Steven Bradley, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba (February 10) The Winnipeg Sports Car Club (WSCC) reached the halfway marker in the 2019 Fire on Ice Racing tour this past weekend in Portage la Prairie. 9 competitors making up 2 divisions took to the 700 meter track carved into the surface of Crescent Lake. Temps dove into the mid minus twenties, but the lack of wind made for an enjoyable weekend.
Many first time ice racing spectators made their way down to the inner banks of the track to watch the excitement of Canadian winter motorsports up close and personal. Groups of happy fans disappeared in the billow of ice fog blasted into the crowd as cars raced by.
On Saturday, the club opened the track for street car lapping – looking to introduce new blood into the sport. On Sunday, Lee McRae grabbed 5 of the 6 checkered flags in the Studded division. Al Marocux was the only other driver to pick up a victory. Damon Surzyshyn kept his perfect season going after earning all 6 race wins in the Rubber to Ice class.
In Studded race 1, Lee McRae used the outside front row to grab the early lead. By lap 9, McRae caught the 4th place car of Trevor Hudey and put him down a lap. Hudey was put down an additional lap just 8 circuits later. As McRae was running 34 second lap times with an average lap speed of 46 mph on the short 700 meter course, he easily scored his first victory of the day. Al Marcoux finished in second, 10 seconds behind the leader, while Dean Smith rounded out the top 3.
In Studded race 2, Lee McRae climbed from fourth to first in the opening lap with Dean Smith trailing close in second. On lap 5, Al Marcoux stole the runner-up position from Smith after a pass exiting turn 2. 10 seconds ahead of that battle for second, McRae began encountering lap traffic by lap 7. McRae cruised to the easy win, 15 seconds ahead of second place finisher, Marocux. Smith ended his race with a third place finish.
In Studded race 3, Dean Smith took advantage of a front row starting spot to grab the lead early. On lap 2, Lee McRae pulled inside Smith at the start/finish line and beat Smith the the inside of turn 1 to secure the point. McRae needed just 7 laps to catch the lap car of Trevor Hudey as he powered by. McRae once again opened a 10 second lead and collected his third consecutive win of the day. Smith finished in second while Marcoux placed third.
In Studded race 4, Al Marcoux used a front row starting spot to grab his first taste of clean air of the day. On lap 3, Lee McRae and Dean Smith battled over second, with Smith securing the position after McRae bobbled in turn 4. McRae regained the position at the end of the straightaway – passing Smith low entering the corner. By lap 5, McRae had caught Marcoux for the lead and eventually completed a pass low exiting turn 5. Smith took his ill-sounding car to the pits on lap 11 – leaving just 3 competitors in the race. McRae raced unchallenged enroute his fourth win of the day. Marcoux finished 10 seconds back in second, while Trevor Hudey earned a third place finish.
In Studded race 5, Lee McRae drove by the 4 car field to lead after the first circuit. Al Marcoux stayed close to the leader, and on lap 2 squeezed by in turn 1 to move to the point. On lap 10, Dean Smith took advantage of a Flat tire on McRae’s car to race by and move into second position. Marcoux sailed to the checkers to collect his first win of the day. Smith finished in second, while McRae limped around the track on a flat to earn third.
In Studded race 6, Lee McRae used a front row starting spot to walk away from the field at the drop of the green flag. By lap 7, McRae had already lapped the pack at the start/finish line. After 17 laps, McRae took the checkers, right behind the second place car of Al Marcoux. Dean Smith ended his day with a third place finish.
In Rubber race 1, Damon Surzyshyn used the pole to open a big lead on second place Tim Gordienko. Surzyshyn was turning 40 second lap times, averaging lap speeds of 39 mph. On lap 6, Mike Demchenko, who was competing in his first race of the season, made an inside pass on Gordienko in turn 5. By lap 10, Surzyshyn caught and lapped fifth place racer, Manuel Fetzel in turn 3. Surzyshyn built up a sizeable lead to collect his first win of the day. Demchenko finished in second ahead of Gordienko in third.
In Rubber race 2, Damon Surzyshyn passed 3 cars to move to the point on the opening lap. On lap 3, Mike Demchenko made the high line stick as he raced by Steve Leiding to move into third. Nothing more changed as Surzyshyn easily scored his second win of the day. Gordienko finished in the runner-up position, while Demchenko rounded out the top 3.
Rubber race 3 got off to a chaotic start with all kinds of contact resulting in 3 cars leaving the track. After the tow truck delivered the cars back to the race surface, Damon Surzyshyn found himself in familiar territory – the lead. On lap 4, Tim Gordienko made an inside pass on Mike Demchenko as they exited turn 2. As Demchenko and Leiding battled back and fourth for third position, it enabled the leaders to drive away. Surzyshyn collected his third win of the day ahead of Gordienko. Leiding managed to fight off the pressure form Demchenko to finish in third.
In Rubber race 4, Mike Demchenko got his first taste of the lead this season after a pole starting spot. On lap 3, Damon Surzyshyn clawed by Tim Gordienko for second after an inside pass in turn 3. It took just 2 more laps for Surzyshyn to catch and pass Demechenko for the lead as they exited turn 5. Surzyshyn stayed on point for the remainder of the race to pick up his fourth win in a row. Demchenko finished in second, ahead of Gordienko in third.
In Rubber race 5, Tim Gordienko beat Steve Leiding to the lead from the front row. On lap 2, Mike Demchenko dove inside Gordienko for the lead entering turn 1. Damon Surzyshyn climbed into the top 3 after completing a pass on Leiding in turn 1. Surzyshyn continued his charge to the front, on lap 4 moved into the runner-up position after an inside pass on Gordienko. Surzyshyn began applying pressure on Demchenko for the lead, and after some hard fought racing, squeezed by the leader on lap 7 exiting turn 2. Surzyshyn encountered lap traffic on lap 12, but managed to stay on the point to collect his fifth win in a row. Demchenko finished second ahead of Gordienko in third.
In Rubber race 6, Damon Surzyshyn passed 3 cars on the opening circuit to secure the lead. On lap 4, Mike Demchenko moved by Tim Gordienko to steal the runner-up position entering turn 4. After 17 laps, Surzyshyn opened a 15 second lead enroute his third consecutive weekend sweep – remaining perfect in 2019. Demchenko finished in second while Gordienko rounded out the top 3.
The WSCC now turns their attention to Winnipeg Beach, as the next event happens Saturday, February 16th during the 53rd annual Wonderful Winter Weekend celebrations. For more information on the WSCC, how to get involved in ice racing, or for scheduling and events, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca