I’m new to all this but I fancy giving it a go, what should I do?
The No.1 and best possible advice is to pop down to one of our meeting and have a chat before you go anywhere near a model shop!! We are all kids at heart and if you go into a model shop and get talking to that friendly guy behind the counter there is a good chance you’ll walk out with something very nice but totally unsuitable for racing at TORCH. Come down to see us and let someone in race control (green cabin) know you are there and they will make sure someone can make time to have a chat and answer any questions you may have.
General points to consider on equipment are however:
2WD car are generally cheaper to buy and to run as they have less moving parts and are slightly less hard on tyres. They are also less complicated so probably better suited to beginners.
There are some very inexpensive models out there which sound great on paper to the beginner but turn out to be a false economy when you come to race them as they are either totally uncompetitive (so you either give up or buy another car) or parts are not easily available and no one else has one at the club, so you can’t get any help on set up or repairs. It really is worth buying one of the mainstream models for your first car. Plenty of choices from Schumacher, Yokomo, Durango, Kyosho, Associated, Team Magic, Losi to name but a few.
Buying a car which is popular at the club will help a lot when you need some help.
Don’t forget to budget for the extras. It is almost a given that the tyres in the kit (if there are any) will not work at TORCH so you need to budget around £25 for a set of tyres and wheels. You’ll also need 2 batteries (LiPo) so you can be charging one whilst you are using the other. These do not need to be expensive batteries but do need to be hardcase.
Secondhand cars are always available locally and on various forums/ebay but be careful unless you know the seller.
What do I need to race at TORCH?
In terms of cars, you need either a 2WD or 4WD electric off road buggy plus suitable tyres, batteries and tools.
You will need some method of charging your batteries – most people use a 12V car/leisure battery.
It is useful to have a table and chair to sit at to work on your car.
Lap counting is performed using transponders in the cars. The club can arrange to lend you one for your first couple of meetings but after that you need to buy a compatible one. Please speak to race control at a meeting before buying one as not all transponders are compatible with all lap counting equipment.
See also membership information regarding club and BRCA membership.
When can I practice at the track?
The track is situated on a working farm and our rental agreement only allows us use of the track on race days. Any unauthorised use of the track threatens the future of the club and as such any such use may result in dismissal from the club.
The track is available for free practice by members and non-members (who have paid the race fee) before most club meetings and summer/winter series meetings (8.00-9.15am) and again in the afternoon after club meetings.
During the summer evening practice session may be held for a small fee – details of these will be announced on our website.
I’ve never raced before – what happens at a race meeting?
When you arrive at a race meeting, you must register with race control – this needs to be done whether you have pre-entered or not as the race director needs to know you are there.
Drivers are generally put into qualifying heats with other drivers who are running the same class of car (2 wheel drive or 4 wheel drive) and of similar ability. Obviously if there are a small number drivers at a meeting the difference in ability may be higher than a big meeting with more drivers. Details of who is in each race will be printed off and pinned up. You need to check which race you are in and your race number.
The first part of the meeting is qualifying which consists of a number of rounds (typically 5 at a club meeting) in which the aim is to complete the most number of laps of the track in 5 minutes. Everyone leaves the start line at a slight interval of around a second (the automated computer will call your race number) in order to give everyone a chance to run on a clear track – your 5 minutes does not start until you cross the line. At the end of 5 minutes everyone is given the chance to finish the lap they are on so you end up with a qualifying time of, for example, 12 laps in 5 minutes and 10 seconds which would be a better qualifying time than someone who had 12 laps in 5 minutes and 15 seconds as they took another 5 seconds to complete the same number of laps.
Results are normally printed off and pinned up so you can see how you have done.
At the end of the qualifying rounds the race software will calculate your overall qualifying position (based on the criteria set at the start of qualifying so it might be your single fastest 5 minute qualifying time or perhaps best 2 for example). This position will define your position in the finals. The person with the top qualifying position will be on pole position for the top final called the “A” final, the second placed driver will be second all the way down the grid until that final is full. So for example, if the finals have 8 cars in them, then the 9th placed qualifier will be on pole for the “B” final, the 10th placed qualifier 2nd in the “B” and all the way down.
