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Beetle Challenge » Race Review -

Beetle Challenge
The Official Beetle Challenge Website - Aircooled VW Circuit Racing in the UK

Race Review -

LYDDEN HILL - 22nd Oct 2011

The build up to the event was as furious as ever. Not only was this set to be the first Aircooled Only Bug race for nearly two decades, there were also three cars making their debut appearance on the grid, the Blue No.5 car (On loan from Craig ‘Gandpa’ Winfield) driven by Stephen ‘Buggy’ Page, the No.59 College of North West London (CNWL) / VW Heritage car, being piloted by Trigger from Thingamies, and the No.58 VolksWorld Car being raced by ‘Dodgy’ Dave Dodge, the VolksWorld Competition winner!

The crew at the college had been burning the midnight oil installing new equipment supplied by VW Heritage, breather systems, external oil cooler, new switchgear, new extinguisher, NACA ducts, and lots of other components into both the VolksWorld and College cars to meet the strict MSA specifications.

With the hours evaporating fast both cars were raced over together to Trigger at Thingamies HQ near Heathrow (metaphorically speaking of course.. Ahem.. strictly in a non-competitive manor!). Trigger’s crew immersed themselves in the some additional race prep and final safety checks of both cars. This was the first time Trigger had even sat in the CNWL/VW Heritage car, and he was going to be racing it in 48hrs!

With less than 24hrs till driver sign-on disaster struck, a tow-vehicle blew a head gasket! Cookie, one of the other racers, dropped everything and took a spare T4 Trig had in his yard to the College workshops, where Mechanical Engineering tutor John Skinsley swapped out a driveshaft and then procured a fresh MoT.

Race day arrived, and the bugs set off on convoy to Lydden Hill Circuit in Kent. It’s a club racers favourite track, the circuit is set in a valley so gives unrivaled spectator viewing too! The temperatures were chilly but the sky was blue, so we were on for a dry race! There was a nice turn out of VW’s along with some 356 Porsches and a spyder replica in the grounds.

All the bugs passed scrutaneering (A nervous moment for all drivers!), and we all geared up for Qually. Then the second disaster of the day.. just as the clerk of the course announced over the tannoy that the Beetles need to make their way to the fire-up lane, the VolksWorld car blew an oil line in the paddocks, dumping VR1 Racing oil everywhere! Some rapid spannering from Florence Butcher and Mavis from Thingamies saw Dodgy Dave and the race car make it to qually with just seconds to go! Nothing like a bit of drama to enhance your debut qualifying session!

Qually saw unfortunately saw three retirements. The silver No.60 car with Cookie at the wheel, he was improving his lap times when he was let down by a 50p oil seal on an oil cooler.. and ended up retiring (serious damage avoided so will be out next season)

The blue No.5 car, driven by Stephen ‘Buggy’ Page was building up his confidence and pace consistently, the car he borrowed from Craig ‘Grandpa’ Winfield, only to retire due to engine issues.. to be fair the engine was a complete unknown quantity, and will now get a refresh and we’ll see him out again next season too!

Finally the last retirement was ‘Grandpa’ in his No.78 car, which was really gutting, as he had personally put masses of time and effort getting the race organized, and he seized his new stroker motor after putting in just a few laps with great times on cold tyres.

Perftec Phil in the yellow No.96 car ended up at the front of the grid for the race, with Simon ‘Monster’ Sergides, taking the second spot in his asbo-orange No.48 car. Completing the grid was Trigger in the No.59 CNWL/VW Heritage car and Dodgy Dave, the competition winner, in the No.59 VolksWorld car. Would have been great to have all 7 cars on the starting grid.. but that’s racing!

The lights went out and the bugs shot into the distance, Dodgy Dave had an issue with first gear and set off in second – damn – the first few laps saw some hilarious fisty cuffs between the yellow car of Perftec Phil, the orange bug Monster and Trigger in the No.59 CNWL / VW Heritage Car, with Monster and Trigger swapping positions in a fight that was allowing Perftec Phil to pull a lead.
It was all tyre squealing action, apparently the spectators had their hearts in their mouths just watching the antics play out.. imaging what it was like for the drivers! It was heating up to be fierce battle for the podium positions.. and the usually reliable orange No48 car Monster had to pull in due to nothing more than a thrown fan belt.. but ended his race prematurely.

