WEC: A day out at Silverstone

Recently I have seen a number of articles saying manufacturers are preferring WEC to F1. Mark Webber seems to be enjoying himself as well having left Red Bull in 2013. So I thought I would go and see what the fuss is about.

WEC is the World Endurance Championship and features seven 6 hour long races, along with the Le Mans 24 Hours Race. It features cars of radically different speeds, with LMP1 prototypes going faster than 200mph on the same track as cars like Ferrari 458s slower in top speed, cornering and accelerating. Due to the lengths of the races, teams comprise three drivers who take turns at the wheel. The goal is rarely top speed but efficiency and endurance over the race distance.

The first race of 2015 was held at Silverstone on 12 April and I went along. The first thing that struck me was the value for money that the race provides. In 2009 we paid £125 per ticket for general admission to the British Grand Prix. Now the minimum is £155 and neither of these prices will allow you into a grandstand. In addition, parking costs extra at £50 per car. For the WEC for £35 you got 6 hours of racing, free parking and a roving grandstand seat so that you could sit anywhere.

On showing up, you get the feeling that this is charging what the series’ can get away with. Silverstone was not packed for the WEC. The organisers have quoted a figure of 45,000 spectators across three days compares to 120,000 spectators on race day for Formula One. So, the cars may be immensely impressive but the series lacks the support of F1, however, the WEC has only existed in its current guise since 2012 and is growing year on year.

Any race that features pit stops can make it confusing as to what is going on, this is especially true in an endurance race, however, it also applies to F1. It is up to you to make sure you know who is winning and have some idea of the strategies at play. We did not plan for this and got confused as to what was happening until we went and sat in the main grandstand with its decent PA system and TV screen. Unlike F1, in which a race will usually be done in a quarter of the time, this is not a race that requires your full attention. People walked around, enjoyed the fantastic track and its facilities and experienced what was on offer. Everything was much more open than at an F1 race. The paddock was completely open, a couple of teams allowed you into their pit boxes while the race was on. It was quite possible with a general admission ticket to walk amongst team mechanics, drivers and celebrities something that you would not dream of at an F1 event.

To me, it does not seem correct to compare F1 and WEC. Yes, they are both racing series that race on similar circuits at similar speeds. However, F1 historically was about speed and excitement, WEC is about endurance and efficiency. F1 seems to have gotten confused recently, it is trying to do what the WEC is doing with its fuel limits and tyre management. That is to its detriment. F1 needs to go back to being about blistering speed and pushing the limit, leave the WEC to provide the endurance challenge.

To me, the technology in the WEC is more relevant, I can see why it would appeal to manufacturers more than F1. It is more open to its fans, it costs less to watch and allows far greater access. Would I go to another WEC race to watch these marvels weaving amongst the slower cars again? Absolutely. Would I go to an F1 race right now? No, it does not appeal.

Ice Soccer

Snow and I have not been getting on that well recently. Sure it is pretty while it falls but then it just sits around and stops me going places.

It did have one fortunate consequence though. Two weeks ago it meant that Ethan and I could invent the soon to be worldwide sensation of ice soccer.

Two players take to a quarter acre pitch and draw out a 40sq ft goal in the snow. It doesn't matter the exact dimensions as long as the area is approximately 40 sq feet. As such my goals tend to be long but narrow and Ethan's tend to be more square.

A five yard line is then drawn ahead of the goal all the way across the pitch. This is where you kick from if a goal is scored or the ball goes behind your goal.

The aim of the game is to get the ball to touch any portion of your opponents goal. It can land in and bounce out, glance a corner, whatever. If it touches the ground inside the goal area it is in.

You are permitted two touches of the ball. The first is your save of the previous players shot and the second is taken from where the ball ends up and is your shot.

Come to Britbowl

I’m not usually one to just copy and paste a press release, but hey, I already edited it once…

The kickoff times for BritBowl XXV (25) – the official championship weekend for the BAFA (British American Football Association) National Leagues – have been unveiled ahead of the season-ending showdown later this month.

BritBowl XXV (25) will see eight finals take place over the course of two hard-hitting, action-packed days at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25. Here is the line-up for BritBowl XXV weekend:

Saturday September 24
11:30am – Gates open to the public
12 noon – Cadet Flag Final
1:00pm – Junior Flag Final
2:00pm – 14-17 year old Contact Final
3:00pm – Division 1 Final – Leicester Falcons v East Kilbride Pirates
6:30pm – Pre-Game show – The Urban Voodoo Machine
7:30pm – Premier Division Final

Sunday September 25
11:30am – Gates open to the public
12 noon – Junior Contact Final
3:00pm – Division 2 Final – South Wales Warriors v West Coast Trojans
6:00pm – Adult Flag Final

Single tickets cost £15 for adults, £10 for 14 to 18-year-olds and £6.00 for under 14s. Weekend packages for both days of gridiron action cost £25 for adults, £15 for 14 to 18-year-olds and £8.50 for under 14s. Tickets can be bought via Ticketmaster at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Britbowl-tickets/artist/5003180 Tickets can also be bought on the day.

Event organiser DREW ANDERSON says: “We are busy finalising our plans for BritBowl XXV and think our event offers something for everybody in London. The hard-hitting action on the field will appeal to American football fans in the UK while there will also be plenty to keep the family entertained over the weekend. We are planning a special weekend on and off the field.”

The semi-finals for the elite Premier Division will take place on Sunday September 11 with top-ranked London foes on course to meet at BritBowl XXV. The London Blitz will host the Bristol Aztecs, while the London Warriors – featuring TV personality and NFL fan VERNON KAY among their squad – will take on the Tamworth Phoenix.

You can follow the build-up to BritBowl XXV via Twitter @BritBowlXXV or by going to Facebook and searching for BritBowlXXV.

If you have even a passing interest in American football then this is a great and cheap way to find out how the UK sport looks and works. I will be there, you may not see me, but I will be there and it would be great to see as many fans of the sport as possible.

Amateur Sports – BAFACL

I am now the news editor for the British American Football Association Community League website. This has led me to research all of the teams in the leagues at present. In 2010 we had 51 senior teams 25 youth teams and 16 junior teams. I would say of those about half have websites. Of those very very few have the dates for the 2011 season on their websites so far, the season kicks off in a month and as far as I know the schedule was sorted a month ago.

A lot of the websites seem not aimed at those who might come to watch them but at people who may want to take part. While this is fine due to the relatively low popularity of the British game I feel they are missing out on the opportunity to get more people interested by not having this basic information available. As an NFL fan my first thought may well be “oo I want to try being a quarterback” and so you search to find your nearest club. My personal next step would be, I want to watch them play to see what it is like. To do this I would need to know when the team is next playing and where to go. Having seen a game I might then go “this isn’t for me” or “I’d like to give this a go”. Not knowing when the games are taking place rather hampers this for me as it demands additional research and so on.

As the league owners I’m sure there is more BAFACL can do and I will be suggesting this in the coming weeks/months to the others working on the site but there is a lot that the teams should be doing to help encourage people to come and watch their games as well.

For the record of the sites I have currently spent a reasonable amount of time on the Sussex Thunder team website – which just happens to play its games in Horsham (my home town) – seems to be by far the best at displaying the relevant information. If you think your team’s site is better, let me know. If any teams want help/suggestions with their websites then also let me know.

If on the other hand you have found this blog post by searching for a team’s fixtures they can be found here (as of today)