Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Close Action in the Detroit, Michigan, area

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

A number of years ago, I was introduced to the game “Close Action,” which is a board game about naval combat in the “Age of Fighting Sail,” circa the year 1800. It is basically an improvement of the old Avalon Hill game of “Wooden Ships & Iron Men.” Close Action was designed by Mark Campbell, although he has had a lot of folks play various scenarios and offer suggestions for improvements along the way. The game was published by Clash of Arms games in 1997. But then I didn’t get to play the game for more than a decade (probably closer to two decades).

Close Action box cover

Close Action box cover, from Clash of Arms games.

So, probably around the middle of 2017, I was checking out the latest sales flyer from Noble Knight Games, and I saw they had a brand new copy of Close Action for sale. I immediately bought the game, because Close Action has been out of print. Noble Knight also had the two add-on scenario packs of Rebel Seas and Monsoon Seas for sale, so I bought those, too. (Rebel Seas is the only product from the Close Action series available for sale at the Clash of Arms web site, as of February 2019.) So now I owned the basic components of Close Action, but didn’t have any miniature ships to play the game with. Although CA was designed as a board game, it does seem more fun to play when using miniature ships.

I was still in contact with Jim Robinson, as he races in our CFR-Detroit racing games. He’s the guy that introduced me to Close Action in the early 1990s. We were playing then with “pre-publication” rules for the game (version 4.30). Dennis Daughetee was another player, and between Dennis and Jim we had a good sized fleet of miniature ships to use. Anyway, in March 2018, we got several folks together to play a scenario of Close Action at the Canton (Michigan) public library during the first Saturday meetup boardgame day. We used (I believe) 1:900 scale ships on Jim’s large hex mat (with 2-inch hexes). It was pretty cool.

Close Action with 1:900 scale ships

Close Action with 1:900 scale ships at the Canton, Michigan, library.

Now, the large 1:900 scale ships are really neat, but later, while playing another scenario at Imperium Games, with about a dozen ships on each side, it became apparent that it would be very difficult to get all of the ships on the same playing mat at the same time. This made me want to use smaller scale ships. I began to look into the various ships available. It seems that 1:1200 scale is a very popular scale for naval minis from the Age of Sail, and it seems the two main sources for ships are GHQ’s “Micronauts” and Langton Miniatures. GHQ’s ships are about $17 each, though, and the Langton ships are about the same price, once you buy the hulls and sails. Sort of a steep price if you want to purchase enough ships for a 40-ship battle!

So then I discovered the 1:2000 scale ships available from Valiant Enterprises. While Valiant’s ships are not nearly as detailed as the larger 1:1200 scale ships, they are much more affordable, and they are “good enough” for minis gaming. You can buy a 3-pack of 74-gun ships-of-the-line from Valiant for less than $15, or $5 per ship. Now we’re talking affordable! Not to mention that the ships won’t take up as much space, so one can use a smaller hex grid to play on. What made it even better, just about the time I mentioned to some of our Championship Formula Racing group that I was going to start buying the Valiant 1:2000 scale ships, two of the CFR racers, Jim Robinson and Mike St. Peter, gave me a bunch of already built and painted ships! Jim gave me close to 40 ships, mostly 74-gunners but also a few larger and smaller ships. Mike donated around a dozen serviceable ships to me, and some other parts that can be salvaged to repair some other ships.

So, now I had a fleet of ships to use, so the next thing to do was to obtain a playing mat. Now, most folks I have seen online who play naval minis just buy a large hex-grid mat from folks such as Hotz Mats. While the mats from Eric Hotz are beautiful, they are also somewhat expensive, with a 45-inch by 72-inch “Mediterrean Sea Blue” mat costing $67 (with shipping). And you would need more than one mat. But there are two problems with using a plain-colored mat.  For one, the generic blue-hex-grid mats don’t have numbered hexes, making it difficult to correctly place the ships for the scenarios. Also, some of the scenarios in Close Action have land or shallow water. The original maps that come with Close Action have different colored hexes that can be used to depict shallow water or land, while the generic hex-grid mats are all the same color, making it difficult to designate areas as land or shallow water. Not to mention that I don’t want to limit my playing to only deep-water scenarios. So then I decided to use my flat-bed scanner to scan the CA maps, then enlarged them 160% so the hexes were 1-inch across. I then printed them out as tiles, and then glued them to a folding cardboard display board. The final result looks  like this:

Close Action enlarged maps A & B

Close Action enlarged maps A & B.

For basing the ships, I made some 1.75-inch by 0.75-inch rectangles, and added the number of guns, each ship’s name, and the country flag of that ship along both sides of the rectangle. Then I printed out the artwork and glued it to foam-core board, then used an X-Acto knife to cut apart all of the bases. The ships on their bases look like this:

1:2000 scale ships on foam-core bases

1:2000 scale British 50-gun Adamant and French 64-gun Ardent, mounted on foam-core bases.

So, now we’re ready to start playing some semi-regular games of Close Action in the Detroit, Michigan, area!

 

CFR-Detroit 2018 Championship race – South African Grand Prix

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

The eighth and final race of the 2018 CFR-Detroit season was held at Pandemonium Games in Garden City, Michigan, on Friday, December 14, 2018. Fifteen drivers contested the race, with five of those drivers having a chance to win the points championship. When all was said and done, Bill Worrel finally drove to his first race win in CFR, and that earned him the championship over Mike Cook, Garry Kaluzny, Richard White, and Jack Beckman. Finishing 2nd at Kyalami was Richard White, and Gary Sturgeon finished on the podium in 3rd place after passing Kaluzny just before the finish line.

The race was held on the Kyalami track, from an old Avalon Hill design from Speed Circuit. This was the first time this track was used in the CFR-Detroit racing series, although it had been used in the old Advanced Speed Circuit races in the Detroit area back in the 1980s/1990s. Of course, we raced on a large-scale track that had been painted on a bedsheet so we could use our 1:64 scale cars.

Kyalami race track of the South African Grand Prix.

Kyalami race track of the South African Grand Prix. This was from the old Speed Circuit game and was available as an extra item from Avalon Hill.

After the drivers set up their car’s specs, the drivers secretly bid for starting positions. Each wear chit counted as 1.0, and each skill chit counted as 0.5. Higher bids started in front of lower bids. Ties were resolved by rolling percentage dice, high rolls favored over low rolls.

The four main contenders for the title, Cook, Worrel, Kaluzny, and White, all wanted to start near the front of the large pack of 15 cars. A “wild card” in this race was Louye Padol. Padol had raced in some old Advanced Speed Circuit races in the Detroit area near the end of that series in the early 1990s. Padol further stated that since he had never won a race in that old ASC series that he wanted to win a CFR race. Of course, he knew his work was cut out for him, what with the hungry drivers who really wanted to win the championship.

Qualifying

There were some high bids for pole position. Mike Cook snatched the pole with a bid of 9.5 (6 wear + 7 skill). It was Cook’s 8th pole in the 15 races he has participated in, the most of any driver. (Jim Robinson and Bill Worrel each have 2 CFR-Detroit career pole positions.) Louye Padol also started in the front row, in 2nd place, with a bid of 9.0 (8 wear + 2 skill). Garry Kaluzny started in 3rd with a bid of 8.5 (6 wear + 5 skill). Bill Worrel started 4th with his bid of 7.0 (5 wear + 4 skill). Greg Lim (3 wear + 6 skill) and Gary Sturgeon (3 wear + 6 skill) each bid 6.0. Lim started 5th after his percentile dice roll of “73” to Sturgeon’s dice roll of “06,” thus relegating Sturgeon to 6th place on the grid.

Richard White bid 5.5 (4 wear + 3 skill), so he started in the 4th row, in 7th place. Beside White, in 8th place, was Mike St. Peter with his bid of 4.5 (4 wear + 1 skill). Brian Robinson (1 wear + 5 skill) and Jack Beckman (2 wear + 3 skill) each bid 3.5 and so they had a “dice-off” for 9th and 10th place on the starting grid. Brian Robinson started 9th after rolling “63,” and Beckman started 10th after rolling “52.”

Jim Robinson was the 11th place starter with a bid of 2.5 (0 wear + 5 skill). Aric Parr (1 wear + 2 skill) and Jim Landis (1 wear + 2 skill) each bid 2.0. Parr won the dice-off by “45” to “26” and so Parr started 12th, and Landis started 13th on the grid. Joel Lauder bid only 1.0 (0 wear + 2 skill) to start 14th, and P.J. Norton (0 wear + 0 skill) bid nothing and was content to start 15th.

The starting grid for the 2018 South African Grand Prix with their car specs:

 # Driver (Car)                    Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)          100   40    40   140  5x   3x   soft
25 Louye Padol (Ligier)             100   40    40   160  5x   2x   soft
 8 Garry Kaluzny (Marlboro McLaren) 100   40    40   140  5x   3x   soft
 4 Bill Worrel (Tyrrell)             60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
13 Greg Lim (GoDaddy)                60   60    40   160  4x   3x   soft
22 Gary Sturgeon (McLaren)          100   40    40   160  5x   2x   soft
 1 Richard White (Brabham)           60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
44 Mike St. Peter (Mercedes)         60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard
 5 Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)    20   60    60   140  5x   3x   soft
12 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)           60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
14 Aric Parr (Motul BRM)             60   40    60   160  5x   3x   hard
20 Jim Landis (Benetton)             60   60    60   160  4x   2x   hard
 7 Joel Lauder (HSBC Jaguar)         60   60    60   180  3x   2x   hard
 3 P.J. Norton (Tyrrell)             60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard

Start = Start Speed (in miles/hour); Accel = Acceleration (in mph); Decel = Deceleration (in mph); Top = Top Speed (in mph); Wear = # of Wear markers (per lap); Skill = # of Skill markers (per lap); Tires = hard or soft tires to begin the race.

