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WHO/DIGITAL Scalextric Sport Digital Racing in Worthing

A big, partly four-lane track greeted the thirty racers who came along to our November digital Wednesday.

This was by far the biggest turn-out for a digital evening at the Barn, boosted by a visiting contingent from East Worthing Scalextric Club, including Matt, Darren, Owen and Alfie making their WHO debuts. It was great to welcome back Harrison and Tony who first raced with us at the Scalextric World Championship event in 2014. They'd brought George and Andy with them for their first taste of slot car club racing.

Simon's track design was rather revolutionary for a WHO/digital track. The three and four-lane sections stretched for nearly half the lap and allowed a long pit entry and even longer pit exit. That successfully isolated the pitting cars with those racing hard and there were far fewer incidents and issues with pitting. It looked great too.

Nascar club car team race.  The new digital racers had a nice long practice race under expert tuition from Mike D and then we were ready to go racing. Teams were selected randomly, with junior racers as captains and each receiving two seeded racers from a pool of our more successful regular racers. Six teams and thirty racers meant five team members for each.

We'd run four fifteen minute races, gradually introducing the RCS64 simulations and swapping the Nascar club cars each time. That gave us a one hour race in total.

Segment One - 15 minutes.  The first fifteen minutes were a chance to race hard without worrying about fuel consumption or tyre-wear. A driver change - in the pits - was required every three minutes, but that was the only interruption. Ryan's team "Mr Oad" was the hottest out of the blocks, our newly-crowned AFX champion ably assisted by Duncan, Alex S, Matthew and Owen. They hit 57 laps, a whopping score, but just one ahead of "The Decelerators" - Jonathon, Simon, Neil, Darren and Graham looking a very strong team on paper and on the track. Oliver's Overdrivers were three laps back on 53, Red Tops with 51, All is Dust 49 and Accelerators 47. That's the whole field covered by ten laps.

Segment Two - 30 minutes.  Fuel consumption was switched on for the second fifteen minutes. Fuel is burned off as you race, the rate depending on how heavy you are on the throttle. When you're out of fuel, your car ceases to count laps. In a fifteen minute race it is possible to 'save' a fuel stop if you drive smoothly and run a risk with a near-empty tank. Would anyone try that, or would teams play it safe? Certainly the team captains were keeping a close eye on the RCS64 screens and strategies looked pretty slick. Mr Oad looked the slickest and the bravest, stopping five times to everyone else's eight. Oliver's Overdrivers chose the opposite strategy, running hard and pitting often - they stopped twelve times. Which strategy would work best?

The scores at the end of the segment put Oliver's Overdrivers and The Decelerators top on 52 laps, Mr Oad next on 51 and Red Tops with 50. All is Dust finished with 47 laps and Acceleration struggled a little and only managed 42. At the half way stage, that left Mr Oad and The Decelerators tied at the top with 108 laps. Oliver's Overdrivers - Oliver backed-up by Andy Player, Andy Cole, Peter and Alfie - were nicely placed just three laps back and the youthful Red Tops - Jerome, Mike D, Ash, Daniel and Aiden - weren't out of it either on 101 laps. All is Dust had a gap to the leaders of twelve laps and Acceleration had a mountain to climb to get back 19 laps to top spot.

Segment Three - 45 minutes.  Andy and Daniel were running a slick show on race control and for segment three they turned off the fuel and activated the tyre wear simulation. This gave teams the option of soft or hard tyres - the hard compound would probably last the three minutes between driver changes, but the soft tyres would give a more precise feel and - in theory - should give quicker lap times. Would anyone try them out?

Again, the captains were on top of the strategy and Oliver, Jerome and Jonathon all got their drivers to test the soft tyres. The consensus was that hards were best. Both Oliver's Overdrivers and The Decelerators managed to limit their losses, stick to four scheduled stops and finish the segment equal second. The experiment cost Jerome's Red Tops an extra stop and they finished a lap back on 53 laps, equal with Accelerators - with Corey, Mike McCann, Andy Philips, Harrison and Matt definitely back on the pace. This was an incredibly close fifteen minutes of racing between those four teams. Three laps adrift were All is Dust - Alex, John, Terry, George and Tony.

Two laps ahead of the pack were Mr Oad, finishing with 56 laps. That gave Ryan's team a two lap lead overall going into the final fifteen. Mr Oad's 164 laps against The Decelerators 162 was the battle for the win, with Oliver's Overdrivers still a long shot on 159. Back on 154, Red Tops seemed to be safe in fourth ahead of All is Dust with 146 and Acceleration closing in on 142 laps.

Segment Four - 60 minutes.  For the final fifteen minutes we raced with both the fuel and tyre simulations. That meant teams would need to keep an eye on both fuel levels and tyre wear and adjust their strategy accordingly. Drivers would have to deal with a three-part pit stop menu. It was a great battle, with both Mr Oad and The Decelerators racing hard against each other. The lead swapped hands and All is Dust were right up there too for first six minutes. Despite pitting more often, Mr Oad pulled out a lap lead over The Decelerators. At the final driver change, Neil had a mighty challenge - to take three laps out of Alex. Both drove superbly, with plenty of support and advice from their team mates. Alex held on to win the segment by a lap and the race by three laps - 216 laps to The Decelerators 213. Oliver's Overdrivers again finished level with The Decelerators, Oliver driving an excellent final three minutes. That left them in third place overall on 210. Red Tops, Acceleration and All is Dust all finished the stage well behind the top three. Red Tops scored 45 laps and finished on 199 overall. Acceleration also scored 45 laps to All is Dust's 43, not quiet enough to catch them for fifth. They finished on 187 laps and 189 laps.

