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Where can I run my tethered car?

The Retro Racing Club
 and the
Great Carlton Raceway

One of the greatest frustrations for tethered car enthusiasts has the lack of opportunity to run their cars in Britain. If you were a member of the BTCA and raced either a modern FEMA car or a more vintage model, then there were the European tracks, but for the collector, home builder and fun runner there was little opportunity, unless you were prepared to risk the compass circle at Old Warden, and its propensity for wrecking cars. It was something of a red-letter day then, when it was announced that the inaugural meeting of Peter Hill’s Great Carlton Raceway would be on 12th June 2011. 

Oliver putting the 'Goer' on the line Oliver's 'school car' PAW 'lightweight'

The Retro Racing Club holds a unique position, having been set up by Peter Hill in 1996 to ‘Encourage the building and running of tethered racing cars of the more traditional type.’ This was later extended to include vintage tethered hydroplanes as well. Peter started by publishing a regular newsletter that ran to seventy issues over twenty two years and then expanded the club’s activities by offering numerous drawings, castings, and a variety of tyres to assist those interested in building or restoring cars.

Almost a 1066 Conquest Steve's 'Ollie's Rocket Racer' Running as it used to be

Conscious of the need for a facility to run cars, Peter built a track at his home, which became the regular venue for Retro Club members for fun competitions and thoroughly enjoyable ‘days out’. Apart from the couple of portable poles that were set up on car parks in the South West, the track at Souldrop was the only permanent facility available in this country. This was used extensively until the end of the 90s, when a move to Lincolnshire brought an end to the ‘Souldrop Speedway’ and the opportunity to run cars.

There were promises and hopes surrounding possible sites for new tracks which all come to nought and the BMCC portable track did offer some facility until that group imploded so spectacularly. The only prospect on the horizon was that Peter did intend to build a new track when time and money allowed. Eventually construction did start, but an unfortunate series of health problems and family tragedies meant that the track was not finished until 2010.

Dick Roberts' sidecar             Peter Hill's 1066 MRC Faster than a speeding bullet?

The track at Great Carlton is 7 laps to the ¼ mile and with the pouring of a wide apron during the 2013 season offers the ideal and unique opportunity to have a run with anything vintage or vintage style, as long as a certain degree of common sense is involved speedwise. Since the Retro Club has been in operation, members have build dozens of cars of amazing variety, as well as rescuing and restoring original models, and here is a chance to try them out.

Beautiful Cleveland air-car Russian 'school car' Cox 049 'flyer'

The regular meetings have shown that the track is a viable proposition, and lets hope it encourages more people to run what they have, and build a few more suitable cars. If you have an interest in tethered cars, especially being able to run them, then it is certainly worth joining the Retro Racing Club. For further details of the Club and the long list of available plans, both for cars and tethered hydroplanes, contact Peter Hill by the power of electronic communication at  arty.pole@gmail.com

Wallace and Grommit car with Green Frog Pumpkin with aero motor converted to a twinshaft

New Class of car

Peter has proposed a new class for 2019 based on a direct drive 2.5cc motor, either one of the many commercial twinshafts or with wheels attached directly to the crankshaft of a single ender. A clutch can be be added between the motor and the wheel if desired. Rytm, Eureka and KMD twinshafts are freely available and there are regular ads for suitable cars from the Baltic States and beyond, such as these examples below.

Ready to run imports, plenty to chose from on eBay.com

Above left: various designs built on different home-made pans and bodies. Above right: the two readily available twinshaft motors, RYTM and Eureka plus a scale period Fl car. Oliver "Maserati" with a replica Jaguar twin-shaft fitted, plus a wooden bodied car that could easily be "with a bit of detailing" turned into a 1950's Fl car. This has the cylinder to the rear and the small Tee-bar is used to adjust the compression.

Left, the standard Russian 'schools car' kit. The blue car is to the plan whilst the silver car has the top body cut out repositioned to allow better access to the compression screw and extended fuel pipes for easier fuelling. The car number 4 on the kit box is a modified version with the engine flipped over so compression screw at the back, larger wheels and extended front axle

As long as you avoid the 'ever hopeful' vendors, it should be possible to be on the track for around £200 and a long lasting acquaintance with the push stick.

For a 'build it yourself' version for the new class, see Steve Betney's superb build article.

Provisional track dates for 2019

Meetings at Great Carlton provisional dates, most are Sundays.

April 28th  May 12th  June 23rd  July 21st or 28th Aug Friday 23rd  Sept 15th  Oct Friday 18th