Is Short Course On The Right Track?

Jan 20, 2011 17 Comments by

Let me be clear: I am a proponent of short course racing. I fully embrace RC’s return to scale realism and short course is my primary racing class of choice. That said, I have my concerns. More specifically, I have one important question. The question is simple. Is the short course racing class on the right track? It started off great and everyone appreciated the spec aspect of the class. There was only one truck to race, the Traxxas Slash, so it was a natural box-stock class. Aftermarket parts soon started hitting hobby shop shelves, and just as quickly, other trucks became available. Some tracks stayed box stock and some migrated to a stock class with few limits outside of battery and motor. The tires had to be “short course tires,” but that really only meant that the had to have tall sidewalls on the outside. With next to no formal rules, non-realistic treads were soon the norm. In my opinion, that was a mistake. Early on, Pro-Line offered the Switch tire that had more traction than any out of the box tire, but it still had a realistic tread pattern. That soon became a bashing-only tire for the most part as many tires were quickly released with racing style patterns. Like everyone else, that is what I now run on my truck. I don’t blame the manufacturers at all. If someone comes out with a race-type tread pattern, you better as well. While I often get frustrated with those bash and blame ROAR, I do believe ROAR was far to slow to get involved and if the manufacturers are left to their own devices and allowed to push the limits, that is exactly what they will do. Recently, ROAR did take action and place the kybosh on ribbed front tires. Good move, ROAR. In my opinion, ROAR needs to use this move as the first in a long list of moves designed to keep scale realism in short course racing and to keep short course racing more in line with the needs and desires of thousands of weekend warrior racers and not the needs and desires of a few dozen top-tier pro-level racers. Doing so will help grow the segment and, in turn, help grow RC. When a non-enthusiast shows up to the track and sees short course trucks racing, they should be inspired, not intimidated. Great racing doesn’t have to be ballistically fast. ROAR should keep the trucks in check. Scale looking vehicles have also proven to have far more universal appeal. When the same non-enthusiast shows up at the track, they should be able to relate to the vehicles being raced. I don’t believe short course is too far off track and I believe this segment has huge potential, but have to shape that potential and not let the class run its own course.

Featured News, Matthew Higgins

About the author

About Matt:I think it’s safe to say I’ve done a little bit of everything in RC. That said, I predominately race off-road and my current passion is short course. One of my all-time favorite classes is oval carpet racing. Besides racing, I can often be found working on one of my many never-complete projects, and it seems I have an ever growing collection of rock crawlers—specifically scale crawlers. Matt’s 5 Hot Topics: Short course, Racing, Scale Builds, Crawling and the General RC Hobby

17 Responses to “Is Short Course On The Right Track?”

  1. Kevin Fritz says:

    I agree, I went to local track after a while and they totally got rid of the box stock truck and now totally intimidated.

  2. austin says:

    you are right. however i beleive that the “course” in short course has some fault. if a race facility has a short course class of any form, then why wouldn’t they have an actual short course to race on. often times the sc guys are trying to navigate tracks that are far off of scale (1/8 buggy tracks) or are so technical and boring ( traditional 1/10 grid track ). that leaves the sc guys out in the cold. so they find ways for the sc’s to mimick the performance of their bigger or smaller cousins. very tough to please everybody. but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. my quick fix : obviously slow the sc’s down, have bigger tracks, with longer elevation changes that mimick full scale short course tracks.

  3. scott says:

    I’m convinced that an ‘open tyre’ approach to SC racing (where we control size, but not tread pattern and compound) is asking for trouble.

    In our local club SC racing, we’ve restricted tyres to the box-stock readlistic tread patterns, plus the Proline Switch. It makes racing closer, more affordable, and as a bonus takes the emphasis away from horsepower, because on the stock ‘realistic’ tyres, the trucks are always grip limited.

    Grip always drives horsepower wars – it’s just as true in F1 as it is in R/C. Limit the grip, limit (note, limit, not eliminate) the horsepower wars.

    It’s a double win.

    SC rocks…I just hope we don’t complicate it out of existence.

    • Matthew Higgins says:

      “SC rocks…I just hope we don’t complicate it out of existence.”

      That might be the smartest thing I’ve heard on the web since it was invented.

  4. electricdave says:

    I agree with you Matt, short course racing been evolving in ways which are great for improved lap times but not so great for people looking for a cost controlled and approachable entry point into racing. I’ve always been an open class kind of guy however I like a short coarse class which is strictly controlled with lots of parity in the vehicles, electronics, tires and bodies. I like the idea that a newcomer can walk into the shop, buy a box for under $250, charge up and actually win when he or she gets adept at controlled driving. As always, it’s a balance, where do you draw the line? As one’s skills improve, so does the desire to improve the vehicle. If you have too many classes, each class becomes fragmented and often are not popular enough to sustain themselves. My current thinking is that 2WD should be as close to stock as possible, 4WD can be much more open. However trying to have a 2WD Stock/Mod and 4WD Stock/Mod is too crazy. Throw Nitro and 1/8th size SC trucks in the mix and we are talking about a dizzying number of permutations. Keep it simple, keep it cheap and above all, keep it fun!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree on everything except the tires, as I race at one of those tracks where it actually makes it not as fun when the tires don’t grip, and that’s just the nature of my local track. Tight and technical but often with 1/8 sized jumps. Not much room since it’s indoors to.

