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

Guy's Grand Victorian Venture - 28 November 2018

1811 Guy TableTop

What a way to end a Championship Season! Despite it being a very cold and particularly blustery November night Guy Wickham certainly lived up to his reputation as a man that gets things done by putting on his truly excellent Navigational Event to round off the 2018 WDMC Championship Season in perfect style. To say that he finished with a flourish would be a very fitting statement as his route was a lovely wee jaunt around the County Durham lanes surrounding the Motor Club's regular meeting place at Kibblesworth Workmen's Club and though the weather was fierce it was wonderful to have a pleasant drive in God's own country.

Whilst the competitors may have thought (and possibly hoped) the plotting would be very straightforward, they probably had second thoughts once they realised they although they had to plot a number of points on a 1:50,000 OS map, they would actually be required to interpret those points by reference to a very old map from the 1950s that didn't of course show any of the roads that had been constructed over the past 60 odd years - making many think they had almost reverted to a Victorian era!

In truth, it wasn't as hard as it first appeared: with a little thought and careful interpretation, each of the points Guy had identified could be matched to the most recent OS map without too much trouble. The trick was to be very careful and accurate in your plotting; plus of course the need for speed was paramount, as Guy had already set the criteria for the Tie-Break: it would be based on plotting time! Woe betide anyone who thought they might circumvent this process by hanging on to their instruction sheet and plotting 'en route' - Guy had thought of that and was taking the relevant sheets off each navigator prior to leaving the club. Boo hiss to those who thought they might use that little bit of gamesmanship to grasp that extra advantage. Rah Rah to those who considered that would be cheating!

Whilst the weather outside may not have been ideal it was at least pretty comfortable inside the car, and so it was that five crews ventured forth to take part. The route was easy to follow, providing you both read the instructions (and understood the subtle messages within them) and applied that knowledge to your route as you drove around the County Durham countryside.

Code boards were well positioned, extremely clear and obvious, clues were perhaps less so but then it was a competition, and Guy in his infinite wisdom had made a couple of quite subtle instructions for competitors to follow, plus he had been quite specific with others. To those who missed the subtlety of those instructions, they were to see the error of their ways forthwith.

The time allowed was fair and certainly achievable, although some did eventually fall foul of the clock; not that Gary and Phil were going to let that affect their effort: as they raced back from their rather rapid jaunt with literally moments to spare: 55 seconds was all that separated them from exclusion!

So, once everyone had threaded their way through the lanes, tackled the terrain and plotted to perfection, the final positions were decided on plotting time, and as might have been expected, the Townsend family had triumphed once again with a blistering time:

1 Tosh and Brian 12m 31s 0F
2 Matthew and Peter
17m 18s 0F
3 Phil and Gary
15m 15s 2F
4 Gordon and Mac
12m 04s 1F OTL
5 Charlie Tynan
17m 10s 4F OTL

A Superb win for Tosh and Brian, cementing their status as plotting perfectionists, whilst Matthew and Peter were not that far behind with a perfect score, only failing to snatch the top spot by virtue of their plotting time. A great third place for Gary and Phil, although their post-event admission that they had 'Googled' one of the answers might have put that result in jeopardy had they actually got the right answer by doing so; they were obviously very disappointed to discover Google had fed them a line all along!

Many thanks indeed to Guy for putting on a cracking event, especially as it is not exactly in his neck of the woods, so the effort he put in deserves the highest praise: there are some who live much closer and never put an event on, so it is really, very much appreciated by all who were privileged to take part.

Points in the Championship to all who competed and whilst all Championship positions are now finalised, it does give us all a good head start to the 2019 Championship, which from now on will start on the first of December. That means the very first event of the 2019 Championship will be next week's Radio Controlled Autotest: you would be a fool to miss it!

Jamie's Swedish Spa Sojourn - 14 November 2018

2018 Volvo STCC

The Swedes are very well known for many things; their style of design, their love of the simple things, the fact that they accept all people as equals no matter what their colour, race or orientation. They are also very famous for IKEA and Volvo, two things that somehow seem to go together very well indeed, especially if you shop at one and need to take it home in the other.

When Jamie brought his X-Box to the Club on the night of the 14th November it was as usual a well-attended affair, especially as he had decided the competition should this time be on a race circuit and had brought along the truly excellent Forza 6 and chosen arguably the finest circuit in the world: Spa Francorchamps. To be honest, his choice of vehicle was not one of the finest in the world, electing to use the difficult handling 2014 #13 Polestar Racing Volvo S60 STCC - still, it would certainly sort the men from the boys!

Gary was first to go and did so in the full glare of all the assembled members who wasted no time at all in shouting helpful advice and encouragement - not that it seemed to help the biscuit king as he struggled to keep the errant Volvo on the tarmac. He did however manage to complete three laps and posted a reasonably tidy time of 3m 01 seconds. Brian followed him up immediately and initially looked to have the wayward S60 under control but it wasn't long before he too had a few spins and wide runs off the edge of the circuit. His first run was only slightly slower than Gary's fastest but his second run chopped a very healthy 14 seconds from Gary's time, putting Brian ahead. His third run was going very well until a slight lapse which cost his a few very valuable seconds.

Tosh came next, not expecting anything wonderful and he certainly didn't disappoint, with a first lap time of 3m 32 seconds he was well off the pace. His second run should have been noticeably quicker but in fact was worse than the initial lap, coming in at 3m 44seconds. It was all down to his final lap and to be honest he started well and seemed to have some measure of the blue and yellow missile, his time looking quite competitive right up until he outbraked himself at the final chicane, before getting stuck on the tyre wall and losing some very valuable seconds to come home with a time of 3m 8 seconds. A very good time for Tosh.

Phil followed Tosh and then proceeded to show everyone just how not to drive by hitting virtually every wall on every corner, trying to take Eau Rouge flat and coming a 'right copper' in the process. Undaunted nevertheless, he then attempted to do exactly the same on each of his subsequent laps, each time making just as much a mess as before, but flying between accidents so well that he was only marginally behind Tosh at the end.

Jake decided that the best way to thread the blue and yellow pride of Sweden was to take the 'laid back' approach and sat very comfortably down where he stood, well away from the screen but still within easy sight and earshot of the HD goings-on, posting a very safe but decidedly lacklustre first lap time of 3m 23s before upping his game by almost 30 seconds on the second lap to show 2m 58s - it looked like Brian had a challenger! Alas, although his final lap shaved a few seconds off his time he was unable to snatch the lead and had to settle for 2m 55s.

Whilst John then approached the game with what looked like quiet confidence, it just goes to show that looks can be very deceiving, as his times were the slowest of the night, mainly because he simply couldn't keep the wayward Volvo anywhere near the narrow tarmac thread and spent more time in the rough than a blind golfer in the dark. Nevertheless, his enthusiasm and commitment were second to none, and that was just about the best he could hope for.

Alastair was next to take the controller, standing stock upright and concentrating on the game in his usual manner, not letting anyone put him off (or so he said). His first lap was best described as 'steady' but his second and third, with times of 3m 12s and 3m 4s showed he was aiming for the win although once again the errant Volvo would punish even the slightest error.

Karl was up next, his aim very clear: it was his cousin he wanted to beat first and foremost, the victory secondary to the family honour. As with Alastair, his first lap was taken very carefully, slow but steady, then following Jake's lead by stripping almost 30 seconds of his initial time, then a further 8 seconds to post a final fastest time of 2m 50seconds and take a huge 14 seconds off cousin Alastair's fastest.

That only left Jamie: it was his game, so everyone expected him to walk away with the win almost without trying, however the reality showed that he had indeed brought the game along 'stone cold' without even looking at it beforehand. Whilst his initial lap was a very impressive 2m 59 seconds and had everyone thinking he would absolutely annihilate that on his second lap, he was only 9 seconds quicker, barely three seconds behind Brian with a time of 2m 50.9s - just 0.3s behind Karl. Jamie's final lap, however, was no improvement, and so a very surprised group of spectators saw the victory go to Brian with Karl in second.

Final positions, once everyone had been their own WDMC version of Steve Soper, were as follows:

1 Brian 2m 47.2s
2 Karl
2m 50.6s
3 Jamie
2m 50.9s
4 Jake
2m 55.4s
5 Gary
3m 01.2s
6 Alastair
3m 04.5s
7 Tosh
3m 08.5s
8 Phil
3m 12.0s
9 John
3m 18.7s

A great and somewhat unexpected win for Brian, who admitted he was quite surprised to be the victor on the night, but would quite happily take the win anyway because 'I was the quickest' - and nobody could argue with that. A great second place for Karl, netting a healthy haul of points and eclipsing Alastair in the Knox family duel once again. A great third place for Jamie, who admitted he didn't think he had the pace tonight; nobody expects that situation to last for long though, so watch out next time Forza makes an appearance.

Many thanks to Jamie for bringing the game along and setting everything up, it is so much appreciated when club members go out of their way to put on events for the rest of us to enjoy and take part in. Also thanks to everyone who took part: a good turn out and a very enjoyable evening was had by all. Points to all who took part in the Club Championship, only a couple more to go before the end of the Superstars year, but final positions still to play for.

Next week: the blindfold rally; can Gary and Phil repeat their amazing result from last time out or will they struggle this time? Who knows, but to be in with a shout, you need to be there...

Gary's Grand Kinetic Car Race - 17 October 2018

On or Off? You decide...

2018 On or Off

There is an understandable sense of amazement amongst spectators (and some competitors) at the fact that when undertaking a sporting challenge the difference between the results can be so infinitesimally small. From Formula 1 drivers racing round complicated circuits, sometimes miles long, yet are only split by thousandths of a second, to Rally crews that drive through twisty rugged stages and are just as close. The difference of course is there is a line, and being on the right side of that line makes a huge difference to the result.

The last week of school before half term saw the Whickham and District Motor Club schoolboys up to their usual antics on Wednesday the 17th October when Gary and Brian put on another of their fantastically well supported Kinetic Car races; a superb and wonderfully simple event that really does bring out the boy in the man. With only the most basic of materials (pull-back toy car, eight sheets of paper and some sellotape) they constructed a 'course' of what would have scaled up to around a one-eighth mile drag strip had it been full size, yet with the tiny 1/43rd scale model in the hands of an incredible fourteen very competitive members it was always going to be another fun 'Night at the races'.

The concept is at its most basic level: stick eight pieces of paper along the table with a space between each, write a figure on each sheet progressively higher the further you are away, then try to get any of the tiny car's tyres to land on a numbered sheet. Repeat four more times and add up the scores. Simple.

You would think it almost impossible to NOT land on a sheet, but if you did, you would be so very much mistaken. Considering the nearest sheet was less than a metre away from the start, it should have been guaranteed that everyone would at least land on that one. However, WDMC members are not necessarily prone to the safe and obvious, as the farthest sheet on the course held the tempting prospect of a rich 200 points; who wouldn't go for that every time?

In truth, it was everybody; none could escape the allure of the big prize, the one that everyone wanted to land on, the bull at darts, the six at cricket, the pole position. Whilst many were almost there, all but one fell off the end of the table as Gary had surreptitiously stuck the sheet over the end of the table so there was actually a smaller landing area: the sneaky move meant only one would manage it this time: Tosh. It brought his score to a very healthy 370 points and put him into the lead, which he held for much of the evening. As each member took their turn, they tried to land on a scoring sheet, but not all were successful: some landed just short, some stopped way past a scoring sheet, some were so close that only a photo finish could determine whether they were 'on' or 'off' the sheet. Their points made interesting reading, but none could match the 370 in first place. That was, of course, right up until Brian took his turn.

Brian's first run scored 80. His second, 80 again. His third run landed on... the 80. Tosh was looking worried, and rightly so, as Brian lined up his fourth attempt and scored - 80 points! With only one run left Brian was on 320 points and his amazing consistency has brought him within a whisker of trouncing his Father: all he had to do was score sixty or more. He lined up his final run, his face a picture of focus, his eyes firmly fixed on the eighty point sheet, his concentration intense. And yet in that moment the Kinetic Car Gods conspired against him as his car stopped that crucial, tiny bit short: he had failed to score with his last run.

The Kinetic Car Race is always a very well supported event, bringing everyone together as it is one of the great levellers of the Championship; skill walks hand in hand with Lady Luck at this event and nobody can ever tell who will do well and who will do badly.

Final positions, once everyone had been their own baby driver, were as follows:

1 Tosh 370 pts
2 Brian
320 pts
3 Karl
220 pts
4 Ian
160 pts
5 Gordon
150 pts
5 Phil
150 pts
7 Peter
140 pts
8 Guy
110 pts
9 Jamie
80 pts
10 Ewan
60 pts
11 Alastair
0 pts
11 Gary
0 pts
11 John
0 pts
11 Matthew
0 pts

A very valuable win for Tosh, bringing him some much needed points in the Superstars Championship, and managing to snatch a rare victory over son Brian, who finished a very creditable second, 100 points clear of third placed Karl, whose eight points allows him to drop a single point score from earlier in the year to help his title challenge. A great fourth place for the self-effacing Ian, who always plays the 'I'm no good at this' card, yet often brings some surprising results to the table. Phil's fifth place equates to a good haul of five points, bringing him level on points in the Championship with Gary, who sadly managed to miss every single sheet of paper despite knowing exactly where each and every one was as he had stuck them down! Having said that, he was the only competitor to suffer the misfortune of a puncture on the third stage: how unlucky can one man be? Ewan's result is now starting to move him well clear of Father Lee, who unfortunately could not take part tonight due to business commitments.

Many thanks to Gary and Brian for setting everything up on the night and running the event like clockwork, and also to everyone who took part: with fourteen competitors this has to be one of, if the, most popular events of the Championship year. It just goes to show that competition does not have to be complicated, with some of the most basic things and the simplest of concepts, you can keep men happy for hours.

Next event in two weeks’ time: the Pit Stop Competition; where flying fingers and rapid spinning will be the order of the day. Get ready, because this time, the victor could well be you....

Karls Tantalising Taste Test - 3 October 2018

2018 Biscuit Challenge

Taste. A word that can be used to describe many things from the design of clothing you wear, the car you drive or the way you behave. Taste was also a band formed by Rory Gallagher in 1966, probably best remembered for their incredible performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 alongside Jimi Hendrix and The Who, for those who like that style of music. This week, however, it was the gustatory perception, one of the five traditional senses of the human body that was to figure very highly in a new, interesting and unique event that would quite literally test everyone who took part in a way that has never been tried before.

Karl Knox was the organiser, and he had designed a particularly unusual challenge for everyone by bringing a wide variety of biscuits, all of different flavours, which he then proceeded to chop into small pieces and ask each competitor to state which flavour each of the biscuits had been marketed by the manufacturer. For some there were extra points for naming the exact constituents or the shop they were sold in.

From a difficulty level it was surprisingly hard to get it exactly right, with some of the answers showing just how different the various biscuits must have tasted as each was sampled: for example many thought the Fruity Flapjack was an Oat and Raisin biscuit while only two competitors correctly guessed the mini cheese biscuit (the rest probably failing due to tasting so many sweet samples beforehand); some thought the mini cheese tasted like seaweed, others were convinced it was a dog biscuit!. With so many similar ingredients and such a mixture of flavours to choose from it was unsurprising that so many people struggled to put an exact name to the taste: was it syrup or honey, was it chocolate or double choc? This was going to be a tough test for all who took part.

However, everyone took to the challenge with good humour and a willingness to be surprised, and most of them certainly were when the results were read out: who knew that it was Quad choc not Triple Choc and just who can tell the difference between Hazelnut and Brazil nut when it's been baked in a biscuit? Everyone came back licking their lips and all agreed it was the hardest challenge taken on this year.

Final results, after every one had tried their hand at being 'Bake-off' judges were as follows:

1 Gary 15 pts
2 Brian
14 pts
3 Ewan
13 pts
4 Peter
11 pts
4 Phil
11 pts
6 Gordon
10 pts
7 Alastair
9 pts
7 Tosh
9 pts

A superb win for Gary, showing he has obviously tasted many a flavoursome biscuit in his time and can tell the difference more than most; a sound second place for Brian, proving that his philosophy of never knowingly passing by a free food offering has stood him in good stead when it comes to discerning a quality biscuit. A great third place for Ewan, although quite how he was the only one able to correctly identify the Gin biscuit might make Dad Lee check the drinks cabinet at home a bit more carefully when he gets back from London. All three top places only a single point apart from each other, with Phil and Peter tying for fourth place two points behind.