The starting grid at Kyalami

The starting grid at Kyalami: 1st row: Cook (yellow car) & Padol (blue car); 2nd row: Kaluzny (orange/white) & Worrel (blue); 3rd row: Lim (green) & Sturgeon (black/silver); 4th row: White (white/blue) & St. Peter (silver); 5th row: B. Robinson (white/blue) & Beckman (red); 6th row: J. Robinson (white/yellow/blue) & Parr (gray); 7th row: Landis (green/red/blue) & Lauder (green); 8th row: Norton (blue/white). (Bill Worrel photo)

1st Lap

At the start, pole-sitter Cook surprised the field by using his -3 skill chit and rolling dice to boost his car’s start speed to 120 mph, giving up the opportunity to use a wear (since he was on soft tires) to get the automatic 20 mph increase to his start speed. Of course, the fact Cook had bid 6 of his available 15 wear to get the pole position might have influenced his choice, since he only started the race with 9 wear. Padol and Kaluzny, both on soft tires, each used a wear to start at 120 mph. Worrel, who was starting the race with 10 wear after bidding 5 wear for qualifying, rolled dice (using two -1 skill chits) to start at 80 mph. Sturgeon was content to just start at his car’s 100 mph start speed; that allowed him to pull alongside Worrel’s blue Tyrrell. Lim used a wear to get to 80 mph; he slotted himself right behind Worrel. White, starting on the inside of the 4th row, also rolled a -2 modified start speed roll, making the roll and thus starting at 80 mph and pulling right behind Lim. St. Peter, starting on hard tires, was content to just start at 60 mph. That allowed Beckman to pull alongside St. Peter after Beckman used a wear to start at 80 mph. J. Robinson used a wear to start at 80 mph, thus leap-frogging B. Robinson who had used a wear to increase his start speed to 40 mph. Parr, starting in 12th, decided to make an unmodified start speed dice roll. Parr rolled an ‘8’ and thus started at only 40 mph, 20 mph below his car’s normal 60 mph start speed. Landis and Lauder started at their normal 60 mph start speed, and they both pulled even with Parr. Norton, making his first official start in the CFR-Detroit races, was content to start at his normal 60 mph speed.

The pack roars away!

The pack roars away at the start! The order is Cook, Padol, Kaluzny, Worrel, Sturgeon, Lim, White, St. Peter, Beckman, J. Robinson, B. Robinson, Parr, Landis, Lauder, and Norton. (Bill Worrel photo)

On the 2nd move of the game, the leading trio of Cook, Padol, and Kaluzny all increased their speed to 140 mph through the Crowthorne Corner. Worrel spent a -1 skill marker and successfully rolled dice to increase his acceleration. J. Robinson rolled a -2 acceleration roll (and made it). Most of the following cars maintained their order, although Beckman got by St. Peter, and J. Robinson pulled to the inside of St. Peter. Landis got by Parr, and Lauder pulled alongside B. Robinson. As the leaders approached the Jukskei Sweep, Worrel and Sturgeon had caught up to the leading trio. Lauder moved to the inside of White.

Going into Clubhouse Bend, Kaluzny passed Padol for 2nd, and the pack was all bunched up again.

Cook still leads at Clubhouse Bend

Cook still leads at Clubhouse Bend, followed by Kaluzny, Padol, Worrel, Sturgeon, Lim, White, Beckman, J. Robinson, Lauder, St. Peter, B. Robinson, Landis, Parr, and Norton. (Bill Worrel photo)

St. Peter spent two wears and two -1 skill markers (making a chance roll) going through The Esses at 120 mph. Parr tried to force a pass by Landis through Clubhouse Bend, but was balked. Parr then had to scrub off 40 mph to reduce his speed to 60 mph.

Going through Leeukop Bend, Cook was able to get clear of the pack, opening a 3-space lead over Kaluzny. Cook was one space shy of The Kink, though, and so he was unable to enter the pits before his following competitors. Then on the next move of the race, Cook did pull into the pits just after crossing the start/finish line. It was the 17th lap Cook has led in his CFR-Detroit driving career, far and away the most of any driver. (Cook has led 38% of the laps he has raced.) Also pitting were Kaluzny, Worrel, Sturgeon, White, and Padol. Lim accelerated to 160 mph out of Leeukop, but then had to roll a -2 deceleration roll to reduce his speed to 140 mph as he didn’t have any wear remaining and so would not have been able to enter The Kink at 160 mph. That left Lim one space shy of getting into the pits on that move.

Cook leads the 1st lap

Cook (just past the start-finish line) leads the 1st lap, pulls into pits. (Bill Worrel photo)

During the immediately succeeding move, the cars of Lim, Beckman, and B. Robinson joined the other cars in the pits; they were eventually joined in the pits by Parr. B. Robinson made a -2 chance roll going through The Kink so he could get into the pits at a higher speed. Not pitting were Lauder, J. Robinson, St. Peter, Norton, and Landis. Lauder was then the leader on the track due to his staying out of the pits.

The official order at the end of the 1st lap: Cook (0); Lim (+3); Lauder (+11); J. Robinson (+7); St. Peter (+3); Norton (+9); Worrel (-3); Kaluzny (-5); Sturgeon (-3); White (-3); Padol (-9); Landis (+1); Beckman (-3); B. Robinson (-5); and Parr (-3). The numbers in parentheses indicate how many places a driver either gained (+) or lost (-) from their starting position. After the pit stops were resolved, the running order on the track was Lauder, J. Robinson, St. Peter, Norton, Cook, Worrel, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, White, Padol, Landis, Lim, Beckman, B. Robinson, and Parr.

2nd Lap

Coming out of the pits, Worrel made a -1 modified dice roll to boost his top speed to 180 mph. Kaluzny also used a -1 modifier to increase his top speed to 160 mph. Since the top four contenders basically needed to win the race to also win the championship, they knew going in to this race that they would need to roll some dice! Going into Sunset Bend, Cook made a -1 deceleration roll, and St. Peter used 2 wear and made a -2 chance roll. Then going through Clubhouse Bend, J. Robinson took the lead from Lauder. White then made a forced pass of Worrel coming out of Clubhouse Bend.

Jim Robinson takes the lead

Jim Robinson takes the lead. Following are Norton, Lauder, St. Peter, Cook, Kaluzny, White, Padol, Worrel, Sturgeon, Landis, Lim, Beckman, B. Robinson, and Parr. (Bill Worrel photo)

Jim Robinson managed to gain a 2-space lead over Norton and Lauder coming out of Leeukop, but J. Robinson had to make a -3 chance roll to gain that advantage. Cook had to make a -1 deceleration roll going into Leeukop (dropping to 80 mph from 100 mph), as the road ahead was blocked by Norton’s Tyrrell. In the process, Cook used his last skill modifier, leaving him with no more skill markers, and there was still a little more than a lap left to race.

Now the dice started really flying. Jim Robinson needed to pit, and he wanted to pit on his current move, so he rolled a -2 chance at The Kink, but he spun. He had to roll as he was out of wear. Then Lauder tried to get into The Kink at 160 mph, so he used a wear and also rolled a -2 chance. Lauder also spun. Although spun, both J. Robinson and Lauder’s cars were placed into the pits, as The Kink corner was the first space where cars could pit. Norton made a -2 acceleration roll coming out of Leeukop so he could go 140 mph. That left him once space short of The Kink, meaning he couldn’t get into the pits on this move.

J. Robinson and Lauder both spin going into the pits

J. Robinson and Lauder both spin going into the pits (so their cars are both facing backwards to indicate they have spun). Other cars on the track are Norton, St. Peter, Cook, Kaluzny, Padol, Sturgeon, White, Worrel, Lim, Beckman, Landis, B. Robinson, and Parr. (Bill Worrel photo)

During the next move, Norton and St. Peter made it through The Kink, then they both pulled into the pits. Cook, Padol, Kaluzny, and Worrel all made it through The Kink, and Sturgeon and White were in The Kink. That meant all six of those cars could accelerate down the long straight. Cook made an unmodified top speed roll to move at 160 mph. Worrel made an unmodified top speed roll to move at 180 mph. Kaluzny wanted to move at 160 mph, and had to roll for his top speed. In spite of using a -1 skill modifier, Kaluzny failed the roll. He moved this turn at 140 mph, and his future top speed was now only 120 mph. So he knew his shot at the championship was doomed. Landis pulled his car into the pits, as he was the last of the cars that had not yet pitted.

Cook, Padol, and Worrel vie for the lead

Cook, Padol, and Worrel vie for the lead to begin the 3rd lap. (Their cars are near the Monty Python-esq hand of Kaluzny.) Kaluzny and White are right behind the leaders, and Sturgeon is also right behind. Lim is just crossing the start/finish line. B. Robinson is just in front of Beckman who is just in front of Parr. The cars of J. Robinson and Lauder have come out of the pits to be placed back in the track in The Kink, but are facing backwards to show they have spun. In the pits are Norton, St. Peter, and Landis. (Bill Worrel photo)

P.J. Norton (+14) was the official leader of the 2nd lap, although he was in the pits when he achieved that honor. The rest of the official order for the 2nd lap: Cook (-1); Padol (-1); Worrel (0); Kaluzny (-2); White (+1); Sturgeon (-1); Lim (-3); B. Robinson (0); Beckman (0); Parr (+1); St. Peter (-4); Lauder (+1); J. Robinson (-3);  and Landis (-2).

3rd Lap

Worrel made a daring move to take the lead going into Crowthorne Corner at the end of the long straight. Since he was on the outside of the track, and would have moved after other cars that plotted the same speed, Worrel plotted 180 mph, made his top speed dice roll, but then slowed to 160 mph before actually entering the corner. That let Worrel move before Cook and Padol. Cook did move alongside Worrel in Crowthorne, with Padol right behind them in 3rd. Kaluzny and White were side-by-side behind Padol, and Sturgeon was behind White.

Worrel and Cook were side-by-side racing through Barbeque Bend and the Jukskei Sweep. Kaluzny, with his damaged top speed, moved to the outside in Barbeque Bend, letting White pass on the inside. Kaluzny did not want to hold up a competitor who had a chance for the championship.

