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OTW Spring Tour 2022
'How to avoid the Jubilee celebrations'

After three years, numerous false starts, cancellations and dashed hopes, our annual spring tour was on, but even then, ongoing problems with P&O required a late change to Eurotunnel. Two and a half years of assorted equipment that should have made the trip previously meant a very full car for the jaunt down the autoroutes. What a pleasure the French system is with regular rest and service areas and contactless payment for all tolls? A spare day had been factored in to cross the border and visit a long time Swiss racer with a fabulous workshop and extensive collection of important cars and engines to drool over.

Religious holidays are far more widely celebrated in Europe than here, so Ascension Day and a subsequent holiday day saw preparations well in hand for the Tell Race at the Witterswill track. Not having run a car in anger for three years and two cars that we had never run before led to a pretty hectic day of training to find settings and the technique of pushing off modern cars, an entirely new experience for the other half of the team. Only one minor complication was that no one at the track could horse right handed so the ACW 1.5 car became a non-runner by default. The 3.5 Wegera car had undergone some drastic modifications having not recorded a run at its only previous outing and was showing some encouraging numbers. Michael Schmutz was busy building an entirely new car from parts he had prepared previously, all being observed and recorded by a team from a national auto magazine. To this end a wonderful display of cars from the earliest to the modern had been assembled to illustrate the development of the sport. This is of course an era that we completely missed out on in the UK so below is a gallery of cars that span little more than 30 years from the collections of Peter Aralutzki, Urs Bach and Werner Metzger

After two years of ‘you know what’, the international situation, illness, accidents, retirements, and the ‘empty spaces’ previously published, attendances at both meetings were significantly reduced with just ourselves and Horst Denneler visiting Switzerland. The 1.5 class is very competitive there with results very close with Florian Baumann ending up on the top step this time round. He did offer to horse the British car but changing direction proved too much for him, but thanks for helping out. The numbers on the clock proved that the work on the motor had been successful. No runners in 2.5cc and something of a surprise in 3.5cc with the OTW car finishing the first round on top of the list with a new British record. This was not to last as Michael Schmutz horsed his mum’s car to first place with Horst Denneler in third, so a most unexpected place on a podium for the first time ever for ‘yours truly’.

Michael Schmutz and Florian Baumann working hard all weekend

Only Urs Bach running a 5cc as ex Champion Danni Kiechel has retired after a long and illustrious career to take responsibility as ‘grill meister’. Problems with the old Picco pans and the arrival of the Linus car and the all carbon alternatives saw several almost identical cars lined up on the table, the odd ones out being Roland Bendell’s unusual composite model and Michael’s new, homebuilt, all carbon car. This did the business to give him top spot with Peter Arlautzki second and Gilbert Huguenin in third with his, all new carbon car. Tony Della-Zoppa was running his electric car with entirely new electronics, including a new ESC that refused to do what it was supposed to so that his runs were at very modest speed.

All the electronic 'gubbins' air cooled 3bhp from one battery pack Tidy layout inside a conventional car

With the possibility of holding the European Championship at the track next year, there is a plan for a comprehensive rebuilding of the safety fence, so ever open to an opportunity, OTW made a cheeky offer for the old fence.

Anodised adornment on this Roibu car The 'noisy ends'

Having a hotel room that overlooks Basel airport gave no indication of a slow down in air travel and a viewing platform just a few yards from the runway was great for spotters and photographers with planes taking off and landing at frequent intervals, sometimes from opposite directions, which must have exercised the minds of the controllers and pilots. Gentle trip up the autobahn and through the hills to the Black Forest on Monday to reacquaint us with the delight that is the Jaegerhof hotel.

Class 1 Florian Baumann
Philipp Meier          Natalia Bach
Class 3B
Laurin & Janis Meier
Class 3 Daniella Schmutz
Hugh Blowers    Horst Denneler
Class 5 Michael Schmutz
Peter Arlautzki  Gilbert Huguenin

Kapfenhardt: Fred Kirschner Memorial Race
'All hands to the pump'

Day one at the track was a stark reminder of the problems facing so many organisations in that those who have the time to do the preparation are retired and getting older and those younger have to work. An unfortunate accident kept two of the normal workforce away so that the combined age of the four getting the track ready was a cool 307? Rather impressive was the thick yellow coating of pollen over absolutely everything. Thursday was dealing with the technical and domestic preparations and the arrival of extra hands who were more suited to these elements. Christoph Rabenseifner has been developing a superb and modern timing, recording and display system that he was fine tuning, but being in the depths of the forest with almost no 4g or t’internet was making progress difficult. For the three days of the event it was, as the heading suggests, all hands to the pump to run the galley, look after the timing, act as cable marshals, do the fuel and weight checks and so on, but this is now the way all meetings have to work.

Some further late cancellations through illness and travel difficulties reduced the entry list with just 70 cars registered compared with the hundred plus during the Grand Slam years. There was much discussion as to how future European events might look and what the timescale might be?

Friday is given over to training, but with many not arriving until Saturday morning there was not the usual pressure on the track. One of the most effective and sympathetic horsers is Lembit Vaher who explained to us how to understand what the car is doing and how to react, subtlety rather than brute force being his mantra. A leisurely lunch break allowed us a chance to look at some of the ‘extra cars’ that were being dug out. Following the sad death of founding club member, Fred Kirschner, the meeting was promoted as the Fred Kirschner Memorial Race and in a delightful touch, all the trophies for the meeting had been recycled from Fred’s lifetime career in tethered cars. Twenty-five old trophies, laser engraved with the RGS logo and class, but with the original engraving and plates left in place.

