Car Wars Internet Newsletter
Vol. 7, No. 7
August 08, 2054

Web Posted December 31, 2004
Updated December 31, 2004


Hello autoduelists. You can blame radiation poisoning from my youth on getting this issue out one week later than its planned release of last Sunday. The contamination to which I am referring is the radioactivity caused by the planet bombs sent to Earth by the Gamilon Empire. (Translation: I have been watching my newly arrived Star Blazers DVD collection birthday gift. If you are visiting the Seattle area and you are a Star Blazers fan, let me know and we can meet to watch the DVDs in addition to dueling each other.)

This coming weekend I will be attending the Dragonflight 2004 gaming convention at Seattle University. I am not planning to run any scheduled games, however I will have Car Wars materials with me to host on-demand sessions.

I have been reinstated as the editor for the Car Wars Category for the Open Directory Project (ODP). If you are aware of a good Web site about Car Wars or other auto-combat tabletop game, please tell me about it so I can add it to the ODP.

Drive offensively,

Michael P. Owen



The Associated Press and USA Today
Posted 4/7/2004 7:05 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- All those years on the couch playing Nintendo and PlayStation appear to be paying off for surgeons.

Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% less mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27% faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

"I use the same hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery," said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, 49, who demonstrated the results of his study Tuesday at Beth Israel Medical Center.

Laparoscopic surgery -- using a tiny camera and instruments controlled by joysticks outside the body -- is performed on just about any part of the body, from an appendix to the colon and gall bladder.

The minimally intrusive surgery involves making tiny keyhole incisions, inserting a mini-video camera that sends images to an external video screen, with the surgical tools remote-controlled by the surgeon watching the screen. Surgeons can now practice their techniques through video simulations.

Rosser said the skill needed for laparoscopic surgery is "like tying your shoelaces with 3-foot-long chopsticks."

"Yes, here we go!" said Rosser, sitting in front of a Super Monkey Ball game, which shoots a ball into a confined goal. "This is a nice, wholesome game. No blood and guts. But I need the same kind of skill to go into a body and sew two pieces of intestine together."

The study on whether good video game skills translate into surgical prowess was done by researchers with Beth Israel and the National Institute on Media and the Family at Iowa State University. It was based on testing 33 fellow doctors -- 12 attending physicians and 21 medical school residents who participated from May to August 2003.

Each doctor completed three video game tasks that tested such factors as motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination.

The study "landmarks the arrival of Generation X into medicine," said the study's co-author, Dr. Paul J. Lynch, a Beth Israel anesthesiologist who has studied the effects of video games for years.

Kurt Squire, a University of Wisconsin researcher of video game effects on learning, said that "with a video game, you can definitely develop timing and a sense of touch, as well as a very intuitive feel for manipulating devices."

Squire, who was not involved in Rosser's project, said applying such games to surgery training "could play a key role in preparing medical health professionals."

Beth Israel is now experimenting with applying the findings.

Rosser has developed a course called Top Gun, in which surgical trainees warm up their coordination, agility and accuracy with a video game before entering the operating room.

"It's like a good football player," Rosser said, "you have to warm up first."


By Robert Davis, USA TODAY
Contributing: Liz Szabo
Posted April 06, 2004

Photograph: In a basement of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in an office near the morgue, Ronn Wade's phone rings with yet another request for body parts.

Photograph: Colette Dugan, 43, had specialized knee surgery after her doctor learned the procedure on cadavers first.

The caller, a body broker, says doctors are traveling to a hotel where they will practice surgical techniques with new instruments. The course's sponsors need bodies.

This is not an unusual event. Seminars such as this take place throughout the country to give doctors needed experience with new instruments or surgical techniques. (Graphic: How the body can be used after death.)

And this is not an unusual call. Wade, director of the Maryland Anatomy Board, has a lot of bodies: state residents who donated their bodies, now carefully tucked away, unembalmed, in coolers. Body brokers call him several times a week.

These brokers are people who profit by providing bodies and body parts for medical research, and they come in many different forms. They might be representatives of tissue banks or companies that act as intermediaries between those who have bodies, such as medical centers, and those who need them, such as sponsors of surgical seminars.

Federal law prohibits the sale of human organs and tissue for transplantation. The law is widely considered a total ban on the sale of all body parts, although it does not specifically address the conveyance of parts for medical education and research.

In any event, those who act as go-betweens, including organ recovery agencies, may charge for their work. Some are conscientious professionals who help provide research cadavers. But others are van-driving entrepreneurs who walk a thin line between legitimacy and lawlessness.

A recent scandal at the University of California-Los Angeles, in which two men, including the director of UCLA's Willed Body Program, were arrested on charges of selling stolen body parts for their own profit, has turned a national spotlight on an industry that operates in the dark: the largely unregulated acquisition and dissemination of body parts for medical and scientific research.

