WHEN: Most Friday evenings. TIME:

31 October 2007

Ecurie's Erlo Paul off to the IMCA worlds

All best to "Sideways" Erlo for the current 2007 ICA worlds, having achieved an invite after the Ecurie qualification event in April this year:

Erlo, along with Ecurie's Craig and Tyrone Strydom, have also cracked the nod for the 2008 IMCA worlds:

Quite a read (and download) but most interesting. It has been sobering to see just how much work Erlo has put in to prepping for the event.

23 October 2007

Ecurie Supporting The Boks On Sat Night

Tyrone and I took some family members to the track on Saturday evening. From the video you can see that the "gees" was already starting to build. The flag idea was of course the brainchild of Junior. Sometimes I wonder if he was not swapped at birth. :-)

22 October 2007

Touring Magnet - Friday Night Review

Well I arrived on Friday at the Touring Magnet class full of high hopes (and attitude) confident that I was going to defend my previous win with ease. That was unfortunately not going to happen. The boys have got their A's into gear and we had some ammazing racing. Even in the qualifying, Greer and I were neck and neck for all but the last 15 seconds of session with me bowing to the pressure and overdoing it in the corners. Hats off to marvelous drives by Erlo who took the win closely followed by Greer and a surprise 3rd by Tyrone (racing a Greer prepped car). I came in fourth and was lucky not to be beaten by Phil as well.

One of the surprises of the meeting was the first heat to race which comprises of two of the clubs top dogs competing against Rachel... who we were all rooting for incidently.

So what have we learnt... with age come consistency and that sometimes makes up for raw speed.

16 October 2007

1/24th Scale Worlds Pre-Selection Event

In order to ensure that the drivers for the 2009 IMCA World Championship races are better prepared, Al Paterson and I are proposing a True Scale Pre-Selection event using hard bodies.

We are planning to hold the event at Ecurie on the weekend of the 25th-27th April 2008. This will coincide with the planned True Scale Historic Challenge as held earlier this year. Entrants will be required to select and build a car from the predetermined list, so book your car early to avoid disappointment.

Full details of the proposed event can be found at

08 October 2007

Friday night's racing at Ecurie

Friday night saw a rusty return to 1/24 production metal for this plastic driver. So rusty, in fact, that the first race touring fell victim to the dreaded bent axle bop-ittyi-bop syndrome, something we were aware of already in the nineties but forgotten many times over. Rather than using the now norm of two pins to ornamentally hold the tiny little rubber front wheels, a piece of piano wire was tacked in and bent by a bang during warm up practice.
The wheels were pushed up for the second race and the car kept up for the first five lanes but unfortunately returned to dangle mode on the final black lane, making the donut tedious. Anyway, the Turboflex held on for an enjoyable third place, just ahead of the hard charging Phil, Tony and Erlo.
What was of interest was the first serious run of the newly SAMCA homologated JK Cheetah 11 chassis, with Craig turning in an excellent 152.47 laps in touring, exactly equal to the same winning 152.47 achieved by Ashwin in Sports!
The chassis has a "fast standing still" serious look about it (top left), Craig reporting that the only downside being the soft centre rail. I suspect a harder version will come out later, ala the Mossetti. Probably not an ideal choice for newbies at this stage and yours truly had reverted to the trusty Turboflex after dabbling with other brand chassis, 2006 Nats time.
Whilst quite impressed with the JK, it is quite mystifying that sprint race performance has never quite attained the staggering performance from an Ecurie team built Turboflex that scorched a Natals 6 hour enduro at lap times tween 4.2 and 4.4 seconds for a solid six hours, some years back. One gets the odd spike down in to 4.3 and 4.4 second lap times during sprint races but nothing like that same consistency of that magic enduro car. So here is once last post race look (top right) at that amazing team Sharks (Craig/Lance/Ashwin/Dave) enduro car, which was then used by Craig to TQ for the sprint races, straight after the 6 hour enduro.
It was also magic on Friday evening to have newbie Gordon having a good battle with Costa in their heats. Gordon is Tony Ball's pit mechanic for Tony's rally car and here are some race pics of Tony in action. Click on the right pic for a mini of the poster of his Bulwer Park rally car returning to earth, which he showed us Friday evening. Some more will be posted when time permits.
Hopefully this is the start of some club evening reports for the future.

05 October 2007


The PMCC Nostalgic Nine Hour will be run on Saturday the 3rd November 2007.

The cars to be raced will be TRUE SCALE cars in accordance with the SAMCA rules hereto attached.
Cars are to be supplied by the teams.
The cars must be replicas of cars that competed in the 60’s and 70’s. Preferably in a livery that competed at Kyalami in an actual event. Photographic evidence of the actual car must accompany your entry.

Race Entry Fee
The race entry fee for the event will be R 300.00 per team

Teams must consist of four drivers.

Race Format
Each driver must drive for 30 minutes on each lane.
The track will be switched off for a driver/lane change at 20, 40, 60 and 90 minutes.

Lights will be not be a necessity but may be fitted.
No working on cars during lane and driver changes.
No magnets allowed in cars.

Practice will be on Friday evening 2nd November 2007 from 19H30 to 23H00.

