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OTW Spring Tour 2019

Basel 'Tell Rennen' and a surprise result.


Brexit on temporary hold and all sorts of political shenanigans in Britain, so it was a great relief to point the car towards Europe to get away from it all and undertake our annual spring tour to Basel and Kapfenhardt for a double header. A degree of excitement though, or apprehension, as two new cars had joined our ‘tried and tested’, but somewhat pedestrian, stable. The cancellation of the International F2B Aerobatic competition in Switzerland changed our plans so it was straight to the track for an afternoon of chat and indoctrination for ‘herself’ into the intricacies of the five element Russian coupling. As a result of the aerobatic competition being cancelled, multiple champion Lauri Malila and Paul Winter, best known for his PS Aeroproducts company were on hand to have a look at proceedings. Lauri used to live in the UK and has close ties with the Metkemyer concern. he also has a fascinating and very highly skilled job restoring very valuable vintage watches for Breguet.  

Saturday at the Tell race is given over to car inspection and training. It was somewhat concerning to hear from Christoph Rabenseifner that only three countries had carried out car inspection as required and updated their registrations. Oliver Monk had completed this task for us in March and processed the paperwork so that we were all legal. Unfortunately it appears that only by refusing to accept entries for cars that have not been inspected will encourage countries to comply. Training had its highs and lows as usual. Manuel Voegesser had his Stelling 2.5 lock up in the most spectacular way, yet remarkably apart from a big end seized and the ground down wheels, there was no other damage, so a quick rebuild had him ready for the following day. A quick twirl with the CMB gave hope that I had solved the perennial problem of the flywheel coming lose on shutting the engine down? ‘Herself’ was hoping to break 240kph with her very aged Kapusikov car so it was quickly shut off as it sailed through this mark.

Inspecting Daniela's Class 3 Peter assisting Manuel's rebuild Pit scene

Michael Schmutz has done a great deal of work on his mother’s 3.5cc Profi motor, which was paying dividends as Daniela’s speed had risen from the 230s of last season to 279 in Hannover and 292 in training. Christoph Zaugg had been working on an entirely new engine set up and such was his confidence that he was not going to run the car until the race. My 10cc car proved annoying in that moving the tanks as suggested last year had proved pointless as it did the same trick as usual. Otherwise there were plenty of engines and cars in pieces being fettled. One sad piece of news was that Armin Schenk who was a regular attendee with a variety of interesting cars had died. Much of his collection has been passed on including a very nice Class 5 car with a Mats Bohlin MB 10 motor.

Philipp can't quite believe it either Oh my goodness? Venerable Kapusikov 07

First up on race day was Lynn Blowers and a great deal of pressure as the onlookers were quite open with their expectations for her, along with a great deal of banter. In the event, what happened took everyone by surprise, not least the previous owner of the Kapusikov car, as it accelerated past the existing British record, past the best that Philipp had ever achieved with it and then on further. The new, ‘twin vent’ tank was a revelation as the car quickly went over 250 leading to a degree of panic for Lynn to press the button. A round of applause for a final speed of 251.238kph and Urs Bach explaining that it was tradition that anyone breaking a national record at the track had to buy champagne for everyone, not something that Lynn had remotely prepared for. The ‘fast lady’ was however in the luxurious position of being able to put the car away for the following weekend and gather herself together from the excitement of the moment. Natalia Bach and Florian Bauman swapped second place some 10kph slower with Sylvia Bach fourth, all with similar, aged Kapusikov cars and motors.

Sylvia Bach  Florian Baumann Werner Metzger Florian, Philipp and Urs (still smiling)

Manuel Voegesser’s Stelling motor was back on form at 253kph after the previous day’s attention, well ahead of Claudio Griffanti. The Meier boys were having what should have been their last runs with their ‘beginners cars’, now pushing off for themselves. Janis was well ahead of his brother, meaning lots of work for Philipp to ensure that the cars are as equal as possible. Class 3 provided more expectation as Daniela Schmutz was a cert for a new Swiss record if, and it is always a big if, the car could reproduce its form from training. In the end it was a nervy experience as the tank bracket broke during the run, forcing an early shut down, but a final speed of 283.803 broke Florian’s record by the smallest of margins, just 0.005kph, phew, but another bottle of champagne needed. Horst Denneler had two consistent runs in the high 270s while the trusty CMB achieved a new PB, but at the bottom end of the chart. It did finish two runs intact though, a result in itself.

