Home     Updates     Hydros     Cars     Engines     Contacts     Links     Racing     ←Previous           Contact On The Wire

The Buckminster Tether Car Group 

When the BMFA Buckminster site first opened after the first lockdown of 2020 it was for season ticket holders only. Aaron and I bought season tickets so that we could use the track. We knew it was OK to run on as I had done a couple of runs with the Buckminster volunteer group.


Little did we know at the time how these family tether car running sessions with a picnic on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon would grow.

We went most weeks when the weather was good. We ran mainly old timer cars, at the time there was no safety fencing and it felt really strange having only really run on the tracks in Europe which have safety fencing and a protected area to stand behind when you are running your car.

The volunteers were working on making the track safer to use. The first was Richard’s protected area that we could stand behind.

The other thing we missed from the European tracks was a timing system that showed us the cars speed lap by lap. We tried stop watches but they just didn’t cut the ice. I managed to source a timing system from Russia. Running tether cars was feeling a lot more like it should.

Jan Huning joined us at our little events and we began to get the hang of running diesel powered cars with twinshaft engines. Each week we got faster. Aaron and I also started to run the Russian 1.5cc glow engine cars.

Jan with his Oliver Two Five replica and home built twinshaft Oliver pushing off Aaron's 1.5cc Class 1 car

Early August was the unofficial track opening event, there was a good turn out of tether car runners from the various organisations.

Start area Aaron Monk, our premier 'horser'
FEMA 3B cars and an original Dooling Arrow Martin Coe with a Redfin based car

During this event I was asked when people could come and run cars or when the next event was. I started an email group and just let them know when we would be at Buckminster running cars. It became quite popular and we started to get regular spectators and people interested in what we doing. It helped that our running days coincided with some big model flying events held on the weekends. We got a lot of interest.

So here we are now. We have a name for the original email group and a new email address buckytcar@btinternet.com, which consists of a group of tether car enthusiasts who want to enjoy running cars and the company of like-minded people. There is also now an active Facebook page for the  Group for up to date information and where items can be posted. Search for Buckminster Tether Car Group.

For next year we have a calendar of events, some days will be track days - just running cars, and a couple of competitions, Handicap and Nominated speed. These have been chosen so you won’t need the latest, fastest, car as any car will be able to compete on an equal footing. These are intended to be fun events to encourage people to have a go.

2022 Calendar for the Buckminster Track

The track is available on an informal basis for much of the season, dates can be checked on the BMFA Buckminster site. Below are the scheduled events where the activities will be organised and appropriate equipment available for use. All events are of course subject to any future covid restrictions in place and may be subject to change.

Date Event   Date Event  
April 9th/10th Spring Gala SAM 35 July 17th Track Day/speed BTCG
May 14th Try tether cars BTCG Aug 7th Track day/speed BTCG
May 15th Track day/speed BTCG Sept 24th Speed weekend BTCG
June 12th Track day/speed  BTCG Sept 25th Speed weekend BTCG
June 25th/26th/27th Retrofest SAM 35 Oct 15th/16th Octoberfest SAM 35

Note the dates for the Retrofest in June are correct. It will be held over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday in 2022

Competitions: During the season SAM will be running two competitions at their events, the first for 2.5cc aircars in memory of the late Dick Roberts and the second for the Redfin Trophy for 2.5cc twinshaft cars. Updated information about developments at the track and rules for both these competitions are now published on the SAM website.

Donations for further infrastructure and track projects are still needed and can be made by cheque payable to the BMFA and with "Buckminster Tethered Car Track Fund" written in the back and sent to Sian Sargeant at BMFA Chacksfield House, 31 St Andrews Road, Leicester LE2 8RE, or to me Steve Betney, at 20 Fairfax Road, London NW6 4HA for me to send on if you prefer. For bank transfer payment details, please contact Sian at sian@bmfa.org.

BTCG Tether Car Experience Weekend

An excellent weekend's sport, although it did not quite turn out as planned, with just one newcomer taking advantage of the day. A wander round the vast site with two aeromodelling championships taking part gave a clear indication that attendances at many events are thin at present? The level of uncertainty and fuel costs do seem to be having an effect, not just with modelling. However, those that did make it enjoyed some stunning weather on Saturday and have a first look at the smoother track surface. A huge vote of thanks and our gratitude to Oliver and Aaron Monk and other volunteers who have spent many long hours building a track grinder and then several days of very hard work grinding away the high spots. It was immediately noticeable how much smoother the surface was as the cars were a lot more stable, keeping the wheels on the ground for longer to allow much faster speeds. 