The Race
As a possibility exists that more than 6 teams will be entered we tentatively plan to start the race at 9H00. The track will be opened at 8H00. This will be confirmed on receipt of entries.
Closing Date
The closing date for entries is 19th October 2007 by return mail indicating:
1) Confirmation of entry.
2) Team Name/s.
3) Driver names.
4) Body to be used.
5) Livery to be painted.


Looking forward to seeing every body at the NEW AND IMPROVED PMCC track in November.

I'm a believer...?

The current Ecurie track is challenging in that one often comes back in to the leader frame towards the end of race, as the track come back to you, despite the equal lane length of the traditional 8 format. Never having seen a serious track in anything other than the tradional 8 format, I was stunned to notice the the world's track reflected on Big Al's excellent web site - look carefully lest ye be fooled ;-)

Ok in a final where one drives all the lanes but ruff for our 2 x 1 lane club qualifying.. ;-)

04 October 2007

Erlo and Craig going hardbody molding

The true scale event held in April sparked Erlo in to participating in the forthcoming IMCA worlds and he and Craig have been beavering away all kinds of molding projects, right down to wheel inserts - these bare bones early developments on a shell most impressive.

Erlo's body molding development

Craig's hard body complete

Gold dust true scale body prep tips for serious model car racers - from Jan Roestorf

Hi guys

I've been asked to run "the Aussie-way" past all of you.

This is what we do over here in Australia when it comes to painting and mounting bodies for a Plafit historic racing car:

1 - Planning and preparation:

Cut and trim (I use small files and sand paper together with scissors and sharp xcato knife) the clear (we only use use Lexan - bugger the cost, it's the best) body to fit the completed and race-ready, repeat, race-ready chassis. Normally, I'll do two bodies (one for practice and club racing, another for championships and concourse). The body fit must be so that it will fit over the chassis and rest on top of your test board around the chassis,making sure all the bottom edges are straight. It is also very important that the guide is not catching anywhere at this stage. If it merely touches the inside of the body it's OK.

At this stage it is a good idea to also trial fit the body to the chassis and to make all the required adjustments while you can see through the body. I suggest you read the last section now to see how the body eventually gets mounted. All this preparation must include all the trial fitting of scale bits and pieces as well as the interior. You only want to "assemble" the body after it's painted.

2 - Pre paint preparation:

I wash the body, like Rudi with some of the wife's dish-washing liquid, then I use tooth paste and a small, soft toothbrush to dull all the areas where I'll be painting - ALL ON THE INSIDE. Now dry the body completely and make sure you don't have any dust or fluff stuck to the body.

NB! - At this stage you need to do the decals if you want them on the INSIDE of the body, if so go to Applying and sealing the Decals - before you continue with this section.

At this stage I switch on my good florescent light and get my magnifier out. This is where the process of painting a body on the inside BY HAND becomes a joy or a pain. Grab your fine tip permanent marker and draw (using a ruler and other drafting aids) all the feature lines around the windows and lights (and any other detail you choose to do in different colours or where you need a painted edge. ALL ON THE OUTSIDE of the body. Let the marker dry. You will later be able to remove it with Benzine or leave it where you want a black trim line. Now you're ready for the paint job - go to painting the body.

3 - Applying and sealing the decals - ON THE INSIDE of the body:

Cut out all the decals and make sure you know what background they are printed on (some are printed on a white and not a clear back ground). Also make sure you decide which colour of the decal must go on first if it is a multi part decal. Finally, before you start, trial fit all the big ones and understand how they will position in relation to
complex curves.

OK get the flat dinner plate with water, a sheet of roller towel and all your aids. These will include a small tweezer, your decal set solution (to assist the adherence), your decal softener solution ( to make the decal soft and pliable) and a small paint brush with soft bristles. The tweezer is used to handle the decal together with it's paper backing when placing it onto the inside of the body, after it has been left in the water to loosen - but without taking it off the
paper. The paper will slide away once the decal is on the body and will not curl or fold.The small brush is used to position the decal on the body by dipping it in the setting solution and guiding it into place.

So now we know where the decals will go, let's start by placing the numbers first (leave the roundels for now if they are separate from the numbers), then the big prominent sponsor decals and last the smaller decals. Once all the decals are in position (look through the body from the outside and make sure all the proportion are correct),
leave them to dry out a bit. Come back after a beer/coke/tea/coffee and now place any roundels over the numbers. Also at this stage dab the small brush into the decal softener and drop small amounts of the solution all over the decals that need to take on the body shape. This may sometimes be over feature lines or over and around mudguards. ( I race a Porsche GT3 in Red Bull colours and the Red Bull with sun covers the complete side of the car from front wheel arch to back wheel - no problem). The hippie 917K is very easy to do this way. STOP, don't worry the softener will do it's trick, don't put more solution on - put the body away and let it dry over night if you can.

Once properly dry, inspect your handiwork and if there are any air bubbles or creases - puncture them with a pin and dab some softener on the affected areas. After a few minutes see how it's going and persuade the hard to please bubbles and creases with the small paint brush. Let it all dry again properly.

