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OTW Spring Tour 2018
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Basel. What a difference a day makes?

The publication of the FEMA calendar is always the catalyst for a frenzied round of hotel and ferry bookings, with the added possibility of an extra trip to the European Championships in Hannover to occupy our minds. Some serious work had been undertaken on the OTW stable of cars to rectify problems that had become evident, or been pointed out last season, so two chances to check everything out before it all got too serious. There is also the matter of the ever growing list of tools, equipment, spares along with the cleaning and lubricating materials that share nothing in common with the hydros, so almost entirely differing tool boxes and kits to be assembled before heading off.

After the stifling heat of last year, the temperature was much more to our liking, even if the forecast kept changing at each overnight stop on the way. Note, try not to stay in the same hotel as seventy five leather and denim clad, Hog riding bikers, none of whom have any concept of silencing, more effective than any alarm clock.

Peter Arlautzki & Danny Kiechl Verifying Rich Democh's car Gilbert Huguenin

Saturday at Witterswill is given over to SMCC car inspection and training. Gilbert Huguenin had one run and then put his car away until Hannover. Whilst a number of problems manifested themselves with the home contingent, so much taking apart. Last year had been fraught with battery and lead problems, so all had been checked, if only it were that easy? First set of leads, dead, so on to set two for the first run of the OTW 1.5cc car after all the modifications. Couple of tweaks on the needle and ‘herself’ was happy, although her guru, Philipp Meier was not happy with the ‘candle’ and offered to take the motor home that evening to check over. The 10cc car performed its usual trick of running up to 260kph quite happily and then coasting round, despite all the help, assistance and rebuilding. The answer would come a week later however, prompted by Oliver Monk who instantly said ‘tank’ when the failure was described. A quick conference with Horst Denneler, who designed the car and supplied the castings, pointed out what is now patently obvious. The car was designed for a Picco P60 with an offset venturi, an EXR has it plumb in the centre, so the tank should be further inboard by the same amount, durgh, more work but the prospect of one problem solved.

Race day was a different kettle of fish as it was seriously cold. Twenty seven degrees on Saturday, just ten on Sunday, making a nonsense of any needle settings from the previous day. The first round proved the old adage of ‘to finish first you must first finish’ with only Lynn Blowers recording a speed that automatically put her in first place. The ladies present were willing her on, whilst Urs Bach suggested a rain dance, and although there was a short shower it was down to the race, not luck.

With just Florian Baumann still to run Lynn was still heading the leader board, yet Florian had concocted a devious plan. As it was so cold, he had hung his Kapusikov car on the barbecue to warm it up, an effective ploy as he ran out the winner at 241kph.

Right: Kapusikov's roasting on an open fire.

After many years of sterling service Heinz and Sylvia Bach have retired from timing duties, passing the baton on to Daniela Schmutz and Deanna Meier, the first example on this trip of just how the years are creeping up on many of those who work tirelessly to organize meetings. Another elder statesman of tethered car racing turned up shortly after our arrival, Rich Democh and his wife Marie, all the way from the US, on what he thought may be his final European tour. The only run with his NSC Class 2 car at 235kph was beaten by Claudio Griffanti at 240kph. He and his brother Carlo quite leisurely horsed for each other. Janis and Laurin Meier were the only representatives in 3B again, with Janis well ahead at 179kph

Rich Democh and Marie Sylvia and Heinz Bach Daniela and Deanna

Class 3 saw the ‘other half’ of OTW on parade with the trusty CMB and the debut of a new Michael Schmutz built car for his mother Daniela. Like his 10s, this has an aluminium core from a donor car, in this case from Linus Adomivicus. Clothed in a very smooth carbon fibre body and powered by one of Otto Stroebel’s Profi motors. The class was close at the top with Florian Baumann heading Horst Denneler by 2kph. Horst had resurrected an almost vintage 2.5cc car for the season to run as a 3.5, and a new piston to boot. Florian Wanner was third by less than 1kph and ‘yours truly and Daniela brought up the rear. The CMB made two good runs (by its standard) only to go bang in a big way on stopping with total silence, apart from tyres and wheels being ground away.

That was the sort of silence that is never good news, made worse by a violent arrival onto the infield. What is gratifying about the world of tethered cars though is the availability of spares at an event. Horst Denneler had wheels, tyres and gearbox parts, whilst Otto Stroebel had a stall set up to display his wares. Apart from the Profi built 3.5 and 5cc motors there were the Testa Rosso 10cc remanufacture of the Picco and two cars. The first was the Linus machined pan with bodywork and original parts to complete a Class 5 car and the other a Picco Class 4. Otto has purchased all the remaining parts and put together six cars, but with Profi motors. These cars are complete at 3,600 euros, although not quite ready to run.

