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WHO Nascar - 7 February 2018

Race Report

It was another big night at the Barn. Not only did thirty racers line-up for some HO Nascar action, but we also held our 2017 prize-giving and gave a nod to the eighth birthday of the club.

The night may have been big, but the track was small. We like a wide variety of tracks and formats at the Barn and some short-track oval mayhem is becoming a bit of a fixture in February to start the WHO Nascar championship.

With the 28-foot track set up in quick time, early practice times showed that it was extremely quick, despite a tight and tricky turn four. The first pair of heats saw three drivers break sixty laps in two minutes and Alex beat seventy laps in his first race. Not everyone was having quite as much joy, but at the half way stage Alex was top, Gareth second and Mike D third. Keith was the top Gen6 Cup runner in fifth.

It was a good time to pause, take stock and hand out some medals and certificates. Congratulations to all the racers who did so well in 2017. Then it was back to the action...

There was not doubt that yellow lane was the trickiest to master. Those racers who'd struggled in yellow in the first round of heats mostly improved their positions on the grid. But there were some who did pretty well in the inside lane. Alex did struggle on yellow, but bounced back with a huge 72.85 on blue to claim his first ever WHO pole position. Mike set the top score on yellow - an astonishing 69 laps - his best lane. Only Mike, Deborah and John managed more than sixty laps on yellow.

That left the qualifying order as Alex, Mike D, Keith, Andy, Mike McCann and John. With four rookies on the grid, Jerome was top in twelfth - just ahead of William in fourteenth. Alex's gap to Mike D was ten laps, Keith and Andy were separated by a fifth of a lap, about five feet.


Rachel, Sharon and Terry lined up in the J final. Rachel crashed at turn four on the first lap, but was soon ahead of her mum and chasing Terry. At half distance, there wasn't much in it - a gap of just one lap. A crash could easily cost a couple of laps and Rachel lost three as she tried to reel Terry in. Terry had to focus hard, but his winning margin was a comfortable six laps. Rachel's score was her best of the evening and Sharon improved on her heat score in yellow.

Terry stepped up to yellow in the I final where he came up against Oliver, Steve and David. Oliver had borrowed a Super-G from Gareth after his Turbo proved a bit of a handful in the heats. It was a good move as he had a clear speed advantage over Steve and David's club cars. Terry's Super-G was quick, but was proving crashy in yellow. There was a moment of quiet after 45 seconds when all four cars were off the track - not the first or the last time that would happen tonight. The marshals quickly did their jobs and the relentless pace resumed. At half distance, Oliver had a six lap lead, with David moving ahead of Terry into third. By the end, the winning margin was very nearly ten laps, Steve finishing second and seven laps ahead of David.

It was Oliver's turn to take on the challenge of yellow lane in the H final, up against the Mega-G+ Gen6 cars of Aiden, Hayley and Peter. Oliver definitely had the pace, but could he keep it on the track? He started well, not driving too hard and very gradually easing out a lead in what was a very close race. By half distance, Oliver had pulled out a lap a couple of times, but then lost the advantage with a crash. He didn't panic, drove maturely and made sure he did enough to win - beating Aiden by a lap and a half. Pete was less than a lap back in third and Hayley exactly a lap behind Pete.

It was Ryan who had chosen yellow lane for the G final, so big brother Oliver stepped up into red. Daniel and Ollie made up a youthful quartet. This was an extremely close race at the start, Ollie leading Oliver by a quarter of a second after thirty seconds, with Daniel on the same lap and Ryan hanging on. Oliver moved into the lead before some mid race carnage saw cars all over the place. When things settled down, Oliver led Oliver by a lap at half distance. A heavy crash for the lead car saw the rear axle pop, dropping Oliver to second, but right behind Ollie. A frantic final twenty seconds saw Oliver move back into the lead, Ollie crash and lose his axle and then Oliver binned it with only seconds to go... All the while, Daniel had lapped consistently and he took the lead as Oliver's car was being marshalled. A finish full of drama, euphoria, despair and disappointment.

Daniel had dashed Oliver's hopes of a third step-up, but could he get a second in the F final? This time Corey had chosen yellow, so Daniel would be in white. It was Ned who took the early lead, but crashed out at turn four, gifting top spot to Andy, just ahead of Daniel. In a crashy race for everyone, Ned had gone through the line on his roof and was owed a lap. At half distance it was Andy, Daniel, Ned and Corey. A big crash saw everyone off, followed by a heavy impact for Andy, requiring repairs and ruining his chance of the win. Daniel inherited the lead, with Ned moving up to second. Daniel had just enough of a gap to keep him ahead of Ned with the owed lap, but a last-gasp off left the result in doubt... After a post-race recount, it was Ned who took the win by a third of a lap. More drama, euphoria, despair and huge disappointment.

