|Our 2nd big race is in the books and I hope all participants enjoyed it as much as we did and have made it home safely. Thanks to all racers and helpers the weekend at the Expo was a big success that will hopefully help our crazy hobby to expand in this part of the world. A big thank you also goes to the Expo crew and Sascha Bürkel. The huge crowd made for a real race atmosphere for the slot racers who didn´t disappoint with many spectacular runs. This makes all the hard work worthwile every time.
Now to the action on the track: As expected, the racers from Stuttgart and Munich were well prepared and the fields got a lot tighter. The Swiss contingent also did their homework and took home a nice part of the trophies. But the biggest waves were made by the youngest and the oldest racers in the field: 12-year old rookie Patrick Boenisch won the Top Fuel category and placed 3rd in the tough Super Stock field, and generally gave the favourites a run for their money. His consistently good reaction times drove some of the veterans into otherwise rare redlights.
The other sensation was the participation of Fred Barthelemy from France, who made the long trip north to join the event. Fred has been into slot racing since the 60-ies and wowed everybody with his professional equipment and preparation of the cars before each run. His experience helped him to adjust to the new track in no time and made him a threat to win or even dominate in most classes. His excitement and attitude are a great example for all of us.
Everything goes in this class, equalized by the handicap start on the tree. Pre-race co-favourite Kescha´s both cars lost in the first round. First he reacted 1/1000 to quick, then (both times in his race against Jürg) his car broke out by the same margin. In his other first round race against Alex he had similar (bad) luck, being on time at the tree but breaking out by a few thousands on both runs.
The other favourites were pushed to the limit but prevailed after some tight battles, with Dominik and Alex, and Jürg and Alex meeting in the semifinals. Alex did his job on the tree but his cars failed him both times: Against Dominik his Willys broke out on the deciding run, against Jürg the Stude did the same by 1/1000, and then he fouled by 4/1000.
The two Swiss guys met in the finals, where Jürg´s consistency prevailed over Dominiks either too early or too late starting line technique. Alex finished 3rd and 4th.
This class made the biggest strides in performance compared to our first race in May, which is pretty amazing, considering the tight rules and stock motors. Also amazing was Fred´s immidiate rise to the top with a brand new motor (he had just bought it the day before) in a class he has never raced before. He qualified 4th with a 1.049 right behind favoured Kescha and Alex, who were the only ones who could keep up with the pace of the fast frenchman. Kescha´s speed was between 41 and 43 miles an hour on every run and his 1.018 and 1.015 put him on top of the list. Alex was right behind with his Stude (1.026 and the little dragster (1.037).
The first run of the eliminations shocked everybody: Kescha put his good manners aside and ran a 0.994 against Monika - the first ever sub-1.000-run in this class and the first track record of the event! Nobody had expected that. With a 1.029 the Skoda moved on to round 2 to meet rookie Patrick, who also was no match for Kescha´s powerful 1.004 and 1.031. Fred and Alex were every bit as impressive, running 1.038 (Fred) and 1.049 and 1.029, respectively. Fred showed everybody that Kescha was not unbeatable, winning the first run with a superb 0.505 and a nice 1.036 against Kescha´s cautious 0.547 and slower 1.045. Kescha came back to win the 2nd run, his 0.519/1.032 beating Fred´s sleepy 0.600/1.072. The final 3rd run was once again decided on the starting line, Fred still sleeping with a 0.622 and waisting an otherwise very good 1.021 while Kescha ran a consistent 0.534/1.038.
Running against himself, Alex had a freebie to the finals, where he also had his chances against a not dominating Skoda. But the pressure proved to be too much, a foul start making his 1.032 lose to Kescha´s slightly quicker 1.026. Alex then made everything right in the next, running a 1.036 on a brilliant 0.509 light against a 1.037/0.556. Another red light in the decider made Kescha the winner of the class, wasting a quicker 1,035 alongside Kescha´s bogging 0.503/1.084.
Fred´s fate against Alex was similar, he fouled away a 1.027 against Alex´ 1.045 and then lost to an almost perfect 0.503/1.056. This time, all three trophys went to the local favourites, albeit with some luck and after some unexpectedly tight racing.