Schmutz Class 3 car Very cold Otto Stroebel Horst Denneler

Class 4 had Daniel Keichl and his superbly engineered car leading from Urs Bach and his new Kriger car, as neither of the visitors from Germany recorded a speed. Class 5 is still the most popular, with thirteen entries, although they were emulating hydroplane regattas with twenty no runs between them. Michael Schmutz was the clear winner followed by Carlo Griffanti and Konstantin Furso 0.4kp behind. Lots of work needed before Kapfenhardt. In a vain attempt to get his car running, Walter Roeder borrowed our battery and leads, only to have the wire in these break as well, two sets down, both beyond repair. Note, don’t use cheap wire off ebay in future.

Urs Bach and the Griffanti's Meier family Daniela Schmutz

Urs did not hang about with the presentation as most people wanted to head for some warmth, so it was a very happy ‘Fast Lady’ standing on the podium for the first time at a car meeting and a consolation bottle for Hugh for his ‘big accident’. Another delightful trip to Witterswill, if a trifle chilly and a truly novel eating experience at an Alsace Restaurant

Class 1

Class 2


Class 3B

Florian Baumann
      Lynn Blowers  Heinz Bach
Claudio Griffanti Janis Meier, Laurin Meier
Class 3

Class 4

Class 5

 Florian Baumann
Horst Denneler  Florian Wanner   
Daniel Keichl
Urs Bach   
Michael Schmutz
Carlo Giffanti   Konstantin Furso

Kapfenhardt via the ‘scenic route’
Pfingstrennen 2018


The plan was to drive along the Hochstrasse, a lovely road high up in the hills of the Black Forest, unfortunately the cloud was so low that we had to stick to the autobahn and then grope our way through the forests to the delightful setting of the track and Jaegerhoff Hotel. British hydroplane exponent Tony Collins and his wife Sonia, who wanted to get an idea of what tethered car racing was all about, were joining us for the week, the Pfingstrennen a perfect introduction. Walter and Hannelore Roeder had driven up on the Monday and with the arrival of Volker and Annette Besang, the work party was assembled. This illustrated again very clearly the growing shortage of people able to give time to preparing and organising events. Age, illness and injuries means more work for fewer and fewer people, and even then, most are not in their first (or second) flush of youth.

By Thursday, everything, except the very impressive new timing and information system, was ready for action, so LB sat down to clean and service her 1.5cc car, which managed to attract a number of interested spectators, just to add to the pressure of her first ‘car preparation session’. With the arrival of Oliver and Debbie Monk and Steve Turley, it was almost a full house of British registered drivers preparing for training on Friday, if a horser was available that is. Therein lies a difficulty that would have to be faced throughout the weekend. Raphael Zaugg had horsed the vast majority of cars in Basel but was not going to be available for this event. None of the other horsers were coming until Saturday so, despite a crook shoulder and neck, Volker Besang offered to step in for the day, in between mixing fuel, shopping for galley supplies and all the other jobs that need to be done.

Saturday started with a short celebration, as it was the 60th anniversary of the RGS and building of the track. One by one, to applause from the assembled drivers and spectators, the club members were asked to come to the centre of the track, where it became clear what a small and select band it was.

Horst Denneler was singled out for a special presentation for his extremely long and valuable contribution to running the track and supplying cars, parts and cables for so many years. In fact, he had attended meetings for fifty-nine of the sixty years, which begged the question, where was he for the odd one?

Augustyn Wegera presented him with a wooden box that had a laser etched view of the track on the lid and a similarly etched photo of Horst on the inside, along with a mounted liner, piston and head. Then it was down to business.

First on was Volker Besang and his 1.5cc Kapusikov car, which promptly produced his best ever Class 1 speed at 252kph, elation oozing from every pore. Rain Teder from Estonia knocked him off top spot with a 256kph that would not be beaten. The only other competitors in the mix were Gianni Mattea and Rain with his reserve car. Lynn Blowers was more than happy with a 226kph, her fastest ever, and with a car she had prepared.

