archives - RACE REPORTS St.Alex speedway

Saturday July 2nd 2005
Once again the annual race at St-Alex was run before a packed house. Despite a second stand being added this year at turn two, it was still standing room only for the latecomers. This was the sixth year for this event and the enthusiasm of the fans was as high as ever. Thanks to the hard work of Len Dillon, the track was in the best shape it has been but racing still featured numerous minor spills  that have always been a part of racing here.

Unfortunately this year there were a couple of more serious accidents.   Lee Charland went down in his opening ride and was out for the night with a suspected broken collar bone.  Then in the D2 Main event young Katalin Davis looped at the gate and came off with her bike coming down on top of her. After treatment on the track she was taken to the hospital for X-rays to  check out a possible broken hip.  A sad end to the night for her as she had ridden well in her qualifying heats.

Surprise packet for the night was American Adam Mittl on his second visit to St-Alex.   Last year he lacked the control to go with his willingness to race and it was an all all or nothing night for him with three wins, including one in the Consi, and a couple of falls.   This year it was a different story.   He has improved dramatically over the last twelve months.  His gating is much sharper and most importantly he has found the smooth control needed  to harness his speed and allow him to be able to compete with the top riders.   A polished performance saw him beaten only once on the night and he led the main event from tapes to flag for a convincing win and his best performance yet in his brief career.

The competition was close in D1.  After three qualifying rounds all four places in the final were still to be decided as only two points separated the top seven riders.   In the final round there were three hopefuls in the first heat and Aaron Hesmer booked his place with a tapes to flag win. Behind him Brian Hollenbeck seemed set to join him when he overtook Fafard for second but a bobble on the final turn allowed Fafard to repass him which left them tied on points and in trouble.   Next up was young Mike Buman who looked in good shape to reach the final with his easiest ride of the night but a fall saw him finish pointless and relegated hin to the "B" main.  In the last heat Mittl took the win while Michel Lemay got the points needed to reach the final with a second place finish that eliminated Merle Craven.  That left Fafard and Hollenbeck tied on points for the last spot and with the tie breaker being the last time they met, Hollenbeck's bobble on the last turn relegated him to the 'B" main which he promptly won.  

However, there was to be no fairy tale win for either local favorite, rider/promoter Michel Lemay or fellow Quebecer Fafard, as Mittl and Hesmer were first from the gate and Mittl used his inside position to grab the lead and ultimately take the win. Although finishing second,  Hesmer will likely be both pleased and relieved that he has finally conquered the St-Alex track and shown the form there that he displays at Paris on a regular basis.

In Div 2 American Andy Crawford topped the qualifiers but a fall in the main event put him on the 10 yard line for the restart.  Philip Lemay then delighted local fans by taking advatage of this to get the win with Crawford overtaking Bart Moskala for third place.

Note Andy Crawford rode in this event last year as Andy Pandrich. He has since changed his name to Crawford.
Saturday July 3rd 2004
The annual race at St-Alex is now a major event in the local sporting scene and this is reflected in the attendance which continues to increase.

According to promoter Michel Lemay this year an additional 300 fans crammed the stands and were lined up several deep around the safety fence at turn four. The event was the first round of the 2004 East Coast Speedway Series and brought together a strong field of 25 riders from Quebec, Ontario and New York. The St-Alex fans have a well earned reputation for being cheerful and enthusiastic and they lived up to it again this year helping to add to the enjoyable atmosphere that is a always a feature of the race there.

With 32 heats of speedway and support classes for ATV's, P50's and XR100's the total race program topped the 50 mark and some of the fans left before the end but all seemed to enjoy the action.

The shape of the track as St-Alex makes it hard to pass, particularly at the D1 level, unless a rider makes a mistake. A result of this is that riders can press too hard, make mistakes and fall more often than they normally would. While this may not provide classic speedway it does entertain the fans and there was lots of that this year with a total of sixteen minor spills with riders usually able to keep the motor running and get back into the action.

With passing at a premium in D1 gating becomes critical and this in turn makes it even more important than usual for the riders not to drop points in the qualifying heats. This is because the riders who make it to the main get to choose their gate positions in order of their qualifying scores which gives the the top scorer a well earned advantage. With three of last year's finalists Craig Estelle, Kyle Legault and Jeremy Parsons in action again their clashes would be very important. By the luck of the draw Estelle and Legault met early in the program with Legault off gate one and Estelle gate two. Legault parlayed his good fortune into a win that was to prove critical as that extra point was the difference between them as they topped the scorers in the qualifying heats. Parsons and Estelle were level in points but Estelle had the edge as he beat Parsons when they met in the heats. The final place in the main went to Josh Carr who has improved greatly since last year. So it was three Americans and one Canadian in the final but Legault had the all important inside gate position. The start of it was delayed as Parsons had bike problems and had to switch to a back-up. Legault launched perfectly from the line and was first to the turn and that was that as he took a comfortable win.  Behind him Parsons, from the outside gate, was second off the line but went wide on the turn and both Estelle and Carr seized the chance to slip inside and that was how they finished. Others to catch the eye in D1 were Brian Hollenbeck and Adam Mittl. Hollenbeck started slowly but finished strongly and was the only rider to beat Legault on the night, an effort that clinched his place in the Consi. In this he looped at the gate and then came through from the penalty line to take a well earned second place. Winner of the race was Adam Mittl who showed a surprising turn of speed on a track that he hadn't seen before. His two heat wins included an impressive one over Jeremy Parsons but two falls put paid to his chances to reach the main event. Promoter and local favorite Michel Lemay just missed the Consi but had the fans roaring approval as he put in some fast demo laps before the final while another Canadian Gary Hesmer had a tough night with three falls and a dnf due to engine trouble in his last race.

