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

Scalextric - January 17 2018

180117 Scalextric

The Northern Adult Male is not particularly renowned for being overtly enthusiastic about much, unless it involves drinking, football or being out with the lads. He has certainly never been seen to explode into rapturous excitement about his lass's new shoes or handbag (there is a particular type of man who does that) so it would be easy to dismiss the Northern Bloke as being simply uninterested in much other than the aforementioned pastimes.

However, the old adage about men being nothing other than boys with bigger toys is as true today as it ever was, but that isn't the full story. A man of course is a simple thing, and generally just as entertained, or maybe even more so, by the small or simple things in life as he would be by the more complicated or esoteric. Just watch a man throwing away a piece of paper: he can't just crumple it up and drop it in the bin because that is just too straightforward, he has to take a step back to what he considers a 'challenging' distance, then try to throw it with unnerving accuracy into the bin, just to prove it can be done. Failing to do so will often involve him going to the bin, collecting the ball of paper and then retreating back to his original position before trying once again, until he is successful. Women might shake their heads in perplexity, but men will nod their heads, because they understand it is a bloke thing.

Wednesday the 17th January was one of those nights to bring out the boy in the man, as Peter Metcalfe arrived at Kibblesworth Club with a box of track, a couple of controllers and some miniature electric cars: this of course was Scalextric night, and as if by magic all the so-called quiet and reserved Northern men present became as animated in their enthusiasm for the racing game with its tiny electric cars as Gok Wan does for fashion on 'How to look Good Naked' - although thankfully all the men present at Kibblesworth Club kept their clothes well and truly on.

Peter's format was as simple as the game itself: a figure of eight circuit, two cars, competitors race each car for ten laps and then add those times together to get a cumulative time for a twenty lap race. This would decide who was overall fastest in each heat and move them onto the next stage. Having sixteen competitors made it even simpler: a knockout competition of Round One, Quarter- and Semi-finals and a Grand Final.

Round One saw the eight fastest drivers through to the Quarter Finals, where they were matched against the next fastest driver to make it as even as possible; that way there was no possibility of the fastest driver being pitched against the slowest. Guy faced Matthew, Karl took on Tosh, Gary went up against Peter and Phil challenged Brian. The four victors then moved up to the Semi-Finals, where Peter took on Brian and Matthew raced against Tosh; the two quickest would emerge to battle it out in the final. And what a final it would be, with Semi Final victors Brian and Tosh facing up against each other over an even longer race of 40 laps for the mother of all family challenges - just who would be the overall winner?

They both started well and for a couple of laps could not have been more evenly matched, however a tiny misjudgement by Tosh saw him put just a little too much throttle on at the North curve and the Mk 2 slid off the circuit, prompting a look of anguish on the older Townsend's face as he realised that could be the single deciding factor of the final. Brian continued his steady pace, quick but by now easily ahead, always the thinking man and knowing Tosh would have to try hard to catch the Audi. Trying was to be Tosh's ultimate downfall, as the Escort once again plunged off the circuit, putting the result almost beyond doubt.

At the second half restart, Brian was well ahead and knew that all he had to do was stay ahead of his father to clinch the win. Brian raced steadily, Tosh raced strongly, and although he was clawing time back from Brian it looked as though it was an impossible task, until without warning the lovely Mk 2 Escort left the road at the South hairpin and an excruciating look of doubt crossed the younger Townsend's face: suddenly the race was on and it was anybody's to take. Tosh's Audi raced along gaining valuable seconds and looked to be about to take the lead: however the 'putter-backer-onner-er' did his job magnificently, getting Brian's Escort back on the circuit without a wasted second, and almost as soon as it happened the race was over.

