Racing is a great hobby for some and for others it is a way of life. When you sign up for the racing game, there are a few expenditures to consider in preparation for the great time you are going to have at the track on weekends.
Expect to spend your fair share of time out in the garage or shop getting your ride ready for the laps you are going to turn. You should also be prepared to spend a large portion of your paycheque at your local bike shop keeping your trusty ride in tip-top shape. Finally, you better be prepared to spend a bunch of time in your truck as you travel to your ‘local’ track.
Our team may be more fortunate than most in the flat track game. Being situated in Kitchener, our drive to every track currently on the Canadian circuit is reasonable to say the least. We are 35 minutes from Paris, one hour and 45 minutes to Welland, and most of the other tracks are within an hour. Our longest drives are either Leamington to the west or Belleville to the east, with both of those being just under three hours depending on traffic.
These travel times are a breeze for us compared to our racing friends from Quebec. Dave Pouliot, Fred Duchesneau and William Bellerose are three fast kids who spend way more time in the tow vehicle than they ever will on the track. Pouliot, who is a regular at most of the big races, takes on some incredible distances compared to most competitors. Leamington is a 12 hour drive, London is 10, Woodstock is nine and Belleville must seem like a quick trip to the local store as it is only six hours away.
The commitment involved in attending these races is incredible, not only in time, but also in the cash involved in filling the gas tank. It is next to impossible to chase a championship from Quebec due to the travel and cost involved. A couple of years ago, in a classy move, Doug Beattie and Doug Lawrence presented Fred Duchesneau with a rear tire they had purchased for him. It was their way of saying thanks for making the long drive to come and do battle with us.
The tracks that have weekly races (Paris and Welland) have a group of racers that ride there but don’t venture to some of the other venues very often. For example, looking at the final points tally for the season, 50 percent of the riders that raced at Welland County Speedway this year live within 15 minutes of the track. At one point a few years ago, Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne attempted to put on a regular series as well. If this venture would have succeeded, that would have made for two tracks hosting regular racing programs within 10 minutes of each other. As great as this would have been for riders in the Welland area, other tracks would most likely have suffered as riders would have been less inclined to make long drives with so many races close to home.
Thoughts of having a race close to home is currently just a pipe dream for our friends from Quebec. Races were held in the province in 2012 and 2013, but were not well attended by the Ontario riders. One of the main issues was that most Ontario riders simply didn’t want to make the drive. With talk of a national round possibly returning to Quebec for 2015, it will be interesting to see how many Ontarians make the trek. With one of the finest racing facilities in Canada rumoured to be the host for this event, it could entice more people to make the drive. But that remains to be seen.
Nobody ever said racing was cheap nor would anyone ever downplay the commitment involved. Let’s face it: we’re not in house league hockey here. If you want to turn some laps, be prepared to put some miles on the truck.