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How to Get Started in RC Racing

So you're ready to start racing at an organized event like RCCAR you say? Great! Now you just need to know what the rules are, what to do, and when to do it!

Equipment:
First off let's start with what you should bring to the track. If you're running Electric you'll need all your charging gear, chargers, power supply, batteries etc. There is power at RCCAR and at all the permanent tracks although most of the temporary parking lot tracks don't have power, so check ahead of time. Nitro races, you'll want to bring your fuel, fuel bottle, and receiver battery charger or spare batteries. And for both you'll want a chair, folding table to work on, and I recommend some sort of canopy for some shade for both you and your pit table. The pits at RCCAR are a first come-first serve basis. Just setup where you like, and if you get there real early, make sure you leave room for timing and scoring, and the track of course!
Some other notes on equipment, if you are running electric, you need to have at least two battery packs, and I would recommend having three good battery packs for your qualifiers and main event, plus some practice packs. 2000's don't really like to be charged more than once-a-day, although 3000's can be charged as often as three times if you cool them down before re-charging them.
If your are running Nitro, it's a good idea to have a buddy to help you out in the pits, this way you have someone to fill up your car before the qualifier, have someone to start you off in the main event, and if you have a flame-out, you can get some help getting it started again.

Your Car:
For RCCAR, the rules are pretty simple, and as long as you follow these guidelines you should be fine.
Width: 190mm max for Electric, 200mm max for Nitro. These are the 'standard' widths so for both cars, so you should be fine. And only HPI and Kyosho make it easy to switch between the two widths.
Wings: The rear wing should the one that which was included with the body, and should not extend above the roof of the car.
Body: The body must be painted, and although sedan bodies are encouraged, any body may be used.
Tires/Wheels: Tires must be rubber (no foam tires). Altho any rubber tire is legal, I'd recommend picking up a set of Yokomo Firm Sprints (ZR-206F) with Yokomo Firm Foam Inserts (ZR-034F) on a 24mm rim. (1/8th scale .15 Expert Gas and F1 foam tires are legal)
Electric Motors: Basically you have two classes of motors, Stock and Modified. A Stock motor is a 27turn, 24 deg motor. (Pink Can, 36 deg stock motors are not legal) A modified motor is everything else, aka 13turn, 10 turn motors.
I would recommend if this were your first race, that you should run Sportsman Stock, and get your feet wet there. Once you've got that down, then move up to either Sportsman Mod, or to Expert Stock.
Nitro Motors: In Sedan, you may run pretty much any .10 through .15 Nitro Motor.

Radio Gear:
This is a very important thing to remember. Make sure you have more than once Frequency Channel for your Radio and Car. When you sign-up at the track, give them your primary channel and any backups you might have. This helps to make sure there are no conflicts between drivers in your heat or main.

Race Day:
Plan on being at the track by 8:00am at the latest if you want to take full advantage of open practice. 7:00am if you want to help us setup the track. Get some practice packs Charged! When the track opens for practice, and you're ready to go out and practice, go to the back of the driver's stand, and look for your frequency on the board. If it's not there, DON'T TURN ON YOUR RADIO until it is! You should NEVER turn on your radio in the pits at any time, and during practice only when you have the clip, and never during a qualifier or main if you are not running in that heat. There may be someone else running the same frequency as you.
OK, now we've got a frequency clip, and you're ready to go practice. Wait, what was that word again? PRACTICE. This is not a race. You are out there to learn the track layout, and make sure your car works ok and has the proper setup. If a faster car comes up on you, let him by, this isn't a race. In fact the BEST thing you can do is to find someone to follow around the track so you can work on the proper lines and braking points. Remember that the fast way around the track is not to hit anything when you're just getting started. If your car is working good, run out that battery and then bring it in (return your frequency clip) and return to the pits and change batteries and go out again. If you car is not working correct, aka spinning out, or pushing too much, bring it in and make some changes. Don't bother running your battery out if the car isn't working. Go make some changes. If you're not sure what to do, ask someone who has the same car you have, or check out RCRacing.com's Article on Basic Car Setup by August MacBeth.
Now with practice over, and the heats posted, it's time to go find out when you'll be up for your first qualifying heat. Get your batteries charged (if running Electric) and plan on going up to timing and scoring the race before yours and pick up your transponder. The transponder should match your car number listed on the Heat Sheet. (You'll need to drill a hole in your windshield for your transponder if you don't have a dedicated transponder mount. The transponder must be between the front and rear wheels and be mounted horizontally. The safest place is in the windshield.) Once the heat that is currently running, is finished and have all turned off their cars, you may turn your car on and put it on the track and take your place on the drivers stand. Take a single lap to get warmed up and then stage your self behind the start/finish bridge (make sure you stop in a safe spot if others are still warming up). Next wait for your Car number or name to be called and run your qualifier. Each person starts his or her own clock, so you don't need to 'race' with anyone at this point. Just try to get the best qualifier in that you can. If someone faster comes up behind you, let him by, if your tangle with him, it will only hurt both of your qualifiers. Remember to keep it between the boards, and you'll have a good qualifier! When the buzzer sounds, continue racing until your name or car number is called. Because everyone started on their own clock, some people may finish before others, so when your name or number is called, make sure you pull your car off in a safe area ASAP so you don't interfere with someone else who may still be on the clock. OK, you're pumped; you've got your first qualifier in! But wait! You're not done! Return your transponder to timing and scoring and the go out and turn marshal for the next race! Very important, you'll get docked a lap off your best qualifier if you don't turn marshal. When you turn marshal, remember that other cars on the track have the right away, but try and get to anyone who is stuck as quick as possible and safe.
All right, now get ready for the second round of qualifying. This will start right after the last race of round one.
Once qualifying is over, the race officials will print out the mains. The mains are based on your qualifying. The top ten qualifiers in each class will make up the 'A' Main, the next ten will be in the 'B' Main, and on down the line. So find out where you will be starting, and note your NEW race number and possible NEW CAR NUMBER. Your car number is NOT your starting position, so make sure you check the sheet carefully. Make sure you grab the correct transponder for the mains, as it may be different than what you had been using.
Now the starts for the mains will be different than they were during qualifying. This time you will line up in Qualifying order, and everyone will go at the sound of the tone, and NOW we're racing! This is a race, but if you happen to hit someone and spin them out, do the right thing and wait for them to get going again before you take off. It's the sportsman like thing to do. Hopefully you'll be the first to the finish line after the tone sounds again and you'll be the winner of your heat! In some cases during Nitro races there may be 'bump-ups' for the winner. What this means if you win your 'C' or 'B' main, you can move up and run in the next race, starting in the 10th spot. This is not done in electric since it takes too long to change batteries, and is too much heat for an electric motor to handle all at once.
Right, you're day is over! Please lend a hand in putting the track away, and pick up and trash around your pit, if you decide to hang out, there is always a group of guys that go get some Pizza after the even, everyone is welcome!

Remember if you have any questions at a race, please don't hesitate to ask a race official, they'll be happy to help!

By: Dennis Racine