Posts Tagged ‘Speed Circuit’

CFR 2017 Championship Race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Pandemonium Games

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

On Friday, April 13, 2018, Gary Sturgeon clinched the championship of the 2017 CFR-Detroit racing series by finishing 4th out of a field of 13 drivers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held on the Yas Marina track. Garry Kaluzny won the race, his 2nd victory of the season, thus clinching 2nd place in the season standings for Kaluzny. Richard White (2nd place) and Jack Beckman (3rd) were the other podium finishers. The race was held at Pandemonium Games in Garden City, Michigan.

Yas Marina track

Yas Marina 2017 track diagram.

Yas Marina CFR track

Yas Marina CFR track.

The qualifying bidding was once again using the standard Championship Formula Racing procedure where all drivers secretly bid a number of their wear and/or skill markers. Each wear marker counted as 1.0 for bidding, while each  -1 skill marker counted as 0.5 towards qualifying. Chad Marlett outbid the competition to get pole position with a bid of 8.5 (6 wear + 5 skill). Starting beside Marlett on the front row was Mike Cook with a bid of 6.5 (0 wear + 13 skill). Cook used his single -3 skill marker and 10 of his -1 skill markers, leaving him with only two -1 skill markers for the actual race. Starting in 3rd place was Jack Beckman with a bid of 5.0 (2 wear + 6 skill). Richard White started 4th with a bid of 4.5 (3 wear + 3 skill). Garry Kaluzny was 5th with a bid of 4.0 (2 wear + 4 skill). Three drivers were tied with bids of 3.0, so they rolled percentage dice for starting positions. Gary Sturgeon (0 wear + 6 skill) rolled 89 to start 6th, Jim Landis (1 wear + 4 skill) rolled 75 to start 7th, and Mike St. Peter (2 wear + 2 skill) rolled 61 to start 8th. Ninth and 10th positions were also diced for, with Brian Robinson (2 wear + 1 skill, rolled 92) getting 9th and newcomer Mike Hernandez (2 wear + 1 skill, rolled 02) starting 10th. Jim Magnanti (0 wear + 4 skill), a Speed Circuit racer from the 1980s who was racing in his first CFR race, started 11th. Greg Lim bid 1.5 (0 wear + 3 skill) to start 12th, and Gary Kempen started 13th with a bid of 1.0 (0 wear + 2 skill).

The starting grid and their car specs:

# Driver (Car)                     Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
71 Chad Marlett (Red Bull)            60   60    40   160  4x   3x   soft
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            60   40    40   140  5x   4x   hard 
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard 
 1 Richard White (Brabham)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft 
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  60   60    40   180  4x   2x   hard 
20 Jim Landis (Benetton)              60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
44 Mike St. Peter (Mercedes)          60   40    40   160  4x   4x   hard 
 5 Brian Robinson (Williams)          20   60    60   160  4x   3x   soft
 8 Mike Hernandez (McLaren)           60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard
 6 Jim Magnanti (Benetton)            60   40    40   160  5x   3x   soft
 7 Greg Lim (McLaren)                 60   40    40   160  5x   3x   hard
 4 Gary Kempen (Ferrari)              20   60    60   180  4x   2x   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 5x of Wear would receive 15 Wear markers to start the race (as an example).)

Starting grid at Yas Marina

Starting grid at Yas Marina: 1st row:Chad Marlett (Red Bull) & Mike Cook (yellow Lotus); 2nd row: Jack Beckman (red Ferrari) & Richard White (Brabham); 3rd row: Garry Kaluzny (orange McLaren) & Gary Sturgeon (black Lotus); 4th row: Jim Landis (Benetton) & Mike St. Peter (silver Mercedes); 5th row: Brian Robinson (Walker Racing) & Mike Hernandez (orange & white “driverless” McLaren); 6th row: Jim Magnanti (yellow & green Benetton) & Greg Lim (orange & white McLaren with a driver); 7th row: Gary Kempen (red Ferrari). Yay for the Grid Girls!

When the green flag dropped, Chad Marlett, since he was on soft tires, used a wear to increase his start speed from 60 to 80 mph. Mike Cook, on hard tires, rolled dice to increase his start speed to 80 mph, so both Marlett and Cook made it into the first corner before all of the trailing cars. Richard White took advantage of his soft tires to also use a wear to go 80 mph, thus taking 3rd place from Jack Beckman. Beckman, on hard tires, only went 60 mph, while Garry Kaluzny, who started directly behind Beckman but on soft tires, used a wear to go 80 mph and thus pulled alongside Beckman. Gary Sturgeon (hard tires) only went 60 mph, while Mike St. Peter, even though he was on hard tires, rolled dice to get to 80 mph, passing Jim Landis and pulling alongside Sturgeon. Landis, although on soft tires, only went 60 mph for his start speed. Brian Robinson used a wear to boost his start speed to 40 mph, but nonetheless, Mike Hernandez went 60 mph and got in front of B. Robinson. Jim Magnanti and Greg Lim both went 60 mph to pull alongside B. Robinson, and Gary Kempen merely started at his 20 mph start speed.

The pack races away

The pack races away from the start line! The running order: Marlett; Cook; White; Beckman; Kaluzny; Sturgeon; St. Peter; Landis; Hernandez; B. Robinson; Magnanti; Lim; and Kempen.

On the next move, Marlett accelerated off the corner to 140 mph, thus opening a gap of 3 spaces over Cook as Cook was only able to accelerate to 100 mph as he was stuck on a posted speed space in the middle of the 1st corner. Both White and Kaluzny pulled alongside Cook coming out of that 1st corner. The other drivers stayed in their same positions.

Through the first corner

Through the first corner, Marlett opens a lead of three spaces over Cook, White, and Kaluzny.

Marlett held his lead going into the hairpin just before the longest straightaway, although Kaluzny managed to get to the inside of the track from Cook and White. Mike St. Peter also pulled alongside Beckman, and Landis pulled alongside Sturgeon. Lim got into the 2nd corner in front of both B. Robinson and Magnanti.

Marlett continues to lead

Marlett continues to lead heading into the hairpin.

Marlett slowed to 60 mph for the hairpin curve, taking the inside lane. But White put on a burst of speed, driving 120 mph through the 60 mph corner just before the hairpin, and then taking the outside of the hairpin at 120 mph, thus pulling up alongside Marlett. Kaluzny went 100 mph and got stuck in the outside lane of the hairpin. Cook also went 100 mph, but ended up behind Kaluzny in the hairpin.

White then accelerated to 160 mph coming out of the hairpin, with Marlett (who only accelerated to 140 mph) slotting in behind White. Kaluzny was 3 spaces behind Marlett, with Cook right on Kaluzny’s tailpipe. St. Peter took over 5th place from Beckman.

White takes the lead

White takes the lead down the long straightaway. The running order is White, Marlett, Kaluzny, Cook, St. Peter, Beckman, Sturgeon, Landis, Hernandez, Magnanti, Lim, Kempen, and B. Robinson.

By the time the pack reached the left-right S-curves at the end of the 3-wide section, Marlett’s car was starved of wear, seeing as he had bid 6 of his precious wear markers in his bid to obtain the pole position. Kaluzny passed Marlett for 2nd, and was only two spaces behind White. Cook pulled alongside Marlett just before those S-curves.

Kaluzny moves into 2nd place

Kaluzny moves into 2nd place over Marlett. The running order: White, Kaluzny, Marlett, Cook, Beckman, St. Peter, Sturgeon, Landis, Hernandez, Magnanti, B. Robinson, Kempen, and Lim.

Through the next few curvy sections of the track (although those curvy sections did not have speed limits), White and Kaluzny manufactured a lead of several spaces over the rest of the pack.

White and Kaluzny stretch out a lead

White and Kaluzny stretch out a lead over the rest of the pack.

Coming into the 2nd-to-last corner of the 1st lap, Mike Hernandez was behind a glut of cars that included Marlett, Beckman, Cook, and St. Peter.

Most of the pack is bunched up

Most of the pack is bunched up coming into the second to last corner on the 1st lap. Mike Hernandez is in the orange and white McLaren, directly behind Mike Cook’s yellow Lotus.

Marlett and Beckman continued on at only 80 mph coming out of that corner, and Cook went 100 mph while St. Peter went 80 mph. Hernandez, the rookie driver, plotted 140 mph! After paying 2 wears and successfully making a chance roll to go 60 mph over the posted speed limit of the corner, he then attempted to force pass two rows of cars. In the first row of Beckman and St. Peter, Hernandez elected to force pass Beckman, who tried to block the pass. Hernandez made the pass safely, but had to lose 1 wear in the attempt. Hernandez then decided to force pass Marlett, but Marlett did not try to block, so Hernandez easily made the forced pass dice roll and so he gained four positions with a single move (and only using 3 wear to do so)!

