11/01/24: Formula 1 – Frustrating


Sometimes I wonder what makes drivers turn up week after week to race slot cars. There’s only ever one winner, so everyone else is, at best, only partially satisfied with their result. More commonly they’re a little disappointed or frustrated by it, even if they don’t always admit so.

Tonight’s racing was a case in point. Firstly, pre-race practice was a crash-fest, frustrating those who crashed. Secondly, some of those crashes were the result of one driver careering into another, seriously frustrating those who were knocked off. Yes, it was accidental, but racers aren’t great at being sympathetic. Thirdly, the young, single and shapely female occupant of the upstairs flat had knocked on the clubroom’s door asking for assistance to “fix a leaking window” (sounds like a naff 1980s porn film), and Neil had jumped at the chance of going upstairs with her alone, leaving everyone else feeling a little left out. Neil, that old’un, and a young woman? Lucky sod. Everyone else was a little frustrated.

Chief frustrater this week was David, who’d turned up with new tyres that appeared to have transformed his car into an out of control monster. Numerous crashes in practice, some of which had knocked others off, didn’t bode well for the race. Terry too was struggling to stay on track. Only Chris seemed pleased with how things were going, his lap times encouraging.

Come the race, Simon took an early lead, smiled, and didn’t let go. He was the lucky one whose night couldn’t have gone better. Josh was initially second, but struggling to stay with Simon or open a decent gap to Lee in third. David crashed four times in heat 1 to ruin his chances, and Joss was having a nightmare, although your correspondent was so engrossed in his own nightmare that he didn’t discover what Joss’s was, other than it being equally bad.

By tea-break time, Simon was three seconds ahead of Josh, Lee was six seconds further back and Chris was a lap down in fourth. Then came Terry in fifth, followed by Graham, Neil, David and Joss.

Josh was frustrated. David had knocked him off during practice (his car off the track, not any other form of knocking off you may be imagining. Pervert.) Josh even going so far as chucking his bent axle at David during the tea break as a playful reminder. Fortunately the guy’s got useless legs (David, that is, not Josh. Josh’s are probably the latest carbon-infused titanium super-trick rectified whatnots that he’d have tried to impress the young girl upstairs with, had Neil not got in first) so even if Josh had launched a spear it would have had no effect. Yah boo sucks, Josh!

The second half of the race saw Terry go backwards and in the process accidentally nerf David off three, yes three, times, frustrating them both. It was that old “accidents are never accidental” unsympathetic racers’ mentality again. Chris was still going well, his lap times steadily improving, but Josh crashed in his final heat so, frustrated, did his stop-and-clean-the-tyres-and-try-to-set-the-fastest-lap routine, but in doing so dropped to fourth behind Chris.

The race ended with Simon, still smiling and happy and cheerful, at the front. Lee was just about satisfied with second, but Chris, who’d finished an excellent third, was already talking about improving next time. See, racers are never satisfied. Everyone else smiled and laughed, but most were, no doubt, wondering how they could improve.

But, d’you know what the funny thing is? Everyone will be back next week, and the next, and the week after that. Racing may be frustrating, but it’s addictive too. Couple that with the fun and games and banter and laughs that make up your typical night at Molesey, and you’ll understand why we keep returning. Slot car racing at Molesey. Few do it better.