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British Tether Car Association
"For the furtherance of competition running"

Aims and aspirations of the B.T.C.A.

To act as the national organisation representing Great Britain within F.E.M.A. and to pay the country’s annual subscription.
To provide a minimum number of officials to represent Great Britain in International Tether Car Racing -
i.e. F.E.M.A. representative/point of contact and Technical Secretary.
To provide a single point of contact with F.E.M.A. for British tether car enthusiasts who wish to race in official competitions.
To accept the F.E.M.A. rules with regard to definition of tracks, racing classes, safety rules and requirements.
To ensure that cars intended for use in official competitions conform to specification, are registered and given a correctly configured racing number.
To ensure that cars intended for use in official competitions are inspected for technical integrity and the correct registration documents are processed and signed by the BTCA Technical Secretary.

Rationale: Great Britain was for many years one of the most prominent countries in the sport of model car racing. Some former British tether car racers such as Messrs. Drayson, Proctor, Cook and Dean actively participated in the formation and building of the F.E.M.A. organisation. Our aspiration is to continue this participation and to support International Tether Car Competitions.

A Brief History of the BTCA by David Giles

The British Tether Car Association was originally formed in 1978, with two principal aims. One to enable me to continue running cars officially in international competitions, and the second to ‘test the waters’ to see if there was still any interest in tether cars in the UK. I had been actively involved in running cars in European competitions whilst living and working in Germany in 1977 & 1978, and upon returning to the UK decided I would like to run for my country rather than as a member of the German club I had joined (Renngemeinshaft Schwartzwald). Although I had been welcomed with open arms by the good folk at Kapfenhardt, and given tremendous help and encouragement. In the UK I found a small flurry of interest in tether cars and in the fledgling BTCA. In total, I received correspondence from some 20 people.

At around that time, we ran a couple of cars at Brean Sands Model Makers Festival on a tennis court, a very professional centre pole being designed and built for the purpose by Tony Higgins. Also about 6 newsletters were sporadically produced. Familiar names associated with this project were Geoff Sheppard, Stan Barrett, Stuart Robinson, Tony Higgins and Jim Batten. I continued to race in international events (including becoming 5cc European Champion in 1979) until in 1981 a further work assignment took me to the Middle East and work which precluded any contact with the (then) Eastern Bloc. Stuart Robinson continued to pay the BTCA’s subscription to FEMA (Federation Europeenne du Modelisme Automobile – the sport’s European governing body) for a few years, and participated in one or two events until it became unviable.

After a conversation and some correspondence with Peter Hill, the BTCA name was resurrected for a time and appeared on the cover of several of the Retro Racing Club newsletters.

However, on 11.March.2000 a formal application to FEMA was made in order to re–join the international organisation, so after a lapse of some 15 years, the British Tether Car Association was re-activated with three of us wanting to run competitively in that season.

We provided the minimum number of officers – notably Roger James as Technical Secretary, and myself as FEMA point of contact. We then received the latest rules and regulations from FEMA, as well as details of how to register our cars - a process which had changed in the intervening years. We registered two cars in our first year to run in the (then) Class 5 (3.5cc) and set up the basic framework under which to operate, namely a list of interested parties, including their allocated racing number and the car registration number.

The first three members of the re-formed BTCA were: 

David Giles:  GB001. A control line enthusiast since the age of 10yrs, but always drawn to tether cars. Ran his own designed and built 2.5cc twinshaft car on the track at Mote Park in Kent shortly before its demise in the mid 1960s.

Became involved in tether cars whilst working in Germany in the late 1970s. Rekindled the interest in competition some 20 years later.

Stuart Robinson:  GB002. Has been a tethered car and tethered hydroplane enthusiast for more years than most of us care to remember.

He has held innumerable records in the tethered hydroplane field and has given many years of loyal service in various capacities to the hobby of model boat competition, both domestically and internationally.

Roger James – Technical Secretary:  GB003. A lifelong model builder, with model aeroplanes, steam locomotives and very competitive tethered hydroplanes to his credit (Roger was at that time 10cc World Champion).

