Clear Rules Create Clear Advantages

Jan 06, 2011 9 Comments by

I’m an avid club racer.  Lucky for me, my local track is Hot Rod Hobbies in Saugus, California, and it’s one of the finest club racing facilities anywhere in the state.  At Hot Rods, they average 40+ short-course entries every single Tuesday—on average!—and regularly get as many as 70 SC entries.  So what’s the secret to such a large turnout?  Besides its location in Southern California where R/C is king, Hot Rods maintains a clear list of rules online for its SC classes that everyone knows and understands.  As simple as this may sound, clear no-nonsense rules provide a foundation for club racing to build upon.

I’ve read many forum posts about tracks struggling to get club race entries, and often a track’s only rule is to “run what you brung.”  In other words, run any motor/battery/tire you want. On the surface, this rule may sound welcoming, but something strange happens when there are no rules. In an attempt to include everyone in the fun, a single “open” class can actually run all of the racers away who don’t own the hottest, fastest or most expensive equipment.  No one wants to have their doors blown off on the straightaway.  It takes time to build Spec classes, but over time the racers know that they will be racing against a competitor’s skill, not his wallet.  Separate classes for “Rookie Stock” or 13.5-turn motors helps everyone have more fun, because each racer knows what to expect.  Check out Hot Rods’ Short Course rules here (http://tinyurl.com/34zxbb4) and let me know what you think.  Do you believe your club track has it all figured out?  Comment below and let us know, and help bring club racing back in your area.

Stephen Bess

About the author

Executive Editor I jumped into R/C back in 1987, when mechanical speed controllers and hard rubber tires were all the rage. Since then, I’ve experienced R/C in almost every state in the USA. I've built and raced every type of RC vehicle created, and traveled throughout the country (and world) to attend and cover more R/C events than I can remember. But what a fun ride it's been! I'm fortunate to live in Southern California, and I take advantage of my location by enjoying R/C outdoors year ‘round. Club racing is the future for R/C growth, and I’m always looking to bring new people into the hobby, whether it’s through backyard bashing or organized racing.

9 Responses to “Clear Rules Create Clear Advantages”

  1. Kendall Bennett says:

    I think SPEC class racing is important, and we have come up with a good plan to try to introduce these classes back into our racing program for the 2011 race season. However the fact that Jimmy is allowing any ESC with timing advance in the ‘Stock’ classes really means that having a 17.5T motor does not cap the speed, nor the budget that can be spent to go fast. And the tires are pretty much open also.

    For our SPEC class for 2wd Short Course, it is going to be 13.5T LOCKED END BELL motors (no timing adjustments!) with ROAR approved ZERO timing ESC’s, and SPEC tires. We hope that can truly control the cost of racing for our racers, as well as keep the speeds under control. Since we are running no timing advance, 17.5T motors are just too slow for the SC class, and 13.5T is a good choice.

    • Stephen Bess says:

      Kendall, since those rules were printed, I believe Jimmy has considered doing exactly what you’re doing with NO timing advance ESCs.

      The timing advance/PC link ESCs are certainly fun to play around with, but for racing I agree they do increase the cost to the consumer by a wide margin. I’m all for true SPEC class racing where driving makes the difference, not the size of your wallet or the amount of time you spend programming 50 different ESC parameters. Great job keeping racing affordable at A-Main’s track!

  2. Matthew Armeni says:

    I don’t believe that one should need to buy a new, different, or special motor/ESC just to race, especially if they have a perfectly fine setup in their RTR. Also, I think having spec or stock classes can actually increase the cost of racing. There’s a company that puts out a motor/ESC combo for tenth scale (specifically short course) that can be had for around $100, but it’s only for mod class. To get a stock setup for short course is typically more expensive. With a slower system I may be inclined to buy more expensive batteries to get the absolute most speed from my setup, but if I already have enough power form my motor I can save money and buy cheaper packs. By putting limits you get people trying to push them. Like people overcharging lipo’s, using timing advance on ESC’s, etc. The worst part of that is it’s usually the guys that aren’t in contention to win, but they feel with that little extra, they could do better. Not having enough power should never be an issue. By leaving it open, running only beginner, sportsman, expert (or all one class), class size and racer turnout should increase and the cost of racing should go down. I believe this is one of the reasons that 1/8th scale has gotten so huge and 10th scale (obvious exception being the Slash) is on the decline. If a new guy shows up with a .28 in his buggy at a club race he can enter in the sportsman no problem. If a new guy shows up with a E-Firestorm Flux he’s thrown in mod (mostly an expert class) when most likely he’d still do worse than the guys in stock. But you know that if he raced in stock racers would have a fit when he pulls away on the straight- who cares about how bad they beat him everywhere else. By having it open this is all prevented.
    I mostly race 8th scale electric and have my buggy/truggy set up to be slower than most. If a guy shows up racing a 2200kv on 6s I don’t complain that he’ll be faster than my 1300kv on 6s, he’ll soon learn that’s too much power for a track. And even if he beats me, chances are it’s because he’s a better driver.
    I think that part of racing is knowing how fast you can safely drive around the track. When I drive my friends cars, they handle just as well as mine but are typically more powerful and faster, therefore harder for me to drive. My goal is to be able to have that much power in my cars and control it, but until I can control mine better I’m happy being a little slower down the straight.

