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Sylvan Lake Ice Oval

Greetings from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Sylvan Lake Ice Oval

Ice oval

 Lifetime Track #2,531

 

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

THE EVENT

I am a “trackchaser”. I trackchase. Before you discovered my site had you ever heard of trackchasing? Maybe not? So….what the heck is trackchasing? Sit back, take a read and you’ll be an expert on my hobby of trackchasing when you’re finished.

 

 

Here’s my best explanation.

 

 

Trackchasing is a three-pronged hobby. I’m a racing fan. I love to travel. I love to analyze opportunities to get the most out of everything while saving time and money.

 

 

Trackchasing fills the need for all of the above. The racing part of my trackchasing has me trying to see wheel to wheel auto racing at as many different racetracks as I can all over the world. Yes, all over the world. So far things are going pretty well. As this is written, I’ve seen racing in 82 countries at more than 2,500 tracks. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen racing at more tracks than anyone else in the world.

 

 

Equally important to me are the things I get to see and experience over the “long and dusty trackchasing trail”. I call these adventures “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions”. You won’t want to miss my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” page. Here’s the link:  Trackchasing Tourist Attractions or my “Sports Spectating Resume” page, Sports Spectating Resume on my website at www.randylewis.org.

 

 

I live in southern California. That’s probably the most inconvenient location in the country for seeing tracks in the U.S. Most of the racetracks in the U.S. are located well over 1,000 miles from where I live. As a matter of fact, my average trip covers 5,000 miles and more. I take 35-40 of those trips each season. In any given year I will travel well over 200,000 miles, rent more than 50 cars, and stay in more than 150 hotel rooms.

 

 

I get the chance to meet people all over the world. With trackchasing trips to 82 countries and counting just getting the chance to experience so many other cultures, spend time in their homes and meet their friends is a huge reward for being in this hobby. I am indebted to several of these folks for their help and friendship.

 

 

It’s takes a good deal of planning to do the above and not spend my entire retirement portfolio. I enjoy the challenge, the travel and every other aspect of “trackchasing”. In reality, my trackchasing hobby is a lot like being with the carnival. I breeze into town, stay a little while and then head on down the road.

 

 

Today’s adventure was one more of the 2,000 trips that have taken me up, down and around the proverbial long and dusty trackchasing trail.  If you would like to see where I’ve been and experience those adventures here’s the link:

 

 

Randy’s Complete Track List

 

 

If you’ve got a question, comment or whatever please leave it at the bottom of this report.  It’s very easy to do.  Or you can visit me on Facebook.  Thanks!

 

 

Randy on Facebook

 

 

 

FOREWORD

 

 

Saturday, February 16, 2019.

 

Did you know that not a single trackchaser, other than Trackchasing’s First Mother, has ever seen an ice race in the Canadian province of Alberta? I know! It’s hard to believe, but it’s a fact. Are my fellow competitors so afraid of traveling during the winter time in a cold weather climate like Alberta that not one has ever taken the plunge? Seemingly so.

 

 

After being out on the ice in Winnipeg, Manitoba today I was headed to Alberta. If everything went well I would be seeing my third ice race in that province. However, before that happened there was some work to be done.

 

 

Flying is a big part of my trackchasing. However, I also drive more miles than any other trackchaser. Am I flying trackchaser? Am I driving trackchaser? Or, am I a flying AND a driving trackchaser? Probably the latter.

 

 

Today I made a reservation to fly from Winnipeg to Calgary. My flight was leaving around 6 o’clock. Everything looked great. Then the airline reported a mechanical problem. They hemmed and hawed and finally told the passengers the flight was not going to leave until 30 minutes past midnight. That meant I had six hours on my hands while sitting in the Winnipeg International Airport.

 

 

Trackchasing and golf have taught me to handle the unexpected bumps in the road of common life. A six hour delay? I could handle that.

 

 

Just a few yards away was a Priority Pass private airline lounge. Luckily, not really, I had a membership to the club. I simply went in and planned to relax for most of the next six hours. I dined on butter chicken in a brown sauce and a delicious chocolate bits/peach sweet treat. I popped open my laptop and began to watch an iTunes movie. Yes, I was facing a six-hour delay but I was facing it in comfort.

 

 

I had gotten really comfortable and was enjoying my movie. About an hour later an announcement came over the PA system. My delayed flight that was expected to depart at 12:30 a.m. was now leaving at 8:30 p.m. I had to quickly shut everything down and get back to my gate.

