Editors Diary June 20th 2012 
Despite all the rain it is very difficult not to enjoy time spent in Sweden so my weekend at Tierp Arena was, as Andy Willsheer once memorably said, most pleasant.
The trip didnít get off to the best of starts on Wednesday when Simon, Spencer and I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda airport but for a short while it appeared that our luggage had not come with us. After some delay the situation was resolved and we hit the road for Tierp Arena where after some brief digging-in of heels on my part we were allowed in. I think the view of the guy behind the desk was that the media were not allowed in until Thursday but I put him straight. Acquaintances renewed with the timing and tech crew my front row seat in Race Control was secured and I was all set for the next four days.

Each timing system with which I work has its own features. For example, the TSI Timers system at Santa Pod Raceway allows connection to the timing database and if I wish I can copy qualifying lists and elimination rounds, retrieve timing slips, and get all sorts of other information. The very whizzy Time-Tree system devised by Lelle Olsson and used by Tierp Arena has a couple of unique functions the most prominent of which is its facility to post results, ladders and timing slips to the web where they can routinely be found at and and, in the case of Sportsman qualifying last weekend, with the kind approval of the Time-Tree guys. I always do Pro qualifying and eliminations manually whichever timing system is in use and I transcribe those figures from the timing system console.

My insistence on reporting upon Pro classes manually means that I have to get ETs, terminal speeds and incrementals off the screen and to do so very quickly since the timing crew need to set up the next pairing. As soon as the next-pair button is pushed all of the previous runís incrementals clear. Because of the weather and, on Sunday, because we were trying to run a whole dayís Pro racing in a few hours there was tremendous pressure to get the pairs through quickly and I was acutely conscious of the possibility of holding up the timekeepers. Of course when you become conscious of holding things up you inevitably become all fingers and thumbs and that makes things worse. There is also the not insignificant fact that the timing crew arenít actually there for my benefit, but that that their loyalty is to the Race Director.

That probably sounds a lot more heavy than it actually was. Timekeeper Oscar Lindgren and I established Ė or more accurately renewed - a tremendous understanding through the weekend. After each Pro pair I sent a few seconds furiously typing and then I threw Oscar a thumbs-up and the next pair was set, usually before they were fired up. I would like to think that I didnít hold anyone up; certainly if I caused any problems then everyone was too nice to say so. I must say a huge Thank You to Oscar and to all of the timekeepers and race officials whose help was unending and cheerful throughout the weekend.

Both qualifying and eliminations were very well-run and there was a lot on which to comment in our Alamo Rent A Car-sponsored coverage. Simon reset his own record for the number of pit notes produced at an event (you can find the pit notes elsewhere in this newsletter) and at the end of each day on which racing was possible Roger presented a card containing hundreds of pictures from which we selected reasonably-sized galleries: as I said in a previous diary it would be very easy to produce huge and unwieldy galleries. Spencer also took a turn behind the camera when his marshalling and other commitments permitted and Thursdayís gallery in particular included a sizeable contribution from him.
Of particular note from the reporting point of view was the number of European records which were set at the weekend. One of my nightmare scenarios during live race reporting is not only having to grab the incrementals in seconds but also to notice that a run is potentially a new record; obviously the commentators have to be told, back-ups have to be calculated, all of this whilst continuing the reporting service. Having said that I donít know whether the worse nightmare would be not to notice a record run. Luckily timing guru Andy Marrs is usually tuned in and can be relied upon either to confirm something upon which I have commented, or to point out tactfully something which I have missed. Marrs did both at the weekend so many thanks to him.

One of the other pleasures of working at Tierp was being sat next to the legendary announcing duo of Christer Abrahamson and BjŲrn Sundkvist. My Swedish is not brilliant Ė if I know the context I can usually get an idea but otherwise I am lost Ė but even if I canít understand them I can still tell just how good Christer and BjŲrn are. Itís a pity that I donít believe in psychic phenomena since I would then be able to explain just how Christer and BjŲrn manage to know what the other is thinking, finish each otherís sentences, and sometimes both wind up a sentence saying exactly the same thing at the same time. Christer, as an Honorary Staff Member, is also au fait with a lot of the catchphrases and in-jokes which adds to the fun. I know that you wonít tell anyone so I shall confess that I occasionally try to make Christer corpse whilst he is commentating, and I am pleased to say that I managed it this weekend. The listening thousands in the stands were probably wondering what was so funny about a pair of Junior Dragsters since Christer was laughing whilst they were driving down the track: what they didnít know was that I had hit Christer with an in-joke at just the right moment. He was briefly unable to continue and I am a very bad man.

Christer and BjŲrn were also joined by a guy named Dave, whose surname I didnít catch. As I am not Swedish I didnít notice that his Swedish had an American accent and I was very surprised when he suddenly started to speak English. What was quickly clear was that he could be very funny indeed in either language. During downtime Dave was making comic announcements on the PA which had my Race Control colleagues in stitches; at one point he roped me in to do an interview, with him playing the part of a hard-of-understanding dullard asking idiotic questions in very bad English. I knew what Dave was aiming for (if you have ever seen an Ali G interview it was like that) but I rather spoilt it by being bent double with laughter rather than playing the straight man properly. Sorry Dave, next time.

So, as I say, you canít not enjoy yourself in Sweden and I am already looking forward to the return to Tierp in August. At time of writing our next planned coverage of a European Championship event will be Julyís FHRA Nitro Nationals at Alastaro. Just some loose ends to tie up and hopefully Iíll see you there.

Dave and Christer (right)

Tog's place in Race Control, note Father's Day card from his dog Bess

Text: Andy Rogers
Photos: Courtesy of
This article is part of the Speedgroup Club Europe Newsletter #7/2012

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