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I'm just recovering from the best experience in HO slotcar racing. The Fray in Ferndale (Ca) is, by far, the place to go to meet, greet, race and schmooze with the best and brightest in the hobby.

I was traveling this year with Trek Lawler. We flew into Frisco on wednesday morning and made the drive up to Ferndale. This is the most picturesque drive I can think of. Beautifull scenery and awsome vistas, all the way up thru the Sonoma valley and wine country, up to the north coast.

Then it's into the tiny, victorian town of Ferndale Ca. I just love this place. I will retire there, It's that cool.

In town is the Humbold county fairgrounds and Bilotti Hall. This the the room were it all happens. We got there on Wednsaday afternoon and proceeded to tune and test. Three new routed tracks to learn, and setup for. At 7:00 pm the place shut down for the most part and we made the mad dash to the Eal River Brewery

http://www.eelriverbrewing.com/taproom-grill.html

All the shooters are there and they are NOT racing or tuning. This makes for a great time to pick brains and learn settup secrets. But first there is the beer and victuals to be consumed.

Then to the room for a frantic build in secret and a quick nap. The next morning we got to the hall early and tuned all day. The tracks are open all day for tuning and it is very unscripted. Just go to the track you want and run. Every team has a table for their pit, so everything is right there.

Friday was pretty much the same early 'till I had to qualify. This year the vote was for the Green table. A well established fray track. This is where the qualifiying and the inividual mains will be held. I did well qualifying and seeded into the d main.
After a few misques and some bad luck I failed to advance (they move up three)so a 14th place was gonna have to be good enough.
Saturday morning saw the place filled by 7:30 and at 8:00 The Fray was on. In this format, you are on a yteam and you meet another team at a predetermined table. If you only have five on your team, you race all day long. No waiting, no practice, no bullcrap. If you want to have a break, you put six on your team. I LOVE the format and it lends to great racing and great times.

At the end of the day, it was the team from Santa Cruz that won the day. This very cool for them, and it was really cool for Trek who got his first Fray win. My team finished sixth, and I ran well all day. A good showing all told.

http://www.thefrayinferndale.com/2011results.htm

If you have to choose one race a year to attend, you can't go wrong with this one.

Tim Leppert
AKA smalltime
 

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Sounds like a goodtime was had smalltime!

Bob...California here I come...zilla
 

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I went in 2007 and 2008 with the pacific northwest team, and was glad that I experienced it, here were my thoughts on the race, good and bad:

Good:

Excellent people, I really enjoyed getting to meet a lot of the folks whose names I had only seen on the boards. Steve Ward, Hiram Durant, who I had bought a car from didn't think twice about giving my car a once over after introducing myself....

The insane amount of track time I was able to put in on all the tracks over the course of several days.

The intense racing once the big day began, no one lacks for track time!

The Bowman tracks were great

Bad:

The condition of half the tracks (the lock and joiners) was terrible. It was obvious that these things had been stored for months and no one had really done too much to get them into racing shape. I had to have special cars for individual lanes on certain tracks due to a lane being too shallow or too tight to get through.

The individual finals... Everyone takes a vote on their favorite tracks, everyone I spoke with voted for the Black and green routed tracks, perennial favorites. What did we race on? The purple and blue lock and joiners, the 2 worst tracks in the field. Why? Because that is where the microphones were setup...

10 lap heats, not a huge fan of them, I like the timed heat, it gives someone who bobbles at the start or who gets taken out the chance to get back in the race. In a 10 lap heat, you come out, your fault or not, you're done...

All that being said, I really enjoyed going, and wouldn't mind doing it again at some point. I just wished we raced these more in Seattle, it's hard to get good when folks don't run them. I also know that they have gotten some new routed tracks and retired some of the lock and joiners, excellent news. The biggest trouble with this race, or any other, is time and distance. It's just hard to justify the time with a family and can be tough on the budget, especially in these times.

Hopefully I can get back to it one of these days, I do have some fond memories of the fray....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Bad:

The condition of half the tracks (the lock and joiners) was terrible. It was obvious that these things had been stored for months and no one had really done too much to get them into racing shape. I had to have special cars for individual lanes on certain tracks due to a lane being too shallow or too tight to get through.

The individual finals... Everyone takes a vote on their favorite tracks, everyone I spoke with voted for the Black and green routed tracks, perennial favorites. What did we race on? The purple and blue lock and joiners, the 2 worst tracks in the field. Why? Because that is where the microphones were setup...

10 lap heats, not a huge fan of them, I like the timed heat, it gives someone who bobbles at the start or who gets taken out the chance to get back in the race. In a 10 lap heat, you come out, your fault or not, you're done...

All that being said, I really enjoyed going, and wouldn't mind doing it again at some point. I just wished we raced these more in Seattle, it's hard to get good when folks don't run them. I also know that they have gotten some new routed tracks and retired some of the lock and joiners, excellent news. The biggest trouble with this race, or any other, is time and distance. It's just hard to justify the time with a family and can be tough on the budget, especially in these times.

Hopefully I can get back to it one of these days, I do have some fond memories of the fray....
Just a few things, to show that this is not a static event.

The lock and joiner tracks are gone. It's all Bowman routed tracks from here on out.

I understand the cost and time issues. Luckily I was able to plan ahead this year and get a decent nestegg set aside for the trip.

The inividuals are a whole differnet thing now. It's really a joy to know you have a chance to get to the mains if you do well.

The promoters are great folks who want to make this a premeir event. If you have concerns just go to the website and ask.
 

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Some of our guys in N Dallas went this year. They go to Kansas and race in some Fray-like league there too.
They are really into it. For me, the barrier is the car. I'd rather have ten Tycos for the same price of one Fray car.