 

 

In my rush to get off the ice at Winnipeg Beach and head over to the airport I decided to keep my long underwear on. I figured the flight wasn’t all that long and that might be the easier choice. The easier choice is not always the best choice….although it often is! Unfortunately, wearing long underwear indoors or inside an airplane from roughly 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. is not a great idea. Additionally, the legroom on this flight was terrible for a man of my stature, 6‘3”. I was also wearing my size 14 ice boots. They’re not the most comfortable things to lug around. Yes, this was one of my most uncomfortable flights in recent memory.

 

 

It was kind of unusual to land in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and not have to clear customs. I don’t fly from one Canadian city to another all that often.

 

 

Last week I was ice trackchasing in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I had rented a car and the next morning when I tried to use it all four doors were frozen shut. That memory was still fresh in my mind when I went out to pick up my rental car tonight in Calgary.

 

 

I really like renting Toyota Camrys, a full-size car by rental car standards. I saw one tonight that looked to be freshly washed. That was a warning sign. When I went to get in the doors were partially frozen in a rental car parking garage that had to be well below 0°F. I asked the attendant if they could spray some deicer on the door frames. They didn’t have any. I decided to chance it because I like renting Toyota Camrys.

 

 

From time to time I decide that I want to lose a little weight. The most successful plan for me has always been eating a low-carb diet. I like meat, cheese and eggs and can do without sweets for a time even though I enjoy bread and dessert.

 

 

Like most dieters I was going to start my diet tomorrow. It was about 11 p.m. I had one hour before the diet would kick in. That meant I needed to stop at Tim Hortons and chow down on a French cruller and a package of ten Timbits. Those were sweet!

 

 

For the next two nights I would stay at the Country Inn and Suites in Calgary. There were two things that were noteworthy about this hotel property.

 

 

First, for right around $50 U.S. per night, the hotel was a fantastic value with a large room suite and breakfast included. Secondly, Calgary has to be one of the worst cities for plowing their roads after snowfalls of any place I’ve ever seen. Even the major highways weren’t plowed well. The side streets around the hotel were a mess. I guess that’s the one way to save taxpayer money.

 

 

To prevent my rental car from freezing up I left the driver side door slightly ajar. The next morning when I came out the front seat had about a half inch of snow on it! Maybe that wasn’t the best solution but at least I was able to get in my car this morning.

 

 

 

Sunday, February 17, 2019.

It was a cold and windy Sunday morning drive up to Sylvan lake, Alberta. This would not have been a good place to break down.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Sylvan Lake Ice Oval – Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

Today I will be attending the Oval Ice Racing Championship series event presented by the Rocky Motorcycle Club. A combination of motorcycles, quads and SXSs would be competing on an ice oval on Sylvan Lake. Obviously (Obviously? Yes, obviously), I was the first ever trackchaser to show up for an event like this in this location.

 

 

With a gate fee of five dollars Canadian, about $3.75 US, I pulled into a spot near turn one of the ice oval. This would be a good viewing position and would also allow me to walk into the pit area to see my friends as I needed. Later in the event I would move over toward the entrance to turn three to get some additional video and photos.

 

 

One of the first things I did was put my ice cleats on my REI acquired ice boots. Those ice cleats are a lifesaver and a confidence builder.

 

 

When I arrived they were grading the track. I stayed in my car so I could listen to the race commentary over the FM channel at 89.9. Allowing ice racing fans to listen to the race broadcast on an FM station is a super idea.

 

 

I watched the first few races from inside the car. Those contests were for quads and bikes. When I saw the UTVs lining up I stepped outside of the car to get some direct video of their first race of the day.

 

 

After that race I headed into the pits to say hi to the friends I had met last week. By the way the lady who sold me my ticket was Mellissa Morin, wife of Mark Meyer. Soon I was meeting up with Mark himself. His dad Carl had come out to the races today. Carl was seeing Mark compete in this type of racing for the very first time. I spent some time talking with Danny Keith, whom I had met last week as well. I had the privilege of being invited to dinner with Mark, Danny and their families last week up in Leduc, Alberta.

 

 

It was nice talking to Danny. He races two separate UTV machines, one in the studded class and another in the non-studded class. I also spent some time talking with one of the other SXS drivers by the name of Sheldon. He told me about another ice racing location up in Canada. Despite the great effectiveness of the Randy Lewis Racing Research Department the best source of information is local knowledge. That’s what the Randy Lewis Racing Research Department taps into time and time again. Thanks, Shelton for the information.