News reports of shady characters trading bodies that were donated with the best of intentions have legitimate members of the research and transplant communities calling for more oversight. Their greatest fear is that people will stop donating the bodies that are so necessary for lifesaving transplants and research.

"The people who put their trust in us begin to have second thoughts and may not make a donation or may even withdraw their donation from a donor roll," Wade says. "The fallout is long-term."

Wade oversees the donations of 1,300 to 1,500 bodies a year. And there are 70,000 people alive today who have signed up to donate their bodies to Maryland's medical schools when they die.

When the broker calls to find bodies for the seminar, Wade stands between the surgical course's promise of "hands-on training" and a sweet profit for the corporate sponsor, which will charge thousands of dollars for such a seminar. Money pours in from several fronts: Doctors are willing to pay to learn new techniques on cadavers. And the makers of medical instruments are willing to pay more because the sales of those new tools will increase after the doctors learn how to use them.

Wade has seen this trade bloom over 30 years of working with the dead, and he thinks of what's best for the deceased and their families when he gets these calls. He is the worst nightmare for a body broker looking for shortcuts and fast money.

Before Wade will release a body, there are layers of paperwork and phone calls to verify key details. He wants to know exactly where the body is going, how it will be transported and what it will be used for. He tracks every body and every body part. Every part is either returned to him or is cremated under his direction. The remains then are returned for a ceremony to which the families are invited.

Hearing all of this, the body broker on the other line hangs up, saying, "I don't need this lecture."

The benefits

Medicine depends on the dead.

Organ transplants save about 20,000 lives a year through dramatic surgical swaps that often include using helicopters and jets to move organs quickly.

Tissue transplants help about 1 million people a year; the blind get eyes as good as new, burn victims get bandages made of human skin.

Bodies used for research drive medical advancements by helping inventors to create safer surgical tools and medical professionals to hone their skills. The availability of cadavers allows crucial skills to be sharpened before a life depends on fast and flawless execution.

Because all of these medical benefits rely on the same selfless gift, leaders in each area cringe when the public's trust is threatened by misdeeds.

Helen Leslie, president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, whose 59 members ask grieving families for permission to transplant organs into those on waiting lists, says the entire system relies on public trust. "What hurts is the buzz," she says. "The impression that there is a lack of integrity is devastating."

Alexander Capron, director of ethics, trade, human rights and health law for the World Health Organization, says the way in which bodies are treated after death either builds or diminishes trust by the public. And if the public loses trust in the system, thousands of lives are at stake.

"Any time you have an apparent abuse of the system, you potentially shake public confidence," he says. "This could undermine organ donations."

What government and medical professionals in the USA do, or don't do, to impose order on this vital but sometimes seamy outpost of modern medicine will be watched around the world, Capron says.

"What the U.S. does leads the rest of the world," he says. "People say if they can do it in the U.S., why not in the Philippines?"

The suppliers

As the phone line goes dead, Wade knows that the body broker need only dial a few more folks on a growing list of about 700 tissue banks to find someone who will part with a body for a price.

Tissue banks are at the center of the controversy. Within hours after a death, workers from tissue banks remove parts of the eye that give sight, ligaments for knee surgeries, skin for burn patients and other parts for the living. They get most of their bodies from hospitals that ask grieving family members whether the person who has just died wanted to make the gift of life. Usually, the person has spelled out his or her wishes before death and has, perhaps, signed an organ donor card.

Less reputable, non-accredited tissue banks don't stop at removing the tissue needed for transplant.

"You remove the cornea, and the head is still salable. You remove the skin, and joints are still salable. This is the main source of body parts," says Todd Olson, a professor of anatomy at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York -- a state that has taken steps to regulate the willed-body trade. "Unfortunately, a significant number of tissue bank organizations are not conscientiously dealing with the rest of the remains."

Olson calls it unlikely that those who drafted the laws banning the sale of organs and tissue for transplant ever anticipated that other body parts would become a salable commodity. "In the spirit in which they (the bans) were drafted, this generous donation was not meant to profit someone else," he says.

There are three kinds of body-part donations. The most attention is paid to organ donation for transplant, a highly regulated process overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Second is tissue donation for transplant. There are fewer regulations, but the tissue banks still must meet strict rules about how material is handled, tested and prepared for transplant.

Third is the donation of a body for research. There is virtually no federal oversight of how cadavers and body parts are moved across the country for research and training.

The big money -- and the profit -- is in the details.

Handlers such as the one who called Wade at the University of Maryland can charge thousands of dollars for the storage, transportation and processing of each body part they deliver. The well-connected body broker with a knack for finding someone who wants all of a body's parts can make between $100,000 and $300,000 per body. Even if he can't get the body as a research donation and has to pay a disreputable tissue bank $5,000 for it, he still makes a handsome sum.