Mike Hernandez has just force passed four cars

Mike Hernandez (orange and white McLaren just in front of Chad Marlett’s Red Bull) has just force-passed four cars to move into 3rd place! White and Kaluzny have just pulled into the pits so they are off to the side of the track.

White and Kaluzny built enough of a lead so that they could both pull into the pits a turn before anyone else on the track. It should be noted that they both expended all of their wear in their gaining the lead over the rest of the pack. But of course, drivers should use all of their wear before deciding to pit, n’est-ce pas?

As the pack came around the final corner before the start/finish line, Hernandez spun out, thereby negating all of the positions he had gained with his magnificent forced-pass of a moment ago. But Hernandez decided to pull into the pits after the spin, so did not affect any other cars that were still trying to negotiate that corner. Also pitting were the cars of Marlett, St. Peter, and Magnanti.

More cars in the pits

Hernandez, Marlett, St. Peter, and Magnanti join White and Kaluzny in the pits.

Mike Cook now became the leader on the track, as he did not pit. As he crossed the start/finish line, he gained 2 wear, as he was on hard tires, to add to his remaining 6 wear, thus giving him 8 wear for the next lap. Beckman also stayed on the track, gaining 2 wear, plus his remaining 6 wear. Sturgeon stayed on the track, gaining 2 wear to add to his 4 wear, and Kempen also stayed out, adding 2 wear to his remaining 3 wear for the 2nd lap. Jim Landis and Brian Robinson now pulled into the pits just as White and Kaluzny were leaving the pits. White and Kaluzny were now both on hard tires.

Cook takes the lead

Mike Cook takes the lead as he forgoes pitting. Beckman moves into 2nd place.

The official classification order after the 1st lap was: Cook (+1); Beckman (+1); Landis (+4); White (0); Sturgeon (+1); Kaluzny (-1); Kempen (+6); Lim (+4); Magnanti (+2); Marlett (-9); St. Peter (-3); B. Robinson (-3); and Hernandez (-3). It was a pity that Hernandez spun immediately after pulling off his brilliant forced pass. That spin dropped him from 3rd to 13th. The numbers in parentheses indicate how many positions a driver either gained (+) or lost (-) from their starting position. However, after the pit stops were all resolved, the running order on the track was: Cook; Beckman; White; Kaluzny; Sturgeon; Kempen; Lim; Magnanti; Marlett; St. Peter; Landis; B. Robinson; and Hernandez.

Running order after the 1st pit stops

Running order after the 1st pit stops: Cook; Beckman; White; Kaluzny; Sturgeon; Kempen; Lim; Magnanti; Marlett; St. Peter; Landis; B. Robinson; and Hernandez.

After the 1st pit stops, White quickly caught up to front-runners Cook and Beckman, while Kaluzny caught that trio by the hairpin leading onto the long straightaway.

White battles Cook for the lead

White (blue and white Brabham) battles Cook (yellow Lotus) for the lead as Kaluzny (orange McLaren) fights Beckman (red Ferrari) for 3rd place down the long straightaway. Meanwhile, Magnanti’s green and yellow Benetton has spun in the hairpin. A turn later, Landis’s Benetton would spin in that same hairpin.

Down the long straightaway, White passed Cook to take the lead, then Kaluzny also caught and passed Cook to take 2nd place.

Richard White's car takes the lead

Richard White’s car takes the lead. Pictured, from left: Richard White (black shirt); Mike St. Peter (can only see half his face); Mike Cook (dark green shirt); Gary Kempen (red shirt); Chad Marlett (pointing to Richard White’s leading car on the track); Greg Lim (USA shirt); Gary Sturgeon (gray shirt); Jim Landis (light green shirt); Jack Beckman (black shirt & red Ferrari hat). Also pictured is the back of Jim Magnanti’s head in the foreground.

As the cars came to the S-curve at the end of the 2nd straightaway, the first six cars were all bunched up. They were running in the order: White; Kaluzny; Kempen; Sturgeon; Cook; and Beckman. Kempen was doing very well, indeed, to be in 3rd place after starting in 13th place.

Top 6 places are bunched up

The top six positions are bunched up in the S-curve in the left side of the picture. Gary Sturgeon, at far right, anticipates winning the championship as he will clinch the title by taking at least a single point, and he is currently in 4th place, good enough for 3 points.

White and Kaluzny now battled for the lead, also while gaining a few spaces over the rest of the pack. Into the hairpin corner just before the last corner before the start/finish line, Kaluzny pulled even with White.

Kaluzny pulls even with White

Kaluzny pulls even with White at the 2nd hairpin corner. The rest of the running order: Beckman; Kempen; Sturgeon; Cook; Marlett; Lim; St. Peter; Magnanti; B. Robinson; Landis and Hernandez.

Kaluzny now made a move to take the lead as he drove at 140 mph coming out of the hairpin, which put him into the final corner at 60 mph over the speed limit for that corner. He used his last two wears and used two -1 skill markers, and successfully made the chance table roll. He then pulled into the pits for the 2nd time. White, meanwhile, played it safe by only going 120 mph, thus ending his move just short of that last corner. Kaluzny had been talking with White just before this last turn, where Kaluzny mentioned how he had been leading a demo race on this same Yas Marina track, but how he didn’t pit at the end of the 2nd lap, but Jack Beckman did pit, and then Beckman was able to catch Kaluzny for the victory in that demo race.

Kaluzny takes the lead and takes to the pits

Kaluzny takes the lead and takes to the pits while White pulls up short of the corner. Notice the special orange and black McLaren “support” vehicle next to Kaluzny’s orange McLaren race car in the pits. Also notice Kempen’s red #4 Ferrari has spun on the outside of the hairpin.

White cruised into the lead, and the closest cars on the track, Beckman, Sturgeon, and Cook, all had to pit as they had not pitted at the end of the 1st lap. Just as those cars came into the pits, Kaluzny exited the pits, switching back to soft tires, exactly 10 spaces behind White’s Brabham, with Kaluzny having his full 15 wear and White having a total of 5 wear for the last lap after gaining 2 wear when he crossed the start/finish line due to his being on hard tires. White, though, used one of his precious wears in negotiating the 1st corner past the start/finish line at 120 mph, so he only had 4 wear left for the rest of the lap.

White now leads while Kaluzny leaves the pits

White (blue and white Brabham in the near-left corner) now leads while Kaluzny (orange McLaren) leaves the pits. Beckman, Sturgeon, and Cook have just entered the pits. Gary Sturgeon looks on, still anticipating winning the CFR-Detroit 2017 Championship.

As they came around the last corner before the start/finish line, the cars of Lim and Kempen pulled into the pits. Staying on the track were Marlett, Magnanti, B. Robinson, St. Peter, Landis, and Hernandez.

The official order at the end of the 2nd lap was: White (+3); Kaluzny (+3); Marlett (-2); Magnanti (+7); Beckman (-2); B. Robinson (+3); Sturgeon (-1); Cook (-6); St. Peter (-1); Landis (-3); Hernandez (-1); Lim (0); and Kempen (0). Kempen was back in 13th place, where he had qualified, although he had been as high as 3rd place. Sturgeon was now in 7th place, out of the points, but he still stood to win the championship if Mike Cook did not win the race, and Cook’s odds of winning the race were very slim at the moment as White had a 20-space lead over Cook after Cook’s pit stop.

After the 2nd round of pit stops were resolved, the running order on the track was: White; Kaluzny; Marlett; Beckman; Magnanti; Sturgeon; Cook; B. Robinson; St. Peter; Landis; Hernandez; Lim; and Kempen.

White leads by 6 spaces over Kaluzny

After the 2nd round of pit stops are complete, White leads by 6 spaces over Kaluzny as they speed down the straightaway.

Kaluzny slowly crept up on White, then in the S-curve at the end of the 2nd straightaway, Kaluzny finally passed to take the lead. Beckman had managed to pass Marlett for 3rd, and Sturgeon was now in what looked like a safe 5th position, which would give him 2 points and the title.

Kaluzny takes the lead just past the S-curve

Kaluzny takes the lead from White just past the S-curve. Beckman, Marlett, and Sturgeon are approaching the S-curve. Farther back are Cook, Magnanti, B. Robinson, Lim, Landis (spun in the farther S-curve), Kempen, St. Peter, and Hernandez.

Then on the next turn, Kaluzny drove 100 mph and took the inside, eschewing the cornering arrow. White drove 120 mph and pulled up next to Kaluzny’s McLaren, on the cornering arrow.

Kaluzny and White are side-by-side

Kaluzny and White are side-by-side with only a few corners left to race through. Landis, meanwhile, has recovered from his spin in the S-curves at the right of the picture, and now has St. Peter breathing down his tailpipe.