Florian Baumann Christoph Zaugg It worked Says it all

The constant supply of food and drink is a vital element of any event and a big thank you to all the club members that kept us fed and watered and helped expand the waistline with the delicious tortes. In preparation for the European Championships next year, the members of the SMCC have done a huge amount of work over the winter in building an entirely new canteen and extensive covered area. The steel frame construction with wood infill was an incredible undertaking, but with the clubhouse and store built a few years ago makes it a superb facility. Werner Metzger and Christian Schmutz, now both more involved with trains than tethered cars, were responsible for much of the project, aided by untold work days from club members. Urs Bach officially opened the new area with champagne all round, a certain theme developing? We were delighted to meet up again with multiple World and European champion from the late 50s Roland Salomon, who was watching the proceedings and reminiscing about the building of the track. As a student, he had hitch hiked all the way from Switzerland to Luton for the 1954 European Championships, Phillip Rochat bringing his cars.

Werner Metzger, Roland Salomon, Lynn B Official opening of the new facility

Suitably refreshed, it was back to the action with Class 4 where Danny Keichl was in a league of his own, just a smidgeon under 300Kph, well ahead of Wolfgang Schmid. Urs Bach had his car stop with a very loud bang and a well-ventilated crankcase as the rod on his Nova Rossi let go, the second year in succession.
Photo on right from Urs shows the damage.

Finally on to the heavy metal and a great run from Otto Stroebel at 336kph with three others all at 331. The British 10 did not trouble the list as a vast amount of engine tuning now had it running continuously for lap after lap, but only slightly faster than the horser could manage with it.

Round 2 saw Christoph Zaugg’s new set-up come to fruition with a 337.752 that put him top of the Europeans in the World’s fastest list. Interesting how the Australians are dominating this category at present?

So to the presentation and a bit of luck as Daniela had brought two bottles of champagne in the expectation of breaking the 3.5cc record, so Lynn was able to buy one of these to discharge her duty. After last year’s 16 degrees, the weather was exceedingly hot for the entire weekend, leading to a decision not to book a hotel room in the future without air con. Thanks to all at SMCC for a great weekend.

As an aside, and for all the foodies, our friends had directed us to a Chinese Buffet in the next village to our hotel, where for 19 Euros you could eat as much as you liked of a huge range of traditional Chinese dishes, seafood, along with raw meat and fish cooked to order. Not quite the haute cuisine of last year but not quite the same price either, by a long way.

The 'winners'

Class 1

Class 2


Class 3

Lynn Blowers
Natalia Bach   Florian Baumann
Manuel Voegesser
Claudio Griffanti
Daniela Schmutz
Horst Denneler   Florian Baumann
Class 4

Class 5

Record Breakers

Daniel Keichl
Wolfgang Schmid
Christoph Zaugg
Otto Stroebel   Peter Aurlutzki
Daniela Schmutz Lynn Blowers

Kapfenhardt and a bit of weather.
Pfingstrennen 2019

So, up the Autobahn to Kapfenhardt and the delights of the traditional German stau, except we sailed up the entire route without so much as a single stop, only slowing down for speed limits. Arrived at the track significantly earlier than ever before, and as we discovered, our stau free trip was far from the norm as most had tales of multiple hold ups and long delays. Wolfgang Schmid was already on site as there had been a large amount of work done on the track filling in cracks, which he was cleaning up. Just as we humped the last bag from the car the hot and sunny day degenerated as the rain began. Now the French have a word for what happened next, ourage, translated meaning little hurricane and that is what we experienced. A thunderstorm of impressive proportions with trees thrashing about and torrential rain required a rapid retreat indoors. After a while, the rain abated but the scene outside astounded us. The brook that runs between the hotel and the track had gone into full spate in a matter of minutes, flooding the car park up to the track steps and across the hotel car park, but worse, it was flooding into the hotel. Wolfgang had moved his car to higher ground and soon two fire engines arrived to start pumping out the hotel. Very quickly the brook dropped something like eight feet just leaving a general scene of devastation all round. The water had brought down trees, branches and a baulk of cut timber around fifteen feet long and a foot square.