Bob Rigney, executive director of the American Association of Tissue Banks, which has accredited 83 tissue banks, says most accredited banks turn away body brokers. "Our banks get calls all the time looking for this, that or the other thing, body parts or some organ or tissue," he says. "My experience has been that most of the banks we accredit don't deal with tissue for research, period."

When a tissue bank turns a broker away, the search for a body may lead to a medical school, another major source of bodies. When medical schools have more bodies than they need to teach with, they can release extra specimens to other schools and other researchers.

The UCLA scandal, experts say, shows that more oversight is needed to protect the dead from body-parts trafficking. Demand is growing, supply is limited and the market is hot.

"UCLA tried to make fixes years ago" by hiring licensed contractors to handle remains from the willed-body program, says Wade, who also is co-chair of the anatomical services committee for the American Association of Clinical Anatomists.

"Those were Band-Aid fixes," he says. "If the whole thing is broken, you have to step back. You have to look back and see what is driving this machine. It's money."

UCLA agrees. Thomas Rosenthal, associate vice chancellor of UCLA's medical school, says "temptations" are strong for those who handle bodies. "It is clear from our experience that there is money to be made," he says.

Growing demand

The demand for body parts has created a growing field of companies that supply bodies on a larger scale.

Many surgeons go to two big centers if they need to practice on cadavers. The Medical Education and Research Institute in Memphis and the Orthopaedic Training Center in Rosemont, Ill., both obtain bodies and work with national physician groups to plan mass training sessions. Neither returned repeated calls seeking information for this story.

Another company is ScienceCare, based in Phoenix, which has turned to funeral homes as far as New York. The funeral homes can facilitate cadaver donations.

Although ScienceCare is an accredited tissue bank, Rigney says it does not recover tissue for transplantation, focusing only on parts for research. The company refused to comment, saying in an e-mail that it works with "sensitive end-of-life issues."

These operations are said to be meeting a large and legitimate need by supplying the cadavers needed for medical training seminars. Surgical advancements also have caused spikes in medical errors. When doctors try out a new skill on patients, the results can be damaging. So they increasingly are turning to cadaver labs to learn.

"As a surgeon, I am doing nothing that I was trained to do in my residency," says Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic consultant with the Philadelphia 76ers pro basketball team and the Pennsylvania Ballet, who has relied on cadaver training to learn many new techniques. In the 22 years since he finished his medical training, medicine has "evolved so much that the work I do is completely different than my training."

Although no nationwide count is available, thousands of surgeons work on donated bodies and parts each year.

Sometimes, these sessions are held in hotel rooms -- a practice that experts say puts other guests at risk of disease. "They are grinding tissue, drilling through tissue, and there is particulate matter in the air," Wade says. "They are working on specimens on the ground floor near the lobby, and what happens if somebody on the 12th floor starts coughing? Are they exposing everybody in their hotel to a health risk? Certainly they are."

The solution

Those who want to see an end to profiteering from body parts say professional medical organizations can help clean up the business by requiring brokers to provide detailed accountings for every part.

"Most of the time, the broker won't tell you where the body came from," Wade says, but the doctors, who are key to courses, have ethical standards and a responsibility to public health. "The sales guys don't teach the courses. They have to put a doctor in there."

Olson says the medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, should insist on knowing where the body parts used for training came from. "They should know where it came from, how it got here, where it is going to be used, and how it is going to be disposed," he says, "as well as what costs were incurred in each of the transactions."

Similarly, big companies such as Johnson & Johnson and subsidiaries that use the parts to develop new surgical instruments could "take a more ethical stand in doing business" by establishing guidelines and oversight of the bodies, says Olson, who serves with Wade at the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. "They have a willing partner here at the AACA. Our door is open."

"We take the matter of using human tissue samples for medical research and education very seriously. We are sensitive to the need that all samples are appropriately and properly obtained, stored and shipped," says Johnson & Johnson's Marc Monseau. "Therefore, many of our companies work directly with accredited tissue banks, laboratories and medical schools that comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations."

Proposed FDA regulations may soon call for more record-keeping and more quality-assurance measures in tissue banks, but the agency has no plans to regulate brokers of body parts for research.

Olson says only the buyers can force a cleanup of the trade. "They have it in their power to say if we are going to do business with you, if you are going to provide these specimens, you have to provide us documentation and declare something about the cost associated with this contract," Olson says. "They could do that tomorrow."

"Most people with common sense and common spirit will say this has to stop," Olson says.


