Posts Tagged ‘RIW Hobbies & Games’

CFR Race #2: British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

The second race of the 2017-2018 season of Championship Formula Racing (CFR) in Detroit, the British Grand Prix, was held on Friday, October 13, at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan. Nine drivers participated. When all was said and done, Garry Kaluzny won the race after starting 6th. Other podium finishers were Gary Sturgeon and Mike Cook. Garry Kaluzny now leads the points standings, 13 to 12 over Jack Beckman. The race was on the current version of the Silverstone track, where the start/finish line had been moved from near the Woodcote corner to just past the Club corner, and with more corners added to try to slow the track some from its previous high speed configuration.

The real Silverstone track diagram.

The real Silverstone track diagram. This is the version of the track used since 2011.


The modern Silverstone track.

The modern Silverstone track as rendered in 1:64 scale for use with Championship Formula Racing.

Pole position was determined by drivers secretly bidding a number of their Wear and/or Skill markers. Jack Beckman won the pole position with a high bid of 7. Gary Sturgeon started on the outside of row 1 with his bid of 3. Sturgeon bid 6 Skill markers (each of which counts as 1/2 of a Wear for pole bid purposes), which used all of his Skill markers he had available for the race. The second row had Mike Cook and Jim Robinson. Although each of those drivers bid 2.5, Cook won the dice roll and so started on the inside. Brian Robinson, Garry Kaluzny, and Jim Landis all bid 2, with B. Robinson winning the dice roll to start 5th, then came Kaluzny in 6th and Landis in 7th. Greg Lim bid 0.5 (a single Skill marker) to start 8th, and Richard White started 9th as he did not bid anything.

The starting grid and car specs:

 # Driver (Car)                     Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            100    40    40  160  5x    2x   hard
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  20    60    60  180  4x    2x   hard
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            60    60    40  180  3x    3x   hard
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)            60    40    40  160  5x    3x   soft
 5 Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)     20    60    60  180  3x    3x   soft
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            20    60    40  180  5x    2x   soft
20 Jim Landis (Benetton)              60    40    40  180  5x    2x   soft
 7 Greg Lim (Motorola)                20    60    60  180  3x    3x   hard
 1 Richard White (Brabham)            60    40    40  180  4x    3x   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 4x of Wear would receive 12 Wear markers to start the race (as an example).)

Once again, we were using the optional CFR rules for pit stops and tire compounds. Four drivers started on hard tires, and five started on soft tires. Soft tires give some driving advantages, such as being able to use a Wear to increase your start speed or your acceleration without having to roll dice, plus with soft tires you could use 3 Wear to go 60 mph over the speed limit in a corner without having to roll dice, instead of having to use only 2 Wear and roll on the Chance table if you were 60 mph in a corner while using hard tires. If a car was on hard tires, it could regain a few wear when passing the finish line each lap it did not pit for new tires. All drivers had to make at least one pit stop as they needed to use both hard and soft tires at some time during the race.

At the start, pole sitter Jack Beckman jumped into the lead with his 100 mph start speed. Jim Robinson moved up to 2nd from 4th. Mike Cook kept his 3rd position, while Gary Sturgeon dropped from 2nd to 4th. Then Brian Robinson, Garry Kaluzny, and Jim Landis were all side-by-side as they crossed the start line, followed by Richard White and Greg Lim.

The start at Silverstone.

The start at Silverstone. Jack Beckman leads from Jim Robinson, then came Mike Cook, Gary Sturgeon, Brian Robinson, Garry Kaluzny, Jim Landis, Richard White, and Greg Lim. Note the temporary extension used to extend the starting grid, as the start/finish line is just past the Club corner in the 1:64 scale track.

As the pack roared through the Brooklands and Luffield corners, Beckman was still in the lead, followed by Cook and Kaluzny (who had made a daring pass of J. Robinson and Sturgeon at Brooklands to pull alongside Cook). Richard White spun his Brabham in Luffield, and Jim Robinson and Sturgeon went around on the outside of that corner. Then Landis, B. Robinson, and Lim brought up the rear of the pack.

