“Endurance….. the ability or strength to continue or last, despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. So, that’s the meaning of the word. But what were the “fatigue, stress, and adverse conditions” in relation to this event? Well how does six hours none stop driving sound. Breaking in a brand new engine on the morning of the race, and making it last the whole six hours. Rationing the two gallon of provided fuel, to last the haul. Making sure a team member was at their marshal point, for every half hour stint. Staying fed and watered! Staying awake!!…. Ok, it wasn’t exactly 24hour endurance but still a massive test of man and machine. The event started as an idea for Kev Davies at the start of the year.
He organized a four man committee and over the coming months, overcame a few setbacks, and pulled off what has been described as the event of the year! There was one other important factor to this event. All proceeds were being donated to the charity “Help for Hero’s” and lots of fund raising and collection tin rattling went on over the weekend. Some fantastic prizes were provided by the events sponsors…a Hyper 9 for 1st prize, Alpha Z852 engine and pipe combo for 2nd, Savox servo for 3rd and lots of other goodies donated for the raffle draw. The hosting club, SNRC, allowed the use of their facility, free of charge for the whole weekend which was a wonderful gesture.
The format was quite simple. Twenty six teams comprising of at least three or more members, providing their own car limited to rally x buggy, to descend on Stokes fantastic astro turf track. Every team provided with a Hobao Hyper 21 three port engine and two gallons of Byron 25% fuel. On the sound of the horn, grab the said kit, fit, run in, tune, and race! So what of the actual race weekend? Well the track opened up the day before for practice and set up. This was well attended with teams preparing themselves for the real test the following day. Of course, all teams had to provide their own engine and fuel for the Saturday, but were running the cars they would use for the race, so very valuable for the fifty drivers that made it along. The timing system was running all day so drivers could gauge any set up changes. SNRC has a fast flowing layout with two table tops, two sets of doubles and a lap record time of 35 seconds. Considering they have only been running for two and a half years the development of this venue is a credit to the club, and its now considered as one of the premier astro tracks in the country. Of course, the surface is a bane of contention for some drivers but many of them on the day said that there was no way, that a dirt track in the UK could have withstood the amount of abuse dished out to the surface over the two days. And for the organizers the all weather option was always high on the list! Talking of which, the sun shone all day and practice was a chilled out affair with some cool “sounds” pumping through the PA!
The track was closed at 5pm with some drivers leaving for local hotels and some hardy souls camping trackside. Considering the night temperatures were a predicted minus one, a brave choice for sure! The big day dawned, with the aforementioned frosty start. The place filled up and, after a drivers briefing, the atmosphere was fever pitch with twenty six engines and 52 gallons of nitro adorning the pit ramp ready for one member of each team, to run from half way across the track, and collect in the “Le Mans” style start! 9:50 am arrived, the horn sounded, and the mad scramble commenced which was a sight to behold! Some grabbed the kit and ran to their pit area while others literally “threw” each item at their team mates standing on the other side of the rostrum! Dodgy tactics for sure but hey, there was a six hour race to be won and the clock was ticking! Exactly ten minutes later the horn sounded for a second time. This indicated, if they were ready, that the engines could be started. The pits had been a frantic melee of action. Fitting the flywheel and clutch assembly, meshing the clutch bell and spur, pre heating the engine with a lot using the RC Sure start engine warmers to ease the strain on the new mill. As soon as the horn sounded a few engines burst into life and the first team to hit the track were Team Strongbowe closely followed by Hobao, with team X Ray the next to enter the fray! Some had plans to idle the car for a while on the starter box but I think most abandoned that idea after seeing other top teams hit the track so quickly!
The general consensus seemed to be the first few laps or longer on a fairly rich setting, gradually leaning the engines needle positions as laps were completed. The other considering factors, were which pipe suited the engine, and which glow plug. A better matching pipe would give the balance between performance and fuel economy with the longer duration between pitting for fuel ,giving more laps in the bag. A lot had issues with blown plugs, with some teams getting through as many as seven while others were still on the first plug well up to the half way mark of the race! This was down to poor tuning and the mistake of running a plug that was too long, resulting in it sitting too deep into the head of the Hyper! The Spice Boyz realised they had a pile of plugs that were too long so just added a second copper washer to the plug to lift it higher and that cured the problem for them. Another unavoidable consumable was the TX power drain. Obviously high capacity batteries were the order of the day with most teams managing to touch the hour mark before a changeover. Others didn’t have enough back up batteries and were charging the same ones over again and with not having a chance to cool, were not getting enough “juice” back into them so they were failing at a faster rate. HPI Hot bodies came up with a fast change idea of using Velcro to secure the battery in the tray and a loop on the battery to grab hold, of which meant not having to remove the tray lid, taking them approximately four seconds per change over instead of the usual twenty-five! Hobao were using the new style battery lid on their car. It was held in place with two screws but was much improved on the old design which took far more effort to replace.
