Steven Bradley, Gimli, Manitoba (March 4) The Winnipeg Sports Car Club concluded their 2018 ice racing season over the March 3 – 4 weekend after headlining the annual Gimli Ice Festival. There was no shortage of action in front of the Lakeview Resort as spectators took in both car and bike racing located at various spots of the lake. Racing even drew fans from the skies when a red Super Cub equipped with skis dropped in to watch a few laps of action.
The weather wasn’t as warm as the past 3 years of racing in Gimli, but seasonal temps were perfect for keeping the track together all weekend. The track was very challenging this year – less wide and a couple sharp corners which required a good mix of skill and patience for those brave enough to pass.
On Saturday, Lee McRae successfully defended his championship by collecting 4 of the 6 victories in the Studded division. Jaimie Gillespie and Al Marcoux split a pair of race wins over the final 2 races. Damon Surzysyhn all but sealed up his second consecutive championship after earning 4 of the 6 wins in the Rubber division. Jared Halpin and Mike Demchenko each collected a checkered flag before both drivers experienced mechanical failure that ended their days prematurely.
On Sunday, Lee McRae won 3 races after switching his studs for rubber tires – joining the Rubber competitors for the day. Damon Surzysyhn, Mike Demchenko and Tim Gordienko each grabbed wins before the end of the season. Lee McRae dominated the season’s final event – a 30 minute Studded endurance race, where he put all but the second place car down a lap.
In Studded race 1, Lee McRae led wire-to-wire to pick up his first win of the weekend. Al Marcoux finished where he started – in second a half second behind the leader, while Jaimie Gillepsie got by Trevor Hudey to place third.
In Studded race 2, it took 2 attempts to go green flag racing after Al Marcoux got run over in turn 7 which brought out the red flag. Marcoux’s car took on significant damage and appeared to be done for the season after being towed to the pits. On the restart, Marlene Jakabec grabbed the lead while Lee McRae quickly moved up 4 spots to secure second position by lap 2. On lap 3, McRae got by Jakabec in turn 5 to move into the lead. Jakabec surrendered the runner-up position to Jaimie Gillespie on the next lap in turn 2. Just one lap later, Jakabec fell out of the top 3 after Peter Jakabec completed a pass on Marlene in turn 7. On lap 7, a battle for second was heating up when Peter Jakabec and Gillespie traded some paint in turn 5 – causing Gillespie to ramp the inside of the s-turn. While McRae was collecting his second race win by a half-lap margin, Peter Jakabec managed to hold off the pressure form Gillespie to finish in second place.
In Studded race 3, Dean Smith used the pole to take the early lead. On lap 3, Lee McRae got by Marlene Jakabec for second. While this race was taking place, Peter Jakabec, Jaimie Gilespie and a few of their crew members withdrew from the race and were feverishly helping put Marcoux and Levielle’s car back together in one of the most fantastic displays of sportsmanship this reporter has witnessed in all my years of covering motorsports. While repairs in the pits were taking place, Dean Smith was doing a great job of holding off McRae for the lead. Just when it looked like Smith might have his first win of the season wrapped up, McRae made a last corner pass to collect his third win of the day. Smith finished in second ahead of Marlene Jakabec in third.
In Studded race 4, Marlene Jakabec led the opening 2 laps before Jaimie Gillespie raced by entering turn 1 to move to the point – opening a hole for McRae to follow by and secure second. After 5 laps of pressure, McRae finally completed a pass on Gillespie for the lead in turn 6. McRae collected his fourth checkered flag in a row while Gillespie finished in second. Peter Jakabec made a last lap pass on Marlene Jakabec to round out the top 3.
In Studded race 5, Lee McRae pulled himself from the Studded races after officially collecting enough points to defend his championship. Marlene Jakabec once again started on the pole with Jaimie Gilespie getting by Trevor Hudey on lap 3 to secure second position. On lap 8, Peter Jakabec climbed into the top 3 after passing Hudey in turn 7. With just a lap and a half remaining, Gillespie managed to get by Marlene Jakabec in turn 5 after some contact and collect his first win of the season. Marlene Jakabec finished in second, ahead of her husband Peter who rounded out the top 3.
In Studded race 6, Peter Jakabec used the outside front row to grab the early lead as the repaired car of Al Marcoux was now amazingly put back together – and sitting in second after the opening lap. Over the opening 7 laps, Marcoux was applying all kinds of pressure on Peter Jakabec as the two battled hard for the lead. Eventually on lap 8, Marcoux finally secured the point exiting turn 2. On lap 12, the red flag halted racing when contact between Jaimie Gillespie and Marlene Jakabec forced Jakabec into an unsafe position wedged into turn 1. After officials towed her out of danger, the filed was restacked for a single-file restart. Marcoux managed to stay on the point for the final 3 laps as he collected his team’s first win of the event. Peter Jakabec finished in second ahead of Dean Smith who rounded out the top 3.
Lee McRae officially sealed his championship up with a 50 point margin over the second place team of Al Marcoux and Mat Levielle. Bill Langner needed just 1 week to collect enough points to secure third in points – 92 points back of the leader.
In Rubber race 1, Mike Demchenko beat Damon Surzyshyn off the front row to take the early lead. Demchenko held the lead and was looking strong until lap 2 when he began falling off the pace. Demchenko managed to limp to the pits as we later found out he suffered a broken front axle. Damon Surzyshyn inherited the lead and held it for the remaining 11 laps to open his weekend up with a win. Jared Halpin finished in second 10 seconds behind the leader while Tim Gordienko ended his race in third.
In Rubber race 2, Jim Antosko used the pole to jump to an early lead while Jared Halpin got by Tim Gordienko on lap 2 to move into second. On lap 4, Halpin completed a pass on Antosko for the lead entering turn 1. On lap 5 Gordienko fell from second to fourth after opening the door for Damon Surzyshyn and Antosko to pass low in turn 1.While Halpin checked out and collected his first win of the weekend, Surzysyhn easily scored second – 7 seconds behind the leader. After a good 5-lap battle, Gordienko beat Antosko to the finish line to round out the top 3.
In Rubber race 3, Tim Gordienko beat Jim Antosko off the front row to take the early lead while Damon Surzysyhn got by Morris Drysdale on lap 2 to secure third. On lap 3, Surzyshyn got by Antosko in turn 8 to climb into second position – bringing Jared Halpin trailing him in third. On lap 5, Surzysyhn completed a pass on Gordienko for the lead in turn 3, with Halpin staying close to his back bumper and following through to grab the runner-up position. Halpin tried his best to chase down the leader, but Surzysyhn managed to hold off the pressure to secure his second win of the day. Halpin finished 1 second behind the leader while Gordienko placed third.
In Rubber race 4, Jim Aontosko beat Morris Drysdale off the front row to grab the lead as Jared Halpin quickly climbed 2 spots to secure the second spot. Damon Surzyshyn picked up 2 spots to move into the top 3 on the third lap. On lap 3, Halpin made a pass on Antosko for the lead in turn 2 and looked to be separating himself from the field. Unfortunately on lap 5, Halpin’s car began smoking profusely, then caught fire. Officials quickly red-flagged the race and the flames that were shooting from Halpin’s car suddenly stopped. After Halpin was cleared from the track, the field reset for a single-file restart. Surzyshyn was quick to grab the lead when green flag racing resumed and easily collected his third win of the day. Antosko finished in second while Drysdale finished in the top 3.
In Rubber race 5, Morris Drysdale beat Tim Gordienko off the front row to take the early lead. On lap 2, Damon Surzyshyn climbed 2 positions after completing a pass on Gordienko in turn 3 to move into second spot. On lap 4, Lee McRae climbed his way into the top 3 after switching his studded tires for rubber ones – joining the Rubber division for the last couple races of the year. On lap 9, Surzyshyn caught and passed Drysdale for the lead in turn 1. Drysdale surrendered another position on the next lap when McRae got by him in turn 2. Surzysyhn stayed in front of McRae for the remaining 2 laps to claim his fourth win of the day. McRae placed second ahead of Drysdale in third.
In Rubber race 6, Tim Gordienko beat Jim Antosko to the first corner to take the early lead. On lap 2, Antosko stole the lead from Gordienko in turn 5 – and brought Lee McRae with him who secured the second position. On lap 3, Mike Demchenko was back on the track after making a quick shopping trip to the city and replacing his broken axle. Demchenko got by Gordienko and Antosko to claim the runner-up position. Demchenko continued marching to the front after a pass on McRae in turn 1 to take over the race lead. The new axle seemed to be working fine, as Demchenko opened up a 10 second lead to collect his first win of the day. McRae finished in second while Damon Surzyshyn got by Antosko on lap 5 to round out the top 3.
Headed into the last day of racing, Damon Surzysyhn held a 47 point lead over second place Mike Demchenko and a 108 point lead over third place Jared Halpin.
In Rubber race 1, Damon Surzyshyn was quick to take the early lead, but as laps wore down, was under attack from Lee McRae and Mike Demchenko. On the last lap, McRae was able to get by the leader to score the opening race win. Demchenko finished in second while Surzysyhn rounded out the top 3.