Through the Luffield corner for the first time.

Through the Luffield corner for the first time.

Continuing around through the Maggots/Becketts/Chapel curves, Beckman continued leading Cook and Kaluzny by a slim margin, then a few spaces back in a bunch were J. Robinson, Sturgeon, Landis, and B. Robinson, and then Lim was a few spaces behind them.

Through Maggots/Becketts/Chapel curves for the first time.

Through Maggots/Becketts/Chapel curves for the first time.

Heading through the Stowe corner, Cook’s Camel Lotus was breathing down Beckman’s Ferrari’s tailpipe. Sturgeon’s John Player Lotus passed Kaluzny at Stowe, then the others followed behind.

Through Stowe for the first time.

Through Stowe for the first time–Beckman, Cook, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, J. Robinson, Landis, and B. Robinson’s cars are pictured.

As the cars were coming around to complete the first lap, Beckman, Kaluzny, Landis, B. Robinson, White, and Lim all pitted. Beckman and Lim switched from hard to soft tires, while Kaluzny, Landis, B. Robinson, and White switched from soft to hard tires. Sturgeon, J. Robinson, and Cook all stayed out on the track and did not pit.

End of 1st lap, first pit stops.

End of 1st lap, first pit stops. Beckman’s Ferrari (red car), Kaluzny’s McLaren (orange car) and Landis (green/red/blue car) are already in the pits.

In CFR, pit stops are accomplished by simply moving your car off to the side of the track when you end a turn within the pit stop zone. In the above picture, you can see pieces of tape with “Pit” and an arrow on them to indicate the “pit stop zone” (also a pair of orange barrels mark the beginning of the pit stop zone). Then cars are marked with an “Exit -2” marker the turn they enter the pits. The following turn (while the car continues to sit in the pits), the Exit -2 marker is flipped to its “Exit -1” side, and then the next turn after that, the car can re-enter the track and resume its former speed.

The official order at the end of Lap 1, and before the pit stops were resolved, was Beckman, Sturgeon, J. Robinson, Cook, B. Robinson, Landis, Kaluzny, White, and Lim. However, after the stops were resolved, the actual running order on the track was Sturgeon, J. Robinson, Cook (none of whom had pitted), Beckman, Landis, Kaluzny, B. Robinson, White, and Lim.

During the 2nd lap, the cars that did not pit enjoyed a bit of a lead over the rest of the pack, and the field became spread out somewhat. Through the Luffield corner the second time around, Sturgeon, Cook and J. Robinson led by 5 spaces over Beckman, then Kaluzny and B. Robinson were another 3 spaces behind Beckman. Landis was 2 spaces behind Kaluzny and B. Robinson, then Lim was 6 spaces behind Landis, and White had fallen farther behind, after spinning at Village corner (his 2nd spinout of the race).

Through Luffield corner on the 2nd lap

Through Luffield corner on the 2nd lap. Actual drivers pictured (left-to-right) are Mike Cook, Jim Landis, and Jim Robinson.

Going through the Maggots/Becketts/Chapel corners on the 2nd lap, the field was even more spread out. Sturgeon led from Cook, then came J. Robinson, Beckett, Kaluzny, B. Robinson, Landis, Lim, and White.

Through Maggots/Becketts/Chapel on the 2nd lap.

Through Maggots/Becketts/Chapel on the 2nd lap.

Sturgeon managed to hold his 3-space lead over Cook through the Stowe corner, and the rest of the field remained strung out in the same order behind him.

Through Stowe corner for the 2nd time.

Through Stowe corner for the 2nd time. Gary Sturgeon’s John Player Lotus (the black car near the large “12” marker) leads the pack. Drivers pictured (l-to-r): Mike Cook, Jim Landis, Jim Robinson, Richard White, and Brian Robinson.