This released Trigger to hunt down Perftec Phil, and each lap he drew closer until they were bumper to bumper! Meanwhile Dodgy Dave in the No.58 VolksWorld car was driving a consistent race… would Trigger and Phil trip each other up and give him the lead, but either way he was on for a podium position if he could just keep it all together and stay on the track without incident.

The pressure from Trigger intensified, but Perftec Phil drove an epic defensive line, and made his car as wide as possible, lap after lap they were wheel to wheel.
With just a few laps to go Trigger made a brave move and took the lead for the first time, with Phil now piling on the pressure from behind in a role reversal!

Eventually they passed the chequered flag with Trigger just in front, taking the win in the College/VW Heritage car, Perftec Phil in second place after a fantastic battle, and Dodgy Dave taking the third place on the podium in his debut race, debuting the VolksWorld car!

Reliability proved to be the biggest challenge of the weekend. VW Heritage supplied parts in two of the podium winning cars, and featured their ‘all-new’ 1641cc engine which has been relentlessly tested in the VolksWorld car prior to the race, which is a testament to their quality.. abuse doesn’t get much tougher than circuit racing!

Special Thanks to all the sponsors:
www.thingamies.com
www.volksworld.com
www.bearsmotorsports.co.uk
www.vwheritage.com
www.perftec.com
www.cnwl.ac.uk
www.mkpe.co.uk
www.csp-shop.de
www.prowagen.com

—– The Stats —–

Qually times were:

53.007     No.78  Craig ‘Grandpa’ Winfield
53.642     No.60  Steve ‘Cookie’ McGillivary
54.616     No.5     Stephen ‘Buggy’ Stephen Page
54.728     No.96  Phil ‘Perftec’ Phil Thompson
55.634     No.48  Simon ‘Monster’ Simon Sergides
57.253     No.59  Paul ‘Trigger’ Oldfield
1:05.946 No.58  ‘Dodgy’ Dave Dodge

Although these times have some mitigating factors..

Grandpa put in his time on only 3 laps with cold tyres before having mechanical issues.. so he was looking to be on fire.. would have loved to have seen what he would have achieved on hot tires and a motor firing on all four.

Cookie was improving his times when the Oil Seal on the cooler blew :(

Buggy Steve was putting in a remarkable show, on his debut race, but he too had mechanical issues.

Perftec Phil knew he could shave at least a second off his time, in his reliable and trusty steed.. and proved it in the race!

Monster had a noise restrictor in the header to get through the sound test, which strangled the life out of the motor!

Trigger was getting to grips with the CNWL / VW Heritage car - time issues meant that the ride height wasn’t dialed in so he was taming the wild stallion, and driving round the issues, as he familiarised himself with the car - shaving 4 seconds off his qually time in the race itself

And finally Dodgy Dave, the VolksWorld competition prize winner, who had only taken his Race License a few weeks previously, improved consistently during the race taking nearly 7 seconds off his qualifying time - which is a lot to find on a short circuit like Lydden.. so congratulations (and it was a level head that got him home in one piece to take the 3rd spot on the podium in the race!)

Perftec Phil - took the fastest lap in his 1641cc motor!

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LYDDEN HILL - 28th June 2010

The HOT HOT HOT race and that was not just the weather.

A welcome return to the Beetle Challenge for Trigger (Paul Oldfield) His return did have a bit of a twist though as he was in Simon Sergides car! The other competition being from Phil Thompson, Steve McGillvray and regular competitor Dave Charlton.

Because of the extreme heat all four drivers were concerned about their precious air cooled engines however this thought obviously went straight from their minds when they got onto the circuit.  Qualifying resulted in Dave 53.894 Trigger 53.952 Steve 56.038 and Phil 1.03.873.