In qualifying, most of the racers struggled to find the 0.9s on the sticky track with Fred and Kescha being the sole exceptions. Fred was way ahead with a 0.914, Kescha in the second slot with a 0.964, followed by five cars between 1.001 and 1.036, ready to step up in eliminations.
Most racers did exactly that in the first two rounds, with especially Jürg and Fred giving their fans a reason to smile. Fred established a new standart for this class, running a record 0.885 at 50.29 mph against an overmatched Thomas, Alex raced himself and Jürg´s 55 Chevy had way too much power for Kescha´s Bantam Altered, no matter how hard he tried (0.501, 0.520. 0.502 R.T.s).But Jürg was just as good, making up for a rare foul with a 0.529 and a 0.509 and running a new personal best of 50.25 mph. His E.T.s were also getting better with every run, improving from a 0.949 to a 0.944 and an even better 0.928. Kescha had good chances with his second car, but wasted a 0.945 with a 0.492 foul and eventually lost due to a no-time on a deslotting 2nd run. In the semis, Fred had to race Patrick and Alex met Jürg, with Fred and Jürg as the favourites. These two had no troubles this time, with Fred lowering the record by another 1/1000 in the process.
Racing for 3rd place, Alex seemed irritated by the progress of his young opponent and missed the tree completely, before Jürg could challenge Fred in the big final. The Swiss racer was also feeling the heat of Fred´s records and gambled on the line, losing the first run despite a new personal best (0.899). But the 0.8 settled his nerves and unsettled his opponent, who lost the second run on a holeshot (0.558/0.903 to Jürg´s 0.531/0.922) and then the third 0.636/0.911 to 0.509/902. Jürg had his second win of the day in the bag but Fred and Patrick their first trophies.
Everybody expected a tight race after major investments and improvements by all racers. Fred brought 2 funny cars to the line and was the only one to run under 0.9, while all others were tightly jammed between 0.92 and 1.02. Alex and Kescha struggled to some low nines, as well as rookie Patrick with Kescha´s Dodge altered wheelbase car.
Pierre was unable to repeat his good test runs from the previous day and ran a 1.02, but his speed of 47.59 showed that the car had some power.
He had no chance to show it, though, being (over)matched with Fred in the first round, who proceeded to break everybody´s backs with a 0.82 and a record 0.817. Kescha was an even bigger underdog with his Barkas bus, after deslotting on both qualifying runs and repeating this in the first try against Fred´s other FC, wasting a great 0.506 RT. An even better 0.501 coupled with a finally succesful 0.954 showed that he was capable, but Fred was also on time with a 0.502 and his 0.863 spelled doom for the Russian.
The other two match-ups were a lot tighter, both going over 3 runs. First Alex squeezed by Patrick´s Dodge, when Pat was stopped by a mechanical failure after winning the first run with a 0.901 (over Alex´0.965), then Kescha´s Wonderwagon Barkas barely got by Alex´ Willys.
In the first semifinal Alex gave his best against Fred but couldn´t make up the 1/10 difference in performance. The same was thought to apply to Kescha´s Pro mod van against Fred´s other car, but Fred unexplicably stumbled to a tractionless 0.528/0.927 to lose to Kescha´s holeshot-aided 0.504/0.942 by 9/1000. In the second run, Fred pushed the controller button like a madman, but his funny car didn´t move at all, while the Barkas shot to the finish line with a 0.973. After almost 1.4 seconds, Fred´s car finally reacted to a fine 0.829, but the race was already over by then. Fred had been plagued by this problem before, but had none of them on raceday, so far. He was not to have them again, either, as he beat Alex relatively easy to claim the 3rd place and then Kescha in the finals for the G20 win.