As the leaders came up to the start/finish line to complete the 2nd lap, the three leaders, Sturgeon, Cook, and J. Robinson, all had to pit to change tires. Sturgeon and Cook changed from hard to soft tires, while J. Robinson changed from soft to hard tires. All of the other drivers stayed out on the track this time around except for Lim, who pitted to put a new set of soft tires on his car to replace the worn out soft tires.

Completing the 2nd lap.

Completing the 2nd lap. Gary Sturgeon (black car) and Mike Cook (yellow car) have already pulled into the pits.

It should be noted in the above picture of cars in the pits, that there is a “pit road” (with the 40 mph speed limit) in the infield of the track. While we are not using that pit road with the CFR simplified pit stop rules, it was painted onto the track just in case we ever revert to our old “Advanced Speed Circuit” pit stop rules.

The official order after the 2nd lap was completed by all cars was: Gary Sturgeon; Jim Robinson; Garry Kaluzny; Jack Beckman; Brian Robinson; Mike Cook; Jim Landis; Richard White; and Greg Lim. By the time the lead cars were in the Luffield corner, the order was Kaluzny, Beckman, Sturgeon, Cook, B. Robinson, Landis, J. Robinson, White, and Lim. Lim was quite a ways behind White after making a 2nd pit stop.

Kaluzny takes the lead at Luffield on the last lap.

Kaluzny takes the lead at Luffield on the last lap. Pictured (l-to-r): Richard White (foreground); Gary Sturgeon (background); Garry Kaluzny (orange shirt); Jack Beckman (black shirt).

Kaluzny had taken the lead from Beckman going through the Brooklands/Luffield corners, as Beckman’s Ferrari was about out of Wear. Kaluzny stayed on the track after lap 2, and had 8 Wear remaining, then added another 2 Wear due to his being on hard tires, so he had 10 Wear left to use on the final lap. When Sturgeon and Cook came out of the pits after lap 2, they had 12 and 9 Wears, respectively, after replenishing their Wear. Going through Copse corner the last time, Kaluzny’s McLaren led from Beckman’s Ferrari by 3 spaces, and then Sturgeon, Cook, Brian Robinson, and Jim Landis were all nose-to-tail right behind Beckman.

Kaluzny leads through Copse corner on the last lap.

Kaluzny leads through Copse corner on the last lap.

Kaluzny held his lead through the Maggots/Becketts/Chapel set of curves, but when he got to the Stowe corner, the rest of the pack had suddenly caught up to him. As they all approached the Vale and Club corners the last time, Kaluzny, Sturgeon, and Cook were running 1-2-3, all in follow-the-leader order.

Approaching the Vale corner for the last time.

Approaching the Vale corner for the last time.

As they went through Vale and Club corners, Kaluzny moved at 120 mph, burning 2 Wear, but Sturgeon, in 2nd place, went 140 mph while using 3 Wear due to being on soft tires, and that allowed Sturgeon to pull alongside Kaluzny as each driver was only one space from the finish line. But Kaluzny had 1 Wear and 2 Skill chips left, while Sturgeon had no Wear or Skill chips remaining, so on their next turn, Kaluzny plotted to move at 200 mph, and Sturgeon only plotted 160 mph. So Kaluzny’s car moved first, and he had to make both of acceleration and top speed dice rolls, using a -1 Skill marker for each roll. Then, after moving a space, Kaluzny made an unmodified deceleration dice roll to reduce his speed to 180 mph, and he was then able to go through the corner past the finish line at only 20 mph over the speed limit, for which he used his final Wear (that had been hoarded for such a use).

It should be noted that the CFR rules say that if a car crashes in the corner past the finish line, that it is considered to have NOT finished the race at all! Also, if a car spins in that corner after the finish line, the spun car is considered to have crossed the finish line behind all other cars that also crossed the finish line that turn.