Race 1 -  This was a race with two races in it. Steve and Phil having a good battle and changing places many time. Dave and Trigger were also battling the lead despite Trigger saying he was going to take it steady !!! as it was not his car! Dave went a long way down the start/finish straight off the circuit causing a major dust cloud and somehow managed to get back on the track and continue in the right direction however now sporting a damaged exhaust. The cars survived the heat and Trigger took the race win with a fastest lap of 53.797 followed by Dave 53.975 Steve 54.336 and Phil 54.134 (Steve just pipped Phil to 3rd place on the podium on the last corner of the last lap!)

On return to the pits three cars were in one piece but Dave’s normally reliable beetle had a broken exhaust and he said he had only had 3rd and 4th gears most of race and this was the reason he had gone off because he had been unable to change down. Despite this he remained only 2 seconds off his qualifying times. As is the case with racing all hands to the deck and a Blue Peter repair was done to the exhaust. Nothing could be done about the gears but Dave said he would start the race and see how far he could go!

Race 2 -  Trigger was still maintaining he was only going to take it steady after all it was not his car!! The odds were stacked against Dave’s car making the finish and Steve and Phil were definitely going into battle. Again Steve and Phil were having a cracking time racing each other and were able to catch and pass Dave who tried to defend as long as he could now only had one gear so surviving was an achievement in itself. 4th place is not usually where he is or where he wants to be again!!!! Trigger in the mean time had took off and was battling Ken Angell in the Jag and Jon Wild’s metro (a brilliant battle to watch) So the result of race 2 was Trigger first with fastest lap 53.071 Phil 54.016 Steve 54.432 and Dave with 55.302

Check out the videos of the day to confirm this was hot hot hot racing.
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BRANDS HATCH - 12th-13th June 2010

The weekend of “Reliable Improvement

This weekend saw three cars out Dave ‘The Bandit‘ Charlton, Nick ‘The Vicar‘ Whitty and Steve ‘Cookie‘ McGillivray with qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday and Race 2 on Sunday.

An added bonus being qualifying and each race would be 20 minutes. Considering Mallory consisted of three 10 minute sessions on track this was going to be a real test of reliability. All of them passed with flying colours.

Dave qualified in front with a 1.03.638 The Vicar second with 1.07.049 then Cookie with 1.10.710. This was Cookie’s first time out on the Brands track which is always somewhat daunting and a very full grid of 31 cars to contend with as well. The Vicar’s second visit here saw him take 2 seconds off his qualifying time from his first visit back in March.

22 Laps in Race 1 saw Dave take yet another win with a fastest lap time of 1.04.041  The Vicar and Cookie had a good battle resulting in Cookie taking second place from The Vicar whose car appeared to develop a miss-fire. Cookie was obviously getting comfortable with the track as his best lap was a 1.07.410 and Nick’s 1.07.304. This was an excellent achievement for all of them as the circuit was busy to say the least.

So to Race 2 and yes The Bandit took another win with that reliable little rally car. However he needs to keep checking that mirror because The Vicar and Cookie are definitely after him. Their times improving dramatically. They had another battle with each other and this time Nick took the second place the miss-fire having cured itself overnight. Fastest laps in this race being The Bandit 1.04.139 The Vicar 1.04.691 Cookie 1.06.218

The successful weekend also saw Cookie taking the award for best prepared car.

So with these three cars finishing the weekend with no major problems we look forward to Lydden on 27th June and the promise of other cars to join them.

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SNETTERTON - 29th MAY 2010
Rain Rain go away come again another day!!
Unfortunately a race where there was only one Beetle flying the flag. The forecast said it was going to rain and as the two races of the day for the Tin Top class were 15.45 and 18.00 it was pretty much guaranteed to be wet.

Dave Charlton braved the day and sure enough just as qualifying started so did the rain. The track turned to grease very quickly and so having done the necessary laps needed he decided job done and with a 1.35.605 (which was faster than he had previously done at this circuit last year on a dry track) came in and hoped for dry weather later in the day.

But it rained some more and was very very wet for the first race. This resulted in many cars having interesting racing lines and falling off the track altogether. Times were more than 10 seconds slower per lap than in qualifying!
Dave survived the race however he had taken an opportunity to try a new development part today but he was not completely happy with its performance and so took the decision not to run in the second race.

