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Kinetic Car Race - 6 December 2017

170322 Kinetic Car Race Start

Experience. The art of learning from your mistakes. Or from other people's.

With all the Championships settled for 2017 tonight was to be a seasonal Pit Stop Challenge, however due to a slight mix-up with access to the Club's garage the organisers found themselves sans roue ni équipement and had to make alternative arrangements. Cue Gary 'Kinetic' Laverick and his trusty sheets of paper. It is frankly amazing just how easily you can amuse a group of grown-ups with little more than sticky tape, paper and a small car. Thank the Lord we are but children in big bodies.

In a room that looked at times more like the Genius Bar at the Apple Store tonight Gary was beavering away at the top table setting everything up for the Grand Event, whilst Tosh and Brian were beavering away at various laptops either setting them up or collating information for the Awards night in two weeks. Whilst all this was going on Gary just got quietly on organising the event and getting virtually everyone in the room to take part - no small task in itself.

But then the Kinetic Car Race is always a very popular event - there's hardly any equipment to set up, there is very little in the way of taxing thought processes, and just about everyone likes the idea of getting that little car's wheels to end up on a sheet of paper; and most people really do think they are better at doing it than they actually are.

Having got it all ready, Gary was first to go, and must have thought he'd blown it when his first three attempts of the six available brought him no points at all. Not to worry, though, as his next go took him to the maximum 100 pts, then nothing and 100 once again. A good start. As each member took their turn, Gary's total looked better and better, and even when Brian hit the magic 100 it was his only scoring run as he failed to catch even the edge of any other sheets. Phil had a nightmare, as did Jimmy and Karl as all three failed to score a single point. 'Anti-Virus' Alastair started well with a 70 on his first run, but then failed to hit any other targets as he, like the vast majority taking part, only scored on a single run. Gary's face was a picture as he could almost smell the victory that would shortly come his way.

Tony and Jonny showed a great Father and Son relationship was evident by both scoring exactly the same points and both doing so in the last half of the event, however Laura showed them just how good a lady driver can be by beating both soundly to finish in the top three. Jamie showed a spot of 'baby driver' ability by pipping Father Ian to the post to finish one place higher than his Dad. Guy started slowly but hit the magic century with his fourth run, alas it was his only moment of glory as all his other runs fell by the wayside, as did his car when it went off the track.

With only a couple left to run, Tosh came to the table. His record at this event is sporadic at best: one win, a couple of seconds and some mid to low-table positions. He started well, hitting the 100 with his first run. Then nothing. Then he hit the 100 again, then again nothing. At that point Gary told him he was equal first place, and asked Tosh if he was going to do a 'Steve Averre' (go for Gold and fail miserably) or take the safe option and just trickle the car onto one of the first scoring sheets, just inches from the start. You could see that Tosh was seriously considering the trickle option, until Gary said that Tony had tried it and failed twice. That decided it: Tosh wasn't going for Gold, but aiming for the middle of the track where the scoring sheets were most tightly arranged.

The decision proved correct: Tosh scoring on both his final two runs to become the most consistent scorer of the night: hitting home four out of six and amassing a total of 300pts.

So final results, after everyone had trickled, dragged, pushed and rolled were as follows:

1 Tosh 300pts
2 Gary 200pts
3 Laura 120pts
4 Brian 100pts
4 Guy 100pts
6 Alastair 70pts
6 Gordon 70pts
8 Jonny 60pts
8 Tony 60pts
10 Jamie 50pts
11 Ian 30pts
12 Jimmy 0pts
12 Karl 0pts
12 Phil 0pts

A really good win for Tosh, showing that the best way to success is to think about your competitor's failures and then learn from them; a great but unlucky second place for Gary who must have thought he had it in the bag right up until the end; a brilliant third place for Laura showing that finesse is as important as speed and power this week; fourth for Brian who did at least join the 'Century Club' with a top score in hand.

Many thanks to Gary for putting on a great event at the eleventh hour, thanks also to all the fourteen who took part in what was a wonderfully simple yet very competitive event that brought everyone to the table and generated smiles all round. A nice event to finish off 2017 and now it's only Jamie's Festive Christmas Quiz to come before the Awards Night on the 20th December.

We look forward to seeing you all there.

Guy's Great Little Gallivant - 29 November 2017

171129 Guy Map

The final event of the Whickham and District Motor Club's Championship year took place on the 29th November and it was certainly a great event to finish off with. Guy Wickham produced a cracking little Treasure Hunt around the local area, never straying more than a few miles from the club yet one that was both challenging to plot and interesting to drive.

The weather played its part as well on the night, with the temperature dropping below freezing almost as soon as the sun went down and dropping even further as the evening wore on, resulting in some very slippery road conditions just to add a little frisson of excitement to the proceedings.

The concept from Guy was a very clever one: once again something just a little bit different from the norm and one that had people thinking; each crew was provided with a couple of map printouts, one an old 1 inch to the mile from what looked like the 1950s, the second one a copy of a modern 1:50000 OS map of the same area. There were a number of locations marked on the one inch map that had to be transferred to the 1:50000 copy, with very careful accuracy, all timed to the second. The map was then checked to ensure all spots were correct, then the 1 inch map was taken away and the route instructions were given which had to be plotted onto the 1:50000 map (again all timed). The map was then passed back to Guy to check, and while he did take back the route instructions he wasn't permitted to tell you if you actually had the correct route. You were then provided with a question and answer sheet to take with you, clearly presented with spaces for all the answers.

The route was a brilliantly simple little affair that took in a number of the classic local lanes whilst throwing in some alternative variations, together with a couple of 'long way round' triangles, very well positioned and extremely clear code boards, plus a good mixture of roadside clues that had to be answered correctly for fear of picking up a fail. The driving part was not timed, allowing crews the luxury of really taking their time (fortunately, as it happened due to the frosty and icy nature of some of the roads) and giving them the ability to really check out the questions on their sheet.

