Whickham and District Motor Club meet every Wednesday evening from around 8:00pm at the Kibblesworth Workmens Club, a local village venue offering a friendly welcome and extremely reasonable prices...........................................................................................
 
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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

Metcalfe's Merciful Tabletop - 16 August 2017

The sick and unwell people of the North East of England can only be extremely grateful that Gordon Bradford decided not to pursue a career in medicine, if his depiction of a wavy line is anything to go by. Had he decided to go down the medical route, there would have been many more patients buried than cured at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary over the course of the past 40 years, as Gordon obviously considers a 'Flat line' heart trace as nothing unusual.

A normal heart trace according the the BMA

2017 Healthy Heart graph

A normal heart trace according to Doctor Bradford

2017 Flat Line Graph

Nevertheless, this certainly hasn't stopped him from getting away with murder, as was witnessed on Wednesday the 16th of August when Peter Metcalfe put on an interesting little TableTop Rally that was short, concise and not just a little bit confusing. The general consensus amongst competitors was that getting started was the most difficult part to understand, as Peter has made the first part of his route instructions particularly vague and just told competitors where to start and where 'not' to go without giving any sort of precise instructions. It was a rather obscure yet quite clever ploy, and certainly had a good few scratching their heads looking desperately for clues before realising Spot Height 195 was so far from the start that the correct route simply had to be just getting to it. Once started the rest was pretty straightforward, everyone crossing gridlines and most people following tulips correctly to end up at the end of the map and shout 'time!'

There were a couple of scalps along the way, both Tosh and Brian making the same mistake by missing the exact same white road at Tring Grange Farm after mistakenly continuing on Coloured Roads Only and missing the Consider All Roads instruction. A lesson learned and one that would cost them both a few places. Gordon, however, didn't need to worry about getting the correct route, he just had to be lucky enough to go wrong where there were no Code Boards and then convince Peter he had taken the correct route through the laybys even though he had drawn a line with less deviation than one of American Sniper Chris Kyle's bullets.

Gordon driving into and out of a layby

Gordon LayBy

Peter must have been having a particular Mother Teresa moment this evening and in one of the most lenient examples of marking ever seen gave Doctor Bradford the benefit of the doubt, much to the chagrin of some of the other competitors. However, the rules are pretty clear: the organiser's decision is final, as evidenced by Gordon's marking and his intimate knowledge of Churches in Jarrow and the surrounding area.

Final results, once everyone had squinted and strained and marked their routes, were as follows:

1 Guy 9m 40s 0F
2 Gordon "He's dead Jim" Bradford 22m 25s 0F
3 Gary 23m 55s 0F
4 Tosh 12m 30s 1F
5 Brian 13m 00s 1F
6 Phil DNF Many Fails

A superb win for Guy, storming to the win in a blistering time of less than ten minutes, cleaning the event and showing a very clean pair of heels to all the other competitors. A hugely fortuitous second place for Gordon just beating Gary into third by the few seconds that Gary obviously spent carefully marking the correct route through all the various laybys on the map. A surprising fourth and fifth for Tosh and Brian, showing just how one small mistake can make a big difference. Phil finished up as tail ender due to him deciding the fiddly tulips were just a touch too far on the night, however if he needs help in future we can suggest he calls the Membership Secretary for tips.

Points in the Maps Championship to all who took part, Guy's win taking him to fifth in the table with Gordon just behind on level points with Phil.

Many thanks to Peter for putting on a good little event, short and taxing enough for all even if it did provide some lively discussion on the night.

Radio Controlled Autotest - 9 August 2017

Blancpain Gallardo

The Western World can only hope that should North Korea decide to launch their Nuclear Missiles, somebody other than Tosh should be the man with the joystick trying to defend the rest of civilisation. The four minute warning would have just been too quick for the man.

Whilst good advice states that children should never run with scissors, people should never drive drunk, and a fat guard should never enter a Jurassic World holding pen just because he can't see the I-Rex, tonight that advice gained another: don't give an old man a confusing hand control and expect a good and speedy outcome.

Tonight saw the return of the Radio Controlled Autotest, but this time with a different car and controller. The car was the beautiful black Blancpain Lamborghini Gallardo and it arrived with a whole host of batteries in order to ensure that nobody ran out of power during their competitive run. As it happened, this could well have been a masterstroke by Gary.

This time, the format was slightly different: instead of the usual tight and twisty garages to park the car in, the route was fast and twisty and allowed everyone the opportunity to get a bit of speed up and race through the gates in the style of the downhill slalom at the Winter Olympics, albeit with the additional odd hairpin and 360. Speed would be necessary, time would be of the essence, and anyone slow and steady would only figure in the top end of the results if they could manage to avoid the bollards and make it a clean run.

Phil was first to go and set a very good time of just under one and a half minutes, although he did have the misfortune to knock down two bollards and thus gain two fails. Tosh followed him, but was very obviously not at home with the controller, stopping often to try and work out which combination of twists and trigger actions would get the desired result. Alas, it just wouldn't sink in, and he sent the car forwards instead of backwards and left instead of right on more than one occasion, eventually settling for three fails and a very slow time of just over four minutes. He never ever got the hang of this particular controller, and it showed in his eventual time.

As each of the other competitors took their turn, it was obviously apparent that they were completely at ease with the technology, none taking more than half of Tosh's time and each finishing in less than two minutes. Some, however, completed their task at the expense of the 'control' part by hitting various cones along their way.

Final results, once everyone had emulated Vin Diesel and been as 'Fast and Furious' as they could, were as follows:

1 Gary 1m 07s 0F
2 Brian 1m 48s 0F
3 Phil 1m 28s 2F
4 Karl 1m 24s 3F
5 Tosh 4m 01s 3F
6 Alastair 1m 51s 7F

A great win for Gary, showing that he certainly has the dexterity, spatial awareness and familiarity with the system to take the top spot. A good second place for Brian, continuing his record of never having knocked a bollard over in anger, while Phil takes third place with a steady run albeit at the expense of a couple of bollards. Karl showed how a youth spent with gaming will always bring an advantage over someone who has to analyse the options, while Alastair didn't have the time of his life but did have the honour of having more bollards on their backs than anyone else.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Gary's win taking him ahead of Alastair for the first time this season, while Phil just edging ahead of Jimmy in the Superstars table.

Many thanks to Gary and Brian for putting the event on, a nice and subtle change from the normal Radio Controlled Autotest, more of a Radio Controlled Race this week. It's fair to say that one member at least will have to raise his game if he is to compete on a level footing with the young bloods in future!

Foot Rally - 26 July 2017

Spot the odd Dock out: The Broad Leafed Plantain AKA '4'

170726 Dock Leaves

Rumex obtusifolius? Where on earth would I find one of those? To the uninitiated, it prompted an immediate visit to Google; for the enlightened, it was of course the simple Dock Leaf.

Wednesday 26th July was one of those strange days when it was bright and sunny one moment and then raining the next, which didn't bode well for the scheduled Foot rally tonight. However, organiser Phil Kenny had obviously thought about the implications of a wet night, and adjusted his strategy accordingly. Not for him the concern of asking club members to plodge through the clarts getting wet and messy in pursuit of a few points in the Club Championship; he had a better idea, and it certainly was a very good one.

The trick? Set a very quick time limit. Make a shortish list of common items consisting of things that grow and things likely to be discarded by the general public, then send teams out to collect as many as possible in the time available. Simple. Except of course Phil did have to add the odd 'out of season' item in the horticultural arena. Not that it put any of the competitors off: there were four teams out on the night and four teams came back with a selection of items: some good, some maybe not so.

Tosh and Brian were off like a shot, knowing that they had only fifteen minutes to collect all items and approaching it in their own inimitable way: breaking up the job into separate tasks that could be achieved by a team in the shortest possible time. Tosh had a stopwatch, Brian had the eyesight and fitness; together they were back in 14 minutes and 28 seconds with everything except a conker, because as Tosh did point out, 'There are no conkers at this time of year'.

The combined efforts of the Chrisp Family were out next, aiming for a whitewash of all other teams. Whether that would be the result seemed less sure at inspection time when the identity of a particular leaf was brought into question: was it, or was it not, a Dock Leaf? Tony of course was working on the assumption that the louder he protested the more likely his submission was to be accepted; this however cut no ice with organiser Phil, who subsequently enlisted the help of an 'Independent Adjudicator' who declared the proffered vegetation as 'looking a bit dodgy to be honest'.

The louder Tony protested, the greater the hilarity that ensued, finally reaching a crescendo when Jamie and Ian returned, their offering, described by Tony as a 'Cabbage Leaf , was deemed to be the true Rumex obtusifolius, causing Jamie to raise his fist and shout Yeah! in triumph. In truth, whilst there are no Monty Dons at WDMC, there is a huge enthusiasm for a good natured club night, and tonight was no exception.

Final results, once everyone had returned from their own Tomb Raider Adventure collecting treasures around Kibblesworth, were as follows:

1 Tosh and Brian 2 fails Won on the tiebreaker
2 Karl and Jamie 2 fails
3 Guy 3 fails
4 Indiana Chrisp and Jonny 4 fails

A good result for Tosh and Brian although it could all have gone very wrong had Brian taken his Father's advice on the tiebreaker: what was the mileage reading on Phil's car as he arrived at the club tonight? Brian guessed 80,000 miles, Tosh less than half that. Actual mileage was 79,000 and so the win went to the Townsends. Jamie would have had it in the bag had he been more observant whilst spending the day in Phil's car, however, nobody can deny he was demonstrably more observant than Tony when it came to the local plant life.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, positions all stay relatively the same except for Jamie who neatly moves into the Top Ten, pushing Chairman Ollie into eleventh.

