(a bit of Christmas fun)

The very nice trophy, “The Bluebird Cup”

So what does everyone do now that the trials season is over ? For many of us its time to get some off
road practice in the School Bus as we are well disciplined and taught in adverse driving conditions
and from a lot of the routes that I have seen we spend a good time off metalled roads.

Once again Bluebird, the makers of the school bus, have sponsored the event and it will take place in
the period while schools are closed for the Christmas break. This year they will be providing some of
their test vehicles for us to use and comment on. Their jet propelled model is still in development but
shows a lot of promise for keeping angry motorists behind you post a pick up or drop off spot.

The Bluebird Jet

Children held in by “g” force

Bluebird have other futuristic models on their drawing boards and although not available to test we
were able to see the concept design of the “Shuttle” which should be available in 2050.

Still on the drawing board, the “Bluebird Shuttle” available in 2050

I was particularly impressed with the new “Rollover” model, and others that are worth a mention are
the short wheelbase “Homeowner” edition that parents may elect to use to take their own children to
and from their place of learning. The “Heavy Duty” version was noisey and would no doubt be
expensive on tires but did have a good all terrain capability.

The new “Rollover”model

Nice feature, the full width door in both directions

The “Homeowner” edition for DIY school runs

The “Heavy Duty” or “Redneck” available in southern states only

Also available were the “Katrina” for post hurricane school runs and the stretched Bluebird version
of the Honda Goldwing for the “Special Needs” students.

“The Katrina Duckmobile”

The “Special Needs” stretched Honda Goldwing

For troublesome urban areas the new “Armoured Yellow” stood out as being ideal for making sure
the “buses only” slot stayed free of cars or they could be flattened without upsetting the bus occupants.
They are available in two versions either with machine guns or the more traditional turret fitting.

The “Bluebird Armored Yellow”  Browning Edition

Convential turret is optional

With the testing complete machines were put through scrutineering, divided into their respective classes, and then put into “parc ferme” for the night. Some really nice machines, alloy wheels, a lot
of “bling”, and some of the “specials” with wide tires and extra ground clearance.

Scrutineering begins

A lot of variety in “parc ferme”

Very snazzy with alloys

Color coordinated powder coated rims and ejection seat handle bumper

4WD and extra ground clearance with the big tires

Overnight there was a little frost but this should be a good test of reliability, starting efficiency, and
of course the all important heater. Chains are not allowed in this event but are standard issue for
all normal driving when conditions become adverse.

A spot of overnight frost

The event got underway on time (as you would expect) with the first section of “Snowbank” causing
all sorts of problems until a good line had appeared in the deep snow.  A simple entry in the trees,
over some hidden roots,across the clearing and up the bank onto the road with a left turn finish to the checker. Several “5’s” from the early runners. Snow bank is always a popular section for the children!

No Cheating! … the checkers told 131 to take his chains off

An early attempt before the line was established

First clean of the day on Snowbank

Moving down the mountain on the loop we are nearly out of the snow for the next section of “Ditches”
which is another of those multiple in, outs, and around the trees, before a tricky climb back onto the
road. Very delicate throttle control required. Some drivers tried the “lofted turn” bouncing off the
opposite bank and trying for the exit on 3 wheels, while others polished the adverse and slid back in.

Delicate throttle gets 92 out for his clean

A good try at the “sidecar” technique, but a 5 !

Too much power in 1st ….. and the back slid away

“Low Branches”, Section 3, was next and after exiting the road a “S” turn through the trees before a
slippery climb out on an adverse bank for a tight right turn onto the main road. Some good driving here although the adverse caught out many sending them over the double yellow line boundary for a 5.
My turn comes and even with the long wheelbase I’m up and on the road for the clean! Well they do
have a fantastic turning circle.

Out on the road,  but he crossed the double yellow for a 5 

Done it ! A nice clean with the 71 seater

Further down the hill we are now in the deep mud sections of  “Goop Delight” and line was the key
here and good momentum blipping the throttle in 3rd seemed to be the answer.

Hard work to get through

The Lightweight Class struggled for grip and were lucky to get out for
a working man’s “3” with a lot of legwork

One of the visitors in the Touring Class shows how with a 3rd gear attack
and a lot of throttle blipping

The next mud section of “The Esses” was perhaps the “gimmee” of the day and few drivers had any
problems here unless you crossed a boundary.

A nice simple section for most

Section 6, “Sandhills” was a series of “up & down” on the soft banks so full in 2nd was the answer,
followed by an idle tight turn into the downhills and a chance to show your skills with the 4 stage
retarder, a bit like the decompressor.

My favorite for another good clean with the flat in 2nd approach

At 7 & 8, a double sub,  called “Flip” the entry was difficult and needed a wide turn on the far bank or
a front wheel would hit the big rock hazards causing the front to lift violently. If you got through that
it was slow and steady through the tight streambed to the very muddy and difficult road exit.

Yes, he hit the rock hazzard and “flipped”

Tight and twisty in the riverbed of 8

With the “Ends Card” in sight 8535 struggles to get out of 8

Out on the loop there were some mystery checks for documentation and logs and one or two drivers
were penalised for missing items or incorrect procedures.

Checkers didn’t like this from No 3 …… No lights and driving with the door open

Surprise documentation check !

Section 9 “The Grassy Knoll” was perhaps the hardest section of the day as the long grass and wet
bank caused a lot of 5’s for all apart from the early runners. Some said it was like driving on wet
spaghetti !

Unless you were early, pretty much the standard result on the “Knoll”

The next section of “Watersplash” was number 10 and the last on the open road before coming
back into the arena where spectators, children and sponsors were all gathered.

Cautious entry to the water

Slow and steady to keep her dry

Very confident about his waterproofing the Flying Dutchman enters 10

However it wasn’t all plain sailing at 10 with several drowning motors and others going off line
and finding the big hole. Fortunately the “Katrina Duck” was being used by the checkers and all
were recovered without mishap, although a little wetter for the experience!

The big hole at 10

Checkers were quickly there with the “Katrina Duckmobile”

34 creeps up the ramp for her clean on 10

Into the arena and as a tribute to “Handcrank”, the bus driver’s equivalent of the “Kickstart” series we
have the ever popular Section 11 called “VW” . This is mainly for the “Modified” class and the long
wheelbase standard bluebirds have the 2 line option around the crushed beetles.

Another VW “Passat” goes under the hammer

“Drums” or section 12 was more a demo section weaving through the tightly placed obstacles of the
standard roadwork  systems which are never quite wide enough to get the vehicle through and
usually cause a bigger hazard than the one they are supposed to be marking!

No 1, comes safely through “Drums”

“Cones and Poles” which are a bus driver’s nightmare was the “nadgery” of section 13 & 14 and
showed the steering lock to good effect and how to use the big fish eye mirrors.

16 works the fish eyes and full lock for his clean on “cones & poles”

77 gets through with just 2 touches……. is that Evelyn checking ?

Section15, “The Truck Jump” was only for the Champ Class with their minders and was an all or
nothing section even with the kicker of a crushed pick up. Personally I’m not a lover of arena style
events but the crowd seemed to enjoy the spectacle.

Close, but not enough lift even with the “kicker” of a squashed pick-up

Another good attempt and as the Minder shows us he was just teetering
on the top before sliding back

Full power and a good lift and a clean is in the books…… well done!

With the event all wrapped up for another year just time to tot up the scores in the individual classes
and hand out the hardware and the Bluebird Cup.

As expected the event was won by one of the early runners and for 2010
the Winner was MUSTAFA CRAP from the Constipation School District


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