Toy Car Racing.. Or Is It?

Toy Car Racing.. Or Is It?: March 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nashville & End of Carpet Season

After a long and exciting weekend, I finally a moment and the energy to write about the carpet season finale at Thunder R/C in Nashville, TN. The turnout was decent with A and B mains in both VTA and 17.5 touring. The day started off rather rough as my car didn't feel as good as it did the previous time I raced at this track. I was originally running Sorex 28 tires but later switched to Jaco Blues which were the spec tire sof the day. This was a blessing in disguise because the majority of my handling problems were coming from Sorex tires with holes in them. I realized this after I switched tires and the car was much better and consistent.

To my surprise the Jaco Blue tires were not bad at all! The Sorex/Jaco 28's are still the best and apparently Jaco Blues have gone through a couple changes. They really handle quite well an I'm looking forward to running them this summer on asphalt. I also tested the new Sweep 30R as well. I did not like them, even over the "new" Jaco blues. They made the car push quite a bit - I'm sure with some setup work, these could perform better but who really wants to go through that through non-spec tires.

Qualifying had its share of problems, namely the driver. Unfortunately, I was placed in the lower qualifying heat that included foam TC drivers. Any battle with them usually ended up with me getting the raw end of the deal. With all of their traction, the foam cars are like hitting bricks with my rubber car. After calming my nerves and attitiude, I was able to put in a decent run in the third qualifier to solidify my dissapoiting BQ.  I only missed the A main by a 1/10 of a second!

Before the main I used 3mm of shims under the rear link over my normal 1mm to get the ar to roll more and gain more corner speed. I also reduced the rear toe from 3 degrees to 2 degrees. These changes 'unhooked' the rear end more and made getting around the foam cars easier.

Although I was stuck in the B-main and I knew I would easily win it, I was determined to push the car while keeping tight lines. 3 minutes in I was super close to a 28 lap pace when the car traction rolled coming into the straight and stripped the threads on the front link. Although my run ended early, I was still happy because although I had problems with the car and my driving, I was able to drive hard and clean. 

The guys in Nashville are great and Dirla puts on a great race. I was really impressed by the amount of support they give to the newcomers, especially in VTA. This is what racing needs - good people supporting each other and the hobby.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

People are Everything

Throughout most things I have done, I have been blessed enough to have people around me supporting me. R/C has been no different since I started about 7 years ago. My parents have always encouraged me to play with my R/C toys because they know how much it means to me and how much joy it brings to me.

This past summer, I wanted to sell out of R/C because I had not raced in quite awhile and really lost the desire to race and compete. My Dad begged me not to sell and even offered to buy my car from me if I felt so determined to sell. He taught me the very important lesson of how if something or someone makes you happy and it seems like the right thing to do, you should never stop perusing that dream. I think about that everytime I want to give up on something, whether it be hobby-related or not. It gives me that little added fuel when I feel like I am running out. When I came to the decision that I wanted to sell my R/C stuff and give up, it saddened me so deeply just thinking about it - I guess you never realize how much something means to you when you are at risk of losing it. I know now that R/C racing is more than a hobby to me, it's part of me and something I can never give up.

Now that I have become more independent and live closer to school and away from my parents, my girlfriend has become a person who encourages and supports me in my racing, even if she could care less about it. She knows how much I look forward to it and as long as I don't talk too much about it, she can deal with it. It would be nearly impossible for a person to dissuade me from racing but I'm blessed to have a significant other who, even if she doesn't like it herself, can respect the fact that R/C is part of me and brings me happiness.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nashville Summary

Simply said, going to race at Thunder R/C Raceway is worth the trip. It was refreshing to learn a new layout and meet some new people. The track had an interesting layout design with a lot of unusual and tricky turns but it was still a lot of fun. I was finally able to run with the fast guys which felt great - I even led for a lap or two in the main! Needless to say, I didn't keep that pace for long but it was a rush to be leading the freight train for a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised how well my normal Nexus setup worked as the car had plenty of bite and steering to get around the track quickly. This track is know for generating a lot of traction later in the day and my laptimes weren't as good when traction came up. Next time I am there I'll have to figure out how to take advantage of this situation - perhaps by softening the car to prevent traction roll. The only thing I changed was using front kickup which helped the car be more consistent as the front end didn't dig in as hard. I only lost a bit of front end bite but the increased forward traction really made up for this.

