Chairman's blog

Posted: Aug 25 2007, 11:19 PM

So. A new circuit track.
It sounds simple doesn't it! Adur Model Car Club have been seeking to build a new track since before I started racing 5 years ago. There are 3 key problems which need to be overcome to build a race track, I guess of any sort. I am pleased to say that AMCC have solved the first 2 and are working on the third.
Here's a a bit of the story. So why do we need a new track? Haven't we already got one?
Actually we have three, but neither the Oval or the Offroad tracks are suited to touring cars.
But we have a circuit. And it is a fine track. Grip levels are consistently high, and the track is easy to drive, but difficult to drive well.
However, it is a bit small with only a 13 meter straight.
The surface is also begining to break up from the weeds growing through.
I have been told that conditions were not ideal when the tarmac was laid, which may be the cause of our horticultural invaders.

Which meant we had a choice. Resurface or build a new track. Since the existing track was so small, this turned out to be something of a no brainer. But we needed to find some land.
Back in 2004, the club considered a number of options.

Meanwhile, holes were dug out of the track and filled with cold tarmac in an attempt to keep it going for a few more months.

Posted: Sep 7 2007, 11:31 PM

I Started a thread on the 3hobby forum today to discuss the track design.
It has already provoked some comment and useful feedback.

Posted: Sep 10 2007, 12:59 PM

So throughout 2004 and 2005, committee members were elected to pursue the aquisition of land on which to build a track.
At this time, we had a 5th scale section of the club, so we were attempting to find somewhere where it was possible to build a 5 meter wide track to a length in excess of 200 meters. Ultimately, in Sussex, this proved a hard thing to do.
With the 5th scale section forming a new club, striking out on their own at the end of 2005, we had a more reasonable set of requirements for the track. To just run electric and nitro 10th scale touring cars for the club.
The club focussed it's collective mind on what seemed achievable, and produced 2 sets of plans based on our current site at Adur Recrreation ground. Remaining at Adur Rec. offers a number of advantages.
  1. We already have some land, and a relationship with the landowner, Adur council.
  2. It is next to the airport, minimising the risk of being singled out for noise problems.
Armed with the plans in hand, in early 2006, the chairman and secretary had a meeting with the Council parks and gardens representative to discuss the development.
At that meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss further land aquisition to the East of the current area. Previously we had not considered this land because of the presence of a concrete basketball area. However, this area represented a much larger piece of land, and a greater opportunity for the club.
After some discussion in committee, it was decided that on the basis of "nothing ventured, nothing gained", we would produce plans for the larger area to the East.
I spent a happy couple of days pacing out and measuring the area. We needed to ensure that we could fence off the area, but still leave room for vehicle access into our compound. I wanted to maximise the length of the land to build the longest straight we could. It's about time that Nitro touring cars in Sussex were allowed to stretch their legs.
As our focus at this stage was still on 10th scale touring cars for the club only, the initial plans were for a track 3 meters wide throughout.
The next step was to request planning permission for the land.

Posted: Sep 17 2007, 04:04 PM

So what can I say about the planning permission process.

Having come out of the other side, I look back and think that it wasn't that difficult.
However, it didn't feel like that at the time.
I started the journey around March time.
First you have to navigate the councils website. Some councils are better than others. I had a look around because when you google on "planning pernmission", a lot of links come up all over the UK.
Adur's is actually one of the better websites, but that doesn't make it good or easy to use when you are taking your first baby steps into the world of planning.
Planning permission costs £256 for each application you make. Some simple applications are only £135, and I was hoping to qualify for the cheaper option. No such luck.
Having found the page with the forms, I had to make a selection as to which form fit our circumstances. The answer was none of them. If you want to build a house extention, or convert a premesis to a business, then it's all fairly well defined. If you want to build a race track on someone elses land, then nothing seems to fit.
Phoning the council gets you, (eventually), a sweet natured and well meaning civil servant, who clearly has no more idea than you do.
So knowing I didn't want to renovate my dwellinghouse, alter hedgerows, carry out work on trees, build a factory, or change a listed building, I selected a, (non-householder), form.
I took the bit between my teeth and started filling it out.
Problems came with deciding which sets of questions I needed to complete.
I knew I wasn't dealing with a dwellinghouse... (Why not just "house" for heavens sake), or agricultural buildings. nor a glasshouse, forestry, lighthouse, polytunnels or in fact any building, commercial or otherwise.
So I settled for a "change of use" planning permission, and ignored every question which had to do with plant, machinery, buildings, employees electricity supply and drainage.
I'm not going to list out everything I needed to put in the form. Suffice it to say, it was confusing, and took a couple of weeks to sort out.
Then I realised I needed to fill out a "Certificate B", where the site is owned by other persons.
And I needed scale drawings of the site and surrounding area with the changes marked on them to scale... and the only maps accepted are those from the ordnance survey, which you can download from the Adur planning site, at extra cost. Only about £20 or so, but still more expense.

