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OTW Spring Tour 2017
Baptism at Basel. Tell GP

Modern road cars have all sorts of gizmos and gadgets that are often little more than expensive and complex gimmicks, but one gets our five star seal of approval, and that is air conditioning on standard models. Had it not been for this, our annual European tour would have been very sticky and unpleasant, helps in hotel rooms too when the temperature is well the wrong side of 30 degrees during the day and over 20 at night.

Most of the planning for the circular tour takes place around Christmas as an alternative to dire television, but this year there was an added frisson with our newest recruit, having forsaken her waders, fielding a 1.5cc Class 1 car prepared by Aaron Monk, and the ‘other half’ of OTW joining the ‘heavy metal’ brigade with a Class V Denneler car. This had been built from an unmachined pan and a series of parts from a stalled project from many years ago via another BTCA member.

There was also the (hopefully) now sorted Class 3 car with trusty CMB power. After a very cold snap in early May, the temperature rose dramatically with wall-to-wall sunshine for nigh on two weeks. The only respite was the car and a trip into a Maginot Line fort where the temperature underground was a delightful and refreshing 10 degrees.                           Right: Lynn receiving a memento of her first race from Urs Bach

Luckily, the track at Basel is in a lovely wooded glade that provided much needed shade, and at times the vestige of a cooling breeze. The track however was in direct sun for much of the day, which did not give the horsers much respite and with Michael Schmutz doing the bulk of it alongside Raphael Zaugg, regular breaks were needed for them to recover and re-hydrate.

Raphael Zaugg waiting patiently While many hands fail to start the car Even with an electric starter

Training was a step into the unknown for us, but the SMCC members are ever helpful, so Lynn’s first track experience was guided by Philipp Meier and after a couple of needle tweaks was around 226kph, even if Michael Schmutz had to dash off to change his arm padding to horse the left handed car. Yes, she is left-handed and so is the car by an odd coincidence. The move into Class V was accompanied by a moment of slapstick comedy. Having ascertained that the Picco motor did run, the pushstick was applied in approved fashion and an enthusiastic push saw the car move not an inch but somewhat embarrassed owner carry on down the track having tripped over the car. Lesson number one, 10s can’t be pushed off like the smaller cars, but at least it gave everyone a good laugh at my expense? Not everyone had quite such an amusing experience though, Otto Stroebel’s day had not started well, being hit by a cyclist, British sad to relate, and then his Profi 3.5 motor self destructed in a spectacular fashion, reducing the piston to so many pieces that it was tipped out of the motor. Urs Bach had yet another Nova Rossi rod let go, doing maximum damage along the way.

Aster 'Big Boy' Trucks and carriages  Superb track engineering

The real contentment was on the surrounding railway track where some exceedingly expensive Aster locos and huge rakes of carriages chuffed happily round for hour after hour. Well to the fore was Christian Schmutz who is as enthusiastic about steam as he was about tethered cars at one stage where he was a highly successful competitor, winning a European Championship in 1983. Stars of the track were the two ‘Big Boy’ Mallet articulated engines while amazing engineering was on show in the  store, here as the entire carriage rack some 10M or more long was motor powered to raise and lower each level to track height, awesome.

The Tell Race is run over two rounds on the Sunday, and with the temperature forecast to be even hotter, the chase was on for a lean enough needle setting. The 1.5 class was decided in the first round with all competitors getting a timed run, Philipp Meier just nudging out Florian Baumann by 0.6kph at 247. Natalia Bach, the first of three ladies in the class did get two runs to finish third. Sylvia Bach and Lynn Blowers both improved on their second runs, so with two runs under her belt, Lynn’s debut meeting was something of a success. Class 2 and 3b was down to the Meier household with Philipp running his late father’s 2.5cc car and sons Laurin and Janis aged 3.5s. Laurin at 172 had bragging rights over his brother at 155, but the cars were of secondary interest to jumping in and out of the brook that runs through the site.

Horst Denneler and Sylvia Bach Michael Scmutz, Otto Stroebel, Florian Wolfgang Schmid

Class 3 was very much a case of to finish first you must first finish. Horst Denneler with his own version of a Nova Rossi was way ahead at 272 on his first run, while the pedestrian CMB of yours truly was again at the top of its performance envelope at 234. These remained the top two speeds, with Florian Baumann coming close at 232. The 5cc class was dominated by ex European Champion Daniel Keichl with two runs that just topped the 300kph mark. Wolfgang Schmid was runner up with 283 and his second car at a pair of 279s. Urs Bach saw his second connecting rod of the weekend destroy itself, frustrating him even further and lengthening an already long run of bad luck.

