Off the Beaten Track
Afew issues ago I detailed my Mt Panoramastyled home circuit, which is a natural setting for Aussie muscle cars. It was built using Ninco plastic track pieces, but of course it is not the only way to construct a track. This month we’re going to take a look at something completely different – a routed wood rally track belonging to Gary Blayney in Sydney’s south west.
Emulating the world of rally with a slot track can completely change the parameters of track building. Racing off the beaten track removes the restrictions of circuit racing, such as multiple lanes, armco and asphalt. As a result, it encourages freedom from the limitations of plastic slot track and allows the imagination to go wild. It doesn’t eliminate the use of double lane plastic track, but it lends itself to single lanes and home-made routed wooden track. In fact, if you can create a slot in it, it can be part of your track. Jumps, bridges, switchbacks, creek crossings, potholes, can all be added. Even specialist chassis with drop arms can be used to allow front wheels to leave the ground. Or if you think you can time it right, just try your skill to get a normal chassis to land back in the slot. That doesn’t make for serious racing, but de nitely encourages your inner-Duke boy. Yeee-hah!
And the freedoms don’t stop there. Unlike circuits, of course, rallies are sometimes run in uncivilised countryside, where strange things can sometimes be seen. Rally tracks like Gary’s allow visual treats to be constructed and hidden for the observant to be nd. Gary has been working on his track for more than 10 years, adding bits and pieces as the opportunity arises. As well as the expected mountain men, all sorts of strange folk can be found if you look long enough, including celebrities, aliens and even Daisy Duke...
In combination with the world wide web, rally tracks such as Gary’s have also fostered a new form of slot racing called Rally Proxy. Proxy racing means that entrants from around the globe can prepare a car and send it to a nominated starting track to be raced by others. The cars are run and timed, then packaged up and posted to the next location. The next host does the same thing and so on. Gary and like-minded rally friends in Sydney run one such event called the World Rally Proxy (WRP).
Hosts of WRP events must have a rallyinspired track and a timing device capable of measuring to 0.01 of a second. The cars, though, are more strictly selected. As slot manufacturers adjust the selection of rally cars in their model ranges, options for WRP entrants have changed. SCX was once the popular choice, but they have faded from the market, and now Scalextric Group B rally cars with sidewinder motor layouts are mandatory for the 2018 WRP. This limits the eligible cars to Ford RS200s, Lancia Delta S4s, MG Metro 6R4s and Audi Quattros.
Modi cations are limited to better guides, better track braids and motor wires, lead weights and Aussie MJK aftermarket tyres. Unlike the Torana I modi ed in the last issue of AMC, magnets, alloy wheels, metal gears and precision axles are not allowed. Minor hand nishing to blueprint tyres and plastic parts is permitted, however.
One of the great challenges of Proxy is that you may develop a car that is fast on your home track, but it might prove unsuitable for another track somewhere around the world. Lessons can be learned from researching the internet for tips and hints, and some of the previous successful entrants have outlined their build processes on the Auslot slot forums. Sometimes it’s down to just nutting out where you came unstuck the year before.
Apart from car purchase and preparation, cost to enter the WRP is $45. That covers postage between International rally tracks, return of each car to its respective entrant and the distribution of trophies/prizes to the winners. Also included are two pairs of tyres sent in advance to the entrants. If the postal services around the world play nicely, everything should run smoothly.
After entrants kiss goodbye to their carefully prepared cars and package them off to foreign lands, they anxiously await the outcome. Rounds are scheduled two weeks apart, with the rst being in Sydney, where the WRP organisers conduct a technical inspection to ensure the cars are compliant.
Events are run under the management of the host track, however, each event must consist of two or three stages. Each stage is a single race within the event. A minimum of two stages are to be run and the third stage is at the option of the track host. The times from all stages are added up to make the event time which rank the cars to receive time points, with total time over the combined stages no less than eight minutes for the fastest cars. As in real rallies, the car with the minimum total time is the winner. Eight minutes doesn’t seem much, but when hosts have to do that with each entrant, it soon adds up. As well as posting the results, hosts are expected to provide photos and race reports on the Auslot internet forum and generally keep everyone informed of what is happening in the other side of the globe.
Accidents will happen and things fall off slot cars, so inevitably repairs will be needed at some stage, and that can be a bit tricky. Urgent repairs in the middle of a stage can be made by the track host, but the track timer must continue to run. Repairs cannot be made between stages, but can be made between events, as long as the entrant ensures the required parts are sent to the host of the next event. Obviously that requires good-will between the competitors, not to mention good communication!
The 2018 World Rally Proxy will kick off in April, so if you want to nd out more, head over to the Auslot forums at www.auslot.com