Jan Huning's two cars proved ultra reliable as usual, both his RYTM and home built twinshafts starting easily with a flick of the wheels and relished the smoother track, with new PBs for each. The very short Oliver two-five replica is still a bit lively and seldom survives a weekend without removing a little more metal from the castings. The practice in the 1950s was to make smaller and smaller rear tyres on the twinshafts before moving to geared drive, but Nigel Bathe has gone in the opposite direction by fitting larger wheels with modern style tyres, reasoning that the more powerful Redfin motors would be able to turn them, which turned out to be true. No sign of the motor bogging down as it just about equalled the fastest ever speed in the UK by a 'double ender' and just short of John Goodall's unofficial diesel record set in Sweden with a Slabang car.

Someone else showing the benefit of a bit of lateral thinking and not sticking with tradition was newcomer Ian Wingfield. He had built a very nice Oliver BRM replica, the rarest of the Oliver cars, with a Redfin providing the urge. Damped front suspension as many others have already done, but he had gone one stage further with the entire Redfin motor on damped suspension. After introductory runs and a go at horsing, the BRM was put on the line, started straight away for a very smooth run, showing that this approach does have mileage. We know all about unsprung weight, but the damping just absorbs any tendency to bounce that cars with solid rear ends  exhibit.

Rare Oliver BRM Full suspension, front and rear

Oliver Monk has already run his Oliver Alfa Romeo with a motor that he converted to glow, and has now converted a Eureka twinshaft as well, which he ran for the first time. This is another avenue that can repay the effort, especially if you are averse to the smell of diesel fuel. It is worth remembering that even back in the late 40s, commercial diesel motors were offered with glow conversions as standard. Lynn Blowers' aged Wilma 3b had the benefit of a pipe transplant as it would never come up previously, the thought that the pipe was far too small. It was a 'shelf queen' that had been appropriated, having had a lot of work done to recover some very poor engineering, so how would it go after its spell in the car hospital? Started OK, quick twiddle of the needle and then it was away, straight up, 30mph quicker than previously and then the curse of the button. Almost at the instant the button was pressed, it turned over, seriously altering the superstructure. Almost solid front end, solid back end, oops!

Two variations on front suspension 3D printed vintage Bentley

Mike Francies and Gerry Best have two Redfin cars, both with 3D printed fittings, including tanks, curly carbs and more.  Mike has produced a beautiful, 3D printed, scale body, based on an old Bentley, including a complex exhaust system. Both these cars start so easily, with Mike giving his the most gentle of pushes, both happy at around 80mph, with more to come. The Redfin motors are so powerful that wheelspin after the launch makes horsing interesting. Andy Hobbins had a new Redfin car in chassis form as he had only bought the kit six days previously. The compression setting on these motors is critical, but once the sweet spot is found, the motors run very cleanly.

It is a pity that supplies of Lev's 2.1 car parts have dried up and that the motors are no longer freely available as these cars are proving to be very stable and consistent. Nigel Bathe has a tricycle version that was showing 107mph on the timing system and quite happy on the new track surface. The more conventional one built by Oliver Monk changed hands at the Swapmeet last October and took to the track for the first time. A couple of runs indicated that the tank needs moving a tad, but 93mph for a first go was more than acceptable. The only 'heavy metal' was David Giles' 1066 Conquest with a Nordec providing the urge. This is a noisy beast and needs a very determined push to get it away where it thunders round at just on 75mph. If this seems a bit slow for a 10cc car, that is deliberate as it is geared up to keep the speed within reasonable bounds. Currently that track does not have kickboards, known technically as aufgangbands. These are in hand and when complete should allow the safe running of faster and heavier cars.

