Revisiting the Worlds - Part 2

1/12th Circuit

Organising the Worlds. 



In the next instalment of our series looking back at the 2020 1/12th Circuit World Championships we have looked to gain some insight into what it took to organise the event. We’ve posed questions to some of the key people involved and they have all been kind enough to write us some interesting answers. We would like to thank everyone who took part in this article as well as everyone else who helped to run this fantastic event. 

Jim Spencer - Overall Organisation.

When/how did the idea for running the world championships in Centre MK come about ?

It almost certainly involved a beer or two…  I think it was probably the logical conclusion to the events we’d been able to run in Middleton Hall previously and then the campaign (first started by Russ Giles) to split the IFMAR WC for touring cars away from 1/12 was successful – though it still took some ‘politics’ and even then, there were quite a few people convinced that a stand alone 1/12 meeting wouldn’t work.It just needed some stubborn people, with belief, to prove that thought wrong. We had the belief, we had the people and we had the desire to make it happen. We had a group of people convinced that a stand alone 1/12th meeting, in the right location and at the right time of the year would attract the right entry; so some time in about 2016 we decided to ‘Go for It’ and see if we could prove those beliefs right.

Jim S Photo Courtesy of Dan Maher

What were the key moments in the run up to the event ? 

OH there’s a whole list, but the key date would be the EFRA meeting where we won the application process. There was a whole heap of enthusiasm prior to that moment and then a realisation that you’ve now got to deliver what you’ve said can be done and the next couple of years are about to disappear really quickly..Followed by lots of debate about how ‘small’ the entry would be, the format of the event because of it etc and lots of email traffic to be allowed to run it the way we wanted to – and with some compromise we got there (and thanks to the EFRA and IFMAR officials who allowed our ‘belief’ the space it needed to work)And then probably the beginning of September 2019 where the winter season is just starting for 1/12 and the racers come out of summer hibernation and you basically need to go from an email & paper based event to everybody knowing what they need to do and physical reality in a few weeks.You’re then, all of a sudden, stood in the middle of the hall, it’s empty, it’s a Monday morning and the event starts in 2 days.

Were there any times when you thought “we’ve got a problem ? “ 

Lots – mostly based around the ‘politics’ and the people we needed to convince that our beliefs were right and we had a viable event.  Then of course there’s the financing of it, big events are very hard to fund, making that work was tricky and then there’s the story of the event logistics – juggling that is a whole list of ‘problems’ that you just have to work through.But one thing I never doubted – we had the right people; good people can do anything once they put their mind to it and this event proved that.

Can you share some memories of the event and what you enjoyed most about the event ? 

The end of it?   The sense of sheer relief when the Modified A Final, leg 3 finished and we’d had no issues was huge!The sheer energy about the whole place – from the day we started the build until we’d packed it away the sheer buzz was HUGE. You could feel the energy when walking through the pits and the racing was Epic because of it.We had a fantastic team of people come together to run this meeting, it was an amazing experience to be part of that and every single one of them can be very proud of what they did.Plus I think we left a legacy; -  we demonstrated what a 1/12 World Championship can be. Our class can be just as good an event as any other, it just needs to be allowed to be run in the right location and the right time of year and then the drivers will come.

Peter Winton - Scrutineering

Can you tell us about the planning that went into the scrutineering of the World Championships ? 

It fell into three parts – understanding what the rules required us to do; conceiving the way we would do it; executing that concept in reality.  Working with Jim we clarified rules with IFMAR, especially those around the control tyres.  IFMAR were helpful and we got all our major concerns answered.

How long did it take to box up all those tyres ? 

A whole day!  Five people were at it all the time,  with people rotating in and out all day.  Two of us spent 12 hours on our feet getting it all done, from putting up the shelves to filing the last box late in the afternoon.  That set us up for a week of easy tyre control.


Did everything go smoothly at the event ? 

From the driver’s perspective, yes – no hitches at all.  Everyone got through tech in time for their heat no matter how late they turned up!  Random post-race scrutineering of motors and speedos was slick with no problems.  It was a great team effort – morning meetings, quick decisions and actions for things we could see might go wrong - and everyone did their bit. 

What’s your favourite memory from the event ? 

Looking at Jim after the last race and saying together “we did it!”  Such relief; such elation.  Second best was the faces of the drivers who came through tech for the first time and saw what we were checking and how.  I don’t think some of them had seen anything like it, and I am sure our attention to detail was a key factor in no one even trying to cheat.

Darren Worth - Timekeeping


Photo Courtesy of Darren Worth

How did you prepare for the World Championships ?