Then came the stunning event of the race. Cook made an unmodified top speed roll to move at 160 mph (so he could move before Worrel) headed into Sunset Bend, and then Cook made an unmodified deceleration roll to get down to 140 mph for the corner. Cook then used 2 wear and rolled an unmodified chance (Cook was on hard tires and so couldn’t use 3 wear, and he was out of skill markers). Unfortunately for Cook, he crashed and was suddenly out of the race, just when he was going for the lead! (Note that if Cook had made the roll successfully, it would have been a piece of “brilliant driving” and might have won the game for him.) Worrel’s car pulled up just short of Sunset, and he took the inside lane, eschewing the cornering arrow that was in the outside lane. Padol then pulled alongside Worrel and took the arrow. White pulled ahead of Kaluzny, and Sturgeon pulled alongside Kaluzny.

Cook has crashed in Senset Bend

Cook has crashed in Sunset Bend (upside down yellow car next to the flat-bed truck). Worrel and Padol are side-by-side just before Sunset Bend, followed by White, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, Lim, Beckman, B. Robinson, Norton, Parr, St. Peter, Lauder, J. Robinson, and Landis. (Bill Worrel photo)

Now Worrel and Padol had a spirited battle on the track. Worrel spent 3 wear through Sunset and Clubhouse, leaving him with only 3 wear remaining for the rest of the race (and with three more corners to go). Worrel then pulled ahead of Padol at The Esses, as Worrel used a wear and made an unmodified chance roll. (It goes without saying that White, Padol, and Kaluzny were hoping for a spin or crash!) As Padol had taken the line behind Worrel, White had to go off-line at The Esses, using 2 wear and making a -2 chance roll so he could be at 100 mph.

Worrel moves in front at The Esses

Worrel moves in front at The Esses. Padol and White are right behind, then are Kaluzny, Sturgeon, Lim, Beckman, B. Robinson, Norton, St. Peter, Lauder, Parr, J. Robinson, and Landis. Cook’s crashed Camel Lotus has been loaded on the flat-bed truck, and the flagman is waving the yellow caution flag just before Sunset Bend. (Bill Worrel photo)

Worrel then pretty much wrapped up the race victory and the championship at Leeukop, as he was the only car that made it to the end of the corner where he would be able to accelerate out of that corner in the next move.

Worrel continues to lead at the exit of Leeukop

Worrel continues to lead at the exit of Leeukop. White is 2nd, Kaluzny has taken the inside and 3rd place from Padol (who is 4th). Sturgeon is 5th, and Beckman (red Ferrari) has just passed Lim for 6th place in The Esses. (Bill Worrel photo)

From that point on, the race to the finish line was an anti-climax, as Worrel crossed the line 3 spaces ahead of White and Kaluzny to win the race and the 2018 CFR-Detroit championship! Kaluzny had used a slip to pull alongside White, especially as Kaluzny didn’t dare roll for his top speed again.

Worrel wins the race and the title!

Worrel takes the checkered flag to win the 2018 South African Grand Prix and also winning the 2018 CFR-Detroit points championship. (Bill Worrel photo)

There was still a race on for other positions. Beckman made a -3 chance roll at Leeukop, and Brian Robinson used 2 wear and made a -3 chance roll, also at Leeukop. At some point late in the 3rd lap, Padol failed a top speed or acceleration roll, although it wasn’t recorded when it happened. Failing that roll cost Padol a couple of positions at the finish, at least. Also, Sturgeon was able to pass Kaluzny as they crossed the finish line, thereby earning a podium finish in 3rd for Sturgeon.

The official finishing order at the 2018 South African Grand Prix: 1st-Bill Worrel (+3); 2nd-Richard White (+5); 3rd-Gary Sturgeon (+3); 4th-Garry Kaluzny (-1); 5th-Louye Padol (-3); 6th-Jack Beckman (+4); 7th-Greg Lim (-2); 8th-P.J. Norton (+7); 9th-Brian Robinson (0); 10th-Mike St. Peter (-2); 11th-Joel Lauder (+3); 12th-Jim Robinson (-1); 13th-Aric Parr (-1); 14th-Jim Landis (-1). Classified in 15th with a DNF was Mike Cook (-14).

Aftermath

Louye Padol had a nice drive for his first race using the CFR rules. He was in contention, but he seemed to not want to interfere with the four-way battle for the lead amongst the main contenders for the title. And P.J. Norton, although he had previously raced in a few demo races, performed well in his first official CFR race, moving up 7 places from his starting position to finish in 8th place.

Points awarded at the 2018 South African Grand Prix: Worrel 10; White 6; Sturgeon 4; Kaluzny 3; Padol 2; Beckman 1.

The final points standings of the 2018 CFR-Detroit season (after eight of eight races):

Place Driver (Car)                    Points
  1   Bill Worrel (Tyrrell)             37*
  2   Richard White (Brabham)           32
  3   Garry Kaluzny (Marlboro McLaren)  30
  4   Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)           29
  5   Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            20
  6   Jim Robinson (Williams)           18
  7   Gary Sturgeon (McLaren)           14
  8   Mike St. Peter (Mercedes)          9
  9T  Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)     4
  9T  Aric Parr (Motul BRM)              4
  9T  Jim Landis (Benetton)              4
 12T  Joel Lauder (HSBC Jaguar)          2
 12T  Greg Lim (GoDaddy)                 2
 12T  Louye Padol (Ligier)               2
 15T  Mark Moellering (McLaren)          0
 15T  Gary Kempen (Williams)             0
 15T  Chuck Modzinski (Arrows)           0
 15T  Jim Lauder (Shadow)                0
 15T  P.J. Norton (Tyrrell)              0

* Drivers could only count their 6 best finishes out of the 8 races. Bill Worrel had to forfeit 1 point (from a 6th place at Monaco) due to his having earned points in 7 races. (Worrel did earn 38 points, but could only count 37 of them.)

After the race, Bill Worrel was awarded the 2018 CFR-Detroit Individual Points Championship trophy from outgoing race steward Garry Kaluzny. Kaluzny was then surprised when the rest of the drivers gave Kaluzny a trophy for the appreciation the drivers had for his organizing and running the race series for 2017 and 2018.

Worrel and Kaluzny receive trophies

Bill Worrel with his 2018 CFR-Detroit championship trophy (left), and Garry Kaluzny with his appreciation trophy (right).

After the championship trophy presentation, the drivers continued to uphold an old tradition dating back to the Advanced Speed Circuit days in Detroit–they voted to award the “Tom Kane Memorial Award” to the most sportsmanlike driver of 2018. Each driver got to vote for one driver, via secret ballot. The voting tallies were:

Jim Landis – 7
Jim Robinson – 3
Jack Beckman – 2
Greg Lim – 2

Thus, Jim Landis was voted the Most Sportsmanlike driver of 2018 and was awarded the Tom Kane Memorial Award trophy.

Jim Landis receives the Sportmanship trophy

Jim Landis (right) receives the Tom Kane Memorial Award trophy as the CFR-Detroit Most Sportsmanlike driver of 2018. Presenting the award is the 2017 Most Sportsmanlike driver, Greg Lim (left). (Bill Worrel photo)

In the 2018 CFR-Detroit racing season, a total of 20 different drivers took part in the eight races. The most drivers at any race was 15, at both the Belgian and South African Grand Prix. The fewest drivers in any race was 11, at both the Italian and German Grand Prix. The average number of drivers for the season was 12.8 drivers per race. This was an increase from the average of 10.3 drivers per race in 2017.

For the 2019 CFR-Detroit racing season, Jack Beckman will be the race steward. There will also be a “team championship” award added, and already the drivers have mostly formed teams for 2019.

As always, keep up to date for the CFR-Detroit schedule at the CFR-Detroit home page at http://michigumbo.com/cfr/.

A demo race will take place at Flintcon (in Flint, Michigan) on Saturday, February 9, 2019, using the Indianapolis road course. The actual 2019 CFR-Detroit schedule begins on Friday, February 15, 2019, at Pandemonium Games in Garden City, Michigan. We will race the Australian Grand Prix using the Adelaide track. Qualifying begins at 6:45pm. No experience is necessary; you are welcome to join us!

CFR Race #7: Japanese Grand Prix at Imperium Games

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Ten drivers raced in the Japanese Grand Prix on March 9, 2018. The race was on the Suzuka track, and the game was held at Imperium Games in Wixom, Michigan. In an extremely exciting race, Richard White bested the competition to win his first race of the CFR season. Gary Sturgeon and Gary Kempen took the other podium spots in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively. This means that Sturgeon now has clinched at least a tie for the 2017 CFR-Detroit championship. With one race remaining, Sturgeon has 41 points to Mike Cook’s 31 points. Cook could achieve a tie for the championship if he were to win the final race while at the same time Sturgeon earns zero points in that final race.

 

Suzuka 2017 track diagram

Suzuka 2017 track diagram.

The bidding for pole position returned to saner levels as compared to recent races. Garry Kaluzny got his first pole position of the season by bidding 6.0 (3 wear + 6 skill). Richard White (3 wear + 1 skill) and Jim Robinson (2 wear + 3 skill) each bid 3.5, but White got the other front row spot with a better dice roll (74 to 06), so J. Robinson started 3rd. Points-leader Gary Sturgeon started 4th with a bid of 3.0 (0 wear + 6 skill). Brian Robinson bid 2.5 (0 wear + 5 skill) to start 5th. New driver Mike St. Peter (0 wear + 4 skill) and Jack Beckman (1 wear + 2 skill) each bid 2.0, with St. Peter starting 6th and Beckman 7th due to St. Peter’s better percentage dice roll (78 to 40). Mike Cook (0 wear + 2 skill) and Greg Lim (0 wear + 2 skill) each bid 1.0, with Cook starting 8th and Lim 9th due to a dice roll (98 to 85). Gary Kempen bid 0.0, so started in 10th place on the grid.

The starting grid and their car specs:

# Driver (Car)                     Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard
 1 Richard White (Brabham)            60   60    40   160  4x   3x   soft
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  60   60    40   180  4x   2x   hard
 5 Brian Robinson (Williams)          20   60    40   160  5x   3x   soft
44 Mike St. Peter (Mercedes)          60   40    40   160  4x   4x   hard
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             60   60    60   160  4x   2x   hard
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            60   60    60   160  4x   2x   hard 
 7 Greg Lim (Motorola)                20   60    40   160  4x   4x   hard
  4 Gary Kempen (Ferrari)             60   60    60   160  4x   2x   soft

Start = Start Speed (in miles/hour); Accel = Acceleration (in mph); Decel = Deceleration (in mph); Top = Top Speed (in mph); Wear = # of Wear markers per lap raced; Skill = # of Skill markers per lap raced; Tires = hard or soft tires to begin the race. (Since the race was 3 laps, a car with 5x of Wear would receive 15 Wear markers to start the race (as an example).)

