From the drawing board
The site first came into existence on Wednesday 4 June 2008 at 14:53.
It was originally set up on a free host in response to the heavy handed moderation on the BBC 606 site during the Max Mosley "dungeon-gate" affair, with almost all posts on the subject being removed. The site was originally called The Motorsport Portal.
Into the wind tunnel
The first ever post on the original forum was made less than hour after it was launched, on Wednesday 4 June 2008 at 15:46 by our very first (well, second) member jochenrindt and was, unsurprisingly, about Max Mosley.
Most of the original users were from the BBC 606 site which is why there are references to it in the posts made around that time.
Trouble on the test track
Unfortunately, or fortunately considering how things have turned out, the free host’s server was extremely slow and constantly crashing so after persevering with it for a few weeks, the decision was made to purchase a domain and move the existing forum.
A new chassis
After much searching and discovering that most of the obvious motorsport related domain names were taken, we finally settled on Clip The Apex. It may not be immediately apparent but this name can apply equally to all motorsport, not just Formula One, which is why we didn’t want a name with "F1" or "pit lane" in it.
The domain name was purchased on Friday 18 July 2008 at 17:11 and a hosting account set up on Friday 18 July 2008 at 18:08.
It should be noted that at this point in time we had a domain and hosting but absolutely no idea what to do or how to set it all up. I say we but in fact I mean me as it was very much a one man band at that early stage. A one man band who didn't know how to play an instrument either. To say it was a steep learning curve is an understatement.
After a sustained period of server instability and outage, we decided to swap to the new domain on the weekend of 19-20 July.
The operation almost failed as soon as it began as the original hosts were at first reluctant to release the database to us.
When they finally did, it wasn't a straightforward matter to insert it into a new installation as the free hosts had modified the SQL tables quite a bit so it took a lot of editing before finally, the new site was fully working on Monday 21 July 2008 at 00:11.
It should be pointed out that without gribbli the site probably wouldn't exist now as it was his hard work which enabled the users and post data to be transferred over. Without him it would have been a blank forum and we would have had to start from scratch again; not an ideal situation for a fledgling site which was struggling to survive as it was.
Due to the length of time it took to fix all the problems and as the old site had still been running, we lost about 2 days of content once we finally flicked the switch, as the database we had was a few days old by that time. Fortunately due to the timing, it was mostly off topic posts and we didn't lose much, if anything from the main motorsport forums as we managed to subsequently recover some of it. That made the last post on the old site this post about KERS by McZiderRed.
A history of events can be seen in this thread.
Putting in some hot laps
The new site became live on Tuesday 22 July 2008 at 21:45, just 7 weeks after it was first started on the free host.
The first post on the new site was this post informing every one of the switchover.
Originally we still had the standard phpBB design which looked like this.
Shortly after we converted it to a portal by Board3 to give it a home page but it was unprofessional looking and lacked content.
Obviously we would have to start working on a new design, but first...
Overtaken by events
Prior to the start of the 2009 Formula One season, on Tuesday 17 March 2009 at 14:18 to be precise, our resident expert and statistician, Galahad, decided to create an article on the amount of overtaking in Formula One. Little did we realise at the time the impact that would have on the site.
Not only were the overtaking figures for the Chinese GP read out on BBC 5 Live during P2 of the Bahrain GP, but the data was linked to on numerous sites and blogs resulting in thousands of visitors to the site, including some Formula One teams.
The subsequent detailed analysis of overtaking back to 1982 as well as the overtaking data for 2010, and now 2011, has firmly cemented the site as the reference for Formula One overtaking data, with the BBC F1 team regularly mentioning the figures during race weekends.
More recently, ex-Renault F1 technical director Pat Symonds wrote an article on overtaking for the April 2011 edition of Motor Sport Magazine and used the data from the site as the basis for it. Coincidentally, the April 2011 edition of F1 Racing also referenced the site, for using the data in another article on overtaking.
The start of the 2011 season saw yet more interest in the overtaking data, due partly to the rule changes which resulted in a significant increase in the number of overtakes during each race. An article published on the Sporting Life site on Thursday 12 May 2011 referenced the data.
Whilst the site was ticking along smoothly, work was going on in the background to build a completely new structure and design.
After many late nights, again with gribbli's help, the new design was launched on Wednesday 27 May 2009 at 19:57.
The predominant colour of the design was in homage to the colour that Bruce McLaren used to race in and also to try and distinguish the site from a lot of others which tend to use red as the main theme.
Screenshots of the old home page and forum can be seen here and here.
Five red lights and it's.....Go!
After several years of phpBB (and exactly 33,000 posts), we converted to brand new, state-of-the-art software by XenForo.
The latest incarnation of the site went live on Saturday 29 January 2011 at 01:40.
Death and rebirth
Prior to switching to XenForo, our original site developer, gribbli, thought it would be a good idea to put all of the data from the Formula One World Championship in a database. The original concept was to be able to factor out penalties and retirements so "what if" scenarios could be played out to see how races and championships would change.
What started out as a simple concept soon snowballed into a huge project which involved several members and many months of painstaking work. Ironically we never implemented the original concept as it evolved in a different direction.
Finally, almost 6 months later on Monday 12 January 2009 at 19:13, the Clip The Apex Formula One Database was born.
Unfortunately it was not compatible with the new software so had to be removed when we converted to XenForo.
Fast forward just over 12 months and Mike, our new developer, helped us capitalise on what the site has become known for, which is the overtaking data. In just a few short weeks, we went from a basic concept to launching the Overtaking Database on Thursday 12 April 2012 at 17:11.
The runaway success of our Fantasy F1 game meant we had no choice but to develop a dedicated interface for it, much to the delight of Galahad who, for the past four years, had been running it manually.