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STICKY TAPE - The bain of the results team's life

First published in Motorsport News 11th June 2008

Today’s proposition is that Mr Snell, Mr Oace and Mr Eastwood of the 3M Company are amongst the greatest villains in World History. In January 1946, as if the previous six years of world warfare hadn’t caused enough misery, this trio invented electrical tape, a product that has become the most hated item in existence - well as far as Rally Results Teams are concerned anyway.


So why does this seemingly innocent device attract such wrath? Well, many navigators when faced with the apparent problem of securing their time cards to a suitable surface decide that taping the cards firmly to a board is the way to go.

Of course the gentlemen at 3M shouldn’t take all the blame, after all the sticking power of their development is dwarfed by that of duct tape, the invention in 1942 of Johnson & Johnson. Duct tape’s only use in rallying should be in the repair of damaged bodywork, it does not belong anywhere near a clip board.

Fortunately not many navigators see duct tape as the answer to their problem, but those that do seem to find that bolting their time and passage control cards back to back with the infernal device is just the bee’s knees. Goodness knows but if the darned things could be welded then I suspect these individuals would be out with the acetylene torch before you could say “That’ll take a bit of shifting”.

In general, when taping, navigators either go for the all round framing method, or they simply use short pieces of tape across each corner of the card.

Now let’s be clear on this matter, there is no defence in claiming it’s OK because you only use a little bit of tape; to me the use of tape is like virginity, you either are a virgin or you’re not, you either use tape or you don’t, you’re either good or evil.

As a solution, tape works extremely well for the navigator, the problems start when they try to remove the cards from the board. There seems to be two methods to achieve this: firstly, to carefully detach the whole lot with the tape still attached, and secondly, to part the tape from the card and usually, in the process, destroy the card. The problem with this latter technique is obvious, the card is ripped and parts are missing, ironically the results team then have to use tape to repair the sheet, usually they have plenty to hand.

The problem with leaving the tape attached is that although one card with sticky tape hanging over its sides wouldn’t be too bad, the difficulties start when you get a pile of them and sticky tape does what those clever inventors intended it to do – it sticks together. The pile of cards becomes a gluey mess.

This leads us to the major disadvantage for competitors in their use of tape – it upsets the results team. These are the people who decide whether that ‘O’ you’ve recorded looks awfully like a ‘Q’, or that signature isn’t really in the right box and so on. Competitors should stay in their good books.

The solution is simple, use a clip board and that good old Australian invention, the elastic band. A couple of stout bands will do the job handsomely and, what’s more, can be reused, so it’s a green solution as well. So keep tape for what it was intended to do and use something more appropriate for cards.

Right, I feel much better for that!