Very important before we start painting is to clean the body by wiping it lightly with a damp tissue or soft cloth. Some of the solutions used during the previous step may leave milky water marks and depending on the colour you will be painting, may discolour your finish. ( I don't worry too much if I'm going to use a light colour). Now get your Tamiya X type clear paint and paint around all the decal edges to ensure that no colour paint will seep under the decal when you paint the final colours. Let it dry completely while you get your final paint colours sorted out.

4 - Final painting - ON THE INSIDE.

Make sure you have a variety of good quality brushes with long soft bristles. I use PC paint, either Fascolor from Parma or Tamiya PC pots (unfortunately the best, but hard to find since Tamiya stopped production sometime ago). When I was in SA last year the guys at various hobby shops thought I was mad buying all their "obsolete" Tamiya PC pots.

At this stage you will have performed the "permanent marker" trick as explained earlier on - please check 'PrePaint Preparation' above. You may now also choose to use some masking, following the lines you've done with the permanent marker, but masking on the inside. I don't mask at all. First, you stand the chance of lifting up the decals when you remove the masking material, and secondly, if you steady your hand and lay your brush down over it's length, painting a straight line is easy. Anyway, practice make s perfect - and if you bugger up it's easy to fix. Here's how; let the PC paint dry completely, then it will scrape off cleanly and easily, you can then repaint the area.

OK if all done, let's start painting.

First paint white or silver behind all the number roundels and as many light coloured decals as you can without being too pedantic, whilst at the same time making sure that you cover the large see through decals properly. This will help the decals to stand out and contract nicely with the rest of your body colour(s).

Then use a small brush and paint around all the windows and lights, following all the permanent marker lines you can clearly see through the body - this lays the foundation for easy painting of various layers. You may also choose to paint around all the number roundels and light coloured decals in this way and the later paint over the back of them with white or silver. Then simply fill in the open areas and leave the first coat to dry.

Very blotchy hey? Yes, it will take a few layers/coats of paint. My Sunoco Porsche have two and my Yellow Hippie one has four coats. Yellow is the worst for covering and the dark blue or black the best. A tip to help here is to paint with a wide flat brush and to paint across the previous coat. If I start to paint from front to back, I'll then do the next coat from side-to-side, and so on.

When you can't see any pinholes through the body, held against the light, you're done with this part of your exercise.

5 - Final detailing and assembly of the body:

I use a very thin reinforced tape (made by 3M) to secure various bits and pieces to the inside of the body. I also use POLY ZAP, made by Pacer Technologies to glue any bits to the Lexan body.

Instead of painting the vents on a body, I use a sheet of matt black vinyl to cut the required shapes and then I stick it on FROM THE OUTSIDE, positioning it with the small tweezer. In some cases (like around the fan detail on the back of a 917) I will paint using Tamiya X type matt black. However, make a point of using a fresh pot of paint as the matt will streak if it's old.

To put the interior in, first stick some reinforced tape against the painted body where you plan to tape on the interior. Then place the interior and tape it in. Don't tape the interior so solidly into the body that the body looses it's flexibility. Stiff bodies are bad for handling. Now put a small piece of tape where the guide may touch the
body during a front end crash.

6 - Mounting the body on the chassis:

OK we're in the home stretch and the part I enjoy. I use a good quality contact adhesive and the rubber sheeting supplied by Plafit to mount my body. A clear see through test board is also a great help as you are able to see the body inside whilst fitted over the chassis.

NB!! - Remember, you read this earlier, if you did not, I hope your body fit is right.

First tape the H-plate and the main chassis plates together so that the chassis movement is 100% restricted, but make sure the wheels can still touch the test board. Also make sure that you don't interfere with the body mounting too much. (On the 1/32nd Plafit chassis there are two holes drilled so that you can screw the two chassis plates together for this process - but due to our 'no-modifications-rule' we can't drill any holes). This little exercise is required to prevent you from ending up with the body glued, having taken up the body movement and hence finding yourself with a body mounted incorrectly.

Now fit the body mountings to the chassis and check that the aluminum vertical sides are the correct length for your particular body. If not, cut them to size. Now roughen up the surfaces facing the body sides. I use a small file or sand paper. Now cut two strips of the black rubber (you only need to make it the same size as the aluminum surface that faces the body sides). Put some contact on the rubber and the vertical aluminum and stick together when ready.

Now place the body over the complete chassis with body mounts and adjust the body mountings so that the body slides with some resistance - not much - onto and off the chassis. Make sure you're happy with the fit and positioning of the body before you continue.

This where it starts making sense to have read this section at the beginning.

Now check where the rubber is touching the body ( very easy at the beginning when you can see through the body) and cut two pieces of reinforced tape to stick on the INSIDE of the body where the rubber mountings will be glued. Make sure the screws on the body mounts are tight (once they're mounted in the body, they will be difficult to tighten properly).

GRAB FOUR COINS (I saw Rudi using the same method in Witbank) and place them on your test board under the body. You can temporarily glue them if you like. This will provide enough free space over the top of the tires, inside the body. (This is why you need a race-ready chassis).