Many thanks to everyone that took part, especially Karl for not only putting the event on but also thinking of a completely different type of challenge and one that nobody expected, also for supplying all the biscuits and acting as Whickham and District Motor Club's own Paul Hollywood on the night.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Gary's win earning him a very valuable 12 points and allowing him to leapfrog Phil into third place. Brian's second place awarding him a good haul of points again and moving him further ahead of second place Tosh, who, with a poor showing tonight dropped even more points to the ever charging Gary who now find himself within easy striking distance of the senior Townsend and looking very hard at taking that second place from him.

In two weeks’ time: the Kinetic Car Race. An event that always defies not only logic, but also reasoning, skill and judgement. This one is and always has been the wild card in the Championship, when nobody knows right until the end just who will be victorious and who will be a dog’s dinner. Only time will tell and we await the event with bated breath: could this be the start of an upset in the Championship? Watch this space.....

The Little Comfort TableTop - 26 September 2018

180425 Tabletop

The final round of Whickham and District Motor Club's Maps Challenge took place on a beautiful sunny Wednesday evening, the last one of September and what was another wonderfully short yet comprehensive challenge from Peter Metcalfe, who once again had done his homework extremely well and presented a concise and most straightforward event.

With his usual sensible head on, Peter had used the familiar area from his last event with its plethora of tight, twisty yellow roads with a really good selection of the classic elements from the standard OS legend. True to form he had included a variety of different clues and cryptic surprises to test every competitor, and though this was bread and butter to the regulars it would prove to be a more challenging task for anyone who had never tried a TableTop Rally before.

Enter stage left Lee and Ewan Tindall, neither of whom had any idea of what a TableTop Rally was, however, they are both very much cut from the same cloth, have a very competitive spirit, and unlike many people in this world, do not have such fragile egos that they are unwilling to take on a challenge and possibly make a hash of it. To give them both huge credit, although it might have seemed like quite a daunting task, they were both as willing as each other to give it a go, and that says more than you can imagine about their characters.

Whether they felt the same in the first few seconds might have been another matter, as nothing could have quite prepared them for what was to come: cryptic clues consisting of numbers, letters, signs and diagrams all very much designed to confuse and cause doubt and uncertainty. What could that combination of letters mean? How on earth does that string of numbers give me any idea of where to go? What the hell does that strange picture mean?

Fortunately, help was on hand in the shape of Organiser Peter and long-time Map Championship campaigner Tosh, both of whom really value the contribution of those who take part in each and every competition, whether it is those at the top end challenging for the win, or those who are just starting and wanting to learn and build their own personal skills with a view to the future. Lee and Ewan were of the latter type: willing to have a go, try their best and take it all in so they would be that much better prepared next time. Whilst they did benefit from some help from the experts, they still had to put in some effort to work out the route; with Peter and Tosh guiding them through the trickiest parts to help them achieve an overall clean result in the end, albeit a little bit slower and with a touch of gentle hand-holding along the way.

Meanwhile Gary, Guy, Brian and Gordon got on with the task of not only keeping it clean but doing so in the shortest possible time. Each year the Maps Championship seems more competitive than the last, and 2018 is certainly no different. Brian is as determined to beat Dad Tosh as he is with every single competition he enters; for him, second place is first loser. Guy pegs away at each and every round with the perseverance that comes with absolute dedication to perfection; he wants each win as much as anyone else. Gordon simply puts his head down, reads the instructions carefully, occasionally asking for a little clarification, interprets them in his own way, then just goes for what he thinks is the right route. Gary has a different approach; he sits quietly, carefully weighing up all the clues, analysing all the options and looking for the obvious sneaky bits and 'dirty dogs', before deciding on his route and getting it down on the map. All did well and all were clean.

The final results, after each and every one had scratched their heads and rubbed their chins in a mixture of confusion and thoughtfulness, were as follows:

1 Guy 8m 57s
2 Brian
9m 05s
3 Gordon
12m 52s
4 Gary
20m 56s
5 Tosh
13m 25s 1F
6 Ewan
16m 50s Novice
7 Lee
22m 17s Novice

A brilliant and very well deserved win for Guy, setting the fastest time of the day and beating Brian into second place by only the merest of whiskers, the younger Townsend reflecting that his final careful ten-second check of the route had potentially cost him the victory on this event. A brilliant third place for Gordon, keeping it very clean and producing the third fastest time of the night to show that he can produce a good result when it's needed. A very sound fourth place for Gary, proving that perseverance and dogged determination will always bring results, and when your nearest competitor in the Championship decides not to take part, those results are worth more than money.

Many thanks to everyone that took part, especially Peter for putting the event on and more importantly for encouraging the newer members to take part. It can be a difficult task sometimes, getting people to try something they have never done before, especially if it is likely to challenge them more than they are comfortable with. Extra thanks must also go to both Peter and Tosh for guiding Ewan and Lee cleanly through the trials of their first TableTop, helping them understand the cryptic clues enough to hopefully take the challenge on alone next time.

Points in the Maps Championship to all who took part, Guy's win giving him a very valuable 13 points and his first Maps win of the season, showing everyone that he is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Brian's second place earning him almost enough points to snatch the Championship from his Father at the eleventh hour, taking him to within one tantalising point of the senior Townsend. Gary's fourth place gave him just enough points to overtake Phil and finish the Championship in fifth place, albeit just one place behind Peter who must be congratulated for his fantastic efforts in putting on no less than 60% of the Map events this year; it takes a lot of time and effort to organise such events and we can only thank Peter, Guy and Gary this year for their sterling efforts at putting on all these events for the benefit of every club member that takes part. Thank you guys.

Ewan's good result in beating his Dad (whether that showed Peter was more help to Ewan than Tosh was to Lee we will of course never know) means his final position in the table was a little higher than Lee so that Father/Son challenge is no doubt certain to be reignited in the 2019 Maps Championship! This is what makes these Championships all the more exciting; the spirit of competition, the camaraderie amongst competitors and the willingness to help each other and compare our results is really the essence of what makes us all part of the great WDMC family.

Next week: the Pit Stop Competition: an event almost guaranteed to bring Jimmy out of his favourite corner and see hi flexing his fingers and cracking his knuckles; with more wind under his belt he is of course a force to be reckoned with. However, last time out it was Brian that emerged victorious, with Lee only half a second behind courtesy of a loose nut on Brian's behalf, although he is unlikely to make that mistake a second time; but then Lee is showing that he is a fierce competitor. Was Jimmy having a bad day? Will he be back with a bang to reclaim what he sees as his rightful position? Things could well be hotting up nicely........

Steering Wheel Challenge - 19 September 2018

Steering Wheel Nurburgring

The incorporation of the ball into games must be considered one of the defining moments in the history of sport. There are probably more games that rely on making a spherical (or near spherical) object go into a defined place than almost any other type. Snooker, Billiards, Pool, Golf, Football, Bowling, Hockey, Basketball, all need the ball to end up in the right place the right number of times to win. Finding a way to include a ball into a form motor related competition has not always been easy though, but here at Whickham and District Motor Club we have managed that difficult feat extremely well with our Steering Wheel Challenge.

For the initiated, the task may seem daunting, for the familiar, it is all about technique. There is of course no such thing as the average competitor as each has his own particular way of dealing with the conundrum of getting all the balls into their respective holes in the shortest possible time; and with two puzzles to complete, it would be interesting to see just how each would manage the feat.

There were two challenges: one that appeared to be a very simple nine hole test until you realise the terrain was as ridged and furrowed as a Middle Ages Farm, causing a great deal of frustration and silent cursing as each tried their best to get the wayward balls to behave in any sort of sensible manner at all. This was not an easy task, and some found it all but impossible to manage. The second challenge was more motor related, with a simplistic map of the full Nordschleife Circuit with 12 holes in the most strategic corners and a slightly wavy terrain intended to cause maximum frustration.

To be fair, everyone managed to get every ball in all their respective holes, although some did take longer than others; it was though testament to the tenacity of the competitors that none gave up and all showed immense determination to finish the task they had started.

Gary was an early entrant, starting extremely well with all balls in the first test down in only 16 seconds, however his second test took far longer and by the time he had all sitting home he was convinced he would end up nowhere. In a surprise turn of events, his would prove to be the time to beat, as each subsequent competitor took their turn and found problems with either one or the other, their times ticking on, taking longer every attempt. Gary's smile grew wider at every turn, his initial thoughts of a lowly place receding at every result.

Phil was not slow, but also not as quick as Gary. Brian was rapid, quicker than Phil, but still slower than the Club Secretary. Times started to look exceedingly long tonight, surprising really as the norm would have been much shorter in the past; perhaps something was afoot tonight, maybe a change was in the air. Alastair struggled with one particular ball, as did Jimmy and Matthew, Peter and Ewan; it seemed to be their Nemesis, the one ball that simply would not drop. Matthew's time was good, his technique improving with each game and definitely enjoying the challenge as much as any other man.

The final competitor was yet to take to the stage: Tosh, champion of so many Steering Wheel Challenges in the past, flexing his fingers and settling himself down to take the competition by the scruff of its neck. Amazingly, he had all nine balls in the first test in place in less than sixteen seconds, turning to the Nürburgring at once, and incredibly getting ten of the dozen balls in their holes within 40 seconds. Gary's smile faded almost immediately, he knew he was in the most tenuous of positions. Then the most incredible thing happened: the balls would simply not behave for Tosh, and he struggled to get them to go anywhere near where they should. Gary's face started to lift, his eyes darted from the Nürburgring to the stopwatch: sixty seconds, and still they would not go down. Then the penultimate ball went in and it was only the last to get home with a potentially huge twenty seconds to go.

Then it was Seventy seconds, the final ball skirting the hole like a politician dancing around a difficult question, Gary looked again at the watch, could he hold on for just fourteen more seconds? Eighty seconds were now gone and once again the ball missed its hole by a whisker, Tosh furiously twitching and twisting the steering wheel in a vain attempt to get the thing to behave, before, out of the corner of his eye, he caught the tiniest of a fist pump from Gary, and he knew in that split second he had taken too long. In an almost derisory act of self-defiance, the final ball then dropped straight into the hole less than six second later, and in his excitement Gary couldn't quite hit the stop button on the stopwatch (or watch as it would henceforth be known).

Final results, once Tosh had resigned himself to his fate and Gary had come down from his heights of ecstasy, were as follows:

1 Gary 1m 24s
2 Tosh
1m 31s
3 Brian
2m 01s
4 Phil
2m 12s
5 Matthew
2m 23s
6 Ewan
3m 09s
7 Peter
4m 54s
8 Jimmy
6m 36s
9 Alastair
10m 11s

A superb win for Gary, his first at this event and even sweeter due to his beating both Superstars competitor Phil and Steering Wheel Champion Tosh, who scored a very good second place, showing that sometimes, even on the best day things can very definitely go against you and contrive to reinforce the fact that nobody is infallible. A great third place for Brian, allowing him to extend his lead a little more in the Superstars Championship, whilst Phil picked up some more very valuable points to mitigate the effects of his nearest competitor, victor Gary.

Many thanks to everyone that took part, and especially to Tosh for bringing the equipment, setting up on the night and hosting the event. Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Matthew gaining some good points with his excellent fifth place while Ewan's participation means he now overtakes father Lee and moves intom the Top Ten in the Championship table, bringing a little more excitement to the Father/Son challenges that make these competitions all the more exciting.

Next week: Peter Metcalfe's Table Top Rally: after his last event - the Cornish Cornucopia - a chance for all those who fancy themselves as a mixture of Magnus Magnussen, Bear Grills and William Roy to work out Peter's cryptic clues and difficult diagrams and plot the correct route on a clean but complicated map. How difficult can it be? Only by being there and taking part could you possibly find out......

Tosh's Filling Station - 12 September 2018

180912 Filling Station

For those of us who remember the refuelling years in Formula 1, the fuel strategists had to be really on their toes all the time to both estimate and calculate the correct amount of fuel to put in each car in order to gain the best advantage: too much and they would pay the penalty of carrying the extra weight around for every single lap, yet too little and they would run the risk of their star driver running out of fuel before the finish; (nobody wanted a repeat of the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix when six of the top cars ran out of fuel on the closing laps).

For those in such technologically advantageous positions the question they never have to answer is 'just how much is in that container? Their answers generally lie in very accurate sensors, whereas for the clubman or man in the street he has to know by what he has bought or brought with him. Nowadays much of that decision making is taken away from us all by the technology that measures to the nth degree exactly how much is present.

For the Whickham and District Motor Club members taking part in Tosh's Filling Station Challenge on the night of the 12 September 2018, the challenge was simple enough: just pour three specific volumes of liguid into a container and measure each one to see how close your estimate was to the quantity required. For some it should have been a foregone conclusion, for others perhaps a more difficult task. The quantities involved were 200ml, 300ml and 500ml, so it should have been quite simple. When you consider that each and every member present had probably spent many, many hours looking at pints of beer it should have been almost second nature, but the events of the night would prove to be anything but, as it would all be down to pure estimation and guesswork: not for them the marked containers, no lines were evident on the side of the glasses, no floats and sensors were in operation, it would all be down to their eyes and experience.

Gordon was as keen to go as anyone, first to the table and pouring like a pro. His quantities were very good and would set the benchmark for those who followed. As each subsequent competitor came to the table you could see the mental anguish in their eyes as they struggled to think how much each quantity would be when poured into the tall, wide glass. Some likened it to feeding a baby, some based their guess on how big a pint was, others thought about the size of their spirit measures (and it soon became apparent that some members certainly must have liked their Whiskey based on what they thought was a 'single measure').

The results were in one way very surprising, in particular the number of people who poured almost exactly the same amount in for both 200ml and 300ml! There were the confident ones: pour an amount in one swift movement and stick with it, there were the cautious; those who poured little and often and stopped and looked so many times before committing to an amount; then there were the undecided, pouring out, pouring some back, then pouring out again before repeating all over again. Each quantity was weighed to see what was actually present and points awarded for how far away from the desired quantity each amount was. Nobody could see anybody else's attempts as the challenge was held behind a screen, so nobody had any advantage. The quantities dispensed varied quite remarkably: between 100ml and 290ml for the 200ml; between 200ml and 375ml for the 300ml, and between 330ml and 575ml for the 500ml.

Final results, once everyone had done their best to pour their required litre in three parts, were as follows:

1 Brian 35pts
2 Guy
85pts
3 Gordon
120pts
4 Lee
155pts
4 Phil
155pts
6 Ewan
170pts
7 Ian
180pts
8 John
185pts
8 Karl
185pts
10 Jamie
205pts
11 Gary
210pts
12 Tony
230pts
13 Alastair
280pts

A very good win for Brian, applying his usual impeccable logic to the challenge and watching every quantity he poured like a hawk evaluating its prey, then analysing each quantity and adjusting his subsequent attempts to take account of the result. A brilliant second place for Guy, his excellent estimation meaning he showed a pretty clean pair of heels to third placed Gordon, showing that not all senior members of society can only measure in feet and inches, pints and gallons.

Many thanks to everyone that took part, and especially to Tosh for not only thinking up yet another brilliantly simple yet very effective and competitive game that enjoyedc a very healthy entry of 13 members on the night, all of whom said they enjoyed it tremendously, but also for bringing all the equipment and hosting the event. Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, Brian extends his lead a little further this week, but Tosh drops a potential points bonus by only taking organisers points. Ewan overtakes Peter to move into 11th place but Dad Lee extends his lead over the younger Tindall by three points.

Next week a change from the advertised programme: The Steering Wheel Challenge; that fine combination of a tender touch, beautiful balance and deft dexterity. A strong event for Tosh and one that could see him pull back some of the points he has missed tonight, but then it will be the second time that Ewan has taken part and he will be wanbting to claw back some of the points his Dad Lee has extended over him recently. Brian, of course, will be his consummate self: accurate, careful and precise; who knows how it will end up? The only way is to be there and see.....

Radio Controlled Autotest - 5 September 2018

180905 RC Car

The human body is quite frankly an incredible and finely tuned piece of engineering, technology and construction. Our ability to perform the most mundane of tasks to a very high standard is legendary, and for some the ability to perform amazing feats with apparently the least amount of effort is truly startling.

Wednesday the 5th September saw Whickham and District Motor Club put on the Radio Controlled Autotest (take 2) after last week's unfortunate energy crisis when the battery died. This week was not going to see a repeat of that situation, when Tosh and Brian arrived with a fully charged car and Brian and Gary proceeded to set up the forty or so bollards in a tricky and demanding course that would test the abilities of all who took part.