Times were checked and accrued and they showed a clear victory for Brian by four seconds: his consistency winning the day once again. Final results were as follows:

1 Brian F1
2 Tosh F2
3 Peter SF1
4 Matthew SF2
5 Karl QF1
6 Gary QF2
7 Guy QF3
8 Phil QF4
9 Tony 1m 26s
10 Jamie 1m 28s
11 Gordon 1m 30s
12 Steve 1m 32s
13 Ian 1m 36s
14 Mac 1m 38s
15 Alastair 1m 44s
16 Paul 1m 58s

A thoroughly good win for Brian, showing that the trick is as always, consistency. Every 'off' brings with it a huge time penalty, and even two seconds to put a car back on the track equates to three or four by the time the driver has regained his impetus, so just a couple of offs can seriously affect the driver's final position, as Tosh found during the final as he saw his chances of victory slip away. The race-off for third and fourth places was between Peter and Matthew; Peter checking beforehand by asking Matthew 'If I beat you will you still take me home?' - a phrase not heard since last year's Sado-Masochism convention. The answer must have been positive as organiser Peter went on to take a good third place by showing the same excellent car control as he had during his previous races - causing a few competitors to modify their technique to try and emulate his progress. A sound fourth place for Matthew, showing good driving skills and also some of the more established members that the new guys can hang with the old boys and maybe show them a thing or two.

Many thanks to Peter for bringing in his Scalextric and setting everything up on the night and in particular thanks to all who took part and had a really enjoyable time doing so: it's always good to have a real laugh at the club and men playing racing games with tiny electric cars is just about the most enjoyable thing you could do on a Wednesday night. Points in the Championship to all who took part, Brian extends his lead in the Superstars Championship, Karl maintains his second place although Tosh leapfrogs up to third just a single point behind him. Peter's third place netting him a good haul of points to bring him into contention, whilst Matthew's points bring him firmly into the Top Ten.

Next week sees the first quiz of the year, an event where Guy and Peter typically excel, so the points table is due for yet another upset and it is still only the first month of the Championship year!

Happy days.

PlayStation - January 10 2018

180110 Forza


How many times has that cry been heard from the millions of fans throughout the world? Most would undoubtedly be Italian, of course, but there are still more than enough other fans to make themselves heard. Although the literal translation is 'Force' the word has become synonymous with speed and the total encouragement of it.

Forza Motorsport 7 however, is a console game that brings all the excitement of the real thing to the small screen, and it was Jamie that brought it to Kibblesworth Workmen's Club on Wednesday the 10th January for the second round of the Whickham and District Motor Club's 2018 Superstars Championship along with his X-Box One to test the gaming abilities of the assembled members present.

In what was a quiet night at the Club, there were not as many competitors as usual, prompting Tosh to exclaim that he could potentially finish reasonably well this evening. That, of course, was before he had attempted to actually drive the vehicle of choice: a Bentley GT Continental prepared by M Sport. It's fair to say that this was never going to be a gentlemanly drive in the country, wafting past thatched cottages and village greens in unadulterated luxury and virtual silence. No, this was raw, powerful and right on the edge: Jamie had all the aids on, Traction Control, ESP, ABS, Automatic Gears and to help those less capable drivers, damage was off. Tosh, of course, would need ALL of the above.

Brian started by taking the controls first; not a game he had any experience with, but always willing to give it his best shot, he first had a practice lap and then was straight into the action. The heavy Bentley was immediately skittish on its cold tyres and took almost a full lap to warm them enough to get a good feel for the car. The feel was good, Brian posting a time of 1m 36s to set the benchmark.

Jamie came next, his familiarity with the game showing evidence as he threaded the big GT through the sweeping bends and tight hairpin of Brands Hatch's Grand Prix circuit, determined to beat Brian at all costs. His first standing start lap was a fraction slower than Brian's best, which boded well for the result he was after, however on his second lap he fared not so well, posting a time a full six seconds slower, so it was all down to his final lap. Jamie went for Gold all right, getting each and every bend just about perfect and posting a time over a second faster than Brian to put him first.