So I've drawn the maps, I've completed the main form, I have filled out certificate B, and now we are 6 weeks on from the start date. If I had to do it again of course, it would be much faster, but just thinking about what options I needed, and making decisions took a lot of time.
I sent the forms in with the cheque. It's now a minimum of 8 weeks to get onto the planning cycle.

Having received a confirmation and reference number through the post, I now have to place a sign on the front of the "development", allowing interested parties to make representations to the council for deliberation in their meeting. I filled out the form provided, (lots and lots of forms involved with planning applications), put it in a waterproof plastic cover, (not provided), and tie wrapped it to the chain link fence at our track. It has to be displayed continuously for... you know, I've forgotten, and life is too short to look it up, but its many weeks.
The Adur planning committee, drawn from the elected councilors, meets but once a month, with time off in the holidays. They rarely make a decision on the first pass through, often requiring extra information.
Anticipating this, the non-elected council officers will proactively seek extra information.
I received an email from one such person, requesting information about noise levels. So I responded with a well thought out answer referencing 3 chamber pipes, decibel levels, and the crucial information that we race Nitro already for over a decade with no recorded complaints.
In the Second week of September 2006, we had our answer.
We would be allowed to build a new tarmac track and fence it of, (subject to leasing the land from the council).

The clock started ticking, we have 3 years to "lay the first foundation".
for those interested, the forms and application can be found here.
Interestingly, the oval and existing circuit has always had temporary planning permission only. The new track will have permanent planning permission granted.

Posted: Nov 27 2007, 01:31 PM

After obtaining planning permission we had to seriously consider the question of how much it was all going to cost.
    In essence it boils down to 2 major pieces of work.
  1. Creating track itself.
  2. Erecting a solid fence around the grounds.
For the purposes of gaining a lottery grant, it appeared we needed 3 financial quotes for the work, so we set out to get 3 quotes for the land preparation and tarmac, and 3 quotes for the fencing.
Our first quote took 3 months to come in, and was for the track.
It was in excess of £50k...

... plus VAT.

Clearly this particulaar company didn't want the work, but at the time, with no reference quotes to guage this on by, it took us all aback a little.
We couldn't understand how other clubs managed to build tracks if the costs were this high.

I know that for some of the club members and committee, this represented a low point, and it required an act of will to continue with the process of getting quotes.
The quotes were difficult to get in. It seems that tarmac work of this particular size is too big for the smaller concerns, and too small to interest the bigger companies.
In all, it took circa 10 months to come up with a representative sample of quotes for both track and fence, ranging from the slightly expensive to completely outrageous.
Throughout this time we had been attempting to come up with ideas on how to raise funds.
Obviously, we had our existing revenue stream, putting on race meetings for drivers.
We could simply raise the prices of membership and race fees. This was seen as counter-productive in the end. what would be the use of building a new track if we had no membership to drive on it?
We considered the possibility of corporate sponsorship, and put together a pack of what we could offer at a new facility, including, advertising, running team building days, naming of corners of the track, naming of the whole venue, and a number of other enticements.
The packs were assembled with a letter of explanation and mailed to over 20 local companies.
No responses have been recieved to date.

National Lottery.

Ahhh. Lottery Lottery Lottery...
I don't want to dis them too much, because we did get £10,000 from the national lottery towards funding the track.
There are a lot of different funds which make up the national lottery. these funds run for a fixed amount of time, and have a fixed amount of money to disburse.
Many Many Many of them are specifically targetted at regions though to be needy.
The south East does not figure on any of the current lottery funds.
Many of the lottery funds are targetted at specific groups thought to be deserving of the cash.
Needless to say, radio control car racing does not fit in with any of these groups.
The funds change on a regular basis. As the time limit or the funding is exhasted, new funds spring up with different focusses, geographic and demographic, to take their place.

There was in the end, (at this time), only three funds to which we could apply. Two of them, "Sport England", and the other one (which I have forgotten), were long shots.
The one remaining one was "Awards for All".
I liked the sound of that one, and it's website pronounced that it had the easiest, smallest and fastest application procedure of all the lottery funds.
The downside is that the maximum grant is pegged at £10k, so would not cover our costs entirely.

The forms and guidance/instructions are available from the awards for all website, and look relatively simple. In actuality, it takes a significant amount of time, and some research to ensure the forms are complete, and that the club is compliant with the terms of a lottery grant. the highlights of the process included...

Then it's just a case of filling in the 10 page form with accurate information.
If you ever need to go through this excercise, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the likely reader of your submission, and ask yourself what they might want to see.
Updated May 2008)
After a long wait, we recieved the go ahead for the full amount which we had asked for... £10k from the Awards for all lottery fund.

