Had England beaten Germany and Argentina, it might have been just me and Robin at tonight's race night. As it was, nineteen racers chose slot car racing over the World Cup semi-final - and a good choice it was too.
The atmosphere in the hall was noticeably quieter and more serious for our third 'Modified' event than for recent meetings. We dropped the qualifying format this time and sorted racers randomly into heats - this gave us time for 3 minute heats and finals and to finish by 9.30pm.
The club cars were leaner and meaner - all fitted with lightweight lexan bodies, expertly painted by Robin. Less weight means more speed, a lower centre of gravity and better road-holding.
The computer timing made its second appearance, thanks to Ian digging out a spare monitor after the previous one bit the dust.
Racers were grouped into five heats, everyone using the Super-G+ club cars. This month's track saw good scores in all four lanes. Most people - but not everyone - found blue lane 'difficult' and white lane saw the majority of racers' best scores.
The best heat score was a blistering 33.90 by John in red lane, with Ashley scoring 30.90 in white. James, Adam and Robin all had 30 lap scores in white and Kevin managed a 30.55 in red.
Brothers Daniel and Stephen McCann made a very impressive debut - Daniel winning and Stephen taking second in their very first heat!
John comfortably took pole position. His fast and smooth driving seemed to rub off on the others in his heats - Jonah visibly improved, running John very close for over 2 minutes in their final heat.
All in all, there was some very impressive racing in the heats, although turn 1 and the hairpin (turn 2) were busy places to marshal.
After adding up each racer's best 3 heat scores, the five finals were ready to run.
In the E final, Brandon had first pick of lanes, chose red and powered off into the distance to take the win ahead of Tyler and Mike. Mike did well on his HO debut and was not the first - or last - dad to be beaten by his sons.
The next final saw a result very different from the qualifying order. Cameron was left with the unfavoured blue lane after a couple of poor heats, but showed his talent by winning the D final by nearly two and a half laps - ahead of first-time racer Stephen, who was closely followed by Jonah and Tim.
The C final was an incredibly close and exciting race. Jack sensibly chose white lane and seemed to have finally held off Rick after a relentless three minute battle - but then he threw it off in the dying seconds and Rick just sneaked through to win by three quarters of a lap. Despite being pipped at the end, Jack really showed tonight what he is capable of. James and Daniel followed in third and fourth, both having impressive evenings and suggesting they too could be battling for the junior medal soon.
The top two under-16s met in the B final to fight over the junior medal. Will had been in this position before, but it was the first chance for Ashley to take the honour. Previous race winners Adam and Ian were also in this final, so it promised to be a cracker.
Adam was the early leader, but dropped back behind Will and Ian after a few too many crashes. Ian, on the unpopular blue lane, slowly reeled in Will and took the lead with about a minute to go. Will knew he didn't need to beat Ian to win his first junior medal and drove carefully to keep three laps ahead of Ashley.
Being in the hunt for the medal was exactly what Ashley deserved after impressive improvements in recent events. But like so many of us, the excitement got the better of him. Next time - as Will proved tonight - a cool head might just land him a medal.
That just left us the A final - a heavyweight battle between John, Robin, Kevin and Dave. After his stellar performance in the heats, John stormed into what appeared an unassailable lead. Then disaster struck - a crash at turn 1 dislodged a pick-up and he dropped to the back of the field. John eventually fought his way back to third place, in the process putting in the fastest lap of the A final by nearly half a second!
Out front, Robin and Kevin had a close fight, with Kevin hanging on and, by the end, closing to within a few feet of Robin. Robin won by a mere 0.15 of a lap, both racers completing over 30 laps.
Robin's win puts him ahead of Ian in the Modified class championship and Will now has a commanding lead over Tyler and Cameron in the junior section.
Halfway through the season and Dave leads the overall championship ahead of Ian, Adam and Robin in joint second place. Will leads the junior championship and Dave is top of the Rookie of the Year standings.
You can check out all the championship tables here.
A forum community dedicated to slot car owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about collections, racing, displays, models, track layouts, styles, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!