Volker 252kph  'Fast Lady' 226kph Rain Teder 256kph

Class 2 was all over after the first round with Gabor Dobrosci 9kph ahead of Volodymyr Smolnikov and 11kph ahead of his partner Gyorgyi Bondor in third. Volker Besang was less than content that with one cc extra he had gone just 2kph faster. Similarly with Class 3, although there was just 1kph separating world record holder Andrij Jakymiv and Andrij Smolnikov at the top of the time sheet. Horst Denneler was in third with Oliver Monk 1kph further back after one of his best runs for a long while, just short of his British record. Jan-Eric Falk and Daniela Schmutz were back in 8th and 9th place showing that the Profi 3.5cc motor still needs a lot of work to make it competitive, with Otto Stroebel not getting a run at all. The CMB was locked solid, and with flat wheels, relegated HB to a spectator role for the weekend but able to collect the parts for a rebuild once back at home.

Andrij Jakymiv Class 3 car Oliver Monk Class 3 Gyorgyi, daughter & Gabor

One of the great joys of a car meeting, especially when not constrained by preparing and running a car, is being able to wander round and admire the engineering and workmanship displayed in the cars, be they commercial models or the product of an individual’s workshop. The attention to detail in the Kapusikov cars is a joy and the machining of Linus’ pans exquisite. Many of the competitors have added their own touches to the cars and there are still a few that manage the ultimate challenge of building the cars and the engines that power them. Joszef Krasznai has been building superb cars, both for competition and collectors for many years, as well as numerous engines, all from scratch. Nils Bjoerk also goes this route, alongside Mats Bohlin. Jan-Eric Falk is another Swedish driver who produces superbly engineered cars, although with commercial motors, but he was none too happy with his latest Class 4 car that he said had ‘very poor road holding’. More excitement when a large plastic box of rare and desirable model aero engines appeared on a table for people to have a sort through, and buy of course.

Joszef Krasznai Joszef's 3.5cc motor Two tiny 'specials'
'Otto's market Stall Useful bits Picco Class 4 car

Class 4 was shaping up to be ultra competitive with Toenu Sepp, Danny Kiechl, Christoph Rabenseifner and Thomas Finn all in the 290s, although Nils and Jan-Eric were some way behind after round one. As well as preparing two cars, Christoph spent much of his time setting up the new electronics. There were monitors in the pits, track and public area, but although all the cabling was in place he had not had the time to terminate them with power or data connections. Given the number of wires in the data cables this looked liked a long job, but no. Surprisingly, electronics and networks are not his job, but he is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and has all the right gear that makes the job simple, if you have a clue what you are doing. Within the weekend, he had the monitors running, and a connection that allowed running speeds to be accessed from phones. When it is all finished it should be amazing. That there needs to be something done about the timing system was brought home again when Steve Turley’s car running happily at 285kph was not being recorded every lap. This is not the first time this has happened to him and can only be down to the very dark blue colour, unless it was ‘stealth paint’ borrowed from the military?

Christoph Rabenseifner 'terminating' Gianni Mattea & Alberto Adreani Christoph in racing mode

Class 5 is still the largest and most impressive, the noise and grunt these cars produce being almost visceral. Just about all the front runners were present, so it was going to be down to who had the set-up right on the day. A problem with the tens had been evident in training as several of them refused to shut off, despite giving the mop continuous and mighty thwacks, and this continued into the racing, with a somewhat humorous outcome on Sunday. Michel Duran never trains, just puts his car on the track, a twiddle of the needle if required and off the car goes. His cars probably do more laps droning round than most, but he has an absolute belief that they will clear, and so they did with fastest speed of the meeting at 338kph. His second car running under Danielle’s name was slower but still held second place with Toenu Sepp and Walter Roeder close behind. Ando Rohtmets, the reigning champion was well off the pace while Peter Arlautzki, Christoph Zaugg and Horst Denneler suffered the indignity of two nulls each, despite all their experience and preparation. Not only hydros that can make fools of us?

Michel Duran Walter Roeder Peter Arlautzki & Christoph Zaugg

Sunday started off a bit wet and cold resulting in more needle twiddling. Rain Teder could not improve on his speed in 1.5cc, but Andrij Jakymiv running the Kapusikov car he had bought from Rich Democh relegated Volker Besang to third by just 0.4kph. Somewhat bizarrely, Philipp Meier had asked to use the Fast Lady’s needle setting on his Kapusikov and those of Heinz and Sylvia Bach, giving all three of them significantly faster runs with Heinz knocking Lynn back one place by 0.045kph, how close is that? Her own run could have done with a bit richer setting, but with training and four competitive runs there was one exceedingly happy lady competing in her first ever Grand Slam event.