Posted: Apr 8 2008, 12:02 AM

Well I started this blog with the best of intentions, but what with work, family kids, running the club, and ... oh yes... Some racing, it kinda took a back seat.

I cant believe my last post was in November last year.

So what's been happening.
We've been going out for quotes, trying to get a handle on just how much this thing is going to cost, and what a good deal is.
Not being in the business of laying tarmac, it's always going to be tricky for us to understand whether what we are being quoted is value for money.
We have also been doing the money raising thing.
The 20 local companies didn't amount to anything. No responses.
We also contacted 10 companies who are in the business of making money from our sport. Major importers and manufacturers.
I won't hide my disapointment that we didn't even get the courtesy of an email, letter or phone call in response. Not one.
So we have to rely on our own resources.
A big thank you to everyone who has pledged money as a gift to the club to get the track built. Over half of the pledge money is now in the bank, and I will be contacting everone who has made a pledge in order to get the money in now.
Because we are within a gnats whisker of matching the funding we have available to the most viable quote.
We are still a few quid short, so please don't be put off donating to the fund if you can afford to. Everything now moves us a little closer.
The track will be the 4 meter wide option. Because there are so few areas between the track area, we will not be bothering with the grass bits. It will be a single piece of tarmac, with the track laid out on top, a bit like West London etc.
We are currently working on how best to mark out the track, concrete islands, white lines, Rope, combinations of the above.
If we can obtain the final funding, then we could be building the new track before the summer.

Posted: May 13 2008, 11:39 AM

Current status

Complete: Pending:

Posted: May 23 2008, 03:19 PM

So here we are at the end of May.
Some of us thought we would be building the track by now, but it's never that easy or simple.
We have now agreed in principle, (with the council), a 10 year lease on the new land, and negotiated a rent for it. The lease is based on the content of our existing lease, but we will not be able to see if there are any major changes until we see it.
Being a legal document, we have to wait for the council's solicitors to write it before we can get our solicitor to read it and agree the contents.
Being a legal document, this can be time consuming.
We cannot start to build until the lease has been signed, and we "own" the land, so the build date has to be pushed back a little more.
On a positive note, the contractors have indicated that even though they are fully booked throughout the summer, they should be able to fit in a small job like ours without much trouble. that's not to say I'm expecting them to drop everything and start work when we are ready, so another small delay may be awaiting us there.
I have produced a detailed financial projection of outgoings and income, which has highlighted some areas where we have "oportunities to make savings" if we are to keep the club afloat.
While we are not over-extended, we are still a little short of our ideal funding target for building the track, so if anyone knows of any good sponsorship oportunities I'd be grateful if they could get in touch.
Similarly, if you want to make a cash contribution to the cause... my contact details are on the website. Every little helps at this stage.
We still need to source a fence to protect our investment. we are specifying a 6 ft high tensioned chain link fence to surround the whole of our land. replacing the old fence we currently have in place which frankly couldn't keep out a mildly ferocious dormouse.
The quotes we have for the fence are around the £3000 mark. Ideally, we would like to reduce the cost in some way, without compromising on the quality.
We have a couple of leads which we are progressing, but again... if anyone is, or knows of a fencer who can do the job, contact me or or a committee member.
We are nearly there, even though our optimism at the tail end of 2007 has been a little misplaced in terms of when it will be ready, it will be built this year.

Posted: June 2nd 2008, 08:18 PM

Now we have been able to confirm our intent to build, I am pleased to announce that we have been selected to host a round of the 1/8th IC circuit National championship obn October 8th 2008.
It is moments like this, which make all the hard work worthwhile.
I look forward to welcoming our guests in October, and hope that the track will prove a worthwhile challenge for them.

Posted: June 23rd 2008, 12:14 PM

We have the draft lease from the council.
After many months of contact with different people, we have the draft legal document in front of us documenting the new land area.
There are a number of minor questions we need to iron out, but in essence, there seems to be no barrier here to us proceeding.

There is a slight delay, in that, legally there has to be a 14 day period between us being notified of a new lease, and the execution of that lease. i.e. the transfer of the property.
This means that the earliest we can start construction is now 3rd July.
However, in that respect, we are still in the hands of the contractors, who may not be ready to start at such short notice.
More info soon. Watch this space.

Posted: August 4th 2008, 23:55 PM

We still await the contractors.
Of course we are all impatient, me included. It has been a long wait.
However, we are nearly there, and if we miss another meeting, if we have to wait a few more days...
Well. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?

Yes of course it does !!!!

I want my new track.

