St-Labre 200 is a 200 lap 1/4 mile dirt track race in St-Labre Manitoba. This is a one of a kind event where the race vehicles don’t even exist a day before the start of the race.
Teams are challenged to build a vehicle within 30 hours with whatever materials they want. All teams are given the same mandatory parts for power train and wheels. This gives all teams no distinct advantage when it comes down to amount of power and gear ratio.
Preparation before the event:
Some teams choose to leave everything last minute but many teams start preparing and testing different combination of homemade parts a year prior. All teams are encouraged to have a few team meetings to discuss materials, design and basic jobs given to each crew member. Time is very valuable and we want to see each team on the track for the race.
Many teams arrive Thursday night to setup in their designated pit areas. The pit areas are fairly small and the only thing provided is power (a few 120 outlets and a 240 outlet on a 30 amp breaker). All other equipment, shelter, tools, lawn chairs plans etc… are brought in by the teams. Some teams bring only a few tools and equipment while others bring incredible machining equipment. To each their own.
Day 1 :
Friday morning teams register, and then participate in a group question and answer period about the rules of the race event. Once this is concluded teams gather back to their pit areas where all of their material will have been dropped off and await the starting build flag and horn to begin building their creations.
Many teams in the past have finished building their carts before the supper and have been able to enjoy the nightly entertainment while others have spent the whole night perfecting their machines and not letting any small detail slip. Sleep is a must for drivers as they must be prepared mentally and physically for the long grueling race the next day.
Day 2 :
Race Day begins with the opening of the track. Many teams use this time to practice different lines on the track to see which is the fastest. Some teams take this opportunity to measure to the milliliter how much fuel their cart takes at different speeds on the track. This gives them an idea how many laps they can do without having to pit. A few teams are just happy to be able to go on the track with their cart actually running.
At noon the track officially closes for practice and re-opens to all those whom have qualified for qualifying laps. Each team may do as many laps as they feel is necessary to jockey into the position they want to start in. The fastest recorded lap of each team is used to determine which team will have pole position. It also worth mentioning here that all teams receive only 355 ml of fuel to do the qualifying laps and cannot add any more fuel till they pit once the race has started. Some teams might only do 1 or 2 laps or even not participate in the qualifying to conserve on fuel. As much as this is a race of racers and their machine it is also a game of wit, strategy, innovation and a dab of luck.
Finally the carts line up in the respective qualifying positions and the race begins at 5:45pm. In it’s first year the first cart to complete 200 laps did not finish until 4 1/2 hours later. In it’s second year the race was completed by 3 1/2 hours. The biggest difference between the two years was breakdowns and tires. A simple adjustment of air pressure made tires last the whole race in most cases and a greater attention to the carts when building them made them more structurally sound.
Once the checkered flag is waved the race is finished. The entertainment comes out for the evening. The prized Best Sleep Centre Sparkplug Cup is presented during the intermission later in the evening. This is followed by many stories shared about the ups and downs of the race between all teams. “The memories that I make at the St-Labre 200 are many and are at the top of my list” said one of the participants lat year.
The evening is capped off with an amazing firework show sponsored in part by Red Bomb.
All of the teams tools and equipment are packed up and brought back home the next day but now teams have a brand new cart that they get to keep to ride around the yard and race next year in the St-Labre 200 Alumni Race.