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We had a brilliant day of racing at the Barn for our second HO Saturday. Here’s the race report and some pictures and all the results. Click on the images to make them bigger. Click on the Flickr logo to view all the pictures from the day, including some excellent action shots from the dragstrip.

Race report

Our occasional HO Saturdays are designed to give us a chance to race chassis and formats that we don't normally see at the Barn. These tend to be the less-downforce-than-usual cars, including vintage 'pancake' chassis from the 1960s and more modern 'brass-weighted' cars that have traction magnets replaced with brass weights.

There was also quite a strong Auto World theme this year. Auto World are one of the big HO manufacturers, but their cars don't get run in our WHO classes. We started the day with a race on the scale quarter-mile drag strip - based on the excellent Auto World start and finish gantries. The first cars up were the Micro Scalextric Cars characters Lightning McQueen and Chick Hicks. Thirteen racers ran best-of threes through quarter finals, semis and a final between Simon and Terry. Simon had dragged himself out of bed after a gruelling couple of weeks at work and took home the first medal of the day. He'd grab some breakfast and return later...

That left twelve of us for the annual Super Tires Pancake race. The forty-foot layout was carefully planned for the low-downforce cars we'd be running today. The corners were wide and Scalextric radius 2 borders and barriers clipped to the outside of the AFX 15-inch turns to allow some drifting. On the inside white lane we had an original Aurora Magnatraction chassis, with Auto World X-Tractions on the other three.

As we whizzed through the heats, there was some great racing and some nice scores, everyone getting to grips with the unique handling of these cars. The two Andys - who both count the Magnatraction as their favourite HO car - lead the way, separated by just a lap after eight minutes of racing and all four lanes counting. Terry was an impressive third, a further two laps back, after his first taste of the pancake cars. Fourth to eleventh was covered by less than seven laps - all incredibly close. Last, but improving rapidly, was Alan - visiting from Glasgow and racing at the Barn for the very first time.

Alan faced Jerome and son-in-law Steve in the D final. It was a close one. Steve somehow managed to bring the red car home first, just half a lap ahead of Alan, with Jerome another third of a lap back. Steve stepped up to white lane and had a bit of a scrappy one as Ryan and Aiden swapped the lead at the front. Peter wasn't far behind, but the win would go to one of the youngsters. It looked like it would be Aiden, but a couple of late crashes meant Ryan only had to hold his nerve to win... and he did. Nonetheless, Aiden had grabbed the fastest lap of the finals.

It was another incredibly close race in the B final, although Matthew held a healthy advantage through the first part of the race. Oliver got into a good rhythm and took the lead, Matthew following close behind. It was high pressure race to the line and Oliver crashed with a few seconds to go, handing Matthew the win. At least Oliver had the consolation of a well-deserved junior medal. Ash was just over half a lap back from the top two, comfortably ahead of Ryan.

The A final turned out to be a battle of the Andys, as Terry and Matthew got rather crashy behind them. Pole-sitter Mr Player took an early lead and held that for the first half of the race until a crash allowed Mr Phillips past in red lane - but only by a few inches. The lead changed again as the red car got tangled up in Terry and Matthew's troubles. Then Mr Player blew a sizable gap with a crash on his own to narrow the lead back down to inches again. As the chequered flag loomed, Mr Phillips got caught up in someone else's crash yet again and that was game over - the final margin was less than half a lap and both set the top scores for their lanes.

By now Simon was back and cooking some hot dogs and we had time for two further drag races. Even though he couldn't stay for the racing, Duncan had loaned us some of his Auto World Racing Rigs. We ran two of those rigs on the strip. It was Steve and Ryan who made it to the final. The youngster was first to react on the deciding run and comfortably held the lead over the twenty feet to take the winner's medal.

A second pre-lunch quarter-mile competition saw two very evenly matched Micro Scalextric Nascars take to the strip. Steve and Ryan both made the semis again, but were beaten there by Aiden and Terry, who'd face off in the final. Aiden red-lighted the decider and a delighted Terry picked up his first WHO medal.

A few racers took the opportunity to test their 2018 WHO race cars over a leisurely lunch break, when Simon's hot dogs went down well, as always.

We waved goodbye to Andy Phillips and said hello to Mike D for the afternoon, making it eleven on the grid for the Auto World IndyCar race - Alan and Steve taking an extended lunch break. The Auto World cars are nice reproductions of the current Dallara IndyCar model. They sit on the slightly quirky SuperIII chassis, the first versions of which aren't too refined. We had two of the early versions - slightly modified to iron out the faults - on white and yellow lanes. The newer version is a much improved chassis and examples of that were on blue and red lanes.