Once the event started it would be quite fair to say that not everyone who held the controller tonight may have been at the cutting edge of human ability, especially those for whom the combination of trigger finger and twisty knob does not come naturally; they were the ones for whom the challenge really took place.

Phil was off first, showing the same skills as he has always shown and rocketing around the course flawlessly in 1m 44seconds, setting the benchmark and throwing down the virtual gauntlet for everyone else to try and beat. Gary came next, a look of steely determination and a sparkle of mischief in his eye; he shot off from the start like the proverbial scalded cat, however he had none of the feline prowess of that species as although he may have raised an eyebrow with his method of attack he then proceeded to knock down a significant number of bollards in his pursuit of Fastest Time of the Day. Nobody would be faster tonight; in fact it took Brian longer to replace all the affected cones!

Peter was next, citing an early start as his reason for taking part so early. This pertinent fact was missed by some, until they realised that Peter's ability at piloting the RC car were nothing at all like his ability in his mini - and thanks be to Allah, God or Buddha for that as otherwise poor Guy would be a permanent hospital case. Peter's haul of displaced bollards was impressive; and only matched by the number of looks of complete and utter bewilderment on his face as he tried desperately to work out which finger to press in which direction at what point. There were indeed many pregnant pauses...

As each subsequent competitor took their turn, it was very apparent who the ones were with natural ability as against those with nothing but dogged determination and perseverance: Tosh was slow but very deliberate, Jamie was quick but inaccurate, Gordon a mixture of the two. John was very fast and showed some very good skills, let down only by virtue of his own impatience, whereas new member Jake was impressive straight out of the blocks, not as quick but that crucial bit cleaner through the gates. Brian was on a charge from the off; quick, clean, thoughtful, and with almost perfect precision. However, he was caught out at the very end when as the batteries began to run down, he couldn't get the wee car to turn quickly enough to manage the final slalom to his impeccable standards. His final time just that shade slower than Phil's.

Ian was last to go, and started off very well with a very clean entry into the first few garages and looking as though he could be a contender for third place, however as he progressed round the course, the car's performance seemed to be suffering more and more, eventually culminating in an inability to turn and move at the same time; his accuracy suffering as the car careened into more and more bollards, eventually refusing to turn at all and only coming home by virtue of some massive 360 degree turns to allow him to align with the final gates.

Final results, once everyone has attempted to be an action man scale version of Jonathan Swift, read as follows:

1 Phil 1m 44.2s 0F
2 Brian 1m 47.8s
0F
3 Tosh 3m 25.3s
1F
4 Gordon 2m 08.3s
3F
5 Jake 3m 29.9s
3F
6 John 4m 24.8s
4F
7 Jamie 3m 40.86s
6F
8 Ian 6m 24.98s
7F
9 Gary 1m 13.3s
9F
10 Peter 4m 24.8s
21F

A convincing win for Phil, much to his obvious delight and a thoroughly deserved victory to add to his portfolio of Superstar results; a good second place for Brian, only losing out to Phil by a few valuable seconds that proved crucial at the end of the day; a great third place for Tosh, showing that dogged determination that he has always shown in his pursuit of a good result, a fine fourth place for Gordon, surprising a few other competitors but proving there's life in the old dog yet.

Many thanks to those who took part, and especially to Tosh and Brian for bringing the equipment and Brian and Gary for setting everything up. It is always good to enjoy a healthy entry on any event, and this one was no different. Points in the Championship to all, this week sees Phil move further up the table to push Gary into fourth, Karl dropping further down the leader board as Jamie turns up the heat and deposes him from fifth. Gordon is a surprise entry into the top ten at number nine with his cover version of Snow Patrol's hit single Chasing Cars.

Next week: The Filling Station: a new game of accuracy, judgement and estimation; how much do you really know? This will be a challenge unlike any we have seen before, and Competition is expected to be as lively as ever. Who knows how well you will do? The only answer is to play the game...

Blindfold Rally - 22 August 2018

180822 Blindfold Rally

It seems hard to believe that it was on April the 18th 1938 that writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created the truly wonderful character Superman, appearing in Action Comics No 1 and who has over the years become an absolute icon and defined the conventions of the superhero. His skills are simply legendary, including superhuman strength, a bulletproof body, the ability to fly and in particular X-ray vision.

It was on August 22nd 2018 that Whickham and District Motor Club saw its own North East version of a somewhat hirsute Superman when Tosh and Brian hosted another of their Blindfold Rallies, where each competitor wore a pair of goggles with blocked out vision and did their best to negotiate a difficult path through a series of bollards without either touching one or taking the wrong path, whilst their partner described the correct route to take. For most, the challenge was difficult enough, for Jamie, a touch more so as he struggled to work out left from right, especially as Guy turned to complete the return leg.

However, it was as Phil and Gary took to the floor that we saw the most amazing performance, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Gary had in fact inherited the superhuman skill of X-Ray vision from Superman himself, as he strode effortlessly around the twisty circuit with such ease it was a joy to watch. To be honest, the pair of them made the task look ridiculously easy, setting a combined time that had the onlooking challengers thinking there was a chance of taking the game to them; in reality, it would prove to be unbeatable, such was their fluidity of motion and superb positioning that only very occasionally looked like they might touch a bollard. This was like a Kibblesworth Workmens Club version of Strictly Come Blindfold and the judge was the stopwatch.

Other teams didn't fare anywhere near as well, with Tosh and Brian taking almost three minutes longer to complete the same course. Their technique was very different from the previous crew, and this time proved to be less successful to them. Guy and Jamie fared worse still, although their challenge was rather hampered by some long pauses where left and right caused some confusion to Jamie when 'coming down the map', their score suffering further due to some rather unfortunate directional errors that caused collisions with the bollards and incurred subsequent fails. At least they were taking part, and as we have always maintained, you can't fly to the Caribbean if you don't get on the plane.

Final results, once each crew's combined times were added together and checked by Brian, read as follows:

1 Phil and Gary 3m 40.86s 2m 05.96s + 1m 34.90s
2 Tosh and Brian 6m 24.98s
3m 35.37s + 2m 49.61s
3 Jamie and Guy 9m 39.85s +6F
4m 47.32s + 4m 52.53s

A thoroughly convincing win for the Puma crew, showing they certainly understand each other and perhaps setting them up well for the forthcoming weekend; a solid second place for Tosh and Brian, not particularly finding their rhythm tonight but gaining a good haul of points nonetheless with the benefit of only dropping a couple of points to the victors; a good third place for Guy and Jamie, and though the latter did struggle occasionally with his directions still earned points which are of course all extremely valuable when you consider other championship contenders were more than happy to simply sit in the bar this evening.

Many thanks to those who took part, and especially to Tosh and Brian for not only bringing the equipment but also thinking up a different variation on the theme. It was good to see half a dozen members taking part, and although there were only a few in the club tonight the take-up could have been more enthusiastic. Points in the Championship to all, this week sees Phil take back the fourth place that was taken from him last week, whilst Jamie now moves up to level with Karl, whose untimely decision to not take part in this week's event costs him the place: not his best move to date.

Next week: The Radio Controlled Autotest: a game of accuracy, skill and dexterity to drive the twitchy wee car around a circuit without touching any bollards; almost like tonight's event in miniature, but with toy cars. Competition will of course be intense between competitors, and as always, points will be available to all who compete, so if you want to ensure you continue to challenge the Championship leaders get your fingers ready and gather your wits about you and book your place for next week's competition...

PlayStation - 15 August 2018

Playstation

When it comes to simple questions, there are of course many types; take 'Who wants to be a Millionaire', for example, where the questions range from the ridiculously easy £100 to the downright impossible at £1,000,000. Whilst we don't have that Million pound question here, we can certainly ask the £100 one: what have a Fire Engine, a London Double-decker bus and Judy Garland's Ruby Slippers in the Wizard of Oz have in common? The answer is of course they are all bright red, which in all honesty should have been the colour of Karl Knox's face for choosing the rally stages for the PlayStation night at WDMC on the 15th August.

Whilst it's fair to say that there will always be a big variation in the abilities of the members taking part, tonight saw such a massive difference in performance that it must once again call into question the format being used in the current competition. Stage 1 was one of the most difficult stages to drive that has been seen for a very long time, borne out by the times posted which varied between the fastest at 2m 59s and the slowest at over 10 minutes. Competitors would also have been forgiven for thinking they had seen the second stage before, as the Baumholder Flugplatz Stage has now figured on no less than three PlayStation nights this year - when there have only been four events. Time for change.

Competition this evening was as fierce as ever, with everyone going for the best time they could manage, although with the first stage that was always going to be a massive challenge for some. The car was incredibly twitchy, braking was very much an on or off affair with the car responding accordingly and swapping ends quicker than most could catch it, plus it was just so unstable that many competitors went off and incurred huge penalties that just penalised them even more. Those who knew both the car and stage were in a class of their own, so the results this week were some of the widest ranging for many months.

There were some genuinely funny moments, such as Matthew's dreadful attempt to get to the end of both stages, hampered mostly by the tears of laughter in his eyes preventing him from seeing where he was going, although in all honesty it would not have made much difference; his time was so long he was left to manage on his own whilst the organisers took a break for drinks. Peter Metcalfe on the other hand had already announced he and Matthew were having a race to finish last although he looked to be making a valiant attempt to destroy the white Hyundai in a series of accidents that would progressively remove parts of the car until none were left. His most spectacular accomplishment was to knock off the Front offside wheel completely at a stroke and then drive to the finish on three wheels, arguably going more quickly than when he had four! His final flourish was to finish in the penultimate position and take the spoils from Matthew; as he said: 'I had a good reason for inviting Matthew to join the Club'.

Words alone cannot describe this effort from Mr Metcalfe

2018 Metcalfe Mashup

Final results, once all the times had been added by Karl, then dismissed and added up properly by Brian, were as follows:

1 Karl 6m 01.6s 2m 59.8s + 3m 01.8s
2 Jamie 6m 19.4s
3m 27.0s + 2m 52.3s
3 Alastair 7m 14.6s
4m 15.8s + 2m 58.8s
4 Brian 7m 18.2s
4m 17.9s + 3m 00.3s
5 Phil 8m 26.9s
4m 57.0s + 3m 29.9s
6 Tosh 9m 27.6s
5m 15.3s + 4m 12.3s
7 Gary 10m 08.3s
6m 17.7s + 3m 50.6s
8 Ian 10m 59.4s
6m 34.1s + 4m 25.3s
9 Peter 11m 54.4s
6m 28.7s + 5m 25.7s
10 Matthew 18m 19.8s
10m 03.9s + 8m 15.8s

A very comprehensive win for Karl, showing that his familiarity with the first stage was certainly no accident at almost 30 seconds quicker than second place Jamie, who put up a very good showing and certainly had Karl in his sights on the second stage, as did Alastair although he was let down by his performance on Stage 1.

Many thanks to those who took part, and especially to Karl who brought along his X-Box and put on the event. It was good to see so many people taking part again, and the video game nights continue in their popularity and bring in a good number of competitors each time. Points in the Championship to all, this week sees Karl overtake Phil in the tables to move into fourth place.

Next week: The Blindfold Rally. No amount of practice can help with this, as it is all down to teamwork, with the top crew taking the honours with their combined times. Choose your partner carefully, as those with problems telling left from right could prove to be more of a liability than an asset...

Telephone Rally - 8 August 2018

2018 Pensilva Triangle

For all the visual wonder that is available in this modern, digitised world that has progressed from the cathode ray tube to liquid crystal displays and now organic light emitting diodes, despite the brilliance of retina displays with true-colour rendition and augmented reality, there is a glorious and wonderful tactility in holding a pen or pencil in your hand and drawing a line on a piece of paper.

For some of course that line can be little more than a basic squiggle that represents virtually nothing of recognition, whilst in other hands the pen, pencil or brush becomes such a living thing it can produce magnificent masterpieces such as those by Diego Fazio or Dirk Dzimirsky. There are of course few of that standard at Whickham and District Motor Club, and even fewer that can hold a candle to Paul Lung, yet the ability to draw a line in the right place at the right time is still an art in itself and one that can bring big rewards to those willing to try.

The day of the 8th of the eighth of the eighteenth saw Peter Metcalfe put on a really cracking little test in the form of a Telephone Rally, this time located between the granite moorland of Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley, an area well known for its proliferation of small, winding yellow roads with grass down the centre and typically high Cornish hedges. The route was compact and well defined; all contained within the lower half of an A4 map, yet using enough of the very many lanes and roads to challenge everyone from the best to the most inexperienced.

The start of the challenge was unfortunately held up by the Cheviot meeting upstairs, however once that was finished it was all systems Go! and Peter was ready to take entries immediately. Brian and Tosh were first to go, settling down comfortably and readying themselves for action. This was of course very familiar territory for them: they have an uncanny ability to almost know in advance what the other is thinking or about to say, second guessing each instruction with a withering accuracy that almost defies belief. They were, of course, going for the win. Tell me something new, I hear you say.

Lee on the other hand was looking very much like a five year old on his first day at school: he desperately wanted to take part, but something was holding him back; his body language shouted let me at it, his expression said he was not sure. The torture was plain to see, his competitive streak egging him on whilst his desire to win was strangely holding him back. Lee wanted to know Tosh and Brian's time: nobody would give it to him. His anguish was clear. Ewan, meanwhile, was on his feet and raring to go, his enthusiasm plain for all to see, his eagerness absolutely apparent, the look on his face both patient yet also impatient as his Father prevaricated over whether to take part or not. Eventually, Lee stood up, a look of determination on his face, his jaw set in competition, his manner one of the true competitor. This was very good. The game was on!

They were joined at that point by Guy and Phil, both keen to raise their Championship points tally, both sure they could challenge for the win. Guy is of course a very accomplished navigator and co-driver and also well known for his ability when competing on telephone rallies, so this was definitely looking good. Phil, however, wears his heart on his sleeve, so any event involving him always has the potential to swing between the glorious victory of the Dambusters raid and that of the wreck of the Hesperus. Guy was determined, as always, to achieve a great result. This combination could be either great or explosive, and nobody knew which way it would go.

Peter called time to go, and each crew was off with a start; the quiet of the lounge was immediately broken by calls of turns on yellows, missed junctions and go down the second or third white. From an outsider’s point of view, the event had suddenly sprung to life and the atmosphere was almost electric

Lee and Ewan appeared to start solidly and carefully, taking note of Tosh's earlier advice to keep it clean and make no mistakes. Phil, however, despite the explicit instructions of navigator Guy, preferred instead to cast caution to the wind and straight-line the wonderfully chosen double triangled junction between Slade Park Road and Goodmans Lane at absolute full speed, possibly hoping organiser Peter would be lenient and allow the crew a 'Gordon moment' - the benefit of the doubt. Phil's assumption however was sadly misplaced, Peter penalising him for missing the junction and the crew subsequently collecting the first of two fails in the process. All went pretty well for them after that, and they made it almost to the very end until the village of Kelly Bray dealt the killer blow to their hopes of a good place, the complicated junction of green, brown, yellow and white roads proving to be just too much to handle.

Lee and Ewan meanwhile were pegging steadfastly on, carefully reading and plotting, taking their time and keeping it clean. Not for them the blast of unbridled testosterone and blow the consequences; they had taken heed of the offered advice and were keeping it as accurate as possible. Their only mistake when subsequently checking their route was a really unfortunate yet costly mistake on the very final section, hardly a couple of miles from the finish where they missed a crucial white loop. Whilst Lee held up his hands and admitted the error was his, their performance on their first Telephone Rally was almost sublime; save for that very minor mistake, they showed that the Tindalls were very definitely up for a challenge whenever it is presented to them!

Final results, once all the maps had been marked and checked by Peter, were as follows:

1 Tosh and Brian 6m 10s
2 Lee and Ewan
13m 46s 1 Fail
3 Guy and Phil
12m 40s 2 Fails

A crushing win for Tosh and Brian, taking less than half the time of the other crews. A fabulous result for Lee and Ewan, who scored an absolutely brilliant second place on only their very first Telephone Rally, showing that they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the future. A good solid third place for Guy and Phil, only suffering by virtue of a couple of missed triangles and those most likely due to a heady mixture of adrenaline and enthusiasm.

Many thanks to those who took part, and especially to Peter who put the event on and waited patiently whilst the Cheviot meeting took preference on the evening. It was definitely good to see some crews taking part, however it would have been better had one or two of the other members present had a go themselves on the night.

