Racing

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RC car racing is a discipline where drivers compete to win a race for fun or according to rules and regulation set by RC governing bodies at local, national or international level in organized RC competitions. RC car racing can take place indoor or outdoor on many different surfaces such as asphalt, dirt or carpet.

RC car racing is a sport that requires a high level of skill, concentration, practice and physical control of the car.

Xray RC Pan car

RC racing governing bodies

Races take place on a track and are usually limited to specific cars according to their size, age, type of transmission etc. The rules and regulations for the race are set by the governing body organizing the event. The main international governing bodies are:

  • International Federation of Model Auto Racing (IFMAR)
  • European Federation of Radio Operated Model Automobiles (EFRA)
  • Far East Model Car Association (FEMCA)
  • Fourth Association of Model Auto Racing (FAMAR)
  • Remotely Operated Auto Racers (ROAR)

Types of races

Each organization recognizes and organizes events for specific categories of cars. For example, IFMAR organizes events such as the World Championship for the following categories of RC cars:

RC cars at the start of a 4WD off-road race
RC Off-road cars at the start of a race
  • Electric Track: 1/10th and 1/12th scale racing over a period of 3 to 5 days
  • 1/5 IC Track: 1/5th scale internal combustion Touringcars racing over a period of 6 days
  • 1/8 IC Track: 1/8th scale internal combustion track cars racing over a period of 11 days
  • 1/8 GT: 1/8th scale internal combustion 4WD GT cars racing over a period of 7 days
  • 1/10 IC Track: 1/10th scale internal combustion track cars racing over a period of 9 days
  • Drift: 1/10th scale electric drift cars racing over a period of 5 days
  • Electric Off Road: 1/10th scale electric off road cars racing over a period of 3 days
  • 1/8 IC Off Road: 1/8th scale off road buggies racing over a period of 6 days

At a local level, categories of cars for RC racing may include:

  • On-road or off-road RC racing: a type of race where the goal is to be the first to cross the finish line after a pre-determined number of laps
  • Short course RC racing: a type of race in which competitors compete to complete the most laps in the allotted time
  • RC drag racing: a dead start race with the objective is to reach the highest speed within a set distance or a two-lane duel race with the objective to beat the opponent to the finish line
  • RC drift racing: identical as an on-road race but using drifts to corner
  • Internal combustion or electric
  • 2 wheel-drive or 4 wheel-drive
  • Prototype cars
  • Vintage cars

RC classes

Organizers often classify drivers by classes according to their experience and past achievements. There are 4 common classes of drivers:

  • Rookie: Beginners and first-time racers limited to racing in that class. Sportsman is the minimum level to be allowed to run in multiple classes.
  • Sportsman: Sportsman are aware of the race line and follow stricter rules and etiquette. Approximately 2 laps slower than expert level on a given race.
  • Intermediate: experienced drivers working on lap times consistency. Approximately one lap slower than an Expert top target time.
  • Expert: the fastest competitors recording few or no mistakes throughout a race.

Regulation and cars compliance

Drivers wanting to enter a specific RC race will have to submit their car to a rigorous compliance check before the race. The checklist might require and control the car regarding:

  • General dimensions: official regulated measurements and weight according to technical specifications
    • Length
    • Width
    • Height
    • Wheelbase
    • Presence or absence of a front bumper
  • Engines
    • Limitation to the size of the engine (in cubic cm)
    • Size of the fuel tank
    • Brakes: ability for the car to stay still while motor is running
    • Silencer: requirement for homologated silencers, approved mufflers, outlet pipe tolerance
  • Tyres: dimensions, weight, color, pattern etc
  • Appearance:
    • Technical and graphical design of the car body
    • Conformity to scale
    • Amounf of wheel coverage by the body
    • Presence or absence of a roll cage
    • Number and size of body openings for antenna, body posts etc
    • Presence or absence of a wing
    • Dimensions constraints of the wing
    • Positions and dimensions of the racing number
  • Fuel: Composition of the fuel mix
  • Driver aids: types and specifications of authorized drivers' aids

Cars will be checked before a race and can be tested at anytime during an event. In any case, the purpose of such tests is to guarantee a fair race for all, making sure that any car running simultaneously with others on a track oes not hold an unfair advantage.