The clearing up began, the firemen and family working in the hotel, council workmen clearing up the debris. This continued for a couple of days, but one has to say the response from officialdom was impressive. Workmen with chainsaws removed the timber, the roads were cleaned and the Mayor arrived with contractors and his staff to assess what needed to be done. The paper the following day described the weather as ‘zig zag’ with a tornado just over the border, a huge hailstorm up the valley at Schomberg that had caused the problem at Kapfenhardt and a temperature drop from 35 to 16. Several guests arriving at the Unter Muhlen that evening reported blocked roads and long diversions.

Photos from Wolfgang showing the extent of the flooding and the huge baulk of timber washed down

On Tuesday it was back to normal and another demonstration of the problem that faces many car, boat and other modelling groups, shortage of personnel available to organise and prepare. We were already aware that Manu Finn had hurt himself at Hannover so was unable to horse, leaving Raphael Zaugg and Michael Schmutz to do the bulk of this onerous task. Anette Besang was responsible for organising all the catering whilst Volker, Lynn and myself prepared the track and site with Wolfgang doing all the strimming and Horst Denneler on hand for decisions and the least loved task of tent erecting. It was not the end of the weather related problems though. With the risk of rain in the Black Forest, Kapfenhardt always has a large tarpaulin over the horsers circle, and this year it was new with all new hooks on the guys to replace those that had straightened out previously. I did venture the opinion that the new ones were not strong enough either but was assured that they would be OK, until next morning that is when the wind had straightened every single one out. We put the cover back on, remaking all the hooks to ensure that they would not come undone again. Mmm, they didn’t, but the wind on Friday night destroyed the tarpaulin instead of the hooks. At one stage we saw the horsers umbrella flying upwards and out of the track.

Thursday gave us a few hours for cleaning cars before everything got underway on Friday with training. Those who complain about the odd 125 miles to Gt Carlton should consider some of the journeys undertaken to get to meetings in Europe. Lembit Vaher and his team had driven from Estonia, a small matter of 5000+ kilometres return whilst the Smolnikovs and rest of their contingent had made it from the Ukraine. Michail Gorbuntsow and Alexander Barbin drove from Russia and the Polish contingent had a twelve hour trip either way. Not a huge amount of activity on the track, but it was lovely to see Willi Haehnsen back in top form after the terrible time he experienced last year. The shortage of horsers kept activity to a minimum, most electing to keep their powder dry for Saturday.

Otto Stroebel Jan-Erik Falk Lembit and Curved car Volker Besang at work

Saturday started with a driver’s briefing and the news from Christoph Rabenseifner regarding the fact that only around 30% of the cars entered had been inspected and registered. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue, but for this meeting alone, every driver was asked to sign a personal declaration. Given the number of cars that had failed inspection in Hannover and anomalies found in national checks, this does need sorting. Some of the cars still bore the jury-rigged alterations from last year and a couple checked in Basel only passed by a hair’s breadth. A slightly larger rear tyre and they would have failed.

Only Andrii Yakymiv was missing from the first division in Class 1 and immediately it was tight at the top with Lembit Vaher’s 258 splitting Rain Teder’s two cars on 259 and 257. The best of the rest were Volker Besang and Laurie Teder on 248 and 247 respectively.  The ‘Fast Lady’ decided not to take her run, relying on a one-chance effort on the Sunday although accepting that it would be slower given the conditions. Lembit Vaher’s motors are interesting in that they do not have conventional lugs, they are bolted through the bottom of the pan with guides to locate them laterally. Lembit told me that ‘engines were so expensive that he decided to make his own’ and most effective they are.

Class 2 was almost over before it started with Lembit way ahead at 269 and 266k. Interestingly, one of his cars is asymmetric with the outside of the car curved to match the track and the inside almost straight. Manuel Finn, Volodimir Smolnikov and Volodimir Dombrowski were all around the 260 mark. Oliver Monk suffered a catastrophic engine seizure with his Stelling motor that caused major internal strife with ground down wheels and a damaged body where the car was flipped over twice whilst running down. The sudden silence as an engine locks up is mortifying as it is always going to be costly. The previous weekend a 10 had locked up momentarily three times, but freed itself off on each occasion.