Many thanks to Phil for putting a brilliant little event on, very simple, easy to organise and quick to complete. With four teams out it could have been better attended, but all who took part certainly enjoyed it and the atmosphere in the club afterwards was epic. So not as tortuous as we thought last week, and more of a Walk in the Park.

PlayStation - 19 July 2017

2017 BMW M3 GTR Ring

The Green Hell. A nickname that Sir Jackie Stewart in 1960 dubbed the now famous Nordschleife racing circuit following his victory in the 1968 German Grand Prix amid a driving rainstorm and thick fog and a name that remains to this day. As Jochen Rindt declared it: "Difficult to drive, easy to die", the circuit near the village of Nürburg in Germany’s Eifel mountain region has claimed many lives since it was completed in the Spring of 1927. Still, it remains an irresistible draw to many thousands of motoring enthusiasts across the world, many of whom travel thousands of miles to visit the circuit and try their hand at setting a respectable time.

Wednesday the 19th July 2017 saw the return of the old PlayStation PS2 to Kibblesworth Club once again along with Gran Turismo 4: a combination not seen since 19 October 2016 - exactly nine months ago and a well overdue return was enjoyed. Gary had the honour of selecting the car, circuit and settings and he chose well: the Nordschleife full circuit, a BMW M3 GTR and hard tyres; a combination that would test the capabilities of everyone present.

Initially, it looked almost as though Gary had some ulterior motive in choosing that combination, as he was immediately quick out of the box, however it soon became apparent that this was not the case, he was just very quick on the night. Jamie was watching Gary like a hawk: every line, every corner, every throttle and brake response was being taken in and carefully noted. When Jamie was called to take his turn next, he was "on it" from the start, causing Gary to think he might be leading for only the shortest time of all. However it was not to be, as Jamie couldn't quite match Gary for pace, coming in just a few seconds adrift and setting a very quick time in the process.

Phil was next to try his hand, always self-deprecating, trying to avoid setting any great expectations, he nevertheless put a good deal of effort into his run to come in only two and a half seconds behind Jamie and keep the times all within less than ten seconds of each other. Alastair was next, his face a picture of concentration, his eyes glued to the screen and his fingers as nimble as ever. It certainly paid off as his time of 7m and 42 seconds put him squarely behind Gary and into second place for the moment.

Adam came next, decrying his abilities and stating he could not remember when he was last on the PlayStation; however we can reveal it was in October 2014 when he was driving a Nissan 200SX S14a in white around the streets of Citta Di Aria. On that day he finished 7th, and he was obviously thinking tonight may be no different. Tonight, though, was to be very different indeed: Adam blasted the BMW around the 20.8 km circuit in an amazing time of 7m 38.336 seconds - shaving just over a second off Gary's time and taking the top spot! Adam was quite surprised, having spun quite badly at one point and obviously thought his chances of a good position having been swept away.

Tosh was next to try his hand, and started off by advising everyone to sit down and make themselves comfortable as this could take some time. He certainly wasn't joking or sandbagging, he really wasn't quick at all, and spent much of his time correcting the wayward BMW as he took the scenic route along hedgerows and ditches, gravel traps and concrete kerbs on his way to what he would later describe as a 'solid' time. Not that there was much to celebrate about it, save the fact that is was marginally quicker than Formula One driver Phil Hill's record breaking time of 8m 55.2 seconds in the Ferrari 156 "Sharknose" Formula One car. Admittedly, that was in 1961, when Tosh was but a lad.

Peter came next, driving for all he was worth and providing a running commentary on his progress by likening it to one of the many famous Finnish "Crash videos" that we used to enjoy in the club so many years ago: Peter doing his best for nostalgia and bringing a tear to the eye in the process, although for some it was not the thought of the old days that had them crying.

That only left Brian. Having not touched a PlayStation or GT4 since the last time in Citta Di Aria and having watched Adam set the best time so far, he had it all to win. And as he said to Gary, when he was at college he spent a lot of time on the Nordschleife, and knew every bend, every brow and every line. One can only imagine his joy when Gary picked the circuit, and his time certainly reflected his knowledge and ability.

Final results, following everyone's attempt at emulating "Queen of the Nürburgring" Sabine Schmitz, were as follows:

1 Brian 7m 15s
2 Adam 7m 38s
3 Gary 7m 39s
4 Alastair 7m 42s
5 Jamie 7m 46s
6 Phil 7m 48s
7 Tosh 8m 27s
8 Peter 9m 23s

A very comprehensive win for Brian and one that sees him start to stretch his lead in the Superstars Championship by another healthy haul of points. A great second place for Adam and his very first points this year in the 2017 Superstars Championship. Gary's third place earning him sufficient points to overtake Jimmy Knox and start to break the 'Knox block' - also helped by Karl's unusual decision not to take part tonight. Phil moves up a place and Jamie's result brings him within sniffing distance of the Top Ten.

Many thanks to Tosh and Brian for putting the event on, good to see a healthy entry and some great competition: especially considering that there were less than ten seconds between second and sixth places. We won't talk about the difference at the bottom of the results.

Next week: WDMC Foot Rally: will it be a Walk in the Park or instead a trial by geography?

Watch this space to find out...

Tosh and Brians Quiz - 12 July 2017

170712 TandB Quiz

Serendipity. First coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 it means a "fortunate happenstance or pleasant surprise", and that was not what Tony Chrisp was thinking as, with furrowed brow, he looked at the questions on Tosh and Brian's "Quiz you've all been waiting for" on Wednesday 12th July.

The further he looked down the question sheet the less he felt his chances were until he saw question 9: On 21 November 1985, a team of five Royal Marines changed the engine of a Ford Escort in an astonishing time. How long did they take? - and his eyes lit up: only days before he had been searching for that very question on YouTube, and he knew he had that one in the bag: an unbelievable 42 seconds! Oh what serendipity!

Unfortunately, his joy was short-lived; as he looked further, he realised that was the only answer he knew: he would have to guess all the others. Guessing of course would have been a reasonable thing to do, had he thought he could make a decent stab at getting at least some of them correct, but stabbing was not on the agenda tonight, and as time wore on his answer sheet remained resolutely clear of entries. Tony was, however, generous enough to pass on this single piece of knowledge to Jamie, who, struggling himself, was more than grateful for every crumb that came his way.

Tosh and Brian are of course well known for the obscurity of their questions; not for them the mainstream knowledge that can be gleaned by listening to the Motoring Press or the occasional visit to facebook; their questions are always a mixture of very little known facts with the occasional obvious answer thrown in.

That mix paid certain dividends to some, whilst completely confusing others, with the result that points in this competition were very much lower than normal. Nevertheless, a competition was definitely to be had, and nobody got the same results as anyone else, and so the quiz did its job and sorted the men from the boys.

There were of course a few corkers, and some daft omissions, with a fair smattering of disbelief at some of the answers when they were read out by Tosh, but all in all, everyone enjoyed the event even if they had no idea about most of the answers. Some even turned to YouTube to see the World Record for changing an engine.

Final results, once everyone had sat in wonder at the answers, were as follows:

1 Ollie and Karl 5 pts
2 The Knoxes 4 1/2 pts
3 Gordon Bradford 3 pts
4 Gary and Phil 2 1/2 pts
5 Jamie Coulson 2 pts
6 Mac Cliff 1 1/2 pts
7 Ian Coulson 1/2 pt

A very close win for Ollie and Karl, only beating the Knox Family by the merest of margins and that only because the combined might of the Knox family forgot to put the end time for not sounding your horn in the UK: 7:00am - that tiny mistake costing them first place, although they seemed very happy to be a tactical second, whilst Karl held his head in his hands at the thought of having to organise the next round of the quiz.

Many thanks to Tosh and Brian for putting on another of their testing mind-benders that had everyone guessing (arguably the only real way to score points) and especially for the variation in the answers: Who knew that Vauxhall hid little sharks in their cars, or that Frank Williams was born in North Shields? Yet over half the entrants correctly knew (or guessed) that it was the Toyota MR2 that used the front transaxle of the E80 Corolla as its rear transaxle. Ian's answer showed he may not have known the model, but he did know he couldn't fit in it.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Phil moves up a place and Jamie's result bringing him within a breath of the Top Ten, had Gordon's score not leapfrogged him: unfortunately for them both, however, Chairman Ollie benefitted from his excellent win in the event to catapult himself into the final slot.

Next round: PlayStation; this time it will be a break from Rallying and back to Gran Turismo and Tarmacadam, so all eyes will be on Brian to see if he can get back to his winning ways and take the fight back to the younger Knoxes....

More 'Jaws-a' than Corsa?

170712 Vauxhall Shark

Gary's Tactical Telephone Rally - 5 July 2017

Sections

Many a motoring event has been designed with the overall event split up into various sections to complete, and it may well have been this tenuous concept that spawned the idea behind Gary's Telephone Rally on the night of the 5th July.