But now Kaluzny took advantage of his having more wear remaining than White. Kaluzny plotted 100 mph, while White could only go 80 mph without resorting to taking chance dice rolls through the next two corners. Kaluzny moved first by virtue of plotting a higher speed, taking the outside of the first corner (through the 80 mph spaces) for a 1-wear expenditure, then moving into the hairpin corner (spending another wear) so as to hog the last space of the corner, forcing White to pull in behind. Far back on the track, Hernandez rolled an unmodified chance at the S-curves in the middle of the two long straightaways and crashed his shiny new McLaren, thereby becoming the only DNF of the race and ending up in 13th place.

Kaluzny regains the lead

Kaluzny regains the lead over White. Hernandez has just crashed in the S-curves at the right of the picture (note the safety car, flatbed truck, and yellow flag).

Back at the 2nd of the S-curves at the end of the long straightaways, Kempen forced a pass through Lim and B. Robinson. Sturgeon and Marlett were having a spirited duel for 4th place.

Kempen has just forced a pass

At the far left of the picture, Kempen (red Ferrari roadster) has just force-passed Lim (orange and white McLaren) and B. Robinson (white and blue car) and is alongside Magnanti (yellow and green Benetton). Kaluzny (orange McLaren) prepares to take the final corner before the checkered flag.

Garry Kaluzny (+4) then cruised to the victory, his second of the eight-race 2017 CFR-Detroit racing season. Richard White (+2) took 2nd place, then Jack Beckman (0) finished in 3rd. Gary Sturgeon (+2) did take 4th place and 3 points, thereby earning him the championship of the 2017 season.

Sturgeon clinches the championship

Sturgeon clinches the championship with a 4th place finish! Cook (yellow car), Marlett (Red Bull), Kempen (red car), and B. Robinson (white and blue car) are all about to cross the finish line. Lim and Magnanti have both spun in the final corner right in front of St. Peter.

There were now four cars, Cook, Marlett, Kempen, and B. Robinson, vying for the final two points-paying positions of 5th and 6th place. In CFR, if cars enter a corner past the finish line, they must pay for that corner using wear or rolling on the chance table the same as if they were still racing. Any car that spins in the corner past the finish line is considered to have finished the race behind other cars that touched or crossed the finish line on that same turn. If a car crashes in that corner past the finish line, it is considered to have not finished the race at all and becomes a DNF.

Cook moved first, at 100 mph. Not wanting to take a chance dice roll, Cook moved into the middle 100 mph space. Next, Marlett moved at 120 mph, taking the outside 140 mph space, also not spending any wear nor rolling on the chance table. Kempen moved next, at 160 mph, and attempted a forced pass on Marlett in the outside lane. Naturally, Marlett attempted to block the forced pass. During the forced pass dice roll, Kempen rolled a “4” on one of the dice, meaning he had to spend a wear; however, he did not have any wear remaining, so his car spun in the same space as was occupied by Marlett’s car. Brian Robinson then moved at 160 mph. He made his forced pass over Marlett by using two -1 skill markers for his dice roll; he then used his -3 skill marker for a chance table roll, successfully making both rolls, and so effectively passed Cook, Marlett, and Kempen!

Brian Robinson (+4) thus was classified in 5th place, and Mike Cook (-4) got the single point for 6th place. Finishing out of the points in 7th and 8th places, respectively, were Chad Marlett (-6) and Gary Kempen (+5).

Brian Robinson forces a pass

Brian Robinson forces a pass over Marlett to take 5th place.

After the excitement of B. Robinson’s forced pass, the rest of the finishers were: Mike St. Peter (-1) in 9th; Jim Landis (-3) in 10th; Greg Lim (+1) in 11th; and Jim Magnanti (-1) in 12th. Mike Hernandez (-3), a DNF, was classified 13th.

Points awarded at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Kaluzny 10; White 6; Beckman 4; Sturgeon 3; B. Robinson 2; Cook 1.

The final points standings of the 2017 CFR-Detroit season after the eighth and final race:

Place Driver (Car)                     Points
  1   Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  44
  2   Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            37
  3   Richard White (Brabham)            34  
  4   Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            32
  5   Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             29
  6   Gary Kempen (Ferrari)               8
  7T  Jim Landis (Benetton)               6
  7T  Greg Lim (Motorola)                 6
  7T  Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)      6
 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
 12T  Jim Magnanti (Benetton)             0
 12T  Mike Hernandez (McLaren)            0

Immediately after the race was concluded, the Championship trophy of the 2017 CFR-Detroit racing season was presented to Gary Sturgeon. Sturgeon won two races during the season, and also finished 2nd three times, as well as finishing 4th twice. He only failed to score points in his first race, at Monza, where he finished 7th.

Gary Sturgeon receives the championship trophy

Gary Sturgeon (left, in gray shirt) receives the 2017 Championship trophy from race steward Garry Kaluzny (right, orange shirt). (Greg Lim photo)

After the championship trophy was awarded, it was time to vote for the recipient of the Tom Kane Memorial Award to be given to the most sportsmanlike driver of the 2017 season. Greg Lim was awarded the honor by the vote of his peers, earning 8 of the 13 votes cast. Tom Kane raced in our first Detroit area Speed Circuit campaign in 1984. He was an extremely polite racer, and would shrug off adversity, like bad dice rolls. Unfortunately, Tom passed away near the end of that first Speed Circuit campaign. So we then decided to annually give the Tom Kane Memorial Award to the most sportsmanlike driver, as a way of keeping Tom’s memory alive.

Greg Lim receives the Tom Kane trophy

Greg Lim (USA shirt, right) receives the Tom Kane Memorial Award trophy from race steward Garry Kaluzny (orange shirt, left).

The new 2018 season of CFR-Detroit will begin on Friday, May 11, 2018, at Guild of Blades game store in Clawson, Michigan. Race time is 6:45 pm, although drivers are asked to arrive by 6:15pm to setup their race car’s specifications. The new schedule is posted on the CFR-Detroit home page at

Also, check out the records from the 2017 CFR-Detroit season at

CFR Race #5: Detroit Grand Prix at RIW Hobbies & Games

Monday, February 5th, 2018

January 12, 2018, saw 13 racers compete at the Detroit Grand Prix, racing on the old downtown Detroit track. The race was held at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan. When the engines stopped revving, Gary Sturgeon had earned his first victory of the season, propelling him into 2nd place in the points standings. Other podium finishers were Jack Beckman (2nd) and Gary Kempen (3rd), aka Team Ferrari.

Downtown Detroit track used from 1983 through 1988.

Downtown Detroit track used from 1983 through 1988.

When Avalon Hill was creating extra tracks for Speed Circuit in the 1980s, they created a downtown Detroit Grand Prix track based on the 1982 version of the track that had the hairpin at E. Jefferson Ave, but that track was not all that accurate. So, I (Garry Kaluzny) created a new track for Speed Circuit of the downtown Detroit circuit. Here is that track diagram:

Downtown Detroit track suitable for use with Championship Formula Racing.

Downtown Detroit track suitable for use with Championship Formula Racing.

While the bidding for Pole Position at most previous races was rather conservative, most racers upped their qualifying bid quite a bit for this track, as everyone wanted to start up front! I was rather shocked, myself, as although I bid 2 Wear and 3 skill for a bid of 3.5, I started way back in the pack in 9th place (out of 13 starters). As a reminder to folks who are not familiar with the CFR board game bidding process, bidding 1 Wear counts as 1.0, bidding 1 Skill counts as 0.5. The entire bidding results:

Pole Position went to Jim Robinson, his first Pole of the season. Jim bid 2 Wear and 12 Skill (all of his -1 Skill markers!) for a bid of 8.0. Four drivers, Gary Sturgeon (0 Wear, 12 Skill), Jack Beckman (1 Wear, 10 Skill), Greg Lim (0 Wear, 12 Skill), and Mike Cook (2 Wear, 8 Skill), all bid 6.0. They then all rolled percentage dice, rolling 91, 73, 64, and 07, respectively, so Sturgeon was 2nd on the grid, Beckman was 3rd, Lim 4th, and Cook was 5th. Two drivers, Gary Kempen (2 Wear, 5 Skill) and Chad Marlett (3 Wear, 3 Skill) bid 4.5, with Kempen winning the percentage dice roll-off by 44 to 39, thus giving Kempen the 6th starting spot on the grid and relegating Marlett to 7th. Jim Landis slotted into the 8th starting spot with a bid of 4.0 (1 Wear and 6 Skill), and Garry Kaluzny grabbed 9th after bidding 3.5 (2 Wear and 3 Skill). 10th place went to Richard White with his bid of 3.0 (3 Wear and 0 Skill). 11th place was contested by identical bids of 2.5 by Mike Manderachia (2 Wear, 1 Skill) and Brian Robinson (0 Wear, 5 Skill), with Manderachia winning the roll-off by 93 to 90, thus placing Brian Robinson in 12th place. Newcomer Tim Gould started 13th with a bid of only 1.5 (1 Wear and 1 Skill).