Five gone, five to go - we were now up to the E final. Ned made the most of his reprieve and set about building up a two lap lead thirty seconds in. He was in white lane, William having chosen yellow - a decision he was regretting already, trailing Tony and Ash who were having a fierce battle for second.  That was the order at half way, Ned having stretched his lead to three laps. A crash saw the lead go back down to a lap, with Tony sensing blood, but needing more errors from Ned. In the end it was Tony that cracked and Ned won by just under four laps. Ash brought Gareth's Super-G home third, with William having two minutes to forget on yellow.

Ned had the chance of a third step up in the D final. He was up against yellow lane as well as Duncan, Neil and Jerome. He was very quickly defeated by the lane and the other three disappeared into the distance in very close formation. Duncan held the early advantage on his first WHO appearance of 2018, his Life Like on good form. The gap covering the top three stretched out to a lap at half distance, Jerome sitting in second. Things then got much tighter, Neil moving ahead of Jerome and the top three covered by just over a second. It was anybody's race - well, apart from Ned... With fifteen seconds remaining, Neil crashed, Jerome took over the chase and all eyes were on the top two, lapping nose to tail. Duncan had pretty much lead from the start, could he hold on? With less than five seconds on the clock, Jerome went through the line in the lead. He was still ahead the next time through and finished a quarter of a lap ahead. What a finish!

That gave Jerome yellow lane in the C final and he was determined to put on a good show. It was a very close opening twenty seconds. Jerome had kept up with the other three, but he was first to blink, followed soon after by Simon. After thirty seconds, Gareth lead Deborah by half a second - Deborah's Gen6 Mega-G+ was flying, on the same pace as Gareth and Simon's Super-Gs. After a minute, Gareth's lead was still less than a second. It was a very clean race at the front, less so at the back. Gareth had stretched the lead to 1.2 seconds with the final quarter remaining. Would there be high drama in the closing stages? It was certainly tense. Even the smallest slip up from Gareth would give Deborah the win. But that didn't happen. Gareth ended just under a lap ahead - about 1.7 seconds after two minutes of racing and 67 high pressure laps. Simon beat Jerome to third, but that would leave Jerome top rookie for the night.

After a wonderfully clean couple of races, the short-track mayhem was about to return in the B final... It was an all Super-G line up, with Andy choosing blue lane, Mike McCann choosing red and John leaving yellow lane to Gareth. Andy and John swapped the early lead, but the first of many collisions on the front stretch allowed John a bit of breathing space. All four racers were going for it 100% and there were multi-car pile-ups aplenty. At quarter distance, John held a lap lead over Andy, with Mike holding off Gareth. Andy closed up on John, but then lost ground off the track. The positions were the same after a minute, but the race remained full of incident. John had managed to scrape through relatively unscathed on the outside, but that didn't last forever. Andy was given a little hope, until his car slowed - it turned out later to be a rear wheel body rub. In the meantime, Gareth found some rhythm and moved decisively ahead of Mike. The race ended with three cars off the track, John nearly six laps ahead and the lowest-scoring race since the F final.

Would we get back to clean racing in the A final? Alex looked supremely focused as he lined up in blue lane for probably the highest pressure race of his slot car career. That's what pole position is all about - pressure. Alex rocketed off the line and started working at pulling away from the others. At thirty seconds, it was Alex who lead Mike D, John and Keith - the top three on the same lap. Almost immediately, Alex had a big crash out of turn four, requiring repairs. He plummeted back to third. Mike had chosen yellow lane. It had been his best score during the heats and the inside is always the best place to avoid WHO Nascar mayhem. And the mayhem was about to start. Alex was pushing too hard to get back on terms and then his dad went into crash mode. Mike had his moments, but he reached half way a couple of laps ahead of Keith, who was quick and steady in his Gen6 Mega-G+ Chevy.

There was something not quite right with John's car and after a big three-car pile-up also involving Mike and Alex, he retired from the race. You might expect less carnage with just three cars remaining in the race, but the closing stages were utter pandemonium - the marshals were busy marshalling and Hayley frantically scribbled down laps to be added at the end. However, no recounts were necessary. With all the added laps, Mike had comfortably won by six, but with his second-worse score of the night. Of course, the only total that matters in the A final is getting more than the other drivers. Keith cruised in second and Alex was third, adding fastest lap and the junior medal to his pole position.

Congratulations to Mike and Alex on their first HO wins of 2018. Keith grabbed the first Gen6 Cup win of the year and Jerome finished top rookie. And, of course, there were some brilliant performances right the way through the field.

Many thanks to everyone who came along and especially to those who came early to set up and stayed late to pack away - with a small track, that wasn't such a big job this time. Race Control was a huge task tonight - especially with the prize-giving - so a massive thank you goes to Daniel and Hayley who got us through the second half of heats and finals in stunningly quick time.

- Andy P



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