The second race was not as wet however it still provided excellent entertainment for spectators (Drivers may beg to differ on how enjoyable it was out there)

As a word of warning many drivers were reprimanded during the day for not keeping within the white lines of the circuit. Apparently all circuits are clamping down on this and will take a hard line on violation so be warned.
Brands Hatch next so let’s see some more Beetles giving Mr Charlton some competition.

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MALLORY PARK - 16th MAY 2010

Toil and Trouble – Joy and Frustration ——— Result = Good Days Racing with Records Set!
That’s how the first televised Beetle Challenge Race could be summed up.
7 Beetles on the grid – That’s a record!

This was only achieved by many many hours hard labour – That’s Toil and Trouble!

(Could have been 10 but a combination of blown race fan, engine issues - due to missing parts caused by this pesky ash cloud and unforeseen circumstances meant 3 cars had to pull their entries for this race - that’s frustration)

Normally Dave ‘The Bandit’ Charlton’s reliable beetle finishes in top spot but today it was Simon ‘Monster’ Sergides who took a win in both races. Dave qualified ahead of Simon their times being 1.01.268 and 1.01.317. This was going to be a very close battle especially with them both having that desire to beat each other. Simons 2.1 was just too much for the 1600 of Dave’s on the straights and despite Simon’s interesting racing lines he took the win in race 1 (That’s being very kind! - Have Novice Cross Sticker and is prepared to use it erratically!!! ).
Being ahead on the grid for race 2 should have made Simon’s job easier however Dave stuffed it up the inside on the first bend into Gerrards, and took the lead but again the straight line speed of Simon meant he took the lead back after a bit of a dogfight. There was a great moment when Dave and Simon went either side of Florence in his No 98 Bug on Gerrards.. three abreast on the fastest corner!!! However it was still not over, Simon had an incident! at Gerard’s resulting in Dave having to take avoiding action and reverting to rally mode but actually ending up facing in the wrong direction. He managed to get back on the track and continue.
Simon by now was way in the distance but Dave was gaining on him all the time and when he had caught and passed him it was assumed Simon had some sort of problem. Suddenly Simon was back on the pace with the lead once again changing. There was a real race going on between the two of them and Simon took his second win of the day. Questioned on the possible problem with lack of power after his incident Simon disclosed his strategy! (which for sure F1 teams will implement?) Quote “I was waiting for Dave to catch up so we could race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) - That’s Joy and frustration!

The other beetles are all to be commended:

Nick ‘The Vicar’ Whitty completed without any real problems and ever improving times. There was a momentary blip when he was called for to the Clerk of the Course… but it turns out they needed car No.1 not Nick in Car No.11… Phew… Maybe this accounts a little for his improved times in race 2, as clearly he had lost some excess weight having crapped himself! Nick only did one spin this race too.. and didn’t caress the tyrewalls this time (even though he has an obvious fetish for rubber)… so that’s progress.
As with last time Nick was out this is one to watch out for in the future.

Also unknown to The Vicar - he actually won the BARC prize for ‘Best Prepared Car‘ !!! (Thanks must go to Nick and his friends, the College of North West London, Morelli Paints, and of course Thingamies Beetles) So Nick took home some Champagne and two well earned 3rd place podium finishes – That’s Joy
He received notification of his prize via txt, as he had just that moment left the circuit, and Simon collected it on his behalf… then a traffic jam on the M1 allowed Nick to peg it down the hard shoulder on foot and grab the Champers! Aswell as removing one of Simon’s socks and lobbing it into the abyss of the hard shoulder - very funny!… but not as funny as the stealth return which is the other stinking sock which now resides in the Naca Duct which feeds Nicks face with - not - fresh air anymore - poetic justice me thinks!

Craig ‘Grandpa’ Winfield unfortunately was off the pace he had hoped for despite a change of gear box from last time out. In race one the Rotor Arm went kaput.. a 15second fix that blew his entire race - gutting. The race two unearthed some misfire issues which ultimately ended in another DNF. As always this car is turned out immaculately, and he should have definitely been on the pace at the front of the Class, but his day was ultimately– Frustration!