Crews had plenty of time to traverse the route and although there were naturally a few coincidental arrivals and departures of various crews, the whole event was thoroughly enjoyable and everyone enjoyed it tremendously. It was particularly good to welcome Matthew Price to the Club for his first visit and who arrived with Peter Metcalfe after having been told how enjoyable a Wednesday evening can be amongst friends all interested in anything motor related. Hopefully Matthew will come back again and enjoy some more of WDMC's many motor related activities.

Final results, after everyone had returned to the club with their answer sheets and handed them in to Guy, were as follows:

1 Tosh and Brian 12m 04s 0F
2 Matthew Price and Peter 15m 16s 0F
3 Charlie Tynan 13m 42s 1F
3 Ollie 19m 47s 7F

A good result for Tosh and Brian, cleaning the event and beating Matthew and Peter into second place on plotting time, however a good result for the second place crew considering this was a completely new venture for Matthew; a great third place form Charlie considering he found himself in the dual position of both driver and navigator, only dropping one point for failing to spot the cost of Caravan Storage. Club Chairman Ollie brought up the rear, as although he too found himself driving and navigating, his result was unfortunately not good enough to overtake Charlie.

Many thanks to Guy for putting on a cracking little Navigational Event, the concept was brilliant, the plotting challenging enough to make it very interesting, the code boards beautifully clear, the questions simple and not too difficult to find, and the pace on the road just about perfect. A truly fitting event to finish off the Championship year, and luckily this time there were no interruptions from Durham's Countryside Police Force and nobody gained any TV coverage.

Championships are all now decided, many thanks to everyone that took part in them all, and in particular a huge thank you to every single person who put events on throughout the season, without your efforts we would have no Championships to compete in, and so we look forward to the 2018 Championship year with great excitement.

Thank you all.

Peters Puzzling Path of Promise - 22 November

2017 Peters Web Map

The WDMC Maps Challenge came to its conclusion on the 22nd November with Peter Metcalfe’s Puzzling Path of Promise. Considering that the rain had been coming down pretty incessantly for the past 24 hours everything outside was just about as wet as it would ever be, and it was a blessing to be able to sit in the warmth and relative comfort of Kibblesworth Workmens Club and take part in Peter’s TableTop Challenge - the final round of the WDMC Maps Championship.

Peter’s recent TableTop Rallies have moved in a slightly different direction these days, in that they are far more concise and can generally be completed in less than half an hour; very different from the events of old when a competitor could be working away for well over an hour trying to decipher the various clues and plot the route. The overall consensus from competitors is that Peter has it just about right: members can effectively pause their conversations in the Club, take part in the event and then be back to pick up where they left off in little more than a quarter of an hour or so. Perfect for the modern man who is constantly on the go.

The event this week was a perfect example of the art: an A4 sheet of very clear instructions, four different methods of navigation, a pre-printed A4 map of part of the UK at 1:50000 scale, pencils and roamer provided and the added benefit of Peter on hand should anyone get into trouble. He couldn't have made it more appealing or simple to take part in. It was unfortunate that the club was pretty bare this evening, meaning there were only a few people to compete; it would have been more rewarding had more of those members present been willing to have a go but you simply can't force people to. Nevertheless, those that did take part thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were very grateful to Peter for putting the event on. There’s a good degree of effort put in.

Unusually for a TableTop, this evening’s event incorporated something not normally seen on Road Rallies: a Split and Merge section. The instructions for this were in the form of Tulips, they were very clear and nobody got them wrong on the night - it was a nice little touch to bring something just that little bit extra to the event. Unfortunately the problem for Brian this evening was the final section with plotted map references: a tiny lapse in concentration saw him miss an important instruction - the approach direction on the first map reference - and when the competition is this tight, that proved to be his downfall.

Final results, after all three had finished, checked and rechecked their routes, were as follows:

1 Tosh 11m 56s 0F
2 Gordon 21m 00s 0F
3 Brian 16m 30s 1F

Another solid win for Tosh, proving his dominance of the Maps Championship over the past year has been no fluke: winning four of the five rounds is pretty comprehensive enough. A good second place for Gordon, showing that taking your time is often a very good ploy, with him having been some five minutes slower than Brian, that time spent was obviously very worthwhile as it netted him second place and moved him into fifth in the Championship table.

Many thanks to Peter for organising the event this evening, it does take a bit of time to do these sort of events and we are all very appreciative of the time and effort that goes into organising them. This final round concludes the Maps Championship rounds for 2017, and to be honest, based on what we have seen so far in 2017, the prospects for 2018 look very good indeed!

Steering Wheel Challenge - 25 October 2017

Steering Wheel Nurburgring

Power Steering came to Kibblesworth tonight in the form of the WDMC Steering Wheel Challenge, and unlike previous rounds this week saw the Challenge move up a gear to bring a more dynamic edge to the competition.

In the past competitors have undertaken two rounds with a break in between, however this week saw the appearance of a second, beautifully polished 13" Moto Lita steering wheel to accompany the traditional orange Hillman Imp steering wheel of old. Whilst the old Imp wheel was fitted with the rather difficult corrugated cardboard 9-bearing test, the splendid little Moto Lita, being a slightly smaller diameter than the Imp wheel, arrived sporting the super smooth Nürburgring circuit complete with the required dozen ball bearings - one for each corner!

The new format this time was a two-stage event with no break - competitors taking the traditional wheel first, then, once they had seated all the balls in their sockets and placed the wheel carefully down on the table they had to then immediately pick up the Moto Lita and seat all the balls on their respective corners in the 'Nurballgring' circuit and place that wheel on the table to stop the clock. All balls had to remain in place to achieve a time.