At this point, I'd like to acknowledge the financial inputs to this project. I have created a new page on this mini-site to ensure they get the recognition they deserve.
It is also as good a time as any to draw attention to the tireless efforts of the Adur model Car Club committee in pressing forward with this vision.
It has not always been easy, actually, there's been no easy at all, but the committee never wavered, sometimes in the face of overwhelming evidence that this was a fools errand.
Thank you all for sticking with it.

Posted: August 12th 2008, 11:55 AM

I sense there is much impatience out there.
Rest assured, we are not sitting on our hands. There is still much planning to do before we are finished.
However, today is a milestone. This is the day the contractors start moving equipment down to the rec. to start work.
Tomorrow is measuring up day. Some of the committee will be at the rec. to help mark out exactly where the track perimeter will go, and ensure it complies with the planning permission.
The contractors estimate 2 weeks to build in order to meet our date of being able to run the 31st August meeting.
The final week in the run up to the 31st is likely to be stressfull, as we have to put a fence up, mark out the track and paint it, and place the track barriers so that jumping the track is not possible.
Will we make it in time?

Posted: August 13th 2008, 11:42 AM

So today I was at the track, and witnessed the first stakes being driven into the ground.
These are used to mark out the perimeter and lay out exactly where the track will go.
There are some concerns from the contractors on the way the ground undulates. We want the track to be flat with a very slight tilt so that the rainwater runs off. It may not be entirely possible, and the track may undulate a little.
Good word... undulate. I'm also a little concerned with line of sight into the corners form the place the rostrum will be.
It all looks very different when you see it laid out on the ground with fencing up, to when it's drawn out on a bit of paper.
I don't want to make any changes now, at least, as little as possible.
The track perimeter will be laid out on the ground over the next couple of days, and we'll go and make a final decision before it gets dug out.

Posted: August 15th 2008, 18:52 AM

We went to the Rec. and "approved" the perimiter.

It's about 20 centimeters out of position, but I'm not that stressed about it.
We'll leave it where it is rather than make the contractors rub it all out and start again.
Tha area sure looks big now that the basketball concrete area is gone.
I think that used to arrest the eye and make the area look smaller than it actually is.

The old track has been given a good pounding with the digger to break up the tarmac surface.
The spoil which wil be dug out of the ground to lay the new track will be laid on top of the old track to make a new, level pitting area.
The tarmac has to be broken up to provide drainage.
It all seemed a bit final though, and looking at it, it made me a bit sad.
The old track may have been small, but it was hard to drive fast, and the corners provided a real challenge, even to experienced drivers.
And now, nobody will ever be able to challenge Timmay Langdells fastest ever time around it.
Nor will Timmay himself, ever be able to reach the 32 lapper which he missed by 3 hundredths of a second.

Posted: August 21st 2008, 16:23 AM

Each day which passes, I want to go down and help dig out the track with my hands to move things on.

It's so close now I can almost touch it.

Standing in the middle of the marked out track perimiter, looking from end to end, pacing out the length of the pitlane, was just fantastic.
But I want it all now.

Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances conspiring against us, our launch date of August 31st is not looking likely, (At a guess, 90% unlikely).
We need to confirm end dates with the contractors, then the committee will try and work out how to fit in the final jobs.
It is not worth rushing at the end and messing up some of the crucial things, like the timing loop, the fence, the track markings etc.

So we will be taking our time, planning appropriately, and when we have a plan, we will work on the club schedule for all three sections to make the best use of our facilities.

Only then will be able to publish a date. I think it's going to be unavoidable that it's going to clash with something somewhere, so let's be prepared for that.

... I can *smell* the tarmac.

Posted: August 26th 2008, 10:33 AM

And so we now have to bite the bullet and admit that we are not going to make the August 31st date for the first meeting.
We have experienced a number of hold ups, and having a Bank holiday weekend in the middle of the build period has not helped.
We do have a work plan which will kick into action when the tarmac is down, but again, we are dependent on the availabilty of some materials and machinery which we cannot control.
All we can do is be ready to move when everything is in place. This is itself a difficult task to organise, because of course, we are all volunteers, and we all have day jobs to go to.
A new race calendar will be published on the main website once we have all the infromation.

Posted: August 30th 2008, 20:09 AM

Here we are on the day before we were SUPPOSED to open, and there is still no tarmac down.
However, it will be down on Monday. And we will be racing tomorrow, the 31st, but on the adjascent oval track. It will at least give nme an excuse to get my Mardave out and give it a spring clean.
Later tonight, I'll be setting out a point buy point plan on how to mark the track out on the tarmac.
The man who is going to put the lines down, (The same as used on the roads), says he can judge where the lines are to go from our drawing.
He may well be able to, and I have faith in him... not so much in the pinpoint accuracy of my drawing though.
At this stage of the game, I don't want to be at home to Mr. Cockup, and find we need to remove the white lines with a burner.
So it has to be right.
The tarmac will be finished at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, and the white liner comes first thing on Tuesday Morning. This gives us a narrow window on Monday evening to measure the track, and chalk the lines in the right places for the white liner to follow.

