Steven Bradley, Gimli, Manitoba (March 3) The Winnipeg Sports Car Club wrapped up their 2019 ice racing season this past weekend in Gimli, Manitoba during the town’s annual Ice Festival. The WSCC tradition continued as the club raced around a half mile track carved on the shores just a few hundred meters in front of Gimli’s Lakeview Resort. The entire west shore was lined with spectators sitting in vehicles, and on snow machines as they popped in to catch some of the high speed action.
This reporter has been covering the club for a half decade now, and usually the March farewell race in Gimli is a slushy mess. However, this year nobody could be found walking around in t-shirts. Manitoba started this final weekend under a cold weather advisory. Temps dipping into the mid teens combined with high winds made for a chilly season finale.
Due to lower than usual car counts in the Studded class, the WSCC made the decision to combine them with the Rubber field and score two races in one. Al Marcoux swept the Studded division on Saturday, earning all six race wins. Lee McRae traded his studded tires for rubbers and collected 5 of 6 wins in the Rubber division. Tim Gordienko was the only other competitor to see the checkers first.
On Sunday, Mat Leveille earned wins in 3 of the 4 Studded races with Marcoux earning a single victory. In the Rubber division, Lee McRae took the checkers in 3 races, and Steve Leiding earned a win before the season wrapped up.
In the last race of the season, Lee McRae and Mike Demchenko both took a turn piloting the McRae number 9 Ford to victory lane in a 30 minute enduro that featured 5 competitors on studded tires which ran 62 laps.
In race 1, Trevor Hudey beat Al Marcoux to the lead in the Studded division while Tim Gordienko led the pack of Rubber competitors through the opening circuits in the Rubber class. On lap 3, Morris Drysdale and Lee McRae passed Gordienko in turn 4 to reduce him to third. Just one lap later, McRae squeezed by Drysdale in turn 2 to take the lead – opening the door for Gordienko to follow by for second. On lap 7, Drysdale regained second position after passing Gordienko in turn 4. Manuel Fetzel raced by Gordienko in turn 1 to climb into the top 3. Over the next 5 laps, Gordienko and Fetzel stayed within a car length of each other, and on lap 15 Gordienko managed to regain the third position. On lap 13, Studded driver Marocux got by Hudey on the back stretch to move to the point. Marcoux collected the win in the Studded class ahead of Hudey, while McRae beat Drysdale to the checkers to take the first Rubber win. Fetzel made a last lap pass on Gordienko exiting turn 4 to round out the top 3.
In race 2, Al Marcoux lead Studded competitor Trevor Hudey through the opening laps while Steve Leiding passed 2 cars to take command of the Rubber field. On lap 3, Lee McRae outraced Manuel Fetzel down the front stretch to move into second position. Over the next 15 laps, McRae and Leiding swapped the lead back and fourth five times and were side by side for most of the race. As Marcoux was easily collecting the win in the Studded class, McRae eventually secured the lead in the Rubber field with 6 laps remaining and hung on for the win. Leiding finished in second ahead of Fetzel in third.
In race 3, Al Marcoux lead wire to wire to collect his third consecutive win of the day in the Studded class. Lee McRae passed 4 cars in the Rubber division in just 3 laps and scored his third win of the day. Morris Drysdale finished in second ahead of Manuel Fetzel in third.
In race 4, Al Marcoux was the only Studded competitor left after Trevor Hudey spent this race in the pits repairing his ice racer. Marcoux completed 12 laps before pulling into the pits. In the Rubber field, Lee McRae raced by Steve Lieding on the back stretch of lap 4 to take over the lead. On lap 5, McRae slid wide exiting turn 5 – allowing Tim Gordienko to make a pass for the lead with Leiding hot on his tail. McRae began recovering and got by Lieding for second spot just 1 lap later. On lap 12, McRae caught and passed Gordienko for the lead as the pair drag raced down the front stretch. Over the next 9 laps, McRae and Gordienko swapped the lead back and fourth 6 times. The race came down to one final pass on the last lap when McRae exiting the final corner with a bit more bite to beat Gordienko to the line by a car length. Gordienko settled for a hard fought second place finish while Lieding rounded out the top 3.
In race 5, Trevor Hudey led Al Marocux through the opening 12 laps of racing in the Studded class. Lee McRae quickly got by the 2 cars ahead of him in the Rubber class to secure the point. Tim Gordienko began pressuring McRae for the lead on lap 4 and eventually squeezed by in turn 3. 17 laps and 9 lead changes later between McRae and Gordienko, Gordienko dove low entering turn 1 and created a bit of separation on McRae. Gordienko fought off the pressure for the remaining 4 corners to collect his first win of the day. McRae finished in second ahead of Jim Shaw in third.
In race 6, Trevor Hudey led the opening 8 laps in the Studded field until he came to a sudden stop past the finish line after blowing a ball joint. As Al Marcoux flew by, a caution was displayed to pull Hudey to safety. In the Rubber class, Lee McRae lead the opening 8 laps until Tim Gordienko used the single file restart to move by the leader exiting turn 2. Over the next 5 laps, Gordienko and McRae traded the lead 3 times until McRae finally secured the point in turn 1 and led the remaining 7 laps enroute to his fifth win of the day. Gordienko finished in second ahead of Steve Lieding in third.