Ian was first to go, and started off well although he did struggle to get the last Imp ball in place, however once he had the Moto Lita in his hands he was more comfortable, eventually setting a time of 3m 18s to get the ball rolling. John was next, approaching the game slightly warily, but after achieving a time of 1m 37s was much happier and commented about how he enjoyed the game. Chairman Ollie was next, attacking the game with gusto but not managing to crack John’s time. Phil was next to the table: always very competitive, always watching and taking note, always keen to improve both his chances and technique. It proved to be a wise philosophy as he posted an incredible time of 1m 1.34s and looked to have settled the game very early on.

Gary came next, his usual confident self, but with a caveat: 'This could go very well or very badly' - it didn't start well; although he got all the balls bar one in place in seconds, the last one proved to be particularly reticent and he spent a good deal of time chasing it round and round before finally seeing it drop into place. By then the time had gone and he recorded an eventual time of 1m 59s. Alastair came next, and he was to suffer the same fate as Gary but in a huge way, having seated all the balls bar one, try as he might he just could not get the last one home, and as his time ticked inexorably onwards, he opined that perhaps a fail could be traded for a time. Give him his due, perseverance paid off as he did finally get the ball home and allow him to tackle the Nürburgring. His final time was testament to the vagaries of the game: 10m 49s.

Paul and Steve were next, their friendly rivalry as always bubbling up to the surface, this time it was Steve who was the victor, shading Paul fairly comprehensively by 2m 21s to give him a smile to take all the way home in the car, arguably much to Paul's chagrin. Andy Kobasa, attending the club for the evening was a very welcome competitor tonight and although he had never seen the game before, much less tried it, stormed it like a Ninja to record a fabulous time of 1m 12s - bringing Phil rushing to the table to check his time! Mac made the schoolboy error of starting the game still wearing his glasses, resulting in him peering over the top of the frames to try and get everything in focus, before realising he had spent almost 30 seconds trying to get a ball into a smudge on the circuit! Not his night tonight. Guy was no slouch either, hitting everything pretty much on target to record a time of 1m 35s and beating Gordon soundly in the process.

That only left Tosh and Brian; Guy took the stopwatch, Tosh took the wheel, the tension was palpable. Tosh has never lost this game since it was introduced, so had a reputation to uphold, however Phil's time was an exceedingly quick one and it would be hard to beat. 3-2-1 go! - Tosh was off like a rocket, his hands on the wheel shaking and bobbing, twisting and tilting, all the Imp balls in place in less than 17 seconds, the wheel down on the table and the Moto Lita grasped and twirling immediately, the shiny balls glinting in the lights as they dropped neatly one by one into their seats, and as the last one fell into place, the wheel was carefully placed in position on the table. His time? An incredible 43.78 seconds.

Only Brian could beat him now, and as he lined himself up, wristwatch off, knuckles cracked and fingers flexed, all eyes were on him. 3-2-1 and Go! and he was off like a flash, his fingers flying and his wrists defying physics, hours on the PlayStation coming to the fore as he went for the win. It all looked to be going so well, until he fell foul of the rogue final ball: it just would not behave. Although he was as dextrous as could possibly be imagined, this night it was just not to be; precious seconds elapsed whilst he fought to seat the final ball, and as it went home he was onto the Moto Lita like a flash, setting all the balls home in what seemed like seconds, but the stopwatch told a different story: his time less than two seconds off Phil's at 1m 3.26s.

Final results, after some fantastic dexterity and amazing techniques, were as follows:

1 Tosh 43.78s
2 Phil 1m 1.34s
3 Brian 1m 3.26s
4 AndyK 1m 12s
5 Steve 1m 23s
6 Guy 1m 35s
7 John 1m 37s
8 Gary 1m 59s
9 Ollie 2m 5s
10 Gordon 2m 27s
11 Mac 2m 50s
12 Ian 3m 18s
13 Paul 3m 44s
14 Alastair 10m 49s

So Tosh continues to remain unbeaten, although Phil and Brian both show that but for a single wayward ball, the result could have been so very different. Phil achieves an excellent second place to gain valuable points in the Superstars Championship, ultra-competitive Brian having to settle for third on this occasion. Absolutely brilliant to see a total of 14 people competing tonight, showing the competitive element at the club has no signs of waning and the smiles were just as apparent tonight as at any night at WDMC.

Many thanks to Tosh for organising the event tonight, another brilliantly simple yet absorbing event that had almost everyone in the club taking part. Points in the Superstars Championship to all, the title race is hotting up as Phil leapfrogs Gary to claim fourth place and challenge an absent Karl for third. But then next week is Karl's long-awaited quiz: he shouldn't get any points unless he can persuade yet another family member to put on his quiz for him just like last time.......

PlayStation - 11 October 2017

Phil breaking everything in his quest for the perfect lap


As far as creatures on this planet go, the Human Being has made a pretty good stab at being very successful in most areas.

Admittedly, the dog has a nose 40 times more sensitive than the human; a Cheetah can accelerate to 60mph in less than three seconds; an Eagle can clearly see things over eight times as far as a human does. But then Homo sapiens have evolved more than any other species, and we have become incredible at doing a huge number of things extremely well. We have grown from the invention of the simple wheel to developing the most incredible technology; invented things that beggar belief when compared to the very limited development of the world of animals.

Tonight, however, showed that the pace of growth was not necessarily an altogether smooth one: as gaming technology advances, the fine line between perceived and actual reality becomes more difficult to define. It was PlayStation night; and Jamie brought his PlayStation4 in together with Project Cars - marketed as "the most authentic racing game ever devised". Using descriptions such as "the realism of authentic handling" and "painstakingly fashioned to simulate the adrenaline-fuelled world of actual motorsport" the game purports to be the ultimate driving racing game. The graphics are stunning, the circuits realistic beyond belief, the atmospherics incredible.