Phil ‘PerftecPhil’ Thompson was producing the ash cloud! And was asked to exit the circuit in race 1 (Made for some hilarious commentary on Live TV… Naughty Naughty.. ). He had a better run in race 2 but slowed the pace for the last few laps when the ash cloud threatened to re-appear. Prior to this he was putting in respectable times. – That’s Joy!

Steve ‘Cookie’ Mcgillivary was another without any real problems (apart from his rear-view mirror flapping around - it would be a distraction to everyone else apart from Cookie though, as he is used to re-adjusting the rear-view mirror as he applies his make-up on his way to work in the mornings) He had ever improving times until a spin on lap 8 of the second race (Which looked like oil on the track rather than driver error to be fair.. but we’ll give the track the benefit of the doubt and and call it driver error!). Watch this one for the future – That’s Joy

Lawrence Butcher was the only beetle that tested on the Saturday which turned out to be a useful exercise as it uncovered a couple of problems which would have definitely ended his day in qualifying. This enabled him to resolve for race day and he completed qualifying with consistent times. His races were a little more frustrating however, his rocker gear came loose in race one! and he has some work to progress with for next time. His day was topped off, when he saw the TV coverage and got a Name Check on from the commentators, ‘Florence‘ Butcher… (Something to do with driving like a girlie apparently! LoL!!) On the whole – That’s Joy and Frustration!
There is plenty of in car camera footage to check out shortly, plus the Motors TV coverage will be repeated together with access to DVDs.
Anyone interested in studying actual lap times can find the information on www.tsl.timing.com

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CADWELL PARK - 10th APRIL 2010

Only one Beetle was flying the Beetle Challenge flag at Cadwell Park, which is a shame as it was truly a lovely summer day at the Park.

The Tin Top class was amalgamated with the Tigers to make up numbers and everyone who made the epic journey all the way to Cadwell said it was well worth the trip. However the constant rollercoaster effect of this unique circuit meant that many of the drivers actually felt sick!  So a warning to you all, take a travel sickness tablet before taking on this circuit. Because of the amalgamation of classes this meant there were 25 minutes qualifying and two 20 minute races. So you really did get value for money both as a driver or spectator.

As the only Beetle entry Dave Charlton in his ex rally 1600 beetle had to find other cars to do battle with and so Dominic Ryan in his Ford Fiesta 1596 and Jon Wild in his Rover Metro 1598 were his targets for the day!

Dave and his reliable little beetle should have been at home on this track having done many a rally together at Cadwell in a previous life, however his qualifying times were rather erratic. He managed a fastest lap of 1.54.682 against Dominic’s 1.55.337 and Jon’s 2.02.453.  Unfortunately Jon’s metro had a major smoking problem and he had to pit quite early in the session.  Dave’s experience on this circuit obviously paid dividends against Dom’s fiesta.

Suspension problems were the reason for the erratic qualifying times so with this resolved and Jon’s engine problem temporarily resolved all three cars were on the grid for race 1

Unfortunately for Jon his temporary fix became a terminal problem and his race ended on lap 5. Dom actually managed to pass Dave resulting in a question of “Is the beetle developing a problem” Their fastest laps now being Dom at 1.54.350 and Dave at 1.56.419. The beetle finished fine and so took a Beetle Challenge Class Win.

Race 2 proved to be most entertaining with the beetle almost touching the rear bumper of the fiesta the whole race.  Despite the fact that the beetle only needed to finish again to take another win in the beetle challenge Dave was definitely not going for a safe completion. That beetle was raced!! He did not quite manage to get past Dom but it certainly was not through lack of trying it was just the opportunity which was lacking. Dom’s fastest lap 1.54.798 Dave’s 1.54.693.

A  brilliant days racing.

Mallory next where there will definitely be lots of Beetles!

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BRANDS HATCH - 27th MARCH 2010

There were 6 Beetles on the entry list the week before this the first race of 2010, but as is the case with racing 1 week to go but 3 weeks work still to do!
Race day dawned with 3 cars on the grid to fight it out. Let battle commence.