The starting grid and their car stats:

# Driver (Car)                     Start/Accel/Decel/Top/Wear/Skill/Tires
 2 Jim Robinson (Williams)            60   40    40   140  5x   4x   soft
12 Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  60   40    40   140  5x   4x   soft
 3 Jack Beckman (Ferrari)            100   40    20   140  5x   4x   hard
 7 Greg Lim (Motorola)                60   40    40   140  5x   4x   soft
11 Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)           100   40    40   140  5x   3x   hard
 4 Gary Kempen (Ferrari)              20   60    40   140  5x   4x   soft
71 Chad Marlett (Red Bull)            60   60    60   140  4x   3x   soft
20 Jim Landis (Benetton)              60   40    40   140  5x   4x   soft
 9 Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            60   60    40   140  5x   3x   hard
 1 Richard White (Brabham)            60   60    40   140  5x   3x   soft
25 Mike Manderachia (Ligier)          60   60    40   140  5x   3x   soft
 5 Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)     20   80    40   140  5x   3x   soft
10 Tim Gould (McLaren)                60   60    40   140  5x   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 5x of Wear would receive 15 Wear markers to start the race (as an example).)

It was nice to have Mike Manderachia race with us. Although this was his first race using the Championship Formula Racing rules, Mike used to race with us using the Advanced Speed Circuit rules back in the late 1980s. We also had newcomer Tim Gould in his first race, and Gary Kempen and Chad Marlett were in only their 2nd races.

It was interesting that two cars (Beckman and Cook) opted for a 100 mph Start Speed, while two others (Kempen and B. Robinson) chose 20 mph as their Start Speed. All drivers went with a 140 mph Top Speed (taking a point out of that characteristic so they could use it elsewhere) since Detroit only has one place where a car could conceivably go 160 mph (and probably wouldn’t get the chance if it was in traffic), and all drivers but one (Marlett) went with the maximum Wear of 5x, meaning they would start with 5 x 3 Wear = 15 Wear to start the race (minus any Wear they used in bidding for starting position).

The starting grid for the Detroit Grand Prix.

The starting grid for the Detroit Grand Prix: Jim Robinson (white/yellow/blue Williams) is to the inside of the track, Gary Sturgeon (black John Player Lotus) is to the outside.

When the green flag dropped to start the race, the front row cars of J. Robinson and Sturgeon both boosted their Start Speed to 80 mph, both using wear since they were both on soft tires. As Jim Robinson was to the inside of the track on the starting grid, he moved first, opting to take the cornering arrow for the first turn, thus allowing Sturgeon to take the inside position (and the lead). Beckman’s 100 mph start availed him nought, as he had to brake down to 80 mph to stay behind the two leaders. (Note: If Beckman had pushed his start speed to 120 mph, he could have attempted a forced pass and could possibly have taken the lead.) Greg Lim also boosted his Start Speed of 60 mph t0 80 mph by using a wear. Mike Cook also had to slow to 80 mph from his Start Speed of 100. The top five cars had now opened a two-space gap over the rest of the field. In the back pack, both Landis and White were balked and had to forced decelerate from 60 to 40 mph.

Roaring off at the start of the Detroit G.P.

Roaring off at the start of the Detroit G.P. Sturgeon (black car) has taken the lead from J. Robinson. Then Beckman, Lim, and Cook are close behind the leaders. The 2nd pack is Kempen, Marlett, Landis, Kaluzny, White, Manderachia, B. Robinson, and Gould.

On the 2nd move, Sturgeon plotted 120 mph and went around the outside of the 1st turn. J. Robinson plotted 100 mph and stayed to the inside (thus retaking the lead). Both cars were ready to exit that corner. Lim was right behind J. Robinson’s tailpipe, while Beckman was right behind Sturgeon. Cook had moved just 80 mph (4 spaces on the track) and had just entered the corner. Then came the rest of the field, with B. Robinson lagging back a bit, just to see how things would sort out at this first corner.

Through the 1st corner.

Through the 1st corner, the running order is: J. Robinson; Sturgeon; Beckman; Lim; Cook; Kempen; Marlett; Manderachia (up 3 positions); Kaluzny; Landis (down 2 positions); White; Gould, and B. Robinson.

The pack roared down Atwater Street, then turned right onto Saint Antoine, turned right again onto E. Jefferson Ave., then followed the lazy left-hand curve onto Chrysler Drive, which is the service drive for the I-375 expressway. Then a sharp left-hand turn onto E. Congress Street came next. At the sharp left hand turn onto Beaubien, Sturgeon (+1) narrowly led Jim Robinson (-1). Then came Beckman (0), Cook (+1), Marlett (+2), Lim (-2), Kempen (-1), Manderachia (+3), Landis (-1), Kaluzny (-1), Gould (+2), White (-2), and Brian Robinson (-1). The +/- indicates how many positions a driver has gained (+) or lost (-) from their qualifying position.

Turning left at Beaubien for the 1st time.

Rolling down Congress St. and turning left at Beaubien St. for the 1st time. (Greg Lim photo)

After the left turn onto Beaubien came a right turn onto Larned St. Coming out of that corner, Jim Robinson regained the lead from Sturgeon. Then after a short straight, there was a left onto Woodward Avenue followed by a right onto W. Jefferson Ave. Just at the turn onto W. Jefferson, Beckman and Cook had got right up with J. Robinson and Sturgeon. Manderachia was up to 5th place, having gained 6 positions since the start of the race.

Turning onto W. Jefferson.

Turning onto W. Jefferson. The pack has bunched up.

The pack raced down the short straight on West Jefferson, passing the Pontchartrain Hotel on their right just before making a sharp left turn onto Washington Boulevard right in front of Cobo Hall (before it was renamed Cobo Center). They raced down the steep incline around Cobo Arena, then turned right at the more than 90-degree Kodak Camera Corner, followed quickly by a hard left turn onto Atwater. Into the Goodyear Tunnel under Hart Plaza for the first time, it was Sturgeon with a two-space lead over Jim Robinson. Then came Cook in 3rd, Beckman in 4th, then Manderachia, Marlett, Kempen, Landis, Kaluzny, Lim, Gould, White, and Brian Robinson.

Through the Goodyear Tunnel, Sturgeon leads the pack.

Through the Goodyear Tunnel, Sturgeon leads the pack.

Coming out of the Goodyear Tunnel, Sturgeon led the pack through the right-left Ford Corner, then Sturgeon was the first to pull into the pits. He was quickly followed by J. Robinson, Kempen, Manderachia, Landis, Marlett, and Gould. All of those cars switched from soft to hard tires.

The 1st pit stops are under way.

The 1st pit stops are under way. Although Sturgeon pulled into the pits first, technically Jim Robinson leads the first lap as his car’s nose is on the start/finish line.

A couple of turns after the leaders, the cars of Lim, White, and B. Robinson also pitted to switch from soft to hard tires. Cars not pitting were those of Beckman, Cook, and Kaluzny. The official order after one lap was: Jim Robinson (0); Beckman (+1); Cook (+2); Kaluzny (+5); Sturgeon (-3); Brian Robinson (+6); Lim (-3); Kempen (-2); Manderachia (+2); Landis (-2); Marlett (-4); Gould (+1); and White (-3). However, the running order after the pit stops at the end of the 1st lap were all completed was: Beckman, Cook, Sturgeon, J. Robinson, Kaluzny, Kempen, Manderachia, Landis, Marlett, Gould, B. Robinson, White, and Lim.

Running order after 1st pit stops.

Running order after 1st pit stops: Beckman in the red Ferrari leads from Cook in the yellow Lotus.

During the 2nd lap, the pack got stretched out after the pit stops. Beckman continued to lead for about a half lap, and then Cook took the lead on Larned St.

Cook passes Beckman on Larned St.

Cook passes Beckman on Larned St. Faces pictured: Tim Gould (at left); Jim Robinson (green shirt); Jim Landis (burgundy shirt); and Gary Sturgeon (gray shirt).

Cook takes the lead from Beckman

Cook (in the Green Bay cap and shirt) enjoys his lead over Beckman and the rest of the pack. Brian Robinson (Dodge sweatshirt) stands next to Cook.

But Beckman fought back going through the Kodak Camera Corner and through the left-hand corner leading into the Goodyear Tunnel, and retook the lead.

Gamers take their racing seriously!

Gamers take their racing seriously! Pictured, from left: Mike Manderachia; Tim Gould; Chad Marlett (standing); Mike Cook; Brian Robinson.

Beckman led through the Ford Corner and then into the pits where he was joined by Cook and Jim Robinson. J. Robinson was pitting for the 2nd time in the race. Garry Kaluzny was feeling frustrated that he couldn’t make it into the pits on the same turn, and his ending up two spaces short of being able to pit on the same turn with the leaders cost him, as when he did finally come out of the pits, the rest of the pack swallowed him up. Those four drivers all switched from hard to soft tires for the final lap.