 

 

I also had a chance to track down Melissa Tranfield. She is a young lady with three children. She is also an ice racer and competes in all three racing categories, quads, bikes and UTVs. I wonder if she selected one racing division for each of her children?

 

 

Folks, it was cold and windy. I was pretty well bundled up but always looked forward to going back into the car for a warm-up. Melissa Tranfield had something to protect her against the cold that I had never ever seen before.

 

 

She wore a piece of silver duct tape across her face just below her eyes and just above her mouth. I guess this was the only part of her body that wasn’t protected by a driving suit or a racing helmet. She told me it prevents saw frostbite. Melissa, you are special!

 

 

Because there was an announcer who was identifying the drivers by name I could tell when my friends were out on the ice especially with Melissa. She ended up winning her event in the quads and UTV divisions. She explained, like any racer would, that her motorcycle was off pace today because of some mechanical issues. Mellissa, you are a real trooper. Very impressive. Keep up the great ice racing. See you next year somewhere in Alberta.

 

 

From there I wandered around the pits getting photos of quite a few of the racers. Then I moved my rental car over to the opposite end of the track to get some really good shots of the motorcycle and quad racing. It had been a fun day on the ice at Sylvan Lake. The racing was good and being able to talk with several of the competitors was even better.

 

 

The weather has not warmed up any on the drive back. I took a 12-minute power nap at the Starlight Diner Car restaurant. I had eaten in that diner during the summer. I remember I had pancakes. Today I took a 12-minute power nap just because I could.

 

 

Tomorrow, Monday, was going to be a holiday in Canada called Family Day. Family day is not observed in every Canadian province but most. My plan was to get into a couple of really good Trackchasing Tourist Attractions tomorrow on the holiday and then fly home later that night.

 

 

Monday, February 17, 2019

 

Today is “Family Day” in much of Canada. It’s also President’s Day weekend in the U.S. That seemed unusual to me that both countries would have a three-day weekend on the same weekend in February, in the middle of winter.

 

 

 

TRACKCHASING TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

 

My first stop would be at the Gasoline Alley Museum in Calgary. GAM is part of the Heritage Village Historical Society park. I wasn’t sure what to expect here. I knew this was a car museum of sorts but I didn’t really know how large and varied their collection would be.

 

 

I was lucky on one count. Normally the museum is closed on Mondays, except on holiday Mondays. I have missed a lot of museums in my time because they were closed on the one and only day I was available to see them.

 

 

Initially when I entered the museum on the top level I was a little disappointed. The artifacts on display come from the turn of the century up through the 1950s. There were a lot of beautiful gas pumps to see. Mike and Frank from American Pickers would have gone wild over all of the antique automotive related signs. On the top floor there was only about a dozen historic cars. A model car club was spending the day inside the museum showing off their car models and interacting with the relatively large group of people who had shown up on a very cold Monday morning albeit a holiday Monday morning.

 

 

However, things changed for me when I took the elevator down one floor. The place was jammed with old fuel tanks, commercial trucks and their share of cars. You won’t wanted to miss my SmugMug photo album devoted exclusively to the Gasoline Alley Museum. If you can’t wait….here’s the link:

 

 

Want to visit the Gasoline Alley Museum up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada? They’ve got some unusual vintage stuff. Click on this link and come on in. Don’t forget to brush the snow off your boots.

 

 

 

The next event of the day was going to be the highlight of my trackchasing touring on this particular weekend. I was going to a National Hockey League match. The Calgary Flames of the NHL were hosting the Arizona Coyotes.

 

 

I had been looking at SeatGeek, one of my iPhone’s many apps, to see what kinds of seats and what kinds of prices were being offered for the game. At nearly the last minute I found an outstanding seat location in the huge 20,000 person ScotiaBank Saddledome. I was soon off I went to see one more major sporting event.

 

 

I would park in Stampede Park and walk about 150 yards to the Saddledome. This is what Wikipedia has to say about the Saddledome.