Florian Baumann bore cleaning Christoph Zaugg checking his liner  Walter Roeder ready to start

The 10s always have the largest entry, and Basel was no exception. After the first round Horst Denneler was 5kph ahead into the 330s, with Otto Stroebel and Walter Roeder in the high 320s. Life was difficult for Michael Schmutz as he was horsing as well as running two cars and the heat required racing to stop for him to seek shade and cool down. I did get a run, although at a somewhat embarrassing speed as the car managed all eight laps in the course of slowing down having managed a half respectable speed before the button was pressed. Round two had Michael back to his best with a 335 that would not be beaten, while Peter Arlautzki had changed to a motor with some compression to nip into third at 331.

Philipp Meier tutors his son Remains of Otto's Profi motor Urs' bag of scrap

Apart from the heat and the seemingly inevitable deviation/umleitung signs that lead us round scenery we would never otherwise have viewed, a super weekend and a couple of prizes that were most unexpected. Our thanks to all at the SMCC for making us so welcome, and the two horsers without whom we could not go racing.

Class 1

Class 2


Class 3B

Philipp Meier
   Florian Baumann     Natalia Bach
Philipp Meier Janis Meier, Laurin Meier
Class 3

Class 4

Class 5

Horst Denneler
Hugh Blowers     Florian Baumann
Daniel Keichl
Wolfgang Schmid   
Michael Schmutz
  Horst Denneler   Peter Arlautzki

With Adele to Kapfenhardt?
Pfingstrennen 2017

Where is the relevance here you may well ask, and it is down to another word we have come to fear ‘stau’, the German equivalent of the French ‘bouchon’, or for the linguistically challenged, a good old fashioned traffic jam. Not often that we are thankful for HGVs, but they provided welcome shade from the sun on the A5 heading north. Adele, well the stau lasted exactly the length of her CD. By then it was too late to do anything else, so we headed for the hills towards Kapfenhardt and the relative coolness of the Black Forest. The situation that exists at Kapfenhardt is echoed in so many other clubs and organisations. It takes a heck of a lot of work to prepare for an event of this nature, but there is an ever-dwindling pool of people that have the time or are able to do the necessary.

We had arranged to help out Volker and Anette Besang in preparing the track and site, and wasn’t it hot work, so a pleasure to sit down in the shade late afternoon and enjoy a glass or two of Ochsenberg, a local wine. Christoph Rabenseifner and Carmine travelled down from Frankfurt one evening to complete the painting of the safety fence, finishing just as it was getting dark. Christoph has also built and programmed an entirely new timing system due to be trialed at the weekend. Mid week, Horst Denneler and Wolfgang Schmid arrived with cars full of garden maintenance equipment to attack the surrounding greenery. The forecast had deteriorated somewhat so the track was put into wet weather mode with covers for the horser, large party tents for the competitors and sheeting over the pit area, which would provide some ‘interesting experiences’ in due course.

Friday training is fairly leisurely, but there was the added advantage of Manu Finn arriving a day early to take on some of the horsing duties. Unfortunately, after a great deal of work since Hannover, Oliver Monk found himself with another wrecked Stelling 2.5cc motor when the con rod broke. The car was showing an impressive turn of speed at the time as well, which made it doubly annoying. There was a flurry of activity after lunch that coincided with torrential rain. Michael Schmutz was horsing through a wall of water cascading around him, but with the roof on the track, it was possible to continue through the afternoon. Alfred Kirschner spent much of the day confirming entries and car numbers, although this was to be a continuing problem throughout the weekend. It is the intention to computerize all lists so that this can be avoided, but for the present, the lists are only as good as the records.

Michael horsing in the rain Joszef Krasznai creates a deluge  Manuel Finn

Race day started on a sombre note as they do all too often now with everyone assembling on the track to remember RSG stalwart and long time competitor Berthold Kastle and two others who were not known to us. On then to the 1.5cc class and a superb run at 248kph from veteran exponent of these tiny motors, Lothar Runkehl, who has been competing for nigh on sixty years, winning his first European Championship in 1963. Only Florian Baumann could get within 10kph of his speed with Lembit Vaher in third. Our debutant Lynn Blowers, wrongly recorded on the sheets as the ‘other half’, never got off the starting blocks, despite the best efforts of Philipp Meier. A subsequent strip down of the car during a masterclass in 1.5 preparation from Florian revealed a problem that could not be fixed at the track, so her racing was done but, by way of consolation, with the car and motor in one piece.

Class 2 continued to show the inaccuracies of the entries with the late Walter Meier being listed as a runner. Manu Finn topped the list some 8kph ahead of Gyorgyi Bondor in second and the only competitor over 270kph. The first round was a bit thin with half the field not recording times including two of the favoured runners, Gabor Dobrosci and Lembit Vaher. The open wheel class 3B was the least well supported with just five entries and just two runs over 200kph. Janis and Laurin Meier had Peter Arlautzki horsing for them with Janis recording a very respectable 172kph, not bad for a very old Monza car with a side exhaust motor.