The 2nd round of pit stops begin.

The 2nd round of pit stops begin. Beckman, Cook, and Jim Robinson have pulled off the track and into the pits. Kaluzny’s orange McLaren is two spaces short of being able to pit. The first space where cars can pull into the pits is the 60 mph space just this side of the orange barrel; the final space is at the lower edge of the picture, two spaces past the finish line.

Kaluzny did get some satisfaction after his next move, though, as when he did pull into the pits he was officially the leader of the 2nd lap, although that lead was very short-lived.

Kaluzny takes the lead after pulling into the pits.

Kaluzny takes the lead after pulling into the pits, as his car has reached the finish line. Too bad for him there is another lap to go!

When the cars in the pits finally got back on the track, Gary Sturgeon had built a 5-space lead over his closest pursuers, Marlett and Kempen.

Gary Sturgeon takes the lead!

Gary Sturgeon takes the lead at the start of the final lap!

The official order at the end of the 2nd lap was: Kaluzny (+8); Sturgeon (0); Marlett (+4); Kempen (+2); Beckman (-2); Manderachia (+5); Cook (-2); Landis (0); J. Robinson (-8); White (0); Gould (+2); B. Robinson (0); and Lim (-9). However, after the pit stops were well and truly sorted out, the running order on the track was: Sturgeon; Marlett; Kempen; Beckman; Manderachia; Cook; Landis; J. Robinson; White; Kaluzny; Gould; B. Robinson; and Lim.

Sturgeon's lead has shrunk to one space over Beckman.

Sturgeon’s lead has shrunk to one space over Beckman at the end of Congress St.

Beckman then made a supreme effort to pass Sturgeon, and succeeded by out-braking Sturgeon at the end of Larned Street. Beckman then did everything he could to hold his lead, while points leader Cook leap-frogged a couple of competitors and got into 5th place.

Beckman holds his lead over Sturgeon.

Beckman holds his lead over Sturgeon heading into the Goodyear Tunnel for the last time. Note that Marlett’s Red Bull has spun between the two orange McLarens of Kaluzny and Gould. (Greg Lim photo)

Kaluzny successfully made a forced pass of Marlett on the ramp leading down to the Kodak Camera Corner from Washington Blvd. Marlett attempted to block, but Kaluzny rolled low enough on the Forced Pass table to not only get by Marlett but Kaluzny also passed Jim Robinson with that same move. However, one of the dice showed a “3” which meant that the defending car (Marlett) had to lose a wear. But Marlett’s car was out of wear, and that meant his car spun out. (See the above picture to see Marlett’s Red Bull car facing the wrong way on the track.) Marlett had also spun on the previous corner, and the two spins dropped him from 5th to 8th, and then he fell further to 9th place by the time he got back up to speed.

The drama continued of what would be a nail-biting finish to the race! Through the Goodyear Tunnel, the 2nd Ferrari of Gary Kempen got by Gary Sturgeon’s Lotus, taking over 2nd place from Sturgeon. The two Ferraris held their side-by-side lead over the Lotus through the Ford Corner.

The Ferraris lead over Sturgeon's Lotus.

The Ferraris lead over Sturgeon’s Lotus with only one more chicane between them and the end of the race.

But the Ferraris were wear-deprived, and they both only went 80 mph through the chicane, leaving them both one space short of the finish line. Sturgeon pushed his car to its limit, going 120 mph through the chicane, and then he pulled off a successful forced pass of the Ferraris to win the race! It was Sturgeon’s first victory of his racing career, and it was a memorable one after starting 2nd on the grid. Beckman (+1) came home in 2nd, and Kempen (+3) was 3rd.

Sturgeon wins in the black Lotus.

Sturgeon wins in the black Lotus after forced passing the Ferraris.

The rest of the pack finished in a rather less dramatic fashion. Cook (+1) took 4th, then came Manderachia (+6) in 5th, and Jim Landis (+2) was 6th, the last car to finish in the points. Finishing out of the points were: Jim Robinson (-6) 7th; Garry Kaluzny (+1) 8th; Tim Gould (+4) 9th; Brian Robinson (+2) 10th; Chad Marlett (-4) 11th; and Richard White (-2) 12th. After Richard White spun in the final chicane, it caused Greg Lim (-9) to crash. Lim was thusly classified 13th, although he was officially a DNF.

The points awarded at the Detroit Grand Prix: Sturgeon 10; Beckman 6; Kempen 4; Cook 3; Manderachia 2; and Landis 1.

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

Place Driver (Car)                     Points
  1   Mike Cook (Camel Lotus)            29
  2   Gary Sturgeon (John Player Lotus)  25
  3   Garry Kaluzny (McLaren)            21
  4   Jack Beckman (Ferrari)             18
  5   Richard White (Brabham)            14
  6   Jim Landis (Benetton)               6
  7T  Brian Robinson (Walker Racing)      4
  7T  Greg Lim (Motorola)                 4
  7T  Gary Kempen (Ferrari)               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

The 6th race of the CFR-Detroit racing season will take place on Friday, February 9, 2018, at Guild of Blades at 774 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson, Michigan. The race will start at 7:00 pm sharp! So drivers should be there by 6:30 pm to settle in and to set up their car’s specifications for the race. We didn’t start the Detroit G.P. until 7:42 pm, and we had a difficult time getting the race’s three laps completed before the 11:00 pm closing time of RIW Hobbies & Games. It should be noted that Guild of Blades also has an 11:00 pm closing time, which is why we must start exactly on time, especially since we had 13 drivers at the race.

Making a 1:64 Scale Track — Part 3 — Painting the Track

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Welcome to the final installment of how to make a large scale race track on a bed sheet. Of course, by “large scale” I am not writing about a “real life” size race track, but a track that can be used to play auto racing board games on something larger than a small board game sized board. Previous blog posts in this series were:

Part 1 — Laying out the track

Part 2 — Marking the track on the sheet

At the end of part 2, we used masking tape to mask off the inside and outside edges of the track. We then mentioned masking off the parts of the sheet that you don’t want to paint, and then start spraying the track. After I finished masking the sheet with newspapers, I then sprayed the first coat of flat black paint on the sheet. It looked like this:

First coat of paint has been sprayed.

First coat of paint has been sprayed.

As you can see, although I tried to spray the paint fairly heavily, it soaked into the sheet and almost looks like it wasn’t sprayed very well. While I found that I usually only had to spray two coats of paint to fully cover a track in the past (allowing about 30 minutes between spraying each coat), this time I went cheap. Instead of buying a “name brand” of flat black spray paint, I opted for the “house brand” paint from a local hardware store. Big mistake. With the house brand paint, I had to apply about five coats of paint to get good coverage, and one can of spray paint wasn’t enough to do the entire job! I had to start using a second can of spray paint. When I previously used the higher quality paint on other tracks, it would usually only take 3/4 to an entire can of paint to cover the track satisfactorily.

The track after several coats of paint.

The track after several coats of paint.

Let the coats of paint dry enough to where you are satisfied with the results, then remove all of the masking. I suggest letting the paint dry at least a full day before applying any other markings to the track.

Masking has been removed.

Masking has been removed.

There was a little bit of spray paint that “bled” onto the sheet, but it’s not too bad. C’est la vie, as they would say in France.

Next, retrieve the track templates you saved, and place them on the track where they belong (i.e., put the turn 1 template where turn 1 should go, etc).

Track templates are back on the track.

Track templates are back on the track.

When you are satisfied with the track template placement, use your templates to mark where the horizontal lane lines will go to divide the track spaces. You should use a pencil to make “tick marks” on the sheet, just inside and outside the track. Then make tick marks with your yellow paint marker on the edges of the track. Note: You should only mark the spaces on straight sections at this time. Leave the corners and “curvy” straights for a little later.

Tick-marking for the horizontal lines.

Tick marking the horizontal lines.

Then remove the template and use a ruler/straight-edge to make straight horizontal lines across the track with your yellow paint marker.

Marking the horizontal lines.

Marking the horizontal lines.

There are usually a few special cases for marking the horizontal lines. On the Belle Isle track, the southeast “straightaway” actually has a gentle curve to its right when it starts outside of turn 6, and then it kinks a bit to its left just before turn 7. See the track diagram:

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia.

It was difficult to layout the horizontal spaces using a ruler or tape measure, so finally I just placed three rows of 1:64 scale cars on the track (with 12 cars in each row).

Using scale cars to determine track spaces on a curvy section of the track.

Using scale cars to determine track spaces on a curvy section of the track.

There needed to be 12 spaces in this curvy section, so lining up the cars on the track template helped with initial alignment, but then I moved the cars a little until the spacing looked right. I then made tick marks with the yellow paint marker on both sides of the track, then removed the cars and the track template, then used a straight-edge to paint the horizontal lines in this section of the track.

Horizontal lines are painted on the curvy section of the track.