Huge congratulations to our winners, Mr Oad. Ryan added another medal and a copy of Slot Car Magazine to his 2017 WHO treasure chest. Duncan has quite a few WHO wins under his belt, but this was the first taste of victory at the Barn for Alex, Matthew and Owen. A fourth place finish for Mike D handed him the 2017 WHO/digital Nascar team race title, with Duncan second and Jonathon third and top junior. Well done chaps!

Goodwood Revival pairs race.  The evening finished with a bring-your-own Goodwood Revival race. We cobbled together nine cars - Alex, Mike D and Andy digging out loaners from their boxes. That meant eighteen racers stayed on for the race and Ash kindly staying on late to help with the marshalling. We'd have time for two ten minute qualifying heats, with the best-scoring six pairs going through to a ten minute feature race. Each of the drivers would race for five minutes.

In the first heat it was 100% American muscle. We had Oliver and Ryan in Mike D's Scalextric 1969 Chevy Camaro; Alfie and Owen in Alex's Pioneer 1968 Camaro; Aiden and Terry in Andy's Scalextric '69 Camaro; plus Jonathon sharing Andy's Carrera Ford Torino. Jonathon handled the big Torino well and pulled out a decent lead. There was a great scrap between the three other pairs. After ten minutes, Andy stopped the Torino just short of 40 laps and he and Jonathon would definitely qualify. The others would have to wait. Aiden and Terry managed 36 laps, Alfie and Owen got 35.50. Oliver and Ryan were a lap back with 34.50 laps.

The second heat features four Trans-Am cars, plus Alex's lovely Fly Ferrari 250 GTO, which he was sharing with Matthew. Mike D and Graham were experimenting with a Pioneer Mustang Notchback. Another car making its debut was Simon's Brut-sponsored Scalextric Mustang Boss, shared with Duncan. John and Alex were running another Brut-sponsored car - their Scalextric 1970 Camaro. Finally, Mike and Daniel McCann were sharing Stephen's Scalextric Mercury Cougar, a previous Goodwood winner at the Barn. Two pairs - Mike D and Graham, plus Alex and John - blitzed the rest, finishing on 40.75 laps, with the Brut Camaro just ahead. They'd qualify first and second. Simon and Duncan slotted in just behind Andy and Jonathon's best from heat one, scoring 38 laps. That eliminated Ryan and Oliver. The question then was who would grab the final two qualifying spots. Sadly, the Cougar hit trouble and Mike retired the car. The Ferrari needs some development and on a highly-competitive evening, Alex and Matthew missed out on qualification by less than two laps. Aiden, Terry, Alfie and Owen would go through to the feature race.

In the heats we had run the fuel and tyre simulations. In the feature race we switch on the weather. The race would start on a wet track, forecast to dry out as the race went on. Everyone started on wet tyres and with their very slow wear rate, they could stay on until the track dried. Pit stops would be fuel-only until that happened.

It was the Brut Camaro of father and son John and Alex who took the race to Mike D and Graham. It was a breathtaking battle throughout the ten minutes. Another big battle went on just behind - Jonathon trying to wring extra pace out of the big Torino Nascar as Simon and Duncan got to grips with their lighter, more nimble Mustang. Terry and Aiden fought hard with Owen and Alfie and just a handful of laps covered all six cars at the halfway point and the driver change.

The two Brut cars were heavy on the throttle. John and Alex pitted five times and looked like they were surely due a splash-it-all-over 'n' dash at the end. Simon and Duncan pitted four times, as did Alfie and Owen. The other three cars made it through the ten minutes on three stops. With the track drying out very slowly, Mike risked a change to hard tyres on his final stop and Andy switched to intermediates. Both hoped their gambles would be race-winning moves.

As the clock ticked down and the chequered flag was being unfurled, we had John charging hard in the lead, but rapidly running out of fuel. On the same lap, Mike D had the wrong tyres, but enough fuel to make it to the end. A lap back, Duncan had jumped past Andy on that last pit stop and the intermediates weren't giving Andy enough advantage to make up the time lost in the pits. An extra stop for Alfie has given Aiden the advantage for fifth place.

Thanks to data crunching and feedback from team mate Alex, John made the decision not to pit and to stroke the car round the final thirty seconds, keeping an eye on Mike and Alex keeping an eye on the fuel gauge. It was a gamble that paid off. The Brut Chevy finished just a few feet ahead of the Mustang to hand Mike and Graham their first Goodwood Revival defeat of 2017. Not surprisingly, Alex and John were ecstatic - congratulations to them both! Simon and Duncan took third place by half a lap, finishing exactly a lap back from the winners. Andy and Jonathon had a blast racing the big and heavy Carrera Torino and were content with fourth. Aiden brought the '69 Camaro home two laps ahead of Alfie and Owen's '68 Camaro. It had been an impressive race for all the pairs.

That was the end of the evening, comfortably before ten o'clock. A very big thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a vibrant and exciting evening at the Barn. Special thanks goes to Mike D for letting us use all his stuff, to Simon for the superb track design with the four-lane section and to Daniel who proved an excellent assistant on race control, despite having never set eyes on RCS64 before.

- 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!