ONLY NOW, when you are perfectly happy, put some contact adhesive on the remaining rubber sides AND on the tape you've stuck on the inside of the body AND WHILE IT"S ALL WET place the body over the chassis with the body mounts mounted on the chassis. The body should fit snugly if you had done the earlier adjustments correctly. All that you have to do is slide the body forward or back to position it correctly on the chassis, apply slight pressure to the outside of the body where the glued areas are, AND WAIT. Being contact adhesive it is not essential that you get a complete glued together situation first time. Once the glue has dried sufficiently, remove the body from the chassis and press the mounting firmly against the body for a good glue joint. Some guys will now add some epoxy around the rubber mounts against the tape for further security - I don't bother.

7 - Fine tuning the body for racing;

Take all the tape off the chassis that you've put on before mounting. Put the body back on the chassis and tighten the lot. Put it back on your test board and check if the body is moving over and around the chassis as it should. I use the small 2mm brass washers that Plafit supply to space the body up and away from the wheels if required. Simply add the between the H-plate and the body mountings. I also setup my front and rear axles with the thin 3mm fiber washers so that I can add and take out depending on this fine tuning.

YOU"RE FINISH and you have a perfectly detailed SHINNY body that will last a long, long time (provided it's Lexan) without damage getting to the decals. maintenance is easy using the POLY ZAP for repairs and the decal setting solution where a decal may lift up. Just puncture it and put a drop of solution in behind it and PUSH down again.

Sorry for this rather lengthy email, but that's my whole story, I can't tell you any more. What's more I'm now tired and ready for bed.

Cheers mates

Ecurie's Golden era of Metal Racing - by Alan Seymour

Slot Car Racing

I was introduced to slot car racing in 1963 when I joined the Maritzburg Model Car Club. At that time the Club had a four-lane scalextric track that was nothing more than a basic figure 8 with a couple of squiggles at each end. We ran almost standard scalextric cars with the only modification being brass rear wheel hubs to add weight and give better traction.

We raced each Friday evening and I won my fourth meeting and was never again beaten at a Club evening. After a few months VIP cars became available. These were very agile cars that suited our small twisty track. At some stage in the second half of ’63 we were invited to the first Natal Grand Prix to be held at the Ecurie Elite Club in Durban.

We were completely shattered when we arrived for the Grand Prix by both the track and the speed of the cars. By comparison our cars were embarrassingly slow, and their track was a proper slot car track made of wood. It was also about four times bigger than our track. Needless to say we were all knocked out in the very early heats.

The next Friday evening we gathered at our club but, none of us had the heart to race and we spent the evening planning how we would find bigger premises and how we would build a new track. Surprisingly within three months we had found a new clubhouse and completed our new track. We had also dumped our uncompetitive cars and replaced them with cars to the same specifications as those used by the Durban guys. They were scalextric rear-engine Lotus 20 F1 bodies fitted with Pitman 196 motors.

In 1964 a league was formed in Natal with 9 clubs from Durban and ourselves in Maritzburg. A league championship was organized on a home and away basis and our first meeting was at a club somewhere near Virginia airport in Durban. The club was at a private home but nevertheless their track was fine except for one thing. The league rules required an electronic lap-counter and the owner of the track had mounted a large wooden board on the wall opposite the driver’s stand. On the board he had installed four rows of lights (one row per lane/driver) and it was wired up so that a new light would come on as you completed each lap. This was quite a nice idea because it was easy to keep track of how far ahead/behind the other cars were. However; the problem was that you “accumulated” lights as the previous laps’ lights did not go off.

Races were 30 laps long so, by the time you reach halfway you were facing 60 lights. As the race progressed the lights increasingly blinded the drivers and the last five laps or so were driven almost from memory. We did put in a complaint to the league and I believe that it was sorted out after our meeting.

The Maritzburg club finished third in the league, which was a good result for us.

In 1965 I turned 21 and bought a kart. It was only natural that I should invite my slot car friends to try the kart and most of them also bought karts and unfortunately the slot car club virtually folded.

After we moved to Durban in 1980 I discovered that the Ecurie Elite Club was still running, albeit in new premises and with a new track, and so I joined. At that time they were running two classes – kit cars and Specials. Kit cars, as the name implies, were exactly that. You bought a kit, screwed it together and raced it. No modifications were allowed. Specials were completely different. They had to be built from the ground up and I had neither the knowledge nor equipment required. I raced kits with some success and one evening Russell Sheldon lent me a Special. I must have impressed him somewhat as will be seen later. Before I could really get into the swing of things, we were transferred to Benoni.

In 1982 when I heard that we were to be transferred back to Durban I wanted to start racing again but I also wanted a Special. I contacted Russell with a view to trying to buy one of his old cars. Russell asked when we would be moving and when he heard that we would be back in Durban in time for me to drive in the Durban Grand Prix in October, he volunteered to build me a new car. This surprised and delighted me because Russell did not generally build cars for other people and he was recognized as the best slot car builder in South Africa.

In those days there were four National Championship Grands Prix during the year with a driver’s best three results counting towards the Championship.

