Ray Cockman looks back on race timing in the early years of SRCCC and asks…
Was the Southend Club first in the UK to use a computer to count the laps for model car racing?
When the club first started back in 1982 in a small hall in Lifstan way, Southend, to count the laps and time the race a stopwatch and pen and paper was the order of the day. While marking of the laps and watching the cars cross the line one would often forget to check the stopwatch so many a race would be longer than five minutes, to solve this problem one of the members suggested we use a pre-recorded tape recorder with a countdown start and a “race over” five minutes later.
This worked well for a time. But then a computer arrived track side, A Commodore Pet, with all of eight kilobytes of memory and a very primitive race program but it worked, one of the members using the stopwatch timed the computer to make sure it was a five-minute race, it’s left up to you to decide what was the most accurate, Computer V boy and stopwatch.
This computer was used for a few years with the race program being constantly upgraded. It was later used to run a buggy regional with over 100 drivers on the new Southend buggy track, sorting the finals in record time for those days. Eventually the Pet had to be put into retirement, 8K of memory was no longer enough. The Club upgraded to the new Commodore 32 and then 64 but this was all in the days before the AMB lap counting system came out, cars crossing the line still had to be fed into the computer manually giving room for error, but it was a lot better than the stopwatch and paper.
Then the club purchased the AMB lap counting system.
That’s another story!!
So was we first? I think so.