Gary had previously warned us all that this week's Telephone Rally was going to be ’a bit different’ - and in truth we were looking forward to the event with anticipation: not since Gary’s March 2016 homage to Tee Cee’s famous Greyscale event has there been something so fundamentally different that it catches us all off guard. That event threw everyone into disarray, with the Navigators trying to work out what were browns, greens and yellows and the drivers just wanting to know how grey each road should be.

This week we saw another brilliantly deceptive interpretation: the route was indeed in sections, however it really wasn’t what we were all expecting. The route had actually been printed on nine different sections of the map, then all mixed up in a pack, and both driver and navigator had to correctly assemble the route before starting the arduous task of describing where to go, where to join and leave each map, and all printed to a smaller scale that the standard Ordnance Survey 1:50000 that we are all so used to.

Unfortunately for Gary, but conversely lucky at least for the oldest member taking part, the combination of only a few competitors, the tiny print and the lack of light in the Club would actually benefit the senior member. Tosh could be regularly heard to say he couldn’t tell what colour a particular road was, or what a place was called, or whether this ’went’ or not, all the while increasing Brian’s frustration at the older Townsend’s inability to see clearly enough to give definitive instructions.

That gave Phil and Peter the fillip they needed: having heard Tosh and Brian shoot off like whippets and gain a very healthy lead, their spirits lifted and they sensed the opportunity to make a comeback that could have seen them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, once Brian realised his Old Man was unable to read the tiny print, it was he that took the lead role by describing where he anticipated the route was going with Tosh confirming or denying the direction: the change in plan immediately giving the pair back the advantage and allowing them to once again stretch their lead, a lead which they never relinquished and Brian’s shout of ’Time’ came all to quickly for Peter and Phil.

The final outcome, once the route had been marked, showed Tosh and Brian had completed it with no penalties, barely two and a half minutes quicker than Peter and Phil, although the latter pairing had unfortunately fallen victim to Gary’s trickery and also picked up a fail.

1 Tosh and Brian 19m 57s 0F
2 Phil and Peter 22m 21s 1F

A good win for the ultra-competitive Tosh family, although second was almost as good for Messrs Kenny and Metcalfe who collected ten very valuable points to boost their championship chances, especially for Phil who leaps up the Maps leaderboard to sixth from absolutely nowhere.

Very many thanks to Gary for putting on a very innovative event, thoroughly enjoyed by those taking part and a great addition to the arsenal of events that Whickham and District Motor Club can put on to show the breadth of expertise within the club. Thanks in particular to Gary as it would be all too easy to postpone an event due to lack of entries, when in fact those who are willing to turn up and take part enjoy the benefits and subsequent points they earn.

Here’s to the next event; who knows which turns might be introduced at the next round? Only time will tell...

Pitstop Competition - 28 June 2017

Pit Stop Wheel

Flaming June.

Well, that's just how the saying goes but the weather on Wednesday the 28th was anything but flaming, apart from flaming cold and wet. That is, of course, apart from Brian's fingers: they were on fire tonight as he took the PitStop Challenge by the scruff of the neck and wrung it out to dry.

Jimmy Knox is very well known as the King of the PitStop, but tonight he had a challenger: the Younger Townsend had the win in his sights and had decided his strategy tonight was to go first whilst his adrenaline was high and his fingers nimble. The result could prove to be the move of the night, his time of 1m 11.88s certainly a very strong benchmark for people to aim at.

Jimmy came next, flexing his fingers and setting himself up for the challenge, however it wasn't to be his night: although he spun the wheel brace like a dervish and had the wheel off in less than twenty seconds, he just couldn't seem to get the wheel lined up with the studs and so lost a huge amount of time just getting it aligned; his time of 1m 17.80s showing just how much a simple thing like that can cost a man when time is of the essence.

As each subsequent competitor lined up to take their turn, it became pretty apparent that this was an evening of opposites: some were absolutely spot on with their attempts, whilst others just couldn’t pull it all together, with the result that the spread of times was surprisingly large.

They also say that practice makes perfect, and so it was that almost everyone got the wheel nuts tight enough to avoid penalties: almost all, that is, except Peter, who suffered the ignominy of being the only person who ended up with loose nuts: his time of 2m 28.68 earning an extra ten seconds of penalties to drop him to last place.

The final times surprisingly ended up in bands of ability; Brian and Phil close, then Gary and Jimmy within a second of each other, Tosh and Karl with very similar times:

1 Brian 1m 11.88ss
2 Phil 1m 13.19s
3 Gary 1m 16.68s
4 Jimmy 1m 17.80s
5 Tosh 1m 32.07s
6 Karl 1m 36.34s
7 Guy 1m 59.00s
8 Peter 2m 38.68s (2m 28.68s + 10s penalty)

An excellent win for Brian, setting his fastest ever time in the event and taking a well deserved victory: for him, the Victor takes the spoils of maximum points. Phil certainly ran him close in the end, only the slightest hesitation on one of the nuts costing him a possible victory; the Catch 22 situation being of course, that had he not paused to check, he could very well have ended up with a five second penalty for each loose nut, and that would have dropped him at least two places further down: so they also say - better safe than sorry!

Points in the Championship to all, many thanks indeed to Gary and Brian for putting the event on, and thanks to all who took part: once again the points make all the difference to the Championship Table: Brian snatches top spot from Tosh, Gary and Guy move ahead of Kev who now has Phil on equal points, whilst Peter creeps in to round off the Top Ten.

The next round of course will be the July Quiz, organised by Brian and Tosh, so no points for them there: can the combined might of the Knox Family’s expertise use this to their advantage and shorten the gap to the Townsends?

Just watch this space for further news....

Kinetic Car Race - 21 June 2017

2017 Kinetic Car 1

They say that fortune favours the brave, but then whoever they are they certainly haven’t been to a Kinetic Car Race at Whickham and District Motor Club recently and certainly haven’t met Steve Averre.

The Kinetic Car Race is a beautifully simple competition, and this time it was almost poetic in its simplicity: a series of eleven scoring zones, starting at 10pts, rising by ten points each time to 100pts, with a final ’do or die’ zone at the end of 200 points for those who were either skilful or just plain lucky enough to land on it.

The car once again was the ubiquitous yellow peril: best known for its ability to pull to the right even more than a Conservative Prime Minister, with even less power but all the time testing the competitor and willing him to take that chance, that opportunity to be the one that nailed the 200 points. It was always possible, rarely probable and particularly unlikely to happen, but that didn’t stop us all; we are men after all, and common sense doesn’t always sit at the top of our minds. This time, however, we all got ten attempts at the track: this could be a high scoring round!

Gary went first, obviously ignoring all the rules about playing the law of averages, and although he only scored on three zones he absolutely smashed it by hitting not only the 100 point zone but also the 200 point zone twice, setting the bar incredibly high right from the start and ending up with 500 points to set the challenge for all to follow. Brian stepped up to take his turn next, concentration and determination on his face, yet in the most rare of occurrences, he did what has almost never been seen at WDMC in many a competition: he had an absolute nightmare, scoring only once in all ten attempts, finishing on 80 points: not a night to remember for him.

Tosh came next, starting slowly to get his eye in, then scoring rapidly as he built his score and looking very good to take the top spot but then, whether it was the excitement of the moment, or the sudden rush of adrenaline, he binned the last four attempts with nothing on the sheet. Phil was next, starting well and building a good score but once again he fell for the lure of the big score and didn’t land on another zone.

Paul ’Mr Law of Averages’ was next, showing everyone just how determined he was to win: scoring in every round bar one, he slowly and deliberately racked up the points to bring his haul to 410 - second only to Gary. Steve followed Paul, sitting down with his usual air of gay abandon, launching his car in the manner of Wellington’s Cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo: it seemed to work, and with only two attempts left Steve was within ten points of Gary’s first place; all he had to do was hold his nerve and place the car on the ten spot twice to take victory. His next go saw his car land on the 10 point zone: he was level, all he had to do was trickle the car a matter of 30cm onto the 10 point zone again and he would be the victor. All eyes were on him; all (except Gary) were wishing him well; all he had to do was the lightest of pushes to claim the top spot outright.

But Steve must have been listening to the The Primitive’s 1988 song Crash, ’Here you go, way too fast’ and that’s just what Steve did: he crashed and burned and scored a big fat zero to throw away a certain victory. Ooops. That just left Guy, who showed a true appreciation of technical ability and careful management by starting off slow and building a good score towards the end; alas if only he had been a bit luckier at the start he could have stolen a couple of places at the end.

Final results, once all the scores were in were as follows:

1 Gary 500 points
1 Steve 500 points
3 Paul 410 points
4 Tosh 350 points
5 Guy 330 points
6 Phil 270 points
7 Brian 80 points

A good win for Gary and Steve, although it could have been so different; good points for Paul and particularly for Tosh, who benefits from this round by moving clear of Brian and taking the top spot in the Superstars Championship, Guy making more headway this week by virtue of Peter not competing.

Many thanks to Brian and Gary for putting the event on and in particular to everyone that took part; points in the Championship to all, and the field is starting to spread out: who knows what will happen in the next round, the Pit Stop Competition on the 5th July: traditionally, an event where Brian often beats Tosh quite comprehensively.

Will he retake the top spot? Only time will tell.....