Drivers were divided into three Classes according to ability and experience. When you started you were put into C Class. If and when you had proved yourself you would be promoted to B Class and the top ten or twelve drivers were in A Class. In addition, all drivers were eligible for the Open Class.

In the morning of a GP each driver raced in four 3-minute heats (one race per lane) and your best distance was taken. The fastest driver in each Class automatically qualified for the Class final with the next 16 racing a series of knockout Semi-Finals with the first three drivers in the last Semi qualifying for the final. Also; the fastest driver overall qualified for the Open Final and the next fastest 16 competed for the other three places in the Open Final. The winner of the Open Final was the winner of the GP and the top point-scorer of the year in the Open Class was declared the South African Champion.

As the 1982 Durban GP was my first national championship event I was placed into C Class. I top-qualified in C Class and fifth overall. This automatically put me into the C Class Final and meant that I only needed to race one Semi in the Open Class.

I qualified for the Open Final and won the C Class final by around 5 laps. In the Open Final I was up against Russell, Gustav Heymann from Pretoria – both past SA Champions, and Johan Louter who was best placed to win the 1982 Championship. Russell jumped into the lead whilst Johan and I had a (brief) dispute over second but I was way out of my league and had to settle for third place. Johan’s second place was enough to clinch his first SA Championship.

For the 1983 season I was promoted to B Class.

The first three GPs in 1983 were all at tracks that were new to me but I did manage to finish second in each of the B Class Finals and finished reasonably well in the Open Class.

Although I won the B Class Final in Durban in 1983 and scored the most points in B Class, I finished in second place in the B Class Championship due to having to drop one score. The winner of B Class that year had two wins and a second whilst I had one win and two seconds counting to the Championship. I again qualified for the Open Final and after a hectic start, found myself in the lead. I was going fine until the thought struck me that I was actually leading a GP Final! This thought so un-nerved me that I made a mistake that allowed Johan into the lead, which he held onto to win both the GP and his second SA title. In the off-season I was furious with myself for allowing my nerves to get the better of me and I was determined not to let that happen again.

I finished 5th in the Open Championship which I was pleased with, especially as it was my first year racing at national level.

The year started on a high note. We were invited to take part in an inter-club endurance race in Dunnottar sponsored by Daan Jacobs. The Dunnottar circuit had 8 lanes and seven clubs competed with Dunnottar entering a “B” team to make up the eighth team. On the morning of the race each team was given a bag containing a kit car together with some spares and a choice of gear ratios. Each team comprised four drivers. The race was divided into eight segments of 300 laps each with no driver changes allowed during the segment, and each driver in the team would have to drive two segments.

Dave Greer started the race for us but encountered some problems with the car and at the end of his stint he handed over to me in third place some 21 laps behind the leader. By the half way stage of my stint I had taken the lead and eventually handed the car over to Johan with a 19-lap lead. I had driven 321 laps only spinning once. I still rate that as my best ever slot car performance. We eventually won the race quite comfortably.

When the 1984 seedings came out I was promoted to A Class.

The first GP of the year was at Newcastle and, as we were driving to the track on the morning of the race, Don Ebsworth – the Ecurie chairman - asked me what I was hoping for. I was very conscious of the fact that I was starting what was only my second national season as an A Class driver and so my reply was to the effect that I did not want to finish last in A Class. I need not have worried because I managed third in the A Class Final behind Don and Johan.

In the Open Final Don and Johan continued a battle that they had fought all through the A Class Final until almost inevitably, they collided and took each other off. In the confusion neither of them noticed that I had slipped through into the lead followed by Denis Samson from Pretoria. Luckily for me it took Johan and Don some time to get back past Denis by which time I had a half-lap lead. Half a lap might sound a long way but in reality, it was just about two seconds and there was still half the race to go. Finals were held over 120 laps with the power being switched off as soon as the leader completed 30 laps when the cars were changed to another lane so that each driver raced on each lane.

By the end of the third segment I was still leading by about half a lap and I was determined not to make the same mistake that I had made in Durban the previous year and let my nerves get to me. I drove the last segment very carefully and managed to hold the lead to the end.

I had won what was only my sixth ever GP.

The 1984 Annual Nine-Hour Endurance Race was held at Dunnottar and I was a member of the Ecurie Elite team, which won the race.

The second GP of the year was held at Dunnottar on the day after the Nine Hour and having won the first GP of the year and raced at Dunnottar earlier that year as well as the Nine-Hour, I should have done well but only managed 8th in both the Open and A Class. I don’t know what went wrong. The car was fine and I knew the track. Fanie Viljoen from Dunnottar won the race with Johan second.

The third GP of the year was in East London. At the start of the year Russell had designed a new car which had to be partially built in England because the design required that a section of the spring steel chassis be bent 90 degrees without loosing the “spring” effect and he could not find anyone in South Africa who could do it. The car was sent to Pete Hore in England for this to be done and the car was thereafter known as the Hore Car. Between Dunnottar and East London Russell announced that he had been promoted by SAA to manage their office in Paris and so would not be competing in the rest of the season. Russell then passed the Hore car on to me.

The Hore car – 1984

Despite my performance at Dunnottar I went to East London full of confidence armed with the Hore car and with East London being my favourite track. In addition, Johan had to miss the race due to army service duties. The GP however turned out to be very traumatic.