I like the tournament concept, and wish there was something like it for magnet cars.
I also really like the ten lap format. It could be 2 laps or 50 and I would like it the same.
Timed heats are good, but its all anyone does, kinda boring.
Laps limited is the way most professional racing is run.
 

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I'm taking trhis all in . I've been running strictly pancajke cars for the last ten years and am getting bored with them as a steady diet .

I agree with Tex that a variety is needed . I'm not a magnet racer but a Stock Class TYCO 440 class with slip ons is a nice variety and can be had for cheap .

Budget and logistics keep me from attending the Frey .

Gonzo
 

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Just a few things, to show that this is not a static event.

The lock and joiner tracks are gone. It's all Bowman routed tracks from here on out.

I understand the cost and time issues. Luckily I was able to plan ahead this year and get a decent nestegg set aside for the trip.

The inividuals are a whole differnet thing now. It's really a joy to know you have a chance to get to the mains if you do well.

The promoters are great folks who want to make this a premeir event. If you have concerns just go to the website and ask.
Good to know Tim, thanks for addressing my points. I would love to get back again, need to start saving I guess... :) Like I said before, my issues were never about people, they have always been great, nice to know some things are getting worked through to make it better!
 

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Hi Tim, it's been a while (I still need to call John George....). You and I have discussed this on occasion. I know you really have a great time at the Fray and I have had a lot of informative calls with you in the past on the latest speed tips and techniques which was appreciated. I think the bottom line is many people are in the hobby for many reasons, no matter how great any event might be it is not everyone's cup fo tea. Some collect only or are modelers and would not ever care to attend a major race. Others are hard core competitve racers, then there all all kinds in between. One of the in between guys was Earl Harris who used to buld fray chassis years ago and then disappeared. He was an in between point, he posted at one time and said Fray t-jet racing had evolved to a point that it was basically no longer of interest to him. Once upon a time I was reasonably competive and had a great time, things evolved to a point where for me, it was no longer fun. I think there are many out there like that, on some point of the spectrum where maybe they were never at a point where fray racing was fun, or like me at one time it was but it evolved to the point it was no longer fun for them.
I still dabble with slots a little on my own because as you know, I love cars. My driving used to be OK and maybe still might be if I had continued to race competetively, I know a lot of speed secrets and could contact many (yourself included) if I wanted to build competitive cars once again. The truth is, I have no desire and I suspect there are many others like that, I could afford all the parts needed in a current fray car and if I rally wanted to, I could make the time to build, tweak and tune, the bottom line is I don't want to, no desire. I like competition but this to me is a fun hobby, I and proabably many others don't enjoy it when we have to dedicate the time, money effort etc, it becomes unfun for many of us.

Fun was when we cobbled cars together from parts and you felt great when you put a great car together, I remeber running close with Don Bourne at teh old Heartland Raceway years agowith a red lola with an 18 ohm arm and Howard Kilgore cobbled together front end and slip on rear silicones, teh car ran smooth as silk and I had fun.....many memories like that one. When it got to the point of specail tools, jig boiling chassis, exotic pickup shoe setusp, custom rear tires, CNC gear sets etc it was not of any interest any longer.

I'm not slamming the Fray or any race, it's just to answer your topic, I think there are many that would come to the fray at all, it isn't where their interests in the hobby align. I went back in 2002 (We were on the same team I think) and it was frustrating, not that much fun, but I could see then thatthe days of the come for fun teams was about over. Many of the fun run teams disolved or quit going to the Fray after that.. I know there are successful teams who plan for this all year long, no slam to them, that's what they are into, many of us are not though. I realized in 2002 I could increase my time in driving better, increase my time in building and tweaking and come back in 03 and beyond to try and do better, but I aksed myself why ? I had no interest or drive to do so.

I truely am not out to demaen you or anyone who races fray or anything competitve it's jsut a reply that I think many in the hobby don't get enjoyment building or racing to that level, just like there are many who like to make customs but wouldn't enter a concours contest agaisnt skilled and expereicned modelers. Bottom line everyone enjoys leasure time in their own way.

I'm sure I'll get some flames regarding that I give up too easy or am not competitve enough, to bad, it is just a hobby, I and everyone else chooses to be in it or not in it and enjoys it in their own way. Again Tim Don't take this offensively, I have nothing in for anyone I just spend my time focusing on things another way.
 

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What would it take to get you to "the Fray "

I to have barely any interest in racing the current version of what the Fray car has morphed into. So a way back machine would get Me there LOL ! Again it's nothing personal and i think it's just a matter of preference. While i was cool with the very early hard bodied GT40 , LOLA GT years etc that is long long gone. Ya i run some wide stuff and enjoy putzing with it to a degree it just don't stir me enough to want to pack for heading west. My favorite racing tjet wise is still a skinny slip on tire , hard bodied , zero aftermarket geared class. So with that in mind i suspect i would likely not become an active participant soon.

Bear :wave:
 

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I am a traditionalist. Hot rodding,being a mechanic,even the house hold decore is what they now call "retro",heck my mom inlaw and moms stuff from the 50s and 60s decorate the house.I just punch the clock and pay the bills.The new style "fray style" does not interest me,its cool dont get me wrong and I get the "is that an original body" all the time,but I like racing the the way it used to be all squirrelly all over the track and just having fun getting those old tjets around the track.I take pride in my christmas tree arms weak ass magnets and original equipment stuff.No balancing no BS just put it on the track and run what you brung.I am rambling sorry
Bart(crosley)
PS any info on how all this tjet racing started would be greatly appreciated.
 
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