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WHO/DIGITAL Scalextric Sport Digital Racing in Worthing

It has been an exciting start to the 2018 WHO/digital season. Our March digital evening saw another great turnout of twenty-six racers and one of the closest team race finishes we have seen at the Barn. The Trans-Am race was ridiculously competitive too.

The evening’s results and some pictures are on the right, with more pictures via the Flickr button. A video of some of the action is available via the YouTube button.

Simon designed us another excellent layout for the third WHO/digital race of the year. Long straights, sweeping turns and a couple of tighter tricky bits produced some very close racing. Twenty-six drivers took to the track during the evening, starting with twenty-five for the Nascar team race. No first-time racers this time, so it was a pretty experienced field.

Nascar club car team race

The twenty five racers were split into five teams of four and one of five, each of the teams being captained by a teenager. The six Nascar club cars would be rotated at the end of each of three twenty-minute stages - the stage winners swapping with the sixth place team, second with fifth and third with fourth.

Stage one - 20 minutes.  As usual, we started the race with only the fuel consumption simulation running. That meant quick pit stops and a simple pit menu to get us back into the RCS64 groove. All the teams were pushing hard from the off, but it was Ash's "Wheelie Boys" that soon took the stage by the scruff of the neck. They took the lead early and had pulled out a three lap lead by the end, finishing on 67 laps. Behind them, second to sixth were covered by just five laps, Ned's "Little and Large" team the best of the rest.

Stage two - 40 minutes.  The Wheelie Boys swapped their dominant blue STP car for the Red Sparrow's yellow DeWalt Ford Taurus. Apparently it was a bit of a gas guzzler. However, Ash carefully monitored the RCS64 screen and ensured pit stops for fuel and (occasionally) tyres were timed perfectly to avoid any missed laps. Nonetheless, Little and Large and Corey's Five Stars were a match for stage one winners. In an incredibly close finish, Neil moved the Wheelie Boys up from third to just scrape another stage win, equal on 66 laps with the Five Stars and one ahead of Little and Large.

There was a three lap gap back to Aiden's "We Have a Rubbish Team Name" in fourth and another lap to the Red Sparrows. The Digital Demons had a woeful time with a thirsty red Coca Cola car - most of the twelve laps they dropped were down to being out of fuel. This was the red car that the Wheelie Boys would take over for the final stage and defend a four lap lead over both Little and Large and the Five Stars. Would Neil regret that last minute surge to win stage two?

Stage three - 60 minutes.  Ash stuck to the driver order that had worked well so far - the captain leading off, followed by Andy, Jim and Neil. Corey would start for the Five Stars and Ned for Little and Large. It was the Five Stars - Corey, Duncan, Terry, Keith and Graham - who took the advantage, managing to build up a three-lap lead over the first ten minutes. Fighting for second were Aiden's Rubbish Team Name - Aiden, Simon, Matthew and Daniel putting in another solid stage. Also in that battle were the Wheelie Boys, certainly more concerned about the gap to the Five Stars than anything else.

Little and Large had fallen away badly, struggling with the white car and some missed pit stops. They were at the tail-end of the pack going in to the final five minutes, Ned, Mike McCann and Steve hoping that Mike D could rescue something for them on the final stint.

Being the team of five members, Keith took over for the Five Stars with four minutes to go and with a lead of just over four laps - enough for the overall race lead on the road. The responsibility to thwart Five Stars' chances was squarely on Neil's shoulders as the final driver for the Wheelie Boys, coached carefully by Ash. Another pit stop for the red car extended Five Stars' lead to nearly five laps with two and half minutes to go. Both would need to stop again and Ash told Neil to push as hard as he could.

Neil pulled away from Aiden and began nibbling into Keith's lead. Ash called his driver into the pits nice and early, giving Neil a full minute to throw everything he could at Keith. It was an aggressive move, but the only strategy that could win the race. And it was a tense final minute. Neil was on the ragged edge, Keith had a couple of offs and that all put Neil just under four laps back - marginally ahead overall.

On what would be the final full lap, Neil was about half a lap ahead of Keith's blue STP car. Then disaster struck - an off at the far end of the circuit allowed Keith to catch right up. They crossed the line with barely a car-length between them, both successfully negotiated the sharp left-hander at turn one and raced round the loop and under the bridge. As the power was cut for the end of the race, Neil had pulled out a four-foot gap. That was the winning margin - at least we all thought....

After a tally up of the scores, Daniel announced the winners - the Five Stars! Surely a mistake? After a few moments of confusion in the Barn, a recalculation put the Wheelie Boys top of the table - in what must be one of the closest team race finishes we've ever had.

Away from the drama of the win, there was another tie - this time for third place. However, Mike got Little and Large just ahead of Aiden's Rubbish Team Name on the track and so just managed to salvage something for his team. Both Red Sparrow and the Digital Demons had their best runs of the night, finishing on 62 laps a piece. That meant Red Sparrow - Jonathon, John, Thomas and Ben - claimed fifth place overall. Jerome, Alex, Peter and Gary - the Digital Demons - would rue that second stage with the red car.

