The hours are rapidly disappearing (although not quickly enough for some!) until the start of WHO's 10th season tomorrow evening and the beginning of the Mod Championship 2020.
So, will Andy repeat his January win statistic for the 3rd year running? You would have to assume he has a good chance coming in as the reigning champion. Standing in his way will be a fleet of highly tuned Vipers from Team Grant Schooling (aka Keith and Debra) and a brand new car for Terry (Team Terry Racing?!). Also the usual suspects of Jerome, Peter and John F if he comes back.
I'm looking forward to see if Mike can get on top of his Viper woes this season and naturally for me, how well Dylan will go in his first solo campaign. I've tinkered with the chassis he will be using but I also have a brand new Viper in reserve if he needs it.
I'll be campaigning in Tuners with a new Porsche body on my Lifelike which I'm very pleased with. And sportingly I have prepped Simon's chassis so I expect it will be a tough championship.
Although it's our tenth birthday next month, tomorrow will be the start of our eleventh season. I think the competition will be too much for my ageing Viper tomorrow evening, but it'll probably like those long straights. My hunch is that we'll crown a new WHO Mod champion in October and - quite probably - a new club champion in December. Of the 'old-timers', I think John is looking good for some silverware in 2020 - so he might stand in the way of those predictions.
The festive lights may still have been twinkling in the Barn but the racers of WHO have sloughed off 2019's season like an old skin and were fresh and raring for the start of 2020's racing, particularly the drivers clutching new Vipers of which I counted at least six and there were probably more.
Simon had designed us a monster track with two monster straights, a double switchback which caught every driver multiple times and a boot shape stadium section.
Twenty six drivers were on the grid. It was an absolute pleasure to see John, Alex and Aiden returning and we welcomed Gary, Laurence and Waseem for their first races.
Alex was the first driver to catch the eye in the heats with a very fast but oh so fragile car. Fortunately the Ferrigno pits wouldn't have disgraced a full size race team (I have pitbox envy!) and John was able to keep him on the road. Following him Mike D, Oliver, Matthew, Keith and Andy were raising the bar ever higher with some huge scores.
After the first round of heats it was Andy leading the way with a very tight group of Jerome, Matthew and John behind him. Simon was top Tuner with what looked to be a very quick Lifelike. Jerome was top Junior but Oliver had a quick car and was hopeful of reeling him in.
The Player Power continued through the second batch of heats with 3 top scores, Jerome grabbing the other as he cemented 2nd on the grid. Keith bumped Matthew back into the B Final by just under a lap while John equalled Matthew's score. The gaps remained tight throughout the field with Deborah in 6th down to Peter in 10th separated by just 2 laps.
Simon took Tuners pole position and Duncan would have to beat a pair of Vipers in his final to have a chance of winning Tuners.
Jack stayed with us for the finals this time and took on his brother in a duel. Max immediately crashed into Turn 1 and was a lap down by the end of 30 seconds. Both were clearly enjoying having their own brand new cars and exploring their limits. Jack stretched his lead to 2 laps by the end of a minute and the gap remained like that to the end, Max though took the fastest lap.
Waseem lead away from pole but with Oliver providing some expert driver coaching, it was Dylan who was soon into the lead as he struggled to get on top of his new Viper. Jack suffered a huge accident onto the back straight at the 30 second mark with axle, body and chassis all making separate dives to the floor. Dylan and Waseem continued to tussle at the front with Waseem being consistent and Dylan erratic but fast. Into the final 30 seconds the junior finally eked out a 2 lap lead and happily took his first win. Gary struggled to hang onto the top 2 but comfortably beat Jack in 3rd place.
Simon R was another driver with a shiny new Viper and he led from pole with some style. Dylan immediately lost his axle in a crash while Steve also fell away meaning it was Ash in his Tuner chasing Simon. Steve and Dylan got back on the pace during the race and the two of them clawed back Ash, all three of them were neck and neck with 30 seconds to go and with 10 seconds to go it was heartbreak for Ash as they both got past him but all three finished a long way back from Simon.
This was a cracker of a race. From lights out it was Mike M in blue battling with Duncan in red, Simon in white and Laurence in yellow. Duncan was working miracles with his Super G to remain neck and neck with Mike's Viper but sadly it couldn't last and he crashed to the back of the field. It remained super close between all four drivers but after a minute it was Laurence who had vaulted from 3rd to the lead just ahead of Mike. Simon and Duncan were just a lap behind. Laurence held a slim 1.95 second lead with 30 seconds to go but the gap grew to 2 laps in the end to Mike while behind him Simon managed to fend off Duncan by around half a lap.