So, after Kaluzny (+5) took the checkered flag, followed very closely by Sturgeon (0), the rest of the field finished in this order: Cook (0); B. Robinson (+1), Beckman (-4), Landis (+1), J. Robinson (-3), White (+1), and Lim (-1). The + or – numbers indicate how many positions that driver gained (+) or lost (-) from where their car qualified for the race.

Finishing order, right-to-left.

Finishing order, right-to-left.

The points awarded at this race: Kaluzny 10; Sturgeon 6; Cook 4; B. Robinson 3; Beckman 2; and Landis 1.

The updated points standings through two (of eight) races:

Place Driver (Car)                    Points
  1   Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)           13
  2   Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            12
  3T  Richard White (Brabham)            6
  3T  Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            6
  3T  Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  6
  6   Jim Landis (Benetton)              5
  7   Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)     4
  8T  Russ Herschler (Minardi)           0
  8T  Greg Lim (Motorola)                0
  8T  Jim Robinson (Williams)            0

This was the 2nd race in a row where all of the starters also finished the race. Quelle surprise! This has set a new record for the most consecutive races in the Detroit area Speed Circuit/CFR races for all starters finishing the race.

The next race will be the Monaco Grand Prix. We will race that on Friday, November 10, 2017, at Imperium Games in Wixom, Michigan. Race time is 7:00 pm, although we would like drivers to try to get there (through bad rush hour traffic on I-96!) by 6:30 pm so they can get their car set up. Most drivers were early at the British Grand Prix race, and that allowed us to start just about on time.

Detroit Grand Prix at RIW Hobbies, June 9, 2017

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

On June 9, eight aficionados of the new Championship Formula Racing game gathered at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan, to race the downtown Detroit Grand Prix. I just finished painting the track a couple of days before the race. We (actually, Richard White) used to have a large scale downtown Detroit track, but it was stolen from him at a game con a number of years ago.

Detroit Grand Prix track

Detroit (downtown) Grand Prix track, painted on a flat bedsheet.

Actually, there were seven of us ready to race, we had bid for starting positions and had lined up on the grid, and then Russ Herschler finally showed up at the last minute, so he got to start in the 8th (last) starting position on the grid. Jack Beckman and I had given some new folks to the game some instruction, and helped them configure their car specifications before we bid for starting position.

Detroit Grand Prix

The racers are ready to start the Detroit Grand Prix.

Detroit GP starting grid

An overhead view of the starting grid.

Jack Beckman had bid an enormous amount of Wear and Skill markers (mostly Skill), and so he had the pole position. Jack also brought his various 1:64 scale Formula One car collection, and most of us chose “vintage” 1960s-era F1 cars to race with. I used a green and yellow mid-1960s Lotus-Ford, while Jack went with a front-engined Ferrari roadster. Here’s a picture of Jack’s red Ferrari leading the race:

Detroit Grand Prix

Jack’s red Ferrari leads into the turn onto Atwater St, just before entering the Goodyear Tunnel. Richard’s car collection are all parked to the left of the track.

Unfortunately for Jack, his car was the first to run out of Wear, and he eventually crashed out of the race. Surprisingly, he was the only car to not finish the race. When the race was over, Jim Robinson took the checkered flag, Richard White was 2nd, and Garry Kaluzny was 3rd. It was a good race to help teach the rules, and even Richard White, who had a lot of previous experience playing Advanced Speed Circuit, learned the differences in rules between Advanced Speed Circuit and Championship Formula Racing.

Detroit GP finishing order

The finishing order of the Detroit Grand Prix. Jim Robinson’s car is at the left.

It was also cool to see Richard White’s Formula One car collection again.

Richard White's 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard White’s 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard’s collection is all the more remarkable because his cars were all hand-modified and hand-painted from stock Hot Wheels cars, back in the 1980s when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars anywhere, much less over the Internet (as there was no Internet then).

We will have more Championship Formula Racing demo races on Saturday, July 1 at the Canton Public Library and at Warriors 3 in Wayne, Michigan, and on Friday, July 7 at Imperium Games (formerly Flat Land Games) in Wixom, Michigan. Come on out and join us!