Foot Rally - 31 May 2017

Walking Feet

The guessing game.

After all the weather we have been having lately, mixed up thunderstorms and roasting days in the garden, it was really nice to see that the very last Wednesday in May brought a beautifully warm and sunny day to the region, making the prospect of our hotly anticipated Foot Rally around Kibblesworth all the more appealing. Although we are known more for our motorsport exploits, we are nevertheless always keen to try other forms of competition, and the Foot Rally is just such an event.

The now quite famous magazine contributor and part-time journalist Phil Kenny was the organiser of this year’s event, and he produced a cracking evening’s entertainment with just enough questions and code boards to test our competitors, and a route that although quite self-evident once you understood the tulips, did still manage to catch a crew or two out. Code boards had to be recorded, questions had to be answered, and the route followed to ensure both those elements were completed successfully in order to gain the fewest fails and thus win the event.

Although the event took little more than half an hour to complete and the answers were very straightforward, there was however a little sting in the tail: the question "how many signs for Gardiner Square", which although appearing the same as all the other questions, was in fact critically important as it was not just one fail for getting the answer wrong, there was a fail for each missing sign in your answer! That meant that as there were five signs, if you answered two signs then you got three fails! This has just reinforced the need to check how each event will be marked by each organiser when you are taking part.

Needless to say, the Gardiner Square question was the killer one: not only did it sort out the top two places but could also have been instrumental in deciding the final place too; and all done on a couple of guesses! Karl and Ollie took a punt on three, meaning they pipped Tosh and Brian for the top spot, but Gordon arrived with no answer at all and when prompted just said "I don’t know - four". It could so eassily have been five and then he and Mac would have been equal with Tosh and Brian and fighting for second place.

Final results, once everyone had returned, were as follows:

1 Karl and Ollie 3 Fails
2 Tosh and Brian 4 Fails
3 Alastair and Jimmy 5 Fails
4 Gordon and Mac 5 Fails Decided on ’furthest cleanest’

A good win for Karl and Ollie and the wonderful news is they have the pleasure of organising the next Foot Rally. That should be a piece of cake for Karl as he is a native of Kibblesworth and I am sure he has spent a good deal of his youth buried in the local undergrowth, so he should have no trouble sorting out a cracking route.

Very many thanks to Phil and Gary for putting the event on; the Code Boards were a brilliant double bluff: only the bare minimum of boards to put out and retrieve, causing many of the competitors to question whether they had seen them all. A couple of crews did actually double back to recheck, however in truth there really were only four boards out: nice tough Phil. Points in the Championship to all, Brian and Tosh retain their hold on the Championship but Karl now reduces their points lead a little; Jimmy creeps closer to son Alastair by leapfrogging Kev, and Gordon’s points now allow him to join everyone in the Top Ten.

I 'Guess' that's just the way things work out...

PlayStation - 24 May 2017

170524 XBox Forza

Forza!

The name itself conjures up images of Italian exhuberance, Mediterranean passion and vivre, power and strength. The literal translation is Power! but it has become synonymous with the expression Go For It!

And ’Go For It’ was certainly the order of the day right from the very start when Kevin Cousins took the controller to set the benchmark for the evening: piloting his World Touring Car Honda Civic on a cold and wet Silverstone circuit. His first lap came in at an excellent 2m 41s - even more impressive when you consider that was from a standing start. His second lap sliced a cool ten seconds off that time and his final lap cut a further four seconds from that: he had very clearly stated his intentions and that was to take the victory tonight no matter what. Watch out! The Cousins about!

Karl was next, his confidence high having recently landed a new job, however his abilities on the night were no match for Kev’s: his best time a clear nine seconds adrift. Brian decided to take his turn early this week, aiming to get closer to Kev than Karl and succeeding in that endeavour, although he was to see himself knocked off his position by Alastair and Jamie who were both just too familiar with the game and their smooth progress showing through in their higher placings.

Tosh went early too, thinking that a sharper start before he’d had too much Newcastle Brown might sway things in his favour, and for a while it seemed they might; however the younger, swifter men showed why the Champions of Motorsport are young men: they have the sharper eyesight and quicker reflexes that brings the better results. However, not all the younger men managed to do that, with some of them getting particularly confused by the X-Box’s controls or not finding the handling of the Civic to their particular taste; many went off on the final chicane, (much to the amusement of the assembled throng) whilst others just simply couldn’t get round some of the hairpins no matter what they tried.

Phil was having absolutely no luck with the handbrake and spent two and a half laps muttering under his breath about how bad it was until he realised he had been pressing the wrong button all along; Jamie showed some amazing consistency by posting two identical lap times down to the thousandths of a second (although to be honest one was from a standing start, the other a flying lap - the least said about that the better).

All in all, eleven competitors took their chances and ten were no match for the victor; with a super smooth style and wonderful control that few could match, Kev was in a class of his own: taking the spoils of victory just as he intended all along.

Final results, once everyone had pulled out all their metaphorical stops to emulate their Touring Car heros were as follows:

1 Kev 2m 28.6s
2 Alastair 2m 34.6s
3 Jamie 2m 36.2s
4 Brian 2m 36.9s
5 Karl 2m 37.6s
6 Luke 2m 39.7s
7 Gary 2m 41.7s
8 Tosh 2m 43.6s
9 Phil 2m 44.6s
10 Peter 3m 02.0s
11 Guy 3m 09.7s

A thoroughly convincing win for Kev "Winner winner, Chicken Dinner" Cousins, showing he can drive on wet tarmac just as well as he can on the loose; a great second place for Alastair as the quickest of the rest, albeit all eight within a whisker under ten seconds of each other.

Very many thanks to Jamie for bringing his X-Box and Forza Game in tonight which was very much appreciated, the atmosphere in the club was terrific, each of us willing our opponents on whilst secretly hoping they would finish just that tiny bit behind us. Points in the Championship to all, Brian now ties with Tosh for the lead and Alastair’s points put him clear of his Dad. Kev leaps a couple of spaces up to fifth and Jamie moves into the Top Ten for the first time.

It’s all getting very competitive, but then if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be Whickham and District Motor Club’s Superstars Championship!

Peter's Quiz - 17 May 2017

Yattaaaaaa!

Japan Quiz

Yattaaaaaa! is the Japanese expression of elation, of enthusiasm, of surprise. And a surprise it certainly was on the 17 May when Peter Metcalfe put on his eagerly awaited quiz.

Everyone expected Guy to win - as normal - however it is a fantastic game to see who can be second, who can get closest to the top man, who can push him even though we all know we cannot win. There is a lovely feeling to get that close, to be the one who was nearest, the one who would have won, had not the main man been present.

Peter and Guy both have a wonderful way of creating their quizzes: they pick a theme then develop it to the point where the competitor is no longer sure whether the answer should follow the rules or whether that particular question is the one that doesn’t: it is a fantastic game.

The game this week was based on the theme of ’Japan’: questions on history, motorsport, manufacture and pop culture: different but exciting, interesting yet testing. They were also those sort of questions that were easy enough to make you think your answer was bound to be correct, yet just hard enough to make you question your own memory, make you think, turn things around in your mind. Some seemed so easy, some seemed to be so obvious the obvious answer must obviously have been wrong; yet was that a double-bluff? How many times can you use obvious in one question? A lot, obviously.

The questions were wonderful; the range of topics just right, the tenuous links just perfect. It suddenly seemed that there were far more Japanese connections than you could have imagined; as you progressed through the quiz you started to remember Japanese trivia that got you thinking is this the answer to one of the questions? Which of Peter's questions can I make this answer fit? Surely I am right I just have to find the question?

In truth, it was much more simple than we could have all imagined. The questions were very straightforward, the answers even more so; and that was the true beauty of this quiz: it really was just very simple, giving each competitor the encouragement to give an answer thinking it could just be correct.

The big surprise, of course, was when the final results were announced:

1 Tosh and Brian 15 pts
2 Guy 14 pts
3 Jamie 12 pts
4 Ian 11 pts
5 Mac 10 pts
6 Gordon 9.5 pts
7 Ollie 9 pts
8 Gary and Phil 7.5 pts
9 Jimmy and Alastair 7 pts
9 Tony 7 pts
10 Karl 3 pts

A surprising and unexpected win for Tosh and Brian, showing just where their motoring knowledge lies, and giving them the opportunity to put on another of their legendary 'nobody gets many of our questions right' quizzes; memories of the famous 'Cars and Films' quiz of 2012 where correct answers were very noticeable by their absence...

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, many thanks to Peter for putting what was a very enjoyable quiz with yet another fabulous twist: the delicious irony being that nobody at all got the correct answer to Peter's final question: Name the band that had a hit in 1982 with 'Life In Tokyo' - to which the answer was in fact - 'Japan'.

Oh how we laughed :-)

Pit Stop Competition - 10 May 2017

Pit Stop Wheel

Torque about tightness?

The WDMC Wheel Change competition, generally known these days as the Pit Stop Challenge, always brings out the best in the Club’s competitive element. After all, this is a motor club, everyone present on the night of the competition was a man, and we all pride ourselves on being able to do those ’manly’ things - like change a wheel.

And not just change it: the real challenge of the night was to be the quickest to change the wheel; after all, just being able to change a wheel is no great achievement (although to be fair it might be for some) the real blokey thing is to be able to change the wheel in the shortest possible time. How quick is that? The current record stands at 1m 05.51 set in January 2016, and the record was there for the taking.