Maiden run for Ian Wingfield Mike Francies, winner of the nomination Nigel Bathe, fastest of the weekend

The forecast for Sunday was less hopeful but it was not until mid afternoon that we had a light shower. The plan was to have two rounds of competition with nominated speed and a new, individual handicap target speed for each car. The plan to use class records mitigates against all bar the twinshaft cars so the new system was being tried, although the initial figures required a bit of upgrading after the speeds that were being achieved on Saturday. As the first round was drawing to a close the sky darkened and the first few spots of rain fell, so the 2.1s and David Giles brought a conclusion to the day as by then, everyone had more than enough running and it was all hands to the pump to get the site cleared before everything got too wet. www.youtube.com

When the paperwork was done, Mike Francies ran out the winner of the nominated speed with .271mph error, Nigel Bathe 2nd with .646mph and Jan Huning 3rd at .751mph. Even with the revised handicaps, most beat their target speeds, up to an impressive 9mph, a spectacular improvement. Nigel Bathe achieved the fastest speed in both 2.5cc (92mph)and 2.1cc (105.646mph) classes.

From horsed to horsing

June Tether cars at Buckminster

June is turning out to be a very busy month for the car enthusiasts with one International meeting, two domestic events in two weeks and a couple of private track days as well. Add to this holidays and the cost of petrol, then there will inevitably be decisions to be made, but in spite of all this, a goodly turnout arrived for a session of practice, followed by two rounds of racing.

By way of experiment the first round was held before lunch to give competitors a chance to gather themselves and make any alterations or repairs before the second round after a leisurely, continental style, lunch break.

The time scale from arriving home from Kapfenhardt to setting out for Buckminster precluded any track action from OTW, so most of the day was spent horsing, instead of relying on someone significantly younger and a lot fitter to do it all.

The work put in By Oliver and Aaron in grinding the track is certainly paying dividends, as almost every car running was even faster than the previous meeting, some by a very significant margin. 80+mph is now the norm for most of the Redfin and Rytm cars. Dave Cunliffe had travelled up from Wales with a lovely selection of retro style cars that he had built, and mostly with home built engines as well. Dave does all his own casting as well, just to add excitement to the projects.

Dave Cunliffe's super models Replica of Jim Dean's 5cc car

The competition was run with both nominated speed and individual handicaps based on the previous best speeds of each car. Three cars finished within 1km of their nominated speeds with Jan Huning first and second again, just 0.096km away from his target. He did not fare so well in the handicap as his TEMP schools car was faster than it had ever been before, although his little Oliver Two-Five with the home built twinshaft was closer, just under 0.2kmh slower than previously.

David Giles’ impressive Nordec powered Conqueror did him no favours as it was again, faster than ever before. Ian Wingfield has his Oliver BRM, with front and rear suspension running so stably that it was just on the 80mph mark, 9mph above his target speed and still more to come with further work on settings and tyre sizes. Engine guru Taff Bolen was on hand, along with Dave Smith, hoping to give Dave’s rebuilt car a test, but a new needle valve refused to work. There have been all sorts of problems with needle valves recently, either not screwing in far enough or changing settings radically with minimal movement, what Taff refers to as the rich, lean, rich needle. Mind you, a trip to the team race circle saw quite incredible amounts of needle twiddling by several turns between warm up and running. Who would catch a Carbon Fibre model, one handed, as it flew by at a rate of knots as a matter of practice and call it fun?

Having the first run before lunch meant a leisurely clear up in the afternoon before the long trek home and a chance to reflect on the day? We again shared with the JMA and anyone that thinks tethered car racing is expensive should look at these fast jet models, add a nought or two on to the cost of everything, plus the van to transport it all. Lurking in the hangar was the most beautiful, fully detailed and very large, scale jet, every detail as in the full sized version and bought ready built, phew.

The tethered car community is pretty buoyant at present with more people joining and building models, yet some of the aero modelling disciplines are really struggling with numbers, just two pairs in the team race circle all day.

Thanks to everyone who helped set up and run the day’s event and to Ian for the use of his back up timing equipment  www.youtube.com.

Phew, it was hot!
Buckminster Centenary Weekend

A very long and hot few days for everyone at Buckminster on what was forecast to be the hottest weekend of the year so far, but luckily, the record temperatures were still two days away. Still, with almost no wind and bright sunshine, it was as near perfect as it could be for the garden parties celebrating the Centenary of the SMAE, a warbirds weekend and our own track day. Unfortunately, it also coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Bristol MAC, which took precedence for some of our regulars. Worth watching on the field was the warbird display when they put seventeen models into the air at the same time for a (relatively) co-ordinated session, that did include every model looping at the same time on numerous occasions, and even more amazingly, it all passed without a single mid-air. Plenty of track action on the Saturday with Nigel, Mike and Gerry having brought a whole host of new and uprated cars to try out in preparation for the race day on Sunday. The KMD powered spur drive car is now a reality and represents a realistic alternative to a Redfin, as no more of these will be available in the short term. Inevitably one or two teething problems along the way, but the performance was impressive and an updated version should be on the way soon.

