25 Nov 2021: NSR Formula 86/89 – Armageddon

Armageddon.

NSR’s Formula 86/89 created a lot of excitement when it was first announced, but raised a lot of eyebrows too, because open-wheel cars are notorious for interlocking wheels during racing and launching themselves onto a flight-path to destruction.

To the surprise of many, Molesey’s NSR F1 races haven’t been the destructive crash-fest that they’d feared. Until now.

Even before racing had begun, David had smashed his car into several pieces against the clubroom wall after an ambitious attempt to take all but the first few feet of the big corner leading onto the main straight flat-out, turned out to be an “effin’ stupid idea.

The club welcomed two newcomers this week: Martin who raced, and Josh – hereafter known as JoshToo to avoid confusion – who observed. By the time Heat 1 was over, both of them must have wondered what they’d walked into.

Rarely has a heat had more track-calls than the first one did. Josh lost half a minute to crashes, Terry lost a lap, David’s hastily and badly repaired car hit the floor, others went flying too. Describing it as slot car Armageddon doesn’t do it justice. Some wag muttered “f**king shambles.” Spot on.

After that, things could only get better. Could, but didn’t. Heat 2 wasn’t quite as chaotic, but it was no picnic. Julian lost almost a lap to something or other (your correspondent was too preoccupied trying to fix his bent “heap of ****” to notice), Graham’s car broke terminally, and even the race computer waved its white flag, rendering Neil’s lovingly tended results spreadsheet thoroughly confused.

Only after a welcome half-distance tea break did racing return to some semblance of normality. Julian led comfortably, Josh fought back strongly from his Heat 1 disaster to take second spot away from Terry, David’s car at last managed to negotiate right-handers, Frank broke into the 8.2s and Neil lost a stack of time when none of the marshals noticed his deslotted car. Too busy watching wings and things flying everywhere.

Steve continued to improve, breaking the magic ten-second barrier in three heats, while novice Martin progressed well throughout the evening, finishing with his best lap a respectable 10.1 seconds.

As races go, this was a long way short of being a nail-biter, but it was great fun and kept the marshals busy and amused. Whether it’ll frighten away this week’s newcomers, only time will tell.

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