Dissapointing news on the fence. We have to have one, but the price has increased dramatically since our estimates were done 18 months ago.
This has bust our budget once again. We have a number of resources from which to borrow money, however that needs to be paid back. What we really need is sponsorship and help from the industry which we support. However, that seems to be too much to ask.
Once the fence is up, we will seem to have all the pre-requisites in place to run a club meeting.
Yes it will be a bit muddy, No, there won't be all the normal amenities, like a covered race control, but we can run some cars round the track and time them.

The fence will be up next weekend or shortly after, depending on delivery of the expensive materials.
Continue watching the website and forum for the latest info on dates, as we figure out which trade offs to make.

Posted: September 1st 2008, 20:04 PM

The Tarmac is nearly finished.
The contractors ran out of top coat just at the end.
Maybe something to do with the fact that it's 2 meters shorter, but 2 meters wider than the plan, on which the calculations were based
How do I know?
We've been down to the track and marked it all out ready for the white liner tomorrow.
He'll be arriving after the rest of the tarmac is laid.

Unfortunately, we have used chalk to mark out the track, and it looks like rain tonight.
No, we didn't want to use paint, because any mistakes are then indelible... and because of the variances on the real thing from the plan, there were areas which had to be remarked.
In hindsight, we perhaps should have painted on top of the final marks, but it's too late now.

So we may well be remarking tomorrow, depending on how heavy the rain is tonight.

Still, at teast we know what errors we have to correct for now.

Ian Billett was the first to drive a car on the track, around our markings, (Avoiding the untarmaced bit).
He reported lots of grip, but thats probably down to the bitumen still oozing out of the tarmac.

So fingers crossed that it rains lightly tonight if at all.

Posted: September 2nd 2008, 09:20 PM

So it did rain, but the chalk marks we made are still visible.
...but it is still raining.

The white line man, (hahaha, no, not really a coke dealer), cannot work in the wet anyway, so we have time to go and renew the lines.

As soon as there is a dry period, then we will go and remark the track.

Other progress.

We await...

Posted: September 2nd 2008, 13:18 PM

Scuppered by the rain again.

I don't remember the last time I was this wet, outside of a swimming pool.
I have an pond ecosystem developing in one of my Doc Martens.

I've just been to the treack, and marked out the lines again, this time with some wax crayons I stole from my kids.

The chalk lines we laid down last night were all but gone. Another half an hour and we would have had to start over from the beginning.
However, with a bit of forensic detection and some guesswork, I have managed to recreate everything we did last night.
Even though the chalk had dissapeared, the binding from which the chalk sticks were made, affected the way the water lay on top of the tarmac. By laying down and sighting aong the ground, I could see where the water droplets were clustered in a line where the chalk marks had been.

The things I do for this club!

I'd just about finished after a couple of hours, when the white liners turned up. They can't do the work in this weather, but they did give me one of the implements they use for marking out before they go to work... A wax crayon!
We live and learn.

If it dries out later today, they'll be back to put the lines down, otherwise it's Thursday afternoon.
We should all start praying to whatever rain gods we believe in.

Posted: September 8th 2008, 10:35 PM

I had intended a daily update to this blog... or at least more frequently than weekly.
However, We have gone from having nothing to report, to having more work to do than time available in a very short period of time.

A lot of the past week has been spent at the track, getting wet.

Wetness does seem to be a recurring theme in this project.
Whenever we try and get some work done, the heavens open.

We had planned to lay turf or sow grass seed around the track. We haven't done that yet, and had we done so, the excessive rain would almost certainly have killed it off anyway.

So we are begining to develop a sea of mud, particularly around the area where the rostrum will be.
This area was never grassed in the first place, as it was where the basketball court was dug out, so there is no base of vegetation to grow through.
It looks like a miniature replica of the Battle of the Somme.

We have potential solutions in mind which we are investigating.

The big pile of earth on our old track is also weighing on my mind. There is too much there.
We need to lose half of it, ideally by taking it up to the offroad track in a lorry, and flatten the rest off sufficiently so that there is a surface we can park cars on, and put gazebos up tto use as a pitting area.
Unfortunately, we have no digger, lorry or money.
In the very near future I forsee multiple work parties of men, (and women if they want to come), with spades and wheelbarrows, moving industrial quantities of earth to the area of the rec. where we have permission to dump it.
Keep an eye on the forum for an invitation to a fun day out. Get fit at chepaer prices than the gym, and help out the club at the same time...
In the meantime though, we have the original pitting area, plus we can pit on the oval track. This gives us pitting space for maybe 60 people.

On the plus side, we have a track. And it is marked out with white lines, and we have rope, and we have started tarting it up with paint.

