2005 Howie's Road Trip
May - June 2005
May 16, 2005
I must share with the group what a thrill it was to be at the Swedish GP last week. When I arrived on Thursday afternoon it was raining but by Friday practice the sun was out and the track was dry and a little dusty in spots.
Greg was late, after our Friday afternoon press meeting he had still not arrived but of course that is to be expected considering he became the father of a baby boy just hours before. Around 3 p.m. he took his first practice and looked to be in good form. When I spoke with him after the session it was however apparent his new papa status would probably interfere with his racing concentration.
The track in Eskilstuna is amazing. The place is brand new. The track, the grandstands, the PA, the lights, the whole place. Beside the big track that was built for and only runs Speedway events there is a smaller 80cc Jr. track and a Motocross track. I was amazed to learn that the town had paid for the entire place. They consider the track to be a asset and the whole place is paid for by local tax money. In turn the town receives money back from the events that are run there. It takes lots of people to run the place but they all work for free. Except for management they are all volunteers and are proud of it.
Saturday was great. The sun was shinning and it was warm. I was amazed as 15000 people filled the grandstands. When all the seating was sold people stood. No one minded. They were just happy to be there. All were well behaved.
The TV people had 6 cameras on track. It was apparent they had done this before. They were very professional and did their work well. Other than the TV people there were no other cameras. It was strictly forbidden and signs stated anyone violating this policy would be arrested.
The results of the night have already been posted so I will not bore you with the racing details other than to say they go fast and the racing is very spectacular. Well worth seeing if you ever get the chance.
The strangest part of Sweden is that the sun comes up at 3am and goes to bed at 11pm. Very strange.
I would like to thank all who made this a very special event for me. Thanks Billy Hamill for letting me have your place while you are still in England recovering from your accident. I left the place clean and didn't have any party's there hardly. Thanks Kiki to you and your husband, come out to CA sometime and I will return the favor. You guys run one hell of a facility.
Now its off to Germany. Want to go to Wolfsburg and then Berlin before I tour the JAWA factory and see the Jr Individual World Champion round 3 in Pardubice Czech Republic. After that I plan to get lost for a week before I go to Round 3 of the GP in Slovenia.
June 2, 2005
Going to the Slovenian Round 3 GP in Krsko was definitely a thrill. I left Germany on Thursday for the 2300kl round trip drive. The weather was hot and the scenery was wonderful. The mountains in Austria are tall and snow capped. Some of the many tunnels that go thru them were over 15kl long. The only weird part about the trip was the 130kl speed limit that Austria and Slovenia have. Compared to the no speed limit in Germany it felt like you were just creeping along. Still my cars GPS system clocked the car in at a 108kl average speed for the 10.5 hr. trip.
The money thing in Slovenia is not to be believed. For every $1. US dollar you get 195.609 SIT. Needless to say it was fun at the first toll booth I crossed after the border. No worries the new European currency (Euro) is accepted everywhere. Also almost everyone here
Krsko is a Speedway town. Very pretty and old world. They support the sport and just like in Sweden most everyone who works at the track is a volunteer. Here too, Speedway is considered a resource that brings money into their town and puts them on the map.
Credentials were waiting and I must say management went out of it's way to seeing I was well taken care of. Thanks Vio, very impressive. The FIM does a superb job on these races.
The 390 meter Krsko track amazing. Unlike the Eskilstuna Round 2 track here there is only one main grandstand. It's well laid out, has good lighting, PA and crash wall. The layout for the riders is a little strange because it's on a upper level that requires them to
ride up or down a long ramp.
Saturday was great. It was hot, hot, hot. Concession stands didn't sell hot dogs or wurst, instead it was some kind of peter bread with meat? patties and onions in it. All I can say is it was very local but defiantly not an In & Out burger. Unlike Sweden where there was no alcohol sold at all here everyone drank, beer was the order of the day for spectators. Slowly (that's how they do it there) people filled the stands till there was only standing room left. Don't have a head count but somewhere in between 7 and 9 thousand would be my estimate.
TV had 6 cameras on track and 3 doing interviews and talent. Just like in Sweden they faced the challenge of 1/2 the track being in direct sunlight and the other 1/2 in the shade. Other than the TV people there were again no other video cameras. BSI exclusively owns the right to all sound and moving picture rights .
Taking with Greg before the start he sounded confident enough but wasn't sure he had been able to straiten out his mechanical blues thing yet. He did win one, placed second in another and finished no less than third all night. Still that don't milk the cow and he did not make the semi's. Hopefully things will go his way in round 4.
Since the start of this series there have been 73 GP's. Only two men have competed in them all, one is Greg Hancock.
Ian has already posted the events results (nice job Ian) so I won't go there other than to say they go fast, fast and faster. There are a whole bunch of these GP rounds and their well worth planning a trip to Europe for.
Once again, thanks all who made this a very special trip for me. FIM, AMA, Sue Mason, Christian Mercier, Billy Hamill, Vio, Kiki and Smeddie.
It's always nice to see how the big boys do it.
Howie- speedwayzar - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - Web Sitewww.razvideo.com
(Editors Note: This is Howie's road trip to Europe. Used with permission from Howie - Thanks!)