Mud, Metal and Tires
The Second Page

FTLComm - Tisdale - September 10, 2000
Motor sports have been around since Henry Ford turned out Model "T"s and for decades Nipawin and this part of Saskatchewan has enjoyed the sport but the building of this new track in Tisdale has really revived the interest here and as with most things in Saskatchewan, this is a participatory sport. Certainly, there are spectators and gawkers like myself who enjoy watching but to understand what is going on here you have to realise that a lot of people have become directly and individually involved in this project and have become participants in something that is fun and they have put considerable energy into seeing that remains fun.
Building a race car is a major project and consumes mountains of time and know how to put one together. These cars are almost entirely constructed from the ground up so that they can be safe and durable enough to do what they do. A massive
crash and roll cage is built
in the car's interior and the sheet metal is snapped on the outside to make these vehicles look like the sort of thing we drive on the road but the looks are deceiving Fuel and safety equipment are all carefully installed to insure these things can safely jam around a track, bounce into one another and nobody gets hurt.

To keep them running requires a team of mechanics and a wasteland of spare parts to put the car on the track and keep it running. In this picture as the cars parade around the track giving
spectators a ride around we see "ole" number 7 sitting forlornly in the pit area, it is out of action for the day.

Here is Barry from Swan River Manitoba setting up the suspension on his team's car, Barry also take turns at driving this old beast. This is some nondescript General Motors product and you can see in this picture the "A" frame that normally would have the front spring and shock absorber just above Barry's hand. But in a stock car on a mud track springs on the front of a car are simple not appropriate and in this case a spacer has been installed in place of the spring and the centre area that would normally have a shock absorber is a series of spacers.

A moment later an electric wrench powered by a Honda generator tightened up this system to stop the inside of the tire from rubbing on the steering system. In his next race Barry took this beat up machine and lead the race until the second last lap when Tisdale's NSI car got by and went on to win that race.

Since Tisdale's track only opened this spring only three or four local cars had been operating in past years and they were the only ones ready to use the new track. This meant only one thing, competitors had to get out there and buy
older machines that had been built and were available for this year. Bruce Schpansky was bitten by the racing bug and has two cars running this season. Number 44 was in running condition when he bought it but 69 was sitting in a yard without and engine and with trees growing up through it. In the race seen below Bruce is wrestling 44 around the track while his
son is at the wheel of 69
which was running really well in its first race. In the picture on the right you can see both Schpansky cars on turns one and two with the son in the lead and Bruce trying to keep things in line.

Bruce said that the black and yellow paint job on 69 was a temporary thing and they would want to have both cars running in Schpansky "red" for next season.

In this picture we can see 69 being readied for its next race and the gear around the truck is the Schpansky race teams rolling garage.

Right from hook to spare tires, lunch, tools and fuel this is a complete operation.

I was surprised at the tires, each race team has to have a load of tires to keep their cars running and because they run on mud they use convention mud and snow tires that we would use on our street vehicles unlike the slicks we see used on paved race tracks that you might see in Southern United States the real home of automotive motor sports. Paved tracks use very wide tires with no tread and very soft rubber to give them traction and last only a few
hundred laps

On Friday night we had some pictures of another race team doing some test runs and that was Northern Steel Industries great "Old Yeller". Below with Northern Steel's head painter at the wheel their car set a blistering pass starting the race
well back in the pack but steadily working its way toward the front.

The picture below shows the start of the race as they get the green flag as they go by the stands. With three white cars in front as the go into the first lap (below) we can see the low track line the driver is taking and his very disciplined approach to
herding the powerful and well balanced car around the curves and down the back straight-away.
But the discipline and steady system to handling the traffic paid off as the car moved up one car at a time and when they came around for the finish line the Northern Steel, Tisdale Hotel car was well out in front and this was one happy driver.
The racing tradition is that each race ends with the winner taking the checkered flag and doing a victory lap. In the picture
here we can see another
Tisdale car accepting the flag from an official and about to take is trip around the track with the checker flag held proudly out the window.

The competition in every race was close with few if any situations were one car would simply take off and be out of reach. This really kept the fans interest but also made for outstanding fun for the competitors.
In the pictures below we some one pink hulk jamming around curve two while on the right we see a car that went off the track in turn two and was making its way across the prairie right beside the fence I had been standing earlier to get the West side pictures.
The whole idea of this being a fun and safe activity hinges on the drivers sticking to the rules, having a good level of sportsmanship and having dedicated and conscientious officials. Up in the flag tower is Mr. Chupa who does not let a race begin until its safe and that yellow flag is waving as soon as there is the first sense of danger. In one race Saturday a car went over the top of turn four and at the other end of the track a second car had its engine vapourise, it was time for a yellow flag and then a red one until it was safe to get the race back underway.
Above left the track safety officer is there to set up the drivers and establish order but also maintain safety on the track and in the pit. He came over and warned me about being in the line of loose cars on the West side of the track and made sure that I signed a waver when taking these pictures inside the pit area. A class act.
But, went it comes time for the wheels to roll and motors to howl things get pretty tight. The pictures above show the bumper to bumper action as cars test Newton's first three laws of motion to the test every lap. The most important of Newton's laws was that "no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time" This one posed a few problems every race as machines in motion put a restriction on the space.

Two first rate days of racing and friendly competition, with Tisdale race teams doing their best to make a mark on their own track and earn for their sport a reputation of fun and vigourous competitive spirit.