In reality, the driving experience was nothing like reality - it was a game after all. A very good game, admittedly, but that was where the similarity ended. To get anything like a decent lap time you needed one thing and one thing only: you had to be a gamer - and no amount of real driving experience was ever going to reward the driver with anything other than a mediocre time. The youngsters of course were on it from the start - flying fingers snapping at controls and thumbs switching direction with the deftest of movements and slightest of deviations, keeping the virtual car within a hair's breadth of the edges of the circuit and turning, accelerating and braking to perfection; all done with fingers and thumbs and the infinitesimal movements that only youth and familiarity can bring.

However it was when the older generation tried their hands it all became very apparent just who the target market for this product was, and it wasn't them. Lacking the digital dexterity and manual familiarity with hand controls showed that this was always going to be a two-horse race, and the old stagers were absolutely nowhere in it. It was painful to watch in some cases, the foul-handling RX Lite not responding at all how it should, the unpredictability obvious on the faces of the competitors showing just how frustrating it was for them. This was, of course, no concern to the youngsters who flashed round the circuit with reckless abandon, their familiarity with gaming showing just how much difference there was between the generations.

In fairness, the old stagers did try to fight back, cutting corners like mad and blasting down via grass and gravel with no concern for track limits: in truth it made absolutely no difference to grip or speed; there was some value in the old adage that old age and treachery can often beat youth and ability, but unfortunately, when it all came down to the time on the clock, it simply did not.

Final results, after some had soared like eagles and others had bombed like stones, were as follows:

1 Jonny 55.82s
2 Jamie 56.08s
3 Phil 58.14s
4 Brian 58.22s
5 Karl 58.44s
6 Alastair 1m 01s
7 Tosh 1m 05s
8 Ian 1m 09s
9 Tony 1m 22s
10 Guy 1m 23s

A very impressive win for Jonny, beating Jamie at his own game and showing that although he may not get to the club that often, when he does, he knows how to make an impact. A great result for Phil, arguably one of his best performances yet and beating Brian by the smallest of margins - less than a tenth of a second - with Karl just a fraction behind. Jamie's result moving him up in the Championship ahead of Jimmy.

Many thanks to Jamie for bringing his PlayStation in - and especially for bringing in the new game that he had only just bought a week ago - it was a very much appreciated and a very interesting evening and one that showed just how the Superstars Championship can favour some and not others depending upon the event - and that of course is exactly how it should be!

Tonight was not a night to be remembered for some, but then there is always the next competition in two week's time - the Steering Wheel Challenge - it could all turn around once again......

Blindfold Rally - 4 October 2017


In 1546 John Heywood said "There are none so blind as those that will not see".

However in 2017 there were many at Kibblesworth Workmens Club who were not at all blind but still could not see clearly, when Whickham and District Motor Club put on one of their popular "Blindfold Rallies" once again. This time, though, it was not a blindfold that competitors were wearing, but the amazing ’Beer Goggles’ that have been developed by Road Safety campaigners to emulate the view a driver would get should he have too much to drink.

We have of course used these goggles before with much hilarity, and the expectation tonight was much of the same, and the evening certainly did not disappoint.

Phil went first, cautious but quick, checking and rechecking to ensure he was clear of all objects, and though he was incredibly close on more than one occasion, came home clear in a very respectable 1m 38s. The challenge had been set! Jamie went next and was off like a shot - straight into the first cone for an immediate fail, though he stayed virtually clear through the rest of his test, coming home in a very rapid 59 seconds albeit with a couple of fails. Ian was to follow, his extremely cautious approach netting him a good round of only two fails but with a much slower time of 2m 28s.

Tosh’s friend Andy Crosby thought he would try his hand too, and bring with him not only the spirit of Owain Glyndwr but all the hopes of Wales. With thoughts of greats like Dylan Thomas, Nye Bevan and Tom Jones to boost him on, he attacked the course as though he were emulating the great Gareth Edwards scoring his try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in January 1973. Unfortunately, he was a little less successful than the great man that day at Cardiff Arms Park, but did nonetheless post a very creditable time of 1m 50s with his only Fail being achieved when he triumphantly walked straight into the finish post! He will never play for Wales.

Hadrian MC visitor and all round good bloke Charlie Tynan, though not known as a regular competitor, was also good humoured enough to have a go and discovered what WDMC members have known all along, - it’s not the winning, or even competing that’s remembered, but the abuse that lingers long after the event. His impressive haul of 4 fails will be remembered in the club for some time and may well be brought up at appropriate times in future.

It was when Gordon took his turn, though, that things moved up a turn. Standing confidently at the start, a look of intense focus on his face, he was every little inch the picture of concentration. As he was counted down, it was clear he was ready to pounce, and as Brian said "Go" he was off like a mini Usain Bolt. He scurried round the buckets, he sidestepped the obstacles, he was WDMC’s own version of strictly come dancing in a compact version, and although he did manage to get two fails, his time of 50 seconds had well and truly thrown down the gauntlet.

Tosh, however, was next. Always known as a thinking man, he had been studying Gordon’s performance, and evaluating the membership secretary’s abilities: what advantage did Gordon have that had allowed him such rapid pace? Tosh thought he had it: proximity. Gordon’s eyes had been nearer the cones than all other competitors, and Tosh could utilise this to his advantage.

What happened next was a great example of interpretation, evaluation and application; Tosh hunched down like a little old man, his face barely above the cones, and he was off - swinging his head from side to side, searching for the right route whilst avoiding all obstacles, and racing round the course like a man possessed, bringing cries of "It’s a Velociraptor!" and "Make the sound!" from the assembled crowd. The proof of the pudding though was in the result: an incredible three seconds quicker than Gordon at 47 seconds, but crucially with a clear round and no fails. As each subsequent competitor followed with their own particular style, none could match his final pace.