Starting grid at Suzuka

The starting grid at Suzuka: Kaluzny (orange McLaren); White (blue & white Brabham); J. Robinson (blue, yellow & white Williams); Gary Sturgeon (black Lotus); B. Robinson (blue, yellow & white Williams); St. Peter (silver Mercedes); Beckman (red Ferrari); Cook (yellow Lotus); Lim (black & blue Motorola); Kempen (red Ferrari).

At the start, White boosted his start speed to 80 mph, using a wear since he was on soft tires, thus taking the lead. Pole-sitter Kaluzny merely started at 60 mph since he was on hard tires and did not want to roll dice at the start of the race. Cook also boosted his start speed to 80 mph to jump from 8th to 6th, while B. Robinson dropped from 5th to 7th, even though he boosted his 20 mph start speed to 40 mph.

The pack roars away

The pack roars away! White takes the lead, then came Kaluzny, J. Robinson, Sturgeon, St. Peter, Cook, B. Robinson, Beckman, Kempen, and Lim.

At the end of the starting straightaway and into the first two corners, White had pulled out a two-space lead, while J. Robinson ducked inside Kaluzny to take 2nd place.

Into the first corners

Into the first corners, and White’s leading Brabham is almost hidden behind the “4” sign. Lim’s Motorola car is already lagging behind Kempen’s Ferrari.

Through the “snake” curves on the Suzuka track, Kaluzny reclaimed 2nd place from J. Robinson, and Cook pulled alongside J. Robinson. Cook then passed J. Robinson and pulled alongside Kaluzny at the Degner 1 curve. Then coming up to the hairpin curve for the first time, the pack was back together.

Through the hairpin the first time

Through the hairpin the first time, and the pack has bunched up.

Richard White then zoomed away from the pack when he exited the hairpin curve. Jim Robinson made a daring forced pass of Mike Cook at the hairpin, also getting by Gary Sturgeon, thereby putting J. Robinson into 3rd place, behind Kaluzny’s 2nd place. Brian Robinson, meanwhile, had to burn a wear to slow from 80 mph to 60 mph, and got stuck behind Cook and Sturgeon in the hairpin.

White zooms into the lead

White (white and blue car just below the blue dice cup) takes a 4-space lead over Kaluzny; Kaluzny leads by 4 spaces over J. Robinson.

White, Kaluzny, and J. Robinson maintained their running order over the bridge, while Sturgeon and Cook battled each other for 4th and 5th place.

White leads over the bridge

White leads over the bridge for the 1st time while Gary Sturgeon (left) and Jim Robinson (right) look on. Garry Kaluzny had made a nice overlay for where the track crosses over itself, but he forgot that overlay at home; hence, the crude ad-hoc bridge overlay that appears in this picture was used instead.

As White approached the chicane for the first time, he attempted to negotiate it at 120 mph, using 2 wears and rolling a chance dice roll. Although he used a -3 skill chit, he rolled a 10 and thus spun in the first space of the corner! This would allow the pack to close up on him.

White spins at the chicane

The yellow flag waves as White spins at the chicane. Gary Sturgeon and Jim Robinson look on.

As White recovered from his spin, he was able to restart at 60 mph and then pulled into the pits. Kaluzny, running in 2nd, managed to make it through the chicane at 100 mph and then also pulled into the pits.

White and Kaluzny have pulled into the pits

White and Kaluzny have pulled into the pits; still on the track are Sturgeon, J. Robinson, Cook, B. Robinson, Beckman, St. Peter, Lim, and Kempen.

Gary Sturgeon got through the chicane safely to take the lead on the track, but then Jim Robinson spun in the chicane, and that caused Cook, B. Robinson, and Beckman to have to take evasive maneuvers to avoid the spinning Williams.

Jim Robinson spins in the chicane

Jim Robinson spins in the chicane, causing chaos on the track! Sturgeon (black Lotus) takes the lead on the track as White and Kaluzny are in the pits.

As Cook exited the chicane, he pulled alongside Sturgeon as they crossed over the start/finish line to complete the 1st lap. Brian Robinson and Mike St. Peter pulled into the pits, and White and Kaluzny came back onto the track alongside Jim Robinson as Robinson exited the chicane after starting at 40 mph after his spin. White switched from soft to hard tires while Kaluzny changed from hard to soft tires. As Lim entered the chicane, he became the 3rd car to spin in that same spot. Kempen then successfully made a forced pass to get by Lim’s spinning car and thus got to the last numbered space in the chicane and so Kempen could accelerate on his next move.

Sturgeon and Cook complete the 1st lap

Sturgeon and Cook complete the 1st lap; B. Robinson and St. Peter have entered the pits; White and Kaluzny have exited the pits. Lim has just spun in the chicane.

As Brian Robinson exited the pits, he had changed from soft to hard tires, while St. Peter and Lim had switched from hard to soft tires. The official running order after the completion of the 1st lap was: Sturgeon (+3); Cook (+6); Beckman (+4); Kaluzny (-3); White (-3); Kempen (+4); J. Robinson (-4); B. Robinson (-3); St. Peter (-3); and Lim (-1). The numbers in parentheses indicate how many positions a driver either gained (+) or lost (-) from their starting position.

Cook takes the lead through the "snake" corners

Cook (yellow Lotus) takes the lead from Sturgeon through the “snake” corners. Following behind are Beckman, Kaluzny, Kempen, White, J. Robinson, B. Robinson, St. Peter, and Lim.

Through the “snake” curves the 2nd time around, Kempen passed Kaluzny.

Brian Robinson, Jack Beckman, and Mike Cook watch the race

Brian Robinson (blue shirt), Jack Beckman (red Ferrari shirt), and Mike Cook (green shirt) watch the race. Cook’s yellow Lotus leads Sturgeon’s black Lotus (near the “3” sign).

Cook held the lead through the hairpin turn, but then Sturgeon out-dragged Cook to take the lead at the 200R curve.

Sturgeon retakes the lead through the 200R curve

Sturgeon retakes the lead from Cook through the 200R curve. Beckman is 3rd, Kaluzny has retaken 4th, White is 5th, Kempen 6th, J. Robinson 7th, St. Peter and B. Robinson are 8th and 9th, and Lim is in 10th, 11 spaces behind.

Kempen then put on another burst of speed to pass both White and then Kaluzny, pulling up alongside Beckman through the Spoon Curve.

Kempen retakes 4th at the Spoon Curve

Kempen (#4 Ferrari) retakes 4th at the Spoon Curve. Sturgeon and Cook are side by side in 1st and 2nd (near the “2” sign).

Kempen then rolled dice to increase his top speed to 180 mph coming out of the Spoon Curve, and proceeded to pass his Ferrari teammate Beckman along the Backstretch.

Kempen takes 3rd place from Beckman

Kempen takes 3rd place from Beckman; St. Peter has spun in the Spoon Curve while Jim Robinson goes around St. Peter.

But Kempen pushed his luck too far. While again attempting to push his top speed to 180 mph while going over the bridge, he rolled a “10” on an unmodified top speed roll, and that damaged his car’s top speed. He only got to move 160 mph on this turn, and his future top speed was only 140 mph (and with another entire lap yet to race).

As the leaders Sturgeon and Cook pulled into the pits to change from hard to soft tires for their last lap, Kempen, Kaluzny, Beckman, and White were all bunched up at the chicane. The two Williams cars of J. Robinson and B. Robinson were a ways behind, then farther back was St. Peter, and finally came Lim who was about 1/4 lap behind.

Sturgeon and Cook make their pit stops

Sturgeon and Cook make their pit stops as the rest of pack closes up on them.

As the other cars came through the chicane, the Ferraris of both Kempen and Beckman made their pit stops, both switching from hard to soft tires for their final lap. Kaluzny and White stayed on the track. After crossing the start/finish line, White gained 3 wear as he was on hard tires; Kaluzny was on soft tires and so gained no extra wear. Jim Robinson had to make an unmodified deceleration roll to get down to 60 mph to get through the chicane as he was out of wear; he then pulled into the pits.

Kaluzny and White take over the lead

Kaluzny and White take over the lead as most of the other cars have either just pulled into the pits, or have just been placed back on the track after exiting the pits. Beckman, Kempen, and J. Robinson are the cars off the track in the pits, while the Loti of Sturgeon and Cook are on the track. B. Robinson’s Williams is in the chicane, St. Peter is approaching the chicane, while Lim’s car is in the upper right corner of the picture.

The cars of Mike St. Peter and Greg Lim made pit stops, while Brian Robinson stayed on the track. After all cars had cycled through the pits at the end of the 2nd lap, the official running order was Kaluzny (0), White (0), Sturgeon (+1), Cook (+4), B. Robinson (0), Kempen (+4), Beckman (0), J. Robinson (-5), St. Peter (-3), and Lim (-1).

Kaluzny held off White until the Degner 1 and Degner 2 corners, and then White passed Kaluzny to take the lead. Going into the hairpin, Sturgeon and Cook had caught up to the two front-runners.

White leads into the hairpin for the last time

White leads into the hairpin for the last time.

Going through the hairpin for the last time, White, Kaluzny, and Sturgeon were running nose-to-tail while Cook was balked in the hairpin and got stuck in the hairpin for an extra turn. Kempen then passed Cook for 4th place upon exiting the hairpin.

White holds the lead

White holds the lead heading into the Spoon Curve. Kaluzny, Sturgeon, Kempen, Cook, Beckman, B. Robinson, J. Robinson, and St. Peter trail behind.

Coming out of the Spoon Curve for the last time, Kaluzny tried to over-rev his engine to 180 mph. He successfully made an unmodified over-acceleration roll (to accelerate by 60 mph), but then failed the top speed roll. He moved 160 mph, and had his top speed reduced to 140 mph thereafter. Kaluzny then made an unmodified top speed roll to go 160 mph through the 130R corner just past the bridge, all in an attempt to stay ahead of Sturgeon and thus keep a mathematical chance of winning the championship alive. Kaluzny knew if he finished behind Sturgeon that he would be eliminated from any chance of the points championship.