Horizontal lines are painted on the curvy section of the track.

Note that a yellow line is missing in the left side of the above picture. I still wasn’t satisfied with where I had painted the yellow line, so then later I went over it with the black paint marker, effectively erasing that yellow line. Later, when the black paint dried, I re-painted the yellow line in a slightly different location.

Horizontal lines are painted on the track.

Horizontal lines are painted on the track.

Give the just painted yellow horizontal lines a little time to dry (so you don’t smear them by rubbing your hand across them in the next step), perhaps 15 to 30 minutes, then paint the lane divider lines. For straight sections, I usually use the straight section templates, and make tick marks where the lanes should be.

Placing tick marks where the lane lines will go.

Placing tick marks where the lane lines will go.

Move the template down the track, making more tick marks every two or three spaces along the track. When you have marked that entire straight section of track, then use a straight-edge and mark the yellow lane lines. When you have finished a straight section, it should look something like this:

Lane lines have been added to a straight section.

Lane lines have been added to a straight section.

After marking the lane lines on all of the straight sections of the track, we have to add lane lines to corners and other curvy parts of the track. I use the ruler to make tick marks along the curves, then draw the actual lane lines “freehand.” It’s not that difficult to draw an arc. Just place the side of your hand on the table, and slowly “connect the dots.” To make the tick marks on this “3-wide” section of track, I marked ticks at 1.75″ and at 3.5″ from one side of the track.

Drawing lane lines on curvy parts of the track.

Drawing lane lines on curvy parts of the track.

In the above picture you can see me drawing a slightly curved lane line. If you are not sure about this step, you could always practice on some scrap material before you draw on your track. But don’t worry about mistakes, because you can always use your black paint marker to “erase” mistakes you drew with the yellow marker!

Now, some of the corners have one space in their inside lane, and two spaces in the outside lane. This means we need to draw a horizontal line to divide the spaces, but only in that outside lane. Which is why we had to mark all of the lane divider lines before we could divide the outside corner lanes into spaces. For this step, I once again like to use the actual cars I will use for races. Place the cars on the corner, and you can the best place to make that horizontal line. Make tick marks at either side of that outside lane, then remove the cars, and use a straight-edge to draw the line.

When all of the spaces have been marked on the track, it should look something like this:

All track spaces have been marked.

All track spaces have been marked.

Start/Finish Line

Although I could have performed this next step earlier, I will now make a special start/finish line, to make it easily recognizable.

Most track spaces are marked with yellow lines, but to differentiate the start/finish line, I will use a white paint marker to create a sort of “checkered” line. Use a straight-edge, and draw “dots” across the width of the track where the start/finish line will go.

The start/finish line and starting spaces.

The start/finish line and starting spaces.

I also painted an arrow off the extended start/finish line as an aid as to which way the direction of travel goes on that track. Of course, there are also the other cornering arrows, and I also draw the corner speeds so they are readable in the direction you approach them from. Note I also marked six “starting” spaces, like a real F1 race track would have (the real tracks will have more than 6 spaces marked as above, but three rows are sufficient for our game needs).


Once all of the spaces have been marked with the yellow paint marker, use that same yellow marker to apply the speeds in the corner spaces. Make sure you refer to your track diagram to get the speeds and arrows in the proper spaces.

Corner speeds and arrows have been added to the track.

Corner speeds and arrows have been added to the track.

I will make two passes for this step. First, I will go around the track and mark all of the cornering speeds, then I will make a second pass and add the arrows. I will let the paint dry in between each step, so I don’t smear any previously applied paint will adding more speeds or arrows. I also go backwards around the track, so I don’t smear any speeds that I just marked in a corner when I add speeds to other spaces in that same corner. And after the corner speeds and arrows have thoroughly dried, you probably should go over them again, to make them brighter and easier to read from the other end of the track.

When we originally made the tracks in the 1980s, we used red paint markers to mark off the track spaces, etc, but we found that the red lines are too hard to see from some angles. We now use either yellow or white for all of the lines and speeds and arrows. The higher contrast between the black track and the yellow or white lines makes it much easier to see the spaces, no matter where one sits around the track.

We next add the red-and-white stripes to denote the side of the track that is inside to the next corner. Although we never worried about this when we played Speed Circuit (we just designated the infield side of the track as the inside lane), with Championship Formula Racing (CFR) it is more important to know which side of the track is the inside lane to the next corner, so we need to add the red and white stripes. You could make a simpler marking, but the red and white stripe is easy to see at a glance. You will have to go over this striped line at least twice, as the first time you paint the unpainted sheet, the paint will soak in when it dries so that it will almost look like you didn’t paint it in those areas. The 2nd coat should look much better. Go around the entire track in this order: Mark the white dashes, then go around again and mark the red dashes in between the white dashes. Then make a second pass with white, and finally a second pass with red. After you add those stripes, it will look like this:

Red and white stripes have been added to the sides of the track.

Red and white stripes have been added to the sides of the track.

Either use a black permanent marker or a black paint marker to add the name of the track, its location, miles per lap, and years it was raced on. Add this somewhere in the infield of the track, if you can, although it could be anywhere.

Name of the track has been added.

Name of the track has been added.

Notice that I also added the actual name of the road, “The Strand” that the track is on at that part of the Belle Isle track. In other pictures you can also see a “5” or a “10” in a box outside the track. Those numbers are a play-aid so drivers can more easily count the number of straight spaces remaining until the next corner space.

Here’s a little trick to line up the letters nice and even. Mark some pencil lines along where the top and bottom of the letters will go.

Pencil lines were used to line up the lettering.

Pencil lines were used to line up the lettering.

Although the pencil lines may be hard to see in this picture, they are there. I used my tape measure to make tick marks at several places, measuring from one side of the table’s edge. I made the tick marks for the top row (the “Detroit Grand Prix” row) 2″ apart, then the other rows are each 1.5″ high. There is a 1″ space between each row. You can use whatever spacing looks good to you. If you haven’t done this kind of lettering before, mark all of the letters in pencil before using a permanent marker. If you absolutely can’t print neatly, and don’t have time to take drafting classes so you can print neatly, you could always use some lettering stencils or get a friend who can print well to mark the name on your track.

I also add the track name to a corner of the sheet, to make it easier to tell which track it is when it is all folded up for storage. Recently, I’ve also been adding its years of use if you might have different versions of a track.

Track name on the corner of the sheet.

Track name on the corner of the sheet.

I wrote the track name on both sides of one corner of the track, so it doesn’t matter which side is folded to the inside when the track is folded. It is probably better to fold the track with the painted side to the inside, just to better protect it. We used to just apply a piece of masking tape to the folded track with the track’s name, but tape will fall off after a number of years, so using a permanent marker is a much better way to go. And since some tracks have had revisions over the years, (see the many changes of the real life Silverstone, England, track as an example), the years for a particular track configuration have been added. I’ve also been adding what minimum table size is needed to use that track, so you’ll know what size or how many tables you’ll need to set it up. In the case of this Belle Isle track, the minimum table size is 3’9″ wide by 7’1″ long. In practical purposes, this will probably be used on a 4′ x 8′ table top.

The finished track.

The finished track.

At last, the track is finished. It’s time to race!

Making a 1:64 Scale Track — Part 2 — Marking the Track on the Sheet

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

In this blog post, we’ll tape our sheet to the table, then lay out the track sections again. Read Part 1 of Making a 1:64 Scale Track to see how we arrived here. Note that you can make a similar track for other scales of cars. If you use something like 1:43 scale, you would have to adjust the size of the spaces (and a full track probably wouldn’t fit on a sheet). You could of course make large tracks on foam-core board, or other material. Part of the reason we went with 1:64 scale cars originally is that in the 1980s, when we starting making the large tracks, Hot Wheels cars were the easiest cars to find. We also found that most of Avalon Hill’s Accessory Pack tracks would fit on a sheet at 1:64 scale.

So, I finished washing and drying my twin bed flat sheet, then stretched it out on my ping-pong table, and then taped it so it would stay fairly tight so it would avoid wrinkling while I marked it up. I laid out the former track sections on the sheet, but the outline just didn’t look quite right to me.  In particular, some of the corners on the real track were sharp, 90-degree turns, while the templates I used for 90-degree turns were more gradual and rounded. So, I then printed out the actual track file using the Acorn program (from Flying Meat Software), then taped some sections together, then laid them on the table on top of the former outline. That original track plan is with the red stripe down its middle.

The new track outline is on top of the old track outline.

The new track outline is on top of the old track outline.

It was very apparent that the new outline seemed much smaller than the former outline.

The new track outline is smaller than the old track outline.

The new track outline is smaller than the old track outline.

