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SlotForum Exclusive! Clint Finger Tells All!

The following was transcribed from a recently discovered cassette tape, by Ms Lola Chevrolet, secretary to Shelsey Walsh. The tape is an unedited recording of an interview conducted by Lars Post, slot racing reporter of the Helsinki Herald, with Clint Finger, leading slot racer and founder member of the West Hamley Slot Car Club. The interview has never before been published for reasons which will become obvious.

Lars Post; So tell me Clint. You've had some great successes in your slot racing career. Out of all, what was your best race please?

Clint Finger; Well that's an easy one Lars. It would have to be the 1968 F1 final at West Hamley. I still remember that as if it were yesterday, and I think if you ask anyone with anything to do with the club, they'll tell you the same.

LP; So what was making that particular race so rememborable, Clint?

CF; Well, lots of things really. I was the underdog in that one. And there was a lot at stake. End of the season, I'd had good results in Sports/G.T and Saloon, but I needed the F1 trophy to clinch the overall championship. There were some serious guys from out of the club trying to beat me, and they had some hot cars. See, some of the other clubs had kind of loose rules- they ran some F1's that were fairly dodgy. You know, fat handling bodies, Indy cars and Bentleys that weren't ever GP racers- not really within the spirit of things and that. But we had to let 'em run under the rules. They had big spongies on the back, some of them, and tiny little pram wheels on the front for low drag. On a stretched out 250F Maser, would you believe it? At West Hamley, we always wanted the cars to look like cars, y'know. In F1 we ran current GP models with scale wheels, and authentic liveries. And in '68 it was tricky getting a good chassis and a hot motor in a V12 Ferrari, I can tell you. But it was a sort of point of honour.

LP; Yes, I understand West Hamley has been always a club with a strong and independent tradition.Very British. The erect upper lip, the stiffy little finger and all that kind of thing.

CF; Yeah, I think I know what you mean. But I wouldn't put it quite that way if I were you. Anyway it was up to me that day to prove that our way was the best, and that a good honest car could beat an out and out rule bender. As long as there was a good driver at the throttle.

LP; And that good driver was being you, of course.

CF; Well, modesty forbids and all that, but I do have a pretty good record at the club.

LP; But there was also Lance Boyle- he was your main rival as a driver back then, wasn't he? Here, try some aquavit which I have brought with me from Helsinki.

CF; Mmm. Cheers. Yes, well, Lance. He was good. He reckoned he had a secret weapon that day. (Good grief, man. What's this stuff made of? Any more where that came from? Cheers.) As I was saying, Lance thought he had found a way of making a scale car beat a wide boy. I saw him in practice. Very impressive in fact. Most people at the club saw him as West Hamley's best chance. Rather than me. Shame he went out of the race the way he did. But I always thought I had the measure of him. I would have beaten him anyway. But he might have made the final even more exciting than it was, I suppose.

LP: Hey- I'm getting a lot of new information here. Slow down, my friend. Tell me from the beginning what happened that day. You like this? It is the finest Finnish liquor. Smooth, huh? It's OK, I have a few other bottle in the fridge.

CF. Slips down very nice. All this nattering gives you a dry throat, don't it? From the beginning you want it? From when the doors opened on race day?

LP; Take some more ice. Yes please, why not. Practice even. What was happened in the practice sessions?

CF; Well, practice. Yeah. That's when we began to see the shape of things. There was Lance's Brabham, of course. He was super confident. Then my Eagle, and Arnold's Lotus that were the only scale cars that looked like they would mount a challenge. Then there was a whole field of Harvey Aluminium Specials, Avus Mercs and the like from other clubs hit the track and put up impressive times straight away. But we knew the track, and although our cars were struggling, we could make up the defithit. What did I say? Decifit. Make up the difference.

LP; What was special about Lance's Brabham car then, Clint?

CF; Special? Yeah. Well that was really the start of aero effects in slot cars I reckon. Got off to a bad start though, I suppose, when you think what happened. But Lance was always trying to figure out clever stuff, you know, new angles. Did you mention another bottle, Lars? Well, there was that biplane Brabham then. Remember it?

LP; No my friend. It is, how are you saying it, a little in front of my time?

CF; Well, the full size F1 Brabham that season had a tall wing over the front as well as the back wheels. That was the time when all the racing cars were sprouting great tall wings, after the Chaparrals. But I think Lotus used it first in F1. Anyway, that Brabham, they put two wings on the thing. And that gave Lance his idea that he would build a briplabe Branbblib- sorry, must get my teeth fixed. Bilane Brapan. Two winged Brabham…Blimey, Lars. This stuff slips down easily don't it? I don't know what I'm talking about. Still, Doesn't matter, eh? Cheers. Finland for ever! What say you and I hit the bar later. There's a few fit looking young (Inaudible. L.C.)

LP; Don't worry Clint, I'll edit this out before we print.

