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THE FIRST MOTORCYCLE RACING GAME SHOW
MADE FOR TELEVISION !

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HOT LAP EPISODE ONE
CALABOGIE MOTORSPORTS PARK
A Story by Andrew Shaw, Editor Dani Stern

“TRAINING FOR THE PAIN"

It has been said that getting there is half the fun. If that were the case, then it would be foolish to ignore the five hours that we spent driving Canada's highways from the big city of Toronto to a quaint, but otherwise unremarkable, dot on the map called Calabogie.

On the way there, as night fell and streetlights were no longer existent, we dodged three deer, a porcupine and a family of racoons. And those were just the ones on the road. Glowing eyes and fast moving foxes, dotted the tree-line for the last twenty miles of country roads. After all, we were no longer in Kansas, Toto. We were almost in Calabogie, a mystical track with an unusual name that sounds like a distant cousin of a Sasquatch or Yeti. Calabogie – the word rolls off the tongue easily enough, but without some context, I'll admit, it is a bit of a strange sounding name.

When you meet people who have ridden at Calabogie Motorsports Park, their eyes instantly light up with a maniacal glint at the mere mention of the name. It's actually an involuntary reaction – similar to twitching, caused by muscle memory of prolonged shock therapy sessions... or how one would react when asked to recall a close encounter with Bigfoot. This is usually followed by a long and involved story about their experiences with every turn, bump and straightaway at the track.

Many racetracks in Canada have neglected and crumbling surfaces, far removed from the glorious days of racing. Most have become wastelands of forgotten asphalt playgrounds. Thanks to a few modern-day heroes, willing to pave new surfaces and take on a questionable business risk of operating a top-notch track for the gear-heads who need a place to play safely, there are still some amazing tracks to play on. In 2006, an entrepreneurial group took the risk and Calabogie Motorsports Park was born. It is the newest facility north of the 49th parallel.

Calabogie Motorsports Park is serviced internationally via several airports. The closest is Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier Airport, which is about an hour and 45 minute drive to the track. Alternately Mirabel Airport, in Quebec, is about three hours away or Pearson International Airport in Toronto is a five hour drive. Regardless of your point of entry to the region, car rentals are widely available at each airport for you to make the final trek to Calabogie for your dream track day with some friends.

Motorcycle lapping day operators Pro6 Cycles Inc. are outstanding and offer a full suite of on-track benefits and services from tires to track bike rentals as well as private instruction by professional riders. Just this year, they introduced a new offering described as a '$30 dollar two-session dip-your-toe-first-track-day addiction program.' Er, I mean, 'first track day experience program' or a similar title to that effect. It certainly sounds like a great deal for the guy who wants a light-budget shot of adrenaline to help decide whether to tape up his used street ride and reach for the racing gauntlet.


The track at Calabogie is a five kilometre (or three mile), twenty corner ribbon of tarmac that is loaded with blind corners and tricky radius turns, deceptively fast through the wooded terrain with a faultless surface and endless rolling hills. The elevation changes are truly second-to-none at Calabogie. Until you have dragged your knee properly, while flying down a hill, engine screaming at the top of fifth gear, you haven't lived! This track will give you the hero-level confidence to try it too. It is so smooth and so wide that it is easy to feel comfortable at full throttle.

In my personal opinion, Calabogie is a track-day junkie's new Jerusalem, which descended from famous designer Alan Wilson's private corner of heaven. On the final day of creation, I am sure he was well pleased. Now it stands like a modern day Stonehenge for the faithful speed pilgrim.

Considering having a go? Be sure to leave the chrome nut-sack and LED accessory lights at home. You won't need those anymore, Maverick. Once you get a taste of this track, you will be pulling off your headlight assembly and switching to track fairings and slicks. I am not exaggerating either. The fighter-pilot race lines will make you want to go full-boogie with the afterburners lit and buzz the general’s daughter.

It is a fast track spent mostly in the top half of the gearbox. Usually riders never get the chance to pin the throttle in top gear for sustained periods of time, mostly because, if you are not at the track, there is a high mortality rate for such activities. Natural selection dictates you may not live long enough to tell the story, so take it to the track! On a monster-sized facility like Calabogie there is enough straightaway to get up to the tallest gear on the redline, then a barrage of corners to navigate while smashing your junk on the gas tank braking out of warp speed.

Every mind-blowing corner ends with the reward of opening the taps to 'eleven' and grabbing gears until your courage wanes and internal preservation instinct kicks in again. It is nice to decide your own personal speed limit, don't you agree?

Pro6 Cycles lapping days offer three groups to participate in – Fast, Faster and Fastest. Why? Because were all fast. That's why. Remember that, for your first riders meeting. It's a skill-testing question. HOT LAP is carrying on that philosophy of rider education. No ego means a smart track day rider. It is a learn-as-you-go thing and someone is always going to be faster. Just accept that we are all doing hero-level activities and be courteous when passing. Plain and simple. It's a lapping day, not a race, man. If there is a guy constantly kicking your ass each session, go shake his hand ask him for some tips on his lines. When the day is done, and the track is closed, offer him a cold beer. That way you will get faster, while making friends.

Each lapping session you enter the track on a mission to get faster. The tunnel vision sets in and you hunt for the next apex trying to hit the best line. Then gassing out through the corner exit, the motor screams, the front wheel lifts, while going over a crest and down a steep hill at full throttle to the next corner. You grab a fistful of brakes, smash yer nuts, return to step one and repeat. Insert maniacal gaze here.

HOT LAP Episode One was largely a shakedown of the production. We tested a variety of new systems and script elements that had not been rehearsed, nor should they be. It is a reality TV show after all. Well, it couldn't have been written any better. And if it was written as it unfolded, I am sure there may have been some reluctance amongst the team. I'll explain this from my perspective, however the gospels of Derek, Matt and Steve may differ somewhat.

