From Behind the Lens at the 2008 Slalom

Sunday September 7,2008

by Murray Smith

It was the third year for the Slalom and the third year it has rained. This time we got the last remnants of Hurricane Gustav - fortunately without the winds and the really heavy rains. The wet track tested the drivers, but they rose to the challenge with only one spin during the entire event. When the official runs were completed around 2:30pm, the sun came out; it warmed up; and my shoes finally stopped squishing.

Despite the weather, there was a good turnout of cars and spectators and we were joined, for the first time, by four competitors and their families and friends from the Morgan Club. In addition to a good selection of Jaguars from E-types to XJ-Rís and everything in between and the Morgans, there were Hondas, a Miata, a Lotus Elise, a Porsche and a Mitsubishi.

If one squinted and looked at the crowd sitting beside the course in their lawn chairs with their umbrellas, one could almost imagine a day at the beach - minus the sun and the sand but with lots of water. I think this is called looking at the world through rose coloured glasses. Geoff and Nicky Cramb, who moved to Victoria, B.C, happened to be in the area and they dropped by to take in the event. Also, many people who were coming to the PowerAid Centre for other events came over to look at the cars and see them on the track. Jaguar cars never fail to draw a crowd.

All competitors must wear helmets which for those driving convertibles creates a problem due to limited headroom, when the tops are up. This meant that most of the convertibles, including all the Morgans, ran with their tops down. Now they all know how dogs feel when they have their heads out of a car that is driving down the road in a rain storm. But these are all tough people, not a single whine or whimper was heard. The big grins and often times arms raised in the air after a good run dispelled any thought that the weather was dampening their spirits, or that of any of the other competitors or spectators. I doff my wet chapeau to all of you.

Due to the wetter conditions this year than last, times were about 2 to 3 seconds slower, but it also seemed to level the playing field and times within the various classes were very close. This makes it exciting for both the competitors and spectators who are pulling for a particular car or person. Tire smoke was not a problem this year - unlike last year, Steve. Getting traction to accelerate and corner was a problem. The competitors adapted quickly and fish-tailing and four wheel slides disappeared as drivers learned the limits of their tiresí adhesion. Rob Hutchison left his Series 3 E-type and XJ-S at home and opted for the Miata. This turned out to be a good decision as he posted the best time of the day in the wet conditions.

The JCNA slalom course presents some unique challenges with the three circuits of the course (i.e. a squeezed oval shape, a figure eight shape, and an oval shape) all being completed on the same overall track footprint. This means you are traveling on one side of some pylons on one circuit and on another side on the next circuit, so it is easy to get confused by all of the pylons and thus go off course. I would hazard a guess that during the first year the Association ran the Slalom about 40 percent of the runs resulted in DNFís due to people going off course. Last year, I would guess that this had dropped to less than 30 percent and, this year, my impression is that it dropped even further to possibly about 20 percent. By 2015 or thereabouts, we should have it down to 2 percent and only involving cars that miss a pylon because they are going too fast to stay on course.

Lastly and on a more serious note, does anyone have a good source where I can get a diverís dry suit and an underwater camera before next yearís event? Itís always better to plan ahead and there seems to be a trend developing. Donít miss it next year. Rain or hopefully shine, it will be a good, exciting event.

Photo Credits: Courtesy Dr. Murray Smith

May 09, 2010 by Webmaster