Championship Formula Racing/Speed Circuit

Friday, June 9th, 2017

I was first exposed to the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit in the late 1970s, at a Metro Detroit Gamers MichiCon game convention. Someone (I can’t remember who) had made a very large scale track and used 1:64 scale cars. There were a number of us playing that game that day, but I don’t remember anything else about that race.

Speed Circuit large-scale track

Speed Circuit played on a hand-made large-scale track at MichiCon, circa 1978.

I then bought the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit, but couldn’t find any other folks to play it with. It seems none of my gaming friends were interested in auto racing games. About that same time, I played USAC Auto Racing at local MDG game cons. I believe it was Don Walker who made a large scale Indy 500 track and used painted Mattel Hot Wheels cars. Don stopped running those events, so then I built a large scale Indy 500 track and bought and painted some Hot Wheels cars, and ran USAC Auto Racing at cons a couple of more times.

Then in early 1984, I took the regular sized board game of Speed Circuit to the Michigan Gaming Center in Ferndale, Michigan (it was on Woodward, just north of Nine Mile Rd.), one day. Interestingly, several other folks wanted to play it. After we got done racing, somebody suggested that we should make it a regular game. Then we proposed a series of races, like the real-life Formula One race series. We posted a flyer at the Michigan Gaming Center that looked sort of like this:

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

A number of other guys then contacted me, and after having another demo race, we started our 15-race season on March 16, 1984, racing the Brazilian Grand Prix around the Jacarepagua track. Tom Kane took the first pole position, and was leading the entire race, only to have Tony Ploucha pass him at the last corner, and then Tony won the race! I managed to finish 3rd after qualifying 11th (out of 13 racers), mostly due to retirements of other drivers.

That first Speed Circuit season in 1984 was won by Ray Eifler with 67 points (we used the 9-6-4-3-2-1 scoring system at that time). Richard White was 2nd with 62 points for the season, and Steve Zack was 3rd with 35 points. Race winners were Ray Eifler (5 victories), Richard White (2 victories), Andy Balent, Mark Hesskamp, Tom Kane, Tony Ploucha, Jim Robinson, Jeff Schwartz, Don Woodward, and Steve Zack. I managed to finish in 9th place with 19 points. We had a total of 26 different drivers during that season, and we averaged 12.8 drivers per race. The most drivers at a race was 17, at both Italy and Brands Hatch, and the fewest was 8, at Detroit.

At that time, we were using the various Avalon Hill Accessory Pack tracks, in standard board-game size. We were also using the plastic cars from USAC Auto Racing that I had painted like the real Formula One cars of the mid-1980s.

Avalon Hill's Silverstone track.

Avalon Hill’s Silverstone, England, track from Accessory Pack I.

Starting in 1985, I had to make some tracks that were not available from Avalon Hill. In particular, I made the downtown Detroit, Michigan track:

Detroit Grand Prix track.

Playing Speed Circuit on the 1983-1988 version of the downtown Detroit Grand Prix track.

Avalon Hill had a Detroit Grand Prix track you could buy, but it was of the 1982 course that had the hairpin turn at East Jefferson going into Chrysler Drive. The west end of the track wasn’t totally accurate, either, for either 1982 or for years 1983-1988. I got data for tracks from Road & Track magazine, but then I started buying the Autocourse books, which had much more detail about the races.

Autocourse 1983.

Autocourse 1983.

It was also evident that playing on small tracks made it hard for everyone to sit around the table and be able to see which of the miniscule cars was theirs. So, we started making large-scale tracks on bedsheets, using 1:64 scale Hot Wheels cars. Richard White made most of the large tracks, and also made most of the cars. I helped cut off a few sidepods and wings, but Richard did a magnificent job of molding new sidepods, engine cowlings, and made new wings. He then painted the cars to look like the real Formula One Ferraris, McLarens, etc. Richard even painted the driver’s helmets to look like the helmets of the real-life drivers. This was back in the era when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars that were molded and painted like the real cars.