The patched area of the track which we were unhappy with, (because it was higher than the rest of the track), has been cut out and replaced. While you can still see that there is a patch, it is now level with the rest of the existing tarmac.
We will be ready to run a race very shortly, maybe in less than ideal conditions, but we were never going to have a manicured lawn arounf the track anyway.
We are still on target for September 21st for our first club meeting, and we are still on target to host a round of the 8th scale national series on October 5th.

Posted: September 14th 2008, 22:35 PM

It's late, My shoulders ache, I have a huge callous on the palm of my right hand. Today it was my intention to get a largish work party equiped with wheelbarrows, forks and spades down to the track, and start moving the vastness that is the pile of earth covering up our pitting area.
In the event, we had 2 wheelbarrows, 2 forks, a shovel and a spade turn up.
As we had limited implements and people, we decided to tackle something slightly less ambitions, and level the area where the rostrum foundatons had been placed.
The problem was that in order to make the rostrum level, the tubes in which it stands had had to be sunk below the ground level.
Consequently, we had to dig out an area of about 18ft by 6 ft to a depth of a paltry 3 inches.
The sheer amount of effort this took, and the amount of earth removed, one wheelbarrow load at a time, quickly dissipated any thoughts of moving our giant earth pile by this method.
Fortunately, we may have a lead on a digger and truck to move this stuff around a bit.

As the morning progressed, more people turned up, even some whom I had never met. Having been following the track progress on the 'net, decided to come down and see what was happening, and offering to help.
Much appreciated guys. In fact. Thank you to everyone who turned up today.
We did the digging and leveling, painted a track perimeter, painted some more green in the islands, put up the fencing between the track and the rostrum/pits/race control, and figured out a method of blocking off the track cutthroughs.

A lot done today, but a lot still to do.
Nonetheless, we will be ready to run a race meeting next Sunday 21st.
Parking will be a little way away from the pits, and there will be bare earth, mud if it's been raining. We will probably have teething problems, but we will be opening! Posted: Sep 18 2008, 06:07 PM As an IT project manager of 15 years experience, I am fully aware the no computer project comes in on time, meets it's original budget, or works as originally envisaged.
It remains a mystery to my why I thought a construction project would be any different! So many little errors, most of which have knock on effects.

Anyway, we are nearly there. the first meeting is on this Sunday.
I hadn't driven the track at all until this morning. I have had no time to build one of my cars up.
But I did last night, and so I took to the track with my Serpent S400 10.5BL.

Well, there isn't any grip. sad.gif
At the moment. the tyres are simply slipping on all the dust and fine ground earth on the track.
Pick the car up after a couple of laps, and the tyres are visibly dust coated.
This is a combination of us walking all over the track repeatedly as we are working on it, but also of the break in we had where minimoto riders wanted to have a play.
they have left rubber burnout marks on one corner of the track, and it seems they had a dirt fight, as there was earth all over the track.
Now that we need some rain, (to clean the surface), where is it?

The driving experience is awesome though, even though I say it myself, as the track designer.
The fast bits are very fast, and the technical infield is really quite difficult. Don't expect to be going fast through it.
Correct car setup is going to be crucial for a fast lap.

There is still a bit of work to do, tidying around the edges, finishing the painting, or at least... using up the paint.
We'll have a work party on Saturday. Hopefully some people will turn up.

I'm looking forward to opening the track for the first meeting now.
I was expecting it to be a low key affair, with the SLCC West London round on the same day, but it seems that we have generated a great deal of interest.
After the bedding down period, I want to organise a "proper" opening meeting, with super raffle, champaigne (after the racing), and other goodies.

Now I need to go and write down all the things I need to say in the drivers briefing on sunday.

Posted: September 20th 2008, 20:08 PM

I am so Very Very proud of all of the committee and club members, (an some non-members...yet) who have contributed in any way to what we have achieved here.
I have just stood for a full 10 minutes drinking in the view.
Tomorrow is the first day, and I'm not sure what to expect. There is a lot of interest, but how many people are actually going to come and race.
Ian thinks about 50 people. After talking, listening, speculating, I'm going to go for 63.
A little precise I know, and in truth, as race director, I probably don't want to handle that many people on the first day.
But as chairman, I want to welcome as many people as I can to come and drive on this fantastic new track.

After I put my car on the track on Thursday and found no grip, I was a bit concerned... dissapointed... upset.
So today, we put 26 litres of coke on the track. And when I drove my car on it, there was no grip.
I was a bit concerned... dissapointed... upset.