Following the team photographs and medal presentation, we were ready to move on to the Trans-Am pairs race.

Trans-Am pairs race

For the second month in a row, we had twelve Trans-Am cars on the entry sheet, making up two full qualifying heats. Deborah joined Keith in their Mustang for her first racing of the evening. Ned replaced Jean in the all-conquering Falcon XB and another Falcon - an XC - would be raced by Duncan and Simon. Otherwise, most cars and pairs were familiar from previous races, Daniel and Mike 'borrowing' Stephen's 2016 race-winning Mercury Cougar.

The first ten-minute qualifying heat looked quick, with Graham and Jim's orange Mustang the class of the field. Their flawless score of 38.25 laps would be tough to beat. Two laps behind, John and Jonathon looked good in the 1970 Brut Camaro, just ahead of the Falcon XC. Aiden and Matthew's 33.50 laps looked vulnerable, but they had their fingers crossed the Al's Body Shop Camaro would make it to the feature race. Gary and Steven's Cougar was staring at the consolation race as were Keith and Deborah - barring a rather large miracle.

An incident in practice for the blue Falcon XB had both Mike and Ned looking worried, but the car seemed okay in the second heat. It was Corey and Neil's 1969 Camaro that pulverised the rest of the field. It was such a dominant display that they beat Graham and Jim's near-perfect score from the first heat by a whole lap. Mike and Ned came in second, a lap up on Ash and Andy in the sole AMC Javelin. They qualified third and sixth overall. That meant Alex and Terry, Mike and Daniel, plus Ben and Thomas would all be in the five-minute consolation race.

That race was as full-blooded and chaotic as ever. Alex and Aiden battled for the early lead, a lap ahead of the pack led by Mike in Stephen's Cougar. Approaching the driver change, Alex was a lap ahead of Aiden, who was a lap ahead of Deborah in third, with Gary and Mike very close behind. Aiden handed over the '69 Camaro to Matthew and Terry took the wheel of Alex's '68 Pioneer Camaro - that looked like the battle for the win. Matthew soon dispatched Terry and opened up a decent lead, yet behind them Steve was on a charge, cutting into the gap to the leaders. As time ran out, Matthew finished three-quarters of a lap ahead of Terry, with Steve less than half a lap further back.

The Trans-Am feature race rounded off the evening's action. Graham beat pole-sitter Corey to the first corner, but the yellow Camaro was soon back in the lead. The early stages were incredibly close, Ash driving smoothly up from sixth to second at quarter distance - on the same lap as Corey and just ahead of Ned. Jonathon, Graham and Simon were a lap back from the leading car. Soon after, Corey and Ned made their first fuel stops - Ash inheriting the lead, now a lap ahead of Jonathon in second.

As all the pairs cycled through their first stops, Corey was out front with Ash holding onto second, a lap back and just ahead of Ned and Graham. Simon and Jonathon were now two laps behind. Corey had judged his fuel consumption perfectly and pitted for the half-way driver change just as the gauge went into the red. Neil powered out of the pits just behind Ash. However, the second-place Javelin's hand-over was a disaster - Andy exited at the same time as Duncan and they collided in the pits. The Javelin fell to the floor, lost its braid plate and required repairs. That meant, at the end of the driver change window, Neil led Mike by just over a lap, followed by Jim, Andy, John and Duncan.

Mike pushed hard to catch Neil and found some early success. Neil's next pit stop put them both on the same lap and not far apart. Andy had fought back to be on the tail of the leading trio - all four now covered by a lap and a half. That's how it stayed until two and a half minutes to go. The final round of pit stops was started by Andy, taking on fuel and soft tyres. Neil and Jim pitted, but Mike was able to run a bit longer. Behind them, Duncan didn't notice he was out of fuel - nattering to the marshals and abandoned by his teammate. The Falcon would lose five laps.

Mike's gamble to stay out was scuppered by a bodged and lengthy final pit stop, dropping him to third. Jim was driving excellently and starting to put some pressure on Neil, now less than a lap ahead. Mike was pushing hard to catch Jim, but also had Andy close behind. The race was really coming together. As the seconds ticked down, the top two were taking care to avoid any costly errors, but Mike and Andy continued to push hard. As the chequered flag fell, Neil finished three quarters of a laps ahead of Jim, who was a quarter of a lap ahead of Mike and Andy was about three feet behind. The top four cars were covered by just over a lap, followed by John a lap and a half back in fifth.

Big congratulations to all the night's winners. It was a landmark win for Corey and Neil, the first with their own car after two impressive third places in January and February. As always, massive thanks go to everyone who took part in another excellent WHO/digital Wednesday, especially to the highly-efficient set-up and tear-down crews and to the race control team. We'd never had thought of racing digital at the Barn without Mike D's encouragement and the loan of his amazing digital kit - so a very big thank you to him.

We're back for more digital action on Wednesday 16 May.

- Andy P

After the event, you’ll be able to click on the logos to watch the video and look at more pictures.
RCS64 Data output sheets: click for loads of data!
RCS64 Data output sheets: click for loads of data!