While White went 100 mph into the chicane, thus ending on the final space of the chicane and so would be able to accelerate on his next move, both Kaluzny and Sturgeon plotted 120 mph. They were both immediately behind White, and Kaluzny got to move first by virtue of being closer to the inside of the track relative to the next corner. (The red-and-white striped lines around the track indicate which side of the track is the inside at that part of the track.) Kaluzny had to roll an unmodified deceleration roll, though, and failed the roll. He then had to use 1 of his last 2 wears to slow down to 100 mph. Kaluzny then used his last wear and rolled an unmodified chance. He rolled a “9” and spun in the chicane. Sturgeon went around the outside of the chicane at 120 mph, using 3 wears as he was on soft tires.

Kaluzny spins in the chicane

Kaluzny spins in the chicane, while White and Sturgeon make it through safely. Mike Cook (left) and Gary Sturgeon (right) look on.

Richard White (+1) then motored across the finish line to take the checkered flag by 4 spaces over Sturgeon’s (+2) 2nd place. It was White’s first victory of the CFR-Detroit 2017 season. (White had previously won 16 races in the old Advanced Speed Circuit series in the late 1980s through the early 1990s.) Meanwhile, Kaluzny recovered from his spin by going 40 mph, just exiting the chicane. Kempen was barreling through the chicane at 80 mph and was running up Kaluzny’s tailpipe. Cook was also going 80 mph, but got stuck in the chicane.

Richard White takes the checkered flag!

Richard White takes the checkered flag!

But the excitement wasn’t yet over. Although Kaluzny made an unmodified acceleration roll to go to 100 mph and reach the finish line on his move, Kempen (+7) used his 60 mph acceleration to get to 140 mph, thus sling-shotting around Kaluzny to take 3rd place, relegating Kaluzny (-3) to 4th. Cook (+3) continued on to finish in 5th place. Beckman then made an unmodified roll to slow for the chicane, but spun when he rolled an unmodified chance. Brian Robinson had to go around the outside of the chicane to avoid Beckman’s spinning Ferrari. B. Robinson rolled a chance, using a -3 skill marker. But he too spun.

Sturgeon takes 2nd

Sturgeon takes 2nd, Kempen nips Kaluzny for 3rd, Cook is 4th, and Beckman and B. Robinson have spun in the chicane. The road marshal with the yellow flag has passed out with fatigue, what with having to wave that yellow flag for multiple spinning cars at that chicane during the race!

This is where Brian Robinson’s low 20 mph start speed bit him, as he could only start at 20 mph while trying to recover from spinning in the chicane, and that left him in the chicane for another turn. (Cars that re-start after a spin can only move the slower of their start speed or acceleration.) Beckman (+1) recovered from his spin to take 6th place and get the last point available. Positions 7 through 10 were: J. Robinson (-4); St. Peter (-2); B. Robinson (-4); and Lim (-1). The last four drivers did not receive any points for their efforts in this race.

Podium finishers: White; Sturgeon; and Kempen

Podium finishers: White; Sturgeon; and Kempen.

The points awarded at the Japanese Grand Prix: White 10; Sturgeon 6; Kempen 4; Kaluzny 3; Cook 2; and Beckman 1.

The updated points standings after seven (of eight) races:

Place Driver (Car)                     Points
  1   Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  41
  2   Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            31
  3   Richard White (Brabham)            28
  4   Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            27
  5   Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             25
  6   Gary Kempen (Ferrari)               8
  7T  Jim Landis (Benetton)               6
  7T  Greg Lim (Motorola)                 6
  9   Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)      4
 10   Jim Robinson (Williams)             3
 11   Mike Manderachia (Ligier)           2
 12T  Russ Herschler (Minardi)            0
 12T  Chad Marlett (Red Bull)             0
 12T  Tim Gould (McLaren)                 0
 12T  Mike St. Peter (Mercedes)           0

The 8th and final race of the 2017 CFR-Detroit racing series will be on Friday, April 13 (“Yikes! Friday the 13th done come on a Friday this month!” — so says Churchy LaFemme). The race will be at Pandemonium Games & Hobbies at 6033 Middlebelt Rd. in Garden City, Michigan. It is on the west side of Middlebelt Rd., just a few blocks north of Ford Rd. The race will begin at 7:00 pm, so once again we ask all drivers to try to arrive around 6:30 pm in order to have enough time to get your car set up for the race. We will begin bidding for starting positions at 6:55 pm.

Report from FlintCon 2018

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

On Saturday, February 3, FlintCon 2018 was held at St. Paul Lutheran Church on S. Ballenger Highway in Flint, Michigan. It was mostly miniatures gaming, with some role-playing activities taking place in a different room. I ran a race of Championship Formula Racing, followed by a game of Gutshot.

But for the early session, I didn’t run a game, but instead played in a “pirate” game where there were two large scale pirate ships fighting each other. That game was run by “Captain Curtis,” and it was a lot of fun.

Captain Curtis' large-scale pirate ships

Captain Curtis’ large-scale pirate ships.

Each ship had 30 pirates on deck, divided into the foredeck, midships, and the afterdeck areas, with 10 pirates in each section. Each ship also had three sets of reinforcements below decks, with 10 more pirates in each section. The pirates were 54mm plastic minis, like the size of the plastic “army men” that many of us used to play with when we were kids. The object of the game was to either sink the enemy ship by cannon fire (each ship had six cannon that could fire at the other, and each cannon had to be manned by at least two crew in order to fire), or to board and capture the enemy ship. You could also win by boarding the enemy ship and bringing back two of its treasure chests to your own ship.

Pirate ship close-up

Pirate ship close-up.

As it was, my ship was able to call up its reserves before the other ship, then we boarded the opponent’s ship, and in hand-to-hand combat, my ship’s pirates were able to overwhelm the enemy pirates and capture their ship. It was a lot of fun. Not a lot of strategy, mostly just rolling dice, but the visuals made it a lot of fun.

Some of the "dead" pirates

Some of the “dead” pirates during the battle for the enemy ship.

When a pirate was “killed” it was simply removed from the ship, else there would have been a pile of dead plastic pirate bodies three or four deep across the entire deck of the ship.

Meanwhile, my buddy Greg was playing in a minis game from the age of Napoleon.

Napoleonic miniatures

Napoleonic miniatures.

Napoleonic minis—the Redcoats advance across the bridge

Napoleonic minis—the Redcoats advance across the bridge.

There were also some other minis games going on.

Battle in the desert

Battle in the desert, I believe it was from the Crusades.

So then after the first session games were finished, I ran Championship Formula Racing (CFR) starting at 1:00 pm. We raced on the Detroit Belle Isle track. We had nine drivers, and a rookie,  “young” Jack, won the race.

Belle Isle track at FlintCon

Belle Isle track at FlintCon.

Then for the final session of the day, I ran Gutshot starting at 7:00 pm.

Whitewash City at FlintCon

Whitewash City at FlintCon. This is the pre-game setup where players could choose from the minis at the front of the table.

Nine hombres played the Gutshot adventure “Love & Bullets.” In that adventure, Missy Picket has fallen in love with Billy Barnes, except Billy is the leader of a small cattle-rustling outfit, and Missy’s father, the stern Colonel Beauregard Jackson Picket III forbids his daughter to have anything to do with Billy. Well, so Billy’s gang is in town, and they are going to help Billy get Missy out of town. The Colonel also has some hired guns in town, and they mean to prevent Missy leaving with Billy. There is a major complication, of course, in that none of the Colonel’s men can cause any harm to come to Missy!

So Billy and Missy and the rest of Billy’s gang made it from the Grand Hotel to the livery stable before the Colonel’s men showed up. But then bullets started flying. Just as Missy was about to mount her horse in the corral, it spooked from the gunfire and bucked her off. Then Missy mounted Billy’s horse, and Billy got on the horse behind Missy. Then they rode off, with none of the Colonel’s men daring to shoot at Billy for fear of shooting Missy by accident.

Everyone at FlintCon seemed to have a good time, no matter what game they played. I reckon I’ll have to run some more games there next year.

CFR Race #3: Monaco Grand Prix at Imperium Games

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Eight drivers raced in the Monaco Grand Prix on Friday, November 10, 2017, at Imperium Games in Wixom, Michigan, using the board game rules for Championship Formula Racing (CFR). When the race was over, Mike Cook won the race, after he started in pole position. Gary Sturgeon finished 2nd, and Garry Kaluzny managed to hold onto 3rd place from Greg Lim.

The real track diagram of the Monte Carlo track.

The real track diagram of the Monte Carlo track.

Although the new CFR game comes with a game track of the Monte Carlo course, it is not accurate at all, so we used (as a basis) the version of that track that was published with one of the old Avalon Hill Accessory Pack tracks, although we modified the Avalon Hill track by adding the nouvelle chicane.

The Monte Carlo track we used to race on.

The Monte Carlo track we used to race on.

Surprisingly, the bidding for pole position was fairly sane, with the winning bid by Mike Cook being of 3 Wear and 1 Skill markers, for a total bid of 3.5. Two drivers (Jack Beckman and Gary Sturgeon) bid 3.0, three drivers (Jim Robinson, Brian Robinson, and Garry Kaluzny) bid 2.5, Then Greg Lim bid 2.0, and Richard White bid only 0.5. The starting grid and their car stats:

The starting grid and car specs:
 # Driver (Car)                    Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)          100   40    60   140  5x   2x   hard
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            60   60    60   160  4x   2x   hard
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus) 20   60    60   160  5x   2x   soft
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)           60   60    60   160  4x   2x   hard
 5 Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)    60   60    40   140  5x   3x   soft
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)           60   60    40   140  5x   3x   soft
 7 Greg Lim (Motorola)               20   40    60   140  5x   4x   hard
 1 Richard White (Brabham)           60   40    40   140  5x   4x   hard

Start = Start Speed (in miles/hour); Accel = Acceleration (in mph); Decel = Deceleration (in mph); Top = Top Speed (in mph); Wear = # of Wear markers per lap raced; Skill = # of Skill markers per lap raced; Tires = hard or soft tires to begin the race. (Since the race was 3 laps, a car with 4x of Wear would receive 12 Wear markers to start the race (as an example).)

