Monday, March 25, 2002

Axles and Alloys Puma

It's done - all bar the varnishing that is.

Without even bothering to dismantle the car and strip the paint, I flicked it over with grey primer and instantly the detail of the car became visible. It must be bloody frustrating for the Mattel sculptors to produce a lovely model of a 'Max Power-ed' Cougar and then see it cast in translucent flourescent colours apparently designed to make all the grooves and panel lines invisible. (And why do Mattel insist on fitting cars with dark windscreens when there is obviously an excellent interior left almost invisible inside?) It looked even better after a coat of Citadel Mithril Silver. Looking at it in it's pristine "unweathered" state I decided that it will be mounted on balsa and emery cloth to go with my new collection of Car Wars cars - the intention is to get another one and model that as an outlaw car for Axles and Alloys. I don't want to spoil Puma #1 by drybrushing beige paint all over it.

The Car Wars collection is coming along nicely. Basically I have decided to buy up the Hot Wheels car that represent 'fictional' designs, preferably the ones with tampos that could resemble advertisers logos. This is because the Car Wars universe is set 50 years into the future, so cars that can't be recognised seem to fit in better. The tampos of course are the advertising aimed at television viewers of the arena combats. I've done minimal painting to the cars, generally just exhaust pipes and light clusters. I've got 8 cars based for it and the game isn't even out yet - I hope my base sizes are reasonably correct.... :/

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Slot-car racing day out

I went to Walsall yesterday for a race meeting of HO slot-cars organised by Doug Passell from the Chesterfield club. Doug had contacted me about some questions I posted to a board about getting started in HO and he invited me along as I live in the Black Country and didn't have far to go. So I loaded up a toolbox with my cars and headed up the Black Country Route in the Puma.

I got to the venue to find about a dozen racers and an impressive 4 lane setup made from AFX track complete with digital lap-timers and some nice Parma hand controllers that make my bog-standard Tyco ones look and feel incredibly crap. A very nice track, very smooth and without any 'dead spots' caused by electrical resistance. I was very jealous of course.

Doug was kind enough to lend me some sponge tyres so I slotted them into one of my cars, Ralf Schumachers' Jordan from a couple of seasons ago and proceeded to drive quite badly but was none-the-less fairly pleased with my newbie performance, after all at no point did any of my flying 'offs' take anybodies eyes out so that was something to be grateful for. By the end of the morning, Ralf was looking a bit worse for wear with his front spoilers starting to split from some hefty shunts, so I was glad that the cars would be changing for the afternoon session, to NASCARs.

Not having one, I bought a #44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix from Doug and drove that badly too. Firstly it appears that the Pontiac body will take any opportunity to fly off. Furthermore sometimes the car would crash, be reslotted by the marshal but the chassis would be askew inside the body so that the wheels rub on the arches and you go nowhere fast. I'd just about got into the groove at the end of my first NASCAR race when the car deslotted at a hairpin, struck the table edge and threw a pickup shoe, meaning that I wasn't running at race end.

I wasn't the only one having problems with the #44, another racer was using one and finding the same problems. Fortunately I was lent a replacement body for the last couple of races and that seemed to stay on quite well. I finished 9th out of 10, but the 10th place driver was only in the afternoon session so I suppose that doesn't really count. As for form, well I seemed to be at about 50% of the pace of the top guys and 75% of some of the slower ones but with unprepared cars, 'mechanical problems' with the Pontiac and no previous experience whatsoever I suppose that's not too bad.

I had no idea how the races would be organised, but basically you got a three minute run, after which the power was shut off so the cars stopped on the track. A drivers completed laps were recorded and each corner was numbered, 1-10 in order from the start, so the last one you passed was your 'partial' lap, so if you did 18 laps and stopped past corner 3, your distance was recorded as 18.3 . Lanes were colour coded and each car had a coloured sticker on the roof to tell the marshal which lane to put it back in.

Good fun, there's another meeting next month in Chesterfield that I hope to attend