Qualifying saw Dave ‘The Bandit‘ Charlton in his reliable 1600cc ex rally beetle only staying out for 7 laps coming in with a slight smoking problem (Nothing a Nicorette patch and some self-discipline didn’t sort out!). Craig ‘Grandad‘ Winfield in his 1914cc ex beetle cup car and Nick ‘The Vicar‘ Whitty in his 2332cc ex beetle cup car both stayed out for 9 laps. Dave qualified in 1.02.052 Craig in 1.03.031 and Nick in 1.09.841.  This was Nick’s first time out and the others need to watch out for him as he gains more experience and track time.

Race 1 was a good battle and won by Dave (having solved the smoking problem) Craig put up a good chase but was just lacking in enough power to get past Dave (That pesky HP Robbing gearbox… will be sorted for Mallory! so expect some fireworks and more dogfighting!). Their fastest times being 1.02.320 and 1.02.344 respectively!!!. Nick unfortunately had a spin and damaged the exhaust so back to the pits for him.

Race 2 was looking like the rain could play a major factor however the hailstones actually held off until 2 minutes after the race finished. Although Nick had managed to get another exhaust on his car he was not happy with it and so decided to withdraw and live to fight another day. Well done Nick for getting to the grid in the first place and having a go. An achievement in itself. So this left Dave and Craig to again commence battle. This time it was Craig who had a problem (a fire!) Nothing too serious (Exhaust Lagging, oil and heat = ignition!) but obviously the end of his race.  Dave was flying in this race actually doing a fastest lap of 1.01.669 and so taking victory again.

We should have a lot more beetles on track by Mallory in May making “The 2010 Beetle Challenge” a real Beetle Challenge! (Hopefully the biggest class in the race)

So what happened to the other 3 cars which were registered to race?

Simon ‘Monster‘ Sergides: Oh… so close but no cigar! (Gutted) Fresh engine only went in on the Weds before the race.. and then had some gearbox issues… all should be sorted for Mallory.

Steve ‘Cookie‘ McV: Was working on his car until the 11th hour… and just needed a few more hours.. (Double Gutted) All done now and ready to race.

Lawrence ‘Can I have it for Free‘ Butcher: Only Lemony Snicket has had more unfortunate events.. Rebuilt his engine… raised the compression.. bugger the starter was not man for the job!.. Painted the wings.. and a freak Charlie Brown cloud showered on the not-quite-cured-fresh-paint… end result… Galaxy Aero style paint finish! the list goes on! LoL… but now it’s running, and the once long list of To Do’s has rapidly diminished.. and he’ll be out for Mallory.

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Race 1) 4th October 2008 - Lydden Hill Circuit

Race Report
The debut race for the beetlechallenge was hosted at Lydden Hill Circuit. The beetles ran as a ‘Beetle Class’ within the Cannons Tin Top series. (Many thanks to Rod Birley from the BARC South East Centre who engineered the opportunity to race with them, and get the beetles back out circuit racing - no mean feat!)

Our first 3 Beetles race cars made it to the circuit (There were so nearly half a dozen bugs, but there were a few set backs by each of the individuals building their own cars )
Craig Winfield attended with his 1972 swing axle bug which he used to campaign back in the 90’s Beetle Cup. Running a 1914cc motor, with twin Dell’s and type 1 cooling. Apart from the engine hike from the cup 1641cc motor, this ultra clean race car is almost identical to the day it last run in a Beetle Cup race over a decade ago!
David Charlton came in his Forest Rally Spec 1303 - albiet tweaked to a circuit friendly ride-height! - This car was awesome - running a 1600cc Type1 screamer of a motor outputing approx 130bhp! It had a full dry-sump setup and if you bolted the navigator seat back in it would be a rally car (It still had the stage timing counters on the passenger dash side!)
Simon Sergides just made it, after burning the midnight oil the night before the race in a 1972 Ex-Ian White Cup Car, now sporting new ‘Honey Monster’ Orange livery, and a 2165cc motor (with mild 8:1 compression, Porsche 911 Cooling and an Oil Accumulator -Recently dyno’ed on the rolling road at 120bhp with 117 torque)