Seeking the shade Ken Morrissey's record breakers Solid pine speed plane

Lots of reproduction Oliver castings have been fitted with RYTM motors with varying degrees of success and Nigel has grafted one of these into a Bottoms Up, with damped front suspension, but his motor is singing a lovely song and along with Jan Huning, shows that these freely available motors will still provide a very competitive car.

Prototype spur drive KMD Exceedingly fast RYTM 'bottoms Up' 3D printed Bentley, Redfin chassis

The hangar that we usually use as a cool and shady base is hosting the Centenary Exhibition for the next few months, featuring models from the very earliest, through some milestone and historic planes, right through to the present day. Of particular interest to us were the speed models, including Ken Morrisey’s record breakers and a selection of older versions from Peter Halman, right back to Peter Wright’s planes from the early 50s. Engines ranging from Stanger’s V4 four-stroke to a Carter Dooling and then in the house, a huge assemblage of kits and engines. Well worth a good look round during the next meeting.

Whichever way you looked at it, it was going to be hot, so the OTW gazebo was dug out as a base for operations, whilst others sought shade wherever they could. The day followed the now established pattern of free practice from 10 am with the first round of competition at 12 for nominated speed and handicap speed. The handicap is set on the best previous performance of the car and is the target speed to achieve or beat. Ian Wingfield had kindly brought along his timing system to use for recording speeds throughout the day, saved a lots of maths converting kph to mph.

Gerry Best, Redfin 'Schools car' A bit lively Front springing really working

Round one saw the fastest run of the day at over 107mph by Nigel with his newly streamlined Yaroslavsk 2.1 car. Lyndon Bedford now has his vintage ETA ‘Terry Special’ style car running reliably into the mid 70s, with more to come and with the exception of Oliver and Hugh who missed their needle settings by a long way, everyone else was well into the 80mph bracket. Gerry Best, who had his Redfin Schools car perform some remarkable acrobatics at the last meeting, added a significant amount of lead that tamed it down with speeds in the mid 80s. In fact, having nominated a speed of 86mph as a guess was less than 0.01mph away, gaining him first place. A close second and model of consistency was Ian Wingfield with his Redfin BRM that boasts front and rear suspension. With runs of 81.33mph and 81.53mph he was a close second at 0.332mph error. In terms of the handicap speeds, both Lyndon and Ian were over 11mph faster than previously with seven cars all exceeding their target speeds, which will be updated for the next meeting.

Nigel Bathe on horsing duties Streamlined 2.1 Yaroslavsk Mike Francies, Redfin

After showing so much promise in practice, Mike Francies experienced niggling problems with his cars that prevented him getting any runs, and Lynn Blowers’ aged Wilma 3b had clearly not recovered from ten laps on its back at the last meeting as it persisted in stopping as soon as it cleared its throat. What was gratifying is that most competitors have their cars sufficiently sorted that the round 2 speeds were little different form the first round, apart from those slowly creeping up on settings. With temperatures still going up everyone was happy to call it a day and reflect on a good weekend on many counts. Apart from the A14 being blocked on our way home that is, but we saw several lovely little villages that were clearly not intended to handle the diverted traffic from a major route? www.youtube.com

 Results 17th July 2022:  Nominated speed and handicap speed competition



Round 1

Round 2

Nominated Speed






Oliver Monk

2.5cc Oliver Retro









Oliver Monk

2.5cc Hot Rod






71 mph est



Lyndon Bedford

2.5cc Vintage ETA









Lyndon Bedford

5cc Vintage ETA









Nigel Bathe

2.1cc Junior car









Nigel Bathe

Redfin Retro









Nigel Bathe

2.5cc Schools car









Ian Wingfield

2.5cc Redfin Oliver BRM









Gerry Best

2.5cc Redfin Schools car









Mike Francies

2.5cc Redfin




Hugh Blowers

2.1cc Junior









Lynn Blowers

3.5cc Wilma 3b



Next BTCG meeting Sunday 7th August