Final results, after everyone had tried to act as sober as a judge whilst actually performing like one of the drunken and disorderly, were as follows:

1 Tosh 47s 0F
2 Brian 1m 21s 0F
3 Phil 1m 38s 0F
4 Guy 1m 11s 1F
5 Gary 1m 31s 1F
6 AXB 1m 50s 1F
7 Gordon 50s 2F
8 Jamie 59s 2F
9 Ian 2m 28s 2F
10 Peter 1m 21s 3F
11 Charlie 2m 25s 4F

A valuable win for Tosh bringing him maximum points this week, beating Brian into second place to swing the family honours back to the senior member for a time; a good second for Brian and an excellent third for Phil. Guy comes home fourth and could so easily have usurped Brian for second had he not also run into the finish post like AXB. Good points for Gary and a fine finish for Tosh's mate Andy (though no points), with Jamie once again beating his Father by a place and taking the family spoils.

Many thanks to Tosh and Brian from bringing the Beer Goggles and putting the event on; points in the Superstars Championship to all registered competitors who took part, but also really nice to see a couple of extra competitors taking part for the sheer fun of it in the shape of Andy and Charlie - thanks lads.

Next week: Jamie brings the PlayStation and everything changes once again......

All Aboard the LEGO Express! - 20 September 2017

2017 Lego Challenge

Many years ago I met an old Northumbrian chap called William who insisted the best thing to come out of London was the Great North Eastern railway. I never found out if it was because he didn't like London or because it was bringing him home.

At Whickham and District Motor Club we have a regular spot on our championship calendar that always brings old William to mind; a challenge that combines understanding, analysis and dexterity and brings them all together in one of the simplest of activities: the WDMC Lego Challenge!

Over the past two years we have seen an amazing variety of interpretations of the LEGO Creator 31015: Emerald Express; one of the very many kits from the world famous plastic construction toy manufacturer Lego made in Billund, Denmark and invented by Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1949.

As men, we should all be experts at this; after all, men make things, men construct stuff, men are good with their hands, and men can understand instructions (even if they may not be so good at following them). Lego, of course, is a very simple concept: a selection of oddly shaped blocks that interlink and can be made into almsot anything, then broken down and made into something entirely different.

Two years ago we certainly saw something entirely different when Mac 'Pablo Picasso' Cliff created one of the most interesting interpretations of the Emerald Express that has been seen for years; and, it would be very fair to say, had it been a full size train made to that design not many people would have been enjoying William's famous journey out of London. Nevertheless, over the past couple of years our collective standards of construction have improved immeasurably, and now the fruits of our labours bear an almost uncanny resemblance to the designs on the LEGO box.

There are, of course, those that won’t read the instructions; those that think they can wing it and get a shorter time; those who rely on their memory and produce items reminiscent of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. All can do well; all could do better with careful consideration and application.

The man to beat, of course, was Brian. Having smashed everyone at the inaugural event in August 2015 by a clear 40 seconds and completing the challenge in less than 70% of the next fastest time, he went on to repeat the victory and reduce his time still further when he won the second round in November last year. 2017 would see him go for his hat-trick, and there would be few who would bet against him.

His greatest challengers normally comes in the form of Gary or Phil - well known for their abilities with the plastic building blocks and always very quick, they would pose a credible threat; Brian would have to be on top form to ensure their challenge would not succeed. As he took his turn, it was immediately apparent he had only one thing on his mind: the victory and to cement his position once and for all as King of the Lego Challenge.

The turnout was good tonight, the competition as keen to knock him off his perch as they were to post a good time; and as each competitor took their turn, it was apparent that none could hold a candle to the Lego Master, as he was just too quick, too accurate, too good.

Final results, after everyone had done their very best to recreate the Great North Eastern Lego Train, were as follows:

1 Brian 2m 34s
2 Gary 3m 21s
3 Tosh 3m 41s
4 Phil 4m 04s
5 Steve 5m 05s 4m 45s + 20s
6 Ollie 5m 34s5m 14s +20s
7 Guy 5m 36s5m 16s +20s
8 Jamie 5m 56s
9 Paul 7m 52s 7m 32 +20s
10 Ian 14m 04s 13m 44s +20s

A crushing win for Brian, smashing everyone else's time completely into the weeds and beating second place Gary by almost a minute; Gary's time of 3m 21s still an incredible time and one that would have gained him victory had Brian not been so absolutely on fire. A somewhat surprising third place for Tosh, showing that he has not only taken stock of his abilities but learned how to improve his techniques; fourth place for Phil this time, his time good, his construction perfect, unlike many of the other members who almost all made small mistakes costing them penalties in added time.

The father/son competitive element remains in full swing, this time Jamie whooping his Dad into a cocked hat; the younger man's fingers flying whilst the senior Coulson just not getting his fingers to do the walking, eventually finishing as the strongest competitor, propping up the rest from his position at the bottom of the leader board.

Many thanks to Peter for putting on a great little event: simple to understand, easy to organise, quick to do; all the elements of a good competition. Points in the Superstars Championship to all, no real changing of positions, except for the first time this season Kev drops out of the Top Ten.

Next week: the PitStop Challenge; who can be the equivalent of Guy Martin at the Belgian Grand Prix? I suspect the wheel change will not be accomplished in less than two seconds......

Karl's 'I'm just so busy' Quiz - 13 September 2017

A non-reflective void.

Karls Lamps

As Spandau Ballet so eloquently said - "Gold! Always believe in your soul, You've got the power to know" - and it was the power to know that would be of so much benefit to the contestants on a night when Alastair showed what a great cousin he was by putting on the "Quiz that Karl Forgot".

Of course, Karl hadn't really forgotten, but his excuse was he was far too busy to organise it; not because of work but because he had spent just too many hours holding his head in his hands, tears streaming down his cheeks as he watched Sunderland Football Club go from bad to worse. 270 minutes of agony with nothing to show for it but an excess of wear and tear on the back of the Sunderland net. Never mind Karl, if you had spent just ten per cent of that time creating a quiz you would have had more satisfaction than all the Barnsley, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest fans have had over the past three weeks.