We ran a round-robin format with scored from all four lanes counting and no finals. Sadly the yellow car was pretty rubbish from start to finish, but everyone had to deal with it and squeeze the most out of those two minutes of pain and misery. The other three cars were great and we saw some fantastic side-by-side racing and some good scores - Aiden picking up the top scores in both blue and red, Mike top in white and Simon getting the most out of yellow.

How did that leave the final standings? With those two top scores, Aiden finished top junior in fifth place, just over a lap ahead of Ryan. Terry was in fourth, a lap ahead of Aiden. Then there was a six lap gap up to the top three, who were covered by less than a lap and required a couple of recounts to ensure the correct result... In third, on 94.3 laps was Andy; Mike was second with 95.1; and Simon won his second medal of the day with a winning score of 95.25 laps. A great first race for the IndyCars at the Barn.

We finished the day with a team race running four different brass-weighted cars. A standard Viper-Jet with a lexan body was expected to be the quickest, ahead of three cars custom-built by Andy. The secret to success was going to be getting the most out of each of the different cars and not try and race the Viper in the white lane.

For the technically-minded, the first of the custom cars was a Wizzard Storm with ceramic motor magnets, Thunderstorm weights, slip-on tyres and a lexan body. Slower in a straight line, it would be interesting to see how close the Storm would be to the Viper over a lap. The second car was a BSRT G3 chassis with Super-G+ parts and G-Jet rear weights. The third was a Tomy Turbo with a brass weight replacing the bar magnet. The G3 and Turbo both had hard bodies and were both expected to be a handful...

Aiden could stay for just the first twelve-minute race and shared a spot with Alan on Ash's team, alongside Andy. If we'd bothered with team names, they would have been the four As. Oliver captained a team with Simon and Matthew; Ryan raced with Steve and Terry; and Jerome had Peter and Mike D backing him up.

Oliver's team set the benchmark with the Viper-Jet with 136 laps on white. Jerome's trio were the first with the Wizzard, just eight laps back on red. Ash, Aiden and Andy managed a decent 102 laps with the blue Turbo, Ryan's team setting 93 laps with the G3/SG+ hybrid on yellow. Fastest lap times for the Viper were about a second quicker than the earlier Magnatraction race, but the others weren't that different - it was a similar story with for laps per minute...

As our drivers got used to the handling of the brass cars, the scores started to go up. Ryan's team were a couple of laps off the first round score in white, but the other three lane scores were bettered by two or three laps. That upward trend continued in the third round of races, with Ash's team getting the yellow car to just over 100 laps for the first time. Jerome, Peter and Mike D score a huge 146 laps with the Viper-Jet in white lane, a whole ten laps more than the previous best.

The atmosphere was tense and focussed going in to the final round of twelve minutes. All four teams knew they could be in with a chance of silverware, although it looked most likely for the teams of Oliver and Jerome. Oliver's team were faced by the tricky yellow lane, but they looked impressive from the start, finishing on 110 laps, ten more than the previous best. Ash's team couldn't match the big score in white of the previous round, but finished with a second best of 136.85. Ryan, Steve and Terry did okay on red, falling only six laps short of the best.

That left Jerome's team with the blue Turbo car. Jerome and Peter stroked the car round beautifully and it was Mike who struggled a little. The car was quick, but unforgiving. At the end they managed 109 laps - the best on that lane by five laps. Would it be enough?

In fourth place overall were Ryan's team, with a total of 453.75 laps. In third were Ash's quartet, scoring 469.80 laps. A couple of recounts were required to separate the top two. Jerome, Peter and Mike came in on 481.75 laps, against Oliver, Matthew and Simon on 481.20 - a winning margin of just 0.55 laps after 48 minutes of racing.

Congratulations to Jerome, Peter and Mike on a great team race win. Congrats also to our other six winners: Simon (drag race one & IndyCars), Andy (Pancake race), Oliver (Pancake top junior), Ryan (drag race two), Terry (drag race three) and Aiden (IndyCar top junior).

A big thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a fun day of low-downforce racing. Special thanks goes to the set-up team of Terry, Duncan, Andy and Andy and to those who stayed to pack-away. Stand-out off-track performances of the day were Duncan for his early-morning help and lending us his rigs and also to Simon for cooking us lunch after a hard stretch at work. Thank you both.

The HO Saturday format will take a break from the WHO calendar in 2018, although the drag strip will feature at the East Preston Festival on Saturday 9 June. We're looking at either an HO Saturday or a low-downforce Wednesday evening at the Barn in 2019.

- Andy P

HO Saturday - November 2017

Click on the flickr logo to look at many more pictures of the day.

All the race results are below, click images to enlarge.

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