Lauri Teder with Lembit Vaher David Giles and Jan-Eric Falk Piero Bettetini, Alberto Adreani & Gianni Mattea

After a lengthy break for lunch it was on to the Class 3 and here it was a bit tighter with 2kph separating Andrei Smolnikov and Augustyn Wegera with Lauri Teder in third, an order that did not change. The Swedish contingent was not having a good time with multiple champion Jan-Erik Falk not recording a speed the entire weekend. Amazing to think that Jan-Erik won his first European Championship back in 1961. Oliver Monk was the best of the British, running what he described as a very tired motor. My CMB recorded another run just 2kph below its calculated best, not fast but very predictable now the problems have been ironed out. This class is now very popular with nineteen entries. The overall entry was a bit down this year with several competitors choosing to run at Orebro instead in the pursuit of Grand Slam points.

After Daniel Keichl’s brace of 300+ runs the week before, there were high hopes for Class IV, but only Tonu Sepp managed to break the 300 with Christoph Rabenseifner 6k slower. Also in the hunt were Anette Besang nursing her recently operated on hand and past winner Alberto Adreani. Volker Besang had one of those ‘deathly silence’ moments during his run that can only be bad news, and so it transpired as another Nova con rod had given up the struggle. (right)

Amazingly, he reckoned that this was the first rod he had broken in twenty-five years. Many would be happy with that sort of record. Whilst it was still very hot, the odd torrential rainstorm caused havoc in the pit area, as the sheeting would fill, requiring deft work with brooms to clear the sagging pockets causing huge waterfalls in the process.

Just by chance, I was looking at the car park and saw Gilbert Huguenin take an old hydro from the boot of his car that he proceeded to give to a young lady. Charging over with camera in hand I discovered that the lady was Karin Kampe, daughter of the late Gunther Stranzinger and the boat was the A3 hydro we featured in a Pitbox in 2012. It was a long Marinov boat with a distinctive square motor built by Gunther and raced we believe at one stage by Rainer Halm. It was lovely to see the boat back with the family having been so superbly restored by Gilbert and the first of the nostalgic interludes of the weekend.

Karin with A3 hydro Ando Rohtments, Lauri Teder & Tonu Sepp Christoph, Gilbert, Michel & Peter

The 10cc class is always closely fought and enjoyable to watch for the sheer noise and power these motors produce. 330kph will only get you into the top ten so the speed differences are small, but it is the transition from 170 to 180 that proves the most fascinating. Some cars pull straight through it, while others drone round and round for ages before getting underway, unless stopped for a needle tweak. Michel Duran’s car must have done 45 laps at that speed, but such is the understanding of his engines that he knew it would come up, and eventually it did, to record the fastest speed of the day at 335kph. Peter Arlautzki was just 0.174k behind with fellow Swiss competitor Christoph Zaugg a further 1.2k behind in third. There were several notable failures including Danielle Duran, Otto Stroebel, Deiter Hecht, Nils Bjork and surprisingly, Michael Schmutz. As an aside it was exactly forty years ago that Danielle won the first of three consecutive European Championships.

That was it for the day as we enjoyed the hospitality of the Jaegerhoff and reflected on the success and failures of the day, costly or otherwise. A meeting of this nature is always an ideal opportunity to refill the spares box with the consumables and negotiate deals. Otto Stroebel had a display of the branded motors he is now selling along with CNC machined 10cc pans from Linus and an absolutely stunning carbon fibre body to suit. There were wheels, tyres, gearboxes, engines, plugs and more all available if the right person was approached, but an order made previously for pipes did not materialise.

Alfred Kirschner & Horst Denneler Christoph, Carmine & Wolfgang Volker refuelling

Sunday promised more of the same weather wise, but with none of the British having anything left to run before lunch it was a chance to have long conversations about cars, trains, boats, planes, and of course Brexit. There were very differing opinions regarding this, which seemed to depend on the geographic origins of whoever you were speaking to at the time.

Both Classes I and II followed identical courses with the overnight leader being dropped down into third place in each case. Lothar Runkehl could not improve his first round speed and was overtaken by multiple champion Lembit Vaher and Gianni Mattea, both at over 250kph. Uniquely, all those that completed runs, bar Lothar, improved their speeds. In the 2.5cc class it was Lembit again, and Gabor Dobrosci, neither of who had recorded a speed on Saturday that leapfrogged Manu Finn to leave him in third place with Lembit taking first by 1.1kph. 3B saw Mikka Doering sail into first place by the enormous margin of 24kph, while Janis Meier improved to 179k. the sort of speed these cars, originally intended for novices, would more normally have been doing in the past.