Finals start on a grid so qualifying higher is an advantage and everyone starts together so it is a real race. The number of finals can vary so check with race control at the start of the meeting. It is usually one but for example, at our summer series we run three. Also finals are normally 5 minutes but again race directors sometimes like to mix things up a bit and makes them longer so again check if you are not sure.
Don’t forget, after each of your qualifying heats and finals you need to marshal the next heat/final immediately.
What is Marshalling?
The expectation at any race meeting is that you will be expected to marshal the heat/final after the one you have raced in. Unless you are specifically told by the race director that you are not required to marshal you should be ready to marshal straight after your heat.
When you have finished your race and turned your transmitter and car off, leave them under the rostrum and go straight out to your marshalling point. Do not go back to your pitting area as this will delay the start of the next race. At most race meetings there will be orange cones distributed around the track with numbers on. Go to the one with your race number on. At some club meetings, there may not be cones, in which case marshals should distribute themselves around the track so all areas are covered. Be careful when walking to your marshal point as cars may already be circulating prior to the start of the next race.
The role of marshals is to assist cars which have crashed or rolled over and are unable to continue without assistance.
The following are meant as guidelines to assist you in that role.
1. Your No.1 priority when marshalling is your own safely. The cars we race weigh between 1.5-2.0kg and can travel upwards of 30mph. They can hurt if you get hit. Always look for approaching cars and under no circumstances jump out in front of cars or jump over them. Consider the speed of cars approaching – if you are marshalling on the straight cars will arrive extremely quickly. Priority should always be given to the cars still circulating so you may have to wait to let other cars go by before marshalling a car.
2. Consider the ground conditions – if it is wet then the astroturf will probably be slippery so take care. Trying to stop on wet astroturf will take longer and you risk falling over if you move too quickly.
3. Watch the area of the track in front of you that you are supposed to be marshalling and not the race – it is very easy to get distracted if there is a good race going on.
4. Take care when picking cars up. If the driver is revving the motor, do not touch it as you risk getting hurt. Wait for them to stop revving. If possible pick the car up in 2 hands at the front and rear to prevent ripping the rear wing off.
5. Always look to ensure you do not put cars down in the path of approaching cars – this is particularly important on fast parts of the track.
6. Marshal as you would wish to be marshalled yourself – marshal as quickly as is safely possible and take some care – don’t flick cars over as they often roll back onto their roof, place the car firmly onto all 4 wheels.
7. If a car breaks in front of you then first priority should be to get it off the track so it does not interfere with other racers. Your second priority is to marshal cars which are still racing. At a club meeting having a quick look to see if it is something as simple as a ball joint coming off is ok but you must ensure it does not interfere with your priority of marshalling the cars still circulating.
What is Racing Etiquette?
1/10th off road is intended to be a largely non-contact activity. Collisions will however inevitably happen due to its speed and competitive nature but these should be avoided wherever possible. A few guidelines may help racers understand the expectations of the club:
During qualifying you should let faster drivers through. This may be when someone comes up to lap you but also given everyone goes off at intervals someone may be behind you on the track but still be ahead on time. It is usually fairly obvious if someone catches you up rapidly that they are running at a faster pace and you should let them through. The best way to do this is to drift wide in a corner and let the faster driver take the inside line – this won’t lose you much time and you can then follow the other driver and hopefully learn a bit about their lines. Do not stop in the middle of the track or slow suddenly as the following car will not be expecting this and you will probably cause a crash.
If you are the faster car then whilst the slower driver should let you past, you still have a responsibility to overtake safety without hitting the other driver. You are probably the more experienced/skilled driver and need to take into account the driver may not be quite as in control of his car as you are.
In finals as long as you are not being lapped then you can defend your place. This does not mean you can weave across the track but it is the responsibility of the car behind to overtake you cleanly. If you are being lapped in a final then you should pull over to let the faster car through with plenty of space – don’t pull out right behind them and risk hitting them. If there are a number of cars fighting for the lead you should pull over and let them all through together. If you are being lapped in a final you are not in contention for the win and should not do anything that could spoil the race of those that are in contention.
If you do hit another car by accident and lose them time and it was obviously your fault, for example hitting them from behind, then the sporting thing to do is to wait until they are marshalled/back on the track before starting off again. Not everyone does this and in some cases you may consider it the other drivers fault or a “racing incident” in which case carry on. However, if you can only win by knocking other cars off the track then you are not going to gain a lot of respect from your fellow drivers.