Tosh followed, deciding that he might as well go now as put off the inevitable drubbing that was surely to come. Unfamiliar with the game and without the dexterity to keep the big car flowing through the bends his progress was patchy at best, poor at worst and although he had the benefit if the sighting lap it made not a jot of difference to his times and he was a full 15 seconds adrift of the younger men. Tosh was followed by Ian, who looked immediately at ease with the game, sweeping round the circuit with style and looking like he was about to challenge the two youngsters for their positions. Alas, Ian's enthusiasm soon got the better of him as he ran wide on more occasions than he will wish to remember, in particular making the same mistake on the same corner on each and every lap, much to the amusement of all who were watching. His good times were not to last, as each excursion robbed him of valuable seconds and he struggled to gain the time back so much that he eventually finished slower than Tosh, much to his dismay and Tosh's delight!

Alastair came next, with some great expectations to do well. He has shown his mettle in the past and both Brian and Jamie know that he can often be a force to be reckoned with. Known as the 'Quiet One' he could easily have upset the apple-cart with his unhurried style and rapid pace, so all eyes were on him. Although he started well, it was to be his standing start lap that was surprisingly the quickest of his times, as each of his subsequent laps couldn't match his initial pace.

However, Alastair was not to be the last player, as we had heard that Biscuit Bob was about to make a late entry having been working the Two to Ten shift at the local Hobnob Factory, and sure enough, at exactly one minute past Ten Karl strode in the door and ordered his pint before doing battle with the X-Box. This could be good. His cousin was third, his great rival was second, his target was first. Karl picked up the controller, checked the times of all concerned, adopted the stance of one who didn't care what he looked like (especially with his trouser crotch around his knees) and set off for his inaugural lap. His practice lap was good, his first competitive lap was as stylish as those jogging bottoms - a total and absolute car crash. Literally. Karl broke the car. Even with damage off, Karl broke the car. This would go down in the history of the club. Damage off, yet Karl broke the car. Whilst the reviewers of Forza Motorsport 7 might have earnestly said "This is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful racers you will ever see" they had plainly not seen the younger Knox from Kibblesworth. No matter, he now only had two laps left to make his mark, and, being fresh from a hard day's graft, he may not have been in as tip-top condition as the biscuits he helps to produce, but he certainly gave it his best shot; after all, he had a cousin, a leader and the clock to beat.

Karl gave it his all, but in the end it was all too much to manage: his best time coming on his final lap as he wrangled the huge Bentley around the GP circuit in a vain attempt to wrestle it to the fastest time of the day. Alas it was not to be, but he did at least come away with some pride: his fourth place bringing with it a valuable hoard of points in the Superstars Championship and helping him consolidate his place in the table.

So final results, after everyone had been the Derek Bell of Brands, were as follows:

1 Jamie 1m 35s
2 Brian 1m 36s
3 Alastair 1m 40s
4 Karl 1m 46s
5 Tosh 1m 50s
6 Ian 1m 59s

An excellent win for Jamie, probably surprised at just how close Brian was to his time considering all things. A great second place for Brian and one which he was patently happy with, especially as the points would help increase his lead in the Championship, a solid third for Alastair showing that you just have to watch the quiet ones.

Many thanks to Jamie for bringing in his X-Box One and setting everything up on the night, and thanks to all who took part and especially for the excellent and good-humoured nature that was so apparent on the night. Points in the Championship to all who took part, and a palpable excitement about next week: the third in our trilogy of car-related events and one that always brings out the boys in the men: Scalextric!

I can hardly wait.


Kinetic Car Race - January 3 2018

2017 Kinetic Car 1

The WDMC Superstars Championship got off to a roaring start on the very first club night of the year when Gary and Brian put on one of the most popular events - the Kinetic Car Race. The format suits men very well indeed as it is so very simple: take a toy car and send it down a long table, trying to get it to stop on a piece of paper. The further away the paper is, the more points you get, unless of course you fall off the table or stop between the sheets. How hard can it be?

The truth of the matter is the result of your efforts is often very different to your expectations of success; those gaps between the papers seem to grow each time you try, the steering seems to vary much more than you expect, and the pace of the car is often quite hard to judge. Points can be very hard to come by. No matter, each of the competitors were as keen as the cast of The Fast and The Furious and determined to show off their skills.

