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WHO/DIGITAL Scalextric Sport Digital Racing in Worthing

Our first WHO/digital Wednesday after the Coronavirus break saw twenty-four people take to the grid for a Nascar club car team race and a Pioneer Legends pairs race. The results, RCS64 stats and some pictures are on the right, plus there’s a video over on YouTube. Championship tables are on the 2020-22 season page.

Race Report

After a long 25 months, Scalextric digital racing returned to the Barn for an evening of old and new. Our Nascar team race goes right back to the very beginning of WHO/digital in 2014, whereas the Pioneer Legends was a brand new class for 2022 and featured a tweaked pairs format.

WHO/digital first-timers Isaac and Kevin graduated through Mike D’s Digital Driving School and a few others took the opportunity for a refresher session. Twenty-four people were divided into six teams of four to start the Nascar race at 7pm – Jeremy walking through the door just in time to join teammates Keith, Dean and captain Ryan. As usual, all the teams were led by a junior (or recently ex-junior) racer, including a baptism of fire for Isaac!

Nascar Team Race

The Nascar race is split into three 20-minute stages, with each team running three of the six matching Scalextric Ford Taurus club cars. From the start, three teams showed plenty of excellent form – those were the quartets led by Ryan, Oliver and Isaac. Getting back into the swing of pit stops was a struggle for everyone – but some more than others. For this stage, only the fuel simulation was used, making things a little easier. At the end of 20 minutes, Ryan’s team were ahead on 85 laps, followed by Oliver, Jean, Duncan and Kevin on 83 and Isaac, Alex, Peter and Terry on 80. Jerome and Daniel’s teams were level on 76 – and Harry’s team of Mike D, Simon and Matthew were back on 65 laps after a tricky return to the Barn.

At the end of the stage, cars are swapped – first with sixth, second with fifth and third with fourth. In theory, that evens out any car issues. Although inheriting the last placed car from stage 1, Ryan, Dean, Keith and Jeremy continued their great form and won stage 2 by a lap. We now had both fuel and tyres to sort out at each pit stop, so the lap scores did fall a little – the winners hitting 81, with Oliver’s team and a resurgent Harry & Co level on 80 laps. Jerome, Andy, Ash and Alan came in fourth (again) with 77, Isaac’s team with 76 and Daniel, Oli, Ed and Mike McCann completed 73 laps. That left the top two – Ryan and Oliver’s teams – separated by just three laps going into the final 20-minute stage…

With those two focusing on each other, Jerome’s team leapt into the lead. They went all-out for the stage win and successfully put in a big 84-lap score, the second best of the night. Behind, Ryan’s team seemed to have Oliver, Jean, Duncan and Kevin covered. That was until an innocuous off in the final five minutes dislodged the guide on their white UPS Taurus… and it didn’t go back in easily. Oliver’s team got ahead in the stage, but still had a three lap deficit to overcome to win the race.

Mike has been busy over the past couple of years preparing three sets of matched club cars – and that’s partly for this eventuality. When the UPS car required more than routine repair, the marshals called for the substitute white Taurus. It probably went a bit quicker than the original too – and not only did they defend the 3-lap cushion, Ryan & Co managed to pull level on laps and finish just ahead of Oliver’s blue car by the end of the race. That was a nervous end to a great race for Ryan, Dean, Keith and Jeremy – and there were big smiles behind those masks on the podium. Oliver’s team were second, mulling over what could have been… Jerome, Andy, Ash and Alan had leapfrogged up to third with that big final stage win.

Fourth were Isaac, Alex, Pete and Terry – a great performance and very nearly a podium finish. Harry, Mike D, Simon and Matthew had given themselves a mountain to climb after that first stage, but they managed a third and a fourth to end the race edging ahead of Daniel, Oli, Ed and Mike by one lap! An excellent start 2022 – although the points will be added to the three Nascar races carried over from 2020 to give us a seven-event 2020-2 Nascar team race championship.

In a pause between the races, we presented the only 2020 WHO/digital trophies to Oliver and Ryan, who won the Trans-Am championship. Trans-Am is now part of the new Muscle Car Mondiale class and will run at our Digital Saturdays. Our new Wednesday evening class is Pioneer Legends…

Pioneer Legends Pairs Race

Everyone was pretty excited by these new cars. There were a couple of assembled and decorated kits, but most were ‘paint defect’ bargains from Inaslots. No-one was expecting these short-wheelbase cars to be pristine by the end of the night! Eleven cars turned up, although Oliver and Ryan’s was running backwards – and no-one had a soldering iron at the Barn to swap the wires on the motor. Thankfully, Terry loaned the brothers a spare car. Of those ten cars, seven failed scrutineering – too wide at the back or too light on the scales. With the promise of sorting it out before next time, the offending pairs were given a one-lap penalty in the heats… which wouldn’t matter too much as there’s now a step-up from the semi-final to the feature race.

Five cars ran in each of the two five-minute qualifying heats, with a driver change (in the pits, of course) at half way. Simon and Duncan’s #25 Festive Chevy didn’t get off the line – another retirement… and we were now down to nine cars. The remaining cars – and their drivers – put on quite a show! Alex and Ed landed their #30 Ford Coupe top of the qualifying times – despite a one-lap penalty. Second – also with a penalty – was Jean and Oli’s yellow #52 Ford. To round out the top three – and the automatic qualifiers for the feature race – were Jerome and Pete with their re-numbered Gulf Chevy Sedan.

The other six fought out a close and – at times – crazy five minutes in the semi-final. It is brilliant to see these short, stubby cars running nose to tail, deftly overtaking and tank-slapping down the straight. There was plenty of all that in the semi. A false start – and subsequent stop-go – for Terry and Keith’s #44 Ford put them on the back foot, as did a power issue for Daniel and Mike’s #69 Gulf Chevy. Ahead, four cars fought hard for the three step-up places. Ryan and Oliver were really going for it with Terry’s ‘Gold Chromie’ Ford Coupe, but they couldn’t quite keep up with the trio in front. Those three pairs weren’t to know and a splendid battle ended with Dean and Matthew’s #44 Ford taking first, followed by Andy and Ash – and then Mike and Jeremy.

The length of the feature race was extended to eight minutes – making it a three or four stop race, unless you really drove conservatively… which is missing the point of these cars! Despite missing out on the extra practice of the semi, it was the top two qualifiers who led early on – although Ash took the lead with some clean driving and slicker pit stops. Handing over the #55 Perrier Dodge Coupe to Andy at half-distance, it looked a straight battle with Alex and Ed’s Ford. It all came down to pit strategy – the Ford tumbling down the standings after a fourth stop. That left the Dodge a lap up – although a miscommunication raised heart rates significantly… It seemed Mike’s red #2 Chevy was closing fast – and he passed on the last lap when Andy was caught in a three-car pile-up… but it turned out he had only un-lapped himself.

The top three – Andy & Ash, Mike & Jeremy and Jean & Oli – all finished on the same lap, with Jerome and Pete a lap behind. That late pit stop drama dropped Alex and Ed to fifth, with Dean and Matthew just behind them. It was a great debut for these super little cars – although drivers will need to go away to tweak rear width, weight and tidy up their braids… we had two big shorts that interrupted practice and the second qualifying heat, but it was worth it. And that didn’t stop us finishing on time.

Congratulations to our winners and a big thank you to everyone who came along and took part. That includes Deborah, who decided to chill out and help with the marshalling, rather than race this time. Special thanks goes to the superbly-efficient set-up, race control and tear-down crews who helped make the evening run very smoothly indeed – not many signs of rustiness after two year away. We’re back for more Nascar and Legends racing next month.

- Andy P

After the event, you’ll be able to click on the logos to watch the video and follow the discussion.