QUALIFYING:
The track was dry, but cold, for the qualifying a 10min session with the other cars in the Cannons Tin Top Race Series. These ranged from highly tuned turbo cars (A Toyota Celica, Rover Tomcat, Renault GT Turbo quite literally in a class of their own!) some impressive race prepared Proton Coupe’s, through to some fantastic Rover Mini’s, Rover 220 and XR2… so a real eclectic mix of cars.
To guarantee a grid spot in the races we needed to get 3 successful banker laps in, then it was time to learn the track, feel the cars and see what the bugs we brought were capable of! Simon ‘Monster’ pulled a 0:53 out of the bag - good enough to just squeeze the best qualifying time in class - both David and Craig were within a whisker of this time. Craig pulled of the track early due to a miss-fire issue, and David screamed his 1600cc motor to grab the second grid position (Predictably we were near the back of the grid, with the Mini’s, Rover and XR2 - and the Turbo cars were upfront - but to be honest we all surprised ourselves with our performance, considering we had rusty/no race experience - and had absolutely no setup information - compared to the rest of the cars which had been campaigning for the entire season (and before!).
Simon ‘Monster’s car had a moment in the final period of the qualifying with a dramatic spin - heading for the armco - but just missing it (Thankfully) - The car seamed unsettled after the spin, with some lairy tail-happy action. It turned out to be the Rocker Breather Pipe had blown off and had blown oil over the rear driver side wheel (This was the first time the engine had run consistent high-revs!). The Monster took comfort in the fact that the spin was due to mechanical issue, rather than inexperienced driver error.. then one of pit crew Kev pointed out that the corner where the Monster spun had the other clean tyre fully loaded, so it was probably 99% driver error on that occasion - LoL!
Overall qualifying was great fun and a learning experience for all the drivers, back in the pits we shared what we learned, consulted on tyre pressures etc.. and started prepping for the race.

RACE ONE:
The formed a pre-race formation grid in the pitlane… but where was Craig? His engine just wasn’t playing ball, with some weird miss-fire.. they worked so hard to rectify it, but couldn’t make it to the first race (gutted is an understatement). A short light rain shower commenced as the cars formed the grid - but stopped for the race (Phew)
The Monster and David’s Rally car lined up for a rolling start… the pace car pulled in and the green flag dropped. David literally screamed past two Minis and the Monster Bug into the first corner! (That 1600 is quick!) and went round Chessons drift on 3 wheels - a man on a mission! - Simon in the Monster Bug was ‘learning & observing’ and fell back on the grid to last place.
David’s rally car continued to make progress and increased his lead over Simon by quite some margin, and was mixing it up with the other race car classes! The croweds loved the dramatic cloud of white smoke David left at every hard braking corner.. but it wasn’t tyre smoke - but oil burning - as the dry-sump oil system wasn’t scavenging the oil from the heads efficiently enough by all accounts - nothing to worry about - but the smoke screen was spectacular for the spectators and un-nerving for the cars following!
As the race progressed Simon settled down into ‘the zone’ and picked up his pace.. eventually drawing in the cars infront… he passed the mini’s then had his eye’s set on the novice cross on Davids bug! Now we had a race on between the Bugs! David’s 1600cc 1303 and Simons 2165cc Swing axle bugs were fairly equally competitive (even though the cars specs were worlds apart!) David out handled the Monster Bug in the first few corners (He was able to drive full-throttle through them!) and Simon could just about hang on to his tail, not loosing too much time, but definitely out classed in this section of the circuit.
Then between Devils Elbow and North Bend, Simon took a different line to David and could out-torque him up the steep hill and create the opportunity to overtake and defend the line. Simon took the lead in our class, and steadily increased his pace and confidence, so did David so they were nose to tail most of the time, with David piling on the pressure in the corners! Simon’s in-experience then reigned through, as we made a mistake on the paddock bend, and piled into the kitty-litter and fell to the back of the grid again! (We now officially had an underdog!) He had it all to do again! The spectators and commentators got behind the Bug’s! we had two races on now - the one at the front for the turbo cars, and the one at the back with the Bugs! The Monster Bug pushed hard and re-took the mini’s and then had David firmly fixed in his sights again.. several laps continued with Simon unable to squeeze past David’s number 88 bug… we really did have a 1600 IRS Bug and a 2165 Swing Axle Bug head-to-head in battle - brilliant!… then the second to last corner, Simon ‘had a go’ round the outside of the hairpin… the two bugs were racing to the final right hander neck and neck - side by side and the Monster bug 68 finished in style with an almighty tank-slapper -fish tailing across the line - wait for it - just three hundredths of a second faster than David in the rally spec car 88…!
A superb race, which lived up to everything we hoped would happen with the fairly loose regs of BeetleChallenge!