For some, tonight was about absolute care and precision; for others, it was only ever about speed. But speed is a fickle mistress, though we all crave the adrenaline rush that comes with the sweet taste of success, she’s not always our very best friend. Those tiny careless moments that we take when trying our hardest to shave tenths and hundredths of a second off our time, can be all too cruel in the cold, hard light of the ’Wheel Nut Judge’ - pretty much akin to Judge Dredd, he is ruthless, takes absolutely no prisoners, and for every nut that is not tightened fully to 30Nm, a five full seconds is added to your time.

Tonight, we saw our own Judge Dredd in action no less than three times. Gary was the first to feel the burn. His time quick enough to put him in fourth place overall, but that one tiny, expensive turn costing him a very valuable five seconds and dropping him behind Tosh by the smallest of margins: one third of a second. Admittedly, it sounds a lot more when you consider that in his 1997 World Land Speed record in the supersonic Thrust SSC Andy Green could have travelled 380ft in the same time, but in Kibblesworth Workmens Club it was but the blink of an eye. (Which, according to research, really is one third of a second).

ThrustSSC

Karl, of course, had no such problems. His time of 1m 27.70s was far enough behind to give Gary a comfortable breathing space, just as Peter’s was behind Guy. In the end there was no need for time to a hundredth of a second, tenths would be sufficient.

Final results, once everyone had flexed their muscles and cracked their knuckles, would arrive at the finish like this:

1 Jimmy 1m 13.41s
2 Brian 1m 15.36s 1F
3 Phil 1m 16.35s 1F
4 Tosh 1m 24.01s 1F
5 Gary 1m 24.35s1m 19.35s +5s
6 Karl 1m 32.70s 1m 27.70s +5s
7 Gordon 1m 59.57s
8 Guy 2m 17.38s
9 Peter 2m 31.04s 2m 26.04s +5s

A good win for Jimmy once again, taking top spot with a time quick enough to beat all challengers without straining himself too much. After all, a man has to save himself for the serious things in life, like getting his car ready for the next event. I think we all know who should be grabbing the wheel brace on the next Rally if Jimmy gets a puncture: he is after all the Wheel Change King, and if I was in with him, I would remain in the car and say ’Away you go Jimmy, fill your boots’ and expect to be on our way in less than two minutes!

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, and many thanks to Gary and Brian for organising the event. The Pit Stop Challenge is always one of the hotly contested events throughout the year, and it’s always very encouraging to see a good number take part.

In the Championship table, Brian takes a huge chunk out of Karl’s second place to find himself just a single point behind in third; Jimmy leaps up two places to overtake Alastair and Phil moves up one place to ninth.

The Title race is hotting up, but Tosh retains his Top Spot; could this be the year that Brian loses his crown to the old man? Only time will tell, and Brian’s perseverance: he is very well known as a man who will fight to the last for victory, and I suspect that 2017 is going to be no different from any other year....

 

Ollie's Chatsworth Challenge - 26 April 2017

2017 Chatsworth Challenge

The English language is a truly wonderful thing. Take the word Navigation for example: According to WikiPedia Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, marine navigation, aeronautic navigation, and space navigation. Navigation, in a broader sense, can refer to any skill or study that involves the determination of position and direction. In this sense, navigation includes orienteering and pedestrian navigation.

Fortunately, for the active members of Whickham and District Motor Club, the term Navigation can also apply to the task of working out a number of obscure instructions, whilst sitting in the Club with a pint in one hand and a pencil in the other, trying to plot out the intended route on a printed map. Much more civil, I think you’ll agree.

The event tonight was hosted by Doctor Ollie Currie. He isn’t a real Doctor, but he does on occasion write like one. In reality he is an Architect, a profession known for their incredible neatness and accuracy. It came as some surprise then, to discover that Ollie had created a route for tonight’s competitors that required an entire plethora of different skills to be applied: the skill of examining a map for minute and obscure locations; the skill of trying to decypher what Ollie had written and then try to find those places in the half-light on the map; the skill of doing all this under the pressure of time whilst simultaneously sitting in a dimly lit Workmens Club armed only with a pencil, rubber and roamer. Plus the obligatory pint of course.

However, it must be said that it worked beautifully. The route was intriguing, exciting, testing and enjoyable. It was quite good fun to work out Ollie’s unique method of Map References; it was all the more enjoyable to discover those places on the map: some near, some far, some miles away; it was funny to see Ollie had his own criteria for measuring the accuracy of a competitor’s plotting: (a) near enough, (b) round about and (c) that’s pretty good.

The route itself took in what Guy estimated to be approximately 100 miles of the most beautiful countryside around Chatsworth House, situated towards the Eastern edge of the fabulous Peak District National Park, nestling in the wonderful English Countryside alongside its own River Derwent, albeit many miles from our own here in the North East.

As each competitor took their turn, the furrowed brows and chewed pencils indicated the fact that this was not as straightforward as one might have initially hoped; however that typical WDMC perseverance and a dogged determination to see the event through meant that every competitor produced a result. Not like Karl Knox’s last attempt at a Blindfold Rally, then.

Final results, once everyone had strained their vision and wracked their brains, would look like this:

1 Tosh and Brian 29m 54s 0F
2 Gary 30m 54s 1F
3 Guy 34m 40s 1F
4 Peter 41m 10s 1F
5 Tony and the Coulsons 53m 08s 3F
6 Jimmy and Alastair DNF

A good win for Tosh and Brian, their clean run and perfect score precisely one minute faster than Gary, who unfortunately picked up a single fail. This was without doubt a good result for him, however, especially considering he had only one pair of eyes, as did Guy and Peter who were both not so far behind. It was particularly encouraging to see Tony, Ian and Jamie getting their heads together to try and outwit the established competitors, especially as they persevered to finish the event: it is all too easy to just give up when things get a bit difficult.

Points in the Maps Championship to all who took part; many thanks to Ollie for putting on a different event with an unusual twist; everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and the atmosphere in the Club afterwards was absolutely brilliant. Here’s to the next event in the Maps Championship, let’s hope it is as enjoyable and entertaining as this one!

Steering Wheel Challenge - 19 April 2017

Steering Wheel Nurburgring

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but occasionally the old dogs come up trumps with a display of genuine ability that nobody expected - not even themselves.

I don’t know what Mac Cliff does in his magic garden shed all day, but whatever it is it certainly helps him concentrate and keeps his hands steady enough to surprise everyone at the recent Steering Wheel Challenge night at Whickham and District Motor Club. Whilst you might think that steady hands and intense concentration are characteristics of the young and beautiful, the events of the night of the 19th April would prove otherwise, as it was in fact the more senior members present that showed the youngsters the way. That is, of course, discounting a certain Mr Bradford who emulated his anti-hero Lewis Hamilton by ’having a moment’ and chucking the balls all over the place in a fit of pique. Suffice to say it worked and he subsequently settled down nicely, just like a baby being minded.

The challenge was deceptively simple: Take one steering wheel, fit a small round tin lid to it holding a card with nine holes in it, add an equivalent number of steel ball bearings, then ask each member to get all the balls in all the holes in the shortest possible time. Do the same thing a second time with a much bigger container and more balls, and time that too. Sound dead easy? Unfortunately not as the first tray had more ups and downs than the old Whitley Bay Roller Coaster and the second circuit was as smooth as Daniel Craig in the 2006 film Casino Royale.

Karl was first to go, intent on preserving his all too fragile lead in the Superstars Championship, and determined to set a good time and one that would be hard to beat. Although he started well, the all too elusive last balls just would not go in the holes with the result that his time, although quick, was slower than he had hoped for. Brian followed, his ultra-competitive nature bringing out a great time that eclipsed Karl’s by a full 25 seconds!

Tosh was next, all his senses alive with the knowledge that he had never been beaten in this challenge since its inception, but all the time knowing there were many others just waiting for the slightest chink in his defences ready to pounce on any weakness. 32.6s was his time and although good, he seemed disappointed as he knew from experience it was just too beatable.

As each subsequent competitor lined up to take their turn, it seemed Tosh’s concerns were unfounded; that is, of course, until Mac ’Pablo’ Cliff came to the table with his calm and gentle demeanour, feigning confusion and squinting at the challenge before him. It was a masterstroke: Mac tore through the first round in an incredible 27.4 seconds to snatch the lead and put his marker down for the victory.

Now there was only Round Two to go. Each competitor lined up to take their turn at the infamous ’Nordschleife’ Circuit, each one keen to beat their own Nemesis and not only win a small victory on the night, but also a huge victory for themselves whilst ramping up their points in the Superstars Championship.

Final results, once everyone had tried their best to place each and every ball with the precision of the combined might of NASA, looked like this:

1 Tosh 32.6 + 22.8 55.4s
2 Mac 27.4 + 33.9 61.3s
3 Brian 41.4 + 29.2 70.6
4 Ollie 32.9 + 39.9 72.8s
5 Guy 36.1 + 37.6 73.7s
6 Karl 67.6 + 46.3 113.9s
7 Jimmy 67.9 + 76.8 144.7s
8 Alastair 92.5 + 158.5 251.0s
9 Gordon 167.7 + 95.9 263.6s

Another great win for Tosh, not only clawing his victory back on the Nordschleife having nearly lost it on the first round, but also taking top spot in the Superstars Championship; a fabulous and very unexpected second place for Mac bringing him some very valuable points; a good solid third place for Brian bringing him right back into the leaderboard and only just behind the now deposed Karl Knox.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all; many thanks to Tosh and Brian for bringing along the famous 1980s Hillman Imp Steering Wheel and putting the event on, and many thanks to all the competitors who took part. The Championship has taken yet another surprising turn, and it’s only April; who knows what the coming months will bring?