  6. tommckay says:

    “SC rocks…I just hope we don’t complicate it out of existence.”

    I agree, there is no truer statement.

    I have been racing since 1994 and was one of the first in the area to have a Slash when they hit the market, I took it to the track with me and ran it in practice. It drew A LOT of attention because of how great it looked going around the track (Nice old school loamy track). As we all know the SC class exploded, for 2 years I ran the Spec Slash class & was competitive with everyone else running the same tire, motor, & ESC. Now it’s getting muttled with all the new vehicles, tires, & electronics available. As said above, you used to be able to go buy a truck for under $250, take it out of the box & race it competitively with no changes. Can’t do that anymore. It’s already been complicated up quite a bit, I hope we still have time to say “whoa there”.

  7. RCFenStripes says:

    I’ll be honest and say I have to agree with your argument. I’ve actually sold my SC truck lately due to several problems:

    1) The kits are losing their realism.(especially the tires)
    2) Of all other classes I’ve seen I think SC has the most belligerent crash derby drivers.
    3) Since the scale look is only represented by a floppy lexan body instead of something solid underneath (like most crawlers) you just see little, light-weight, parachuting buggy conversions drifting off jumps and rolling like pillbugs.

    For me the SC market seems to be going into the dumps. I sold mine while the buying is good.

  8. Gibby says:

    This is a great trended but IMO its not the tires or the ESC, or the motors in just one truck. When it was just the Slash yes it was very very fun to race in a box stock class. Then other companies started bring there trucks out. You can’t tell me running a box stock slash can compete with say the SC10 even with the same Motor, ESC, tires. and now the other companies are coming out with RTR’s like the XXX-SCT. Look at the tires on that, great tires for all surfaces. IT is “box stock” but it don’t fit the realism part because of the tires. Now that it is a stock tire I bet you will see them on all kinds of truck because it is a RTR stock tire.

    IMO to keep the SC going strong and stay cheap for the new comers.

    2WD

    1- BOX STOCK
    anything that comes in the RTR box you bought.

    plus LIPO 2 cell max 25c rate and 17.5 brushless no timing no boost. and Radio

    2- SC MOD
    SC body covering wheels
    any ESC / motor
    any SC tire
    2 cell lipo max 40 c
    any radio

    Everyone that races knows that a good STOCK driver can BET almost any MOD driver. They just have to much power.

    AS for 4WD
    any body that covers wheels
    the rest OPEN

    All of this is my own 2 cents

  9. Will Sheffield says:

    It’s funny how industry and history keep repeating its self. This is what destroyed touring car racing. I understand its raced everywhere but it isn’t what it used to be when it comes to beginners. Remember when it was just parking lot racing. I hope SC gets back on track soon before loose a lot of racers again. If wasn’t for SC, 1/10 electric would be dead in Georgia.

  10. Womprat says:

    @GIbby
    For the most part, my local track has their SC classes structured that way, the only problem is that they don’t really tech anyone’s gear unless they win and “seem” to have an unfair advantage. ROAR would be wise to hold their member tracks to those types of rules AND a standardized tech inspection process that can be replicated by local clubs to minimize cheating by racers who think they’re above the rules to keep it fair for all.
    I think Novak has done a really good job of building stock spec features into their ESC’s and motors. Maybe manufacturers could embed some type of stock spec chip in their gear that is difficult to remove/transfer to modded gear without destroying it. Race organizers could be given laptop software as part of their race organization membership to scan such chips and keep things fair. Whether experienced racers/bashers want to accept it or not, newcomers are the lifeblood of the hobby and making sure that local hobby shops and their tracks survive against the cut throat pricing of hobby products on the web. The only thing that keeps most Mom & Pop hobby shops going is their tracks. Obviously if the racing is too complicated/expensive to get into we’ll be relegated to buying off the web and bashing/racing in empty parking lots and parks.

  11. rccartips says:

    I wanted to get into 2wd short course. But locally I see to many changes and hop ups allowed. Also 4wd SC seems to be the flavor for 2011.

    Seems box stock, slow speeds, cheap racing is forgotten, and SC turning into another competitive, expensive racing class.

    And when I see factory drivers get into the SC class, a big turnoff.

    So decided not to get into it.

  12. JMD says:

    2 cents from a newcomer, disregard if you like…
    I have been in RC for over 20 yrs, and raced SC for 1 month now. You guys are hitting the points. Keep it simple, out of the box equipment that we all can afford. Heres the problem, how does a newcomer make a statement at there local track? I did race for about 6 months about 4 years ago, and loved it. Was racing a stock Revo, lol, and when I started placed 3rd a couple of times, which kept me coming back. Then Truggies came along, ruined it, and I was out. The same is happening now w SC. I find myself trying to “keep up” with the sponsored drivers, or placing 19th in the heat races. I may be looking at this all wrong, and don’t be afraid to tell me, but how do we actually change what’s happening. I have a 5 yr old lil boy that LOVES RC, and this is exactly where I want him. In a few yrs he could actually be decent, and have a good hobby to stay out of all the crap I got into…but unless a “stock guy” can be heard, it’s useless. Wombat hit The nail on the head, newcomers are the lifeblood of our beloved rc, but until some decency is brought back into the hobby, we don’t have a prayer…the only answer I can come up w is we come up w an unified solution that keeps it fair, and yell til we are heard. I guess I just need to understand how to yell, and not offend. :-) .

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