DeLuxe tyre cutter Steve Turley Interested parties

The 3b Class is definitely suffering and only Ihor Safianyk having a run of note in the first round with Laurie Teder and Mika Doering some 15K behind. Class 3 was exceedingly tight at the top with just 0.066kph separating Daniela Schmutz and Andrii Smolnikov with Florian Baumann just behind and Horst Denneler in the mid 270s. Lots of no runs including all three of the Wegera cars and two of the British entries.  Steve Turley upheld the British honour at 267k and the only other good run was Andrii with his reserve car at 281.

Lunchtime was another manifestation of just how hard a very few people work to provide meetings for us all to enjoy. Apart from the bulk of the horsing down to two people, Manu looked after the cables and hooking on, Fanny Krasznai the fuelling and registering with Frank Honsch the ‘grille meister’. Anette Besang, Hannelore Roeder and Therese Haehnsen worked tirelessly for three days providing hot food, a multifarious selection of drinks and exquisite cakes. Thanks to all of you for looking after us so well.

Class 4 proved to be the most competitive with Thomas Finn’s 300 setting down a clear marker. Augustyn Wegera was closest at 298, just ahead of Danny Keichl and Fred Kirschner with one of his best runs for a while. Christoph Rabenseifner and Piero Bettetini were the only others over 290 and again a large proportion of no runs including Toenu Sepp who would normally expect to be around the top of the chart. One very embarrassed and highly experienced competitor explained that he had managed to turn his liner through 90 degrees while tightening up the plug, yet the car still nearly got to 200 before it was shut down.

Augustyn Wegera Volker Besang Thomas Finn

Last up were the Class 5 cars, possibly suffering most from the uneven track surface. In general speeds are lower at Kapfenhardt because of the elevation of the track and not helped by low pressure and high temperature on the day. Best speed on the first day was Danielle Duran’s car at 336 with Michel Duran close by at 334, yet the runs were very different. Danielle’s car came straight up while Michel’s did its usual trick of droning round lap after lap at around 180 before getting its heels under it and up to speed. Five more runners were over 330 but none close to the Durans, leaving it all to play for on the following day. Despite the costs involved the class is the biggest by far with 27 entries on the day, well 26 actually as a miscalculation for fuel allowance left my 10 overweight with the much heavier 4mm bridle, oops.

Another lovely day on Sunday and a nervy start for Lynn as the previous runners on the list failed to beat what her new car was capable of, if it all went well that is? Off it went, climbing happily into the 240s with herself deciding to press the button at 247 where it stayed for the eight laps. The next four competitors were already faster but had to run to preserve their positions.  Lauri Teder and Volker Besang both improved slightly but not enough to test Lembit or Rain Teder although Lembit did run again and in a most spectacular fashion, overtaking Rain for first place and breaking the track record into the bargain.

Lembit Vaher Lynn, Volker, Raphael Hannes Virunurm Dieter Hecht

Often competitors chose not to take runs if their position looks strong, but this was not the case in Class 2. Unusually, nine improved their speeds in round two, changing the finishing order completely. Gyoergi Bondor, Volodimir Smolnikov and Gabor Dobrosci all put themselves into contention, but Lembit also increased his speed by 2kph to put the result beyond doubt but still very close from second to fourth.

Apart from the core business of racing, it is fascinating to see what is on offer on the sale bench and other items brought along. In the car park a lovely Fiat Topolino, the odd Porsche and a Smart car version of a Moke. Otto had a complete range of engines and spares and a new PiccoLinus car for sale at just under 5,000 euros, as well as a couple of second hand Russian cars for around 1,000. A good look at these revealed some very questionable engineering during their lives, including engine mounting threads that had broken out, not such a bargain? Something else that did concern us, having seen several bridles fail inspection previously, was a new titanium bridle for sale that had bends so tight that the metal had thinned to nigh on 1mm below the minimum thickness. It was so obvious, even to the eye and a vernier confirmed it. Bit naughty if you had shelled out that amount of money only to have it fail inspection.  This should have been spotted, as presumably the ones sold previously from this source may also be suspect and will this be picked up?