U.S. Air Force seeking deep impact on hard-to-reach targets

From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 Posted: 3:01 PM EDT (1901 GMT)

Photograph: The proposed bomb would be about six times the weight of this "bunker buster," the laser-guided GBU-28.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's just an idea on paper, but the U.S. Air Force is asking defense contractors how they might develop a 30,000-pound, precision-guided bomb that could destroy targets deep underground, in caves or in hardened bunkers.

Air Force officials said the proposed weapon, called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, would be substantially larger than the current penetrating bomb -- the GBU-28, a 5,000-pound weapon.

Military officials said the most likely use of such a weapon would be against underground targets such as those found in North Korea.

The Air Force initially considered the development of a 30,000-pound penetrating bomb before the Iraq war, but funding and technical challenges stifled movement.

After the invasion, Air Force weapons experts examined several bomb sites in Iraq and learned targets could not be fully destroyed using the current inventory of conventional weapons.

However, Air Force officials said they are uncertain whether the concept of a bigger bomb can be brought to reality or that there would be available funding.

The Air Force concept calls for the bomb to be deployed on B-2 or B-52 bombers. The weapon would be guided by use of Global Positioning System satellite coordinates.

Engineering obstacles must be overcome, according to Air Force officials.

One challenge would be the need to carry two bombs on an aircraft to keep the plane stable in flight. Both bombs probably would need to be dropped at the same time for the bomber to maintain level flight, officials said.

Air Force officials said the bomb's structure would incorporate some type of heavy alloy that would make up most of the weight, allowing it to penetrate the target. An advanced or "smart" fuse also would be part of the system, so that detonation would occur only after the bomb reached the target, they said.

The Air Force said it is prepared to spend $11 million on weapon design and demonstration, with testing possibly beginning in 2006.

This bomb concept, informally known as the "Big Blue," differs from the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, a 20,000-pound weapon packed with 18,000 pounds of explosives. The MOAB bomb is designed to explode above ground for destruction of widespread surface targets such as troops and tanks.


The Associated Press and CNN
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Posted: 1:43 PM EDT (1743 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- An airline passenger wearing only a pair of pajama bottoms stole a baggage tractor at the city's main airport and drove it onto an active runway early Wednesday, police said.

Atlanta police say Robert W. Buzzell, 31, had walked out an exit door that had an alarm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Flights were not affected by the incident, which took place before 6 a.m., airport officials said.

The man was stopped by mechanics who asked him for an employee identification card. When he could not provide one, they escorted him to an office and called police.

Authorities said the man appeared mentally unstable.

Buzzell, who had a ticket for a Delta flight, was jailed on charges of unlawful interference with security, theft by taking and reckless conduct.

Police said Buzzell, of Warner Robins, Georgia, told Delta employees that an alarm sounded when he opened the door to the tarmac, but that no security personnel were around.

Airport officials said they are working with police and the airline to determine if security changes need to be made.


The Associated Press and CNN
Monday, August 2, 2004
Posted: 10:07 AM EDT (1407 GMT)

Photograph: Pete Bitar, president of Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, looks over the output from a demonstration unit of a directed-energy weapon.

(AP) -- A few months from now, Peter Anthony Schlesinger hopes to zap a laser beam at a couple of chickens or other animals in a cage a few dozen yards away.

If all goes as planned, the chickens will be frozen in mid-cluck, their leg and wing muscles paralyzed by an electrical charge created by the beam, even as their heart and lungs function normally.

Among those most interested in the outcome will be officials at the Pentagon, who helped fund Schlesinger's work and are looking at this type of device to do a lot more than just zap a chicken.

Devices like these, known as directed-energy weapons, could be used to fight wars in coming years.

"When you can do things at the speed of light, all sorts of new capabilities are there," said Delores Etter, a former undersecretary of defense for science and technology and an advocate of directed-energy weapons.

Directed energy could bring numerous advantages to the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have had to deal with hostile but unarmed crowds as well as dangerous insurgents.

Aside from paralyzing potential attackers or noncombatants like a long-range stun gun, directed-energy weapons could fry the electronics of missiles and roadside bombs, developers say, or even disable a vehicle in a high-speed chase.

The most ambitious program is the Air Force's Airborne Laser, a plan to mount a laser on a modified Boeing 747 and use it to shoot down missiles.

At the same Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, researchers working with Raytheon Co. have developed a weapon called the Active Denial System, which repels adversaries by heating the water molecules in their skin with microwave energy. The pain is so great that people flee immediately.

"It just feels like your skin is on fire," said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the laboratory who, as a test subject, has felt the Active Denial System's heat. "When you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam, everything goes back to normal. There's no residual pain."

A Humvee-mounted Active Denial weapon is expected to be given to all services by the end of this year for evaluation, with a decision about deployment expected by the end of 2005.