Next week: PlayStation. Karl Knox will be bringing his X-Box to the club and hopefully will bring an event to appeal to those members with a wider interest in motorsport. This will, undoubtedly, be beneficial to those younger members of the club that find this discipline quite natural; perhaps this is a strange yet inverse payback for those senior members of the club that find the pencil mightier and more manageable than the tablet....

Kinetic Car Race - 18 July 2018

180718 Kinetic Cars

There are many challenges in life, and mostly they can be overcome with either perseverance, dedication, love, care or skill, and often a little bit of luck along the way.

Then of course there is the Kinetic Car Challenge, which pretty much relies on almost none of the above except luck, together with a little bit of skill. And of course if you have no skill whatsoever, you are pretty much going nowhere unless you have a massive slice of luck along the way. Over the years we have probably seen more different winners of the Kinetic Car Race than any other challenge, due to the aforementioned Lady Luck.

The night of the 18 July was to add another element into the mix: as we entered the Club there was a funeral wake in very full swing in our usual room and so we were redirected to the upstairs function room. This brought with it an extra edge: the only tables available to create our Kinetic Car Race track had very rounded corners, creating a sausage-string layout that would undoubtedly catch many more of the unwary than normal and send their metal chariots plummeting to the floor. (Well, perhaps not quite, but it does add a bit of artistic licence to the description of the event).

Gary and Karl had their work cut out this evening to create a track that allowed for the curvature of the tables, and this they did well by setting the scoring sheets across the joints, which were all kept very much on the straight and level by the very careful application of beer mats to the underside of the table legs. This simple addition made the course much more navigable, whilst potentially penalising those who might have been a little more Avant Garde in their approach to the game.

It soon became apparent that there was a great deal of interest in this game, not least because it was the first time that father and son combination Lee and Ewan Tindall had ever tried this particular Wednesday night activity, and their enthusiasm, although somewhat guarded at first, grew as they watched other competitors take part. Lee was particularly interested in two things: the technique to be applied in personally amassing the highest score, and beating son Ewan. The younger Tindall, however, stood quietly by, a gentle smile on his face, knowing that the calm approach he has used throughout the past couple of seasons could well stand him in good stead when taking his own turn. The game was on. Once again the sons vs fathers challenge was to rear its competitive head.

Jamie was up first, scoring on two of his five runs and only narrowly missing a higher score by virtue of the closest of margins. Karl went early too, his first two runs netting him 110 pts before hitting the magic jackpot with his third run to gain 500 valuable points and take his haul to 610. His smile was so wide it was almost as big as that dreadful couple on the train on the Colgate Ready for Life TV advert. Karl obviously thought he had it in the bag, and so it looked as competitor after competitor took their turn, trying desperately to better his points tally and take the leading spot. It wasn't looking good, though: Tosh's thoughtful process scored him a lowly 140, Brian's incredibly analytical approach getting a better 280, Phil's random acts a slightly lower 260 and Lee's carefully thought out 280 didn't look at all bad, until son Ewan pipped him with an impressive 350. All the scores seemed to hover around that middle of the road mark between 200 and 350. Ian's Spaghetti Western shotgun from the hip style scoring 270, Matthew's careful sightings earning him 200 and Guy's careful plotting bringing him 260: Alastair, however, never quite grasped the concept fully, whilst cousin Karl's smile was growing as much as his confidence with every new attempt.

That was until Gary took his turn. To be honest, he started pretty badly, netting absolutely nothing on his first three runs and putting him plumb last, his face telling us all he thought he should have taken the three organiser points instead; however on his fourth run he landed on the 200 point marker, lifting him squarely into the centre of the madding crowd; Karl was almost ecstatic and was heard to say under his breath that Gary would need the 500 to be anywhere. Never one to be underestimated, however, Gary's final run was to prove to be a master stroke: the little yellow car landing directly onto the 500 point marker to thrust him into the lead and in one fell swoop crush Karl's dream of victory.

As if that were not painful enough, previous Kinetic Car Race winner Paul then came along, and although his first four runs only netted him a lowly 110 his last run proved to be the final nail in Karl's victory dance as the car landed right on the 500 points to put him on an equal score with Karl. Karl's face was an absolute picture: nobody has seen a face this sad since Brian saw the buffet at the 2017 Interclub DVD night.

Final results, once all the points had been collated and positions sorted according to that undeniable combination of both luck and ability, were as follows:

1 Gary 700 pts
2 Karl
610 pts
2 Paul
610 pts
4 Ewan
350 pts
5 Brian
280 pts
5 Lee
280 pts
7 Ian
270 pts
8 Guy
260 pts
8 Phil
260 pts
10 Gordon
210 pts
10 Mac
210 pts
12 Matthew
200 pts
13 Tosh
140 pts
14 Jamie
120 pts
15 Peter
70 pts
16 Alastair
10 pts

A brilliant win for Gary, snatching victory from Karl with only minutes to spare, although he did admit that luck played a major part in the result; not only for him, but also for Karl, who fortuitously gained his 500 points when his car bounced off the corner of one of the tables just as it was about to plunge off the course. So, no real complaints there. A great second place for both Karl and Paul, who maintains it is his incredible skill that brings him such results. Admittedly, he did have one eyebrow raised as he made that claim...

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Gary and Karl for setting everything up and creating another slightly different and more interesting challenge for us all, and in particular to all the competitors who not only took part but also made the event such an enjoyable occasion: it's events such as these that bring a smile to so many faces, especially when somebody spends so much time preparing their attempt and then it all goes so dreadfully wrong. In the Father vs Son challenge, Ewan beat Lee, Brian beat Tosh and it was left to Ian to claw back some pride for the Fathers by whooping son Jamie. That result could, of course, have been a carefully orchestrated plan, as the sons all appeared to be chauffering their fathers home tonight.

In two weeks’ time: The Foot Rally. Brush up on your rural knowledge, watch Countryfile for the next couple of Sundays and swot up on flora and fauna to give yourself the best chance of success. Don't however, ask Tony Chrisp any questions on plant identification, as he can only confidently tell the difference between a JCB and cucumber. Or of course you could just wing it, like Gordon did last year and tasted the sweet smell of victory by virtue of a random guess on the number of road signs to a particular place.

What we do know is that it will be both interesting and enjoyable, which is all that we could ask of a Wednesday night at Whickham and District Motor Club......

Toshs Road Rally Timing Event - 11 June 2018

2017 Stopwatch

Timing in this world really is everything; whether you are running for a bus, cooking a Sunday Roast or trying to set the fastest 0 to 60mph time in your East German Trabant, we all know the value of timing.

In what was a rather quiet night at Kibblesworth Workmens Club on the night of 11th July, Tosh put on his Road Rally Timing Event to test the assembled members' ability to 'tell the time' in a slightly different way from normal. Gone were the clocks and watches that one would normally associate with telling the time, and in their place was a simple black bag, a pair of ear defenders and a traditional mechanical stopwatch. This quant collection of artefacts was to prove to be a test in itself for some competitors, as it threw them directly into an unfamiliar environment where the normally accepted way of doing something was taken away and they found they had to use their own skill and judgement to perform what was essentially such a simple task it is often asked of primary schoolchildren: to count.

This, however, was to be no ordinary count; the skill required in this challenge was to count a very specific set of times using only the inbuilt body clock in every human, and to do it as accurately as possible. It doesn't sound too difficult after all, as we generally live by and are very familiar with the clock, we know how long five minutes is (unless you are a man waiting for your date to get ready), so how hard could it be?

Surprisingly tough for some, as it happens. The concept tonight was deceptively simple: take a stopwatch in your hand, put your hand complete with stopwatch in the black bag, then ask each contestant 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 60 seconds, 78 seconds and 43 seconds. Each 'Selective' was done separately, with the stopwatch being checked after each attempt and then reset back to zero. A quick glance at the times in the chart below shows just how wide ranging some people’s interpretations of the set times varied.

Phil as could have been expected was first to go, followed by Gary, Gordon, Karl and Mac. There was some consistency amongst these early runners, although there was enough variation to enable a Top Ten to be started without too much trouble. As each subsequent competitor took their turn, it became pretty clear that some people were significantly better at counting seconds than others, with some getting it almost spot on, whilst others were so far off the mark they must have no concept of time. One surprising side effect of wearing ear defenders seemed to be that for some competitors it provided a kind of soporific effect, sending some of them into such a relaxed state they simply forgot to continue counting!

Final results, however, once everyone had sat for their 192 seconds, staring aimlessly into space like somebody from Stanley at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology induction centre, were as follows:

1 Tosh 2.2s 59.3+76.8+42.7
2 Phil 5.8s
59+73.4+43.2
3 Gary 9.6s
66.4+77.2+41.6
4 Brian 13.2s
58.7+69.9+46.8
5 Gordon 14.4s
49.6+79.8+45.2
6 Guy 23.8s
71.2+86.6+39.0
7 Karl 24.0s
71.0+85.0+37.0
8 Mac 24.5s
52.2+90.5+38.8
9 Jimmy 25.0s
77.2+76.0+37.2
10 Alastair 31.8s
53.2+81+21

A cracking win for Tosh, suggesting that perhaps the hundreds of hours he has spent watching computer updates must have somehow given him some form of incredibly accurate body clock, a great second place for Phil, who in typical fashion was disappointed with not coming first, but then the man is very competitive despite the persona he displays, a solid third place for Gary, showing his amazing patience working with schoolchildren can only be of benefit if you have a zen-like approach to life, and a surprising fourth for Brian who admitted he forgot which numbers he was counting and inadvertently stopped the watch ten seconds early.

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Tosh for bringing the equipment and running the event. Points in the championship to all who took part, Brian loses a little of his lead to Tosh, Phil's result puts him on a par with Gary, whilst Gordon enjoys a veritable leap up the Championship table to sit equal ninth with Peter.

Next week: The Kinetic Car Race: the totally unknown quantity and the one that always throws a spanner in the works: certainly never one you can rely on for consistency. Who could guess what the result will be or what unusual result will emerge from that event?

All we know is it is, and always will be, the loose cannon of WDMC Wednesday night events....

Jamie's Independence Day Quiz - 4 July 2018

180704 Quiz1

July the fourth is of course the day that almost all Americans celebrate their independence from British rule in 1776. Personally I think they did us a huge favour in declaring independence as we can now honestly say that we are in no way responsible for the absolute pig's ear they are currently making of their country and their disgraceful attitude towards foreign nationals. In a way it's a pity there are only 4255 miles between us as I would prefer it to be a considerably greater distance at present.

Jamie Coulson, interestingly, is a man of independence himself, and his quiz on the said 'Fourth' showed that he was quite willing to go his own way with not only his questions but also some of his answers, if you listened to some of the post quiz commentary between the participants on the night.

In truth, the quiz was quite a good one: high scoring and yet with enough little teasers to throw a 'curve ball' into the mix. The questions ranged from road knowledge to rallying, from videos on YouTube to video game sales and from rallycross to road signs; the last of which caused much merriment due to the different interpretations offered by the various competitors. (Most of who were wrong).

There was also an excellent section on logos, just the sort of thing to get people thinking, wracking their brains - and in case you are interested, to Wrack your Brain (not rack) means to stress it a great deal - trying to think just where they have seen that logo, just when did they remember recognising that little thing? The real jewel of this section of course was the pearl in the oyster - that inability to recall exactly where they saw that oh so familiar thing. Some of the logos were naturally easy to recognise, lulling the contestant into an all too easy sense of intelligence and confidence. That quickly evaporated as the logos were more carefully scanned: was that really a Chevrolet logo or was it actually a Corvette logo? - and for the increase in stopping distances when icy could the Knox family answer of ten metres really be considered the same as ten times the normal distance? Jamie certainly wasn't as tough as he should have been in his marking as he obviously allowed a great deal more flexibility than others might have done.

180704 Quiz2

However, this was nothing compared to the discussion around his question: 'What shape road sign give you order?' This was to prove to be the most contentious of his questions; some arguing that the circular sign gave 'orders' whilst others argued that the circular signs were actually just compulsory, but not actually giving orders. Others challenged their findings, stating that triangular signs can give orders, whilst there were some that insisted only the Octagonal Stop sign was the real king of orders; the discussions nonetheless continued unabated for quite some time: the end result was just as in some modern school sports days, everyone was a winner. Just like Alastair's rather contentious question on the rallying history of Richard Burns last week, this was probably not the best of questions to ask.

Never mind, the atmosphere was essentially very good humoured, the scoring was surprisingly high, and everyone appeared to not only enjoy the quiz but almost more so the banter at the end.

Final results, once the collective wit and knowledge of the combined membership were amassed, were as follows:

1 Guy 28 pts
2 Tosh and Brian
26 pts
2 Gary and Karl
26 pts
2 Gordon
26 pts
2 The Knox Family
26 pts
6 Lee and Ewan
25 pts
7 Mac
24 pts

A great win for Guy, much to the relief of all who came second, avoiding a potential battle for who organises the next quiz in September, a surprising four-way tie for second place, helped by some generosity on the organiser's part, and a disappointment for Lee and Ewan coming sixth despite a late protest from Lee to try and claw back a point or two on technicalities.

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Jamie for not only organising and running the quiz but also for being the honorary Chairman on the night by making the announcements (albeit with some prompting from all concerned); a surprisingly close tie amongst four teams for second place with Lee and Ewan chasing hard on their heels. Points in the championship to all who took part, Jamie moves a little clear of Gary who overtakes a working hard Phil; Guy moves that little bit closer to Karl and stretches his lead over Alastair a little bit more.

Next week: The Road Rally Timing Event: who knows their timing like the back of their hand? Who actually knows what the back of their hand looks like? You had better, because you certainly won't be able to see it.

Next week will be the time to find out....

Pit Stop Challenge - 20 June 2018

Pit Stop Wheel

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo.

Sergio Leone's Classic Western certainly has one of the best film endings of all time, mainly because of the tension that builds up as the three main characters watch each other like hawks, waiting for just one to make the first move.

On Wednesday the 20th June tension was almost as palpable at Kibblesworth Workmens Club as competitors eyed each other up prior to taking their turn at the Pit Stop Challenge: for some the wheel change rig was an old and comfortable friend whilst for others it was a total new beginning; for some it was a 'let me at it' whereas for others they would sandbag and hover but just not take their turn until the bitter end.

Gordon however was very much up for it from the beginning, diving in at the deep end and setting away with the wheel brace virtually without hesitation: elbows out and head down he was at it like a pensioner at the reduced counter in Tesco’s. Unfortunately for him, however, his technique was immediately questioned when he improperly tapped the wheel on the floor causing howls of protest. Having to consequently drop the wheel square on the floor, his naughty little attempt at saving a second or two ultimately costed him a deal of valuable time in the process. The strange sight of his unusually beaming smile was subsequently justified by his declaration that for the first time in his life he was leading the Pit Stop Challenge: nobody of course could deny his position.

Tosh came next, hoping for a good time but struggling with the sticky wheel nut and a brace that would just not spin; and, as he has always said: technique is everything in challenges such as these, and he certainly had none tonight. His time of 1m 47s was one of the longest he had ever produced, causing him to think that maybe competing after only one pint might actually be holding him back, causing him to take a second look at the Club's poster promotion promising a free pint after buying ten. Perhaps this could be the answer to his performance deficit.

Whilst this had been going on Lee Tindall had been acting like Lee Van Cleef: watching like a hawk, taking it all in and ready to pounce. Karl had been Eli Wallach, his eyes flicking rapidly from wheel to competitor to clock to wheel, waiting to move, not wanting to move too quickly in case of drawing fire from the others. Brian had been Clint Eastwood, standing calmly to one side, watching and waiting, biding his time and waiting for one of the others to draw first. His confidence was clear, and when he moved he did so with a definite purpose. He was quick, very much so, and his time was definitely fast, certainly good enough to cause Lee to stand a little straighter, although the final torque check of the nuts showed a very rare lapse on Brian's part: one wheel nut was not as tight as it should have been, resulting in what could potentially be a catastrophic five second penalty being added to his time.

Phil followed as is his wont with a flourish; for him the outward appearance of not really caring, but for the watchers who knew that look, he would be going very much for the win. In reality although he was quick he was not quite on Brian's pace, but a solid second position meant he was always going to figure in the results. Matthew was next, who admitted he enjoys taking part probably more than wanting to win, his wonderful attitude and smiling disposition a very welcome addition to what is always one of the most popular Wednesday night competitions. Gary approached the competition with an air of 'I'm going to beat Phil at this and blow the consequences' - and although his time was a good four seconds quicker than his weekend driver unfortunately his nuts were too loose to mention, costing him a further ten seconds and dropping him behind the First in Class driver.