The starting grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The starting grid for the Monaco Grand Prix. Mike Cook is on the pole (yellow car); Jack Beckman is next to him (red car). 2nd row is Garry Sturgeon (black car) and Jim Robinson (white/blue/yellow car). Brian Robinson is the 3rd row, Garry Kaluzny is the 4th row, Greg Lim is the 5th row, and Richard White is the 6th row.

From the start, Mike Cook zoomed into the lead with his 100 mph start speed, followed closely by Jack Beckman’s Ferrari after Jack rolled dice to boost his start speed to 80 mph. Jim Robinson held 3rd, Brian Robinson pulled alongside Gary Sturgeon, then Garry Kaluzny had to slow down to 60 mph after boosting his start speed to 80 mph. Kaluzny rolled an unmodified start speed roll instead of using a wear (since he was on soft tires at the start, Kaluzny could have used a wear to boost his start speed), but rolled that unmodified start speed roll in hopes that he wouldn’t get the increased start speed. But, Kaluzny did get the increased start speed, then had to spend a wear to slow to 60 mph. Richard White passed Greg Lim at the start, due to Lim starting at only 20 mph, plus White boosted his start speed to 80 mph.

After the first move of the game.

After the first move of the game, Cook and Beckman jump into the lead.

After everyone got through the first corner at Ste. Devote, Jim Robinson passed Beckman for 2nd place going into the Massenet corner. Kaluzny also passed Brian Robinson for 5th place.

Heading into Massenet for the 1st time.

Heading into Massenet for the 1st time, Jim Robinson passes Beckman’s Ferrari to take 2nd place. Jim Robinson and Richard White look at the action on the track.

Then, heading into the sharp right-hand Mirabeau Haute corner, Sturgeon passed Beckman and took over 3rd place. Then Beckman fought back and passed both Sturgeon and J. Robinson to reclaim 2nd place going into the “Hairpin” (I still call it the Loews Hairpin, even though it has had many names over the years).

Into the "Hairpin" for the 1st time.

Into the “Hairpin” for the 1st time, Beckman reclaims 2nd place.

But then again, J. Robinson, Sturgeon, Kaluzny, and White all passed Beckman by the time the pack got through the Portier corner which led into the tunnel straightaway. J. Robinson pulled along Cook just before the Nouvelle Chicane, but then had to back off. Then Kaluzny made a pass of J. Robinson coming out of that chicane, and pulled alongside Cook as they were headed into the Tabac corner.

Through the Nouvelle Chicane.

Through the Nouvelle Chicane for the first time. Kaluzny (orange car) is alongside Cook (yellow car), then are Sturgeon (black car) and J. Robinson (white car), then the pack of Beckman (red), White (white/blue), B. Robinson (white/blue) and Lim (black/blue).

Through Tabac and the swimming pool series of corners, the pack pretty much stayed in the same order, except that White spun at Tabac.

Richard White spins at Tabac.

Richard White spins at Tabac.

White’s spin at Tabac didn’t hurt him too much, as only B. Robinson got past him there, but then Beckman’s Ferrari was able to force a pass on both B. Robinson and White just after exiting Tabac. Lim tried to force a pass on White after Tabac, but White slammed the door on Lim. Then at Rascasse, Cook and Kaluzny, got through a wee bit before J. Robinson and Sturgeon, and Cook and Kaluzny pulled into the pits for fresh tires. Meanwhile, White spun again, this time at Rascasse.

White spins at Rascasse

As the 1st lap is almost complete, White spins a 2nd time, this time at Rascasse, while Cook and Kaluzny pull off the track into the pits.

While Cook and Kaluzny were in the pits, the other six cars on the track all also pulled into the pits, making the first time in the CFR-Detroit racing series when all cars were in the pits at the same time.

All eight cars are in the pits

At the end of the 1st lap, all eight cars are in the pits at the same time.

While in the pits at the end of the 1st lap, Cook, J. Robinson, Beckman, Lim,  and White all switched from hard to soft tires, while Kaluzny, Sturgeon, and B. Robinson all changed from soft to hard tires. This meant that all drivers had fulfilled their obligation to drive on both different tire compounds during the race. After the pit stops, the official order after the 1st lap was Cook, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, J. Robinson, B. Robinson, Lim, Beckman, and White.

Coming out of Ste. Devote on the 2nd lap, Beckman tried to force a pass on Lim, but was balked and had to slow by 40 mph. Beckman had just had to spend three wear chits in going through the Ste. Devote corner, and then spent 2 more wear to slow, meaning he used up 5 wear in failing that forced-pass manuever, of which he only came out of the pits with 12 wear, so he used 42% of his wear allotment on that one corner. That huge wear expenditure was to haunt the Ferrari driver for the balance of the race. Beckman was able to get by Lim and before they reached the Massenet corner, though.

Kaluzny plots how to catch Cook

Garry Kaluzny (orange shirt and car) plots how to catch Cook’s yellow Lotus heading into the Mirabeau Haute corner. Jack Beckman looks on in his red Ferrari shirt.

 

The drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix

The drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix (clockwise, from left): Mike Cook, Jim Robinson, Richard White, Greg Lim, Gary Sturgeon, Brian Robinson, Jack Beckman.

As the lead cars of Cook and Kaluzny rolled through Portier and into the tunnel straight, Kaluzny tried to over-rev his engine, losing top gear and thus limiting his top speed to 120 mph for the rest of the race (about 1.5 laps remaining of the 3-lap race). Kaluzny opted to only use a single -1 Skill chit, then rolled an 11. If he had used two -1 Skill markers, he would have passed that dice roll. However, you must declare your use of Skill markers before you roll the dice. (Also, in hindsight, when you roll dice in CFR, if you pass the roll, you are driving brilliantly, but if you fail the roll, you simply screwed up!)

Heading towards the chicane on the 2nd lap

Heading towards the chicane on the 2nd lap, Kaluzny’s orange McLaren-Honda fails a top speed dice roll, thus limiting his top speed to 120 mph for the rest of the race. At the moment, Kaluzny leads J. Robinson by 4 spaces and Sturgeon by 6 spaces. (Gary Sturgeon photo)

Farther back in the pack, Beckman passed an unmodified Chance roll through Portier to take 7th place from B. Robinson, but then when Beckman took another unmodified Chance roll at the Nouvelle Chicane, he spun, thus allowing B. Robinson to regain 7th place.

Past the swimming pool corners the 2nd time, Cook stretched out his lead over Kaluzny to 5 spaces after Rascasse. Sturgeon, J. Robinson, and Lim were closing in on Kaluzny, and White, Beckman, and B. Robinson had fallen further behind.

Through Rascasse on the 2nd lap

Through Rascasse on the 2nd lap, Cook’s yellow Lotus leads by an increasing margin.

As the 2nd lap was nearly complete, most of the cars pitted again, all of the pittees switching back to or else installing a new set of soft tires. The sole exception was Brian Robinson, who opted to stay out on the track on his hard tires (thus regaining two wear). The official order after two complete laps was Cook, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, Lim (driving his best race so far), J. Robinson, B. Robinson, White, and Beckman.

Early in the 3rd lap, Cook stretches his lead

Early in the 3rd lap, Cook stretches his lead to 8 spaces over Kaluzny. Sturgeon is right behind Kaluzny’s tailpipe, then other cars are strung out behind.

After the 2nd lap pit stops got sorted out, Cook was enjoying a comfortable lead, and looked to have an easy victory ahead of him. Kaluzny was trying to keep Sturgeon’s John Player Lotus behind him, and Lim and J. Robinson were battling for 4th place. Sturgeon finally got his Lotus past Kaluzny’s McLaren at Massenet, although Kaluzny stayed right with Sturgeon until they got around Portier, when Sturgeon’s superior top speed enabled him to motor away towards a sure 2nd place. Also, Lim had got by J. Robinson at Massenet, thus taking 4th place.

Cook leads through the chicane on the last lap

Cook leads through the chicane on the last lap as Sturgeon, Kaluzny, and Lim battle just before the chicane.

Through the last few corners, Cook (0) won the race going away, enjoying an 11-space margin over 2nd-place Sturgeon (+1) at the finish line. Kaluzny (+3) managed to just nip Lim at the line for 3rd place, as Lim (+3) finished in the points, in 4th place, for the first time in his young driving career. Then Richard White (+3) came in 5th, having passed J. Robinson at the Rascasse corner. J. Robinson (-2) got the final points-paying position in 6th place. B. Robinson (-2) crossed the line in 7th, but Beckman (-6) crashed at the Anthony Noghes corner, the last corner on the track. Beckman’s crash was the first time a car failed to complete a race in the CFR-Detroit 2017-2018 season. The + or – numbers indicate how many positions that driver gained (+) or lost (-) from where their car qualified for the race.

Cook's Lotus crosses the finish line in victory

Cook’s yellow Lotus crosses the finish line in victory with a healthy margin over Sturgeon’s black Lotus.

The points awarded at the Monaco Grand Prix: Cook 10; Sturgeon 6; Kaluzny 4; Lim 3; White 2, J. Robinson 1.

Top finishers lined up in the pits

Top finishers lined up in the pits: Cook, Sturgeon, Kaluzny, Lim, White, and J. Robinson. B. Robinson’s car is still on the track, and the wrecker and ambulance attend to Beckman and his wrecked Ferrari. (Greg Lim photo)

The updated points standings after three (of eight) races:

Place Driver (Car)                     Points
  1   Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            17
  2   Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            16
  3T  Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             12
  3T  Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  12
  5   Richard White (Brabham)             8
  6   Jim Landis (Benetton)               5
  7   Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)      4
  8   Greg Lim (Motorola)                 3
  9   Jim Robinson (Williams)             1
 10   Russ Herschler (Minardi)            0

The next race, The Belgian Grand Prix (at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit) of the 2017-2018 CFR-Detroit racing season will be on Friday, December 8th, at Pandemonium Games & Hobbies at 6033 Middlebelt Road in Garden City, Michigan. Race time is 7:00 pm.