 

It Was a Smashing Success!

Literally and figuratively, we had smashing success. From the perspective of Derek and Steve, who both wrecked on the first day of lapping sessions, maybe not so much, but for a grass-roots television production with big ambitions, it totally hit all the marks.

The episode challengers were Eric Gagnon, Greg Possamai, Robert Brase, Jared Brown, Tim Robinson, Taylor Spooner, Jason Thoms, Etienne Lafleche, John Capon, Halley Van Muyen and Mike Dion. Every one of the locals bettered our team’s times.

As Murphy’s Law would dictate, the HOT LAP riders who crashed were the two who had all kinds of new gear for the first episode, including Steve who was on his new ZX10R for his first seat time at the track. Both Steve and Derek had just installed quick shifters. Derek added a fresh set of slicks, a sexy set of BST carbon fibre rims, new Ohlins suspension front and rear and a different power commander fuel map to his CBR 600RR.

Steve’s crash was a simple issue of running a first-time bike with DOT tires. He gently laid the bike down coming through a turn. It took one look from HOT LAP coach and champion super bike racer Jordan Szoke to spot the problem. A quick change to slicks, a new right side vortex clip-on and a rear set assembly provided by our friend Sandy Noce at Pro6 and Steve was back up and running for the last few sessions before the track closed.

Derek was a different matter, with worse consequences to his bike. Derek crashed under a coaching session. Word is, he was trying to impress the coach, but that’s just pit gossip. Here’s a tip. If you are passing the coach, and record time holder for the track, there is probably a good reason that he is braking. Perhaps a turn ahead?

Okay, for the record, Derek went off the track while passing on the outside of turn one. He came in a little hot and off the line, so he did not have any road left to go wide. When he rolled off into the turf with a fistful of brakes all hell broke loose. The bike tumbled a couple times end over end. Thankfully, by that point, Derek was a spectator, not a participant. He recalled seeing the bike tumble and flip ahead, as if in slow motion, as he come to a stop, with little personal damage.

Initially, I reported this event on Facebook incorrectly, much to Derek's dismay. Granted, I had embellished some facts for creative purposes, but in my opinion it was far more heroic sounding in my social media edited version than what actually happened. I am not sure what speed he was going when he departed the track, but the bike looked totally messed up in the picture. I could have written the caption as “CBR600 hit by a train while crossing” and you would have believed me, no question.

The good news is that Derek has since sourced and ordered the replacement bits, most of them even before leaving the track. The final crash invoice was just a tad over five hundred bucks. A big thanks goes out to Craigslist, the Aftermarket and eBay for their contribution to the show.

Close the Gas Can

What's a good story without a dark and stormy night? On Saturday we saw steady showers from midnight until daybreak. Unfortunately, one of us left the cap off of one of the six fresh new jerry cans of fuel from the local gas station we picked up after track close in preparation for the next full day of riding.

Not realizing that someone would be so stupid as to leave the cap off, Steve picked the lucky and watery can. When he lit the fuse for his first session of the day, his bike choked on the contaminated fuel. There he was with leathers on, tire warmers off, straddling the bike, front stand dropped and waiting for the rear stand to be pulled. Then the motor conked and he inevitably cursed.

Do you know how long it takes to purge water from the fuel-injection system of a ZX10R? The answer turns out to be “all frikken day” as Steve finally got it to ignite at sunset, after the track was well closed for day two. His day was as exciting as watching paint, or in this case water, dry.

So it's safe to say Steve had more than his regular share of wrenching during the first two days of our planned lapping and coaching days. I ended up offering him his own spare bike, which in fact I was riding, just so he could get to a decent set of sessions on the track. I had to do something to keep his spirits up and any cursing to a minimal.

At lunch on the second day, the HOT LAP team took a twenty-minute ride around the track on a truck with coach Jordan during the lunch break. He provided some insight into both the track and what the team was doing wrong on it, including everyone on the team missing every apex. The team returned for another go at the asphalt ribbon, armed with these tips and insights, and everything started to change.

Immediately after lunch I ran my fastest ever time on the track, taking seven seconds off my lap record. Matt had similar success, so he blew by me like I was parked at the start of the session and I never saw him again.

Matt had bettered his own fastest time by four seconds and certainly left me in the dust. He does have the most raw talent among us. Steve, after he finally got a few decent lap times on the scoreboard, still managed to be the fastest. Derek's bike, after being wrecked and repaired, is still the most expensive, and I didn't beat my bro, Steve... again. So, aside from the lights, cameras and action, it seemed like a perfectly normal set of track days for the boys.

The HOT LAP team would like to say a special thanks to the first ten riders who reached for the gauntlet. We would also like to thank Jane, Glen, Chris and all the folks at Calabogie as well as Sandy Noce and the team at Pro6 Cycle who made the weekend a great success. Through all your dedicated and enthusiastic participation one thing has become truly clear. It's time I got a new bike!

See you at the next track.

Andy#180.

See Also: Photo galleries from Calabogie Motorsports Park >>


The Mustang Experience
For friends who prefer four wheels to two, Calabogie also offers a 'Mustang Experience' program. You can sign-up to take a few hot laps in a race-modified fleet of brand new mustangs that are housed on site. It is another great way to get the track bug. For more information about the facility and all it has to offer, visit: http://www.calabogiemotorsports.com/


 

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Pilot Sizzle Reel | Series Synopsis | Story Arc | List of Tracks | News Releases | Media Kit (.pdf) 
 Press Quotes | Contact Us |
Cast Bios | Sponsor Packages | Photo Gallery | Casting Call
Viewer Demographics | Footage Technical Specs | Media Coverage

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