The former outline that I used was based on templates, where all of the straight pieces had spaces that were 3″ long by 1.75″ wide, and the template corner spaces had been printed so my 1:64 cars would fit on them without encroaching on the spaces of other cars. When I printed the actual track outline (with the red stripe), I printed it at 775% of my original file’s size. That made most of the straight spaces 3″ long, but it also meant that the corner spaces were too small. If you had more than one car in a corner area, the cars would interfere with each other. Since you can only paint the track once, it is better to resolve any issues in this, the planning stage! Naturally, I had to cut out these new track sections and tape some of them together with clear cellophane tape. Note that I cut close to the track outline as eventually I will trace around the track outline with a pencil. If I just placed the printed pages on the sheet, I would have to cut them later before I could trace the edges, and that would then put pieces out of alignment.

Now, of course, the table top was too cluttered, so I picked up all of the template sections and left just the new track outline pieces on the table.

Track outline sections.

Track outline sections.

I then measured from the different edges of the track, and tried to center the sections as much as possible. This is not only for aesthetics, but for practicality, as when playing Championship Formula Racing, each driver needs to lay out their cards without laying them on the track. While you should try to leave an open “border” around all edges of the track, that won’t be possible with some tracks.

Measuring from the edges to center the track on the sheet.

Measuring from the edges to center the track on the sheet.

I then centered the pieces, and placed them together to see how it looked.

The centered track.

The centered track.

Now comes the task of checking how the 1:64 scale cars fit. Get out your scale cars and see how they fit on actual parts of the track outline.

Cars fit on the straight sections.

Cars fit on the straight sections.

It looks like the straight sections are long enough for my Greenlight IndyCars to fit. I also tested the sections with my old Hot Wheels open-wheel race cars that are the same length as the newer Greenlight cars. Note that the printed track is narrower than I will paint the finished track. The proportion of the rectangles for a poster-board size track is different than I want for my large track. When I design a poster-board size track, I make the straight spaces 1″ long by 0.5″ wide. That usually works well with small race cars. However, for the large track, I make spaces that are 3″ long by 1.75″ wide. That means that when I trace around the edge of the finished track layout, I will have to do a little more marking.

Now, to check the fit in a corner. Oh-oh! The corner spaces are too small!

Cars don't fit in the corners.

Cars don’t fit in the corners.

While the #3 car in the picture above fits on the inside space, the two cars on the outside of the corner (which is two spaces long) don’t fit into their spaces. This means I will have to allow for more space. In years past, I would just move the straight track sections a little and “fudge” or estimate the new corner area. I would put a clean piece of paper under the corner area, and pencil in where the lines should go. But this time, I decided to go back and reprint the corner sections. I printed the corners at 900% (instead of 775%) of original this time, and they printed just about right.

But before I reprinted the corners, I substituted the template pieces.

Cars on template sections.

Cars on template sections.

Using the template sections, I can see that the cars will fit. Of course, by allowing for a longer corner section in this area of the track (this is turns 1 and 2, just past the start-finish line), it will affect the alignment of other parts of the track.

Another part of the track where the cars don't fit.

Another part of the track where the cars don’t fit.

I also found a part of the track that was in a “U” shape also didn’t fit the cars well, not for the curvy-“straight” sections nor in the actual numbered corner spaces. So I had to re-print that entire section. And even after I printed that section at 900%, some of the spaces were still too short. So, I spliced in a couple of pieces of paper to “expand” that section slightly, and also used a permanent marker to mark new lines between the spaces.

Splices added and spaces re-marked in the "U" section.

Splices added and spaces re-marked in the “U” section.

After checking all of the sections so that the cars would fit the spaces (particularly in the corners), and rechecking the track alignment (also  re-centering the track sections on the sheet), it is time to tape down the track sections so they don’t move when you mark off the outline of the track. I just use small pieces of masking tape to tack down the track sections. I’ll usually just use four small pieces of tape per track section to ensure that section doesn’t move when I mark its outline on the sheet.

Taping the sections of the track.

Taping the sections of the track.

Note that the above track sections were printed at two different scales, which is why they don’t line up along their outside edge. Since I am using the inside border of the track as a reference, that is not critical.

Now is the time to mark the outline of the track. Use a pencil for the “first pass” as if you make any mistakes, you can easily correct them! At first, I only marked off the inside edge of the track sections, as that was my “reference” point. Some of the printed track sections that I used for laying out the track were not wide enough, so I had to make sure that I marked the track as wide as it needs to be for each section. Remember that I am making each space 1.75″ wide, so if the track is “2-wide” (meaning the track is two spaces wide) in an area, then the total track width is 3.5″. (Sorry, I didn’t warn you there would be math involved in painting a large-scale track!) If a track section is “3-wide” (three lanes side by side), then the total track width is 5.25″ in that area. I use the straight edge to check the width of a section before marking the outside lines of the track.

Using a ruler to check the track width.

Using a ruler to check the track width.

In the above picture, I am making pencil “tick” marks where the 5.25″ outer edge of the track will be for this 3-wide section. I had to do this because of the varying scale of my template pieces. Even if you have perfectly sized templates, you should check the width of your track before masking and painting it. After making tick marks in an area, I used a pencil to “connect the dots (ticks).” When I was satisfied with the pencil inside and outside borders, then I went over the pencil marks with a permanent marker.

Outlining the track with a permanent marker.

Outlining the track with a permanent marker.

When the outlining was completed, I removed the paper templates. I removed the small pieces of tape from the templates, then stacked them carefully out of the way, in order, as I will need them again to aid in actually painting the lines for the spaces on the track (see Part 3 of this series).

The completed permanent marker outline of the track.

The completed permanent marker outline of the track.

Note that there is a pit lane to the left. Although Championship Formula Racing doesn’t use a formal “pit lane,” we are thinking of using our older Speed Circuit era pit stop rules, and we would need to drive down pit lane. I felt it would be easier to add the pit lane at this time, rather than to try to add it at a later time, when I would have to re-mask the track and paint part of it again. Towards the right side of the picture I also made an adjustment so a 3-wide straightaway section could blend into a 2-wide corner.

The track outline has been masked with tape.

The track outline has been masked with tape.

Next, we will need to cover all parts of the sheet with newspapers (or whatever you have on hand) and then tape it down to the inside and outside track outline, and then we’ll start painting. That process will be continued in Part 3 – Painting the track.

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.

Championship Formula Racing at Imperium Games, July 7, 2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

We had our most recent demo race of Championship Formula Racing at Imperium Games in Wixom, Michigan, on Friday, July 7.  (Imperium Games was up until recently known as Flat Land Games. It had a recent change of ownership.) We once again used one of the magnificent large-scale tracks made by Richard White many years ago.

Spa-Francorchamps track (1981-2003 configuration)

Spa-Francorchamps track (1981-2003 configuration)

I lined up my available 1:64 scale IndyCars for drivers to use as Jack Beckman had not yet shown up with his many Formula One cars. Traffic was exceptionally bad on I-96 west of I-275. I tried to get to Imperium Games by 5:00 pm, but I didn’t arrive until around 5:45 pm. The Imperium Games staff were very helpful in converting one of the lower miniatures tables by removing the edge rail from one side of the table, and providing a plywood extension under the part of the track in the upper right of the above picture. In other words, the Spa track is wider than a 4 foot x 8 foot table — it needs about a 5 foot by 8 foot table.

Not too long after I set up the track, Jim Landis arrived, followed by Jim Robinson and Greg Lim. Jack Beckman got to the track around 6:45 pm. We got rolling a little past 7:00 pm.

Starting positions in Championship Formula Racing are handled on a “bid” basis. Each driver bids some of his starting Wear or Skill chits, with each Wear counting as one and each Skill counts as 1/2. Jim Robinson and I each bid 1.5 (1 Wear and 1 Skill each), Jack Beckman bid only 0.5 (a single Skill chit), and Jim Landis and Greg Lim each bid nothing. So then Jim Robinson and me had to roll dice for starting position, with Jim getting the pole, and I started on the front row next to him. Jack was 3rd, and Jim Landis and Greg diced for starting 4th and 5th.

The Spa race is on. Cars are just past the first turn.

The Spa race is on. Cars are just past the first turn. L-to-R: Jack Beckman, Garry Kaluzny, Jim Landis, Jim Robinson (Greg Lim Photo).

We got about a half-lap into our 3 lap race, when a sixth driver, Chris Mogle,  showed up. We paused the race so he could build his car’s specifications, then we placed him on the track just behind the 5th place car. We also deducted 3 Wear from Chris, as that is how much Wear the 5th place car had used up to that point in the race.

I had finally convinced the other drivers to use the Tire and Pit Stop rules for CFR. We also specified that each car would have to use both hard and soft tires at some point during the race. I started on hard tires, but switched to soft tires at the end of the first lap when I pulled into the pits. To my surprise, all five other cars also pulled into the pits.