Heats

Most races will begin with a series of heats.  Heats are qualifying rounds and are not scored like actual races.  In a qualifying heat (in most cases) the ranking is not based on who finishes first, but rather who sets the fastest overall pace. In other words, having one very fast lap is great, but you’re better off going a bit slower and having slightly slower but consistent lap times.   Be sure to ask your race administrator when you sign up what the race format is (this can vary from track to track). It’s ok to tell them you are new so that they know to give you more information up front.

Racers Tip: In a heat, it may be in your best interest to delay your start by a few seconds.  This will allow you to drop in the back of traffic. Doing so will give you clear track to race in and allow you to get a few racing laps in before you have to combat traffic.

Tracks specifications

2011 IFMAR World Championship Racing Pancar
Car racing in the 2011 IFMAR World Championship

Key governing bodies such as IFMAR or EFRA might impose regulation and specifications on the track on which to allow an official race, especially for European or World championships events. Tracks specifications might include:

  • Surface: type of track surface, asphalt, coarse finished concrete, dirt, gravel etc
  • Length
  • Width
  • Podium: distance to the further point of the track, minimum height and length
  • Vision: clear line of sight of the entire track
  • Marking: types of marking, color, continuity
  • Pits
  • Design: mandatory left and right curves, minimum length of the straight line
  • Outside barriers: to prevent or minimize car damage and spectators' harm
  • Inside barriers: to avoid short cutting
  • Surroundings: material or type of vegetation on the ground
  • Marshal posts: position and maximum distance in between
  • Starting line: position, width, length, color, position according to the pit, to the boxes, to the podium etc
  • Le mans start: position and distance from the track, dimensions of boxes

Each organizer and each event are different and might include a monetary fee for participation.

Events

RC events such as the World or European Championships or simply a local RC Club competition are usually composed of several heats or qualifiers. After all the qualifiers, drivers are ranked in order of their performance based on their fastest heat out of all the heats they ran. Racers are then divided up into “mains”. Mains are where the qualifying ends and the racing begins.

In a “main” the racers are lined up in the order of their qualification, fastest first and then second fastest and so on down the list. If there are too many drivers for one race, organizers hold multiple mains. Main races are generally lettered with “A” Main being the fastest drivers.

Class winners are the winners of the “A main” race. RC racers might hear the term “making the A main” meaning a driver qualified high enough to be in the top group of racers.

When local track have several classes, if one particular class is large, it may require 2 or 3 mains. The A Main, for the fastest drivers, the B main for the intermediate drivers, and the C main for the rest. In most cases, the slowest mains will be run first saving A main for last.

Some tracks will allow the top two finishers in a non-A main to bump up to the next main and race. This gives racers motivation to be first even if they didn’t qualify for the A-main during their qualifying drives.

Etiquette

RC car racing follows a standard of etiquette set by the organizer of the race. The most common etiquette rules are:

  • Language: most tracks are family friendly so swearing is frowned upon.  Excessive swearing may get a driver disqualified.
  • Keeping time: drivers should be ready when their race is up. Delaying a race will delay every following races.
  • Volunteering: it is recommended for drivers that race to volunteer to be a corner marshal in other races.
  • Yelling at Corner Marshalls: since Corner Marshals did not crash a driver's car, the driver did, it is frowned upon to scream at Corner Marshals.
  • Wandering on the track: when drivers are not racing, neither they or their car should be on or near the track unless they are officiating as corner marshals.
  • Focus: when drivers are volunteering as Corner Marshals, they must focus on their corner and not watching the race, they shouldn't step out onto the track without first making sure they have room in-between traffic to do so and should place cars back on the track about where they crashed and when possible, in the order they crashed (first off first back on).
  • Be respectful: drivers should refrain from intentionally crashing other cars unless the class calls for that kind of rough driving.
  • Yield to leaders: drivers which are not on the lead lap (known as being lap traffic) must yield to race leaders. Drivers may battle for position but should not prevent a driver ranking much higher in the race to pass and should make every effort to get out of the leader's line. This rule does not usually apply in novice classes.
  • Stop when at fault: If a driver causes a driver to crash with which he is battling for position, the driver responsible for the crash should stop and wait for the Corner Marshal to have returned the other driver's car upright and on the track to resume the race.

Notable RC drivers

  • Masami Hirosaka
  • Joel Johnson
  • Atsushi Hara
  • Brian Kinwald
  • Matt Francis
  • Arturo Carbonell
  • Tony Neisinger
  • Michael Salven
  • Marc Rheinard
  • Matsukura Naoto

Let's Talk Racing

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