Nonetheless, Alastair showed just how to be a hero by collating a quiz at the eleventh hour to test not only the sporting knowledge of the assembled throng, but also their skills of interpretation as to the wording of some of the questions. That of course can be the taxing thing about quizzes: getting the true balance between this is the answer, now what is the question, and how many correct answers to this particular question can there be?

For some of the questions there could only be one correct answer; for others there could be an infinite number; but as in all WDMC quizzes, the organiser's decision is final. In truth, Alastair proved to be a very fair Quizmaster, accepting answers that technically proved correct even if they were not the intended ones. Fair play to the man - he was extremely fair.

For those members who are unfamiliar with Rallying, it was to prove an altogether testing night: questions such as "What wasn't dedicated to British rally superstar Richard Burns after he died of a brain tumour in 2005" for example - the answer of course could have been anything from Ian Coulson's Hello Kitty underpants to Tosh's favourite bottle of Newcastle Brown, but whilst both were not only entertaining but also factually correct, neither was the intended answer and therefore gained no points. Booh.

The same could so easily have been said when stating "It's the 1980's and a rally car is hammering towards you through a non-reflective void"? WRC? WTF?

It was, therefore, down to interpretation; and on a night when even that most consistent oracle of knowledge Mac Cliff failed to rise to the challenge, an evening when the two most knowledgeable competitors Guy and Peter failed to make an appearance, it would be down to the youngest member present to rise, like the Phoenix from the Ashes, and grasp that victory with both hands. Holding it aloft with a cry of victory, turning to his Father with a flourish and a triumphant yell of Loser! the younger Coulson would taste the sweet nectar of the top step of the virtual podium. This was his night!

Final results, after each and every competitor had done their level best to just try to understand the questions, let alone get anything approaching a correct answer, were as follows:

1 Jamie 9 pts
2 Karl 8 pts
3 Gordon 7 pts
3 Ian 7 pts
5 Mac 5 pts
6 Tosh, Brian and Gary 4 pts

A great result for Jamie, showing that the young really do have a handle on the rallying scene, despite some of the questions being from a long time ago; a very fortuitous second place for Karl, although his points are of course subject to ratification as, with him being the winner of the last round, it is incumbent upon him to arrange the next round of the quiz: the points gained in this round may well be invalid.

Many thanks indeed to Alastair and Jimmy for rising to a family challenge at the eleventh hour and providing a quiz for all: it is this sense of togetherness that binds us all together, that keeps us all very much part of the WDMC family and continues to make us all part of the one.

Points to all in the Superstars Championship, no changes at the top as Brian holds his lead and Tosh retains second place despite Karl's surprisingly knowledgeable result; not that Karl gets away with this: he will have to arrange a quiz before December or forfeit his points.

So as Spandau Ballet so profoundly sang: "Gold! You've got the power to know" - and knowing was the key to Jamie's accomplishment: maximum points in this round of the Superstars Championship. Everything is still to play for and with only a couple of months to go, every single point counts.

Next week, Peter's Lego Challenge - can we possibly hope for a repeat of Mac "Pablo Picasso" Cliff's amazing interpretation of one of the defining sculptures of the past, perhaps a Lego inspired "Bust of Nefertiti" or a replica of "Venus of Willendorf"? Who knows what fantastic works of art await us on September the 20th? Only time, of course, will tell....

Kinetic Car Race - 6 September 2017

2017 Lamborrari Zonda

Kinetics - it’s derived from the Ancient Greek kinesis - movement or to move.

As we entered the club tonight there was certainly movement and action on the big screen, as Alastair had brought along his laptop and a selection of Rallying videos to provide our members with some audio-visual stimulus. This could be a very clever move on his part; perhaps the catalyst that brings out the best in our club members abilities, their responses, their cat-like reactions; or could it be the thing that puts them off; the risk of losing concentration at a critical point. Who knew which such influences it would bring?

The Kinetic Car Race at Whickham and District Motor Club is always a well-attended affair; it brings out the little boy in the man, it brings out that competitive element that says I can do this, and I can do this well; yet the Kinetic Car Race also brings a surprise or two, mainly due to the entirely random nature of the event. It would be very easy to say that this is a game of incredible skill, of the anticipation of external influences, the analysis of dynamics and the evaluation of the consequences of deviation and velocity.

In truth it is none of those things, not only because the car delivers whatever power it decides to as and when it feels like it, but also because it has a mind of its own regarding its approach to straight line accuracy: it somehow feels that the more power you apply to the Kinetic Spring Engine, the more likely the vehicle is to veer off to the right in an extremely gentle and delicate curve that wouldn’t look amiss flowing from the pen of a master calligrapher. The curve dictates the route; the power decides just where along that graceful line the car will eventually come to rest.

Gary was first to go, his aim being to set a score that would be the benchmark for others to follow. He had the confidence, he had the ability, he had the car in his grasp. Had Paddy Power been present at the club tonight they would have given good odds that Gary would achieve a decent score. However, in what was a shock to all, Gary scored the same number of points as the combined IQ of all the people who have failed the Darwin Awards since it began: a very cool zero. It was looking like it was not going to be Gary’s best night. No wonder Paddy Power didn’t turn up.

Brian was next, failing to score in his first three attempts but picking up 60 points each on the last two goes to recover some credibility. He was followed by Tosh, who showed that age and experience count for absolutely nothing in this game, eventually settling for a mere 50 points and considering himself lucky to do so. Karl however scored well from the start, hitting the magic 100 at his very first attempt, then consolidating his score with another two fine runs. He now became the man to beat. Gordon came to the table with one thing on his mind: to keep it as straight as possible, (especially as he is very well known for being a man who doesn’t like to deviate from the straight and narrow) - he amassed a credible score. Alastair had his own technique: gentle handling, not too exuberant, keep it manageable. He scored some steady points. Phil’s approach was, however, different yet again: he had worked out that pushing the car instead of allowing it to be ’driven’ gave far more accurate directional stability, and subsequently higher scores; this could be a very interesting development indeed. As each subsequent player came to the track, nobody knew how well or badly they would fare, and in truth, neither did they. Tonight certainly didn’t look like it would be a high scoring event.