So then we eventually started playing on the large-scale tracks, with the larger cars, and it was much easier to have a large number of folks sit around the table and see the track and where their car was on the track.

Suzuka, Japan, track.

Large scale Suzuka, Japan, track.

Alas, I can’t find any pictures of our old Speed Circuit races using the large tracks, so the above picture is of one of the large-scale tracks that was made in our Speed Circuit days. We are using that track with Championship Formula Racing, though. You can see some of the CFR driver and speed cards on the table.

Championship Formula Racing

I ran the Speed Circuit campaign from 1984 until 1991. The Detroit-area campaign continued on without me for a few more years, then sort of faded away. Then, when I was GMing the Gutshot game at MDG’s WinterCon 2017, I met Jack Beckman. He was playing a Formula One style game with someone else, and as I am interested in auto racing board games, I started talking with Jack. He told me that a new game had just been published, Championship Formula Racing (henceforth known as CFR) from Jolly Roger Games, and that I should check it out as it was just like Speed Circuit (SC). Of course, when we played SC, we extended the rules and called our version of the game Advanced Speed Circuit (ASC). I downloaded the CFR rules, and while reading them, I thought, “these are almost exactly our old ASC rules!”

Championship Formula Racing.

Championship Formula Racing.

I exchanged some emails with the creator of CFR, Douglas Schulz, and he said he was given a copy of some “advanced” Speed Circuit rules from someone in the Baltimore area in the late 1980s. I believe they were a copy of our Detroit area ASC rules, as I had given copies to some folks in the Baltimore area when I attended an Origins game con there in the late-1980s.

There are a few differences between ASC and CFR. For one thing, CFR uses a simplified qualifying procedure where you “bid” some of your Wear and Skill markers; the higher bidders starting in front of the lower bidders. Also, we had used an attribute called “-2 DRM” and CFR uses “Skill” markers, where you can pre-designate using Skill to modify dice rolls. In our ASC days, we had actual qualifying sessions that were somewhat time consuming, but ensured that the better (or luckier!) drivers would start in the front.

CFR also uses different (optional) rules for pit stops than we did. In CFR, you just move your car off the track and into the pits, whereas in ASC you had to drive down pit lane and into your numbered pit stall. Probably the most interesting rule in CFR are the hard tires/soft tires rule (which is used with the optional pit stops). If using the pit stop rules, your car will only start with about 40% to 60% of the Wear it would have received if you weren’t using the pit stop rules. If you are on hard tires, your car will regain a few Wear every time it completes a lap. But the coolest thing (for us maniac drivers) are the soft tires. Soft tires will enable you to use Wear for some things that you would have had to roll dice for. In particular, if you are on soft tires and are 60 mph over the speed limit in a corner, you can use 3 Wears instead of having to use 2 Wears and roll a Chance (to see if you might spin out or crash).

Doug has also designed a number of tracks, especially newer tracks that didn’t exist in Speed Circuit’s heyday, and they are available as 8.5″ x 11″ printouts (downloadable from the Lucid Phoenix web page). I believe that Doug has given too many tracks “three-wide” sections of track (and the Monte Carlo track that comes with the board game of CFR is way overly simplified), but all-in-all, Doug has produced a lot of good stuff for folks who want to race cars in a table-top board game! I believe Doug’s philosophy is to produce playable games, whereas our dedicated ASC group were more into an accurate simulation of tracks.

CFR Nurburgring track.

CFR Nurburgring track.

We have a web page for our new local races using the CFR rules. Anyone who wants to race with us in the Metro Detroit, Michigan area, is welcome to attend our races. We have a demo race on Friday, June 9th, 2017, at 7:00 pm, at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan. We plan on having races in several different game stores in the metro Detroit area, to even out the traveling miles and times for folks. This is so west-siders won’t always have to drive to the east side of town, or vice versa.

–Posted by Garry