My involvement with this event began at the 2019 BRCA AGM when I took over the BRCA Chief Time Keeper role from Gareth Bevan. 

Knowing that Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Poor Performance, and being my first major gig, I wanted to make sure it was going to go well. So to learn the nuances of 1/12th, I popped over to one of the 1/12th nights at the Tamworth club in November with the aim of returning there for the 1/12th national in December running a “mini worlds”, but with days to go the national was thrown in to chaos  due to issues at the venue.  The national was cancelled but a small test was still required so myself and a few racers headed to The Force Raceway in Wakefield for a test session using the RCM Ultimate race timing system which I have used for club, nationals and European championships. A number of mini races were run on the venues carpeted track during the closed test session to understand the 1/12th nuances.

With just a month to go before the big event the exchanges between the “event team” gathered pace with exchanges on things from event IT & audio layouts, the establishment of the weeks timetable and the desire to help the communication team and the public with driver and car images displayed on trackside monitors.

This latter desire meant dialogue with the race timing developer, who just happened to be away skiing on the lead up to the event, so following development of our needs, extensive testing over the festive season and upgrading software arriving the Monday of the Worlds it was achieved.  Along with developing this software, extensive timetable testing was undertaken over the festive period with my wife returning home from work on many occasions to be greeted by that famous “RC Beep” ringing around our house!

Can you share your experience of running the timing at a World Championships? 

Tuesday and Wednesday were build and driver check in days so by the end of Tuesday evening race control was all configured and ready for the week ahead. Our race results were being transmitted around the race venue and live back on to the BRCA website. With PA\Timing loops\IT all setup I entered Thursday confident that I had done as much as I could to make this event a success. 

With everything in place, the computer was started and the count down to the opening session of the world championship was underway so all eyes were on the drivers and the timing system as they were called by the system and the beeps triggered the opening session of the 2020 IFMAR 1/12 Worlds were underway.  The main and backup systems were working like clockwork and it was time to relax, heat after heat we went through the morning and into the afternoon. Mid-afternoon I was made aware that despite all our results going to the BRCA results server they were not appearing on the timing systems app. It transpired that the developer’s server host had decided to do an update in their quiet load period, i.e. early January, which unfortunately meant for the rest of the day the trackside app results were not available but the following day they were back up and running. 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday went without any issues, and reached the point that on occasion I could be seen in the local John Lewis, or Costa coffee with the timing system running like clockwork on auto with the sound of driver calls and countdown beeps being heard. 

 What’s your favourite memory from the event ?

 Sunday was the more relaxed day on the timetable and we entered the finals with James Allison, of Mercedes F1 standing beside me at the timing screens. By 5pm on Sunday, 12th January I had run my first IFMAR meeting, adding this to club, national, European championship’s I think that’s the full set now 😉

What an experience it was, great to see old faces, meet new faces and be part of another great BRCA success and personally can I thank Jim Spencer for all the effort he put in to make the event a success and to all those behind the scenes who never get recognised. From my perspective it may have only been 4 days of racing but I started on it 12 weeks before the event with significant tech shake downing being done in December to ensure the racers got the event they deserved and expected.

David Spashett - Track build.

Did you design the track ? 

The track design was a collaboration between Mark Jewitt and myself. We both had our own ideas and in the end I think the layout we came up with was challenging for both the stock and mod classes. 

Can you give us an idea of the amount of equipment that required to be moved into the event hall ?

Even I was astounded at just how much equipment was needed to put on the event. Drivers stand and race control staging, Gazeboes for the Tech, tyre truing and Hospitality areas and a massive marquee tent for everyone to pit in. Tables, chairs, fencing, security gates and all the small items of equipment needed to run the event. It was a major event just getting everything there and inside the venue, let alone the building and construction. I remember pulling up to the event in my LWB transit van fully loaded with track equipment and I was just one of six! plus there was a massive lorry full of the main staging equipment. Was Awesome !

Bit from Jim:-   From the pit marquee down to the trophies was;- 2 Articulated lorries, and 5 large borrowed or hired vans and numerous deliveries (Due to the latter; - taking it away was very interesting I have never seen vans so full!)

How long did the setup of the track take ? 

We had a great team of volunteers and it took us the good part of a full day to complete the track build, we simply wanted to take our time to make sure we got everything right. Rolling out the carpet and making sure it was as flat as possible, taping the carpets to the floor and then to each other so they couldn’t move, track markers with Velcro, corners made to fit, carpet inlays to show off the track better and finally cleaning the racing surface so the grip would come quickly and evenly.

Being a multiple world champion you have seen a lot of races how do you think this one compares and what’s your favourite memory ?