Final results, once everyone had been driven to distraction, were as follows:

1 Karl 240 pts
2 Gordon 190 pts
3 Peter 130 pts
3 Phil 130 pts
5 Brian 120 pts
6 Alastair 60 pts
7 Tosh 50 pts
8 Gary 0 pts

A great result for Karl, benefitting in a big way from his initial run of 100 points and never looking as though he would be beaten. But then, he is a BMW driver and only knows how to go flat out. This time, he was lucky, next time, who knows? The maximum points he gained from this round bringing him back into contention for the lead in the Superstars Championship and starting to creep up on Tosh.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, positions all stay exactly the same except Karl moves inexorably closer to the Townsend family, who still lock out the top two positions in the table.

Many thanks to Gary and Brian for putting the event on, this time it was simple, uncomplicated and worked extremely well; eight competitors taking part on what was a deceptively quiet night at Kibblesworth Workmens Club.

Toshs Road Rally Timing Event - 30 August 2017

2017 Stopwatch

Timing, as the saying goes, is everything. From delivering the punchline to a joke, or being too slow to pull away when you are the first car when the traffic lights go green, or even hesitating before answering 'I do' at your marriage ceremony, timing is essential in all walks of life.

It would seem sensible, then to assume that we all have a reasonable appreciation of time. Surely, as the one thing that has been constant all our lives, we would have no trouble estimating a few simple periods of time. How hard could it be?

Like all the best games, the concept tonight was deceptively simple: take a stopwatch, tell the contestants to count three separate specified time periods, then stop the watch when it reaches those times. Each member was given the same three 'selectives' of 45 seconds, 1 minute and seven seconds, and one minute twenty-eight seconds, together totalling 200 seconds. Nearest time to 200 seconds when all were counted up would be the victor. Ear defenders were provided to muffle the assembled throng and allow the most intense concentration possible.

Jamie was first to go, and we can only surmise that he doesn't get much peace in his world. The second he put on the ear defenders, he lapsed into a trance-like state, relaxing as one can only truly do with that sense of ultimate peace and quiet. Jamie shut his eyes and so enjoyed the quiescence he simply forgot to continue counting, only waking with a sudden start when he realised he had dropped off momentarily and instinctively pressing the button. It was frankly amazing that whilst Jamie thought he had missed the mark wildly he had in fact only been 'out' for 16 seconds. Never mind, he always had the other two selectives to go. Take two: he started well, but almost immediately sank into his own little world of serenity, only waking with a start at 27.2 seconds, thinking he had been out for more than a minute. This was certainly a man who knew how to take it easy. I have seen knackered dogs take longer to go to sleep. There was only now one opportunity to make amends: that third selective: 1 minute and 28 seconds. In truth Jamie pulled out all of his metaphorical stops and stayed awake for the entire period, snapping the stop button at a credible 73 seconds to recover at least some pride. To be honest, it wasn't going to help much.

Jonny was next, showing a great appreciation for timing and almost hitting each of the spots with a total time only five and a half seconds off target. All those laps timed to a hundredth of a second werev strting to pay dividends tonight. Laura was next to try her hand, almost matching Jonny and showing they both had a great sense of timing; there is obviously a connection between the two of them, and it showed in their respective times. They were followed by Tony - his concentration very apparent in the first test, and proving he had the measure of everyone by posting a time of 44.5seconds - almost perfect! His second time of 69.5 seconds was only 2.5 seconds off target, and he was looking good for the top spot. Alas, his final time was just that little bit too far, at 94.5 seconds it was a full 6.5 seconds too long.

What followed next was quite amazing: Phil sat down, very obviously pretty 'wired' for the challenge, his demeanour very much that he was going to have this win. His first time was only two seconds long, his second time two seconds short; that made him level on time, his third test showing a deficit of three seconds; this was going to be hard to beat. As each subsequent competitor took their turn, we saw some fantastic results that could hardly be believed: not the least of which was Mac Cliff - his first time was absolutely spot on 45 seconds to a tenth; his third time of 88.5 seconds only half a second off perfect; if only his second time had been as good he would have taken the spoils of victory; alas he was a full eight seconds off target.

Each subsequent competitor showed that whilst some could count almost perfectly on one selective, they could just as easily get it very wrong on the others, whilst some were short on one they were long on two; some were nowhere near, whilst others were almost spot on. None of course were as close as Mac's first and third times, his incredible understanding of time showing he must have obviously spent a good deal of his working life watching the clock!

Final competitor of the evening was Brian, always an incredibly competitive contestant, always looking for the win, never to be underestimated and one that can never be discounted. Tonight was yet another opportunity to take the win, and as usual he would be going for it hammer and tongs. His first time was a rather surprising 48.8, putting him a full 3.8 seconds over target; it looked like Brian had shot his bolt at the first hurdle and was facing failure. However his second time was incredibly 63.2, exactly 3.8 seconds short to bring his subtotal to the exact time for the first two selectives; suddenly he was back in the frame! Brian's final time was a ridiculously close 89.8 seconds - the second closest time to the bogey and placing him firmly in the driving seat for the victory and maximum points.

The only one left in the club who could beat him was Karl; however, whether it was the prospect of failure, or whether he had forgotten to count, or maybe it was simply fatigue from too many hours at Snorkel combined with the pressure of pulling an excessive number of pints at the Garage Bar and Grill, Karl could simply not muster the enthusiasm to compete, paving the way for Brian to claim a well-deserved victory.