But the idea of using directed energy against humans is creating debate fueled by deaths allegedly caused by Taser stun guns and the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners -- which put the military's respect for human rights under a microscope.

Some experts believe the use of directed energy will be limited by international law and treaties.

"Although it seems like it would be more desirable to disable rather than to kill them, the problem is there are all sorts of treaties in place that limit how you can disable noncombatants," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a defense think tank. "It's kind of perverse, but sometimes the backlog of old laws can get in the way of being humane."

Military officials believe the intended uses of the Active Denial System do not violate any international laws or treaties and do not cause any permanent health problems.

"You can rest assured that with this system, when it finally is deployed, we will be very, very clear about what the intended uses are and what is clearly outside of bounds," said Marine Corps Capt. Daniel McSweeney, spokesman for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. "It's not intended to be used as a torture device. That goes against all the design intentions and parameters."

Research into side effects of weaponized directed energy began in the late 1990s at the Air Force's Brooks City-Base in San Antonio. Researchers began by reviewing studies of radio-frequency energy involved in military communications, radar and other technologies, officials say.

Human testing of the Active Denial System began after researchers concluded it could be used without permanent harm. More than 200 volunteers -- including some in their 70s -- from various military branches and government agencies were zapped with the system, on average about three times each.

The results showed no lingering health problems, officials say.

"This type of device doesn't penetrate very far," said Lt. Col. William Roach, chief of the radio frequency branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

But the fact that studies on directed energy's human effects haven't been released to the public has some outside the government worried.

Dominique Loye of the International Committee of the Red Cross has pleaded for more disclosure of directed-energy research and independent investigation into possible side effects.

Directed energy may cause "new types of injuries we're not aware of and may not be capable of taking care of," Loye said. "The message we try to put across is: 'We understand some companies are investing money, so maybe it will be worthwhile for you to start the investigation as early as possible and not to invest millions and millions and then 10 years down the line find out your weapon will be illegal."'

The weapons' developers, on the other hand, pitch them for their lifesaving potential.

The pinpoint accuracy of a laser could eliminate collateral damage caused by missile explosions, the argument goes, and stun gun-like weapons could save lives in hostage or bomb-threat situations. Directed energy also has the potential to explode roadside bombs or mines from a distance.

"You're dealing with the ability to pre-detonate the majority of improvised explosives that are used right now," said Pete Bitar, president of Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, an Anderson, Ind., company that is developing a rifle-sized directed-energy gun for the Marines.

The device works by creating an electrical charge through a stream of ionized gas, or plasma.

Bitar says it could be tuned to target the electronics of a vehicle or explosive device, or tuned to temporarily paralyze voluntary muscles, such as those that control arms and legs. The involuntary muscles, like heart and lungs, operate at a different frequency.

So far, this and a handful of similar weapons are only in the prototype stage. Production models, if approved by the military, would not be ready for a few years.

The device being developed by Schlesinger's company, HSV Technologies Inc. of San Diego, will operate similarly to Bitar's, except the electrical charge will be created by an ultraviolet laser beam, rather than plasma. He, too, says the device is designed for non-lethal purposes only.

"Later on, as certain agencies or law enforcement gets involved in this, and they see the need for lethality, I'm sure that can be developed later," Schlesinger said. "It could induce cardiac arrest, for example. But that is not our patent, and not our intent."

Still, that potential is sure to make opponents of directed energy skeptical.

"It's encouraging that the U.S. is searching for more humane weapons," said the Lexington Institute's Thompson. "But it's very hard to convince other countries that our goals are ethical."



Road Rage Forum

Gah! Automobile measurements!
Thu Sep 25, 2003 12:45

Anyone have a line on where to get measurements for automobiles? Like some sort of general site that gives info on such and such a car measures this wide, that tall, and that long? Cannot seem to find one.

RE: Gah! Automobile measurements!
Thu Sep 25, 2003 12:59


Why else would you carry a tape measure, pad and pencil with you at all times? Nothing like running up to an armored car when it is sitting outside its pickup location trying to do its daily duty and your trying to take measurements before the guys inside shoot you.


RE: Gah! Automobile measurements!
Fri Sep 26, 2003 04:47


Re : Automobile measurements
Thu Sep 25, 2003 23:19

Where's the problem ?

I just do a search for the make and model and the words "length width height " and "mm" or "inch" and unless the car is extremley unusual it comes up 99 times out of a hundred .

What car are you looking for ?

Re: Re : Automobile measurements
Fri Sep 26, 2003 05:07

Hmm. Left a message previous to this one in response, not sure it will come up or not. Anyway, Rob, it looks like adding the length, width, height, etc. is better. I was inputing simply "measurements" and so forth. Thanks.