Rich Democh The Kapusikov he sold to Andrij Jakimiv

Class 2 was a bit of anti climax as only four second round runs were recorded, making no difference to the finishing order, but then something most unusual transpired. An announcement, in German, suggested that the racing after lunch would commence with Class 5 followed by 3 and 4. This was considered to be a misunderstanding by many, but when it was repeated, and in English, yes it was correct. The reason for this break in the traditional order was intriguing and could have far reaching ramifications for the future. At present we are entirely dependent on horsers, both to keep the cable off the ground in the early laps and to whip the car into life if the motor is reluctant to run clearly. In addition, some cars need help into the 160+ bracket where the motor is starting to chime.

Michael Schmutz horsing Manu Finn and Volker Besang Manu at work

Some teams do have members who will horse, including their own cars, and there are others who will do it at a pinch on a restricted basis, but for most of us, we rely totally on the good offices of the few who are still young and fit enough to do it. Unfortunately, Manu who does the bulk of the work was struggling with an injury, Michael Schmutz claims that he is getting old and was also in pain and this led to the decision to put the 10s on while there were still people fit enough to handle these heavy cars.

In the event, nothing much happened with only Michael Schmutz improving significantly to wrest third place from Toenu Sepp by 0.6kph, leaving Michel and Danielle Duran first and second. The incident that led to a huge round of applause and much laughter was down to Walter Roeder, whose motor would not stop, despite the knock off having been activated by the mop and a hand held brush. Round and round it went at a steady speed, far too fast to do anything about until at last it began to slow to everyone’s relief, including Manu on the horsing platform, but then it picked up, and accelerated away again, a process it managed at least ten times to cheers from the crowd before the level of fuel in the tank finally fell below the pick up, disqualification with no argument. Michel Duran reckoned this was the ideal way to run the meeting as he could enjoy the afternoon without any stress, having completed his runs for the day.

The Class 3 cars managed just four runs from seventeen entries and one of these was Augustyn Wegera who moved up from eight place to third with 275kph. The only other run of note was Andrij Smolnikov with his reserve car that was a fraction under 286, making three runs at that sort of speed, very consistent. By Contrast, Class 4 was probably the most exciting of the day as the order changed dramatically with some spectacular speeds. Toenu Sepp and Danny Kiechl both went marginally faster but then Alberto Adreani put in a stunning run at 301kph.

Jan-Eric's Class 4 car Alberto's car with remote needle and plenum chamber

Alberto’s car is of great interest as it is set up very differently to most. He has a plenum chamber round the venturi, fed from a ram air duct on the top of the car, totally at variance to anyone else. He is also one of the few that uses a remote needle, with the fuel adjustment actually on the tank.

It must have been a nervous few minutes as Jan-Eric Falk had been working hard on his car all day resulting in the clock showing laps at 304 but with the final speed being 298, enough for second, not a lot wrong with the road holding there.

Not something that could be said for one of the cars that finished the run on its back with the car equivalent of a shaft run, ouch.

The new recording and printing process is significantly faster than the old system so it was a quick strip down of the track area for the presentation. Several people were given gifts and mementoes for their work including Fanny Krasznai who had been cabel meister for 160 cars and Hugh and Lynn Blowers who were presented with a huge tin of Goulash soup for their assistance prior to the meeting. Hannelore Roeder received a posy for all her work in the canteen over the three days and then it was down to the winners, who each received a bottle of wine, a commemorative engraved glass and a posy for the first place. The Swiss team won the Wanderpreis yet again, with Janis and Laurin Meier in 3B making up for the failures in Class 5.

Fanny Krasznai 'Worker Bees' 'New Guard' Nils Bjoerk & Heinz Bach
Fred Kirschner & Horst A warmer Otto Thank's son Thomas and Philipp with 'goodies'

So ended our Spring tour 2018, apart from the small matter of the 400 odd miles back to Calais, only to find our ferry cancelled and the next one forty minutes late, thank goodness for Premier Inns. Another superb trip and thanks to all at Witterswill and Kapfenhardt for two great meetings and all the help and assistance offered along the way, very much appreciated.

The Winners
All results available on the speedmodelcar website

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3b

Class 3

Rain Teder
Andrij Jakymiv   Volker Besang
Gabor Dobrosci
Volodymir Smolnikov  Gyorgi Bonday
Dmitri Bylik
Igor Safianyk   Mika Doering
Andrij Jakymiv
Andrij Smolnikov  Augustyn Wegera
Class 4

Class 5

Schwartzvald Wander Pries

Alberto Adreani
Jan-Eric Falk  Toenu Sepp
Michel Duran
Danielle Duran  Michael Schmutz
Team Switzerland