Karl still sat watching and waiting, whilst Lee was about to make his move. Taking off his beautiful TAG Heuer watch and placing it carefully on a side chair, he flexed his fingers and squatted down in front of the rig, before carefully and methodically inspecting the wheel assembly and brace. His demeanour said everything: Lee was not going to be pussyfooting about, he had his eyes on Brian's time, he was very definitely going for the win. Having had the rules explained to him, he was ready to go, and from the off he was on it like a tramp on chips. The wheel brace flew like a spinning dervish, the nuts came off in a trice, the wheel was off and on the floor for nothing more than a split second before slotting back onto the studs without the least hesitation: his time was going to be good! There was a split second where he couldn't spin the nuts as quickly as he wished, another second or two where he double-checked the tightness of the nuts: all time consuming and potentially unnecessary. As the brace hit the ground to declare his challenge complete, Gary checked the time: it was less than half a second slower than Brian's total time. Lee's face said it all. Lee Tindall is a competitive man, and this bodes well for the future. Unfortunately, tonight he would not win. As he walked back to his table, it was obvious that next time would be different. He was already plotting.

As each subsequent competitor took their turn, and as Karl continued to sit and watch, the times began to settle into order, young Ewan obviously still to find his feet with this particular challenge, Guy cracking the two minute barrier much to his obvious delight, Tony setting himself up for his attempt with a quick trip to the bogs to lighten the load. Jimmy approached the challenge sans lunettes, claiming he just couldn't see the studs through the holes and costing him a valuable amount of time: perhaps he had not prepared sufficiently for the challenge, maybe his mind was still somewhere in Sardinia, reliving his recent trip to the WRC. Either way, he was out of the running for the top spot. Karl eventually decided that if he was going to compete he should do it before the rig was dismantled, and so he set down his camera, rubbed his hands together, squatted in front of the rig, lowered his head and placed his hands over the wheel brace like Eli Wallach's hands hovering over his gun at Sad Hill. Just like Tuco, however, he was out of luck, all the waiting not producing the result he was after, but still resulting in a bounty of sorts: fifth place was certainly no disgrace.

Final results, once the Mexican Standoff had been stood down were as follows:

1 Brian 1m 20.42s 1m 15.42s + 5s
2 Lee
1m 20.91s
3 Phil
1m 30.18s
4 Gary
1m 36.05s 1m 26.05s +10s
5 Karl
1m 40.26s 1m 35.26s +5s
6 Jimmy
1m 42.39s 1m 37.39s +5s
7 Tosh
1m 47.58s
8 Tony
1m 52.72s
9 Ewan
2m 00.99s 1m 55.99s +5s
10 Guy
2m 07.53s 1m 57.53s +10s
11 Gordon
2m 08.76s
12 Matthew
2m 22.83s

A great win for Brian, keeping his cool and showing that he can really pull the stops out when it counts, although this week he was very lucky that Lee was just that fraction over five seconds slower; a great second place for Lee, attacking the challenge with as much gusto as any man can muster and setting down a marker to all who were present that he is very much a competitive man and one who will challenge all in every competition. It looks as though we won't have to wait until November to see some fireworks!

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Gary and Phil for bringing the wheel change rig and in particular for having to take it back after the event; points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part in what was a brilliantly competitive evening and one which shows that Lee Tindall is as competitive as anyone else in the club and will very definitely be one to watch for the future.

Next week: The Interclub DVD night with a fun quiz and buffet, whilst the following Wednesday night will be the Independence Day Quiz: what on earth could that be all about?

Who knows? The only way to find out is to be there....

Simulator - 13 June 2018

180613 PlayStation

Simulation: imitation of a situation or process, the action of pretending.

June 13th 2018 was in the WDMC diary as a 'Simulation' event; and although most people could have probably guessed exactly what sort of event organisers Lee and Ewan Tindall had in mind, what transpired on the night was another experience altogether, as the Tindall motorcade turned up armed to the teeth with technology in abundance.

As expected, the 'Simulator' was a very well put together computer gaming set-up, comprising of a fully adjustable and very comfortable rally/racing style seat, forming part of a gaming rig with extremely solid steering wheel with force feedback together with a 50" screen all linked to a very nicely presented Gaming PC. The major benefit over all our previous PlayStation nights was in the viewing setup: the Rally stages were right in front of the driver at eye level, unlike most nights where competing members have had to look up at the Club's TV together with all the problems of ergonomic discomfort and light reflection that comes with a static screen. Not so tonight!

Ewan brought with him Colin McRae's excellent DiRT Rally game, having decided the route options beforehand and doing his best to give a couple of options of surface types and car choices. There were two Stages to attempt: the tricky and twisty Flugzeugring at Baumholder, Germany, using a choice of cars from the 1970's, followed by the more demanding and much more local Bidno Moorland of Powys, Wales, using a choice of more modern cars from the 21st Century.

Karl was first to take his seat and showed immediately just how much the younger generation are familiar with this type of gaming experience, posting times of 3m 10s and 3m 46s respectively; the younger Knox putting a very solid and definite marker down for the evening and setting a standard to aspire to for all the following competitors. Jamie came next, just eclipsing Karl's time on the Flugzeugring but dropping almost ten seconds on the treacherous Welsh stage to put him second. Lee then took the wheel, his time on the German stage showing he was both comfortable and familiar with the tarmac stage but then dropping a further ten seconds to Jamie on the Welsh forest to sit in third place.

After a short lull in the proceedings, Tosh approached the rig in what he thought could be a good move to go early, however it would ultimately prove to be exactly the opposite, as he had no previous sightings of either stage since arriving at the club and admitted he can never understand either the shouted nor route instructions on any rally video game. Going blind definitely proved to be his downfall as he struggled painfully to both see or hear where to go on the first stage, eventually crashing into a junction with such force that his Fiat Mirafiori 131 was declared out of action and he could take no further part. Fortunately, he was able to compete in the second stage, this time selecting a Subaru Impreza and posting a time slower than everyone before him. This was not going to be Tosh's night.

Gary was next, choosing the same 131 as all before him and setting off like a house on fire. Whilst his driving may not have had the fluidity of the first three competitors, after watching Tosh he looked every bit like a modern day Jari-Matti Laverick. His time was good, although a little slower than Karl, Jamie and Lee, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Gary obviously fared better on tarmac than gravel, as his times for the Welsh section were even slower than Tosh's. For a very brief moment, the older Townsend could raise a wee smile. Brian was next to the 'chair', having watched a little and learned a lot. His time for the first German section was virtually identical to Gary's, however once in the Welsh forest he took Gary to the proverbial cleaners, posting the second fastest time of the night.

Next to take part was Phil; having sat to one side and watched all before him, he started off by explaining that he really is much more familiar with the left hand seat, before realising that the first car was in fact left-hand drive. Some of the assembled crow thought maybe Phil was sandbagging and that he really was a demon behind the wheel. Alas, once his foot hit the throttle it was immediately apparent that it was not the only thing that was going be hit during the stage. Straw bales, rocks, cones and cars were fair game; to be honest even the marshals were not safe. Luckily the game's sound effects were limited to engines and brakes, preventing the onlookers from hearing the anguished screams of the marshals as they were crushed by the non-stopping Ford Escort. Whilst we could talk about Phil's time in the Welsh section it would be more pertinent to say that Tosh has started to smile broadly as his time was revealed.

All of the above, however, paled into magnificent insignificance when the next competitor took to the seat. Ian 'Mash it to the Floor' Coulson was very definitely in the house, and boy, did he mash it with supreme abundance. Onlookers can only have come to the conclusion that Ian has never replaced a brake pad in his life, because he certainly didn't waste any of his Northern, hard earned money wearing them out in Germany. Ian's approach to throttle control was very much in the style of the floodgate: there is no halfway, there is no gentle approach, it is pure and unadulterated binary: ones and zeros, and this was very much all ones! If Gary was a house on fire, Ian was a warehouse blaze, with not a fireman in sight. If ever there was any doubt as to what 'Mashing the throttle' meant, then June the 13th 2018 was a perfect example and certainly one to put into a sealed container and send into space: those alien beings in the future would do well to see how the human race destroyed itself, it was the Coulson Mash that did it: full throttle, going for broke, bugger the environment.

In truth, Ian's times were not bad. They were dreadful. Plus the lines were terrible; the control was non-existent; the sound of the tortured metals and the anguished screams of the volunteer marshals that would haunt a man. However, Ian did finish, and as the saying goes: to finish first, you must first finish. The world should wait in anticipation, for there really is only one Ian Coulson.

As everyone breathed a sigh of relief, a quiet and gentle man stepped up to the rig. Never one to make a scene or blow his own trumpet, many think of Guy as the silent man that gets things done, and that he very definitely is. However, he does like a challenge, and having seen Ian blaze a trail for Armageddon, he felt he could have a chance of beating his time. Guy chose the Fiat 131 as his initial mount, and whilst his time may not have set the world on fire, it was certainly good enough to make his mark on the leader table. To tackle the Powys Stage, he chose the Ford Focus 01 - convinced this was the key to a better time. To the surprise of all who were watching, Guy was suddenly something we had not seen before: a man in control, a navigator with driver's genes, a driver of ability. Guy's time for the second stage was not what we all expected, it was good and respectable and certainly something that would get him noticed! Everything was settling into place.

Until, that was, Ewan Tindall took to the wheel. Young with lightning reactions, familiar with the game, eyes like the proverbial Eagle and reactions faster than a benefits cheat can cash a Giro, Ewan played with a beautiful, silky smooth action that showed he really has the 'King of the PlayStation brigade' title in his sights. His lines were immaculate, his gear changes absolutely on the money, his times simply amazing. This was a masterclass, this was something to watch. Eight seconds clear of Karl, his victory was completely in the bag.

Final results, once each and every competitor had done their best to be the Walter Röhrl of Whickham, were as follows:

1 Ewan 6m 11s
2 Karl
6m 57s
3 Jamie
7m 05s
4 Lee
7m 07s
5 Brian
7m 34s
6 Guy
9m 04s
7 Gary
9m 07s
8 Phil
10m 44s
9 Tosh
11m 10s
10 Ian
11m 14s

A superb win for Ewan, showing he can not only win rallies but also hold his own on a Wednesday evening. A great second place for Karl, snatching second and amassing a good haul of points in the process. A good win for Jamie, although seeing his face at watching his Dad drive was an award in itself.

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Lee and Ewan for bringing the entire rig (which took two cars to haul across to the club; points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part in what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and one which we will no doubt organise again in the future. Lee already has ideas on how to make it more fun and exciting.

Next week: The Pit Stop Challenge: one which Lee and Ewan have not tried before, but one which I suspect they will attack with their usual gusto: the Tindalls are coming!

Steering Wheel Challenge - 30 May 2018

The 'Bergwerk Blow'

Steering Wheel Nurburgring

There is a common perception that in any team of two the rivalry is greater between those team-mates than it is with other competitors. This of course doesn't happen in the confines of a Rally car, where crew members (or team mates) work together as a team to beat the other crews. However, take those two crew members out of the car and pitch them against each other and you will see the true competitor coming out.

The same can very often be said of the Father/Son relationship: both members having something to prove: the Son feeling the need to assert both his maturity and capability whilst the Father will want to show he still 'has it'. The good thing is that despite what can be quite an intensive competitive spirit this rivalry is almost always accomplished with extremely good nature. Whilst Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung spoke very eloquently during the first decade of the twentieth century about the 'Father Complex' whilst touring with Sigmund Freud, his vision of the issues that arose were very different from those experienced during a Whickham and District Club night when there was literally everything to play for.

The 30th of May 2018 saw an additional element in the Father/Son competition stakes when Lee and Ewan Tindall attended their first 'Steering Wheel Challenge' - whilst neither knew what was to come both are fierce competitors and there was always going to be that little extra excitement when a little family competition is added to the mix. There was of course one notable absentee this evening as Jamie Coulson was not present, so it was down to Ian to hold up the family honours on his own. Tosh and Brian were also both present, as were Jimmy and Alastair and Karl and Kevin, although Kevin declined to take part this evening and sat back as an interested spectator.

The Steering Wheel challenge is a very simple affair: take two steering wheels, fit both with circular containers with a series of holes in them, add a dozen or so ball bearings and challenge each competitor with the task of getting all the balls in all the holes in the shortest possible time. Sounds simple. It can be, or it can be anything but.

As is becoming the norm these days, nobody wanted to be first to go, and so it was WDMC Vice Chairman Phil who stepped up to take the challenge. He was on the ball without hesitation, his time immediately very impressive - under a minute and a half to complete both tasks. There was an audible intake of breath at his total time of only 85 seconds - this could be a very good result for Phil indeed. His confident smile belied his comment that it 'Wasn't that good a time'. We know, Phil, we know.

Matthew was next to take his turn, remembering how enjoyable it was last time and confident he would improve on his previous effort. His time was looking good and his progress smooth and positive, all until a desperately rogue ball just wouldn't drop into the Nürburgring's Bergwerk corner, costing him a massive amount of time and sending his frustration levels (and no doubt his blood pressure) soaring as the vital and costly seconds ticked by. His eventual success at getting the ball to drop was only matched by his sigh of relief as he gently placed the wheel on the table - his time, although quicker than that he achieved in the St Valentine's Day Massacre, only a few seconds faster. It would have been so much better had that one ball behaved itself.

The Bergwerk subsequently proved to be the Achilles Heel for many of the subsequent competitors; many having problems getting the ball to drop, most spending valuable time as they sent the errant ball round and round the edge of the hole, eliciting muttered curses through gritted teeth as each tried their best to master the blessed thing. Some were lucky, the ball dropping in almost immediately, but most struggling. Karl, Alastair and Ian all falling foul of the same corner, their eventual times reflecting the difficulty each one faced. Brian was no exception: normally one of the top finishers, he was having the traditional nightmare, his actions becoming increasingly frantic as he tried desperately to slot the shiny steel ball home. His time was not bad, but for him it was terrible, taking almost two minutes to finish and almost double the duration of his usual result.

John arrived late but in true form signed up immediately, and as he grasped the wheel for his turn his concentration was palpable: as Tosh counted him down he was more tensed than an Apple aficionado on the morning of a new iPhone release. 3-2-1-Go! and John was like a coiled spring released from its tethers - and with an amazing turn of speed he had the first wheel complete in well under 30 seconds, turning to the second wheel and setting about the challenge without stopping for breath. The balls flew around the circuit, the Bergwerk dropping in almost instantly, but in a strange turn of events he didn't quite get the rest in as rapidly as the first: his time, however, much faster than anyone else and putting him into the lead.

There was only Tosh to go now, the one man who has made this event his own; always an extremely fierce competitor on the Steering Wheel Challenge, always taking his phone out of his pocket, his watch from his wrist and his pen from his shirt lest anything should cause him to lose even the tiniest sliver of concentration or ounce of ability: the challenge was well and truly on! From the word Go it was obvious that Tosh was not giving this up without a fight; his eyes on the balls as they shot across the board, his fingers deftly flicking, twisting and tilting the wheels to get each ball deftly into its respective hole, and as he completed the first task he was onto the second wheel in a trice: his hand and eye coordination as good as anyone could get, each ball dropping into its home in perfect order, the task complete in an astounding time of only 0.73 seconds over the minute. It was a masterclass in action. He owned this event.

In all a dozen members took part, almost everyone in the club having a go. Final results, once the 12 good men had done the deed with delightful dexterity, were as follows:

1 Tosh 1m 00s
2 John
1m 08s
3 Phil
1m 25s
4 Ewan
1m 35s
5 Lee
1m 39s
6 Brian
1m 58s
7 Guy
2m 38s
8 Karl
3m 12s
9 Ian
4m 13s
10 Matthew
4m 26s
11 Alastair
5m 50s
12 Jimmy
3m 17s 4F

Another crushing win for Tosh, delighted to have won once again but wondering where that wonderful hand-eye coordination goes whenever he is faced with a PlayStation; a brilliant second place for John, claiming an impressive haul of points for his Superstars Challenge; a good third place for Phil, although he must have thought he had it in the bag right up until the final two competitors. A superb fourth place for Ewan, beating Father Lee by those few very valuable seconds but garnering some quality family credibility in their very first Steering Wheel Challenge (neither having taken part before); whilst Brian came home in an unusual sixth place, normally piling the pressure on and pushing father Tosh right to the edge of his ability.