Blindfold Rally - 5 April 2017

Beer Goggles

There are few things sweeter than watching a toddler take its first steps: the sight of an infant stumbling, shuffling, being unbalanced and nearly falling down only to catch itself before standing proudly, wavering a little, but looking so pleased is a sight to bring a tear of pride and joy to the eye of the beholder.

It was, however, tears of a different kind - tears of laughter - that were in the eyes of everyone at Whickham and District Motor Club on Wednesday 5th April, when Kev ’Medium’ Cousins brought a pair of "Beer Goggles" to the club for a very different type of Blindfold Rally: one in which the contestants were not only not blindfolded but could clearly see where they were going.

Of course, "clearly see" is a relative term: being able to clearly see is not always an advantage, especially when your view of the world is tainted by the impression that you have been drinking heavily and your sight is blurred and you have double vision. That was what faced all our competitors tonight, and almost without exception, each member thought it would be an easy task: a simple slalom of four cones, a 360° turn round a cone at the far end and then a simple run back through another four cones. What could be simpler?

The fact that everybody in the club had stayed to watch the events of the evening unfold should have been an obvious sign to the unsuspecting competitor; the fact is it was anything but simple: watching fully grown men take faltering steps, stumbling along, shuffling, being unbalanced, nearly falling down only to catch themselves before standing proudly at the finish, looking so pleased with themselves brought tears of laughter from everyone present. It was hugely entertaining, the different ways that each member tried to stay both upright and in control, using whatever means they could to avoid kicking cones, was truly a sight to behold!

Some were amazing, some were dreadful, all were as funny as anything we have seen in the Club in absolutely ages. From Karl’s immediate kicking of the very first bucket of the night and subsequent dummy spit, to Peter’s point where you want to go and then not go there and Steve’s Gangnam Style mixture of Michael Flatley on a Hobbyhorse, it was both hilarious and side splitting; everyone was crying with laughter.

Final results, after everyone had done their best to be as sober as a Judge whilst simultaneously appearing as drunk as Oliver Reed on Aspel, looked like this:

1 Brian 0m 49s
2 Steve 1m 19s
3 Tosh 1F 0m 25s
4 Gary 1F 1m 01s
5 Ian 2F 1m 37s
6 Phil 3F 0m 51s
7 Kev 3F 1m 05s
8 Paul 4F 0m 38s
9 Peter 4F 1m 03s
10 Jamie 5F 0m 35s
11 Tony 5F 0m 49s
12 Guy 6F 1m 01s
13 Alastair 6F 1m 31s
14 Karl DNF

Fabulous to see so many take part, truly superb to see how much fun everyone had. A great win for Brian, showing that he can not only handle the wobbly spectacles but also stay clear of any obstacles in his way; a great second place for Steve that brings a huge tally of points and had him leaping up the points table as a result; an excellent third for Tosh bringing him to second in the Superstars Championship and starting to snap at Karl’s heels; but a big disappointment for Karl, who could have so very easily extended his lead very comfortably had he not lost it all at the first hurdle.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all; many, many thanks to Kev for sneaking the very expensive "Beer Goggles" to the Club and hosting the event so very well; thanks to all the competitors who took part in great spirit, laughing not only at everyone else but also at themselves. A perfect evening at Whickham and District Motor Club, great fun, huge laughs and a fabulous atmosphere to boot.

Here’s to the next event!

PlayStation - 29 March 2017

Playstation

On the day that Britain triggered Article 50 and started the process of leaving the European Union, it would be fair to say that far more important things were on the minds of the collective members of Whickham and District Motor Club when Karl Knox brought his X-Box to Kibblesworth Workmens Club for an evening of competitive driving.

The game was Dirt Rally, the location Baumholder, the stage Flugzeugring, the car chosen for this particular event a Ford Focus. The weather was dry, sunny and warm, the crowds were out in force, the rocks were positioned ready to catch the unwary and so the stage was set for an epic battle.

Kev was first to go, and certainly started as he meant to go on, with his first run a very credible 3m 03s to really set the benchmark high right from the start. Having obviously got the bit between his teeth, his second run was a blistering 2m 50.054s to really not only put a marker down but slam it on the table with both hands!

Stepping up next was Andrew, bringing with him his favoured choice of controller, a steering wheel and pedals. Setting himself up very carefully so as to ensure the best possible chance of victory, he readied himself for the challenge. Try as he might, however, it was not to be his day today; no matter how hard he tried, there was just that little something missing tonight and unfortunately it just didn't come together the way he would have wished. Nevertheless, his best time of 3m 17.2s would place him well for the rest of the competition and give following competitors a small gap to aim to fill.

Jamie, however, had other ideas. Grasping the controller with a very real purpose he was immediately on the pace, his first run just eclipsing Kev's by two tenths of a second, his second run oh so close to taking the lead but failing by less than a couple of seconds; his third run ending in a DNF.

As each subsequent competitor took their turn, they nibbled away at Kev's time, none really touching him until Karl took his turn, and what a turn it was! Setting off with the confidence that could only come from a total familiarity with the game and car he was immediately quicker by a good three seconds, showing a pace that was obviously garnered through both effort and practice, resulting in him taking the lead with a time of 2m 47.226s. None of the subsequent drivers could hold a candle to him, until quite late in the evening when cousin Alastair took the controls. His first run was good, really good, but still a good 18 seconds off the pace. He would need to try harder.

What happened next was a sight to behold: for his second run Alastair proceeded to deliver an absolute masterclass in driving: his positioning superb, his braking and cornering absolutely on the button, his car control as fluid as molten mercury. His time was so close to Karl's that all eyes were fixated on the clock: Karl had managed 2m 47.226s, Alastair had just eclipsed him on 2m 47.076s - he had taken the lead by a mere 0.150s - but as they say, a thousandth of a second is as good as a mile, and Alastair had managed 150 times that much!

Nobody else could touch his time, and though everyone tried, it would stay as the fastest time of the evening. There were other little battles during the event such as Ollie and Tosh, and Phil and Peter.

170329 BaumHolder

Everyone tried so hard, yet there would only be one winner. Results, therefore, would look like this:

1 Alastair 2m 47.076s
2 Karl 2m 47.226s
3 Kev 2m 50.054s
4 Jamie 2m 51.809s
5 Brian 2m 58.342s
6 Andrew 3m 17.285s
7 Gary 3m 19.125s
8 Tosh 3m 40.091s
9 Ollie 3m 41.807s
10 Phil 4m 01.141s
11 Peter 4m 51.288s

A great challenge and one that was especially galling for Karl, who admitted he had been much quicker at home earlier that evening with the same setup; however he was just pipped to the post by Alastair, who also admitted he had practiced this evening 'but not with this car'. Kev can take great pride in his moral third place, having gone in ’Cold’ on the evening and still set a pace to be very proud of indeed.

Jamie showed that he has promise in the Superstars Championship, his quick reactions and great positioning netting him a very good fourth place and a good haul of points, whilst Brian showed all these young bloods that he will always be a force to be reckoned with, by taking an unfamiliar car on an unfamiliar stage on his final run to snatch a great 5th place and beat more than half the field. .

Points in the Superstars Championship to all, many thanks to Karl for bringing his still warm X-Box to the club for us all to enjoy and thanks to all the competitors for taking part in what was yet another excellent evening of competitive motoring.

In the Championship it's all change again, with Alastair jumping back into second place, knocking Tosh down to third, just above Kev, whilst Brian now moves just ahead of Guy to take 6th place.

Kinetic Car Race - 22 March 2017

170322 Kinetic Car Race Start

Simplicity. The perfect state. When something is essentially simple, it is easy to understand and easy to explain. No complexity is involved, and no real brain power is required to grasp the concept. This really is a man thing: we are men, and men are simple. We like it that way. If that thing is too big and you want it smaller, tell us to make it smaller, and we will make it smaller. If that thing is the wrong colour, then tell us what colour you want it and we will make it that colour. We like simple, straightforward instructions, and we respond to them.

We tend to do this very well. We are men.

Women just don't get this. They say they feel a little 'uncomfortable' with this particular thing, or tell us it isn't ’quite right’, or it ’makes them sad’, and expect us to understand how to make them more comfortable, or make it right, or make them not sad, but they don't tell us exactly how to do it. This of course is not helpful.

So we make it bigger, or a different colour, or we laugh at them, and of course we are wrong, but just don’t know why. This is not simple, chaps.

Whickham and District Motor Club’s Kinetic Car Race on the 22nd of March however was the perfect example of simplicity. Gary and Brian swept aside all the complicated procedures of the past and took the original concept back to its very roots. That is what makes the Kinetic Car Race so very popular: it is simple. The boys produced a toy car that you pull back and let go.
Simple concept
It goes forwards a certain distance, depending upon how far you pull it back.
Simple.
They taped some bits of paper onto a long table and put scores on them. Land a wheel on the paper, you get that score.
Simple.
Go too fast, you get no score. Fall off the table, you get no score. Miss the paper, you get no score.
Simple.
We are men. We like this game. We like it a lot, obviously, because there were eighteen contestants that took part tonight.

