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WHO Nascar - 2 May 2018

Race Report

Every two years, our Nascar championship switches to a road course for one night only. This time the layout was based on the Watkins Glen Nascar circuit - pretty quick and compact. We'd included the tricky AFX chicane pieces to mimic the 'inner loop' section at the end of the longest straight. That would almost certainly lead to the sort of mayhem seen at that corner during the annual Nascar races at the Glen.

A bigger-than-usual set-up team had the track running nice and early - providing a extra few minutes of practice. Twenty-one racers came through the door by 7pm, some regulars missing due to exam revision - but we welcomed Paul for his first WHO race of the year.

Some of the early-birds made their extra practice count. Andy was top at halfway, three and a half laps ahead of Gareth in second. Mike D followed right behind Gareth, despite having to learn the track during those first two heats. John and Rick were equal for fourth - Rick heading the Gen6 field. Ryan was top of the three juniors, back in thirteenth.

Most people improved their scores through the second round of heats and we discovered that we had four pretty even lanes. The outside yellow lane was particularly fast, even though it was the longest way round. Jerome really liked the outside yellow and white lanes and some great scores catapulted him up the qualifying list - top rookie, top junior and ninth overall.

The Gen6 battle was intense. Fifth down to eleventh on the grid were Mega-G+ cars, all seven covered by just a few laps. Rick was head of the Gen6 train, but the top four qualifiers were Super-Gs. Mike had put in two big scores in the gutters, but Andy just held on to pole by three-quarters of a lap. Gareth was third and John fourth.


Hayley, Daniel and Paul lined up for the G final - a Life Like T, a Super-G and a Mega-G+ making up the most diverse final of the evening. Daniel was the early leader, but Hayley had got out in front by the 30 second mark, stretching her lead to a lap by halfway. Paul's Life Like was playing up and needed some mid-race attention. With all three back in the race, Hayley was maintaining that lap lead... until a late off at the chicane created a more than a little panic. Daniel un-lapped himself, but then the chequered flag fell. Hayley was relieved and delighted.

Hayley would be the only Mega-G+ runner in the F final, joining the Super-Gs of Mike, Steve and Oliver. Hayley crashed at the chicane on the first lap, Mike the early leader and Oliver right behind him. At halfway, Mike was still just inches ahead of Oliver, a scrappy first minute leaving Steve and Hayley further behind. Then it all changed. Mike crashed, gifting Oliver the lead and Steve was on a charge. With thirty seconds to go, the gap between first and third was two seconds. Steve passed Mike and set about chasing down Oliver... but time ran out - the margin of victory just a tenth of a lap and Mike just half a lap back in third.

The E final was a Mega-G+ and Super-G mix, Andy and Ryan running the Gen6 cars; Oliver and Simon had the older AFX chassis. This time it was Oliver's turn to crash at the first chicane - but he was soon back on the pace and ahead of his brother. Andy was the early leader with his brand new Gen6 car - so new that it's still waiting to go in the paint shop. He led Simon by three seconds at halfway, with Ryan having got past Oliver for third - those were two good battles going on. Simon ate into Andy's lead - three seconds slashed to one and half and then to just half a second. Simon moved in for the kill, but both cars came off at the chicane with ten seconds to go. Andy's car rejoined first and he held on to win by a quarter of a lap. Simon was gutted. Ryan beat Oliver to third - both duels won by the Mega-G+.

Andy stepped up into white in the D final, joining two more Mega-G+ runners - Peter and Terry - plus Ash with a Super-G borrowed from Gareth. Terry was the first lap chicane victim, but he'd fought back to third after 30 seconds, ahead of Andy, but behind Ash and Peter. Then disaster struck for Ash, a heavy crash dropping him to the back and leaving Terry just behind the new leader, Peter. Stung by his error, Ash drove brilliantly to get back to second at halfway - the order: Peter, Ash, Terry, Andy. Peter was driving a great race and building up a decent lead, but behind him things were very close. Another off saw Ash slip to the back again, with Andy having passed Terry for what was now second. And that's exactly how it stayed until the end - an excellent win for Peter.

That made the C final an all-Mega-G+ affair, Peter lining up against Deborah, Jerome and Tony. There were no first lap crashes and the opening laps were fast, close and thrilling. Deborah was the first to slip up, rejoining the length of the straight behind the other three - Jerome leading Tony and Peter, covered by about three feet. Tony moved into the lead and had pulled out a two second gap to Jerome at half distance, Deborah was another couple of seconds back, now just ahead of Peter. The order was the same with 30 seconds to go, the gaps having doubled. Then, with fifteen seconds left, Tony crashed, Jerome got back on the same lap and pushed as hard as he could... but there wasn't enough time. Tony, Jerome and Deborah were covered by half a lap, with Peter two laps off the winner.

Tony was delighted to step up into red lane in the B final. John had chosen yellow, Rick white and Keith blue. John had set the best score in yellow during the heats and Rick had the top score in white - so those choices made sense. From the start, John looked in a class of his own, relentlessly building his lead as the others all had crashes. Rick was first to crash, falling to the back and then recovering to third at halfway. Tony was making the most of red lane and had his eyes firmly on the Gen6 win. Keith and Rick were in quite a battle for third and not too far away from Tony, but then Rick crashed and took a trip to the floor, putting him out of contention. Keith looked to be closing on Tony, but a late spin at the chicane ended his charge.

That just left the A final - four fast Super-Gs, two Nascar champions, three Nascar race winners and three 2018 WHO race winners... Andy had grabbed pole and chosen red lane, but Mike looked pretty happy with yellow. Gareth was in blue and John had stepped up to white. It was Mike who got away in the lead, putting immediate pressure on the others. It was pretty close, but then the crashes started behind the leader. Andy's first crash knocked his rhythm and dropped him to third behind John. Gareth had a series of offs at the chicane, including two in successive laps. Andy fought back to second by halfway, but was already two laps adrift.

It was Mike's turn to have a few offs in the second half of the race, but his lead proved robust and his rivals failed to take advantage. More offs for Andy at the end gave Mike a winning margin of just under three laps. John was two laps back in third and Gareth fourth, a further two laps behind. The pace had been extreme - Mike finishing on 29.50 laps, just half a lap off what we'd all decided was an impossible score in two minutes. His fastest lap of 3.63 seconds was also stunning - only four racers dipping under four seconds all night.

Huge congratulations to Mike on a brilliant A final drive for his thirty-second HO win at the Barn. Jerome picked up his second junior medal after another very impressive drive and now leads both the junior club championship and the rookie of the year table. Tony's superb comeback to win Gen6 gives him a guaranteed spot in the end-of-season Gen6 Championship Showdown - two places are still up for grabs...

A big thank you to everyone who came along and made it an especially fun and sociable evening at the Barn. Massive thanks go to the sizeable set-up and tear-down teams who made quick work of both tasks - it seems that many hands do make light work. Special thanks goes to Hayley, Daniel and Simon for their excellent work on race control. Daniel was feeling a bit under-the-weather, but still put on a great show.

We're back at the Barn in two weeks for more Nascar - this time the big Scalextric digital cars.

- Andy P



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