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Tosh for bringing the Steering Wheels and all the equipment; points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part in what is generally a very well contested event. Ewan and Lee start their climb up the Superstars ladder, as does John with his impressive haul of points. Ian takes Coulson family honours this week, as does Alastair.

Next week: The Pit Stop Challenge: another new event for Lee and Ewan, but one which I suspect they will attack with their usual gusto: regular competitors, look out: the Tindalls are very definitely coming!

 

The Power RC Autotest - 23 May 2018

2018 RC Autotest

There is arguably no better darts player in the world than Phil 'The Power' Taylor who won 216 professional tournaments and 16 World Championships during his career. Quite some feat, it must be said, but to put it into perspective he never had to organise a Radio Controlled Autotest at Whickham and District Motor Club on a Wednesday night. Now that, of course, is a challenge in itself.

Our own Phil Kenny was the organiser for tonight's event, and it wasn’t until he was on his way to the Club that he realised he had completely forgotten the RC car, so in true blokey fashion he did the proper man thing and went in search of what he could buy at the Eleventh Hour. True to form he found what looked like an absolute bargain and at a reduced price to boot! Checking the power requirements showed it needed batteries so a good supply was purchased, then he noticed the main battery had to be charged via a USB port so it was out with the wallet again. Finally, armed with all his newly acquired booty he hot-footed it to Kibblesworth Club where he promptly plugged all and sundry into the mains and waited for everything to be charged.

Phil 'The Power' was in the house!

To give the batteries the best start in life Phil did the announcements first, so it was a slightly later start than usual for the event. Tosh brought the 40 mini milk bottle bollards to create the test, but as nobody knew how long the batteries would last it was decided that it might be better to have a more straightforward test than the usual park in garages and drive round cones type of autotest, and so it was not so much an RC Autotest rather than an RC Sprint! It was whilst scrutineering the course that Gary decided there needed to be a little something extra, and so almost immediately a ramp appeared together with a funnel of cones to aim for.

Any RC Autotest is always very well attended, and tonight was no exception. What is surprising, however, is the incredibly diverse range of talents on display amongst the competitors. The youngsters are always quick, having been brought up on a diet of such technology, whereas the older members generally struggled with the controls as they tried to work out which trigger to press, which way, how much and all in conjunction with the twirly knob for steering. No muscle memory there to help, and it was obvious when spectating just who was having the most difficulty.

The skills on offer ranged from the very capable to the incredibly quick, allied to the drivers who chanced their luck in the pursuit of speed to those who took a little longer in the interests of accuracy. Gary's announcement that he was going to go 'balls out' on the ramp - no matter what - showed that for him, on that night, the glory of the jump was the most important thing. It truly was the Laverick version of David and Goliath - the jump was the giant and with enough power and speed it mattered not how many bollards were trashed or how far off course the car veered, this was all about commitment, and Gary had that in buckets. Amazingly, he cleared it all and shot home with an amazing time that looked as though it could hardly be beaten.

Jamie's skill was immediately apparent, steering the little car through the beer-mat lined chicanes with the utmost aplomb, never even looking as though he would hit a bollard and coming back in an incredible time just 0.4 seconds quicker than Gary. Dean's pace was also unbelievably swift, although his pace was to prove his undoing when he clipped a bollard - dropping him down the rankings considerably. His time was the fastest of the night, but it wasn't clean and that comes brings with it a heavy price.

Guy, on this occasion, showed a surprising amount of skill by driving the wee car around the course with such control that it drew whoops of encouragement from the spectators similar to those heard on daytime TV when rude families do unusual things with each other that they shouldn't. Guy was certainly doing something unusual tonight by driving like a demon, and his result was one that would give him his best ever result in an RC Autotest.

Martin and Peter, however, showed not only the polar opposite to Guy's performance but also just what can happen when you place certain technology in the hands of the unfamiliar. Peter seemed to spend more time going backwards than the current Government, whilst Martin stood staring at the miniature vehicle for long seconds just trying to work out which control did exactly what before eventually sending the little car under the chairs and almost into hiding. Eventually, the cry of 'I wouldn't worry about the course any more, Martin, just go for the finish' gave him the opportunity to just blast away and get to the end.

Matthew was very quick, but dirty with two fails, whilst Karl was marginally quicker and clean. Ewan looked to be going great guns until he lost it halfway round and collected a few bollards to drop him down the placings, whilst Dad Lee didn't quite get the hang of the controls but did manage to beat his son by one cone. Brian was quick but clipped a bollard, much to his disgust, while Dad Tosh kept it very steady to come in with a clean sheet in just over a minute.

All of the above, however, paled into insignificance when Ian took control. I say control, however, in the very loosest term possible, as Ian's control of the car was tantamount to that shown by a two year old with jam on his fingers and a Kalashnikov IP-2 - it all looked to be going well to start with but then all hell broke loose and Ian just drove around like Machine Gun Joe in Death Race 2000 - in his mind he must have been thinking the bollards were children and so he was hitting as many as possible in the pursuit of gaining points. His tactics, unfortunately, were totally flawed although his points tally simply went through the roof - such a shame it should have been the other way round to score points in the Club's Superstars Championship.

Final results, once all sixteen competitors had tried their best to be the Kibblesworth equivalent of the super smooth driving God Jackie Stewart, were as follows:

1 Jamie 27.32s 0F
2 Gary
27.77s 0F
3 Karl
29.54s 0F
4 Guy
30.91s 0F
5 Tosh
61.08s 0F
6 Dean
23.86s 1F
7 Phil
32.03s 1F
8 Brian
36.37s 1F
9 Matthew
32.7s 2F
10 Lee
22.4s 3F
11 Ewan
21.74s 4F
12 John
26.13s 4F
13 Alastair
30.06s 6F
14 Peter
92.1s 9F
15 Martin
102.18s 13F
16 Ian
28.21s 15F

A brilliant win for Jamie, showing everyone just how to do it properly, albeit with Gary snapping at his heels at only 0.4 seconds behind him. A superb second place for Gary, proving that a career in IT doesn't necessarily make you a nerd; a good solid third place for Karl and bringing with that place a healthy haul of points in the Club's championship tables.

Many thanks to all who took part, especially Phil 'The Power' Kenny for taking the initiative and digging into his wallet to come up with the goods; Points in the Superstars Championship to all in what was not only a thoroughly enjoyable event but one of the most popular in the Calendar; in particular thanks to all those who joined in and made the event so very pleasurable on the night.

Next week: The Steering Wheel Challenge: a test of hand/eye coordination that really sorts the men from the boys, except, of course, those who would appear to have Delirium tremens, who frankly didn't stand a chance but we all enjoy watching as it is frankly, very funny indeed.......

Ollies Translucent Treasure Hunt - 16 May 2018

May 2018 Treasure Hunt

Whickham and District Treasure Hunts are always anticipated as not only a thoroughly enjoyable evening's driving round the country lanes of County Durham but also as an excellent adventure, incorporating as they do an element of plotting against the clock, map reading skills, observational capabilities and the ability to sit in a confined space for a couple of hours with somebody either giving or taking instructions without wanting to hurt them.

This is probably why there are few married couples doing this: I can certainly say from my own experience that doing a navigational event with my son is always a very pleasurable experience, whereas if I tried to do this with my wife she would find fault in almost everything I said, either in the way I said it or the tone of voice I used. This is, of course, one of the million or so of good reasons why I would never bring her to the club.

Tonight, though, whilst father Lee Tindall was sitting in the bar chatting away with the regulars, son Ewan was contemplating the prospect of sitting in with Karl Knox, and, having never done a navigational event before, he was understandably a little unsure as to how that would pan out. Ewan, however, has shown that he is a young man of no fear and so it was (almost) without hesitation that he agreed to be the navigator for the night. Thank God for young men of optimism and passion; only time (and the inevitable return of the crew) would tell how successful the partnership would be.

With his son Brian away for a few days at Lake Windermere attending friend Dave's wedding, Tosh suddenly found himself 50% short of a full crew (something Brian had opined quite openly some weeks beforehand) and so the challenge had begun: to find a suitable crew member that would allow him to take part and gain the points necessary to continue his Championship Challenge.

Guy was the obvious choice: capable, methodical and logical; so it transpired that the two friends sat down that evening and plotted the route and all question references as required.

The time was pretty relaxed too; over two hours to complete a 25 mile course even allowing for on-route plotting it should have been an easy task. And so it proved to be: none of the crews taking part were even close to OTL. Ewan did, however, look just a little pale from trying to map read, work out clues, peer into the darkness without a torch and cope with the vagaries of Karl's driving all on his very first event: I think he did well to keep it all together.

The route, however, was absolutely superb in its execution: No black spots, No quiet zones, No 'Dirty Dogs'. Plotting was very straightforward, apart from a very intriguing twist: crews would have to get to a specific point on the route to collect their 'treasure' in the form of a tracing that showed them exactly where they should go for the second part of the route. It was a master stroke: without it crews would be stranded. Ollie, however, had thought this situation through extremely well; anyone who found themselves completely lost could open a 'Get Out Of Jail Free' envelope that would give them the correct route home. The penalty, however, was that it would cancel their points.

Not that this troubled either Tosh and Guy / Peter and Matthew: they took this in their stride and set off from Kibblesworth Club with not only enthusiasm but also a sense of purpose: this was to be a thoroughly pleasureable evening and as such should deserve to be enjoyed to the full with both skill and abandon! And that is what would transpire: each and every crew would go forth and try their best to be the best, to win and beat all others, to emerge as the victors on the night.

By the time all crews had returned, Ollie had all but worked out the results, however there was a surprise in the tail: Peter and Matthew had snatched the victory on both plotting and observation: Guy and Tosh had been soundly beaten into the runner-up spot by virtue of plotting time and code board spotting: the final positions proving that despite how carefully each crew reads the instructions, there is always the chance that one might just slip away. Organiser Ollie had awarded marks to each team based on plotting time, route accuracy and answers to questions; a tough combination if ever there was one.

Final results were as follows:

1 Peter and Matthew Plotting 8, Points 17 Total 25 pts
2 Tosh and Guy
Plotting 6, Points 16 Total 22 pts
3 Ewan and Karl
Plotting 4, Points 10.5 Total 14.5 pts
4 Jimmy and Alastair
Plotting 2, Points 14 Total 14 pts

A great win for Peter and Matthew, taking the victory despite arriving last and being the final crew on the road. It just goes to show that quality will rise above the rest. A brilliant result for Matthew who is still learning the ropes but getting better each and every time. A good solid second place for Guy and Tosh, who were later both seen to be intensely analysing and discussing the events of the night and working up a plan to beat the victors next time around. A fantastic result for Karl and Ewan, beating long time member and established veteran Jimmy Knox into last place with a very well conducted first event and also building a very good and solid foundation for the future. Ewan looks like a very useful competitor for the future - not surprising, given his current history in such a young man.

Many thanks to all who took part, and especially to Ollie for putting on a great little Navigational event that incorporated a soupçon of innovation in the form of the trace in the wilderness: an inspired choice and one that raises the bar for organisers of future navigational events.

Next week: a slightly different Remote Controlled Autotest: what will be the innovation this week? Only time (and perhaps Gary Laverick) will tell......

Treasurers Test - 9 May 2018

Treasurers Test

It may have been all facts and figures last week but it was definitely more about the numbers this week when Peter Metcalfe put on his excellent little Table Top Rally on Wednesday the 9th May.

It takes a rare man to find fun in numbers but Peter was obviously hoping that would be the case this week: he came up with a good number of them whilst creating what was a very enjoyable event that also incorporated letters as well as signs and symbols; all of which were designed to test the competitor's abilities, whilst not being so arduous as to put off those who may not have been quite as familiar with the concept of Table Top Rallies as others.

The first section was beautifully simple: a very straightforward 'herringbone' type diagram to lead us all along a path that suggested the subsequent sections would be a doddle: the route instructions were pretty clear, the route was fairly easy to trace although there was one slightly unclear bit involving a combination of a bridge and junction at Chesham's Waterside. Never mind, for those with good eyesight (or if not a torch and magnifying glass) worked it all out and all went down correctly on the sheet.

Section two was a very explicit set of map references with arrival and departure directions; always a really good test of who is really concentrating and who is just aimlessly looking but not properly taking it all in. The references were simple to plot, the trick being to ensure both the approach and departure were correct; not always completely obvious. Getting this right was the key to success: getting it wrong was both easy to do and disastrous to your chances of winning.

However, get that section right and the following section was a breeze: each grid square was to be departed in a direction based on compass settings. Plotting was amazingly simple, Peter must have realised that time was against him and decided to just make the last couple of sections as easy as possible. Thanks Peter, this was going to be easier than putting cheese on top of a pizza.

The final section, however, showed that Peter had been doing nothing else but lulling us into a false sense of security: it wasn't the 'Dirty Dog' in the traditional sense devised to catch you out, it was more of a thinking man's challenge: a series of almost a dozen Tulips arranged in a grid, but with a tantalisingly different, yet crucial twist: three of the Tulips had been replaced with a simple question mark, making the plotting of the final stage of the route much more an exercise in logical thinking than one of simple interpretation. Everything, of course, was timed to the second and so the entire event was to be a lesson in Time Management. Everything had been designed to be completed in less than thirty minutes so as to avoid taking up too much of each competitor's valuable socialising time.

When all was said and done, the final positions showed that each instruction was as valuable as any before it, each second as crucial as the next. The final positions were therefore as follows:

1 Tosh 0F 11m 25s
2 Brian 0F 16m 29s
3 Guy 1F 17m 37s
4 Gordon 1F 19m 12s
5 Gary 3F 22m 28s
6 Dave Thompson Many FDNF

A superb win for Tosh, taking top honours despite all of Peter's efforts; a great second place for Brian, pushing his father all the way but failing to beat the senior Townsend's incredibly rapid time. A very solid third place for Guy, unfortunately picking up a fail in the very first few hundred metres of the event and snaffling his chances of victory by doing so. A sound fourth place for Gordon, almost cleaning the event had he not fatally missed the loop around Parrot's Farm at Buckland Common, sealing his fate as he did so. Good points for Gary, despite him not getting to grips as well as he might have hoped, and it was good to see long-time member Dave Thompson taking part in the event, even if he felt very much like a fish out of water as it was his first Table Top event. More power to his elbow, at least he made the effort and had a go!

Many thanks to all who took part, and especially to Peter for putting on a short, deceptively simple event that still managed to catch out the unwary whilst delivering a super little Table Top Rally. Points in the Championship to all who took part, this win allowing Tosh to stretch his lead in the Maps Championship by a further two points to make up for his second place on the last event.

Next week, Ollie's Navigational Event: a gentle jaunt around the rural lanes of County Durham enjoying the pastoral views and peaceful livestock.

Or maybe not, depending upon whose foot is on the throttle.......

Gordons Quiz - 2 May 2018

A lot of F&F...

180502 Quiz

Abbreviations and acronyms are very much part of the fabric of everyday life nowadays. Whether it's OMG, LOL or BRB - most people know what they mean.

Take F&F for example: to an Architect, it might mean Fixtures and Fittings, to a BT user maybe Friends and Family, or an avid cereal aficionado perhaps Fruit and Fibre. For a lost love it could also mean Forgive and Forget.

Not, however, for the assembled members of Whickham and District Motor Club taking part in Gordon's Quiz on the night of the 2nd May 2018, for them it meant a very different thing: Facts and Figures. The Facts were those that stayed tantalisingly close to the edges of the memory when trying to recall the names and places of the questions that were asked, The Figures were those diagrams of Rally Stages and UK Race Circuits that looked so familiar until the time came to pull those names from the reaches of your mind and actually put it down on paper.

There were of course the obvious ones, recognisable as some of the most popular circuits in the country: Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Donnington Park for example; however the remaining 14 were certainly not as close to the forefront of the mind as each competitor tried to put the name to the shape. Some knew many, others knew few, but almost all were seen to be holding their heads in their hands in an effort to drag the names from the memory and gain as many points as possible. Why do we hold our heads in our hands? Does it actually help to tease those reluctant names from the depths of our consciousness? Or scratching our heads as if that single act makes the blood flow more freely and release the names as they hang on by their very fingertips?

180502 QuizRally

For some, the names of the Rally Stages were just impossible: who actually recognises the twisted turns and squiggles on those forest maps? There were of course those that knew the stages yet had no idea of the names of the circuits, and of course vice versa - those that knew the opposite. There were of course others present whose much wider knowledge encompassed a huge range and knew almost all of them. Damn clever, some people, just ridiculously so.