But as more of us drove more laps, a dark line began to appear and the grip started to come up. With more cars on the track tomorrow, we will find out whether our choice of tarmac was good.
The end of the straight is scary. The car is carrying a lot of speed by then, and there is no comforting banking, not that the banking makes a lot of difference to the grip, but I find that at Aldershot and Brookland, it does make you *feel* more secure.
So it is almost an act of faith, chucking the car into the 180 double apex.
The carousel leading into the parabolic is very slow and tricky, particularly when the car is still sliding around.
The Esses have to be taken with a perfect line on entry, otherwise you don't make the apex for the exit onto the pitlane straight.
Then you've just got a few tight hairpin type cornaers before you hit the sweeper onto the straight again and give it WOT.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I hope everything goes OK.

Posted: Sep 22 2008, 01:01 PM

So there went the first meeting on the new track.
After the frenzied speculation amongs us regarding the numbers attending the first meeting, the total nuber of drivers turned out to be a modest 30.
With my race directors hat on, this was a good number.
Not too few, but not to many.
A good number to worked our way through a meeting, with all of the new things to consider, and all of the teething problems that were inevitable.

With my club chairmans hat on, I was outraged that so few people wanted to come and enjoy the fruits of our labours. (just kidding).

Surprisingly, the biggest class by far was stock touring car.
I was expecting more drivers to try something faster, or newer or different.
I guess in the end, I guess, we drive what we have.

We had some visitors from the BRCA 8th scale section, come to have a look and give us their blessing for the 8th National in two weeks.
The only cause for concern was the marshal point at the end of the straight seemed a bit flimsy to them.

Throughout the day, we found other minor problems, all of which we can rectify, hopefully before next weeks meeting.
The apex on the far corner, at the end of the straight cannot be seen from the rostrum. We can move the rope back a bit.
The cut-through we left open as a short cut, proved to be dangerous, as cars overshot, and went through onto the main straight. We can close this in the same way as the others.

But overall, the day was a success.
Grip levels continued to rise throughout the day. I thought at one point we had regressed to a skating rink, but later inspection showed a tyre hanging of the rim on my car.
There were some breakages. The track drives much faster than the old small one, and the cars are carrying more energy into a crash.
We have done our best to anticipate and mitigate this problem, by NOT having concrete kerbs, and marking the track out with rope, which has a degree of give in it. Even the cut-through blocks are held in place with bungees!
As we learn the track, and some of our drivers become more familiar with the concept of momentum, (p=mv), then hopefully the wishbone ratio will decrease.
We will also invest in some more rope to lay along in front of the fence at critical parts of the track.

It seems that everyone enjoyed themselves, and all the feedback on the day was positive.

Posted: Sep 29th 2008, 08:57 PM

I was going to write...
"It never ceases to amaze me, how morally bankrupt and lawless our society has become".

But then I stopped, because sadly, it has ceased to amaze me.
Oh, I still get angry, frustrated, resentful. And I feel powerless and to a certain extent, victimised.
But no longer amazed, or even mildly surprised.

On Saturday 27th September, 8 days after the new fence was erected at eye watering cost, some unidentifed person or people simply cut their way through it.
Our experiences with the ricketty fence around the old track had led me to expect some problems.
It was forever being knocked over so that the mini-moto boys could get in an use the track.
In the end, we simply left the gate open, because the fence was no longer a deterent.

However that was the old fence, a patchwork quilt of different materials, hung from some posts which had seen better days.
Now we have what is clearly a brand new fence, a sturdy gate, and a big padlock. All elements which really should scream the message, "This is private property".

So I was expecting maybe attempts to climb over, or to crawl under, maybe even attempts to push a section of the fence over.
I was taken aback by the sheer chutzpah of someone simply snipping through the wire.

I tried to see it from their point of view, to empathise with their motives.
Did they think that the track had been constructed for them? And that the fence, gate and lock was an unfortunate mistake?
Or perhaps their thinking was that as we had built a track, and they hadn't, that they were in some way entitled to the fruits of our labours?
Did they erroneously think that it had been built with taxpayers money, end that it therefore "belonged" to them, in some kind of warped communist vision.

In the end, it could have been any or all of these reasons. I decided that I simply could not empathise with the kind of person, who in a premeditated way, (unless they always carry wire cutters around in their back pocket), cuts through a fence, clearly erected to stop access, and enters another persons property for their own purposes.
The brick thrown through the window of race control was just the icing on the cake.

I daresay that we will never know who did it, never find out why, but if you ask me my opinion right now, this morning, I would say that these people have resigned their rights to society, and they should expect everything that comes their way once their identity is known.

Posted: March 5th 2009, 12:40 PM

It's been a while since the last blog entry and much has happened.
There have been highs and lows. I expected a bit of both.
We still haven't managed to shift the large pile of excavated earth. However, there is a possibility that the council may have a use for it, and will come and move it for us!
I'm not counting any chickens just yet, but keeping my fingers crossed. We'll know in the next couple of weeks.