 In my opinion over the years I have seen the value of the IFMAR 1/12thWorld Championships slowly diminishing. For a class of racing I love so much it has been a shame to see the entries get to a point where the event could be run in a single day. To be given the chance to play a small part in putting 1/12th  back on the world stage and to make a difference was truly amazing and one of my favourite RC memories of all time. Could we have done anything better? I am 100% sure we could have changed some things but for now the BRCA have done their part to showcase one of the best classes in RC.         

Mark Burgess - Refereeing

Refereeing any race let alone a world championship is always a challenge so did you volunteer or were you persuaded ? 

To answer this I need to go back to a discussion with Chris Hardisty over drinks in Gran Canaria. This was in 2006 when we were racing on the island for that year’s 1/12th Euros, where the large British team were all staying in the same hotel.

 A few of us said to Chris how we’d like to see the BRCA host another 1/12th Euros in the UK. His reply was “ok and did we realise that not all of you are going to be able to race?”. He patiently walked us through the amount of work involved to put a Euros or Worlds on, and that volunteers would be needed for a range of roles including the referee.

Well, that got me thinking and is how four years later I was the BRCA national referee at the awesome 1/12th Euros held at Hinkley. I’d done some refereeing of UK nationals in a couple of classes, and learned a lot from some great referees as a racer at Worlds and Euros. 

I’d really enjoyed refereeing at a big championship and put “Worlds referee” on my r/c racing to do list. So when Peter Winton approached me in autumn 2019 about volunteering to be BRCA national referee at the MK 2020 Worlds it didn’t take much to persuade me! 

Mark b

Photo Courtesy of Mark Burgess

What planning and preparation was there as referee before the event? 

Jim (Spencer) did a great job of keeping the organising group informed. We’d get a countdown of the number of weeks to go via e-mail, and planning & preparation tasks that we needed to do by group.

I’d read the IFMAR rules as “homework”, so made some requests for where the referees were positioned and our communications. The wireless headphones to allow Race Control and us  referees to talk worked really well. In hindsight I wish I’d asked for another microphone on the rostrum, but as always the amazing BRCA support team hooked up the IFMAR referee’s wireless headphones as a second microphone.

As a four-day event I knew that I’d have to take two of the days off work. I have a deal with my wife Fran that she’ll come to race meetings with me if it is somewhere warm. As Milton Keynes in January doesn’t meet that criteria, she kindly agreed to come along as long as we rented an apartment that she could work from on Thursday and Friday. 

 What you many not know is that Fran’s travel planning expertise is familiar to our US racing friends from our IIC and Snowbirds trips over the years. So when Brian Wynn won the ROAR nationals and wanted to race at the MK Worlds, he asked Fran to help him arrange flights and hotel transfers. What Brian didn’t know was that Frank Calandra Jr had also contacted Fran to arrange his own surprise trip to attend the Friday through Sunday.

How did you find keeping track of the cars on such a big circuit ? 

Whilst it had been a few years, it helped to have experience of keeping track of 1/12th cars as referee at the Hinckley Euros which was also a larger track.

 I asked at the Team Meetings for three car numbers to be put on the same place at each bodyshell, and Technical Inspection did a great job of making sure everyone did that. This simple step makes identifying cars easier when they are racing at speed.

For a Worlds there are three referees, and for qualifiers we’d have two on the rostrum at a time (and three for A-mains) so you were never alone. We talk to each other to confirm who’s following which cars so we can cover more of the track.

You also get a “referee’s sense” of when cars are getting closer and you may need to step in. I am also a fan of thanking slower cars for moving over when being passed without being asked, and a simple “thank you Car 8” means they know I saw and appreciated it.

Did you have to make any difficult calls ? 

There was more as National referee that I was asked to cover in the early Team Managers meetings than I probably realised. Thankfully Jim tipped me off on the day so I wasn’t surprised, and my day job means I am used to speaking at meetings with a challenging audience!

Some mechanics were less familiar with the IFMAR rules about only putting cars down in the pit lane. So I stood down there for the first timed practice round to physically tell then where was ok and where wasn’t as part of the race track.

Thankfully the drivers did a great job, and there weren’t any really difficult refereeing calls during qualifiers or finals.

 I did have to “have a word” with one of the finals after a messy first leg. This clearly worked as the last two legs were much cleaner.

What’s your favourite memory from the event ? 

It would have to be the number of racers, team managers and organisers who made time to come up to me and thank me. Refereeing a Worlds was everything I hoped it would be and more!

We hope you enjoyed this insight into the world championships and look out for our next article where we have a look back from the viewpoint of the Winners.

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