The day before a GP was always reserved for practice by visiting drivers and by 2.30pm I was happy that the car was going well and I felt that I knew the track as well as I was going to. Don was having problems and wanted to go back to the flat to work on his car, so I left with him. We later found out that this created a bit of a stir. The other guys knew that Don had a problem but for me to forego so much practice time had them worried.

For the morning heats drivers were split into two groups so that whilst one group was racing, the other would be marshalling and running race control. I was in the first group and set the fastest time by beating the track record by half a lap. I paid attention to the racing in the second group to see if my time would be beaten. The race controller would call out the completed laps after one minute and after two minutes. Nobody came close to my time until Fanie suddenly beat my time by about half a lap despite being behind my time after two minutes. It didn’t seem possible. There had been a problem with the East London lap-counter during the previous year’s race due to “double-counting” at times and I was convinced that it had happened again. Fast as he was, I didn’t believe that Fanie could have made up so much time in the last minute. Neither did Don nor Hennie Petzer, the East London club chairman but with no proof there was nothing that could be done. Nevertheless I had a feeling of being robbed not only of the fastest qualifying time but also of the lap record.

This all meant that I had to run a Semi for the Open Class – Fanie being a B Class driver at the time meant that I automatically qualified for the A Class final. I experienced a major problem in the Open Semi. I had decided to change the rear tyres, which Russell had prepared because I was worried that they had worn a little too much. I fitted a pair of tyres that I had prepared. Preparing tyres meant gluing them to the wheel hubs and turning them down to size on a lathe.

After a few laps in the Open Semi my car began to jump off the track at one rather tight left-hand bend. There seemed no reason for this and I fell further and further behind. By mid-race I was in fourth place and way behind. Only the first three drivers in the final Semi qualified for the Final and it seemed hopeless. I had just decided to stop so as not to get in the way of the other drivers when Denis Samson’s gear stripped putting him out of the race completely. This was a lucky break for me as I was able to trundle around and pick up third and a place in the Open Final.

Don and I checked the car after the Semi and found that one of the tyres that I had prepared, had become unglued and must have been folding under the wheel hub causing the car to come off the track. I put the Russell-prepared tyres back on the car for the Final.

For the first few laps of the Final I took the bend where I had had the problem very carefully until I built up confidence in the car as there had been no opportunity to test the car between the Semi and the Final. By the time I was sure that the car was OK Fanie was long gone but I did manage second.

I packed my stuff away with very mixed feelings. I felt I had been robbed of fastest qualifier but I also knew that I had benefited enormously from Denis’ gear problem. I then went and sat on the grandstand waiting for the prize giving. Denis came over and sat next to me and said that I must now be favourite for the Championship. That astonished me because, until that moment, I had never thought of winning the Championship and also, Fanie now had two wins to my one win and one second. I said as much to Denis and his reply was that Fanie had never gone well in Durban and as Durban was my home track I should have no problem in beating him.

Going into the final GP of 1984 there were three of us with a mathematical chance of winning the title. Bearing in mind that the best three results would count; Fanie had two wins, I had a win and a second whilst Johan had two seconds. Fanie was my only real problem but as long as he finished third or lower and I won the race, I would take the title. Johan on the other hand needed to win the GP and hope that I didn’t finish second because, even if he won and I finished second, we would share the Open Championship and the SA Title.

Luckily for me Russell had a chance to prepare my car before leaving for France and it remained locked in a cupboard until the GP.

Fanie was a bundle of nerves and qualified badly. His nerves could not have been helped when I top-qualified. Fanie was faced with running a number of Semis and eventually finished 12th putting an end to his Championship hopes. It must have been a huge disappointment for him.

I had used Russell’s tyres for the heats and was in two minds about changing them for the Open Final. There was quite a bit of wear but in the end I decided to chance it with those tyres because I had lost confidence in my ability to prepare tyres after East London, even though I had stripped and redone all my spare pairs.

A Class had ceased to be of interest to me and I used my spare car for that Final.

In the Open Final Johan jumped into the lead with me about a metre behind. I found that I could hold on quite comfortably but naturally I didn’t know how hard Johan was trying. Of course this meant that I could conserve my tyres and at the start of the final segment I decided that the tyres would last the race and closed right up on Johan so that we would both be credited with the full 120 laps and of course winning the Championship was more important than winning the race.

Johan and I shared the Open Championship and the 1984 SA Title.

The first round of the 1985 season was held at a new club in Stillfontein. In the absence of Russell I had to prepare my car myself and I felt that the best I could do was about 95% of the car’s capability. The problem was that you really couldn’t afford to give away even 5% if you wanted to compete at the top.

In retrospect my 6th in the Open Class and 4th in A Class wasn’t bad considering that it was a new circuit which only the Transvaal guys had previously raced on. The only non-Transvaal driver ahead of me was Johan – no shame in that!

I missed the second round of the championship due to the business commitments and was considering packing it in completely. Russell had not only prepared my cars but was also a good friend and my lack of confidence in my ability to prepare my cars added to Russell’s absence had taken much of the enjoyment away. When I mentioned this to Mike Abramson he offered to buy my entire box of cars and equipment.

The Durban GP was again the last round of the championship in 1985 and Mike invited me to drive the Hore car in the event. He had fitted the latest motor in the car and it was flying. I won the A Class Final and could have won the Open Final if I had not become involved in a backmarker’s accident 10 laps from the end of the race. I finished second to Johan. It was the third year in a row that I was second to Johan in the Durban Open Final – must be a message in there somewhere!


Grands Prix Entered – 11 Open Finals – 6 Class Finals – 10 Open wins – 1 Class wins – 3

03 October 2007

Some Revell Classics

Here are some of the interesting Revell cars that have cropped up in and around my visits to Ebay and other interesting sites...

Revell 08359 Jaguar E-type #16 Le Mans 1964

Lotus Cortina - Alan Mann Racing

Revell 83g march red lobster



Revell 08376 Lotus Cortina Massimo Vezzos

Some old time pics of Ecurie tracks

The classic long serving Ecurie Orange now pensioned off with Mike Adey in Hilton.
The Roadshow '85 portable track for the 24 hour enduro - negotiated by Alan Hoyt.

The Durban Motor Show Ninco portable which kept the club financially stable during some lean years.

The portable 8, brainchild of Johan Louter and built in two weeks!

The current Ecurie mini King, commissioned in to service around the turn of the century.

Some enduro race action pics at Ecurie

Race action at a club enduro.

Jennette, Andrew, Annetjie and Mark in full cry with Mike the Chairman marshalling Formax Sky Curve.
Costa and Alwyn on race control.

Another angle view of the track.

Craig Strydom's 2007 Newcastle Nats report

Hi Guys

As promised, below is a report back on the last leg of the SAMCA Nationals held at Full Throttle Raceway in Newcastle last weekend. For me it was really good to get back onto what we used to consider our second home track again and do some racing. This has got to be one of the best tracks in South Africa at the moment, and it is a pity that our Natal Championship competition has fallen by the way side, thereby ruining our chance to race on this track more often. I think if it is the only thing we achieve in 2008, it must be the revival of this competition which has produced so many good racing battles and built good friendships over the years. Anyway enough chatter, on to the weekends racing.


2 Hour True Scale Enduro

The weekend in Newcastle got off to a bit of a rocky start, with some last minute hectic building of the True Scale 917 Sandeman Porsche for the 2-hour enduro. Ashwin unfortunately was also running late due to his real car not starting on Thursday morning, so we were down to a two man team consisting of Tyrone and myself. The start went well enough and we were actually leading after the first 20 minute stint although it was a very close affair as these True Scale races always seem to be. A few hiccups along the way let the eventual winners, PMCC B, get a fair advantage over us in second place and Full Throttle (Newcastle) was chasing hard. There was some see-sawing during the remaining lanes, although PMCC B were rock solid in front. Eventually PMCC B (Gert De Beer & Allan White) won the event with FTR (Jan Kleinhans & Tim Murch) in second and Ecurie (Myself and Tyrone) a close third.


1/24 Production Touring (Race1)

It is has always baffled me why this is always the first event on any race schedule. It is always tough to start off with, usually on a relatively ‘cold’ track. Not only this, but Tyrone and I had both been so focused on the plastic side of things, that we hardly had time to test and practice with our metal cars. Ashwin was first up and he struggled with too much traction, which resulted in him trashing his poly spur gear during practice. The replacement sonic was a little more up to the challenge, but he only managed a 7th place. That being said, Tyrone who also managed to trash his poly gear in practice, had his replacement gear come loose during the race and ended up 19th. Yours truly, experimenting with the new JK Cheetah chassis got off to a flying start and was sitting in a healthy 2nd place until the endbell oilite came loose in the motor which proceeded to overheat, glaze the motor brushes and die after 5 minutes. Not a good start to the day for any of us.

Plastic Touring (Race1)

This was supposed to be where it all came together. We had practiced furiously, the cars were on the pace with Tyrone being the quickest on the track by 0,1 – 0,2s per lap. Unfortunately for me, things went horribly wrong again. I had replace my braid in the morning after I discovered that the old braid was pretty much non-existent. So a little way into the race, with a fairly healthy lead, my leadwire decided to part company with the guide and I came to a dead standstill. Thanks to some quick repair work from Hennie Petzer from East London, I still managed to finish, although well down the field in 10th place. Tyrone was flying and with his car being rock solid, he took the win fairly easily in the end. Ashwin put in a solid performance to grab a 3rd place.

Plastic Sports (Race1)

By the time we got around to this race, I was getting extremely nervous. I was 0 for 2 so far, and was staring down the barrel of a very long dreary Nats. Tyrone and I and pitched up with five sports cars between us, including Erlo’s super quick Dallara, and had still not really determined which was the best. In sheer desperation I decided to use Erlo’s car, which seemed to feel the best out of all of them. For once this proved to be the right decision, with Tyrone battling along with my Dallara on new tyres and eventually retiring very despondent. I managed to absolutely blitz the opposition with Erlo’s car and ended up almost 6 laps ahead of second place. Ashwin made a wrong choice between his two Dallara’s and battled along for a creditable 5th place in the end.