Tosh went first, to set a benchmark for everyone to aim at. The trouble with going first is that you have no idea how far back to pull the car before letting it go, or how wayward its journey is likely to be. But then, somebody has to be first, so why not just have a go? His attempt wasn't brilliant, with only 70 points gained from his five attempts, but then it could still be a winner depending upon how everyone else did.

That theory was shot down in flames at a stroke when second man up Guy took his turn, immediately scoring 120 points to eclipse Tosh at a stroke. It looked as though Tosh's score would be firmly at the bottom of the table as third man Gordon took up the challenge. And challenge it really turned out to be, as Gordon ended up with more zeros than the Imperial Japanese Navy had in 1945; it would be hard to finish higher than last with nothing on the table.

Mac was next, missing almost everything but a careful peer over the top of his glasses saw him sneak a nifty sixty points to place him just behind Tosh. Karl was up next, having carefully weighed up all his options and thought it all through, he scored on more runs than not, ending up currently top of the leader board with 200 points.

Gary quickly followed and his first run saw him net a cool 100 points for finishing on the optimum scoring card. This could be good, and Karl was seen gently biting his lower lip as he no doubt saw his prime position snatched away almost before he had it. Luckily for him, it was not to be, as Gary had obviously been reading the Gordon Bradford book of "How to score points and win" and managed absolutely nothing on all four of his subsequent runs.

Ollie and Phil followed next, both matching each other with a total of 50 points each, before Alastair took his turn, scoring 60 points to place him level with Mac. Father Jimmy came next, flexing his "pit stop" fingers and ready to do battle with the best, however it was nothing short of tragedy in the points stake as all his runs ended up in non-scoring positions. Perhaps his future lies in mine clearance, as he landed on absolutely everything except those places that would light up the sky.

That only left Brian to take his turn. Always competitive, always one to watch, never one to take for granted. Although his first run was not only off the pace but also off the track, he learned from that as he positioned the car for his second run. Beautifully weighted, expertly aligned, the little car drove up the track as if on rails and with a purpose that was clear to see. 100 points. Brian was immediately equal third. His third run was positioned with almost identical accuracy; the result? another 100 points. He was now equal second. Karl bit harder on his lip. Brian aligned his car for his fourth run: his concentration intense, his mind computing all the options, his eyes fixed on the ultimate prize, and when he let go, all eyes were on the car. Unbelievably, he scored yet another 100 points. He was now firmly in the driving seat; he had the pole position, he need not go any further. A call from Gary of "You have the win, don't risk the car" brought a hearty laugh from all those present, but Brian was not finished. He still had his final run, and in typical fashion, he was not only going for the win but for a crushing victory. His final run netted a very healthy 70 points, to bring his total to 370 - almost twice the score of second placed Karl, and an indictment of Brian's attitude to competition: to beat him, you really do have to win in no uncertain terms.

So final results, after everyone had played their own little Kibblesworth imitation of Brian O'Connor, Dominic Toretto or maybe even Michelle Rodriguez, were as follows:

1 Brian 370pts
2 Karl 200pts
3 Guy 120pts
4 Gary 100pts
5 Tosh 70pts
6 Alastair 60pts
6 Mac 60pts
8 Ollie 50pts
8 Phil 50pts
10 Gordon 0pts
10 Jimmy 0pts

A fantastic win for Brian, blasting himself into the lead on the very first event of the year, showing he is as intent on retaining his Championship winning status as ever, despite whatever everyone else can throw at him. However, it is of course early days, and there are plenty of opportunities during the coming year for others to take that position away: that is, of course, if they actually can. An excellent second place for Karl, showing his drive at the Christmas Stages is not his only talent; a brilliant third place for Guy, his best ever result and one that definitely proves the old adage: 'You have to watch the quiet ones'.

Points in the Championship to all who took part, and many thanks to Gary and Brian for putting on one of our favourite and well-supported Club night events. Next round is the first PlayStation round of 2018 - and depending upon the motoring discipline, Brian could potentially see his position taken away, or maybe even reinforced; we can, of course, only watch and speculate as to the outcome.

Bring it on.....

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