The overall range of questions presented was actually very good, with a great mixture of topics to enable almost everyone in the club to get at least some questions correct; they ranged from Rallying to Formula 1 and from World Rally Cross to Moto GP. With such a breadth of questions it would prove be all but impossible to guess who would win, and so it was the case on the night.

Final positions, when all the answers were in and the sheets had been marked, were as follows:

1 Jamie, Ian and Tony 45 pts
2 Lee and Ewan 45 pts
3 Guy and Charlie 41 pts
4 Peter and Matthew 39 pts
5 The Knoxes 30 pts
6 Phil and Gary 29 pts
7 Tosh and Brian 21 pts
8 Ollie 20 pts

A great win for Jamie, Ian and Tony, who although they got the same number of points as Lee and Ewan, were awarded the win on a 'furthest cleanest' basis, much to the delight of Lee who had begun to realise the thought that he was going to have to organise the next round. His smile on hearing he was second was as bright as a four year old being given an ice cream with a flake. A good solid third place for the combined minds of Guy and Charlie, showing that a good memory and an eye for detail will always pay dividends when taking part in a WDMC Quiz! A great fourth place for Peter and Matthew, coming in only just behind Guy and Charlie and showing that Matthew has definite promise for the future as a keen competitor, with all the right qualities to take the fight to the established runners.

Many thanks to all who took part in the quiz, and in particular to Gordon for putting on a really good, fair and varied quiz that tested all who were present and didn't concentrate too much on one discipline. Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, especially to those who were new at this yet scored well enough to leapfrog some of the existing members into the Top Ten at a stroke. I foresee great things for the future of the Club at this rate, especially with the competitive spirit that thrives at present.

Next week: Peter's Table Top Rally - as always it will be a great event to take part in: it will be taxing, it will make you think, it will keep you on your toes and it will sort the men from the boys, whilst maintaining enough interest to be enjoyable to all who take part.

Gary's Tantalising Tulip Test - 25 April 2018

180425 Tabletop

Just how long is a piece of string? This wonderful and traditional response is often asked when the answer to a problem cannot be exactly ascertained.

The answer at Whickham and District Motor Club on the night of the 25th April 2018 was around 7km, if you worked on the basis of the scale maps that Gary had prepared for his truly excellent new take on the traditional TableTop Rally. This was to be an event that encompassed map reading, observation and not a little understanding of Stage Tulip diagrams.

The concept had not been seen before in the Club: give each competitor a map and a book of Tulip diagrams, a start and finish point, then let them work out exactly where the route should go, timed to the second. For those who understood how to read a Stage Rally Road Book they were off to a flying start; for those who didn't, it was much more unfamiliar ground to them. For some of the others, it would prove to be a step too far and one that would bring about a couple of retirements.

In truth, there was very little ambiguity in the instructions; they were very clear, well laid out in what appeared to be exactly the same way as a normal Stage Rally Road Book would be. The Tulips were well drawn, the stage and overall mileages were very accurate and the route check questions were not particularly hard at all, although for some competitors just finding the correct route would prove to be a rather difficult thing to manage. For those that persevered, however, understanding came quite quickly, resulting in that typical lightbulb moment where it all suddenly clicked into place and made sense.

To help those taking part with the problem of measuring distance accurately, Gary had helpfully provided each competitor with a small piece of string, marked off in kilometres. This gave each one the opportunity to place their string on the map and bend and shape it to follow the road and find out just how far some of the distances actually were. This was an inspired move, as it meant the guesswork was taken out of the equation and distances could be measured quite accurately.

Although everyone started out well, there was to be a percentage of those taking part that simply could not handle the task: Gordon finding the job of actually following the route more than he could manage, and with Gary being a far more stringent marker than the last TableTop that Gordon did he was never going to get away with a straight line between start and finish, (although it must be said his route through the first section did suggest it was a tactic he was seriously considering). That was enough for Gordon, preferring to return to his iPad and concentrate on the administration of the Club Membership. Jamie persevered on, his intention to finish strong, his expectations less so. Each competitor took to the challenge in his own manner, each as determined to do as well as they could.

Final positions, once all the times were in and all the answers complete, were as follows:

1 Phil 18m 07s
2 Tosh 25m 40s
3 Brian 30m 31s
4 Peter 2F 23m 22s
5 Guy 3F 16m 30s
6 Jamie 5F 36m 06s
7 Gordon DNF

A resounding win for Phil, finding his feet immediately and feeling very much at home with the whole concept; a great second place for Tosh who obviously found this particular event much more of a challenge than the normal Map based events but gave it his full attention and effort; a thoroughly good and well deserved third place for Brian who was determined to be 100% clean on the basis that no fails will always beat any fails, no matter how long you take.

Many thanks to all who took part; particularly to Gary for what was yet another twist on the traditional type of map event and bringing another aspect to the Championship. Points in the Maps Championship to all who took part, even those who found the task just a little too much to handle. All those points will add up at the end of the year.

Next week: Gordon's Quiz: who knows what goes on in that head? Come along next week to find out and see if you can not only take on the challenge but beat all the others to take the Mastermind Crown!

Blindfold Rally - 18 April 2018

Gordon Minion

There won't be many people in this world who are not familiar with the term "The Blind, leading the Blind".

Whilst the age-old phrase may not now be absolutely politically correct, there is of course a degree of truth in it and that was demonstrated perfectly this evening when Whickham and District Motor Club held another of its thoroughly enjoyable Wednesday night events and hosted a slightly revised version of its popular Blindfold Rally. This time the challenge was not only to get round the course without hitting any of the hazards, but instead of doing so whilst trying to work out what you were seeing through the Beer Goggles, it was instead to do so whilst being directed by your partner and crew member, who was standing on the Function Room stage and calling instructions out to you, hopefully clear and concise enough to avoid any of the static pitfalls littered around the room.

As in almost all the Wednesday night events, the challenge itself was fairly straightforward: for this particular event the criteria was keep it clean, don't walk into anything solid and do it all in the fastest time possible. The trick to this event was to be precise: careful positioning of the feet and legs were the key to success, all the navigator had to do was call out the very specific instructions, all the driver had to do was follow them.

As could have been expected, however, the application of those instructions was somewhat different to their deliverance. What began as an entertaining event soon turned into a very comical sideshow as drivers lost their way, turned completely opposite to the directions given, all the time shuffling around the floor trying to work out what seemed like a 90 left whilst wearing blocked out goggles that prevented all vision in all directions.

The resulting spectacle was not only hugely entertaining but one of the funniest things seen in the club for many months: some of the assembled spectators were literally crying into their pints as competitors kicked the buckets, tripped over waste bins and lurched into chairs, all the time fumbling around the function room desperately trying to maintain some form of style and decorum. That was never going to be the case; in particular when Gordon and Mac took the stage as Gordon did his best to impersonate a Minion whilst Mac shuffled round the floor like an extra from "The Walking Dead" taking smaller and smaller steps, much to Gordon's chagrin and eliciting increasingly louder and more urgent instructions from the older Bradford: they really only seemed to make Mac move more slowly than ever. You could almost see the steam rising from Gordon’s head! The only thing that came even close to that was Jamie who seemed to be completely bemused by Ollie's left/right instructions, turning left and right like a music box ballerina whilst completely misunderstanding Ollie's instructions; the net result being Ollie changing his instructions from "Turn 90 left" to "No, not that left, the other left!"

As you could imagine, to say the evening was a thoroughly entertaining event and incredibly good fun would be to completely understate the event; it had us all in tears of laughter and everyone enjoyed it immensely.

Final positions, once we had all dried our eyes and added up the cumulative times, were as follows:

1 Gary and Phil 286.8s
2 Tosh and Brian 297.1s
3 Peter and Matthew 2F 330.9s
4 Gordon and Mac 3F 466.2s
5 Jamie and Ollie 4F 388.4s

A thoroughly deserved win for Phil and Gary, beating Tosh and Brian by just over ten seconds, a very tight finish nonetheless considering it was the culmination of four combined times. A great second place for Tosh and Brian, just missing out on the win due to the smallest of margins; a really good solid third place for the pairing of Peter and Matthew who showed they have a good understanding of not only the concepts but also how each other thinks and reacts, now just needing to refine their technique to prevent those few and tiny little mistakes.

Many thanks to all who took part; particularly to Tosh and Brian for bringing the equipment and setting up yet another slightly different event and adding that little bit of a difference to the evening's proceedings. Points in the Superstars Championship to all who took part, a real missed opportunity to those who decided they didn't fancy it, but then you must be in it, to win it.

Next week: a Map based event to get those brain cells working, courtesy of Gary Laverick. Sharpen those pencils, break out the roamer and compass, massage those temporal lobes and get ready for some Ordnance Survey Action!

Minions

PlayStation - 11 April 2018

Playstation

Final Results:

1 Jonny 1m 31.29s
2 Gary 1m 31.37s
3 Alastair 1m 31.61s
4 Brian 1m 32.36s
5 Jamie 1m 32.66s
6 Phil 1m 33.82s
7 Karl 1m 35.81s
8 Ollie 1m 39.80s
9 Ian 1m 44.92s
10 Matthew 2m 00.94s

Points have been allocated in the Clubs Superstars Championship

The Last Post: Kinetic Car Race - 4 April 2018

2017 Kinetic Car 1

There was always going to be an inevitability about the particular design of the second Kinetic Car Race of 2018 after the events of the previous weekend when Karl Knox had taken only the slightest of detours on a hard right and embedded his beautiful white Vauxhall Nova into a very substantial and rather unmoving gatepost at the Warcop Stages.

Whilst subtlety is and always has been an art form practiced by the very best, I think it is fair to say that neither Gary Laverick nor Brian Townsend were at the front of the queue when they were giving out the subtlety badges; as while the Kinetic Car Race test on the 4th April 2018 was one of the most simple and elegant to view, it was much more complicated in its scoring methodology; that would tax even the best of competitors and more than one said they didn't understand it. In truth, nobody really needed to understand the scoring system; the concept was simple: get your car into the paper square in the shortest number of goes, and do your best to get it as close to the Karl Post as possible.

How hard could it be?

The organisers were very kind: if you got onto the paper in your first five attempts then you were in with a chance, the competitor nearest the Karl Post winning the event. For those who found it all but impossible to get onto the paper in their five allotted goes they were subsequently allowed an infinite number of further attempts until they finally managed to rest the car on the paper square. Some were very good indeed, needing only one more attempt; others, not so lucky. Some had so many goes the Durham County Licencing Authority started checking applications for late licences. The general opinion was that not many of the members present had much of a clue about how best to set the power and stance of the vehicle in question in order to attain maximum points!

Some were fast, some were slow, some spent an inordinate amount of time planning the aim and power of the car before sending it off down the track in a flurry of hope and desperation just hoping it would settle in an acceptable and points scoring position. Oh dear. How we laughed at their inabilities. Eventually, though, enough competitors had scored enough points to make it a competition.

Final results, once everyone had set their sights and tested their mettle, were as follows:

1 Ollie
2 Brian
3 Alastair
4 Tosh
5 Gordon
6 Ian
7 Jamie
8 Phil
9 Gary 1F
10 Karl 5F
11 Mac Cliff 11F

A superb win for Chairman Ollie, showing that fatherhood, whilst it might have its downsides, does at least provide enough toys on offer to allow a man enough of a degree of practice to enable him to improve and enhance his skill level to one that might be beneficial. A great second place for Brian, snatching at the heels of Ollie but sending the message very clearly that he is a contender to be reckoned with; his eye for detail and his incredibly analytical approach meaning he never, ever, leaves anything to chance. A great third place for Alastair who seemed to mix up his ability to score high and low at the same time; a solid fourth place for Tosh to consolidate his points position in the Championship and show that despite not being a spring chicken, he has all the competitive spirit that he always had.

Many thanks to all who took part; particularly to Gary and Brian for setting everything up, points in the Championship to all competitors,

Next week: PlayStation / X-Box and yet another opportunity to shine. Some will be missing, some others may make an appearance, but whatever happens, there will be some competition, some confusion, some gains and some losses.

Can I wait? Hardly at all.

Guy's Goodwood Revival - 28 March 2018

2018 Goodwood Revival

The Goodwood Revival: not what you might at first think, bringing memories of flat caps and tweed jackets, A line dresses and full curved silhouettes, the 1950s was not only a time of fashion statements but also saw the emergence of the distinction between adolescents and adults; it was a time of huge change for us all, and defined the direction of the next fifty years in a single stroke.

Nowadays of course the Goodwood Revival is something to be particularly celebrated in the motoring calendar: an event of such significance that it attracts the most prestigious of stars and celebrities to the absolutely splendid Goodwood House in West Sussex to both celebrate and enjoy the spectacle and romance of the event: racing motor cars of a decade gone by, dressing up in a manner not seen for over half a century, enjoying the atmosphere of a time gone by that will never be seen again. The thoughts and feelings that such an event generates can only be experienced to be believed, and once done so, can never be forgotten.

It must be said, however, that the Goodwood Revival held at Whickham and District Motor Club on the 28th of March 2018 was, not surprisingly, an altogether different affair: there were no waspy-waisted ladies, no Y line dresses to be admired, no tweed jackets on show or flat caps to be seen. The Goodwood Revival this time was a return to the Ordnance Survey maps of the 1950s and a set of instructions that had been constructed to test the mettle of each and every competitor to see exactly how good they were when faced with a conundrum of instructions based on a 50-year old map.

In truth, the test was not as difficult as some may have thought: the instructions were actually very clear, there were no map references, no particularly difficult plots, no really challenging or mind blowing calculations to be solved. It was all pretty straightforward, although each and every one of us knew there would somehow be a sting in the tail if only we could spot it amongst the other instructions.

Guy, as could be expected, has produced a very comprehensive set of instructions designed to lead each competitor along a pre-determined route; and at first glance, it all seemed so simple to follow. There had been an indication of a 'dirty dog' moment at some point during the evening in the instructions for the event: this did of course make everyone aware of the need for accuracy and observation, lest the unwary should fall by the wayside.

The event was timed to the second, each competitor being allowed a very generous twenty minutes to complete the exercise; perfectly achievable, potentially cleanable, certainly a target to be aimed for.

Tosh was first to go, setting himself up in the brightest corner of the room to give himself the best possible chance of victory. Brian was next to the fore, settling down alongside the older Townsend and getting himself ready for the task ahead. Guy counted them down; the race was on!

Tosh was first to finish in 15 minutes and 25 seconds, confident he had covered all possible bases, convinced he had understood every instruction to the letter. He was shortly followed by Brian, having studied every instruction and applied it with unnerving accuracy, he was pretty sure he had the measure of his Dad. Gary would be much more analytical in his approach: knowing he would not complete the task in time, his thought process was to submit his incomplete answers within the time and therefore claim the maximum points for the section of the route that was complete, whilst hoping that the penalties for an incomplete answer would somehow make up for the time lost. It was a bold ploy, and one that would only tell once all results were in.

The big problem, however, was the enigmatic Guy Wickham: nothing would ever be given away, no sense of win or lose would be forthcoming, no chance of finding out just how successful you had been until the final results were read out on the night. And when they were, it was very apparent that Guy had added that extra tiny 'dirty dog' moment that had actually caught out every single competitor: a single spot height, shown on a side road that nobody had spotted. It was the classic 'Dirty Dog' and everyone appreciated it for what it was: the single thing that caught everyone out.

Final results, once everyone had peered in the darkness at the 1950s map and made their decisions, were as follows:

1 Tosh 15m 25s 0F
2 Brian 18m 48s 0F
3 Peter 20m 2F
4 Gary 20m 4F
5 Matthew 20m9F

A good win for Tosh even though he had been convinced he had given it away at the eleventh hour; a great second place for Brian to confirm the Townsend family dominance, a good third place for Peter who would have done so much better had he not run out of time, much like Gary who took a tactical decision to finish early and take the fails rather than persevere and potentially lose both points and time. Matthew showed very well indeed considering it was his very first ever map-based event; his knowledge was to subsequently be improved immeasurably after the event when Brian walked him through all the various techniques employed by TableTop organisers.

Many thanks to all who took part, points in the Championship to all competitors and a great start to the 2018 WDMC Maps Championship. It's really good to see some new members taking part and especially the camaraderie that is engendered by it.

Next event is the Kinetic Car race: where technique is a minor factor, aim is a major factor, skill is all but irrelevant but competition is as fierce as ever!