He also holds British tethered hydroplane records and is a respected tuner of model engines with an enviable track record, particularly in control line combat and team racing. Roger is an engineer of broad experience, thus making him an ideal person for the role of Tech. Sec.

The BTCA moves on

The original three members were soon joined by Heather Robinson GB004 and June Heath GB006, both running what were then Class E5, open wheel ex Monza cars. These were fast evolving from a ‘beginners’ class into a very competitive racing category, but with rules that constrained the style of car.

The WMCR adopted the 3.5cc Class in 2001 with David, Stuart, June and Heather all running 3.5cc open wheel cars. The following year FEMA renamed their classes with these cars becoming E3 and the 10cc cars E5.

Right: Heather Robinson's, Stelling based Monza car

David and June concentrated on developing cars for this class to such an extent that June held the British WMCR record until 2015 while David still holds the FEMA version. Just to confuse matters further the open wheel category became Class 3b and the streamlined cars Class 3.

The membership of the BTCA continued to grow with Stan Barrett (GB005) opting for the 1.5cc and 2.5cc classes. Stan still holds the 2.5cc British record and held the 1.5cc record until 2014.

Left: Stan and his Ekstrand 1.5cc  cars

Members travelled to a number of meetings in Germany, France, Sweden and Switzerland and for the first three years David Giles provided a quarterly account of BTCA and FEMA news, events and development work on his cars that was published in the Retro Racing Club magazine. This enabled a wider group within the tethered car movement to know what was happening in the modern scene and appreciate what was involved in competing at this level.

As a direct result of the material David published, Hugh and Lynn Blowers made the trip to the 2004 European Championships in Basel as interested spectators and as it turned out, the only British visitors.

The membership was expanding further with long-term hydro competitor Steve Turley GB008, competing with 5cc cars, which he continues to run and Dave Cunliffe GB009 with a 10cc car. The 2005 European Championships in Lyon saw the largest British contingent since the late 1950s, again with Hugh and Lynn Blowers spectating, which was the catalyst for the setting up of OTW.

Left: David Giles assisting Dave Cunliffe while Steve Turley looks on

The lack of a track in the UK and the necessity to travel into Europe to run means that British participation will always be limited, yet the British team grew further at Lyon in 2008 with another ex hydro competitor, Oliver Monk GB010 joining, initially in the 10cc class with Roger James’s Denneler based car.

Oliver is a really enthusiastic competitor as well as a prodigious builder and promoter of the sport, recently taking over as FEMA point of contact from David Giles and technical Secretary from Roger James, both now retired from active competition. In addition, Oliver was voted in as FEMA Technical Secretary in 2015, a real fillip for the BTCA.

Oliver was directly responsible for persuading Hugh Blowers GB011 to split his time between hydro lakes and the track, initially with an aged 1.5cc car. It was down to Oliver’s enthusiasm and help that Hugh and Oliver, accompanied by Lynn and Debbie were the first from Britain to compete at a World Championships since 2004.

Oliver's son Aaron GB012 was the next to join, specialising in the 1.5cc class and has achieved a landmark for a British competitor in winning the 2014 Grand Slam in that class and a trip to compete in Australia. For this trip Oliver and the most recent member Debbie Monk GB014 who has been running a new car run in the 1.5cc class joined Aaron to race at the Brisbane and Sydney International meetings.

Left: Debbie, Oliver and Hugh, Basel 2013

Registration of a car is initiated by contacting the BTCA for the allocation of a racing number – "GBxxx" – and by submission of a ‘Daten Erfassungsblatt’ (specification data sheet) that is filled in and submitted to the FEMA Technical Secretary by the BTCA Technical Secretary after he has scrutineered the car and it has satisfied the technical specification and design criteria for the relevant class. The car then receives a registration number, which has to be engraved on the bottom pan, and a racing licence.

There is no subscription to the BTCA, but there is an annual fee per driver of 10 Euro and an annual national fee of 100 Euro, to be paid to the FEMA treasurer around the start of the racing season. The national fee is simply divided by the number of active drivers, collected by the FEMA point of contact and passed directly to the FEMA secretary.