With the torrential rain we experienced over a number of weeks, the ground became quite soft and muddy.
This manifested itself in two key areas for us. The path down the side of the track which we had anticipated being able to drive down, and the area around the rostrum steps.
The area around the rostrum was where the basketball court used to be. Once the concrete had been removed it left a hole circa 12 inches deep.
The area was filled in with topsoil from the dig.
In this way, it differs from the rest of the area, which is a thin layer of soil over landfill. The new area doesn't drain as well as the surrounds.

We tried covering the areas with bark.
This worked with some success in the area around the rostrum. Certainly better than the carpet which we had tried as a temporary measure.
The road down the side of the track was a different matter. As the rain continued to fall, car tyres simply crushed the bark into the mud, or pushed it out of the way.
In the end we had to ban vehicles from driving down the side of the track for fear that they wouldn't make it back up the slope.
This in turn presented another problem. Cars had to be parked at the East end of the track, presenting drivers with a 100 meter walk to the pitting area.
Feedback from some racers was not positive.
For two meetings we allowed cars to drive on the recreation ground itself. However it soon became clear than in the wet conditions, we would ruin the grass if we allowed this to continue.
While there was no real damage done to the rec. grass (yet), and no complaints from the council, we decided that we could not allow everyone to drive and park in this area.
We are allowed to use this area for parking and camping for the planned large events, and we didn't want to jeopardise that arrangement with the council.

In the end, the best solution available to us was to return to the original plan of having a gate at the East end of the track.
This creates a parking and pitting area at the East end, allowing drivers to avoid the walk to get to the West end pits.
We had planned for a gate in the fence at this point, but regretfully had to drop it to try and contain our costs.
Now we had to find the money for it anyway, and it ended up costing more.
Once again, our committee members came to the rescue, and dug deep into their own pockets to fund the new gate.
I must admit, that I am looking forward to the time when we have re-built our club bank balance so that we have a financial buffer later this year.
The new gate has improved access while the ground is wet, and allowed us to continue to open for racing.

I always knew that building the rostrum every meeting was a pain, but we put up with it because it offered a much better view of the old track.
On the new track, the rostrum isn't quite high enough to provide the same views of the further corners, and it's much further away from the container where it is stored.
The temporary nature of the rostrum is unsustainable in the longer term.
Unfortunately, the club had to make tough decisions on where to spend the limited funding we had. The priorities were to finish the track with paint, rope etc, and secure the area with a new fence.
We considered it pointless to have a good rostrum if there was no track to race on!

Over time, some racers, both club members and not, have helped out in raising money and enthusiasm for a container to use as a rostrum.
The funding is in place, a container has been located, and a solution is imminent.
Ensuring we have removable stairs, like the West London track, will make us compliant with the terms of our planning permission.
While the container still has to be put in place and fitted out, (and therefore there is still much that can happen to hold us up), I'd like to extend my thanks to everone who has contributed to the "container committee".
Once the container is in place, we can in time, resolve the issue of the muddy area by laying concrete or flagstones.

The rainy weather over the winter also raised the question of covered pits. This became quite urgent on a day where it not only rained, but the wind whipped accross the rec. collapsing half of the gazebos erected in the pits. (Some of them permanently)
We have raised the possibility of constructing covered pits with the council.
It is unclear at the moment whether we will need specific further planning permission to proceed, so we are preparing some drawings to show the council at a later date.
In the mean time, we are accumulating materials to build with should we get the go ahead.
I hope we can have something in place before the onset of next winter.

When first laid, the track lacked grip. For the first meetings we covered the track with cheap coca cola. Over time, a black line of grip has started to appear on the racing line.
The grip on the track still seems to be very sensitive to conditions though. Cold and wet are not conducive to grip.
This is slightly dissapointing. Our old track seemed to have lots of grip in all conditions, and we specified the same top layer of tarmac.
Some things are different though.

  1. It seems that the grip of new tarmac stabilises with time, so we should judge the grip levels after a full 12 months have passed.
  2. Comparing the old track and the new is like comparing an apple with a grape. Yes the old track had more grip, but the cars rarely if ever exceeded 20 mph. It was just too small to build any speed. The new track is much much bigger, and speeds are much, much higher. Higher speeds mean the tyres are having to work much harder to retain traction on the corners.
  3. The Rubber tyres used on Touring cars have changed in the intervening time.
This will be the last blog entry on the new track.
I hope it has been an interesting read. It has certainly been an interesting time for us, working through all the problems we have had.
Some of those problems we have perhaps created for ourselves.
Some would say we were mad to build the track without having the plans and funding in place to create a fully functioning theme park.
If we had waited, we would be waiting still.

I hope we have created something which we can all be proud of and enjoy for many years to come.

Ray Briddock - Chairman Adur Model Car Club.