There was no doubt who was the star in D2. 13-year-old American Mike Buman was head and shoulders above the others and swept through the program unbeaten and basically untroubled. Newcomer Jean Bouchard showed excellent reactions from the gate and was usually first into the turn and only needs more seat time to become a good rider. He was rather unfortunate to be placed on the penalty line in the final when he tangled with Jocelyn Lesieur who parked it in front of him in the turn. However he managed to catch and pass Shawn Morrison to get a well earned second place with Morrison third.

Although the crowd were quick to cheer and applaud the efforts of the local riders they saved their loudest applause for young Katalin Davis who had them on their feet cheering her on in the race she won. She had the lead throughout the race and each time she passed the stands the crowd got to their feet to cheer her. Four standing ovations in one race is quite remarkable and an example of why the riders so enjoy racing at St-Alex.
Saturday June 28th 2003
This year's race at St-Alex, the fourth, was part of the ECSS (East Coast Speedway Series) and this helped attract the largest turnout yet for this event. The 23-man field was split neatly into two divisions and together with ATV and a junior dirt-track support class provided a 41-race program.

A new coarse stone chip surface had been put down for the meeting and was still being wheel packed right up to the start of the race.  It held up quite well but the track proved to be tricky to ride, particularly for those in D2 and the meeting featured numerous falls and spins but happily no serious accidents, although John Bennett had the misfortune to re-injure his broken finger.

As in previous years gating was critical, as passing is difficult on this track particularly at the D1 level.  Although it wasn't a night of classic speedway, the combination of thrills and spills provided excellent entertainment and was thoroughly enjoyed by the usual large and enthusiastic crowd. Once again St-Alex lived up to its reputation as a friendly, welcoming, fun track to visit and enjoy for riders and spectators alike.

Competition was tight in D1 with no rider going through the program unbeaten. The crowd had plenty to cheer about in the first round of qualifying heats when a win by Jeremy Parsons was followed by two by local riders.  First promoter and local favourite Michel Lemay beat Kelly Moran and then Nick Fafard nipped inside Craig Estelle out of turn two and took the win in a race that saw Kyle Legault go pointless when he went down and waited for a restart that did not come.

Best race in the qualifiers saw Parsons outgate Legault and Fafard and withstand continuous pressure from Legault who desperately needed the win to overcome the points he lost in the first round.   Parson held off the challenge until he went wide out of turn two on the last lap and both Legault and Fafard zipped past.   Legault then made in three wins in a row in the final qualifying round to overtake Gary Hesmer in the standings and reach the final.

Michel Lemay wowed the fans in the Consi final but not the way he meant to.  He rocketed from the gate and had a clear lead as he went into the turn.  Only problem was he went in too hard and spun around 180 degrees.  Happily he wasn't hit by any of the following riders but had to settle for fourth with promising American youngster Brian Hollenbeck taking the win to put the seal on a good night's racing by him.

In the final Fafard chose gate one and Estelle gate two and it was those two who reached the turn first with Estelle just ahead.   This time he sealed off the inside line coming out of turn two to keep Fafard behind him and made no mistake for the rest of the race to take the win while behind them Legault overtook Parsons for third.    This move involved contact between the riders that Parsons strongly objected to after the race.

D2 racing featured a combination of D2 and D3 riders and numerous falls and mistakes, particularly early in the program, as the riders struggled to come to terms with the track. Nonetheless they tackled it with gusto none more so than Jocelyn Lesieur who fell and remounted three times in one race.    He improved as the night went on and finished on a high note by winning the Consi.

John Perry put his experience gained at this meeting last year to good use and was the class of this year's field and was unbeaten on the night including a win in the final over two impressive young American juniors Chip Lengle and Mike Buman.  Fourth place went to local veteran  Jacques Gagner who edged out faster riders by riding sensibly all night and collecting points by staying upright while others got into trouble.

To end with the perfect example of just how much this meeting means to the local riders, Philip Lemay discharged himself from hospital on the morning of the race to ride in the meeting.  In the circumstances he rode well but the effort was too much for him and he collapsed after his third race and had to be helped into the pits.   Amazingly he came out and completed two more races.   With the event meaning so much to the local riders it is no wonder that it also has become a popular date on the race calendar for visitors.


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