Track Owners Association, Inc. Featured Raceway
July 1999

Go Slot Car Racing !!

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Andy Browne-Searle's

Dutton Court, Chainbridge Road
Blaydon, Newcastle upon Tyne
England  NE21 5ST
Phone: 0191-414-1828
Fax: 0191-414-1829
Riverside Raceway
Click any image for a larger view
Riverside Raceway cross-promotional tie in The Riverside Raceway "company car"
Six lane portable "Max Track" for
promotional events on client's premises
Three racers trying to best Vauxhall-sponsored
British Touring Car Champion John Cleland
Versatile stretched UK Black track
with red lights on poles for night racing
Riverside factory team entry for
the European Enduro Championships
Andy Brown-Searle at the wheel
of a Caterham 7 at the National
Performance and Sports Car Show

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…is the culmination of a dream for managing director, Andy Brown-Searle and possibly the only raceway in all of Europe that has four slot tracks, representing the three popular scales – H.O., 1/32nd, and of course 1/24th.

The tracks include an eight-lane Steve Ogilvie stretched, flat "U.K. Black" with 134’ lane lengths, a 21st Century HO layout of 80’ lane length with eight lanes; a ¼-mile scale Drag Strip; and a UK built MDF Scalex-type track with 100’ lap length and Magnatech braid on six lanes . The raceway comprises a floor area of 4000 sq. ft.

Prior to opening Riverside Raceway, Andy owned and ran PMA Slot Products – a mail order sales operation catering mainly for 24th scale products in Europe. Andy has been a BSCRA Council Member as well as editor of the British Slot Car Racing Association Magazine, "Slot Car Racing News" for the past three years.

Andy’s Riverside Raceway was the outcome of two years hard research and he gratefully thanks many U.S. companies who graciously provided needed input. These included Jerry Kulich of JK Products in Illinois; Ernie Mossetti of Raceworld in Canada; Robert Root of RJR Engineering, Inc. in Indiana (the company Andy has been delighted to represent in Europe for a number of years); Rudy Garriga of Slick 7 in California; Carol King of King Distributing in California; and Lou Ballini of Zeppelin Hobbies and Raceway in New Jersey – just to name a few. Andy reports, "The list is endless and the information gleaned from these fine folks at those companies was indispensable!"

Mr. Brown-Searle continues, "The UK has around 250 slot racers in the "main track" sense as well as a whole hoard more than that who race Scalextric-type cars. However, it was clear from the outset that Riverside Raceway would not succeed by catering only to established racers. It was necessary to look at other ways and means of attracting new markets and creating interest for new people.

This has been done in a number of ways and is an ongoing process. Primarily it was necessary to interest local youth and it was felt that the Scalextric route would be the way to access this market in terms of cost for new racers. Paul Harwood, my manager, has had 15 years experience in Scalex-type racing, including winning the French Scalextric Grand Prix. It was he who framed the race regulations and classes for the Scalex track racing. This has proved an enormous success with Sports racing on Tuesday nights which features around 24 drivers. Our "Thundersports and Formula One (or "Saloon") racing on Friday nights typically has more than 32 racers each week.

Riverside also runs a Junior Club on Saturday mornings for 7 to 14 year olds, centered on the Scalex track. These races are a combination of competitive racing and learning about the cars as well as how to race. Racers are promoted from this to the evening races. Additionally there are also various one-off race events and a monthly Enduro Championship.

The popularity of the 21st Century H.O. Track is growing and we’re currently racing Scalextric Micro, Lifelike, AFX and Tyco cars, usually on Saturday afternoons.

Racers who wish to compete regularly on the main track can choose from Sports/GT on Monday nights and G-12 Wing cars on Thursday evenings. This leaves Wednesday evening free for practice or Corporate events. The Sports/GT class is worth a mention here as this race night has a multiple class structure as follows:

  1. House cars: Sports GT bodies on DRS Roadmaster Chassis with PlaFit motors. The cars are rented on race nights)

  2. Introsports – Sports GT bodies, JK Cheetah chassis, PlaFit motor. These are RTR cars, purchased for £35. The above two classes get a one-lap-per-minute handicap during segmented races and race in GT2, which is:

  3. GT2 – Champion Turbo Flex or JK Cheetah Chassis with RJR Contender motors and Sports/GT bodies. Classes 1, 2, and 3 race in the same championship with 1 & 2 receiving handicap scores.

  4. GT1 – Champion Turbo Flex or JK Cheetah chassis with Group 12 motor (as ISRA spec, but with Sports/GT bodies because they work better.)

  5. Open Group 12 – a wonderful British class for Open choice of chassis, Group 12 motors with standard cans, ceramic magnets (and can be quad) with 500 minimum diameter armatures. We also permit ball bearings in the motor and rear axle with sports bodies – typically JK Peugeots or Easy K8’s.

So, we have GT1, GT1 and Open G-12, all racing together . Qualifying for heats is one minute and all laps count. Faster GT’s race against GT1’s and slower Open 12’s. Drivers have to learn to drive around slower cars during the heats so racing is like true GT racing. This form of racing is proving very popular here in England and allows access to all racers, irrespective of the size of their wallets.

Group 12 Wing car racing is restricted to one-piece chassis and standard RJR Group 12 motors. However that doesn’t stop the quicker drivers lapping our 134’ flat track in less than 3.5 seconds!

Riverside also has a portable 6-lane track under construction with 4.25" lane spacing and computer control. This will be used for promotional events outside the raceway and off-site corporate activities. The track is very simple, being a Tri-oval with a donut. Works just great for first time race participants.

Kids Parties feature in the Riverside portfolio and a link has been made with the local McDonald’s so these are called "McRaces" and, in addition to the organized racing, includes burgers, etc. the kids get to order.

Corporate events are a growing part of the business. Many businesses are now utilizing our premises for fun nights and corporate promotions. As a rule these events are framed as "team races" which makes for more fun and less car damage to our rental fleet. Riverside has also developed a "Team Leadership" package for companies as an alternative to Outdoor Adventure-type courses. Companies are finding that we can provide a higher learning curve and more challenge while ensuring the events are equally suitable for male and female participants. The other great benefit is that by being in one venue, course participants may be reviewed more easily in terms of team-building qualities.

Riverside maintains its mail order roots and is gaining a reputation throughout Europe for great ready-to-run cars and components as well as those hard-to-find "collector-type" cars of the Scalextric, Fly and Ninco variety.

Upcoming events at Riverside Raceway include the British round of the European Enduro Championships – a 12-hour event for Group 12 Open Sports Cars – with a three-hour "night" session where the cars are raced in the dark with lights on the cars only.

Riverside Raceway is now one year old and proud to be a member of TOA. We look forward to a rosy, if hardworking future. Perhaps we’ll see more racers paying us a visit on their holidays and vacations. If any TOA member track owner or their racers makes a trip to England, first find details on how to find us at the Riverside Raceway web site.

(ED. NOTE: We’re veddy jolly and bloody happy to welcome Mr. Andy Brown-Searle and his Riverside Raceway as our newest TOA member feature cover story. Andy is also the editor of "Slot Car Racing News" a newsletter in England. He sent us one of his recent editorials and asked us to publish same in this issue. His letter is in the "Member Views" section of the July TOA Newsletter.)

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