Lunch was something of a treat this time round, as Otto Stroebel and friends provided a four course feast for ten euros to raise money for the Kapfenhardt track. Considering that meetings do not charge for entry or fuel, the entire cost is born by the clubs or sponsors from within, the only income coming from galley sales. First course was a selection of antipasto, followed by a wild mushroom and cheese tagliatelle. A selection of cheeses including some exceedingly tasty varieties was finished off with a dish of wild berry yoghurt with very light fruit sponge dumplings. Thanks to Otto for this wonderful gesture.

It was while we were savouring lunch that the second nostalgic element was enacted. Both Adi Malik and David Giles have been present for the last few years, so we asked David if it would be possible to bring his 1979 Championship and record breaking 5cc car so that we could recreate the photograph from all those years ago. David had first met Adi in 1977, which was also his first trip to Kapfenhardt where he also met Horst Denneler. Adi was a key element in David becoming our only European Champion in the modern era, as he not only helped David build the car but was also responsible for developing the MOPS motor in the car, which became one of the most successful 5cc engines, winning many more European Championships. With both David and Adi on the track and holding the car as they had done all those years ago, it must have been very difficult for them to believe the time that had passed. It was lovely to have been part of this and thanks to David for bringing the car.

 David Giles with Adi Malik Gianni Mattea 3rd in 1979 Marino Vavassori and Giorgio Citterio

Lunch and nostalgia over, it was back to the business of the day with the 3.5cc class, and here the status quo was maintained with the top three places unchanged, although Sergei Chasanov was within 0.2kph of taking third. My CMB soldiered on gamely going a smidgeon faster and not the slowest of the round, but after completing training and all runs at near to its top speed, I was more than happy.

No one could get near Tonu Sepp in Class IV but there was a distinct reshuffle amongst the places with Anette Besang going from fourth to second, dropping Christoph Rabenseifner to third, two podium places for the host club. Nine runs in the 290s, but no one within 6kph of Tonu and a very high percentage of no runs. Wolfgang Schmid had tried an interesting wrinkle, based on a proven theory from golf, and that is the effect of the dimples on the balls making them fly further. The proposition was that if the entire car was covered in a dimpled film it would go faster, but then I suppose if that were the case, every racing car would be covered in pockmarks? Yet again Steve Turley’s car did not trip the timing, but the new system being run as a backup did record him with a slightly slower speed, proving the efficacy of the new installation, although Christoph reckons there is another 200+ hours need to refine the programming and test it all.

Class V was shaping up for a real battle. Otto Stroebel did get a run at last but at 331 was not going to trouble the podium. Ando Rohtments at 333 was still just behind Christoph Zaugg who did not improve on his Saturday speed, while Peter Arlautzki had his car coast to a standstill with total lack of compression due to a very large hole in the piston crown which left the Durans with Danielle yet to get a run in. Again, her car droned round and round, but still Michel let it run until it finally cleared and up the speed went, 330, 334, 335, 336 and finally 337 when the button was pressed to give a speed of 337.122kph. Michael Schmutz had another off day by his standards having had his car shut down inexplicably. Michel Duran was unable (or wisely unwilling) to beat Danielle’s speed, which meant that Christoph was relegated to fourth with the Durans and Peter Arlautzki making up the podium.

Jubilant Danielle Duran Andrei and Voldymir Smolnikov with Oliver Monk Peter Arlautzki 

Unusually it took a while to get the results sorted so several people had to leave, while others started clearing up and putting away tents, benches and chairs, but eventually the presentation got underway with a series of engraved glass goblets being presented to those who had helped prepare and run the meeting. In turn, first second and third in each class were also presented with a goblet and a bottle of wine as they stood on the podium for photos. Finally it was the Schwarzwald Wanderpries team trophy, again won by the Swiss.

The rain had put a dampener on the meeting at times as poor Debbie Monk found to her cost when the wind deposited several gallons of rainwater on her, but for most of the time, the sun shone and it was hot. Our thanks go to everyone who had a hand in running the meeting and especially Michael and Florian for all the time they spent offering advice, help and information to the ‘newbie’. Most of all though to Michael Schmutz and Manuel Finn who did virtually all the horsing for three days, with little respite. Until someone comes up with a mechanical version, we all rely on the fitness and willingness of the few able to carry out this task, thanks lads.

Thankfully the trip home was without incident, although others were not quite so lucky, the Whit Monday weather was wonderful, but didn’t it all go downhill for the next week?

The Winners
All results available on the speedmodelcar website

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3b

Class 3

Lembit Vaher
Gianni Mattea   Lothar Runkehl
Lembit Vaher
Gabor Dobrosci Manu Finn
Mika Doering
Theo Verheul  Fanny Krasznai
Andrei Smolnikov
Augustyn Wegera  Lauri Teder
Class 4

Class 5

Schwartzvald Wander Pries

Tonu Sepp
Anette Besang  Christoph Rabenseifner
Danielle Duran
  Michel Duran   Peter Arlautzki
Team Switzerland