Race-Castle Whoop Showdown

This morning we had breakfast at Whitton cafe, ticking another UK classic, the greasy spoon. This was so classic, they even served bubble (and squeak) which he enjoyed. He had not had black pudding before either but that will remain a mystery for next time as once we had explained it is basically a big black fried pig-scab, he went off the idea…

Jesse had been awake for about 18 hours on 4 hours sleep yesterday so he had slept late. There was no rush, so once we had gotten some batteries charged and a few more cups of tea in us, we only left Jaggers at about 2pm. In fact we were a little reluctant to head out for the drive round the M25, known as the worlds largest carpark, to Race-Castle.

This is an amazing venue near the M25 in north London. Its a huge indoor whoop track, RC car track, FPV car and truck track and soon to have boats and a makerspace too. Cemal is setting the place up to be a multi-discipline RC hobby and creation space, which is an incredible thing to shoot for.

The Whoop track is mainly what we are interested in as it’s the only permanently set up venue in the whole of the UK, with lights and LED’s and smoke and interesting course features. It’s really a great setup, especially because there are so many and varied track features in place, a new track can be created just by flying them in a different order. However the main drawback of the venue is how cold it is. For an indoor hobby, and whoops primarily flown in winter when the weather is too bad to fly bigger stuff outdoors, you really want indoors to be warm and dry. Its absolutely huge and an incredible setup but being located in an old garden centres greenhouse, there is zero heating and some glass is broken, allowing in the rain. I really hope in the more mild months it takes off, but setting up for some whooping, I had my batteries in my pockets to help preserve their performance and my hands in front of the tiny log burner. 

The Germans joined us here late afternoon. They had driven overland, via the Calais-Dover ferry and up to Racecastle for some Whoop practice. They were blown away with the setup and immediately jumped into the track. I finally got to meet them all and thank them for coming to the UK to fly with us. I’d been speaking with Berat for several months setting up this event so it was great to meet him in person finally. I also met one of the Germans whos call-sign was Yggdrasil meaning the German tree of life and ruler of the gods. He named each of his whoops a different goddess so he is Yggdrasil, the ruler of them. I joked later that his carefully constructed and well thought out name backstory put me to shallow shame as merely a Ruler of MiniRolls! 

It turned out that, contrary to popular belief, the Germans were really funny! Alongside the whoop track there was a really fun track to race with tiny RC cars. Each of these had a video camera so you raced them FPV, as if you were sitting onboard! They look like they are going really slowly until you are behind the goggles and then it’s really fast and a real challenge to keep them on course without crashing. Of course this happens often and at one point, someone crashed into the pillar supporting the track above, and flipped the car. One of the Germans, without skipping a beat said, “Wow you went full Lady Diana” without thinking how that might have been received by UK ears. We all found it hilarious as you couldn’t really say “what, too soon?!” to his dark humour!

Of course the best way to keep warm is with a nice hot meal. We all clubbed £10 each together and a huge variety of Chinese was ordered and spread across a large table. There was loads and boxes were passed back and forth till everyone had plenty. One of the boxes had something spicy in it, something REALLY spicy that just blew my head off! It was impossible to eat many bites of that but I soldiered thru, drawing on my travelling experience to enjoy the heat in my mouth, if not in my hands or feet.

The finale was a short whoop tournament as there were quite a few good pilots present and everyone had had plenty of time to practise the course by now. We started off with heats and soon seeded with similar speed pilots. After a few races and some unlucky crashes, I ended up ahead of Jaggers and AntiHype which is unheard of. They are both DRAMATICALLY better pilots but my slower and more ponderous, but precise, flying meant I got around the track where they crashed. I got a good enough time to come 7th out of 10 which I’m very happy with!

After some time for Jesse to catch up with his old pal Cemal it was time to head north to the Whoophaus. It was a long drive but there was a good party going on and we were both keen to join in.