A large commemorative poster and decal had also been commissioned for the event and every competitor was presented with one of each. For the first time, there was to be an Old Timer race as an additional tribute to Fred. Saturday started with a briefing and a few moments of reflection and memory of Fred who was such an integral part of Kapfenhardt. The founder members each had a chair with their names woven into the seat, now just Horst Denneler is around from that group?

With no entries from Ukraine in 1.5cc, no one could get close to Rain Teder, even Lembit being 10kmh behind. He did improve in round 2 but the results did not change with Gyorgi Bondor 3kmh further down the list. Philipp Meier did improve in round 2 to overtake fellow SMMC Florian Baumann. Class 2 was almost done and dusted on Saturday with Gyorgi over 270kmh. Manu Finn did not get a time in round one but popped in a 268 in round 2 to demote Hannes Virunurm to third place. Juri Gontar had something break in the transmission of his car at around 250kph that then proceeded to freewheel for ages. As he put it, 'my car has good ball bearings’.

The sole competitor from Ukraine, Ihor Safiyanyk, closed out 3b by a country mile with his first run over 250kmh and 12kmh more than anyone else could muster. Laurin and Janis Meier’s cars did not perform to their best, but it is good to see two juniors horsing and running their own cars. Kenth Jansson also put Class 3 beyond reach in his first run with a new track record that had stood for many years. There was no further change in the finishing order, although ‘yours truly’ was more than happy to see 276 on the clock before pressing the button to break the British record for the second time in two weekends, but at the expense of a deranged rear suspension that has yet to be investigated.

Philipp Meier Aaron Monk Tonu Sepp pushing off for Lembit

The 5cc Class proved to be more competitive with the result in doubt until the last run of round 2. Huge disappointment for Tonu Sepp being disqualified in round 1 after a superb run as his car would not stop. There was a general level of disquiet with the mops that were being used in the stopper as these were fleece, rather than material so that the strips were tearing, rather than stopping the cars. Cars would come back with fleece round the bridle, plug and knock off, with bits strewn all around the track. The old Tyvek type mops work much better. Jan-Erik Falk did not get a run and neither did three other fancied runners so there was still all to play for on Sunday. Both Tonu and Jan-Erik redeemed themselves in round 2 with Jan-Erik running out the winner at 306kmh and Tonu just getting into second at 301. The leader at the end of Saturday was Laurent Kraznai who improved his speed by 4kmh to make a new French 5cc record on his return to racing.

Rain Teder way ahead in Class 1 Kenth Jansson new track record New National records for Laurent and Hugh

Class five is still the most popular with seventeen entries and the happiest chappie on Saturday without any shadow of doubt was Willi Hahnsen, who was jumping with joy and hugging everyone in sight after he registered over 330 for the first time for years, and with a car he had built himself. Only Tadeusz Koronka from Poland bettered this with a first round speed of 334kmh. Tonu Sepp was just behind Willi but suffered two puzzling episodes as the rear suspension of his car collapsed at the end of each run, leaving the car running on its skeg and front wheels. Examination on the bench could not explain it, but gives some indication of the huge physical stresses these 10cc cars experience when running. One by one, the other runners came up short, including the Durans, with neither car getting out of the 220s and world record holder Ando Rohtmets just creeping over 330.

MovoSprint to 10cc Dooling Thomas, Nils, Urs, Gabor, Peter

The last event on the Saturday was a nomination run for the quaintly named ‘old timers’, the earliest dating from 1956. The most impressive of these in terms of engineering was Nils Bjork’s 1964 Dooling powered car with an exquisite, hand beaten aluminium body. All cars ran, but quiet they were not with two less than 1km from the nominated speed and Thomas Finn just 0.021kmh away. Another moment of nostalgia was seeing cars from the late Mats Bohlin that had been brought from Sweden to find new owners. Mats made almost everything for his cars and engines so each is pretty much unique and superbly engineered in every respect.

The late Mats Bohlin's 2.5cc car Now off to Estonia for resatoration

On Saturday evening there was exodus to a nearby village for a banquet to celebrate the 80th birthday of Paul-Otto Stroebel, whose retirement from racing lasted just one winter as he was back on the track again, having competed at Monza, Basel, and Kapfenhardt on three successive weekends.

After two weeks of nigh on perfect weather, it would have been too much to hope that it could stay dry for the entire trip yet apart from a very early morning thunderstorm, the rain held off until the presentation that had to take place under the horsing cover. All of Fred’s trophies looked wonderful lined up, and as an idea a unique way of celebrating his life, allowed every competitor to take something away to remind them of the event and Fred. See right:

After the previous cancellations it was just a delight for everyone to be back at Kapfenhardt for a full European Trophy meeting, although tempered by the enforced absence of the Russian and Ukrainian competitors and all they bring to these events, including the usual tables of spares and items to otherwise tempt.

Something that will need to be addressed at an International level is the lack of horsers as Michael Schmutz undertook the bulk of it after Manu Finn retired hurt, but at the expense of his own racing and exceedingly grateful we were to him for this. Thanks to all for the huge amount of work required to put these races on and to everyone who chipped in to prepare and clear up. Suddenly the business of the tour was over and it was load up the car and back home to reflect on two weeks that we wondered whether they might ever happen? 1630 miles later and it had happened although much had changed along the way.

The Presentation
Horst Denneler Christoph Rabenseifner
Class 1
Rain Teder
(Gyorgi Bondor) Lembit Vaher
Class 2
(Gyorgi Bondor)
Hannes Virunurm  Manu Finn
Class 3
Kenth Jansson
Lauri Teder Daniella Schmutz

Class 3B
 Ihor Safiyanyk
Franz Blum    Lauri Teder

Class 4
Alberto Adreani Tonu Sepp
Class 5
Tadeusz Koronka
Tonu Sepp Willi Hahnsen
'Old Timers'
Nils Bjork  Manu Finn  (Gabor Dobrosci)
Urs Bach   Thomas Finn