Starting the Racing Season using the Championship Formula Racing Game

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

After several months of running demo races in various locations to try to attract as many potential drivers as possible, the Championship Formula Racing-Detroit group started off their 2017-2018 series of races with the Italian Grand Prix on Friday, September 9, 2017. Ten drivers competed in the race, and when all was said and done, Jack Beckman won the race, followed by other podium finishers Richard White and Jim Landis. The race was at the Guild of Blades game store in Clawson, Michigan.

Drivers set up their cars preparatory to racing on the Monza, Italy track with 1:64 scale race cars.

Drivers set up their cars preparatory to racing on the Monza, Italy track with 1:64 scale race cars. Pictured are (left-to-right): Richard White; Brian Robinson; Mike Cook; Jim Robinson; Jim Landis; Russ Herschler; and Garry Kaluzny.

In our former racing game campaign using Advanced Speed Circuit rules, we used to actually run our cars on qualifying laps; however, in the new CFR rules, starting positions are determined by “bidding” some of your car’s Wear and/or Skill markers. Mike Cook took the pole position with a bid of 8 Skill, which is equal to 4 Wear (for a bid total of 4). Jim Landis started in the other front row position with a bid of 3. The 2nd row starters were Garry Kaluzny and Brian Robinson with bids of 2.5 and 2, respectively. Gary Sturgeon bid 1 to start 5th, and Jack Beckman bid 0.5 to start 6th. The final four starters each bid nothing, so they rolled dice for their starting positions, with the highest dice rolls starting in front of the lower dice rolls. Greg Lim started 7th; Russ Herschler started 8th; Richard White started 9th; and Jim Robinson started 10th.

The starting grid with their car specs:

 # Driver                        Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill
11 Mike Cook (Lotus)               20    60   60  180  3x   3x
20 Jim Landis (Benetton)          100    40   40  160  5x   2x
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)         20    60   60  180  3x   3x
 5 Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)  20    60   60  180  3x   3x
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player)     60    60   60  160  4x   2x
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)          20    80   60  160  4x   2x
 7 Greg Lim (Motorola)             20    80   60  160  4x   2x
23 Russ Herschler (Minardi)        60    60   40  160  4x   3x
 1 Richard White (Brabham)         60    40   40  160  4x   4x
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)         60    40   40  180  4x   3x

Start = Start Speed (in miles/hour); Accel = Acceleration (in mph); Decel = Deceleration (in mph); Top = Top Speed (in mph); Wear = # of Wear markers; Skill = # of Skill markers.

We raced using the CFR rules for pit stops and different tire compounds. That meant that cars started with less Wear than if we were not using the pit stop rules. Since we raced three laps around the Monza track, cars with 3x Wear started with 3 x 3 = 9 Wear; cars with 4x Wear started with 4 x 3 = 12 Wear, and cars with 5x Wear started with 5 x 3 = 15 Wear. Cars would also have to make at least one pit stop during the race, as each car had to use both the hard and the soft tires. The CFR rules handle the different tires pretty eloquently; if your car is on hard tires, if you pass the finish line without stopping in the pits, you regain some Wear. This simulates that the hard tires don’t wear out as fast as the soft tires. A car on hard tires with 3x Wear would regain 4 Wear when crossing the finish line (except at the start or the finish of the race); a car with 4x Wear would regain 3 Wear when crossing the line, and a car with 5x Wear would regain 2 Wear when crossing the line.

Soft tires don’t allow cars to regain Wear, but they do allow drivers to spend Wear in extra ways. For example, drivers could spend 3 Wear if they were going 60 mph over the Speed Limit in a corner. Cars on hard tires (or using the basic rules without pit stops) would have to use 2 Wear and roll dice to take a chance of spinning out or crashing when 60 mph over the speed limit in a corner. Soft tires also allow a drivers to increase their starting speed without chancing a stall, and they also allow using a Wear to increase Acceleration by 20 mph in a turn.

Diagram of the real Monza track.

Diagram of the real Monza track.

Drivers starting on soft tires were Jim Landis, Garry Kaluzny, and Brian Robinson. Everyone else started on hard tires. All of the soft tire cars increased their start speed by 20 mph, so that allowed Jim Landis to start at 120 mph, and he quickly jumped in front of the field at the start.

At the first turn of the first lap, Jim Landis leads the pack in the Benetton.

At the first turn of the first lap, Jim Landis leads the pack in the Benetton.

At the first turn (the Variante del Rettifilo), Jim Landis led, followed by Garry Kaluzny, Richard White (rocketing from 9th on the grid to 3rd on the start), Russ Herschler, Brian Robinson, Mike Cook (the pole-sitter), Gary Sturgeon, Jack Beckman, Jim Robinson, and Greg Lim. Going through the del Rettifilo turn, Brian Robinson managed to get by Russ Herschler. At the Variante Ascari (the series of corners leading onto the back straightaway), Jim Landis was leading Garry Kaluzny by 4 spaces on the track, followed by Jack Beckman and Brian Robinson (each 5 spaces behind Landis), then came White and Herschler (each 7 spaces behind Landis), then Cook (8 spaces back), Sturgeon (12 spaces back), Jim Robinson (16 spaces back), and Lim (22 spaces back). But then going through Ascari, both Herschler and Jim Robinson spun, so they dropped back in the field.

As the cars came around the final turn of the first lap, the Curva Parabolica, the three cars on soft tires, Landis, Kaluzny, and B. Robinson, all pitted as they had all burned through all of their starting wear. A bit of a surprise was when Sturgeon also pitted to switch from hard to soft tires. Herschler also pitted to switch from hard to soft tires.

The official order after the 1st lap was complete was: Beckman (+5); White (+7); Cook (-2); Sturgeon (+1, pitted); Landis (-3, pitted); Herschler (+2, pitted); Lim (0); Kaluzny (-5, pitted); B. Robinson (-5, pitted); and J. Robinson (0). The + or – symbols tell how many spaces the driver improved (+) their lap 1 position from their starting position, or how many spaces they lost (-) from their starting position.

On the 2nd lap, just past the del Rettifilo corner, Gary Sturgeon in the John Player car forced a pass on Garry Kaluzny’s McLaren in the Curva Grande, although Sturgeon had to burn a Wear when the cars bumped together. Jim Robinson spun a second time, this time at del Rettifilo, the sharp right-hand corner at the end of the main straightaway. He also had failed his deceleration dice roll just before spinning, so his brakes were just not up to snuff on this day. Russ Herschler, who had just come out of the pits, was able to pass J. Robinson before Robinson’s car got up to speed again.

As the cars passed through the Ascari corners on the 2nd lap, it was Beckman, White and Cook with quite a lead over the other drivers. Landis was in 4th place, 12 spaces behind the top three cars. Although, Landis had pitted on the 1st lap, and the three leaders had not yet ventured into the pits.

As the leaders passed through the final turn, the Curva Parabolica, on lap 2, the cars which had not stopped in the pits on after 1st lap did now pull into the pits. Cars that pitted on this lap were Beckman, White, Cook, Lim, and Jim Robinson, and they all switched from hard to soft tires. The other cars stayed out on the track.

The official order after lap 2 was: Landis (+4), Beckman (-1, pitted), White (-1, pitted), Lim (+3, pitted), Cook (-2, pitted), Kaluzny (+2), Sturgeon (-3), B. Robinson (+1), Herschler (-3), J. Robinson (0, pitted). The + or – symbols indicate how many positions the driver gained or lost from their position at the end of lap 1.

Early in the 3rd lap, three drivers, Beckman, Landis, and White, were side-by-side going into the Variante del Rettifilo. Landis and White blinked first, and Beckman’s Ferrari surged into the lead and got through that corner first. Beckman continued to lead through the first of the two Lesmo corners, building a 4-space lead.

Last lap through the Lesmo curves.

Beckman’s Ferrari leads the last lap through the Lesmo curves, followed by Landis, White, Cook, Kaluzny, and Sturgeon.

Richard White made a valiant effort to catch Beckman, but the engine in White’s Brabham started going sour as he approached the Ascari corners for the last time, and so could not catch up. Soon after that, Herschler’s Minardi spun in the 2nd Lesmo corner, although that didn’t affect his 9th place at the time.

Beckman's Ferrari about to cross the finish line. White and Landis trail, and Cook (yellow car) and Kaluzny (orange car) are side-by-side going into the Parabolica.

Beckman’s Ferrari about to cross the finish line. White and Landis trail, and Cook (yellow car) and Kaluzny (orange car) are side-by-side going into the Parabolica.

Going through the Curva Parabolica for the last time, Jack Beckman had no trouble motoring across the finish line first, thusly winning the inaugural race of the CFR-Detroit race series. Richard White was able to hold off Jim Landis for 2nd. The duel for 4th place was decided with Garry Kaluzny barely holding off Mike Cook. Exiting the Parabolica, Cook was right behind Kaluzny, ready to use two bonus spaces for drafting Kaluzny, which would have allowed Cook to pass Kaluzny for 4th. However, Kaluzny’s engine didn’t like being pushed to 200 mph, and spurted some oil onto the track. Cook had to swerve to avoid the oil, thus missing the slingshot move, and so finished 5th. Brian Robinson grabbed the last points-paying position in 6th place, and then 7th through 10th places went to Gary Sturgeon, Greg Lim, Russ Herschler, and Jim Robinson.

The finishing order at Monza.

The finishing order at Monza.

 Place Driver                                Points
    1  Jack Beckman (Ferrari) (+5)         - 10 points
    2  Richard White (Brabham) (+7)        -  6 points
    3  Jim Landis (Benetton) (-1)          -  4 points
    4  Garry Kaluzny (McLaren) (-1)        -  3 points
    5  Mike Cook (Lotus) (-4)              -  2 points
    6  Brian Robinson (Walker Racing) (-2) -  1 point
    7  Gary Sturgeon (John Player) (-2)
    8  Greg Lim (Motorola) (-1)
    9  Russ Herschler (Minardi) (-1)
   10  Jim Robinson (Williams) (0)

The + and – indicates how many places the driver gained or lost from their qualifying position. Jack Beckman gained 5 places from his starting position, although Richard White gained 7 places. Both drivers drove very fine races. They were the only two drivers who improved upon their starting position.