The January Quiz - 21 March 2018

180321 Quiz

The Human Brain - an unbelievably and incredibly amazing thing whichever way you look at it. Little more than a collection of cells that spends its time processing, integrating, and coordinating the information it receives, making decisions and sending them back to the body. Little wonder that so many members of society find it difficult to actually use the thing to any great effect.

Wednesday the 21st of March, the day of the Spring Equinox, saw the assembled members of Whickham and District Motor Club all using the collective power of their own brains to solve the questions posed by Gary Laverick in his January Quiz; which, not altogether surprisingly, was not held in January. Of course not.

It was an absolutely beautiful Quiz: the range of questions superb, the subjects as varied as could ever be imagined, no two questions on the same subject, each one testing the abilities of the aptly-named, seahorse-like hippocampus to make the connections to the cortex and pull facts and figures from long term memory. This quiz would certainly be testing to the individual. Whilst it would be easy to say this type of quiz favoured the older generation it could also be argued that they of course are most at risk of loss of the memory function known as declarative memory: you know the answer but just cannot remember the actual words.

We have all been there so many times before; sitting, holding heads in hands, knowing the answer but just unable to recall it enough to put pen to paper. Then suffering the ignominy of waiting to hear the right answer whilst secretly hoping upon hope that each and every other competitor didn't get it right; somehow, if nobody did, that made our failure so much easier to accept.

Whichever way you looked at this quiz, it was a simple masterpiece: covering almost every discipline from Formula 1 to Firing Orders, Mini advertising to MG origins, Air-Fuel ratios to All-Girl teams and Road Signs to Registration Numbers - this quiz certainly had it all in abundance. This would be the most varied and possibly taxing quiz WDMC had seen in an age, and it was all the more welcome for all that.

The answers were as varied as the questions, with nobody getting 100% of the answers correct, although it is fair to say that everyone certainly made the effort; the average score was nothing to be ashamed of and many of the answers were correct, even if some of them left a bit to be desired.

Knowing just how the average quiz at Whickham and District Motor Club goes, it was of course always going to be a battle between Guy and Peter for the honours, and so when Gary read out the results it was, to say the least, a bit of a shocker:

1 Tosh and Brian 26.5 pts
2 Guy 25.75 pts
3 Peter 24 pts
4 Phil 22 pts
4 Tony 22 pts
6 Ian 21 pts
7 Team Knox 16.5 pts
8 Jamie 15.5 pts

A brilliant and rather surprising win for Tosh and Brian, especially as they are not known for coming anywhere near the points in any normal quiz, so this one must have just been one that encompassed all their knowledge and brought it all together in one place on the one night; a great second place for Guy, the size of his smile at coming second could almost be seen from space; an almost very tactical third for Peter, expecting second, but somehow missing out due to the anomaly of the Tosh family victory.

Many thanks to all who took part and in particular to Gary who had obviously put a good deal of time and effort into producing a quiz to be held in abeyance for an emergency; this was a superb example of a truly proper quiz: not one with a very tight discipline that only favoured the specialist; this one contained many different disciplines, a variety of subjects all loosely linked by a motoring theme; a good mixture of different questions and a few loose cannons to catch the unwary.

Points in the Championship to all who took part, Brian and Tosh push their lead a little bit higher, whilst Guy leaps up to third in the Championship table and Phil just edges Jamie out to fourth place. Peter moves above Alastair and Ian deposes Matthew from the Top Ten.

Next week we see the first event of the 2018 Maps Championship, so everything to gain and yet another Championship to contend: there's a long way to go until November and everything to play for.

Bring it on!

Pit Stop Challenge - 7 March 2018

Pit Stop Wheel

When the torque stops.

After a recent, and rather sudden spell of very inclement weather bringing with it some of the heaviest snow we have seen in a few years it was nice to be able to get out and about again and even better to get to the Club for the first Pitstop Challenge of the 2018 Championship. Expectations were high for a good bit of competition from the regular members, although this time there was a noticeable absence in those taking part as Jimmy was feeling unwell and taking it easy for a while. Withdrawals too from Jamie and Ian pleading injuries although the attendance was boosted by the inclusion of two new participants in Martin Wilks and Dean Anderson who had called at the club to meet Guy and talk about Marshalling, but were persuaded to also take part.

There was, however, a slight hiccough in the organisation when Gary and Phil realised they had brought the wrong Torque Wrench and were left with the problem of mating a 3/8" drive with a 1/2" socket. This was never going to work in practice, and so the rules were relaxed to allow Brian to be the "Torque Adjuster" and decide whether nuts were tight enough or just too loose for comfort.

Gary went first, spinning the wheel brace like a professional and looking for all the world like he was going to set an initial time that wouldn't be touched, his flying fingers getting the wheel off in no time at all and apart from the slightest of fumbles when placing it back, posting a time of 1m 22.7seconds to really set the standard. Brian followed Gary, flexing his fingers, cracking his knuckles and setting his jaw like a pro: by going early he was fresh, he was ready, and he was quick! The wheel brace spun even more rapidly than when in Gary's hands, the wheel was off in a trice and back on in seconds, the nuts back on two at a time and the brace a chromium blur in the reflection of the club lights. His time was rapid, too, a full 5.1 seconds faster than Gary, setting the bar even higher.

Visitor Martin was next, and although he had never done this before, he was as game as they come, listening carefully to the instructions and taking everything in; he had only seen two go before him, both veritable demons on the clock, but he gave it a very credible attempt. It's very easy for those of us who have been doing this for years to forget how awkward the first time must be when you have not had the benefit of honing your technique, but Martin certainly had a go and did not disgrace himself by any means. Dean had been looking very carefully at Martin while he took part, and had quickly worked out a way of shaving time off and put that into practice from the off. His strategy paid off pretty well, too, as he saw his own time eclipse Martin by almost a full 30 seconds.

Phil had been watching all this with interest, so came to the rig next, full of optimism and raring to take part. He was off like the proverbial rabbit, spinning the brace easily and making the whole thing look very easy; his time to wheel off being very quick, only suffering a small lapse in concentration due to him making a very small mistake with a wheel nut that caused a comment from the watching crowd that suddenly had him in fits of laughter: that single event causing him the tiniest of delays and leading to an eventual time of 1m24.43seconds - just short of Gary and placing him currently third.

Tosh came next, setting himself down on the floor and simultaneously setting his glasses down on the table; his focus was obviously on attack. The start was very good indeed, the wheel brace spinning freely, the nuts coming off quickly too, the wheel off and on the floor without an issue and then the wheel was back on more quickly than anyone on the night, slotting home with a resounding thud and the nuts going on two by two almost instantaneously. This was looking very good indeed! However, that was where it all went wrong; the nuts just would not spin up and the brace looked as uncomfortable as it could ever be, not spinning, stalling and catching his skin, his time an almost painful 1m 30.83 seconds: so close to begin with, so far in the end.

Mac and Gordon were next to come to the floor, each with their own inimitable styles, Gordon struggling with the wheel as it went back on wonky, causing him to take some valuable time doing up what seemed like more wheel nuts than you get on a Scania Truck, whilst Mac was seen to be peering over his glasses as he tried desperately to align the wheel holes with the studs; the wheel eventually slotting home and allowing him to do up all the nuts. Alas, his tightness was not really up to standard, with three loose nuts he would have caused much grief to any driver relying on his pit stop skills.

So final times and positions after everyone taking part had done their impression of Guy Martin at the Williams F1 team, were as follows:

1 Brian 77.8s
2 Gary 82.9s
3 Phil 84.4s
4 Tosh 90.8s
5 Dean 123.9s
6 Gordon 134.3s
7 Martin 152.4s
8 Mac 172.9s

A great win for Brian, not his fastest ever time but certainly good enough to take the victory nonetheless, with Gary breathing down his neck and only two seconds quicker than Phil in third place. Brilliant to see visitors Martin and Dean taking part in the competition with very good humour and we hope to see them again soon.

Many thanks to all who took part and in particular to Phil and Gary especially considering they had an extended journey home as they had to return the rig to the Club garage. Points in the Club Championship to all who took part, Phil takes the golden opportunity to leapfrog both Karl and Guy into fourth place and finds himself only a single point behind Jamie in third. Gary suddenly shoots into the top ten at position seven. Next event is the Quiz on March 21st so enough time to brush up on your motoring knowledge and put it all to good use on that evening!

Steering Wheel Challenge - 14 February 2018

The St. Valentines Day Massacre

Steering Wheel Nurburgring

February the 14th is a day that has for many years been associated with Romance, Love and Courtship. It is a special day for those who are in love, for those who secretly love another, and those who wish for a sign that somebody loves them. For the members of Whickham and District Motor Club, it was a day for those who love competition, and especially those who love to win.

One of the staple events we hold is a combination of a steady hand, an eye for accuracy and an understanding of physics together with an appreciation of timing: the steering wheel challenge. The game is very straightforward, two steering wheels, each fitted with a circular container and board filled with holes; one nine, one twelve, each with an equivalent number of steel balls that have to be seated in the holes in the shortest possible time. Not only that, but the steering wheels need to be sat down neatly and steadily so all the balls remain in position. Easy. The slight change this time was that both sheels would be done consecutively, the total time taken being your score.

Nobody ever wants to be first, lest they set a dreadful time and show themselves up. Tonight was different though: Karl Knox stepping up to the plate immediately and taking his turn whilst he was fresh and thinking clearly. It proved to be a wise move, as his time was a very good 2m 55seconds, setting the bar high immediately. Jamie came next, smiling as always, ready to do battle and checking Karl’s time with a look of determination. His time of 4m 06s wasn’t good enough to beat Karl, but it certainly set the following competitors something to aim at. Jamie was followed by Ian, looking at the wheels with not a little trepidation, thinking that this was only his second ever attempt at the challenge. However, Ian is a dogged man who attempts all things with his usual good humour and although he wasn’t the fastest he certainly seemed to enjoy the challenge.

Phil was next to try his hand. Although he always sets his expectations low, he has shown over the past few years that he has not only learned the art of the Steering Wheel Challenge but become quicker as time has gone on and his final time was always going to be good. And so it proved, his skill and dexterity showing he is getting better and better at mastering the skills required to eventually triumph at this game. Alastair, however, still finds completing this particular game a challenge in itself, coming so very close so many times to getting that final ball in place, only to see it knocked out of position at the eleventh hour. There is, however, no denying his tenacity: Alastair persevering long after many would have given up, determined to finish the challenge. Dad Jimmy came next, again getting tantalisingly close to finishing, only giving up when his back started to feel the strain.

Brian, however, showed all the signs of a man determined to be the victor: grasping the Nurburgring wheel within a split second of being counted down and getting all the balls in place in little over half a minute, then setting it down and grabbing the Imp wheel and playing with the balance to get all the balls in place despite the corrugated cardboard making life so difficult. His time was quick: 1m 11seconds and that was certainly a challenge for all to follow. Guy was next and showed great skill by getting all the balls in place on the Imp wheel amazingly rapidly, only falling down on the Nurburgring when a couple of rogue balls just would not go into place, costing him valuable minutes.

Tosh was last to go, eyeing up Brian's time with caution and getting ready to take the challenge to his son. Guy was on the clock and as soon as Tosh touched the first wheel it was ticking. Tosh flew on the Imp wheel, getting all the balls in place in less than thirty seconds, on to the Nurburgring and he was away at top speed and looking for all the world like a Champion once again; however, a momentary reluctance by the balls to drop into place cost him some treasured time, and although it was only mere seconds, the cost was palpable: Tosh's final time revealed as 1m 14s, those uncooperative balls making a very expensive dent in his time and handing the victory to Brian.

When all the times were sorted the result made very interesting viewing:

1 Brian 1m 11s
2 Tosh 1m 14s
3 Phil 2m 12s
4 Karl 2m 55s
5 Guy 3m 13s
6 Jamie 4m 06s
7 Matthew 4m 34s
8 Peter 6m 49s
9 Ian 8m 32s
10 Jimmy -2 balls 7m 52s
11 Alastair -4 balls 20m 00s

An excellent victory for Brian, showing he has certainly learned the correct technique to getting all the balls in place in a very respectable time and taking the crown from Tosh who has to date been unbeaten in this challenge. Maybe this is the first sign of cracks in his dominance; perhaps he has finally had his day, or maybe it was just a one-off. No matter to Brian, who claims a well-deserved victory and maximum points this week, stretching his lead in the Championship once again and claiming the title of Wheel Challenge King; at least for this week. No doubt Tosh will be thinking carefully about what went wrong this time and cost him the victory; it isn't likely to go down well with the senior Townsend. A great third place for Phil, showing that although he plays the 'I'm not very good at this' card very well, he is and always will be one to watch.

A good fourth place for Karl, getting in quick and cementing some very valuable points in the Superstars Championship and leading the Knox family charge, his single point moving him just ahead of Guy who in fifth, just starting to pull away from the chasing pack. Phil leaps up two places to sixth: could this be the start of a Championship Challenge?

Time now for a wee break for a month: next week is the Karting Challenge at TeamSport Karting at Scotswood, the following week is our Annual General Meeting and the week after is the Border Counties Meeting; the next event will therefore be in a month's time and will be a Pit Stop Challenge. Here's looking forward to the next round in the WDMC Superstars Championship!

Quiz - 24 January 2018

2018 January quiz

The end of January each year is a trying time for many people as they face the trials and tribulations of their Annual Tax Returns, Self-Assessment forms, VAT Returns and many other official forms, most filled with obscure and confusing numbers and calculations almost guaranteed to make you sweat and strain.

Then again January 24th 2018 was also just as taxing for the members of Whickham and District Motor Club as they pored over their own personal forms: bold capitalised text on sheets of white paper, some pretty obscure questions that put the strain on the brain with strange numbers and diagrams to trick the mind, and all only weeks into the New Year. Registration numbers were offered, drivers and makes were required, F1 circuits were drawn on the paper and faces were drawn too as furrowed brows were rubbed in confusion. This quiz could have been a disaster had nobody known what on earth was going on, but as it happened what at first appeared to be a really difficult quiz turned out to be much more manageable to more than one of those taking part.

Those perennial bottom of the table entrants Tosh and Brian looked at the registration numbers and then at each other; this was not going to be easy and considering they were as likely to be wrong with every answer as right they decided on the scattergun approach of answering Ford to everything they didn’t know, working on the basis that at least one answer would eventually be correct. That decision turned out to be an inspired one, as Ford turned out to be the correct answer to many of the questions asked!

The F1 circuits were as familiar to many as the layout of the local Tesco’s, but then had they been specifically asked if the cheese counter was before or after the deli most could not be absolutely certain, and so it was with the names of the circuits: just what was the Spanish GP circuit called? Was it Barcelona or something else? And what is the name of the Brazilian circuit? Sao Paulo? Rio de Janiero? And that one at top right? Where in the world was that? Suddenly all those clever minds seemed to go as blank as the current Gimp in the White House, although to be honest that might be a bit cruel to the members of WDMC. Or even amoeba.

Nevertheless, as each answer sheet came in and competitors tried their best to sneak a look at the answers, Ollie marked each one with a strict eye for detail and a requirement for accuracy that should always be shown in each and every case. Not for Ollie the woolly ambiguous answers often given in the vain hope of appealing to the question masters’ good nature. For him, only the right answer would do. Just as it should be. Luckily Gordon was not here tonight.

Once marking was complete and to his satisfaction, Ollie first read out the answers and then the final results:

1 Jamie 22.5pts
2 Guy 22pts
3 Phil 18.5pts
4 Tosh and Brian 17.5pts
5 Ian 17pts
5 Peter and Matthew 17pts
7 Jimmy and Alastair 11pts

A superb win for Guy, who although he didn’t come first was far happier to finish a strategic second once again and so sported the biggest smile seen since Christmas; an excellent first place for Jamie who despite winning looked as though he had just come second in a winner takes all competition. A good third place for Phil, netting some valuable points in the Superstars Championship Table which suddenly changes everything: Tosh leaps up to second just behind Brian, Jamie takes his advantage to move on up and snap at Tosh’s heels in third, Karl missing out on the quiz due to work and subsequently dropping from second to fourth, equal with Guy. Alastair meanwhile drops from 4th to 6th, but that might just be a temporary blip; who knows what the younger Knox can manage?

Many thanks to Ollie for putting on a great little quiz, challenging to most but with enough variety to please everyone present. There were some great questions in there too, although some were very obscure it was extremely enjoyable even for those that had no idea what the answers were. (Of which there were many).

Next event will be on St Valentine’s day - February 14th, and who knows what event we will ’Love’ that particular evening? Should I bring roses and chocolates?

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

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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