I had an awesome Sunday traveling, racing, and hanging out with people.


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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Preparing for Nashville Race

I haven't been posting lately due to other obligations in school and work. Spring Break is next week and couldn't have come sooner. I won't be doing anything fun other than spending time with my family and going to Thunder R/C carpet track in Nashville,TN. I'm very excited as this will be my first out of state race. I am excited to see how I perform compared to other racers I do not normally race with. The track is reportedly large but bumpy. Since Nexus Racing is rather small, low traction, and technical, this should be a nice change. I have not been able to test the KO speedo with 13.5 motor so this will be an eye-opening experience. For starters, I need to get the car back to what it was with the 17.5 in terms of balance throughout the corner. With the 13.5 last weekend, the car was too twitchy and the tire overheated towards the end of the run. To remedy this, I will try the following:

1. Adjust roll center to regain a balance in the car
2. Front kick up
3. Front sway bar
4. shock positions

I can't wait to be able to hang out with some of my friends and make some new friends in Nashville!

Video from the track I will be attending.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Next Evolution in Touring Cars

A couple months ago I brought my old TC3 off the shelf where it spends all of its time these days and it made me think about how far we have come in touring car design. We have seen a pretty radical change in the overall design of touring cars in the last half decade. The TC3 really brought touring car racing to the forefront as a legitimate class and had a pretty good run as it was the favorite among many racers. There were other designs from three belt, two belt, and other shaft drive cars but none could really match the popularity of the TC3. What seemed like overnight, shaft-drive cars, including the TC3, went extinct and now everyone and his brother has a two belt TC that is really just a copy of the other. Looking back at the TC3 and other "primitive" touring cars, I have a tough time understanding how we dealt with these things! For one, the car couldn't track straight due to its infamous torque steer, especially as batteries and motors evolved. On top of that, the parts quality and adjustability is nothing compared to today. Everything is much simpler to work on but offers a lot more performance and range of adjustability - the best of both worlds. 

Now, some companies insist that each year's iteration of the same car is a step towards "optimization" while others have stuck by the same car for the past few years. Everyone has their opinion and preference to each method and really, it's up to the driver if they want to upgrade or stick by old faithful. I've driven various versions of the same platform and they do have their benefits but I can't bring myself to spend $500 each time a "new" car comes out just for the illusion of going faster than before or just showing off a bit at the track. No matter where your wallet and ego approach this decision, I think that the next major evolution to touring cars is coming soon. 
New Yokomo BD5 WorldSpec 

Hot Bodies Cyclone Prototype as used by Atsushi Hara at the TITC

Heavier brushless motors and ultra-light LiPo batteries have made balancing cars made for NiMH and brushed motors a bit of a challenge. We now have to add a good bit of lead weight, weight trays etc to get everything perfectly balanced. On top of that, for some odd reason, manufacturers still produce their de-jure cars with 6 cell slots, like someone actually uses Ni-MH. You can't tell me that even the slightest minority would buy a brand-spanking new top-of-the-line TC just to throw old Ni-Mh technology in it. I think chassis will come closer and closer to Li-Po/brushless technology while makng balancing easier. XRAY has started this with the ability to flip the belts on the T3 but the chassis still has those six goofy slots in the chassis just to remind us how obscure Ni-Mh is. Some manufacturers have already taken advantage of the new technology in their chassis like Yokomo and Hot Bodies. Last weekend, Ronald Völker was unstoppable in this proto Yokomo. The car no longer had the 6 cell cut outs but slots just for taping lipos. In my mind, this would change the tweak and flex of the car greatly, and if his performance is any indication, for the better. In addition, Hara ran and won with a prototype Hot Bodies chassis at the TITC utilizing similar features. Granted, these two guys are amazing drivers but it's exciting to see the cars finally departing from old ways. For once, I think upgrading to the latest model might be worth it and I'm interested to see what happens from here.  

European Indoor Champion Ronald Völker 

>>all photos courtesy of Red RC