Basically, if you use the pit stop rules in CFR, your car starts with less wear than it would have available if you weren’t using the pit rules. For example, I put +1 build point into my Wear when I set up my car. Without using the pit stop rules, I would have received 7 Wear per lap. Since we were racing 3 laps, that means I would have started with 21 Wear for the race, and once it was used up it could not be replenished. However, with the pit rules, I only received 4 Wear per lap, meaning I only started with 12 Wear. However, when you pit, you come out of the pits with your full complement of Wear. I was planning on pitting twice in the 3 laps, so I would theoretically have 12 + 12 + 12 = 36 Wear to use, instead of just the 21 Wear I would have had if we had not used the pit rules. Now, to balance all that, when you pit your car is stationary for two turns, so you would lose track position to other cars that stayed out on the track.

So, after burning through 10 Wear on my first lap (also having used one Wear in bidding for starting position), I pitted, but so did everyone else. Some drivers had not burned all of their starting Wear, so when they “topped off” their Wear, they effectively lost a couple/few Wear.

After pit stops, the cars are back on the track, starting their 2nd lap (of 3) on the Spa track.

After pit stops, the cars are back on the track, starting their 2nd lap (of 3) on the Spa track.

So, shortly after starting the 2nd lap, I failed a Deceleration dice roll, which reduced my car’s Deceleration from 40 mph to 20 mph. This wasn’t a huge handicap on the Spa track, as there are only a couple of places where you really need to decelerate by more than 20 mph, and when I needed to decelerate by 40 mph I could spend a Wear to slow down.

A close up of cars at the La Source hairpin turn at Spa-Francorchamps.

A close up of cars at the La Source hairpin turn at Spa-Francorchamps.

At the end of the 2nd lap, five of the six cars pitted again, and surprisingly, I was still in the lead. I held the lead all the way until the end. Then, on the next to last turn, I finished my move one space short of the finish line, but moving at 120 mph. For my next turn, I need to reduce my speed to 60 mph to avoid entering the slow hairpin turn which was only three spaces past the finish line. However, since I was out of Wear, I couldn’t use any Wear to slow down more than my damaged 20 mph Deceleration. I could only add a single dice roll to try to decelerate by a total of 40 mph. That would have left my car traveling at 80 mph, which would put me into the corner after the finish line. Since I didn’t have any Wear, I could only have entered that corner at 60 mph without crashing, and I would have had to take a Chance dice roll if I entered the corner at 60 mph. So, my car crashed, and according to the rules, if your car crashes after crossing the finish line, it is considered to have NOT finished the race!

That meant that Jack Beckman took the win, as he had been in 2nd place, very close behind my car. I believe Jim Robinson was 2nd, and Jim Landis was 3rd (or was it the other way around?), and Chris Mogle was 4th, and Greg Lim was 5th. I (Garry Kaluzny) was 6th, although I would not have received any points if we had been racing for points.

However, after we had all packed up the game components, and I was headed home, I realized that I totally forgot about “late braking”! I could have used a Deceleration dice roll to get down to 80 mph (from 120 mph), and then after I moved at least one space on the track, I could have used late braking to scrub off another 20 mph by taking another Deceleration roll. I also had a -1 and a -3 Skill markers, which I could have exchanged the -3 Skill marker for three -1 Skill markers, meaning I could have made both Deceleration rolls with -2 Skill applied, meaning I would have only failed either roll if I rolled a 12 on 2d6. Of course, if I had failed either of those Deceleration rolls, my car would also have been out of the race, but each roll had a 35 in 36 chance of succeeding.

It just goes to show that even us “experienced” Speed Circuit/CFR drivers can fail an internal “brain” roll and forget about applying a rule when it is vitally needed!

Jack and I were hoping to run a demo race of CFR at the Metro Detroit Gamers’ MichiCon at Oakland University in August, but that game con, tentatively scheduled for August 4-5, is not happening for certain. So, if MichiCon does not take place on August 4-5, I will probably have more CFR demo races in Canton and Wayne on August 5. And then we will probably have our final demo race at Guild of Blades on Friday, August 11. We then hope to start racing for points on Friday, September 8.

Check out our CFR-Detroit web page.

Posted by Garry Kaluzny

Championship Formula Racing demo races, July 1, 2017

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, I ran four more demo races of Championship Formula Racing, trying to attract more regular racers for our upcoming season of races (that should begin in September). I ran two races at the monthly first Saturday boardgame Meetup group at the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan, then later in the day I ran two more races at the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan.

I got to the Canton library just before they opened the meeting room for us boardgamers at noon. Meeting me there were Greg Lim and Jim Robinson. We quickly set up four folding tables together so we could place one of our large scale race tracks on that group of tables. I had just borrowed four more large tracks from Richard White on Thursday, two nights previous.

For our first race, we had eight racers, and we raced on the Monza, Italy track. This large track is based on the mid-1980s Monza track from Avalon Hill’s Accessory Pack tracks from that era. It has not been modified for the newer Monza changes. But we all race on the same track, n’est-ce pas?

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library.

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library. (Greg Lim photo)

After we completed the first race at Monza, I asked folks if they wanted to race the 2nd race on a different track, but they wanted to race the Monza track again. One of the drivers from the first race dropped out, as he wanted to play some other board games at the library, but we added two other drivers, so the 2nd race had nine drivers. That was the most drivers we have had (so far) for our demo races.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library. Brian Robinson (center, in the gray t-shirt) comtemplates how he can win the race from his then 2nd place on the track.

Brian Robinson won that 2nd Monza race. Brian is relatively new to the Speed Circuit/Championship Formula Racing type games, but he is driving like an old pro. I told him at the end of the evening after the last race at Warriors 3 that I no longer considered him a rookie, but an “old pro” driver.

After that 2nd race at the Canton library, Greg and Jim and I went to a local fast food place for some dinner. (If you’re going to drive “fast” in racing games, you should eat “fast” food, eh?) Then we got to the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan, in plenty of time to arrange four folding tables together to make room to set up another large track. I set up the Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

While we were setting up the 1:64 scale race cars on the track while we were waiting for some other racers to arrive, a three-year old boy, Thomas, came over to our table. He was determined to play with our 1:64 scale cars! We first moved the cars from one side of the table to the other, but then Thomas tried to climb on top of the table to get to the cars. I was afraid of Thomas falling off the table and injuring himself. Finally, though, Thomas’ father called him away from us. The father was playing in a different game in a different area of the same large gaming room. Anyway, we were relieved, as our 1:64 scale cars are definitely not toys, and would not survive without damage from being handled by a three-year-old!

Racing on the Silverstone track.

Racing on the Silverstone track. Garry Kaluzny in the red shirt at left. (Greg Lim photo)

It should be noted that our race on the Silverstone track was also based on the mid-1980s configuration of that real-life track. In CFR game terms, I built my car to have 60 mph Acceleration and Deceleration, and a 180 mph Top Speed. You can pretty much drive either 120 mph or 180 mph every turn on this track configuration. Centered in the picture above is Ian, a young guy visiting the Detroit area from his home in Kentucky. Although he had never played CFR (nor Speed Circuit), he pretty quickly grasped the strategy to use. His downfall was taking too many early chances on cornering, and a spinout dropped him back in the race. If he wouldn’t have spun, though, he would have been a tough competitor.

After the Silverstone race was complete, we had time to race once more. We switched to the Monaco track for that last race of the evening. We had the same six drivers from the Silverstone race competing.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Ian took the early lead from the pole position, although I was hot on his heels from my front row position. The first time at the Casino/Station/Loews hairpin turn, I got the inside position from Ian, meaning I got to move first the next turn, so I took over the lead.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian's car on the last lap at Monaco.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian’s car on the last lap at Monaco. (Greg Lim photo)

On the last lap, I had to hold back Brian’s car. With about a half-lap left to race, I had only 3 Wear remaining, while Brian had 7 Wear. At the finish line, Brian pulled alongside my car, but I nipped him by a nose at the end. Whew! I had to make two cornering Chance dice rolls late in the race, using my two -3 Skill chits.

Although the day was long, I believe everyone had fun racing in the different races. We added another six names to our CFR email list. We now have about 30 names on the list, but not all of them will race in our upcoming season. Some folks, such as Brian, have been using the frequent demo races to gain a lot of experience in racing CFR. When the season starts in September, I expect some close competition!

We will have another demo race on July 7, 2017, at Imperium Games in Wixom. Imperium Games used to be Flat Land Games, but they had a recent change of ownership. That demo race will start at 7:00 pm, and will be a 3-lap race. All of the demo races on July 1 were only 2-lap races, as they were intended to be used for teaching the game mechanics. Shorter races mean you can run more races in a day, plus if someone were to crash out of a race, they wouldn’t have to wait as long to get back into the next race. Surprisingly, though, every racer (including me!) finished every race, in spite of multiple chances being taken by rolling dice!

Check our CFR-Detroit web page for more info about upcoming Championship Formula Racing races in the Detroit, Michigan, metro area.

Posted by Garry

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