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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.

Track dates for 2019

Meetings at Great Carlton, most are Sundays.

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

Hannah Bypasses Gt Carlton

With the country in the grips of yet another storm, prospects for the first track day of the year did not seem too bright at one stage. Certainly, Saturday was wet, very cold and extremely windy but Hannah appeared to be wandering off up north leaving Sunday looking relatively dry. In the event, not only was it dry but warm and sunny by mid morning, sufficient to get the tables and chairs out. The chance to blow out the winter cobwebs and run a car was sufficient to ensure one of the largest turnouts for a very long while, with parking spaces at a premium. Only illness and ongoing domestic issues stopped it being the biggest ever. Lovely to see Keith Bragg back in action after a rough winter and the Monks, less than 24 hours after a long haul flight.

Enjoying the sun after Hannah left via the North Sea

Several new and refurbished cars on show that we could marvel at, vintage, modern and something never before seen in this country. John Goodall had his usual box full of goodies, including an original, series one Oliver 2.5 Tiger with a twinshaft motor that had us all guessing and an Eastern European aircar that adds a new dimension to those described in Steve Betney’s article. Several of us had seen this particular device on ebay, but John pressed the buy button. Remembering Oliver’s ‘flying tail’ car, John’s with its distinctly powerful KMD motor would be interesting to say the least.

Original Oliver Tiger 2.5  Eastern European aircar

The only true vintage cars were three that had belonged to the late Dr Rankin. Two of these he had built from scratch for DC Wildcat motors, as he lived just round the corner from the DC factory in Barnoldswick and the other a M&E Wasp in almost original condition. As none of these had been started in sixty years and were found completely gummed up and covered in muck, it was going to be a happy few minutes on a starting cord to get them fired up. Indeed, it was to be the firing up principle that caused the major frustrations of the day. Several of the cars for the new direct drive class had new TMP or RYTM motors that refused to run, even if they could be turned over. The motor in the lovely Ferrari 312 started OK, but a split fuel tank had that back in the car. Steve Betney had his Lotus and Cooper cars that he has described, but again the motors proved reluctant. His new weapon was an RC motor bike, converted for tether use, which would have been fun to get away, if the motor could be persuaded into life. Something of a pattern emerging here.

Oliver and John with Steve's bike Starting the Ensign in Doc 2 Doc 1 after its first run in 60 years

Dick Roberts was first up with his ‘sidecar’ and the newly rebored Oliver motor. Jan Hunning did the honours with his non-electric finger, Hugh horsed it off and various stopwatches agreed that it was going fast, new track record, but still not leaned out fully. Jan then put his Russian car on the line with its RYTM that starts perfectly and reeled off the laps in the low 50s using larger tyres than the standard ones. Next up was Doc 1 with its DC Wildcat motor. Once Jan realised which way it went, sixty years just rolled away as it ran happily in the mid 30s until the tank was dry.

More frustrations and swearing in the pit area as diesels refused to run so back on the line for Dick, with Jan giving the motor a little tweak. It was still not completely clean, but was noticeably quicker for another new record and the first recorded run at Gt Carlton over 70mph. Congratulations to Dick for persevering with this radical design. Unfortunately, John Goodall’s KMD motor refused to run cleanly so that we never got a chance to see how this type of car would handle the track. It does have suspension on the coupled front wheels but relies on the prop thrust line, vestigial wing and centrifugal force from the cable to keep it all balanced.

Steve and Babs make tank repairs Dick supervises Jan Two new track records

Two diversions on the day were a viewing of Peter Hill’s marvellous O gauge railway layout that would put many club railways to shame. Dozens of locos, wagons, buildings and accessories, all landscaped with hundreds of feet of Hornby track, points, crossing and turntables, all nicely ballasted. If that was not enough to keep us amused, he has also built a boating lake so that if the cars don’t run, we can revert to steam, clockwork or electricity for a bit of fun.

Twinshaft motor, Elfin based? Part of the O gauge layout Pete Hughes testing the pond

Thanks to Peter for hosting the day and Anne for the copious quantities of tea, and great to see so many people turning up. Just a pity that too many motors refused to join in the fun. Bit like hydro racing really? More new cars in the offing for the next meeting, scheduled for May 12th

May Track Day

With the May meeting following so close to the April one, it was decided to use it as a practice day for those who attended. Only a few runs were timed and those included my Layat, which recorded just under 35mph. The Russian diesel now fitted seems to be running in gradually and it now completes a run without slowing down.

Pete Hughes 1.5cc Glo Cat aircar made a 34.8 mph run and both his Cox Prop-Rod and all alloy .049 wheel driven car was stable at 30mph, which is more than can be said for the Wallace and Grommit special. After fitting a new prop it started to go faster until a transverse oscillation started bending the alloy pan-handle. "A steel one will be fitted before it’s next outing". Dave Coe had brought some spares along and Keith Bragg’s, ex-radio stockcar, also changed hands. However, the highlight of the day was viewing the new Redfin twinshaft motor, which Pete Hughes had brought along, and yes, the Club Raylites fitted perfectly.

Thanks to Peter Hill for the report. Next track day 23rd June.