You would think that because this task was simple it would therefore be easy. Oh no, not at all. Just because something is simple, doesn’t mean it will be easy by any stretch of the imagination. And we certainly had to stretch the imagination a good bit for some of the competitors, as they were next to useless. In fact, some of them were not just next to useless, they were really useless.

Five goes of the car, six sheets of paper, every opportunity to gain points that a man could have. How could it possibly go wrong? Answer: easily.

Everyone that took part loved it. So many competitors, so many laughs, such a variation of results.

1 Karl 160 pts
1 Kev 160 pts
1 Tosh 160 pts
4 Ian 140 pts
5 Gordon 120 pts
6 Gary 100 pts
7 Andy 80 pts
7 Guy 80 pts
9 Brian 60 pts
9 Peter 60 pts
11 Jamie 40 pts
11 Paul 40 pts
13 Jimmy 10 pts
14 Alastair 0 pts
14 Ollie 0 pts
14 Phil 0 pts
14 Steve 0 pts
14 Tony 0 pts

A great contest with a fabulous three-way tie for First Place, Karl continuing his quest to be Superstars Champion of 2017 and extending his lead over the rest of the Knox Clan and showing he has the will to challenge; the question is: has he the skills, has he the stamina? Only time will tell. He should look over his shoulder, though, as Tosh is suddenly in second place. The Superstars Championship can change in an instant.

Extra Kudos must go to Gary for being the only competitor to score maximum points for landing on the most elusive, most difficult of sheets - the 100pts! However, he didn’t score anything else whatsoever so that rather diluted his efforts somewhat. Still, he got the 100, and nobody else did. No Kudos for Steve who thought he got points for simply driving over the paper scores. Did we say simple? Er....

Points in the Club Championship to all, many thanks to Gary and Brian for hosting what is regularly turning out to be the most popular of Wednesday night events. Also thank you to all the competitors that absolutely make this night what it is - a fantastic competition amongst grown men playing with toy cars - how much better could an evening possibly be?

Gordon's Magnificent Mindbender - 8 March 2017

1703 Gordons Quiz Questions

Quiz. Very probably deriving from the word 'question' although having been first coined in 1781 meaning an 'odd person'; by 1843 the term had become more familiar as a means of 'questioning' or 'interrogating'.

Well, Wednesday the 8th March certainly felt more like an interrogation of the mind when Gordon Bradford put on his March Quiz which had many of us scratching our heads - not because we had an itch but more because for some reason the act of scratching one's head somehow makes the answer to a question come more easily. Whether the scratch helped at all was a moot point as the answers were just as elusive to some as they came easily to others.

Gordon put on a cracking event tonight - not for him the single side of A4 with ten questions on rallying. This time it was a comprehensive four sides of A4 and a superb mixture of Formula1, Rallying, MotoGP, Rallycross and historical facts, finishing off with a huge array of photographs of Motorsport faces (some familiar, some not so much) to whch we had to put a name. Oh so easy when you recognise them, oh so difficult - and frustrating - when you don't.

There were, of course, many times when eyes were raised to the ceiling. Quite how that helps I have never understood, but for some strange reason, it often does. There were little occasions when the penny dropped and hands scrabbled for pens and pencils to write the answer before memory loss crept in and the name slipped off the tip of the tongue. It has always fascinated me how a team of two people will often look directly into each other's eyes whilst trying to remember that elusive answer, as if that simple act can trigger the memory to recall something from long ago and gain that extra, most valuable point to push you up the table a vital place - who knows, come the end of the year, that point could make all the difference....

Not that it would make that much difference to most of us, as we all had our eyes on Guy; sitting quietly in the corner, writing down answer after answer, confident in his ability to take this quiz by storm. Until, that is, the door burst open and in walked Peter, proffering his apologies and with his left hand deftly sweeping up a question sheet and sitting down. Guy lifted his eyes for a fraction of a second; the game was on! Everyone else breathed a sigh of relief: they would thankfully no longer need to worry about putting the next quiz on: the giants were on song.

Final results, once everyone had handed in their sheets and Gordon had marked them all, were as follows:

1 Peter 53pts
2 Guy 53pts
3 The Knoxes 48pts
4 Phil and Gary 39pts
5 Karl 35pts
5 Tosh and Brian 35pts
7 Ron and Audrey 31pts

A good win for Peter, who although gaining the same number of correct answers as Guy, was awarded first place by virtue of the 'furthest cleanest' rule. And of course, as anyone involved with Whickham and District Motor Club knows, whilst Joe Public might expect Guy to protest and say he should be awarded first place, he was of course more than happy to sit back and accept second place, knowing he wouldn't need to organise the next quiz!

1703 Gordons Quiz

There was also a good laugh as Gordon read out the name of one of the more obscure portraits - John Kennard - which elicited a comment from the bar of "I thought it was 'kin hard" - as always, a Wednesday evening at WDMC will always bring forth some sort of irreverent banter and laughter.

Points in the Club Championship to all, the Knox family stomping their authority on the Championship Table with a very firm hand and covering all the medal positions; many thanks to Gordon for putting on a cracking quiz (which he gentlemanly attributed to Maughan Nicholson) and here's looking forward to the next round - we all know how good it is likely to be, as Peter is known for his ability to put on a really excellent quiz and test the brain cells of all and sundry.

Watch this space.......

Guys March Meander - 1 March 2017

1703 March Meander Map

Salop. A strange word and one that rather sounds like a foreign term of greeting. Not so, though, as it has been used for very many years to describe the beautiful border county of Shropshire, bounded by no less than six counties. Shropshire has many outstanding features, like the Ironbridge Gorge area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covering Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and a part of Madeley. The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers about a quarter of the county, mainly in the south. The River Severn, Great Britain's longest river, runs through the county, exiting into Worcestershire via the Severn Valley. It is a truly beautiful county.

And whilst they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder they also say the devil is in the detail and that became apparent tonight when Guy put on the first TableTop event of the year and Round 1 of the 2017 Maps Championship.

The event was deceptively simple: clear instructions, easy to understand, no really tricky bits and the only thing that stood out was the bold statement at the bottom of the 'Regs' that said READ ALL ROUTE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY!!!.

The instructions were pretty easy to understand, no tricky bits to catch the unwary, and all to be done in less than 20 minutes. How hard could it be? The simple answer was it wasn't hard, but there was a tiny sting in the tail for those who didn't read ALL the instructions carefully before starting: the Black Spots and No-Go areas were listed at the very bottom of the sheet, where all should have seen them if they read everything first, but as could almost have been predicted, everyone got straight into plotting the route starting at the top and working their way down the page.

1703 Stanton Long Church

And a lovely route it was too: from the scenic viewpoint overlooking Upper Hill Farm,wending its way through Hughley and Church Preen and on towards Cardington, doubling back to Longvill in the Dale, before turning off to Easthope, Brockton and Shipton before passing by the gorgeous 13th Century Stanton Long Church with its weatherboarded belfry and pyramid roof and truly wonderful welcome message.

1703 Heath Chapel

From there the route wended its way along narrow lanes with muddy centres, through open countryside to Tugford before looping South via Abdon, close by the deserted medieval village and Norman Chapel at Heath, before passing through the wonderfully named Diddlesbury and finishing at the Award Winning Sun Inn at Corfton.

1703 Diddlesbury

With such lovely countryside to enjoy it was only natural that some competitors would be a little distracted from their task, and so it proved: one by one, each realised the black spots were listed at the foot of the page, each one on their chosen route, so each and every one had to retrace their route and re-plot once again correctly. Caught out again, even with the instruction in such plain sight!

Final results, once all had handed in their maps, showed Tosh had taken the initial victory by a good margin, with Brian chasing him hard to finish second.

1 Tosh 10m 23s
2 Brian 11m 59s
3 Andrew 12m 20s
4 Peter 13m 06s
5 Gary 13m 27s
6 Gordon 9m 20s +2F

A good win for Tosh, showing the Winter rest hasn't dampened his appetite for winning, Brian not that far behind and chased all the way by Andrew. All were clean except Gordon who showed once again that speed is not always the answer; care and accuracy bring better results in TableTop Rallies than rushing through to get that quick time.

Points in the Club Championship to all, many thanks to Guy for putting on what was a super little event with no really tough sections, all in a very compact area of the map and with good, clear instructions (even if none of us read them properly first). Thanks too to all the competitors who took part, and thanks from the points scorers to all who didn't - it gives them a boost and makes them more difficult to catch....

Pit Stop Challenge - 8 February 2017

Pit Stop Wheel

Competition is very much the name of the game every Wednesday night at Whickham and District Motor Club, and it is amazing to think about the lengths that some people will go to in order to win a competition.

The 8th of February was certainly no exception in that respect as it was the first round of the PitStop Challenge, part of the 2017 Superstars Championship, and based on previous years, there would be no shortage of members trying their hand at beating each other with a wheel brace. Figuratively speaking, of course, not literally.