Simon was confirmed Tuners winner by Duncan's result in the F final and bagged the 21 points before the E Final even got underway. And he was facing a very stiff challenge indeed. Aiden has long had one of the most rapid but hardest to control Vipers in the club and it shows how strong the field was that he was back in the E Final. Perhaps a little race rusty too after a long absence. That rust was quickly shaken off though as he zoomed to a lap lead in just 30 seconds while Ryan, Laurence and Simon followed in that order and all on the same lap. Ryan's car had not performed properly in the heats but an arm change had him back to a very respectable pace. He managed to get back on the lead lap after a minute as Simon's challenge ebbed away somewhat, Laurence continued to hang onto just a lap deficit. 90 seconds in and everyone was a lap apart which become two laps for Aiden's lead as he completed a flawless run. Ryan did very well to only have the one crash while Laurence can be hugely satisfied with top Rookie honours.
To truly understand just how competitive this Modified field is right now, you just had to look at the D Final. Mike D, Alex F and Peter with the stepping up Aiden. Mike had made some changes to his car after the heats and unlocked a lot of pace. He was immediately embroiled in a battle with Aiden who was looking for a double step up. These two had stretched their lead over Alex and Peter to a little under 2 laps in just 30 seconds. Aiden crashed in the final corner at the minute mark but quickly overtook Mike to regain the lead. Alex wasn't out of the picture either as he was lapping at the fastest pace of anyone in the race. With 10 seconds to go Aiden was leading Mike by less than a second and before the power had cut, Mike was through and snuck the win! Alex had closed to under a lap behind Aiden too putting him just 0.9 off of the win to boot. Peter had no answer for these three and trailed home 3 laps down.
Mike stepped up into yellow lane and immediately got in between Gareth and Oliver who had been enjoying a private duel all evening through the heats and now the final as well with Terry bringing up the rear. A crash for Mike let Oliver back into 2nd before all the cars crashed at Turn 2. Then the race turned weird. Gareth crashed 3 times in rapid succession on his own to drop to the back and then hit a marshal which dislodged the body and sent him into retirement. Terry meanwhile had lost his axle and the lengthy repairs cost him over half the race and he was able to manage just one more lap at the end, good enough to get past Gareth though. Oliver's body was loose and going through the Boot he somehow tripped over his own bodyshell and crashed. All of this mayhem meant Mike was able to win by 2 laps from Oliver in what was the lowest scoring final since the F.
Matthew had seemed to be nailed on for the A Final throughout the heats but Keith had narrowly sent him back to pole on the B final. But it was Mike who led them away from Matthew, Deborah and John. Mike crashed which sent Deborah to the front which she held for the first half of the race but the gap to Matthew was just 0.3 seconds. It was super close throughout the field with less than a lap separating the 4 cars. 30 seconds later, Matthew had overtaken and opened up a 1 lap gap to Deborah. Then Mike had a big car issue with just seconds to go and his race appeared to be run. John was lapping 1/10th of a second quicker per lap than Deborah but neither had an answer for Matthew who finished on exactly 25 laps and with the fastest lap of the evening so far.
The intensity went up a notch for the A final. Andy led them away from pole and it was Jerome who blinked and crashed in Turn 2. That meant that Matthew was up to 2nd place but already 2 seconds down on Andy in just 10 seconds of racing. 30 seconds in and Keith was very close behind Matthew while Andy continued to pace himself out front and had opened up a 1 lap lead over the rest of the field after a minute. Keith got past Matthew into 2nd as it continued to be a super tight race for 2nd between all the drivers not called Andy. Then Keith crashed into Turn 2 and his axle popped. Jerome was now banging in the fast laps and matched Matthew's B Final fastest lap time to share the accolade. He swept into 3rd and then 2nd place in the final 20 seconds. It took the power being cut to separate Matthew and Jerome though as the gap was a scant 25 parts of a lap come the end of the race. None of them though could do anything about Andy. A monster 26.2 laps saw him complete a remarkable hat trick of January Modified wins. Get to your local bookmakers now for the odds on him winning January Mod next year!
So congratulations to our winner Andy, Junior winner Jerome, Tuners winner Simon and Rookie Laurence. Thanks to the set up and break down crews and our race control team of Ash and Ryan.
Finally, just a quick note to say that I am now bringing an additional box to races. If you have a body repair or other work you need me to get done for you, bag up and label your car with what you want doing and pop it in there. I'll have it back to you for the next race. I don't charge but I do ask that you cover the cost of any parts required.
That picture is pretty much actual size - the engineering is quite impressive in such a tiny car. Most HO cars have both traction magnets and the motor magnets over the metal track rails. Playing with the two perpendicular magnetic fields can be interesting in terms of increasing either magnetic downforce or rpm in the motor. Ultimately, the physics of HO magnet cars is balancing the drag from the magnetic downforce with the power of the motor - and that is usually done by changing the wheel/tyre height, which lifts or lowers the traction magnets. Two thousandths of an inch difference can make a significant difference in how the car performs on a particular track layout - and we build a new track every time.
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