Ride On Again’s Hell Track Race at Vanier Park

Dustin Guenther pushing through the first berm in first place, with Morgan on his left, and John Knowlden hot on his heels.

When Ride On Again’s Hell Track flyer hit the internet, I don’t think too many people were sure what was happening – was somebody actually building some kind of a Hell Track down at Vanier Park? (on the location of the freshly approved Dirt Jump Park). Then a few people figured out that it must be a ‘qualifying style’ race. If you remember in the movie RAD, the qualifying race took place in the town park, not on a race track, just ripping around through this park. This seemed to make more sense, seeing that a few people had gone by in the days leading up to the race, and there wasn’t much going on down there.

Ride On Again Hell Track poster

There wasn’t much hype about the event, you just knew you had to show up. So that’s what a bunch of people did. Being a Ride On event, you know you have to show up with a few beers in hand, and with it being a beautiful fall day, what better way to spend it? I checked the online flyer just after noon to see what time it started. Oh shit, it started AT noon. Well, registration was at noon, and the racing starting at 1. So I rushed to get out the door.

When we got down there, it was a pretty chill scene, most of the people were taking runs at a dirt jump that was built just off to the left. It was almost unrideable… Soft, wet, and of course a terrible run-up to it – yet that didn’t stop a few people from throwing 270’s, 450’s and some whips over it. There were a few guys actually charging the ‘course’ and practising. I knew I’d find Steve Calette down there for sure… He’s the dude for this, and he was on his MacNeil race bike – pretty sure he was the only guy on an actual race bike.

I only saw one guy with a vintage RAD-era bike… I think he even lead through a couple of the motos, which was pretty good on that bike, even though it looked like they were one-piece 165mm cranks, pretty short for any kind of racing.

I gave the course a couple of goes, but wasn’t really feeling it myself, as I’d ridden for several hours the day before and was sore as hell. I figured I’d sit the race out and shoot some photos, and maybe some video.

Once the races got underway, things got hectic pretty quick. It was pretty evident that the first turn, a  hairpin with the smallest of built-up berms was going to be a bit of an issue. And it was in almost every race. More than a few guys got tossed or tangled up in pegs. I guess there wasn’t an official at the starting line checking for pegs? For those that got through the first turn, it was right into the trees where you had an option of lines. You could go over a small pit, or go around and head straight for a tree then another quick turn. One guy hit the pit and clipped his front wheel tossing him pretty good. I actually got that one on video.

I won’t give you a play-by-play on the races, but I think everybody has a good time. Even John Knowlden who probably got worked the most of anybody. He went down 2 or 3 times, and one of them was a high-speed torqued-out spin that sent him down into a shoulder roll. Wild times.

In the end, here’s what the finals looked like between the two divisions – Bro and Pro.

Ride On Again’s Hell Track 2009 Winners

Steve Calette
Dustin Guenther

Elliot (won Bro… then entered Pro, taking 5th place)

I think everybody that showed up probably walked away with some kind of prize too. I ended up with an S&M beer cozie and a t-shirt, things I can put to good use.

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