Talimena Drive Xtreme Downhill
Yes, this race was in Oklahoma (just miles west of Arkansas), and no, despite rumors, we did not have to push each other around the race course. The course was held on Talimena Scenic Drive, which goes through the Ouachita National Forest. The road is on the Winding Stair Mountain, and is a beautiful drive, if you ever have the opportunity.
The race course was just over a mile long, with 7 numbered turns. The course starts
Friday, June 14
I flew into Fort Smith, Arkansas, about an hour and a half from the race site. Because the hotel we were staying out is in Poteruo, OK,
I pulled into the campground, and found the F6 headquarters,
Gerhard was told he had to put some duct tape over the bottom of some screws on his buttboard. Mason, of course, was giving him a hard time. Gerhard figured Tom's board could also use some duct tape.
Well it was getting late, so those of us staying in town headed back in for dinner. We left about 9:00 PM, still no hay.
Saturday, June 15
The plan was to have a riders meeting at 8, so I got up at 7, had a quick breakfast and made the just over 30 minute drive to the race site. I figured we would have a late start, as I figured they would probably be setting the hay bales up in the morning. Imagine my surprise when I got to the course to find it completely lined with hay. Apparently the hay arrived shortly after our departure last night. The crew stayed up till past midnight setting the course up!
The pit area was a scenic overlook near the campsite.
We got several practice runs in, despite having to open the road every few minutes. Red Bull showed up, provided some shade
While this event was granted World Cup status by the IGSA, it is still a relatively small event. Yet there appears to me more cameras around than there were lugers! There were a ton of home video cameras, as well as two separate camera crews. Gerhard brought a crew from Germany, they want to add some footage to their Hot Heels documentary.
There was also a Korean team doing a documentary on Streetluge. They had hooked up with Mason, and did some filming in California, and came out to the race to get some real race footage. They also entered two racers, who Tom spent the last week training. One was an actor from Korea, Chang. The other was Ms Korea runner up, who lived in Southern California.
Lunch was catered, for those that paid. While we were supposed to do qualifying after lunch, we decided to get some extra practice runs in, and cut qualifying down to one run.
We had a really good field for buttboard.
Time to pack up and head back to the hotel. I was down in the pit area, thinking how nice the view was,
We got back to the hotel, cleaned up and took a dip in the pool. We finally decided to head out to the riders party. I think we were supposed to there at 8, but we left the hotel at 8, and the party was past the race course. It was supposed to be 12 hours past the race course. We get about 12 miles out, and we are thinking we made a wrong turn, when all of a sudden, there it is. Out in the middle of nowhere Saddle Gap restaurant and resort.
We had a buffet of slow roasted pork and some very tasty BBQ.
The bar was an interesting place.
Sunday, June 16
I was the first to arrive in the pit area, bright and early around 8:30. Today was a bit cloudy, but the sight from the pit area was amazing.
We got a practice run in before starting racing. Inline,
After lunch, we ran buttboard and streetluge. I ended up in the semi finals with Lally, Lanz, and Bucheral. Lally was unbeatable, but I managed to get out in front of Lanz and Bucheral, before hitting the set of turns that I was having a problem with. Gerhard saw an opening in front of me, and tried to take it. Unfortunately the opening closed before he got there. The two of us collided and headed for the guard rail. Then I felt Bucheral hit us, and all three of us careen off into the guard rail. Gerhard took the brunt of the damage, and elected to sit out consolation. I also took it easy, and ended up 7th overall. I ran back to catch the finals. Just in time to see Lally win the race easily.
We had 18 racers in streetluge. It was decided that two heats would have 5 riders. I ended up in one of the heats with five riders, along with Fryer and Eliot. I followed Fryer and Eliot most of the way down the course, and I just couldn't catch them entering the last hard left. When I saw Eliot take the turn pretty wide and head for the hay. The hay just exploded, flying everywhere. I slammed on my brakes, trying not to hit Eliot or the hay. The consolation was Mason, Fielden, Riley, and me.
I'm not exactly sure what Mason did,
Back at the finish line, we were waiting around for the award ceremony, swapping war stories. Wurgraft was the inliner that fell in the final heat, damaging his head a bit, but he is ok.
As the awards ceremony started Mason gave awards to the Koreans, for the benefit of the television show. We all wondered what Dave Rogers was going to think when he found out that he had to work all year to get the award, and Kang went to one race?
I finally got the F6 Chicks to pose.
We spent some time cleaning up the trash around the start, and most people in the campground packed up. Then a small group of us sat around F6 headquarters and talked about the state of the sport. We talked about a wide variety of topics, the pegless issue, lack of participation at events, streetluge without the XGames, and other topics. I'm not sure if anything was actually decided, but I think it was the first time an international group sat down to talk about some of our recent problems.
It was getting late so we went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and some pizza and beer. The Austrians and Germans were heading out to Dallas around 4am, I think they stayed up and watched soccer.
Another fun event luging event was over. This event was plagued with some timing issues, apparently a lot of them caused by the local LEOs. Some of them would just get up and go, even though the course was closed. While a lot of people felt the course needed more hay bales, I don't think any of the more major injuries would have been prevented because of a lack of hay bales. There were a lot of wrecks, with plenty of us hitting the guard rails. I think the only injuries, other then scrapes and bruises, was the sprained ankle, and the head injury.