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WHO Nascar - 1 February 2017

Race Report


The Nascar class at WHO has become a real favourite, with some great-looking cars and the excitement and demands of oval racing. Getting Nascar fanatic Keith on board to help organise the championship has vastly improved the variety and realism of the ovals.


This time out we went short-track racing - the bread and butter of the North American stock car scene. The twenty-six foot oval with nine foot straights looked tiny in the middle of the Barn, but it really packed a punch. Get it right, and a few drivers managed to lap in one and a half seconds. Get it wrong, and an off would cost a couple of laps - even if the marshals were lightning quick...


Twenty-two racers took up the challenge, including an HO debut for three-time WHO/digital medal-winner Jonathon. Before the racing, there was the business of presenting certificates to the 2016 WHO top dogs - the first three in all the 2016 championship and all the junior champion winners. Our printers had certainly been busy. Well done to all the recipients.


We also had time to look over the new AFX Endurance Champions set, fresh from Sussex Model Centre in Worthing, plus a couple of Auto World Indy Cars, now stocked by Slot Cars Direct in Derby. Then it was back to the racing...


The heats were quick and sometimes chaotically scrappy. The big run-off areas did help the marshals and so wreckage-free clean runs were more common than anticipated with the short track length. There was a big difference between each lane, with breaking points and therefore the rhythm subtly different. Most people found the inside yellow lane just a little too tight, but then Mike D threw down a 71 lap score, the second highest of the night in any lane and one of only three scores over seventy laps.


At the half way stage, it was no surprise that Mike D was top of the pile, followed by John, Andy Player and Keith. Aaron had put in a couple of cracking opening heats and was comfortably top junior. Not much changed at the top after the second pair of heats, however in the battle for the junior medal, Ned recovered well to beat Aaron's aggregate heat score by half a lap.


Finals


After winning the WHO Mod race last time out, Corey found himself dead last and in the G final with Jonathon, Aiden and Deborah. All had struggled in the heats but they now had the opportunity to put things right. Corey crashed at the first corner and that summed up his night with the Mega-G. It was Deborah and Jonathon who lead the way, lapping closely and consistently. Aiden dropped back with too many offs, and then Deborah did the same, leaving Jonathon to pull out a decent gap. Try all she could, Deborah could not make up the ground and it was Jonathon who took a confident and mature win.


Up in the F final, it was a case of déjà vu, as a close battle between red and white lanes ensued. This time is was Mike McCann in the outer white lane and Rick in red. It was good to see Rick's quick Mega-G+ on an oval for the first time and he worked hard to keep up with Mike's Super-G+. However, it was Mike who kept it clean and pulled out a gap over Rick by the end. Behind them, Hayley's short-wheelbase (non-Gen6) Mega-G+ beat Jonathon to third.


There was a nice variety of cars in the E final - Alex's Life Like, Neil's Mega-G, Mike McCann's Super-G+ and Ash with the blue Mega-G+ club car. This was another very tight battle that had an epic finish. The start was pretty good too, as all four drivers lapped within inches of each other. Alex was the first to fall in the inside yellow lane. Neil led the way in white, followed by Ash in blue and Mike in red. There were crashes for all and it was Ash who held the lead going into the second minute. Then we all watched, transfixed as Neil slowly ate into Ash's modest advantage - and not many noticed that Mike was gaining on both of them.


As the clock ran down, Neil just eased into the lead, only for Ash to pass back again. Out of the blue, an off in Turn Four ended Neil's chances. Ash crossed the line the winner, with Neil a lap and a half back and just half a lap ahead of Mike. Alex's score in yellow was a good one, but only enough for fourth.


After all that excitement, the D final looked a straightforward win for Aaron to give him a shot against Ned to win the junior medal. His Super-G+ was quick and he was driving well and he left Andy Phillips, Jamie and Ash in his tyre tracks. By halfway he was nine laps up and he had stretched that to over ten laps when he had an innocuous off in Turn Two. The body popped off but that was no problem with such a lead. However it was more complicated, with the body clip askew and the three pieces - clip, chassis and body - refusing to fit back together.


Aaron's lead swiftly evaporated as the marshals struggled with the car. By the time he was back on track, both Ash and Andy had slipped past and there was no time to catch them. That was massive bad luck on a day when Aaron has really found some potential medal-winning form. Everyone was gutted for Aaron, but Ash - rather apologetically - took an excellent win in yellow lane for a second step-up.


It was back to some extremely close racing in the C final. This time Ash couldn't stay with the other three, who were lapping very quickly and reasonably error-free. The race settled down to Ned's Super-G+ and Tony's Mega-G+ lapping within inches of each other and Simon just sitting back a little and waiting. It was mesmeric stuff and incredible that they could keep it up for almost the full two minutes.


With not long to go, Ned and Tony came together, were marshalled beautifully and were back at it, with a hopeful Simon just a little bit closer. Perhaps Ned got back into his rhythm quicker or suddenly found a little more pace. Either way, he finished almost the length of the back straight ahead of Tony - a massive lead of eight feet in a race where the lead had rarely been more than eight inches. A cracking two minutes of short-track oval action.


The B final was another enthralling race. Stephen headed off into an early lead, with his Super-G+ holding a two lap advantage after thirty seconds of racing over Keith's Mega-G+ and Duncan's Life Like. Keith fought back to within inches of Stephen's car, before an off dropped him behind Duncan. That's how close it was. Behind them, Ned was struggling in yellow lane. As the race reached halfway, Stephen had re-established his two lap lead over the chasing duo, Duncan one second ahead of Keith.


With half a minute to go, the gap was the same, but now Keith was leading the challenge. The pressure was getting to everyone, Stephen pulling out a couple more laps before he had a late off in Turn One, which could have proved very costly. The marshals did their job and Stephen held his nerve, giving him a well-deserved win and the much-prized step-up to the A final.


Stephen moved up to yellow lane in the A final, with pole-sitter Mike D in blue, John in red and Andy's lone Mega-G+ in white. It was another rapid start and some breath-taking formation flying - until Stephen crashed and Mike and John's Super-Gs gradually pulled out a gap on Andy. Then it all got a bit crashy for a while, giving the lead briefly to Andy, John taking over when Andy crashed, followed by more offs for Mike, one taking out John. At halfway, it was Andy who had a small lead of about a lap, ahead of a fast-charging Mike.


All his errors had got to Mike. Past experience suggested he would either get his act together or fall apart. Andy was hoping for the latter, but the club champion was on a charge that would be fast and error-free to the chequered flag. In that form, Mike is unstoppable. Behind, John still thought he had a chance and closed right up on Andy. That battle got scrappy, John taking out Andy's car in Turn Three. That was almost enough to get back on terms, but the gap was a lap and a half at the flag. Ahead, Mike's six lap winning margin showed what a stunning second half of the race he put together.


Huge congratulations to Mike on his win - and to Ned for winning another junior medal, Alex as top under-11, Jonathon as top rookie and Andy Player for his Gen6 Cup win. A big thanks to everyone who came along, raced so hard and made it a very enjoyable night on the short-track oval. Special thanks goes to Stephen for running race control so well and to everyone who came early to set up and stayed late to pack away.


The ovals will get bigger this season, but I think the short-track definitely gets the thumbs-up for a return in 2018.



- Andy P

Heats

Finals

Race Results

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