GT12 (Race1)

Once again the lack of track time and practice, worked against Ashwin in this class. His car was really quick in a straight line, having purchased one of the Red Fox setups from AB Slotsport that I have been using for 2 years now. Unfortunately he seemed to be having trouble with the cars handling and could only manage 14th place. After cleaning out both Tyrone’s and my motors and replacing his motor brushes, Tyrone’s car was flying, and besides Gustav, he was the only one getting consistent 5,0s lap times with the odd dabble into the 4,9s mark. I seemed to have lost straight line speed when compared to Tyrone, however the awesome handling of my car kind of kept me in the game. Gustav eventually won with Tyrone a lap or two down on him and myself in 4th place, which I was not too unhappy about. It seemed as if everything was starting to go right for Tyrone though and he was pushing the big guns to the limit.


1/24 Production Touring (Race2)

After a hasty fix and some tuning to my S16D motor on Friday night, we decided to head back to our cottage early for a good sleep. This turned out to be the best thing we could have done, arriving refreshed and ready on Saturday morning. I was in the first heat of the morning, which is never easy. The track is cold, the competition is brutal (to say the least) and I was not looking forward to it at all. My car, however, was almost back to its best and I was managing to get down to similar lap times as the big guns at last. Tyrone was also back up on the pace and was in with a shout as well. Aswhin seemed to go backwards however and only managed a 13th place. Tyrone hung in for a good 4th and I was quite surprised at the end of the day that I ended in 3rd.

Plastic Touring (Race2)

Once again I had to go before all the major competitors, due to my poor performance on Friday. I was a bit nervous, as it is a bit easier if you know what your target should be although, I knew that if I could improve or match Tyrone’s score from the previous day that I would be in with a shout. I had decided on Friday night to superglue my leadwire into the guide, as I did not want a repetition of what happened during the first race. After his win the previous day, Tyrone was the only one who could take the overall Plastic Touring title from me, but in order to do this he had to win, and I had to come 3rd or lower so the pressure was on. I was so eager to get off to a good start, that I pulled away too quickly, only to have the nose of the Capri lift out of the slot and not go anywhere. Luckily fro me there was a false start, and having a second bite at the cherry, I got away cleanly and had an excellent race. Tyrone had a bit of drama in his race at the beginning, probably due to the pressure but soon settled down and came back from 4th to win his heat. Unfortunately for Tyrone, I had done enough to win with Ashwin again putting in a solid performance for 3rd place. Ecurie 1-2-3 beautiful!!!!

Plastic Sports (Race2)

I was feeling much happier by this time, knowing that I had secured the Plastic Touring title for the year, and also the Plastic Sports title. So this race for me was really a no pressure affair. Tyrone was the first of us to have a go, due to his early retirement on Friday. He had opted to go with the fairly untried Scaleauto Toyota GT1 instead of the Dallara. The car requires a slightly different driving style, which took him a while to get used to, but once he got going, he put in some of the fastest lap times of the weekend. His relatively slow start, was probably the only thing that stopped him from getting closer to a win in this race, and he ended up 3rd. Ashwin had opted for his other Dallara, and it proved to be a wise decision as he put in another solid performance for 2nd place. I had another blinder with Erlo’s Dallara and in the end it was another fairly easy win for me. Ecurie 1-2-3 again!!!!

GT12 (Race1)

This was the race of the weekend. Forget everything else that happened. The final race is one that will be remembered for a long time. Gustav Heymann was in pole position on black lane, Tyrone on green, Anthony Brithrey on white, myself on red, Hennie Petzer on blue and Jock Dennill on yellow. We all took off at huge speed, with my car suddenly finding pace from somewhere and the four top drivers being Gustav, Tyrone, Anthony and myself were all on 5,0s lap times. There was lots of drama and crashing as you would expect and although I was not as consistently fast as the other three, I found myself in first place with one segment left to go. Tyrone was one lap down and Gustav two laps down. I thought I had this one sewn up. WRONG!!!! The buzzer went, but unfortunately my car did not. The gears had jammed, and by the time we got it sorted out, Gustav and Anthony had caught me and Tyrone was now a lap up. A crash and a bad marshal for Tyrone put us all on the same lap again, although Gustav and Tyrone were the only ones really fighting it out for the win. After a last nail biting 30-40s with the lead changing between Gustav and Tyrone almost every lap, Gustav finally won it by about half a car length from Tyrone. I ended up 3rd and Anthony 4th. The laps read as follows:-

Gustav - 130.76
Tyrone – 130.75
Craig - 130.37
Anthony – 130.12

An exciting end to what turned out to be a good weekends racing after all. It was a pretty successful year, with myself capturing the SA Plastic Champion title, Tyrone running a close second and Ashwin ending up in fourth only one point behind third place Carel Van Heerden (Jnr). Ecurie still managed to come second to PMCC in the club championship even though we had the third lowest number of participants. This means that the guys who did participate did very well and scored decent points, so WELL DONE!!!!! to all who raced Nationals this year.


Craig Strydom