 

 

“Scotiabank Saddledome is a multi-use indoor arena in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Located in Stampede Park in the southeast end of downtown Calgary, the Saddledome was built in 1983 to replace the Stampede Corral as the home of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League, and to host ice hockey and figure skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

 

 

The facility also hosts concerts, conferences and other sporting championships, and events for the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. It underwent a major renovation in 1994–95 and sold its naming rights, during which its original name of Olympic Saddledome was changed to Canadian Airlines Saddledome. The facility was given the name Pengrowth Saddledome in 2000, after Pengrowth Management Ltd. signed a ten-year agreement. It adopted its current name in October 2010 as Scotiabank signed on as title sponsor.

 

 

The Saddledome is owned by the City of Calgary, who leases it to the Saddledome Foundation, a non-profit organization, to oversee its operation. Since 1996, it has been managed by the Flames. The Saddledome was damaged during the 2013 Alberta floods but was repaired and reopened in time for the 2013–14 NHL season. The arena’s roof is shaped like a saddle, thus earning the name “Saddledome”.”

 

 

I had a great time. As in lots of relatively small markets where major-league professional events are being held the crowd was rabid in support of their team. Almost everyone was wearing a red and gold Calgary Flames shirt. I felt I needed to join them.

 

 

On the way out of the arena I bought a Calgary Flames souvenir T-shirt with the number 18 on the back with the word “Neal” emblazoned on my shirt. Why was I fan of the Calgary Flames “Neal”? The Flames James Neal is 31 years old. He has played on several NHL teams and made $5 million U.S. back in 2015. Again, why was I a fan of James Neal? My middle name is Neal.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

From the hockey match I went directly to the Calgary International airport. I had a little extra time so I stopped into the Aspire airline club. My Priority Pass sponsorship gets me into clubs like this. It was a fantastic place to relax.

 

 

It’s too bad that I was on a low-carb diet at this particular point. They had several bottles of liquor turned upside down. Guests could pour to their heart’s delight. This included Bailey’s, one of my favorite drinks. No Bailey’s for me today.

 

 

Soon I was able to talk myself into a first class seat on the flight from Calgary over to Seattle. How do I do that? That would be a proprietary information.

 

 

Once I landed in Seattle I saw that my flight back to Los Angeles was delayed. That would give me just enough time to visit The Club at SEA for the very first time. They have two of these clubs in the SeaTac airport. I’m sure I’ll be visiting them frequently as I fly through Seattle often.

 

 

I will conclude my report by telling you that I got the very last seat on the very last airplane departing Seattle for Los Angeles tonight. If I had missed that airplane seat by one I wouldn’t have made it. If I had not made that flight I had a plan A and a plan B. I could’ve slept overnight in the Seattle airport and gotten home on Tuesday morning OR through a special deal with our son J.J. but able to stay in an upscale Aloft hotel near the airport. That would’ve been fine but it was time to get home. I was more than pleased to get that very last seat!

 

 

Good afternoon from a very successful, productive, entertaining and enjoyable weekend up in Alberta, Canada. I would recommend that other trackchasers give this a shot in the middle of the winter. What have you got to lose?

 

 

 

Randy Lewis – 82 countries – 2,531 tracks.

 

 

 

 

Alberta

 

 

The Princess province

This afternoon I saw racing at my 15th lifetime track in the Princess province, yes, the Princess province.  I hold the #1 trackchasing ranking in Alberta.  I’ve seen 15 or more tracks in five different provinces. No other trackchaser has done half as well against this stat.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member

Alberta sayings:  “Nobody in Alberta knows how to drive.”

 

It’s true, we Albertans are known for our crazy driving habits. Edmontonians hate the highways in Calgary, and Calgarians just can’t understand how Edmonton works. As long as we all remember to use our signal lights, the roads should remain (somewhat) peaceful.

QUICK FACTS

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

The threemost important trackchasing comparisons to me are:

 

Total lifetime tracks seen

Total “trackchasing countries” seen

Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

 

Total Lifetime Tracks

There are no trackchasers currently within 695 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,531

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

The nearest trackchasing competitor has seen racing in 30 fewer countries compared to my lifetime total. 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 82

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.14

 

 

 

That’s all folks!  Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 

Click on the link below to see the video production from the racing action today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the link below for a photo album from today’s trackchasing day.  You can view the album slide by slide or click on the “slide show” icon for a self-guided tour of today’s trackchasing adventure.

 

Ice racing on the oval at Sylvan Lake in Alberta…then a Calgary Flames home game!

 

 

 

Want to visit the Gasoline Alley Museum up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada? They’ve got some unusual vintage stuff. Click on this link and come on in. Don’t forget to brush the snow off your boots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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