Scale Top Fuel:
The rail jobs proved to be unexpectedly popular in Friedrichshafen, forcing Alex to complete and/or build several cars for other racers on raceday. This was great for the quality and quantity of the Top Fuel race, but had a negative side effect on Alex´own cars, as his usually quick Moon dragster struggled to go down the track. 5 different drivers (!) ran under 1.000 second, but only Kescha managed to stay under 0.9, running a fine 0.825 with his old Jungle Jim car. Even his new Fuelish Pleasure dragster, driven by Patrick, couldn´t match that, qualifying 3rd with a 0.921 behind Fred´s 0.901.
Alex basically beat himself in the first pair, his struggling Moon fueler losing to a car he just had assembled and sold to Dominik only minutes ago. The two guys from Munich, Lothar and Wolfgang, were next, with Lothar prevailing in 2 runs, only to be run over by Kescha´s 0.823 and 0.827 a round later. Alex had more luck with his second car, the Silver Bullet, improving to a 0.913 and 0.965 to beat a tractionless Jürg. Patrick sent Jörg from Stuttgart packing and Dominik surprised himself beating a red lighting and then very late Fred.
An even bigger surprise was Kescha´s loss to Alex in the first semifinal, after deslotting and then coming back on track and then redlighting away a 0.837. Alex could only muster a 1.-something on both occasions and went on to the final round to meet Patrick, who prevailed over Dominik.
Alex suddenly found the missing 1/10 and ran a 0.874 to Patrick´s even quicker 0.867, winning the first run on a 0.503 to 0.561 holeshot. But the youngster once again proved to be his nemesis, as Alex fouled twice in a row to give Patrick his first ever win. Kescha took no prisoners in the race for 3rd, beating Dominik with two mid-0.8s.
The last race of the day featured the kings of the sport, with no rules limiting the weight or motor of the cars. The traction or lack thereof made for some interesting racing as most racers had brought plenty of power to the table. Alex and Kescha were once again favoured to win, with Fred being the other heavy hitter and the only one with a 0.49 run on a full 1/4-mile track to his credit (run a few years back in California). But he struggled to get down the tricky track, while Alex at least managed to run 0.6s (as usual) with both of his G7s. Kescha spun to a disappointing 0.981 on his first attempt (at 66.35 mph!), Fred was not much better with an equally tractionless 0.792 on his second run. The frenchman had better luck with his Cobalt-12 car, qualifying 3rd with a 0.671. Alex was in the fifth slot (no pun intended) with his third car, a Top Gun powered Funny Car, with a 0.697.
Kescha finally ended all speculations about the track with a well-glued 0.558, qualifying #1 and thus getting a bye in the first round. Patrick´s Top Gun Cougar beat Jörg´s new scratch-built G7 when the latter had traction woes (again) and had to face Kescha´s new G7 for a berth in the semis. But the Russian had the luck on his side, loosing traction on both runs and barely holding off the Top Gun car on a holeshot first, and a foul by Patrick in the second run. Alex once again had to race himself, while Kescha´s other car, a Top Gun Studebaker, deslotted twice after his driver´s 0.502, 0.500 and 0.508 RTs against Fred´s C-12. Finally, Fred´s 0.4 funny was again unable to stick to the track and lost to Alex´red G7.
Semifinals: First, Alex had too much respect and fouled away a quicker run, while Kescha once again failed to find a way to harness the power of his G7. Then he fouled again, but it didn´t matter as Kescha finally found the holy grail of glue with a low ET of 0.549. Fred and Alex both had .490 fouls, but Fred´s C-12 deslotted on top of that, then Alex had his wheelie bars set to high and jumped over the starting line wasting an otherwise good run. The decider was won by Alex, when Fred slowed to a 0.803, but the man from Toulouse avenged the defeat, winning the race for 3rd aginst Alex´green car.
The last final round of the 2005 Winternationals was one way traffic as Kescha finally had a handle on the traction problems and sped away to anticlimatic but spectacular 0.566 and 0.563 wins. Alex finished 2nd, setting the top speed at 67.86 and Fred 3rd.
The award ceremony was the finishing touch on an exhausting but great day and weekend in Friedrichshafen, congrats to all winners, with and without trophies, thanks to all participants and helpers.
Photos and movies of the event will be up within the next days and on Jörg´s website, luebkert.de