RC Car Racing
Racing an RC car is definitely a unique way to have fun and hang out and spend quality time with your children, friends and acquaintances. Spending a day at the track is not expensive, with race fees costing only a few pounds at most tracks. You will quickly find a friendly person there who can give you advice, tips and other help, and eventually you'll get a friend to two to go with you and have fun as a group! While many RC cars and RC trucks never see a race track, we always encourage this activity as a way to meet new people, learn more about your car and get more involved with the hobby! If you don't have a location nearby, you can always ask permission to use an empty car park or vacant dirt field.
Many parent/child "teams" can be seen at any RC track or event, working together on one or more RC cars and racing or just having fun. Usually, the parent has been involved with the hobby and wishes to share it with their child, or the child has recently got his or her first R/C model and both parent and child are learning the hobby together. Learning the RC hobby as parent and child is a hugely rewarding experience. Building RC cars, learning how various RC systems work, adjusting car and radio settings, making friends and working together are just a few of the many things that a child can learn from their parent as they assemble, adjust and play with their RC car. It's really enjoyable experience that both child and parent will enjoy and cherish as they work together to make the RC car work the way they want and try to win the next race!.
The Organization of an RC Race Day Practice
Usually there will be a long practice session before the racing begins. During this time you should sign up for the race and prepare your car or truck. Before you run, find the frequency clip or pin for the frequency you will use and put it in your pocket or on your radio antenna. This will make sure you don't accidentally run on someone else's frequency and prevents people from using your frequency! When you are practising, use the first run to get used to the track layout and slowly work your way to full speed as you get used to the track. Use the rest of your practice runs to get faster and faster, and if possible run on the track the same time as someone else you've noticed who is slightly faster than you - it's one of the best ways to learn the track and your car or truck!
Get in as many practice sessions as you can, but remember that you should do only one battery pack or one tank of fuel and then put the frequency clip back on the clip rack so the next person has an oppotunity to practice.
As the race time gets closer, the race director will announce that the qualifying heats are available for racers to see their car numbers and race numbers. These are very important! Get your car number decals and with a pen or marker mark your race number on one of the car numbers. This will make sure you remember when your race is coming up, you don't want to miss one of your races.
A 'round' of races is one complete set of races, from race one to the last race. Most tracks will have at least two and sometimes three rounds of qualifying. Qualifying is your chance to make your best run on the track, in preparation for the 'mains', or the final races. Usually the top ten fastest racers in each class will be grouped in what is called the A Main or A Final, and the next ten fastest racers are in the B Main, and so on. Sometimes a class will have ten or less racers in it, so there is only an A Main and no B Main.
The novice class is usually the first class to race, so if this is your first race make sure your batteries are charged for your first race and your correct transponder installed (if the track uses transponders).
When you get ready to race, be as relaxed as possible and just try to make it to the end of the race without hitting any barriers or other cars - that is what will slow you down the most.
After the race is over, make sure you follow any directions the race director gave everyone before the racing started. Sometimes your RC car and radio must be left on a table, sometimes you are able to take your car back to your pit area. Either way, make sure you get back out to the track to do your turn marshalling duties! Every racer has to turn marshall the race immediately after theirs, this is the best way to make sure everyone does their marshall duty and everyone has an equal chance to get going the right way if they crash or make a mistake during their race. Turn marshalling is basically watching a specific part of the track and turning over any cars that crash in that area.
Once you are done turn marshalling you can head back to your pit area to work on your car, get your next battery started charging, or whatever you need to do to get ready for your next race.
When the qualifying races are over, the mains begin, normally after a short break in the schedule. Your car number may change, and also your race number may be different, so be sure to pay attention to the main event listing.
The main event is run just like the qualifying races, except that this time there's usually a real prize at stake!
After the races are all over and everyone is packed up, sharing a favourite racing story is a popular way to pass the time. Getting a bite to eat with your friends (and new RC racing buddies) is a great way to prolong the race day as well. When you get home check over your car and do any battery or engine maintenance that needs to be done, so you can be ready for next week's racing adventure!
How an RC Race is Run
For many new RC hobbyists, attending their first race can be an intimidating experience. It doesn't need to be like that, however, as long as you are properly prepared and arrive with the right attitude and mindset. As long as you approach your first race knowing that you don't need to have the latest coolest gadgets and equipment, understand that you may not win your first day, and realise that you'll be racing with other people - some of whom will be very competitive, you'll leave the racetrack wanting to go back and do better!
The first thing to do is visit the track's web page or give them a call to confirm their race schedule. You don't want to show up on the wrong night or too late to register! When you call the track to check their race times, ask what classes they race. For off-road, this would include buggy, truck, nitro truck, etc, while on-road racers will be separated by electric touring car, nitro touring car, "gearbox" (on-road buggies and trucks) and possibly other classes. You will be grouped together with similar type vehicles and possibly separated into different skill levels. Smaller tracks or clubs may not separate by skill level, while large tracks may have up to three skill levels (typically novice, sportsman and expert). If it's your first RC race ever, ask to be included in the "rookie" or "novice" class, or just tell them it's your first time. If you find the novice class is too easy, you can always race in the sportsman class next time.
Also find out what tyres work best for the class you will be racing. Often the shop or someone at the track will have the tyres you need for sale, or you can order them beforehand to have them ready to go when you get to the track. Although tyres are an extremely important part of having the proper "setup" for racing, you probably won't have to worry about having the ‘right’ tyres the very first time you go racing.
RC spare parts can be handy if you know what to bring, otherwise make sure you are racing at a track that has spares for the car you are racing. If not, order some in advance from the shop and keep them in your pit box ‘just in case’. Even though you may be able to get around the track without hitting anything, there is no guarantee that no one else won't hit you!
One more thing you should ask is if the track uses transponders, and if they do, where they should be on your RC car or truck. A transponder is a small radio transmitter that communicates with the race computer to figure out what place you are on the track during a race. Some tracks require it be placed in a particular spot on the chassis or body of your vehicle, so it's important to know where to put the mount - and your fellow racers can help you put a mounting spot on your car.
Most RC racing tracks charge a few pounds to practice all day and race. Bring a packed lunch and drinks or extra cash to buy snacks or lunch/dinner while you're at the track. Nothing's worse than racing on an empty stomach!
By the time you actually plan on attending your first RC race, you probably will already have what you need to race. If you have an RC electric car, you will need your car or truck, two or three battery packs, your radio and a battery charger. For RC Nitro, you will need your car or truck, about a quarter of a gallon of fuel, a fuel bottle and radio.
If the track is in a car park (a temporary track) you may need to bring a folding chair and table. Many friends who travel to races together will share the cost of a folding table and buy their own chairs. Outdoor racers should bring a hat to protect themselves from the sun.
That should be it! Don't be afraid to ask questions of your fellow RC racers or the track/shop personnel. Most people will be happy to help you and eventually you'll make plenty of friends who will cheer you on when you're racing! Remember - a great attitude during the race day is required! There's no sense in putting too much pressure on yourself to win or perform well your first time out. Like any skill, RC racing should be practiced to be proficient at it.
Most of all though, YOU WILL HAVE GREAT FUN!