    • Kendall Bennett says:

      For the SPEC classes at our track, we will actually be offering the SPEC items cheaper than normal to our customers, and the Speed Passion sportsman motors are very cheap. A full setup with SPEC ESC and motor can be had for hopefully around $100. The intention is to make sure the products that can be used for SPEC racing are cheaper than those used for modified, so people upgrading the stock trucks with a new brushless system, can do it cost effectively.

  3. Scott Tucker says:

    I think we can all agree that the SC Class first started by the Slash can be credited with the resurgence of RC Club racing at its root level. People could go to their local shop, walk out the back door to the track and go racing. Now, it’s not so much, you have to spend a few more dollars for the “good” motor, the “trick” speed control, and of course, the best batteries. Pretty soon, you’ve priced a lot of people out of the race, particularly nowadays. I love your Idea of “Rookie Stock” classes Stephen, and that should progress to a true Box Stock class, then Sportsman and so on.

  4. Tonys Screws says:

    I would love to have a facility like Jimmy’s or Kendall’s near me (central NJ), but unfortunately we do not. These type of Spec classes will never take off over here. Folks in these parts are interested in Speed, Big Air, etc. 1/8th nitro off-road buggy is by far the biggest class in these parts and thats due to the strong similarities between cars. Slapping a .28 in your car won’t make it any faster around the track so why most will run a .21. Plus they’re all after run time. This is the one class where driver skill seperates the men from the boys (regardless of what equipment you’re running). Unfortunately the cost of tires/wheels/foams is putting a huge impact on our 1/8th classes. Especially 1/8th truck (truggy). Real Estate has gotten so expensive there is no place to even build a nice indoor track and the outdoor tracks are too brutal for 1/10th electric cars. The few places that do exist are a long hike for most (2-4 hours one way) so I don’t see much hope for the NE.

  5. Kevin says:

    I think spec racing is a great idea. It helps control costs for those who desire to race, but can’t afford the latest and greatest, biggest and baddest.

    All too often, and I am guilty as sin on this, I have seen some guy or girl at the track with the latest most powerful engine, the greatest kit since R/C was invented, the gnarliest servo’s, the fastest radio since interchangeable am radio crystals came out, a 150 dollar painted body that could make any magazine cover, get stomped at the track by somebody that has less than half of what he or she has into their entire car alone.

    Just because you can afford it, does not mean you can run it. I have seen every expert online tell me, or have overheard every expert at the track tell me what I need. When in fact, all I really needed was practice.

    Spec classes help keep costs down, and racing to where even those entering the arena of R/C can have fun, and compete.

    Of course I am all for the unlimited classes too. Every sport or hobby has to have that. You need the big boys to draw a crowd and bring in new people.

    My latest and most favorite R/C? My box stock Slash, and my Axial crawler. My $500 modified nitro engined truggy and buggy? Silent for 2 years now.

    But I must add this, I do have a penchant for nice electronics. I gotta have me a nice radio!

    -Kevin

  6. Aaron Waldron says:

    I think the best part of racing a spec class, aside from the controlled costs, is that it slows the cars down in addition to creating a more level playing field. It’s always easier to battle turn-by-turn with other racers when the cars aren’t traveling so fast, and that excitement more than makes up for losing a bit of straightaway speed.

  7. James Mikoliczyk says:

    I think many people in the hobby confuse a “Box Stock” class with a “Spec” class and that seems to be the cause of many of the issues. I used to not be in favor of the “spec” class because it can be a money pit with the tire, motor, and battery of the week club. The technology now with brushless and LiPo almost mandates a “Spec” rule to keep things as fair as possible. There will always be racers that push the rules to the very limits and maybe then some, but the tech. is changing at a most faster rate in more areas of the hobby thean ever before. Without adopting some “Spec” rules for some of the classes that racers would like to see run or continue to be run at their local tracks, they could very well die off and that is not a good thing.
    I think people like Jimmy down at Hot Rod and Kendall up at A-Main are trying to do the right things, and with a little luck racers will return ot continue to run classes that they love. The only issue would be that not all tracks will follow the same “spec” rules and that can cause some confusion when going track to track to race. I would hope that in time that issue will become less of an issue, as more tracks adopt simular rules that everyone knows and accepts.

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