Phil and Gary brought the equipment, however this time there was, as usual, a slight difference: the wheel and tyre combination was just that little bit wider than normal, causing the tyre wall to rub ever so slightly on the rig. This could, of course, have been a major advantage by preventing the hub from spinning as the comnpetitors tried to position the wheel back on the hub after removal, however Gary had a solution: bring in the Mighty Cousins with his manly muscles to bend the rig just enough to make it spin. There were, understandably, a few crestfallen faces, however they did not last long.

Brian was first to set a time, which on this occasion was surprisingly longer than normal and had the added penalty of the slightest of movements on one nut, resulting in a five second penalty. There were a couple of raised eyebrows at this, with members thinking this may just give them a chance to add some serious points to their Championship Tally, especially as last time victor Andrew Roughead was nowhere to be seen.

All eyes were glued to the scene as each competitor took their turn, times tonight were all very similar, with Kev relishing top spot with his 1m 19.4 second display. Tosh showed very well this evening, bringing him very close indeed to Kev's time at just 1m 20.9s with what appeared to be a slightly fumbled attempt. However, Jimmy was already rolling up his sleeves to take his turn: he considers this his event and always puts his heart and soul into this one competition above all others; although he wasn't at his best tonight he did nonetheless put in a time quick enough to beat Kev, albeit by less than a second.

Gordon, however, had a plan: having worked out that taking the penalties for not doing up the nuts might actually work out quicker than he could physically manage to tighten them, Gordon simply put down the wheel brace once he had all the nuts on the studs by a single turn. A great ploy if it worked, but unfortunately Gordon had taken too long to undo everything in the first place, meaning he finished plumb last. Hmmm, maybe that wasn't the best plan after all.

2017 Pit Stop Gary

Star of the night, however, was undoubtedly Gary 'Frankie Dettori' Laverick, who gave us all an insanely extravagant display bordering on the outrageous with his magnificent use of the 'whip hand' whilst doing up the wheel nuts. More tears were shed in laughter than at any time since Kev Cousins famous "Er, no, that's actually the finish!" Telephone Rally back in March 2016.

Final results, not altogether surprisingly, showed Jimmy victorious, although, it must be said, he was less than a second quicker than Kev and didn't have the challenge of Andrew....

1 Jimmy 1m 18.4s
2 Kev 1m 19.4s
3 Tosh 1m 20.9s
4 Phil 1m 20.0s
5 Brian 1m 24.4s +5s = 1.29.4s
6 Gary 1m 26.6s +5s = 1m 31.6s
7 Karl 1m 24.6s + 10s = 1m 34.6s
8 Gordon 1m 7.9s + 40s = 1m 47.9s

A good result for Jimmy and he not only retakes his crown as the Wheel Change King at least until the next round, but also leaps into second place in the Superstars Championship Table. A great result for both Kev and Tosh, both within a second or two of Jimmy, and (notwithstanding Gordon ’rulebender’ Bradford) all the other times were not that far away.

Points in the Championship to all who took part and this result sees Karl overtake his cousin at the top of the Superstars Table: a bit of a surprise as Alastair didn’t even take part tonight; had he done so he would have earned at least one point - which would have kept him top. It’s all a game of numbers, this Championship lark, and those who know how to play it are the ones who will benefit in the end....

PlayStation - 18 January 2017

Wales Rally Bidno Moorland 2

PlayStation nights at Whickham and District Motor Club are always interesting, as there is always the chance that something unusual will happen.

The first PlayStation round of the 2017 season on January 18th was certainly no exception to the rule, when Karl Knox brought his X-Box and Codemasters DiRT Rally, Andrew Roughead brought his Steering Wheel and pedals, and Alastair Knox brought his glasses. These things would prove to be very interconnected this evening.

The Event chosen was Wales Rally GB, the Stage Bidno Moorland, the car the Ford Fiesta RS; each competitor had three attempts at the Stage, their best time to count: this would be one of those nights where the Rally afficionados may just have the upper hand.

First to go was Kev, settling into the rhythm easily and setting a very respectable time of 4m 7.3s - it's always good (but not necessarily easy) to get somebody to set an initial time so everyone else has something to aim for. Andrew came next, his eyes very firmly on a win tonight and with his familiar steering wheel and pedals must have thought he had the best possible chance. His times were slightly better than Kev's and his third run more impressive at 3m 39s - the game was on! Tosh decided to go next, mainly because he wanted to try the steering wheel, but also to give everyone a good laugh. Try as he might, he never really mastered the game at all, setting times that would obviously not be taking the thousandths into consideration, and although he did improve by over 40 seconds over his three attempts, he was never going to trouble the top boys unless they couldn't see for the tears in their eyes from laughing.

Alastair came next, first popping outside to fetch his glasses, and what a good move that was as he was instantly on the pace; choosing the controller rather than the wheel, his first time was quickest of all, his next time absolutely electric, although on his final run he came a cropper. Nevertheless, his second run time of 3m 19s was enough to put him very much in first place. Brian then followed him to the seat, choosing to use the wheel and although he struggled initially getting to grips with the unusual handling of the Fiesta he settled down in run two to set a good time of 4m 00s to stake his claim to a place on the leaderboard.Phil was next, his times improving throughout, then followed by Gary who seemed to relish the thought of once again throwing a competition car into the scenery with gay abandon!

Wales Rally Bidno Moorland 1

Karl eventually stepped up to take his turn: showing no emotion on his face, almost stern, perhaps deep in thought. He decided to use the controller for his attempt, and it was immediately obvious that he was very familiar not only with the game but also the handling of the Fiesta: his very first time was enough to knock absolute spots off the time that Alastair set, a clear nine seconds quicker and that with an 'off' that cost him valuable time. His drive was superb, his positioning almost faultless, his time amazing. There was only Guy to come, and as we all know his particular forte is the Quiz: he was never going to beat Karl's time although he did certainly do his best, it was just never going to be enough.

Final results, not altogether surprisingly, showed the Knox Cousins taking top honours and the spoils of victory:

1 Karl 3m 10s
2 Alastair 3m 19s
3 Andrew 3m 39s
4 Brian 4m 00s
5 Kev 4m 07s
6 Phil 4m 09s
7 Tosh 4m 42s
8 Gary 4m 44s
9 Guy 5m 33s

A great win for Karl and one that elevates him to joint first in the Superstars Championship, Guy losing his lead - a great shame but a momentous achievement as he has at least held the position of No. 1 for the past couple of weeks. A great start to the PlayStation rounds of the Superstars Championship, a good evening enjoying watching everyone trying their best to master a tricky game, and all the usual excellent banter was present: quote of the night following Phil’s comment that ’You can’t just bounce off everything’ - to which Gary replied ’Nope, I already tried that on the Cheviot!’

Points in the Championship to all who took part and a very definite Knox lockout at the top of the table - is this a sign of things to come this year? Will 2017 be the year where the youngsters shine and the old guard lose out? Who knows what will happen, although it’s pretty sure that serial competitors Brian, Tosh, Andrew and Kev will have quite a bit to say about that over the coming months...

Peter's Quiz - 4 January 2017

Quiz 2016 2nd

There may not have been the smell of soft, warm bread wafting the corridors of the Motor Club for the very first meeting of 2017 but there was certainly a Bakers Dozen of members in the room for the first event of the year and Round 1 of the 2017 Superstars Championship when Peter put on his Quiz tonight. Not for Peter the humdrum list of who won what as there was a definite theme going on for those who spotted it - although not everyone did - and this time it was the position of second place; 21 questions all about who came second, and there wasn't a chicken or an egg in sight.

Most quizzes tend to concentrate on the names of winners of events, it is of course the very nature of winning that makes these the names that stick in the memory: not so for the man who came second, that is somehow a much more taxing test of recollection and one which catches the unwary out on many an occasion.

Not all the questions were about Motorsport, either; there were a couple on films and music just to add that frisson of excitement to the proceedings, although it’s pretty fair to say that even the most avid film critic or music buff wouldn’t have had much of an advantage over the motoring afficionados this time, the questions naturally being slanted towards our chosen passion. Passion did make an appearance, however, as the answer to one of the questions was the result of such - Bridget Jones’ Baby - and yet surprisingly, nobody actually answered that one correctly.

The questions covered a range of disciplines; from Formula 1 to WRC, from circuit knowledge to our own Superstars Championship, yet all had that little twist: who was second? There was also the occasional trip-up - who knew that Petter Solberg’s 2nd FIA World Championship was actually in RallyCross? The range was also not restricted to recent events, as although the majority of questions related to the past year, there were also questions going back to the 1980s. Walter Röhrl, you are certainly a man of legend!

Final results, once everyone had chosen their specialist subject and been subjected to Peter’s version of Magnus Magnussen, were as follows:

1 Guy 13 points
2 The Knoxes 10 points
3 Andrew and Karl 9.5 points
4 Tosh and Brian 9 points
5 The Roughead Elders 7 points

A great little event once again from Peter, bringing yet another slant to the traditional WDMC quiz and a deliciously subtle twist to the occasion that may have been missed by many: the perfect result is, of course, to come second on any Whickham and District Motor Club Quiz: whilst first place means you have to organise the next Quiz in the Championship, second place is without doubt the most valuable prize to be had.

Bravo Peter, you made the start to the competitive year not only a great little competition but you also brought a sense of fun and irony to the event.

 
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