Forum: Dueling Debate <>
Subject: Formula Dé / Formula Yard 1.01
Date: Oct 08, 2003 11:35 am

Formula Yard 1.01

Formula Yard is a large scale adaptation of the racing board game Formula Dé. Several of the concepts for Formula Yard are borrowed from Formula Dé, and you will need a set of Formula Dé's special dice to play Formula Yard. However, Formula Yard does not use a game board with marked spaces like Formula Dé. Instead, you mark out a track in your yard and race model cars around the track using a free-form movement system. Car wear is simulated using a token system similar to Formula Dé Mini.

You will need:

* Rope, string, garden hose, chalk, or something else to mark out the track in your yard.
* A small model car for each player.
* Lots of tokens (such as pennies) for each player.
* Something (such as an egg carton) to hold small piles of tokens.
* At least one set of Formula Dé dice.
* Something to roll the dice on, as they don't work well on grass.
* At least one yardsticks or tape measure.
* A turning template, which you will make (see below.)

The Cars

These rules were designed for toy cars measuring approximately 8" by 4". If you use a different size of car, you may need to modify the rules slightly. Any model car of this size will do, from cheap toys to hand built replicas. Durable, inexpensive toy cars are probably better for most games, but custom built models would certainly look nice for special occasions.

The cars should be basically rectangular. You may have to mount oddly shaped cars on a rectangular cardboard base so that the turning template will work properly. The turning template is also easier to use if the midpoint is marked on the right and left sides of the car.

The Turning Template

The turning template is used whenever you want to turn your car. It should be constructed  of stiff material such as cardboard, thin plastic, or sheet metal. A panel from a cereal box  is sufficient, but will wear out quickly.

The turning template is a flat polygon, of which only two adjacent faces are important for  turning. These two faces must each be at least 6" long, and have an internal angle of 150 degrees. The easiest way to construct the turning template is to make a triangle with one 150 degree vertex, and the adjacent sides 8" long. Mark the sides 6" from the vertex (on both sides) and cut off the tips of the triangle to make a pentagon. This will make the corners thicker and stronger. It might also be helpful to mark 12" and 3" on the long side of the template, since these measurements are often used in the game.

The Track

Formula Yard was designed to be played on grass, but can be played on a variety of surfaces as long as the cars will not move unintentionally during the game. The game is more interesting if the track edges are marked, but in a pinch you can race around or between obstacles instead.

One of the best ways to mark the track is with garden hose. If you fill the hose with water and connect the ends it will stay put and make smoother bends. However, this usually requires more hose than most people own. An inexpensive but nice looking solution is to mark out the track using brightly colored surveying string stretched between 6" nails which have been driven into the ground. Your track might also be partially or wholly on pavement, so sidewalk chalk might also come in handy.

The track should be long enough to have a variety of corners, but short enough that you can race more than one lap. A good length is somewhere between 50 and 75 feet.

The track should be at least 3 feet wide at most points to allow passing and variations in cornering. Narrower sections should be limited to straights, and sharp corners should be made wider to allow drivers who make errors to recover more easily.

If your track has a lot of tight corners, the cars will have to slow down a lot and the game will take longer. If you have a lot of straights, the game will go more quickly. You will have to practice to get a feel for the mix you like best. As a rule of thumb, a car's turning radius in feet is double its current gear. For example, a car in second gear can turn in a 4 foot radius, while a car in fifth gear needs a 10 foot radius turn. If all of the corners are the same, the race can become boring, so try to include a variety of corners in your track.

The Dice

The distance each car moves during its turn is determined by rolling a special die representing the car's current gear. These special dice come in the game Formula Dé, though you may be able to obtain a set separately. Formula Yard also uses Formula Dé's collision die, which is a standard d20.

Pre-Race Setup

Starting order should be determined in some fair way, such as dice rolling. Each player's car is then placed in its starting position on the track. Cars should start at least 8" away from adjacent cars, and 16" away from cars to the front or rear.

The ideal starting arrangement is to place all of the cars side by side on the start/finish line. This usually requires the start/finish line to be placed in a wide spot in a long straight. If this is not possible, stagger the cars behind the start/finish line.

Normally, all cars begin by shifting into first gear, but you may also use a rolling start. If the cars are staggered, starting the race in second or third gear reduces the advantage of starting at the front of the pack.

Turn Order

Each turn, the order of play is determined by track position. The car that is in the lead moves first, followed by the second place car, and so on. If two cars are tied, the car which is positioned to the inside of a turn is usually considered to be in the lead. If the cars are on a straight, the car to the inside of the next turn should be considered to be in the lead.

Race Tokens

Race tokens are used to represent your car's performance and wear. During the race you "use up" your race tokens as a driver would use up his car. They are used to indicate your car's current gear as well as wear and damage suffered by your car during the race.

Each player starts the race with a number of race tokens determined by the length and difficulty of the race. A good number for most tracks is 5 race tokens, plus 10 race tokens per lap, though you should allow more for narrow or especially winding tracks.

During the race, you will keep your race tokens in one of two piles: one to indicate your car's current gear, and one to hold your unused tokens. Used tokens are removed from the game.

If at any time you are required to use a race token when you have none remaining, your car is eliminated from the race, and is removed from the track.

Shifting Gears

At the beginning of each turn you may change gears. To shift up, move one race token from your unused pile to your car's current gear pile. You may not shift up more than one gear each turn. To downshift, remove any number of race tokens from your car's current gear pile, return one of these tokens to your unused pile, and discard the rest. Thus you may downshift more than one gear each turn, but you will lose race tokens as a result. You may not remove tokens from your car's current gear pile except when downshifting.

Movement Distance:

After shifting, each car moves in turn. The distance each car travels in feet is determined by rolling the corresponding gear die. For example, if your car is in fifth gear, roll the fifth gear die. If you roll a 17, your car will move 17 feet this turn.


You may reduce your movement roll by using your brakes. Braking costs 1 race token for each foot of reduced movement. You may spend up to your car's current gear in braking each turn. For example, a car in fourth gear may spend up to 4 race tokens to reduce its movement by up to 4 feet.


You may push your engine to get a little extra power. You may add a maximum of 1 to your movement roll for a cost in race tokens equal to your current gear. For example, a car in second gear may spend 2 race tokens to increase its movement roll by 1.

Straight-Line Movement

The easiest way to measure straight-line movement is to place a yardstick or measuring tape beside the car, lined up with the car's midpoint. Then, place the car so that the same midpoint is at the desired distance marking. If you measure from the front of the car it is usually more difficult to properly align the measuring device.


Your car may turn up to 30 degrees during 1 foot of its movement, using the turning template. You may turn at any point during your movement, but all movement takes place in 1 foot increments, so you may not move 2.5 feet and then turn. You may, however, move either 2 or 3 feet and then turn.

After turning, your car must move straight before turning again during the same movement. The minimum distance it must move straight between turns is the car's current gear minus 1. For example, a car in fourth gear must move 3 feet between turns in a single movement, while a car in first gear does not have to move straight at all between turns. This rule does not apply to turns performed during different movements. You may turn during the first foot of your movement regardless of any turns you performed during your last movement.

Power Sliding

You may reduce the distance your car must move straight between turns, resulting in extra tire wear. At a cost of 2 race tokens, this distance is reduced by 1 foot, for one pair of turns. This does not affect your total movement. You may not reduce this distance by more than 1 foot, but you may power slide any number of times during your movement.

Using The Turning Template

Place the turning template on the ground beside the car, so that one of its 6" marks is at the car's midpoint, with the vertex forward. For a right turn, align the template with the right side of the car. For a left turn, place the template on the car's left side.

Next, move the car forward so that its midpoint is at the turning template's vertex.

To make a 30 degree turn, pivot the car around the vertex until the car is flush with the front of the turning template. To turn the car less than 30 degrees, first pivot the car around the vertex until it is pointing in the desired direction, then pivot the turning template around the vertex until it is flush with the front of the car.

Finally, move the car 6" forward, completing the turn and 1 foot of its movement.


Any time your car moves within 3" of another car, you might bump it. Both cars make a bump check, as described below. If the stationary car suffers any damage as a result, the moving car must make a second bump check.

To make a bump check, roll the collision die. If your roll is equal to or lower than your current gear, your car is damaged and you lose that many race tokens.


If at any time your car touches another car or the edge of the track, it has crashed. Your car is eliminated from the race and removed from the track. If you collide with another car, it is not affected beyond a bump check, which is required when your car moves within 3".


The first car to touch the start/finish line after the required number of laps is the winner.

Note on Precision

Formula Yard plays quite differently when players are more relaxed about the precision of their measurements, particularly when measuring angles. Small 5 to 10 degree measurement errors add up quickly. The flexibility of a tape measure can also lead to changes in facing if you are not careful. You don't need to be overly attentive to detail (this is a yard game after all) but some arguments can be avoided if all of the players
make their measurements with a similar degree of precision.

Formula Rug

On a rainy day you can bring the race indoors. Divide all measurements by 4, and use 2.5" - 3" toy cars. Most of these cars will not sit still on a hard floor, but any good open stretch of carpet will work. Marking the track is a little tougher. Thin masking tape works well, but can't be re-used. You can tape down string for straighter sections, but string doesn't work well for corners. Racing between gates or around obstacles may be a better choice for indoor races.


Chris Wilkes, Eugene D. Seibert, Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Jose Cateriano, Karen Sidwell, Quinn J. Roundy, and Stephanie Smith.