RACE TWO:
Unfortunately Craig retired from the startup grid - much to everyones disappointment - not least his (One thing we could do with is some more mechanical help in the pits - if any one is interested - as the time between qualifying and the races is pretty tight, and any additional help can make a big difference - so if you are interested in crewing do let us know!)
The heavens opened and we had our first wet race! The rolling start commenced, the pace car pulled off and the flag dropped… David and Simon were mixing ti up from the start this time, and we were immediately locking horns with the Mini’s again. David in Bug 88 had to pull off due to a suspected ignition issue, which was a shame, which left Simon in the bright orange Monster Bug out there racing against the other classes!… Simon increased his pace lap by lap as his confidence grew (this was is rookie debut and first full wet race!) Looking pretty comfortable out there in the wet, and clearly enjoying the challenges of a wet race, he started to reel in some of the faster classed cars and was looking good to potentially make his way in to the mid-field challengers, as the rain was a bit of a leveler. All was looking good, but unexpectedly he pulled into the pitlane - having thrown the Fan Belt… gutted let down by a few quids worth of belt! (But at least that was it)
So Simon Sergides took 1st in class, and David Charlton 2nd in class! (but hey we had made it to the track and were racing for the first time in years - so in reality that was the biggest result.
It was a brilliant day out, we were visited in the pits by some of the other guys building race cars at the moment which was great!
We were all so gutted for Craig Winfield car 78 (who has been instrumental in getting the racing off the ground) He suffered set-backs from the get go, when we received a call that his transporter van had broken down on route to the circuit, he fixed this road side luckily, but was soon followed by unwelcome disappointment at the track with his engine issues (in typical style everything was OK the night before when the race car was loaded) We’ll see him at Brands Hatch though!
Twat of the day must go to Simon - Who initiated some panic repairs to the ‘faulty oil light’ as he was nervous to go out on track when the oil light wasn’t working!… it turns out after an hour of fettling and head scratching, that we eventually figured out why the Oil light would only flash on for a brief second when the ignition was switched on… the oil accumulator is pre-pressured and ‘obviously’ pressurizes the system when you turn on the ignition - hence the light goes out instantly!
Plonkers of the Day is a closely tied draw between Kev and Phil - for bothering to listen to Simon, and spending the time fault finding and fixing an issue that wasn’t there in the first place!

WITH THANKS:
I have to say thank you to the BARC for letting us run as a Beetle Class in the Cannons Tin Tops Series, and that all of the competitors were friendly and well behaved on the circuit, which made for a fantastic day out - so thank you guys - we look forward to racing with you again at Brands Hatch in a months time!
Phil from Perftec (You’ll have seen him and his superb range of VW clothing at the major shows!) Came down to lend a hand in the pits, and catered for us all with a BBQ, Teas & Coffees! (Thanks a million Phil!)
All of the drivers have a list as long as their arms of personal thank’s to the people and companies who helped get us to the races (You all know who you are!)
And finally a thank you to the spectators and commentators, they embraced our iconic bugs, and really got behind us (The families of spectators loved the beetles, and were welcomed into the pits having their photos with/in the cars!)
Here’s to the next round.. we are hoping to increase our presence on the grid with 5-7 bugs, as several are in the closing stages of their builds now! This will be brilliant as we will definitely have some bumper-to-bumper bug race action if this weekend is anything to go by!



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