From Newsletter March 2002
by James Carrol
West London – 12 Hour Race
Once more unto the breach they ventured, their heads held high. Saturday 2nd February was practice day – 103 feet of twisty, devious and sometimes evil plexi-track greeted us at Uxbridge. Julian, Trevor, Jamie (big), Jamie (little), James and Simon, under the watchful eye of Brian, busily sorted through their boxes to come up with their best offerings. Being a team event they had to come up with one car between them capable of not only lasting twelve hours of racing but, hopefully, winning.
Within the first few minutes of arriving there was an unpleasant incident in which Julian’s BMW had one of the teeth on the contrate gear literally torn from the rear axle – very nasty. One down, five to go.
After four and a half hours of practicing with several of the cars it was time to decide which one to use. It was in the final hour that Trevor asked James if he could play with his US Racing Callaway! Low and behold the racing car with hardly a bounce compared to the other teams’ Mercedes was chosen. With fast and consistent times being set, partly due to the NC3 motor, it ran into problems in the dying minutes.
Packed off home in cotton wool, the Callaway was stripped – the rear axle changed due to a slipping gear, the old tyres and hubs kept and, possibly the most difficult choice of all, the NC3 downgraded to an NC2. This was done mainly to keep a consistency throughout the laps, whereby the car couldn’t over-accelerate out of corners, leave the track and lose time and places.
After a late night in the pits, the Callaway was as ready as it was ever going to be. Gentle words of encouragement were sprinkled generously over the car, mixed in with a few curses that cannot be printed.
Sunday morning arrived. When they all finally congregated at Uxbridge (Simon arriving much later not wanting to miss his normal Sunday lie in!) the first thing that happened was the scrutineering. You guessed it, the Callaway failed at its first attempt because the axle was barely 1mm too wide! Second attempt – hooray. The other teams were eyeing them with suspicion – the sole Callaway amongst five other Mercedes. Did Molesey know something the opposing teams didn’t?
After the pre-race photograph of all the cars on the line Big Jamie prepared to do battle. He drove the first twenty-minute stint, followed by James, who managed to lose the most laps due to this being his first competition on this track. However, the team rallied and two-thirds of the way through they made it into second place, a position they held for quite a while. They were lapping consistently quicker than the lead team, pulling back the 55 lap deficit to around 30 laps. This was when the lead car hit trouble and needed work, bringing the lead down to within 5 laps, which is when Sod’s Law set in and their axle needed changing due to a shifting gear. The outside lanes, red and green, came into play. Up until now James had struggled but red lane was kind. It was when James asked Big Jamie what lap times he was doing the reply came “Just shut up and keep going”. Molesey team floored it and capitalised on it pulling back some of their losses, but at the end of the day Molesey finished third out of six, having achieved 3,961 laps, against the leader’s 4,041. Molesey should have come second but a back marker had a problem and continually lost brakes and control going into corners, causing Molesey to be wiped from the track whilst exiting a corner, resulting in more work being needed. The only major downer at the end of the day, which finished at around 11.00 p.m., was that first and second both got trophies but not third place, which the team questioned but to no avail.
Anyway, a good result Molesey and a great day.
Bet they’ll all be racing Callaways in the British Grand Prix.
Molesey Scalextric Club