In race 1, Mat Leveille beat Al Marcoux to the point from the front row in the Studded class while Tim Gordienko used the pole to take the early lead in the Rubber division. On lap 3, Lee McRae climbed into the top 3 after a pass on Manuel Fetzel entering turn 1. Leveille extended his lead after Marcoux scrubbed off speed in turn 4 on the fourth lap. On lap 11, second place competitor Morris Drysdale bounced off the turn 4 outer bank which threw his car back iinto the racing line that McRae was occupying – which resulted in some side to side contact just as Marcoux was about to get by. Luckily everyone escaped unscathed and green flag racing continued with McRae securing second position. Just 3 laps later, turn 4 reached out and bit McRae which resulted in the same outcome – allowing Drysdale to move by and regain second spot. McRae fought back and made a pass on Drysdale just one lap later. On lap 17, McRae caught and passed Gordienko for the lead low exiting turn 5. Leveille easily scored his first win in the Studded class while McRae collected the win in the Rubber division, ahead of Drysdale and Gordienko.
In race 2, it only took Mat Leveille a couple corners to take the lead from Al Marcoux in the Studded field. Lee McRae passed the 3 cars ahead of him in the Rubber field to climb to the point by lap 2. Steve Leiding cut into McRae’s lead by lap 7 and used the wide line to squeeze by for the lead in turn 2. Leiding held the point for 6 laps until McRae took it back exiting turn 5. As Leveille was collecting his second consecutive win in the Studded class, Leiding got by McRae in turn 1 of the 13th lap – earning the win in the rubber class. McRae finished second ahead of Manuel Fetzel in third.
In race 3, Al Marcoux used the pole to lead all 20 laps and score his first win of the day ahead of Mat Leveille in the Studded division. In the Rubber field, Lee McRae took the lead from Tim Gordienko after the first 3 circuits. Gordienko fought back to regain his lead 4 laps later after a pass exiting turn 5. On lap 8, Morris Drysdale got by McRae on the back stretch for second after reports of contact – however McRae took back the position on the next lap entering turn 4. On lap 10 McRae stole the lead from Gordienko in turn 5. McRae easily collected his second win of the day ahead of Gordienko in second and Jim Shaw in third.
In race 4, Studded racer Mat Leveille led all 23 laps enroute to his third win of the day ahead of Al Marcoux. Steve Leiding held the lead for the first 7 laps of the Rubber race until Lee McRae out-powered him exiting turn 5 to secure the point. McRae easily earned the win ahead of Leiding in second and Gordienko in third.
The season ending endurance race was made up of two 15-minute segments with a 10 minute intermision allowing for car and driver alterations. After drawing for starting positions, Steve Leiding and Al Marcoux occupied the front row with Tim Gordienko and Lee McRae forming the second row. When the green flag opened racing, Marcoux quickly jumped to the point with McRae hot on his tail. For 17 laps, McRae stayed glued to Marcoux’s rear bumper and was never more than a car length behind the leader. On lap 17, McRae exited turn 5 hot and found himself with all 4 wheels on top of the outer brim. In a ‘Dukes of Hazard’ type maneuver, McRae stayed on the gas and wheeled his way back onto the racing surface – loosing about 5 seconds to Marcoux. By lap 19, Marcoux began encountering lap traffic. This allowed McRae to bite into the lead and soon found himself back chomping on Marocux for position. On lap 25, McRae pulled up beside and beat Marcoux exiting turn 2 to take the lead. The checkers to end the first segment fell 5 laps later and the cars came to the pits. McRae, Marcoux and Leiding currently sat in the top 3 with Gordienko and Fetzel rounding out the top 5.
In segment 2, McRae handed over driving duties to Mike Demchenko who sat out most of the weekend due to mechanical issues. On the single file restart, Demchenko secured the lead with Marcoux closely behind in second. On lap 8, Marcoux tried attacking the wide line exiting turn 5 and found himself 4-wheeling over the outer bank – much like McRae did in the previous segment. By lap 24, Demchenko had caught and put third place driver Leiding down a lap. As laps wore down, Marcoux was slowly inching into Demchenko’s lead. However, after 32 laps, time ran out and Demchenko collected the enduro win. Marcoux finished in second in front of Leiding, Gordienko and Jim Shaw.
Despite being absent for the last 10 races of the season, Damon Surzysyhn built up a big enough lead heading into the last weekend to 3-peat as Rubber division champion. Tim Gordienko finished second in championship points ahead of the team of Steve Leiding and Morris Drysdale.
Al Marcoux put his name back on the championship trophy in the Studded division – after belonging to Lee McRae for the past 2 seasons. McRae finished the season second in points ahead of Trevor Hudey in third.
Manuel Fetzel earned WSCC Rookie of the Year – competing in all Rubber division races in 2019.
With the 2019 ice racing season wrapped up, the WSCC will now turn their attention to summer road racing. For more information on the WSCC, how to get involved in racing, or for anything related to the club, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca