Steven Bradley, Portage la Prairie, MB (February 18) Portage la Prairie played host to the Winnipeg Sports Car Club (WSCC) Ice Racing series over the Louis Riel long-weekend. Local residents were served a competitive display of ice racing throughout Saturday and Sunday while a 3-player shinny tournament was taking place at the south end of the race track.
The weather was picture-perfect for both racer and fan (and a few skaters that observed from a trail outlining the track) as mostly sunny skies welcomed seasonal temps around minus 15 degrees. This made way for some really competitive racing as the track held together nicely over the 2-day event.
On Saturday, Al Marcoux claimed 3 checkered flags in the Studded division as his team looked to bite into Lee McRae’s point lead. McRae earned 2 victories while home-grown racer, Bill Langner earned a win in his first event of the season. Damon Surzyshyn nabbed 3 wins to stay atop of the point standings in the Rubber division. Mike Demchenko chased down a pair of checkered flags while Jared Halpin also found his way to victory lane in race 2.
On Sunday, Lee McRae padded his points lead after winning 5 out of a possible 6 races. Bill Langner was the only other driver to take the checkers in race 12. Damon Surzyshyn and Mike Demchenko swapped wins back and fourth – each earning 3 victories after some very exciting, hard-fought battles that will require some overtime in the shop beating out fenders.
In Studded race 1, Lee McRae used the pole to command an early lead while Al Marcoux and Bill Langner quickly formed the top 3. On lap 2, Marcoux squeezed by McRae entering turn 6 and moved to the point. Marcoux managed to distance himself from the pack and took the checkers 5 seconds ahead of second place McRae, and third place Langner. Wayne Kehler and Trevor Hudey rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 2, Lee McRae used the outside lane to pick up 3 spots and blow by the field to take the lead. Bill Langner found a hole that enabled him to move into second position – followed closely by Al Marcoux. On lap 7, Marcoux’s attempt to pass Langner failed when he spun through the infield, but continued onward under green. By lap 10, Langner had caught McRae for the lead and began applying pressure. However, Langner suddenly took on mechanical difficulties and immediately took his car to the pits. McRae went on to earn his first win of the day – edging Marcoux by under a car length. Kehler ended his race in third ahead of Hudey in fourth.
In Studded race 3, Bill Langner inherited the pole starting position after earning a DNF in the previous event. Langner took control of the race lead when the green flag flew while Marcoux quickly got by a pair of racers to move into second spot – bringing Lee McRae with him in third. On lap 4, Langner got slowed up in lap traffic in turn 3 which enabled Marcoux to catch and pass him for the lead. However, Marcoux’s lead was short-lived as Langner fought back before the lap was over and regained his lead – which also opened a hole for McRae to get by and move into second spot. On lap 9, Langner once again had problems navigating lap traffic after McRae used them as a pick and moved into the lead – followed by Marcoux who now occupied second. On lap 12, Marcoux tried to stick the outside line through turns 6 and 7 in an attempt to get by McRae for the lead. Marcoux ended up bouncing off the outer bank and scrubbed off speed – which allowed Langner to move back into second position. McRae went on to collect his second win in a row ahead of Langner and Marcoux. Trevor Hudey and Wayne Kehler rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 4, Al Marcoux, Bill Langner and Lee McRae quickly moved from the back to the front through the opening few corners. On lap 2, McRae completed an inside pass on Langner entering turn 1 to move into second position. While the battle for second was heating up, Marcoux was pulling away from the field. Marcoux easily collected his second win of the day while McRae managed to beat Langner to the finish line by just over a car length to claim a second place finish. Wayne Kehler and Trevor Hudey rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 5, Bill Langner jumped from third to first in the opening corner while Lee McRae filled the hole – moving up to second from a fourth place starting spot. On lap 3, Al Marcoux moved into the top 3 after a pass on Trevor Hudey on the long front straightaway. As laps wore down, Langner opened up a decent sized lead and collected his first win of the season. After an exciting battle, Marcoux got by McRae on lap 9 to wrap up and secure a second place finish. Wayne Kehler and Trevor Hudey rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 6, Lee McRae picked up 4 spots on the opening lap to take control of the lead. While Al Marcoux occupied second position, it only took Bill Langner 2 laps to move from last to third. On lap 5, Marcoux caught and passed McRae for the lead as they entered turn 1 sideways at high speeds. Nothing more changed as Marcoux collected his third win of the day. McRae finished second ahead of Langner, Kehler and Hudey.
In Rubber race 1, Damon Surzyshyn started on the pole and led wire-to-wire to open his long weekend with a win. Mike Demchenko finished where he started, in second, 11 seconds behind the leader while Jared Halpin got by Tim Gordienko on the first lap to finish in third.
In Rubber race 2, Jared Halpin dove to the inside lane and drove past the front row pairing while Damon Surzyshyn climbed from last to third. On lap 3, Surzyshyn squeezed under Jim Antosko entering turn 1 to move into the runner-up position. Antosko fell out of the top 3 after Demchenko raced by in turn 6. Nothing more changed as Halpin earned his first win of the weekend by a 10 second gap. Surzyshyn finished second ahead of Demchenko, Antosko and Gordienko.
In Rubber race 3, Damon Surzysyhn quickly powered by the front row occupied by Tim Gordienko and Jim Antosko. On lap 2, Mike Demchenko completed a pass on Antosko entering turn 1 to move into third position. Surzyshyn maintained the lead for the rest of the race to collect the win. On the last lap, Demchenko got by Gordienko exiting turn 2 to finish second. Gordienko finished third ahead of Antosko and Jared Halpin who ended his race with a flat right rear tire.
In Rubber race 4, Mike Demchenko blew by the front row when the green flag dropped to move to the point. On lap 2, Jared Halpin climbed 3 positions and moved into second after a pass low exiting turn 7. Surzyshyn followed Halpin through that opening to grab third position. Demchenko maintained the lead for the rest of the race to score his first win of the weekend. Halpin finished second ahead of Surzyshyn, Gordienko and Antosko.
In Rubber race 5, Damon Surzyshyn completed a pass on Jim Antosko in turn 4 to take the lead while Mike Demchenko and Tim Gordienko followed by to form the top 3. On lap 4, Demchenko outdrove Surzyshyn out of turn 2 and took over the lead. On lap 5, Jared Halpin climbed into the top 3 after completing a pass on Gordienko entering turn 1. Nothing more changed as Demchenko earned his second consecutive win, ahead of Surzyshyn, Halpin and Gordienko.
In Rubber race 6, once again the inverted lineup couldn’t keep the fast cars from finding the front before the first completed lap. Damon Surzyshyn quickly passed 3 cars to lead while Jared Halpin settled into second position. Mike Demchenko climbed 2 spots through the opening circuit to claim third position. The field lined up and raced 12 laps without any further changes as Surzyshyn earned his third win of the day. Halpin finished in second ahead of Demchenko, Gordienko and Antosko.
In Studded race 1, Lee McRae beat Mat Levielle to the first corner and moved into the lead while Bill Langner held off Wayne Kehler to secure third spot. On lap 6, Langner took advantage of Levielle bouncing off the turn 2 bank and climbed into second. With just a couple laps remaining, Jamie Gillespie knocked Levielle out of the top 3 after a pass in turn 3. McRae collected the checkered flag 3 seconds ahead of Bill Langner. Gillepsie, Levielle and Peter Jakabec rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 2, Mat Levielle used the outside of row 2 to blow by the leaders and grab the lead. On lap 2, Lee McRae climbed 4 spots after passing Wayne Kehler for second position entering turn 1. During that that same lap, officials red-flagged the race after Peter Jakabec stuffed his car in turn 3, which was considered highly dangerous. He was pulled form the track and the field lined up for a single file restart. Levielle maintained the lead on the restart, but on lap 5 Langner looped his car in turn 2 after a pass attempt on McRae in a battle for second – opening the door for Kehler to move into third. Langner continued running and by lap 8 caught and passed Kekler to regain third position. On lap 9, Levielle surrendered the lead after getting stuck in the turn 2 snowbank – nearly collecting Langner – and watched McRae inherit the lead. McRae easily collected his second win of the day, 15 seconds ahead of Langner. Marlene Jakabec, Wayne Kehler and Jaimie Gillespie rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 3, Jaimie Gillespie held the lead from a front row starting spot until he slide wide and opened the door for Trevor Hudey and Lee McRae to drive by. On lap 2, McRae outdrove Hudey down the front straightaway to move to the point just as Bill Langner was moving into the top 3. On lap 4, Langner completed a pass for second place on Hudey on the front stretch. On lap 5, Clandeboye competitors Peter Jakabec and Jaimie Gillespie made contact exiting turn 7 which sent Gillespie spinning and coming to rest backwards facing oncoming drivers. Officials quickly red-flagged the race and Gillespie got his car turned around again for a single file restart. When green flag racing resumed, McRae held the lead, however Mat Levielle took advantage of a slow restart from Hudey to move into third position. McRae maintained the lead for the remainder to win his third race in a row. Langner finished in second ahead of Levielle, Hudey and Peter Jakabec.
In Studded race 4, Marlene Jakabec used a pole starting spot to lead the opening 4 circuits. By lap 4, Lee McRae climbed 5 spots and took over the lead in turn 5. McRae easily scored his fourth win in a row ahead of Marlene Jakabec, Peter Jakabec, Bill Langner and Mat Levielle.
In Studded race 5, Mat Levielle beat Trevor Hudey off the front row and took the early lead while Lee McRae quickly passed 4 cars to move into second position. On lap 3, officials red-flagged the race after Marlene Jakabec came to a stop in the middle of turns 1 and 2. After being towed from the track, the field lined up for a single file restart. Levielle once again held the point when the green flag dropped with McRae and Peter Jakabec forming the top 3. On lap 9, Bill Langner got by Jakabec on the front stretch to move into third position. Just when it looked like Levielle had his first win of the weekend wrapped up, he slid wide in turn 7. McRae was in position to capitalize and led the white flag lap. McRae collected his fifth win in a row while Levielle settled for second. Peter Jakabec regained third spot from Langner before the race finished and Trevor Hudey rounded out the top 5.
In Studded race 6, Jaimie Gillespie used the pole to jump out to the lead while Mat Levielle quickly passed 3 cars to secure second. On lap 2, Bill Langner passed the 2 cars ahead of him in 1 swoop to move into the lead while Lee McRae and Levielle got by Gillespie to form the top 3. On lap 3, Peter Jakabec got by Levielle exiting turn 2 to regain third position. Gillespie fell out of the top 5 after experiencing a flat tire on lap 4, which ended his weekend in the pits. On lap 12, Peter Jakabec eventually got by McRae exiting turn 7 to secure second position. After 15 laps, Langner had built up a 15 second lead and collected his second win of the weekend. Jakabec finished second ahead of McRae, Levielle and Marlene Jakabec.
In Rubber race 1, Damon Surzyshyn used the pole to lead Jared Halpin and Mike Demchenko through the opening circuits. On lap 2, Demchenko raced by Halpin on the front straightaway to move into second position. Demchenko continued his charge to the font and on lap 10 caught and passed Surzyshyn for the lead in turn 3. After taking the last lap signal side-by-side, Demchenko exited the last corner with the lead and took the checkers by a car length ahead of Surzyshyn. Halpin, Gordienko and Antosko rounded out the top 5.
In Rubber race 2, a flat tire on pole sitter Jim Antosko’s car caused a bit of contact taking the green flag. Antosko immediately took his car to the pits while officials reset the field for another attempt at starting the race. On the restart, Surzyshyn was quick to move to the point with Jared Halpin in second. On lap 2, Mike Demchenko completed a pass on Tim Gordienko after he took corner 7 too wide. On lap 6, Demchenko and Halpin spent the entire lap side-by-side, swapping second spot back and fourth through the corners. Eventually, Demchenko secured the position, outracing Halpin on the front straightaway. All the battling for second enabled Surzyshyn to open a big lead as he collected his first win of the day. Demchenko finished second ahead of Halpin and Gordienko.
In Rubber race 3, Mike Demchenko used the outside lane to jump from fourth to first on the opening lap as Damon Surzyshyn followed him closely to secure third. On lap 2, Surzyshyn and Halpin both got by Tim Gordienko to form the top 3. Nothing more changed as Demchenko collected his second win of the day. Surzyshyn finished second ahead of Halpin, Gordienko and Antosko.
In Rubber race 4, Damon Surzyshyn jumped from fifth to first at the drop of the green flag while Jared Halpin moved into third after a pass on Jim Antosko on lap 3. Halpin climbed another position on the next lap after passing Tim Gordienko at the finish line. On lap 5, Mike Demchenko knocked Gordienko out of the top 3 after a pass in turn 5. Surzyshyn went on to collect his second win of the day as Halpin managed to hold off Demchenko for a second place finish. Gordienko and Antosko rounded out the top 5.
In Rubber race 5, Jim Antosko led the opening corners until he got into the turn 5 bank – which allowed Mike Demchenko to steal the lead. As Damon Surzyshyn settled into second position, Jared Halpin got by Antosko exiting turn 7 to move into the top 3. Demchenko was under pressure from Surzyshyn all race long. Coming to the checkered flag, Demchenko took turns 6 and 7 a little slower than usual – trying to force Surzyshyn to make an outside pass where he would then hammer the gas and drive away on the preferred line. However, Surzyshyn stayed glued to his rear bumper and gave him a couple shots in the rear. Surzyshyn managed to get a fender inside Demchenko racing down the front stretch which looked like it would be a photo finish. Before that could happen, Demchenko slammed the door shut – forcing himself down on Surzyshyn. Surzyshyn decided to stay on the gas as he rode the inner bank and scrubbed off speed. Demchenko crossed the finish line first to earn his third win of the day. Surzyshyn finished in second ahead of Halpin, Antosko and Gordienko.
In Rubber race 6, officials put both Demchenko and Surzyshyn in the penalty box – forcing them to start at the tail end of the field from a dead stop as the pack took the green flag. Jared Halpin led the opening laps as Surzyshyn and Demchenko worked their way up through the field into second and third by lap 4. On lap 5, Halpin’s chances of winning took a blow after his car stalled at the finish line. Surzyshyn flew by and inherited the lead with Demchenko in second. Nothing more changed as Surzyshyn collected his third win of the day ahead of Demchenko. Antosko made a last-lap pass on Gordienko in turn 3 to finish in third.
Just 1 weekend remains for the WSCC as the touring circuit turns their attention to Gimli Beach. Heading into the last even of the season, Studded competitor Lee McRae looks to repeat as champion as he holds a 37 point lead over the second place team of Al Marcoux and Matt Levielle. Bill Langner sits in third 64 points back after competing in just one event this season. Damon Surzyshyn is also primed to defend his championship as he sits 20 points up on second place Rubber competitor, Mike Demchenko. Jared Halpin holds third place, 87 points back of the leader.
To see some great racing on ice, attend Gimli’s Annual Ice Festival on Saturday, March 3rd and Sunday March 4th. It will be your last opportunity this year to catch the WSCC SAR, Fire on Ice racing circuit.
To learn more about the WSCC, for upcoming events, or how to get involved in racing, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca