Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Practice with VRC Pro

Practice it the only way to get better at RC racing and hone in on the necessary skills (reaction time, setup, testing, putting laps down, etc). I know... try telling that to the guy that buys all the equipment and doesn't know what to do with it. I'm telling you now; it doesn't matter what you have, how much it costs, or how flashy it is. The sure way to get better is to practice and learn the ins and outs. With that said, some of us (me included) do not have the time to go to the track as frequently as we'd like. Some of us only have time for the points races and can't get that much practice in. Others, are not afforded the facilities to do so and might have to travel hours to get to the nearest track. I will be deploying soon and need some way to get my R/C fix (and better my skills).... so, I would like to thank those at virtualrc.com for their soon to be released VRC Pro simulation.

VRC Pro is set to release on September 1, 2011 according to VRCs Website.  The newest installment of this includes a lot of really neat features.  You can race indoor, outdoor, nitro, or electric! And, there are talks of an off-road aspect soon to come.  One of the best features is the multiplayer format.  You can practice, qualify, and race with anybody from anywhere with an internet connection.  VRC Pro simulates over 40 tracks worldwide, with more developing all the time.  You can test drive VRC for free using your keyboard, but I am sure you'll want to get the USB adapter to use your radio or get one from the VRC store.  If you already have a different controller, you can probably figure out how to make it work too.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Let me upgrade!!

To upgrade, or not to upgrade?  That is the question.  And when it comes to upgrading, it all depends on what your interest in the hobby is.  There are bashers, drifters, racers, crawlers, scale creationists, and even people who like to pimp their RC out.  Depending on your preference and what you want to do with you RC ride, you're going to want to explore the options sooner or later.  You might want to spruce the ride up a little or maybe you broke a part and now you are replacing it with an upgrade.

I consider myself an RC racer and occasional basher.  When I make an upgrade, it is usually on one of my race models and it is in the hopes of higher performance and quicker lap times.  When it comes to racing, one of the easiest and most important upgradable parts is the tires.  A simple change from the stock tires to a respectable tire manufacturer, such as Team Sorex for asphalt or AKA and Proline on dirt), will result in excellent hook up on the track.  When people think that they need to go faster, they often turn to changing the motor and that sometimes leaves them with too much power and not enough handling to keep the wheels on the ground. 

When it comes to toughening up a vehicle, one of the best options is aluminum upgrades.  Many RC manufacturers offer the most vulnerable parts as optional aluminum upgrades.  Team Integy is another company, aside from the manufacturers, that offers aluminum parts for many different RC vehicles.  If aluminum is not the way you want to go, you can always choose tougher plastic or composite parts, such as RPM RC Products or T-Bone Racing

Basically, I look at it this way, you always have something to do with your RCs.  You could be happy with your setup, but want it to look better - get a new body and paint it up, or put some rims on it that look nice (I recommend anything black because I was told that it'll add .5 secs onto my lap time just by being black - LOL).  You could be happy with the looks and want to change the performance - upgrade the motor, turnbuckles, ESC, suspension arms, shock oil, shock springs, etc.  There is always something waiting to be done to your RC.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Returning from Vacation

I'm just getting back to normalcy after a long 5 weeks away.  It feels like an eternity since I've held a radio.  Now I have a little more than a month to get all the RC in that I can before I head out of town for 6 months.  I'm not looking forward to that one... a lot can happen in 6 months.  Technology is changing things so fast that I'm hoping my electronics and equipment don't go out of date.  Chances are good that they won't, but I've learned to never say never.  I can't wait for this weekend.  I'm looking forward to chatting it up with my buddies and hanging out on a hot Saturday trying to figure out how the heck I can go faster... I hope it's like riding a bike, where you don't forget all the right things to do.  Now it's time to hit the forums and find out what and where I'll be racing this weekend.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

On-Road Asphalt Racing

Saturday, Apr 30 kicked off the official start to the Down East Championship Series between Rosewood R/C Speedway and Fayetteville Model Racing Club.  There was a great turn out and the racing was spectacular as always at Glenn's facility.  It was a nice, bright, warm, and (most importantly) dry day.  Pretty much the perfect day to race.  Congratulations go out to Timmie Harrington (1st in 12th scale and Touring Mod), Jimbo "I won GT" Dove (1st in Touring GT), and Justin Lessard (1st in 17.5 Touring).  The Fayettenam crew ran great... but with Rosewood taking wins in all four classes... well.. we'll just have to wait and see how the points are distributed.   There are many more months of racing ahead of us and with the next round going down in Fayetteville (Sunday May 29th), who knows what's going to happen.

Here's a few pics from the days racing... enjoy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hobby Within A Hobby

I couldn't be more happy to finally have a something to do.  I used to spend a lot of time being bored and looking for things to do.  The RC hobby is so much more than just buying a car, charging a battery, and running laps at full speed.  One of the most time consuming and sometimes therapeutic aspects of the hobby is painting.  Although you can see with my first paint job (Lotus Elise pic) I went with the good old one color wonder and put the decals that came with the body on it.  I have to say, I think it looks awesome regardless of being one color... at least it did before I decided to learn how to race with it.  So after painting my first body, I was so proud that I decided to post it up on RCTech.net and get some feedback.  What I was surprised to find was a whole new sub-hobby.  Some of the top painters in RC show off their painting skills here and they inspired me to put a little more into my own paintings.  Although I'm not very good at it... I do like to at least give it an honest effort and attempt to add my own touch to painting.  The second body I painted was a Dodge Viper that I added a some flames and a maltese cross to and it was soon dubbed "The Batmobile" at the track.  Since then, I have tried other techniques... some that have worked, some not so much.  I aspire to get better at it and the one thing that I constantly have to tell myself it to take my time.... here are a few bodies I have painted so far...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why do we do this?

I'm not entirely positive how it happened, but I would imagine it all going down like this.....

After the first automobile is made, some other guy decided he wanted to get in on the action.  Which in turn created a little competition... how could the second guy make his automobile better than the first?  The answer is SPEED... and so to determine who had the faster automobile, they set them up side by side and stomped on the throttle... wide open at a whopping 15 or so MPH.  BAM!! Racing was born... and never died, sort of like Larry King.  Soon after, the competition must have gotten pretty heated... because they didn't have rules, classes, or any guidelines in the beginning.  It was simple... whoever went faster was the winner.  After that, they probably decided to try other ways to race, i.e. touring, off-road, drag, oval, etc.  That's pretty much the greatest birth of a sport right there!  Caused by competition, to raise the competition, and now look at where we are today. 

So, here's the deal-e-o... people race because of two reasons, they like to have fun and they like to win, although some like to win more than others.  And of course, the sweet taste of victory is much nicer than the bitterness of defeat.  However, sometimes it seems like there may be something out there that just doesn't seem to want you to succeed.  If you run three qualifiers and break a part in one, your battery dumps in another, and strip a spur gear in the third... leaving you dead last in the mains, how the hell are you supposed to have fun now?  Well, it goes without saying that even though we are all racing "for fun", it is a lot of fun to win, place, or just beat your best lap times.  Whether you are a beginner, a novice, an expert, or you've been around since the invention of the tire (Larry King), you should always have a goal for the day.  You may want to beat your fastest lap time, make more laps, become more consistent, get on the podium, or just finally finish a dang race.  If you can meet that goal, then you can consider yourself a winner for the day.  Sometimes, you may even get lucky and completely overshoot your goal.

The RC hobby has provided me a couple things I find to be necessities in my life.  Racing and competition... all the other stuff (friends, fun, excitement, etc.) are all along for the ride.  So, I'd like to say a few words to those that are not involved in RC racing... "na na na na boo boo... stick your head in doo doo".  That is all.


Monday, March 14, 2011

1/12 Scale Racing

My first, and so far only, RC kit that I built by myself is the T.O.P. Rebel 12.  I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at the thought of building a kit that says in the instructions that it should be built by a person with building experience.  However, the instructions and little alphabetized bags made building this car simple and easy. 

After watching a couple guys building pan cars during the oval races, I understood the basic concept.  Building kits takes time, this is extremely important because a well built car needs to be assembled very meticulously.  Polishing, shaving, assembling little parts, and function checking are very time consuming, but well worth the effort.  I can't even tally up all the hours spent on this because I broke it down into sections, but if I had to take a guess, it would be somewhere around 30 hours.  After finally finishing, I was proud to complete my first RC from a kit and I posted about 30 pics of the build on my facebook. 

I couldn't wait to see how this car drove.  I knew it would be different than a 1/10 Touring Car, but I was amazed at how darty and twitchy the car was.  Every tiny movement of the steering would make an over-exaggerated movement.  I turned the dual rate down and played around with the exponential a little and finally became comfortable with my transmitter settings.  The first time the car was on the track with other cars was in a breakout race... probably not the best idea... but I couldn't help it.  I ran the first couple of laps trying to keep the car from turning anything faster than 6 second laps... but I just wanted to go fast.  So I floored it... and missed a lot of laps... I ended up dead last even though I'm 100% sure I turned the most laps that didn't count.  In the end, I ended up with a pretty bad chunked rear tire... but it was worth it. 

After getting a chance to run the Rebel 12 on carpet, I couldn't wait for the next week when I could get this car turning right.  I made a few adjustments (ride height, swapped 13g wire for 16g) and changed the stock axles out for Associated ones to get rid of the little e-clip and use 3mm locknuts.  Three qualifiers later, I was more than satisfied because I qualified 2nd, right behind Tim Harrington.  During the main, I ended up getting myself too worked up and found myself battling Justin Mitchell for the number 2 spot.  His car was faster than mine and I tried my best to concentrate and stay on my line.  After swapping back and forth a few times, Justin managed to get by and pull away.  I helped out a little when I began to lose focus and make mistakes, but he earned the spot and was driving better than me that day.  When all was said and done this day, I was very satisfied with my first outing in 12th scale touring.  Two weeks is a long time to wait for a race day....

My most recent race with the 12th scale began like before, I was making some minor adjustments (swapped and trued tires, removed shims to reduce pre-load on front shocks).  My practice lap times were right there with the fast guys.  Once again, three qualifiers and there I was sitting in 2nd right behind Tim and right in front of Justin... the only difference this time was that I was nervous as hell (just an RC race...).  After making a few mistakes during the first couple laps, I found my groove and retained 2nd the entire race.  My lap times were quick enough to stay with the leader but my mistakes cost me again.  I ended up performing my best all day during that main.  I am very satisfied with the Rebel and I think that the mix of this car and my personal driving style are a great mesh.  I hope to continue to improve and one day make a run at Tim Harrington, but only time will tell... and you know how that goes.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Off-Road Racing at Thunder Alley R/C Speedway

In an effort to fulfill my need for more R/C, I ventured to Thunder Alley R/C Speedway in Wilson, NC for off-road racing.  I am fairly new to R/C and started with carpet touring back in September last year.  Since then, I have tried several touring classes and have had some luck and even placed a couple of times.  So, in an effort to broaden my horizons, one of my buddies let me run a Jammin SCRT-10 truck in the mod class.  Short course racing is a total different monster compared to anything on-road.  To say the least, I thought it would be a little easier keeping the wheels on the ground and the truck out of the air... and not on it's roof.  I did a decent job of qualifying... 3rd and just .8 secs short of 2nd.  So I was pretty confident going into the main with a "looser" way of handling an R/C vehicle.  After the 2nd lap, I had managed to "not crash" enough to get myself into the top spot.  That's right... my first time racing on dirt and I'm leading the pack!!  Unfortunately, a ball joint didn't see things my way.  Apparently, when you nose dive out of a jump (lawn dart as some of the guys called it) things tend to pop off, break, or just loosen up.  The turn marshalls popped the ball joint back into place twice... but not after I dropped 3 spots into 4th.  Where I would coast to an unsavory finish.  The lesson I learned while off-road racing was simply... don't wreck and don't break nothing.

I managed to get my camera out for a couple of rounds and got a few good pics of the rest of the action.

1/8th E-Buggy

Throwing dirt!

Tearing Down the Straight

Catching Air


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rosewood RC Speedway (Glenn's Hobby Corner)

Glenn's facility is one of the best I have seen.  Back in July 2010 I stopped by to check out the used RC trucks that he had for sale.  Specifically, a T-Maxx that I was going to buy for my birthday.  Ron, the race announcer and local goofball, was answering all the questions a newbie asks when getting into the hobby.  Then I noticed a sign that said "Race Track Entrance".  Back then, I didn't realize what amazing wonder I just stumbled across.

I went through the door, playing out some sort of Alice in Wonderland scenario.  Beyond those doors was where the real action of Rosewood takes place.  The first track was the indoor carpet that was in the midst of a renovation and a plethora of pit spaces with power.  This track, as you can see in my videos, is used for some seriously competitive oval racing.  I learned later that the racing at Rosewood RC Speedway is frequented by some of the top racers in the nation.  Many national champs and even a couple of RC company head honchos gather here to spruce up their skills and get prepared for the BIG events, such as Snowbirds, and Oval Nats.  Needless to say, if carpet oval is your thing and you want to improve your skills, you need to race against the best and that's what Glenn's facility offers.

That's not all, the carpet track is converted every other Sunday into a road course for some serious touring car action.  The competition on this level is right up there with the oval guys.  National champs, sponsored racers, and fast laps are frequent at these club races as well. 

Beyond the next door is the outdoor tracks.  A very impressive asphalt touring track that can be set up in different configurations is the highlight of the warmer months.  I have yet to experience asphalt racing, but I am more than excited about this years Down East Championship Series between Rosewood RC and FMRC (Fayetteville Model Racing Club).  This event is currently being organized by Tim Shurr and Tim McKeand in conjunction with Rosewood and Fayetteville members. 

To top it off, there is one more track.  An outdoor asphalt oval course that is to blame for may addiction.  Back to that day in July, I was told of an event that Rosewood RC Speedway was hosting in August.  It was a T.O.U.R. series race.  I brought a coworker along for the ride to check out the event.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I was completely unaware of how big RC racing really was.  People from all over gathered and the pits were full.  To my amazement, a few people even tow trailers fitted with all the important necessities to pit.  I wanted in on this....

Check out Glenn's Hobby Corner and ask questions on the Rosewood RC Speedway Forum.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

My First Race

My first racing experience was not with a touring car, but with an oval Legends car. This race class is designed to be the economical class. I decided I would try this class before spending a considerable amount on something that I might not even be into. I found a used Bolink Legend chassis for sale on RCTech.net and quickly purchased the rest of the equipment I would need (Tamiya 540-J silver can motor, Tekin FX ESC, an SMC 1S LiPo battery, foam spec tires, a transponder, and a reciever for a radio I already had from my T-Maxx). I headed to the track excited about racing that day. I still had to mount all the electronics on the chassis. After sitting at the pit box for a little, clueless about where to put everything on my car, a couple regulars came over to chip in with advice, and they even gave me some supplies to help me out. I quickly learned that sharing, borrowing, and bartering are commonplace in the RC world. Everyone stashes old parts and hardware just in case they need them. So I got everything put together and the car was finally running... with just enough time to charge my battery before the first qualifying heat. I don't even know what I placed after the three qualifiers and the main, and frankly I didn't give a crap. I had a great time running that little car in circles, and trying my hardest not to roll over with my super grippy foam tires. The guys helped me out that day and showed me a couple tricks that would help me with car setup. I knew that one day, I would be competitive after I learned a few ins and outs. After all was said and done, I had a blast and met some great people.


Friday, February 25, 2011

My First Blog Post

This is a totally new experience for me... blogging... or even reading blogs for that matter. My wife, Stephanie, blogs all the time and I figured it would be a great way to pass the time when I'm bored.  I moved to eastern North Carolina two years ago and quickly found myself bored to death... probably because the Air Force sent me to Afghanistan less than four months after settling in. That was a "not so fun" experience. After returning home, I was once again bored... so for my birthday, I decided I needed a hobby to keep my sanity. My wife bought me a Traxxas T-Maxx from a quiet little hobby shop (Glenn's Hobby Corner) and that's where my addiction begins.  After seeing the tracks at the facility Glenn had in Rosewood, NC, I was really curious.  There was an indoor carpet track (oval and touring), an outdoor asphalt touring track, and an outdoor asphalt oval course.  I wanted to see what went on here during race days and asked Glenn and some of the other local guys that hang out there when the races were held.  I came down the next Saturday and I was impressed. Glenn's shop was sponsoring a T.O.U.R. oval event.  The crowd was pretty big and the racing was fast.  The next week.... I witnessed some touring races and quickly bought my first touring car: a used Team Associated TC4.  I had no idea how caught up I would get.....