In Rubber race 2, a red flag halted racing after a pile up in the opening turn took place that resulted in Mike Demchenko and Morris Drysdale getting stuck in the snow. On the complete restart, Tim Gordienko grabbed the lead with Damon Surzyshyn moving up to second and McRae securing third. On lap 5, McRae got by Surzyshyn in turn 2 to grab the runner-up position and Demchenko knocked Surzyshyn out of the top 3. By lap 6, McRae had caught Gordienko for the lead and began applying pressure. Over the remaining 7 laps, McRae and Gordienko took turns swapping the lead and raced through the course side-by-side. After a handful of lead changes, Gordienko finally secured the point and crossed the finish line just in front of McRae to score his first win since switching to a front wheel drive class. McRae finished in second while Demchenko held off Surzysyhn to place third. It was a highly popular win as each competitor and station worker cheered Gordienko on his celebratory victory lap with the checkered flag in hand.
In Rubber race 3, Damon Surzyshyn beat Morris Drysdale to the point from the front row while Mike Demchenko and Lee McRae squeezed by Drysdale to form the top 3. On lap 2, McRae made a pass on Demchenko in turn 1 to claim the second position. Demchenko fought back on the next lap and regained the spot he lost to McRae in turn 5 – then chased down the leader. On lap 3, Demchenko beat Surzyshyn to the bottom of turn 1 and took over the lead. Demchenko held the lead for the remainder of the race to pick up his first win of the day. Surzyshyn finished in second ahead of McRae in third. This ended up being Demchenko’s last race of the season as he suffered another broken axle.
In Rubber race 4, Damon Surzyshyn climbed 4 spots on the opening lap to move to the point as Tim Gordienko secured the second position by lap 2. On lap 2, officials displayed the red flag after Trevor Hudey got stuck in a high traffic spot in turn 1. On the restart, a bit of contact in turn 1 resulted in Lee McRae being the first to emerge with the lead, trailed by Tim Gordienko. On lap 7, Surzyshyn got by Gordienko for second spot but was unable to bite into the lead McRae had built. McRae collected his second win of the day while Surzyshyn finished in second ahead of Gordienko in third.
In Rubber race 5, Tim Gordienko led the opening 10 laps until Damon Surzyshyn stole the lead in turn 3. Surzyshyn easily earned the win about 5 seconds ahead of Gordienko. Lee McRae got by Morris Drysdale on the last lap to round out the top 3.
In Rubber race 6, Lee McRae beat Morris Drysdale off the front row to take the lead as Tim Gordienko climbed into the top 3 on the third lap. On lap 5, officials threw a red flag after reports of spectators getting a little too close to the track. After this situation was sorted, the field lined up for a single-file restart. McRae continued to lead as Gordienko got by Jim Antosko for second. Antosko fell out of the top 3 after Damon Surzyshyn got by exiting turn 2. Nothing more changed as McRae collected his third Rubber win of the day. Gordienko finished in second ahead of Surzyshyn in third.
Damon Surzyshyn successfully defended his Rubber division championship finishing 53 points ahead of second place Mike Demchenko. Jared Halpin finished third in points, 124 point back of the leader.
In the 30 minute Studded enduro race, Marlene Jakabec drew the pole position along side Peter Jakabec. When the green flag flew for the first 15 minute segment, Al Marcoux quickly climbed 3 spots to move into the lead. On lap 2, Lee McRae was charging to the front and moved into the second position after starting fifth. On lap 3, Jaimie Gillespie got by Marlene Jakabec in turn 3 to move into the fourth position. Marcoux held the lead for the first 11 laps until he began approaching lap traffic. On lap 16, McRae dove under Marcoux entering turn 1 to take over the lead while Marcoux was hung out to dry on the wide line due to lap traffic. After 23 laps, McRae took the checkered flag to end segment 1. Marcoux came to the pits in second while Peter Jakabec and Jaimie Gillespie were the only other cars to finish on the lead lap.
In segment 2, McRae continued to lead while it took the opening 5 laps for Peter Jakabec, Mat Levielle and and Jaimie Gillespie to get by the lap traffic that stared ahead of them. On lap 10, Mat Levielle began falling off the pace as he took his car to the pits with heating issues caused by a radiator full of snow. Peter Jakabec also needed to make a trip to the pits after contact with Dean Smith caused a flat rear tire. Officials pulled Jakabec from the track to address the flat tire – Jakabec later rejoined the field 4 laps down. As the final race wore down, McRae opened up a huge lead – lapping all but the second place car of Jamie Gillespie to collect the win. Gillespie finished in second, just ahead of McRae at the finish line, while Dean Smith, Marlene Jakabec and Tim Gordienko rounded out the top 5.
The Winnipeg Sports Car Club will now turn their attention to summer racing. For more information on the club, for upcoming events, or to learn how to get involved in racing, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca