Race Craft

Chances are if you are new to club racing that you won’t have encountered tracks that are wired for brakes or have a single transformer per lane. You will find it much harder than it looks but with practice comes speed. Try to build a steady rhythm, going slowly at first and then building up your pace over the weeks. As in real motorsport, smoothness is the key here.

Consequently newcomers should remember that to finish first, first you must finish. Lurid tail-slides on the bends mean you are going too fast, liable to crash and are bound to annoy the more experienced racers. But then again powerslides are fun!

Most drivers will need several weeks before becoming competitive.

Accidents

“Accidents will happen,” as Elvis Costello sings. Better to drive consistently than Hell for leather. Going all out for lap records may bring you into the well intentioned hands of the corner marshals, who with the best will in the world, will delay you by at least 3 seconds. When an average lap takes 9 seconds you can see how quickly the over zealous driver will fall down the running order. Drivers should avoid piling into someone else’s accident for various reasons;

  • there is a chance of cosmetically damaging your own car, let alone the stationary one
  • there is the strong chance of ‘popping’ your own motor out of its mounts
  • there is a good chance of pitching yourself over the track wall and on to the floor where both of the above may strike you
  • there is a good chance the driver of the crashed car you hit is bigger than you and he/she might strike you

Be patient, if you get too close to an incident you may find the marshal inadvertently lifts your car out of the slot as he recovers the first de-slotted car. Give the marshal time, don’t just give it throttle as the guide goes in the slot. Your car may go in at an angle and just gunning it will more than likely pop you out again to the disdain of the marshal.

Don’t shout at the marshals. Ninety percent of the time it isn’t their fault, you had the accident.

Marshaling

An exciting race can be destroyed by bad marshalling or made so much better by good work from the marshals. All racers will be expected to marshal at some point during a meeting. It is therefore crucial that they follow these guidelines.

  • the key is to be aware, swift and impartial
  • innocent victims are to be replaced before the perpetrators
  • where two separate accidents occur they should be dealt with in the order they happened in
  • if a third party is de-slotted during the marshaling of an accident, by fat fingers or just unavoidably careening in, they should get priority of attention
  • marshals should not be doing anything other than marshaling – no eating,
    tuning, texting, etc

Car Preparation

The tricks of car preparation can take a while to master. Straight out of the box most cars will not be competitive.

Motors, gears and axle bearings should be oiled lightly, WD-40 should not be used as it can rot plastic. Super Servisol 10 switch cleaner can produce ‘turbo’ boosts of speed but after a few laps the effect is gone and allegedly, it shortens the life of the motor.

Motors can be glued to the chassis to prevent wear and tear on the gears, and the motor popping from its mount in a shunt.

A little toothpaste on the gears ( read that again – it says a little!), for a short while, can help the mesh when running in.

Rear axles and wheels should be as true as possible to stop bouncing and loss of grip. Axle bearings can be glued to the chassis for the same reason and tyres may be sanded to gain an even footprint and maximum adhesion. Tyres can also be soaked in oil to soften the compound and swell the diameter for better gearing. Care should be taken not to expand the rubber too far as this may result in very large diameters! Been there, done that.

Loosening the screws that keep the body on the chassis will often give an instant improvement to the handling, although if you slacken them too much they’ll work free and doubtless cause a short on the track somewhere.

Braids and tyres should be kept clean with lighter fuel. There’s a product called Tiger Milk for the braids that helps maintain good conductivity and cleans the rails into the bargain.

Footnote

I’ve bought special oils, carbon based bush busters, even run in motors backwards and underwater because I heard it improved performance. My conclusions? There is no substitute for mileage. However you choose to prepare your cars, they will improve with use – the car will free up, you’ll get familiar with its handling and down come your lap times.