CF; Sure, sure. Mustn't let the wife know, eh? Where were we? Oops, empty again! Cheers! Well Lance reckoned the biplane set-up would generate enough downforce to make up all the extra traction that the thingie drivers had with their wide sponge tyres and trick chassis. So he built this Biplabe Balham. It looked really neat on the track. And when I watched the practish shessions, I realised he was onto something. Turning some teat nimes. Neat times. Whatever. It was fast. Even though he was holding back a bit. Carpet bagging, you know.

LP; Why was he putting carpet in his bag, Clint? Here. A little more ice….

CF; Ta. I mean he wasn't doing his fastest times in case anyone else caught on. Y'know. Might give other drivers the idea of putting big wings on their own cars. I didn't care. I knew I had him for driving alibity. Driving abilimy. I could drive better than him. And, do you want to know something Lars old mate? You really are my mate aren't you? You're a good lisssener. I like that. They all like you back in Helsinki, mate? What lovely eyes you have.

LP; Oh yeah, for sure, Clint. More aquavit?

CF; Yeah yeah yeah. Mmmmm. What was I saying?

LP; You won that race against all of the odds, Clint. People still wonder how you did it.

CF; Well I couldn't really tell anyone. Could I? Back then, I mean.

LP; Why?

CF; Well- my reputation an'that. I wouldn't have lasted long in the club if they'd known. Poxy Coxie, the secletrary…

LP; You mean Coxie Cooper-Archer, the club secretary?

CF; Yeah. 'Im. He wouldn't have stood for it. Po-faced git. Chucked me out he woulda. Happy enough for me winning, with a scale car an' all, beating all the spingie thongies. What? I mean the spongie thingies. The bloomin Avus Mercs with blue slicks an' stuff. Whoops. Sorry about that. Don't stain your clothes though, does it this stuff? Good thing about it. Shame to waste it though. Here, let me… Anyway. Famous victory he said it was. Juftisied his scale rules posilly for the club, he said. Or something like that. But he didn't know the half of it, did he?

LP; And what was the other half of it, my good sport English friend?

CF. Har har har. No. Don't bother putting the cherry in it this time, I'll…
What? Well, I think I like you. You won't tell anyones else about this will you, will you mate? No-one must ever know what I did but I'll tell you cos you're my best mate now.

LP; Oh no. You can trust me. I'm a journalist.

CF; Oh well that's all right then. Aah. I always loosen up after the tenth one. Well. The first problem was Lance. His Brabham was a goer. Scale wheels, concours paint job…extra points for concours, and he'd have those all wrapped up nice. Give him the advantage he needed over the thingies. And them wings. They worked alright. Kept it stuck to the track like paint. But I couldn't afford to let him win. He'd have the championship that way. So. But what I did to Lance you must never never tell no-one. Never. Nooooo. But what a giggle, eh? While the cars was in parc ferme, you know, between qualifying and the first heat, I caused a bit of a rucus. Told everyone that Happy Hour at the Crown and Pinion was an hour early that day.

LP; What is the Happy Hour please? What is the Crown and Pinion?

CF; Happy hour. What a laugh. Most miserable pub in Southshire. But they do cheap beer cocktails before seven. Everyone pushed off straightaway. I hung around just long enough.

LP; Long enough for what, my dear old chum?

CF; Long enough to turn the wings over on Lance's Brabham.

LP; Wait.. you tell me you turned over the wings on Lance's car… that would reverse the aerodynamic effect- and explain that mysterious…

CF. Yeah. You got there before me. Sharp man! Me and Lance lined up together in the middle lanes for the first heat. I got him sort of niggled so he'd make a fast start. Told him what I thought of his wings just before the power came on. No sense of humour, Lance. As soon as the lights went on, he nailed the throttle. That Brabham really flew down the main straight. Har har har. Really flew. It flew clean out the window. Nearly took the turn marshals head off. Lance never saw the thing again. It did a loop the loop over the biscuit factory and disappeared behind the chimney at number 49. Funny enough, we found out after, there was an R/C flying display going on in the park at the time. Lance's Brabham took out two Dorniers and a Piper Cherokee on it's way down. Those airfoils worked real good. Shame they were the wrong way up.

LP; Well. Clint I have to say I am a little shocked. We would never do such a thing in Finland. But you did win the final yourself. You did beat some very strong competition. As you say, and I have the original race reports here, you had a scale Eagle with hard rubber, but you beat the fastest things on the planet. Cheater grand prix bodies stretched over sports car chassis. The news went round the world so fast… It made you a hero. I have a video of that very race. It was phenomenal. Never have I seen a performance like it. In the final…

CP; Yeah yeah yeah, Lars old pal. I've heard it all before. Pass the bottle. I didn't want to be a slot racer really you know. I coulda been a rock star. I can sing, y'dig. (sounds of furniture being pushed around. Thumping and screaming…) 'Finished with my woman cos she couldn't help me with my brain…'

LP; Ow! No. Please to stop. Tell me about the final, please.

CF; I can do ballads too, if you want. (more screaming) 'Cos she's building a stairway to hea-ven…'

LP; No, the race final, please. Tell me. Or no more aquavit.