Final results, once all the times had been taken into consideration, were as follows:

1 Brian 201.8s Diff: 1.8s
2 Phil 197s Diff: 3.0s
3 Jonny 56.54s Diff: 5.4s
4 Laura 57.99s Diff: 7.9s
5 Tosh 60.85s Diff: 8.4s
6 Mac 60.69s Diff: 8.5s
6 Tony 61.22s Diff: 8.5s
8 Ian 61.29s Diff: 12.5s
9 Guy 62.99s Diff: 13.0s
10 Gary 72.27s Diff: 13.5s
11 Gordon 62.99s Diff: 21.0s
12 Jamie 72.27s Diff: 83.8s

An excellent win for Brian, unknowingly taking full advantage of the simple scoring system in place for this event that allowed a deficit on one selective to counteract a surplus on another and winning the event on the final test with a winning time only 1.8 seconds off the target. A disappointment for Phil who was convinced he had the win, only to be beaten by the very last competitor on the day: but then, that competitor was Brian, and everyone knows just how much that man will put into each and every competition to get that first place.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Brian's win adding to his already comprehensive points tally and moving him once again clear of his Father; Phil gaining ground with his second place and Jonny getting his name on the Superstars board: perhaps he is thinking that Club night competitions are worth adding to his repertoire of challenging pursuits?

Many thanks to Tosh for putting on a last-minute event that was simple, enjoyable, easy to understand and had all the classic elements of a WDMC Club Night: it was quick, it was easy, lots of people took part and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it based on the animated conversations in the club afterwards.

Next week: The PitStop Challenge; will anyone beat the current record of 1m 5.51 seconds? Who knows, as always, everything is up for grabs when WDMC holds a Wednesday night competition....

Coulsons Concise Challenge - 23 August 2017

2017 Scalextric

One third of a second. We have been here before.

The last time that Tosh and Gary were separated by one third of a second was only three months ago, in the May PitStop competition. On that occasion Gary was very definitely quicker than Tosh but suffered from having a loose wheel nut that dropped him five seconds, and left him just a third of a second behind Tosh in the final results. Let's face it: they have history!

Wednesday the 23rd August saw Jamie bring his Scalextric in to the club, much to the amusement of some of the locals who were seen peering through the glass door at the motoring shenanigans as Brian and Jamie set up the track. The resulting circuit wasn't particularly difficult or testing, it wasn't particularly long, but what it did have were the most important elements: a Mark 1 Ford Escort Rally Car and a stopwatch. There really needed to be only one other element to constitute a classic competition: grown men that thought they were quicker than all the other grown men present.

The competition was deceptively simple: a short, concise circuit comprising of two lanes with twin crossovers, ten laps on each lane with the times added together to give a total cumulative time. Fastest overall wins.

Nobody wanted to be first, so Jamie strode to the line and sat himself down to be the paceman. His times were good, although he did suffer a couple of 'offs' that caused him to lose those microseconds that make all the difference: his total time was still good at a fraction over one minute: 60.69seconds. Tosh went next, working on the basis that as you should never drink and drive, it would be better to have his go early on before the effects of his usual Newcastle Brown Ale took the razor edge off his performance: you never know - it could just make all the difference! His time was quick: exactly six seconds more rapid than Jamie at 54.69 seconds. It would be hard to beat on such a short circuit.

Brian came next, and was flying well until his car started stalling at the same point on every lap; a quick check of the Escort showed some very worn pickup braids which were replaced and he was on his way again. His cumulative time from both lanes, including an unfortunate but time-consuming off leaving him barely three seconds behind his father and putting him in second place. Ian came next, putting in what would be politely described as a 'solid' performance, followed by Gary who is well known as having quite some ability with the electric model car racing game invented by Fred Francis exactly sixty one years ago. Gary was certainly going for the win, taking every sweeping bend as quickly as he could and doing his best to be the victor. His time was quick, but was it quick enough?

Karl went next, convinced his youthful and nimble fingers would pay dividends with a good result, followed immediately by Alastair who was just as convinced he would beat his cousin. That healthy yet persistent Knox family rivalry continuing as it has done for years. Tony came next, his concentration clear, his eyes following every little movement of the tiny Escort as it flew round the circuit and splitting the Knox boys as he did so.

Then came Guy. Quiet, unassuming, sitting down quietly and calmly: nobody really seeing him as a threat. Oh dear, how wrong they all were. They say you should always be wary of the quiet ones, and in this instance the old saying could hardly have been more appropriate: although he didn't think his first ten laps looked anything spectacular, (as Guy himself said: I need to go a bit quicker) he absolutely flew on his subsequent laps and was quicker than everyone bar Tosh; his resulting time placing him faster than Brian.

Final results, after all the times had been added together, were as follows:

1 Tosh 54.69s Ave Lap 2.734s
2 Gary 54.96s Ave Lap 2.748s
3 Guy 56.54s Ave Lap 2.827s
4 Brian 57.99s Ave Lap 2.899s
5 Karl 60.85s Ave Lap 3.042s
6 Jamie 60.69s Ave Lap 3.035s
7 Phil 61.22s Ave Lap 3.061s
8 Tony 61.29s Ave Lap 3.065
9 Alastair 62.99s Ave Lap 3.150
10 Ian 72.27s Ave Lap 3.613

Another comprehensive win for Tosh, with Gary just that 'blink of an eye' behind him once again, bringing back memories of the PitStop competition in May when they were separated by virtually the same margin. A sobering thought was that Gary's time was only 0.014s a lap slower than Tosh - a mere 14 thousandths of a second! A fantastic third place for Guy, pushing Brian down to fourth place and showing that you never ever know just how good your adversaries can be, but if he is seven hundredths of a second faster per lap, he will beat you.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Tosh's win taking him just that little bit closer to his son in the leaderboard and causing Brian to start looking over his shoulder at the 'Old Man' creeping up on him. Not a headline you would want to read in the Sunday Papers.

Many thanks to Jamie for putting on a very popular night's entertainment, Scalextric is always very welcome at the club, and brings out the very best in everyone's competitive nature every single time.

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


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 easily 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 touch 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


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


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).

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


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.
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.
Go too fast, you get no score. Fall off the table, you get no score. Miss the paper, you get no score.
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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