Thursday, December 11, 2003

It's December already. Crikey how time flies.

2003 has been a funny year. I fulfilled a lifelong ambition -- of becoming a published writer ("Adventures and Expeditions by Gaslight"). I also travelled overseas for the first time, visiting Origins and touring the east coast.

Unfortunately I also discovered what burn-out really is.

For the first half of last year I was into everything. I found myself agreeing to do all sorts of things, work on various projects. Eventually it got the point where I had to sit down and make a big list of what to do as a priority. And working on the various web-sites I maintain was shoved right down the bottom.

Sadly, that still wasn't enough.

So for the last three months, I've taken a complete break from all the things I'd been involved in. Road Rage, GASLIGHT and the various Two Hour Wargames I play were completely forgotten. I've been playing in a couple of D&D games, real dungeon bashing stuff, and it's been a refreshing change. I also started running a superhero RPG, something I've always had a guilty hankering for, and that's been going really well too. Right now I'm researching the early 17th century for a historical RPG campaign set in the reign of James I. On an entirely non-game related note, I'm also doing a bit of self-improvement.

There is a point, I am getting to it, I think.

Anyway, it took Freeserve (who hosted the Road Rage Web site) cancelling my account after 90 days of non-use to remind me that I really ought to do something about the old stuff. So in the new year I'm going to start work on a new web-site incorporating all my existing web pages, and tidy up some of the loose ends. As for Road Rage the game . . . I'm finding it hard to find players locally, so I can't really do much work on it. So I'm going to tidy up the existing pages, delete some bits that aren't going to get finished and draw a line under it. Maybe at some point in the future I'll fall in with a crowd of ravening auto-combat enthusiasts, but until then I'd rather spend time working on games that I'm actually playing.

2004 is going to be a year of changes. Hopefully good ones.

-- Christopher Johnston, 11:58 PM

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Dickie, Chips, Siku, and Geoffrey. Sounds like a night out in the Gay Village I know, but it's all car related, honest.

This morning I received a care package from Jersey. Mr Rob LeVesconte very kindly sent me some Siku cars, which tend to be slightly larger than your typical Hot Wheels. For a scale comparison, I asked Vincent (Foundry Fatbum) and Julius (Copplestone Future Wars) to take a look.



Owen Cooper
Axles and Alloys vanishing -- the full story!
Fri Jan 16, 2004 01:46

Hi Chaps,

As you may have noticed the A&A site has dropped off the planet. This wasn't entirely intentional but fairly indicative of the fact that over the last 12 months or so I have lost nearly all interest in wargaming. I've picked the odd magazine up and made the odd visit to TMP to see what was new but nothing has really sparked any interest in getting back into gaming. Even a visit to a UK convention last year failed to encourage me to get the brushes out and that really is a rare occurance! I found I was only going to games and putting up with the hassle of driving across town in the Friday rush hour with a car load of fileboxes, then getting back late and unloading the car in the small hours in the interests of seeing friends rather than the game itself. So I suppose I am offically an ex-wargamer now.

Anyway I got the warning messages about my webspace needing paying for again and faced with a £70 bill for something I didn't have much interest in I basically let it go. Hopefully I have most of the material locally but wouldn't swear to it.

So basically if anybody has the rules please feel free to do what you want with them. Of course you've always been free to do what you want with them, this being the nature of freeware rules, but this time you're free to take over rules development and bring out a v2 published on the web if you are so interested. Please do so with my blessings. I did learn after abandoning the site that there were a lot of players who I had never had contact with so I guess the interest in the game might have been two to three times what I thought it was. So help yourself!

See you,


P.S. Feel free to copy this message anywhere you think it would be of interest -- TMP, etc.

Sorry to see you go Owen
Fri Jan 30, 2004 21:46

I saw your posing on TMP.

We all get burned out from time to time. It won't last. Something will fire you up, and you won't be able to help yourself!

Since I turned pro-painter, I haven't had much spare time to concentrate on my own projects. It doesn't mean I've stopped, they just take longer to do. Anybody want any combat cars converted?

I've just discovered the joys of Chain Reaction from Two Hour Wargames. It's a nice set for modern urban skirmishes but needs some decent car chase rules. The Yahoo! Troup has a file for some simple drive-by shootings  but not getaways. It has got me thinking.

I have a preproduction copy of the new Carnage rules. Without giving things away, this is a fun set played for laughs. Among the usual weaponry, you have such gems as Big Cushion , Telescopic Legs and Flan Flinger to name but a few.

I'm not altogether happy with the turning method, but it should be easy to come up with an alternative. Get this when it comes out. It has Wacky Races oozing from every pore.

Let's hang on in there guys.







* Axles & Alloys Variants