CF; MMmm. The final. I can't remember. I didn't know you had a brother. Where did he come from?

LP; Here I will refresh your memory. I am here reading from the Model Cars race report. 'In an astounding display of driving ability, home driver Clint Finger made the final his own. His scale Eagle seemed out of place on a grid made up of two Avus Mercedes,one pink and one metalflake purple, two Harvey Aluminium Specials in different fluorescent fades, and a lime green Lancia Ferrari, all with wide sponge rears of various hues. Clint was not noticeably down on power, but was struggling to get it down onto the track, while the heavy brass pan chassis of the other cars put them at a distinct advantage in cornering, and the heavily gooped sponge took care of grip. The first segment went to Pierce Spleen of Carshalton, his rewound Puma pulling away from the pack from the start. Even so, Finger's Eagle was showing signs of his aggressive determination. Driving right on the ragged edge, fighting to keep his speed through the corners, he almost literally threw the car round the track at ever more impossible angles, but never dropped it once. Third in the first, second in the next, Clint took all the remaining segments, and a popular surprise win, which he thoroughly deserved. This reporter has never seen a car handled with such finesse. Clint never lost momentum, even when the tail of the Eagle flew out at acute angles to the direction of travel. How he kept the front end in the groove will remain one of the great mysteries of slot racing history. Struggling to keep up, even the most sophisticated chassis in the thinly disguised sports cars that made up the rest of the grid lost the slot from time to time, and that was their downfall. Your reporter is proud to say that he witnessed today a great victory for skilful driving and realism in model building. The speed merchants with their strange looking devices (it sticks in my throat to call them 'cars') went home with their tails well and truly between their legs.'
There. I think I read that correctly. Although I don't understand why the other drivers had to put tails between their legs. Is that how you remember it, Clint? A legendary performance in the history of Slot Racing?

CF; Yeah a legionary preference. His tree of slossing. Couldn't have done it without lucky charm. My old chucky larm. Still got it. Never go 'way without. Made into a necklace. Bit uncomfortle. Secret of my sussess though. Won't be a minute old mate.

( Transcriber's note. Here the tape becomes a little confusing. There are sounds of loud snoring, and scuffling. It sounds as if Mr Finger has fallen off his chair. The next sound on the tape is the voice of Lars Post, speaking in a whisper, in Finnish. I have had this translated by Jukaan Keepjurhattonn from the Finnish Embassy in London, who has rendered it as follows.)

LP; The stupid alcoholic pig has passed out. They cannot take their liquor, these fat British hooligans. Now what was he talking about, his lucky charm? He has some tacky gold neck chain. I will remove it in the interests of investigative journalism. Hmm. The sentimental fool has a jet flag guide attached to the chain. So this is his 'lucky charm'. It certainly is a vintage piece. Ow! That drew blood! What, by all the elks in Lapland, was that? By Odin, this guide is booby trapped! Suffering snowmobiles! This thing is barbed! Wait a minute. Now I understand. I press gently on the top of the guide post, and these two teeth spring out sideways from the bottom of the flag. Press again, and they slide back. It's the mechanism from a retractable ball pen, cleverly modified. So. Let me think. With the post in this position, the guide looks perfectly normal. And legal. You drop your car in the slot, and tap the nose of the car just over the guide post. Then these two teeth will spring out. Locking the car in the slot! Not even Thor's hammer would knock the car off the track with this set-up. So that's how Finger did it. He knew he could drive that Eagle at any speed without losing it. Then at the end of the run, he taps the nose again, the teeth slide back into the guide, and the car can be lifted out of the slot with no suspicion. The son of a Tampere trout sucker! He cheated! He sabotaged his friend's car, and ran an illegal aid in his own! The most famous race in slot car history was a set-up. A good driver with a good honest car indeed. Point of honour! Rissoles! A plain old cheat is what it is. This is disgraceful. I shall return to Helsinki, and tell the world. It will mean the end for British Slot Racers on the international circuit. Finland shall rise!'

There is a loud click here which signals the end of the tape. Sadly, Lars Post never did make it back to Finland. Clint Finger had been wearing his lucky 'cheater' guide round his neck for nearly forty years. When Lars pricked his finger on the spring mechanism he contracted acute blood poisoning, and succumbed before Clint regained consciousness early the following morning. His green-tinged body and all his effects were returned to Helsinki the following day, and this tape recording was recovered only recently from a boot-sale in Turku. The authors accept no responsibility for the repercussions of publishing this controversial material, but do so in the interests of truth, justice and made-up stories.
 

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Dark days for West Hamley then!
Apart from all the murders that is


great story RR! I always enjoy reading them...Jim have you got any jet flags for sale?


Mark.
 

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Russell Sheldon
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2,855 Posts
Wasn't Bengt Axel a member of the same club?

Good thing that it was that tape of Lola's that was found and not the other one! If you thought that Argyle was slick, you should have met Shelsey!

Kind regards,

Russell
 
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