The component doing the hardest job was the engine. The jury was well and truly out on this, as the Hyper 21 engine was completely new and especially made for this event. They had been produced to specifically withstand the strain of continuous running with more suitable tolerances, harder wearing materials and different port timings, and my word, did they do the business! There was nothing but praise for this engine. Reliable smooth running, with power to match. Every driver loved the performance and, of course, its reliability which was the defining factor in such an event, and only one team had an engine issue which was a blown front bearing seal after it had seen some serious high temperatures. They went on to replace the blown bearing with a Blue Lightning alternative and were soon back out amongst the action! After the six hours had elapsed most were saying the engine was feeling fine and still had plenty of compression which, after such a laborious debut, was a testament to its build and quality. Lots were also asking when they would be on general sale!
Back to the action! – With Stokes drivers rostrum only accommodating fifteen drivers a nine metre extension was added for the 26 teams in attendance. The length of time, when all 26 cars were on the track together, was just over one hour and from then on, there was a mixed number sharing the racing line. As was probably expected the factory teams set the early pace. Team Hobao UK held the lead in the early stages with Xray UK close behind and HPI Hot bodies chasing them down. Hobao ran into problems and Hot Bodies were ready to pounce. They took the lead and clocked up a healthy seven lap advantage by the half way stage. Their tactics of smooth clean driving, and staying out of trouble to minimize any potential mechanicals, seemed to be paying off. Most teams had changed tyres to Schumacher mini spike and mini pins by now as the early morning dampness on the track had gone and the sun beamed down. Other non supported teams were fighting tooth and nail to stay in contention. RC Surestart finished in a creditable 8th place and were as high as 3rd at one point! It was the mixture of “grass root level” club racers and top supported teams all battling it out, which gave the event such a great atmosphere. Most were taking the race very seriously but others were there for the fun of such a unique event, which was obvious from some of the dubious team names….The Spice Boyz, Thick ‘n’ Thin, Southern Comfort, Hermans Gelmet and my personal favourite “Soggy Bed”! I will leave you to work that one out!
Each team had to provide a marshal to cover the thirteen positions around the track. The safety of the changeover was paramount to the organizers and a novel approach was adopted. On every half hour mark a “safety car” was sent out. This was a truggy kitted with flashing lights, and all cars had to slow down and follow the safety car for three laps maintaining their position at that point. This allowed the marshals to be relieved in a safe manner. Only problem was, the said safety car had a few issues to say the least! It suffered a flame out on its second introduction, next time out it shot off as a runaway due to a flat battery and finally the clutch bearings failed! All this was all taken light heartedly but endurance it did not have! The whole six hours seem to pass in a flash and as race control announced the end of the race, all 127 drivers breathed a huge sigh of relief and amongst weary minds, began to realize what they and the organizers had achieved. As the dust settled, which was strange considering it was astro, Team HPI Hot Bodies had taken the win, with a fantastic total of 469 laps with their car having travelled 125 miles during the six hours! Hobao UK came in second 5 laps behind followed by X Ray Uk, a further 10 laps back. To finish off, the prize giving commenced with the first and second placed factory teams donating their prizes of a Hyper 9 buggy and Alpha Z852 engine and pipe combo respectively, back up for auction with the proceeds going into the charity pot which was a great gesture by both, and much appreciated by the event committee.
Other prizes awarded were…..
- Teamwork award which went to Team G.
- First car over the loop…Team Strongbowe
- Best Junior, awarded to Heath porter driving for Team Thick ‘n’ Thin.
- Biggest blagger….Team Strongbowe again.
- Fastest lap….Neil Cragg driving for Team Associated with a lap of 36.38
- And last place prize of an inflatable Zimmer frame went to Team G!
Finally the raffle took place with prizes provided by the events sponsors raising even more money. All in all a fantastic, unique event, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all involved? The organizers would like to thank the following companies and individuals.
SNRC, CML, Radio Racers, BIS Industrial services, TTRC Live webcast, Answer RC, RC Surestart, Podium RC, GTMracing, Maxbashing forum, Blakey Designs, Blue Lightning Bearings, TKR Stitch And Print, Ross whitelock Photography, Josh and Clive Powney, Ian Maddock and Jamie Brown for IT support, Mandy Scott for first aid and raffle ticket distribution. Graham Grice…GTMracing.”
Our thanks go to Graham Grice for this report.