar. This is to say that they are all somewhat oval, and they all have four turns. While the size difference between certain tracks should be obvious to most, other characteristics such as track surface may be harder to spot from your seat in the bleachers on a Saturday night.
Up until a couple of years ago, the CMA flat track series consisted of 13 races, with eight of them being held at Niagara Motorcycle Raceway in Welland. Logic would dictate for the past decade or so that if you could ride well on the ‘blue groove’ at Welland, you should fare pretty well in the year-end point standings. It was sometimes very easy, however, to pick out the Welland specialists when they hit the deep cushion half-mile at Leamington. Riders who had become very comfortable on the clay quarter-mile of Welland would become very uncomfortable on the pea gravel half miles.
The birth of Flat Track Canada two years ago has produced a schedule that seems to want to cater to the rider who can race well on any track. Their schedule this year includes four half-miles, two races in Welland as well as two at the tiny paperclip known as Paris Speedway. While most racers are in love with half-miles and Welland when it is smooth and fast, there are a few that are disputing the legitimacy of Paris Speedway being a part of a national series. Due to its small size (1/8-mile) and ever-changing track conditions, races at Paris can bring out the best in some racers while bringing out the worst in others. If I were to describe racing at Paris, I would say it is like taking a ride in the clothes dryer. You’re going to bounce around in circles for a bit, and every once in a while you might lose a sock or two.
In the fall of 2012, Paris hosted what became affectionately known as the ‘Bloodsport National’. While injuries are rare in Paris, that particular race saw two Intermediate/Expert riders leave the track with broken legs. In one case, multi-time Canadian Champion Don Taylor unintentionally took out a rather innocent looking Steve Ball while Taylor was trying to make up some ground. Later on, over a few pops, Taylor remarked that he had never hit anybody as hard as he had hit Ball. This is coming from a guy that has raced at tracks over a mile in length and owns a racing trailer almost as long as the front straight at Paris!
Just like the AMA has Daytona with its bumping and banging and sketchy surface, we have Paris. I firmly believe that Paris has every right to be a part of a championship series, as it provides a nice change to the tracks where the one with the most horsepower wins. If you want to be a Flat Track Canada champion, you will have to ride Paris and at the very least learn to minimize the hit you will take in the points if you don’t want to get aggressive. Lots of times, at the end of the day, there are nothing but smiles… but the odd time there could be hurt feelings as well. Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring an extra pair of socks!