Herbert Tinauer's latest project Otto Stroebel 'sale bench'

Wolfgang Schmid has been busy after finishing his superb Maseratis, this time a beautiful Cobra in maroon metalflake with cream leather interior. Doors, bonnet and boot all opened, to reveal a faux four cylinder engine concealing a standard single cylinder glow motor with the throttle operated by the gear lever in the cockpit. Herbert Tinauer who had rebuilt the Malik Rossi 10 we featured some while ago had brought along another interesting project, an open wheel 10cc car with a Dooling motor from the collection of Manfred Pfefferle. He also had some brand new reproduction Dooling crankcases of unknown origin that found eager customers. A bag produced a couple of McCoy 61s that had been severely trimmed for speed work. There have been several of Manfred’s cars that have come onto the market recently, another example of the huge collections that have been built up in the past and now being disposed of slowly after the unfortunate demise of the owners.

Wolfgang Schmid's lovely AC Cobra

3b seems to have lost its way over the years with two young Estonians, Janis and Laurin Meier as definite juniors and Mikka Doering competing against Ihor Safianyk, a long and established competitor. Mikka did improve his speed to take second place but one wonders if the rules for the class and who competes needs to be re-examined? Class 3 was something of an anti climax as well with none of the top three running and only Jan-Erik Falk improving his speed. Philipp Meier now campaigning the ex Otto Stroebel NSC car with a Profi motor is slowly getting to grips with this new discipline and the only other runner over 270.  Steve Turley had a good run, only for his engine to lock up after the run and do a grinding job on the tyres and another scuffed body as it ran onto the grass. Nineteen ‘nulls’ for the class though was not a wonderful advert.

After the excitement of Saturday in Class 4 it was only Toenu Sepp who made any inroads with his single run at 298 taking second place from Augustyn Wegera. Thomas Finn did run again and did increase his speed slightly but another nineteen ‘nulls’ on the sheet. Jan-Erik Falk and Urs Bach did get runs in, but well off the pace. In Class 5, nothing less than the mid 330s will see any hope of the podium and one by one the runners came up short. Otto Stroebel did record 333 but that was not going to be enough. A moment of excitement for Ando Rohtmets who insisted on the mop being readjusted before his run, yet it looked too low to me, and so it proved as his car took the entire mop head with it before dropping it off and then hitting it each time round. I am not sure about the ribbon mops as cars can easily pass through without triggering the cut-off but this one was leaving flags of material on each car. In the end the battle for the top spot was a Duran family affair with Michel adding 3kph to his Saturday speed to depose Danielle, who did not press the button.

Right on schedule that was it and the new timing system ensured a relatively quick start to the presentations, please note NAVIGA with their usual four hours delay. After the round of thank you and presentations to all those that had helped prepare and run the meeting it was wine and engraved glasses for the top three in each class. To a great round of cheers, Estonia won the huge Wanderpreis. It is most unusual to hear losers cheering so loudly, but for once, the Swiss team would not have to lug this monster trophy home. A bit of clearing up and the small matter of trips home, long road journeys for some and flights for others.

Raphael Zaugg Horst Denneler Wolfgang Schmid Volker Besang 'Suzanne'

The Winners
All results available on the speedmodelcar website

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3b

Class 3

Lembit Vaher
Rain Teder     Volker Besang
Lembit Vaher
Volodimir Smolnikov
Ihor Safianyk
Mikka Doering    Lauri Teder
Andrii Smolnikov
Daniela Schmutz  Florian Baumann
Class 4

Class 5

Schwartzvald Wander Preis

Thomas Finn
Toenu Sepp   Augustyn Wegera
Michel Duran
Danielle Duran   Michail Gorbunzow
Estonian 'dream team'

Our trip home started with a bit of fun as a 'drive away' from a petrol station shut everything down. Took ages to sort out who owed what, but not before a lady had paid for our fuel as well as hers. My German is not up to sorting out problems like that? Not sure how it was elsewhere but my goodness, how it has rained since the Monday afternoon. Torrential rain on the Autoroute reduced everything to a crawl and then came news that the M25 had closed due to sinkholes. Traffic chaos reigned in southeast England, but for once it worked in our favour as the closure of the M25 meant that the Dartford tunnel was deserted. Still raining though with over a month’s rain in two days alone.

Another great week enjoying the delights of the Black Forest, the hospitality of the Jaegerhoff and spending time with the members of the RGS. It was also great to see David Giles, ex European champion and record holder, and June there for the duration, with David promising to make a new bridle for his car. David still holds the longest standing British record of the modern era, set in 2010.