For further information: email:   flatbadger@btinternet.com or oliver.monk@btinternet.com

BTCA Gallery

OTW & BTCA at Lyon 2005

Stuart Robinson, June Heath, Dave Cunliffe,
Steve Turley, Ollie Monk and David Giles at Lyon 2008

Aaron Monk, David Giles, June Heath, Oliver Monk, Steve Turley &
Hugh Blowers  Kapfenhardt 2014

BTCA, meeting 2013

June Heath, Steve Turley, Hugh Blowers, David Giles,
 Oliver and Debbie Monk (New Team shirts)
Kapfenhardt 2015

Kapfenhardt 2016

Routes to running a modern tethered car

Tethered car racing like almost every other speed based modelling discipline that seeks to achieve ultimate performance requires dedication, persistence, knowledge and expertise, relying on a hard core of interested members and competitors. To this end, Oliver Monk who competes in all classes except 3b and Class 4 regularly publishes his ‘Workshop Ramblings’ on OTW detailing the development of his current cars, the rebuilding of older models and several new builds, both for the FEMA classes and retro events. He also has an in depth knowledge of the close knit group of those who can supply everything from complete cars down to individual spares, a necessity for anyone wishing to compete.

The car is the essential piece of hardware, and for those interested there are a number of routes available to become the owner of a modern FEMA car and, hopefully, competing. The first step being to contact the national authority, which for the UK is the BTCA.

From there on the class and car are down to personal preference, philosophy and to an extent practical skills and facilities. There is the option of purchasing a second hand car by visiting meetings or perusing the speedmodelcar site that often has complete cars for sale, including recently some exceedingly successful examples.

Sepp 3.5cc car Russian 1.5cc car

Buying a new competition car (or commissioning one) is a trifle more difficult as the options are more limited and making contact with a builder can require a bit of persistence and a good translator but many do take this route.

Right: 3.5cc car supplied complete by Jozef Fonad

There also now exists the possibility to purchase the major components required and with a modicum of engineering, assemble a car yourself. Not as daunting though as building a car from scratch, which is another option for those with the facilities and expertise.

Cast pans from Gabor Dobrocsi CNC pan from Linas Adomavicius Parts for a 10cc Denneler car

David Giles has been the most successful British competitor of the modern era being the only Briton since 1956 to become a European Champion. After a lengthy period of retirement from active competition, a trip to a meeting at the Basel track rekindled his interest and he took the decision to design, build and develop his own 3.5cc car (originally Class 5). The car proved to be a consistent front-runner in competitions and achieved 4th place in the 2005 European championships.

David continued with development of his cars introducing an entirely new concept in design, utilising an upper beam chassis milled from a solid bar of 7075 T6 aircraft alloy, the inspiration for which was a picture of an early rail racing car designed by Arthur Weaver. The principal reason for choosing this layout was to improve the airflow characteristics under the car. 

A similar concept has been developed by Mart Sepp, but using a lower beam chassis made from mild steel. This car (pictured right) broke the 3b World record in 2015.

David very kindly provided an account of the development of his car in the article DJR3 and the innovative Papagai.

Mark Osborne, an Australian we met in Basel in 2013 provided OTW with a very helpful and illuminating article that described in detail, with relevant costing, a project to build a number of new Class 5 10cc cars, starting with CNC machined pans.

For anyone interested in international competition, the latest edition of the rules (both FEMA and WMCR) are available on the website www.speedmodelcar.com.

Class 1: Hugh Blowers' 1.5cc ex British record holder Class 3: Chris Kennedy 3.5cc Sepp car
Class 2: Gabor Dobrocsi Class 3b: Mart Sepp's  3.5cc record holder
Class 4: Steve Turley's 5cc Stelling car Class 5: Gilbert Huguenin's 10cc Picco car
Class 5: Internals 10cc series 8 Picco motor Class1: Current British record holder 1.5cc Kapusikov motor