Very surprisingly, all 10 drivers who started the race also finished the race. This may be the only time this has occurred in the history of the Detroit area Speed Circuit/CFR races! Richard White stated that he thought that this was the only time when every starter also finished the race.

The next race will be on the 2010/2011 version of the Silverstone, England track. Race day is Friday, October 13, starting at 7:00 pm. The race venue has yet to be determined.

Making a 1:64 Scale track — Part 1 — Laying out the track

Friday, July 14th, 2017

I have posted recently about playing Speed Circuit (past) and Championship Formula Racing (present) on large-scale tracks that were painted on bed sheets. Some folks on the CFR forums at BoardGameGeek  (BGG) have asked me to show the process, so here goes. Disclaimer: Since I am in the United States of America, I use inches, feet, etc, and also relate car speeds as miles per hour. If you are in a metric system country, you will of course want to adjust the measurements for your system.

Select a Track Diagram

First, you will need a diagram of the track you want to make. I recently designed the Belle Isle (Detroit) track that is used by IndyCars. I did find that track had already been designed by someone else (I downloaded it from the Files section at BGG), but I didn’t like the design. Some of the straightaway sections were too long in that other design, so cars could use a high top speed in the game to go 200 mph or so. Watching the video of actual IndyCars racing on the Belle Isle track, I never saw any car get much above 160 mph at any time. That other track design also ignored some of the corners in the corners 7 through 11 sequence, and also treated corner 14 as just another straightaway space.

I first obtained the real Belle Isle track outline diagram from online. I used Wikipedia as a source, but there are alternate sources for tracks that you could use if you were designing your own track.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the diagram incorrectly calls one of the streets “Lotter Way” when it should properly be “Loiter Way.”

I then imported that track diagram into image editing software (I use Acorn from Flying Meat Software). I then erased everything except the actual track outline, scaled it to fit a poster board size space of 22″ x 28″ (in case I want to print out a board-game size map of that track). Then I changed the track color to red so it wouldn’t interfere with other colored spaces I would create. I created spaces that were 1″ long for a board-game size track, then placed them around the track for the straight parts of the track. I then “fudged” in the corner spaces. I then assigned corner speeds based on watching race video, and added cornering arrows. Here is the track with the original red outline, and gray spaces added:

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Acorn is a layer-based program like Photoshop, so you can make layers visible or invisible, change which layer is on top, etc, so that made the above process relatively easy.

Next was to print the track the size of a poster board, and then I ran some solo races on it using the CFR rules and cars of different configuration. I did make a few changes to the initial playtest track, so the “playtest 2” track above is how I finalized the spaces and corners. Except, I’m not sure about the speed of the final slight right-hand bend at the upper left of the track, just after the entrance to the pits. I have 140 mph marked on it for now, but may change it to 160 mph after I get some other folks to playtest it.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

You may already have a track diagram, so you won’t need to perform the above steps. In that case, you will start here:

Gather Items Needed to Build Your Track

Gather items you will need to build a large track.

Track building items laid out on the table.

Track building items laid out on the table.

  • A large table ( I use a ping-pong table that is 5′ x 9′ in size — you will probably need something larger than a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood, as some tracks are larger than 4′ x 8′). You could also use a large area of the floor, if you are younger than me, and have good knees!
  • Track template pieces. I used to use poster board to create various sizes of straightaways (either two-lane or three-lane wide), but now I find it’s easier and cheaper to just print paper on my laser printer. I create spaces for straights that are 3″ long by 1.75″ wide, as that size space fits my 1:64 scale race cars well. If you make the spaces much smaller than that, cars will be too tightly spaced together if they are crowded into the same area of the track. If the spaces are too large, you might not be able to fit the finished track onto a reasonable table size. I also used to just “fudge” in the corners after laying out the straight pieces, but now I also print out some generic corner pieces. I found some generic track sections online, and printed them at different scales until I got the right size. I also tested the printed corner pieces to ensure my 1:64 scale cars would fit in the spaces on those corner pieces.
Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

  • A pair of scissors for cutting the track templates.
  • Carpenter’s style tape measure.
  • A straight edge of some sort to help with marking straight lines. I use an old steel ruler from an old combination square.
  • A pencil to mark the basic outline of the track once you have completed the layout.
  • A black marker (like a Sharpie), used to go over the penciled outline of the track.
  • Clear cellophane tape. Use the tape to tack small track sections together to build assemblies, so there are not as many loose pieces to move around when you make track adjustments.
  • Masking tape. Used to mask the track so you only paint the track.
  • Miscellaneous newspapers, pieces of cardboard, etc. Use these to actually mask areas of the sheet that you don’t want to paint.
  • A can of flat black spray paint. You could also brush flat black paint onto the sheet, but I find spraying is easier, and doesn’t bleed-through the sheet as much as brush painting.
  • Different colored paint markers. I use black (preferably flat black), red, white, and yellow paint markers. Get oil based paint markers, as they won’t wash out if you ever have to wash your track. These markers are used to paint the lines for the spaces on the track, cornering speeds & arrows, and the red-and-white lines along the edge of the track to denote which side of the track is the inside to the next corner.
  • A flat bed sheet. Wait to buy the sheet until after you determine how big the track will be.

Laying Out the Track

Cut out the various straight and curved template pieces.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Then, tape together straight sections to make longer pieces. Do this so you won’t have as many pieces of paper to move around. For the Belle Isle track, I needed straight sections of various spaces long, such as 12 spaces long, 5 spaces long, etc.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

After you have cut out and taped your various templates, place the various lengths of straight sections about where they should go. Use the track diagram as a guide. I also wrote the number of straight spaces in each area directly on that track diagram, so I wasn’t always re-counting the straightaways.

Placing the straight sections of the track.

The straight sections of track have been placed in their approximate positions.

In the above picture, the straight pieces are roughly where they should go. Don’t worry about exactness, as you will have to make adjustments. Then add the corner pieces, and try to “close the loop” of the track by making adjustments as needed.

Curves have been added to the track.

Curves have been added to the track.

In my example above, you can see that the track will actually fit on the table. Yay!

A view of the other side of the track.

A view of the other side of the track.

The next step is to measure the longest distance of the track’s length and width, and write down the numbers.

Measuring the track dimensions.

Measuring the track dimensions.

For my Belle Isle track, I found the rough layout was about 4′ wide and 7’6″ long, so the finished track should be able to be played on a 4′ x 8′ table size. This is now the time to purchase the flat bed sheet. I was able to purchase a flat sheet that is 66″ x 96″, or 5’6″ x 8’0″, for about $5 (US). For you metric folk, that sheet is 168cm x 244cm. Of course, before you can use the sheet, you will need to wash it, as the sheets are usually packed very densely, and the wrinkles will make it difficult to paint the track later. Also throw the sheet in the dryer (if you have one) after washing to “pre-shrink” it.

Continued in Part 2 – Marking the track on the sheet.

Also see Part 3 – Painting the track.

Creole du Nord at Bayou Detroit, September 21

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Creole du Nord is playing for the 1st “Bayou Detroit” celebration at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit on Saturday, September 21. The event starts with an open Cajun jam session at 6:00 pm (musicians, bring your instruments!), then there are zydeco (and Cajun two-step) dance lessons at 7:00 pm, then Creole du Nord plays from 8:00 to 11:00 pm. Tickets are $12 in advance (can be ordered online at the Bayou Detroit link above), or $15 at the door. The party is actually on the Majestic’s rooftop “Alley Deck” which is on the roof, overlooking the alley below. The Majestic Theatre complex is at 4120 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, MI. There is limited parking right behind the Majestic; get there early to grab a spot. You may be able to find a spot on the street, but most of the street parking has meters that are only good for two hours, although I believe the city stops enforcing the meters after 8:00 pm. Don’t take my word for that, though, as parking may have changed around there.

The Bayou Detroit web site also mentions “Cajun food on the outdoor grill” and then lists a Crawfish Boil 1/2 lb for $7.50 and Chicken Gumbo served with Fried Okra for $5.95 so I believe those are additional charges to the admission fee.

It sounds like y’all could pass a good time at this event. I’m hoping to make it there in time for the jam session, although I have been fighting off a cold.

–Bayou Joe

Mardi Gras! live music in the Detroit area, March 8

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Mardi Gras is upon us! March 8 in 2011. If you’re looking for some LIVE Cajun/zydeco/New Orleans/swamp pop music in Michigan, you’re in luck!

Maison Bleue plays for a Mardi Gras party in Dearborn at the Dearborn Hills Golf Course banquet hall at 1300 S. Telegraph Rd. The party is from 3:30 to 9:00 pm, Maison Bleue plays from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. There is also a student band playing from 3:30 to 4:45 pm. This party is a fundraiser for the Dearborn Education Foundation. Tix are $25 at the door. Info at 313-827-8790. Also included with your admission ticket is a very tasty Cajun buffet. It’s all I can do to get the band back playing instead of going back for more chow!

If you’re on the east side of Detroit (or even if you aren’t), you may want to check out Monsieur Guillaume & His Zydeco Hepcats as they play at the Cadieux Cafe at 4300 Cadieux Road in Detroit. That party starts at 8:00 pm or thereabouts. No cover charge, and no reservations needed, although the Cafe does say that if you have a party of 8 or more folks, please do call and make a reservation. Call 313-882-8560 for reservations or more info. Presumably, one could make it to both the Dearborn and Detroit Mardi Gras gigs if one were so inclined! If you do make it to the Cadieux Cafe, remind them that it’s spelled “Zydeco Hepcats” instead of “Zydaco Hepcats” as they have on their online schedule!

Also, although it’s not near Detroit but up in Elk Rapids (north of Traverse City) in Michigan’s lower peninsula, one could catch the Saucecats at a Mardi Gras party at Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen. It’s at 617 Ames St. in Elk Rapids. No cover charge, no reservations needed. Call 231-264-0530 for more info.

Alan previously posted info about the MG party with Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas and Creolization at The B.O.B. in Grand Rapids, so scroll down for that info.

Posted by Garry