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Mad Ax

Iconic Cup 2020 Race Review

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The Iconic Cup vintage tarmac racing series has been steadily gathering in strength over the last few years, and 2020 should have been an epic season.  I started my prep in January, with a refresh and rebuild of an FF02 and an update to my FF01 racer from previous years.  Unfortunately the pandemic came along and put a stop to racing for the first half of the year, but Iconic team didn't sit idle and they made sure we got at least one good tarmac event before the winter closed in and Covid started gathering its strength for a counter-attack.

With two cars prepped for racing, I planned to be covered for every eventuality.  I had the FF01 for technical tracks, where better weight distribution and nicer suspension would give the best results in the corners, and the FF02 for those longer straights, on tracks where having the tallest possible gearing makes up for any lack of corner pace.

The Iconic race day took place on 30th August, and had a robust attendance - enough for some great racing, not enough to unduly increase risk in these trying times.  The air was warm and breezy but no rain was forecast, so those wet tyres could stay in the box.  Instead I went out for practice with the FF02 and the treaded Sweeps and I use for Frontie racing.

The FF02 had been set up on the Hudy before arrival but had never been raced, and it was a pig to drive.  Super-slick at the rear end when the Sweeps were cold, then super-snappy with nasty grip-roll once they warmed up.  I figured the Sweeps might be all well and good on a modern super-lightweight racing chassis (where they are the BRCA control tyre anyway) but they don't work too well for the older FF cars.

I was surprised by how soft the FF02 felt.  I ran 3Racing shocks with M-chassis length springs, and it looked very much like a real car with realistic levels of mid-corner lean and loads of compliance over bumps.  But, regardless of that, it was too twitchy to drive effectively, so I put it on the stand and got out the FF01 for the first heat.

The FF01 lacks the outright pace of the 02, and is also using an older version of the control motor, but it's a much lovelier car to drive.  The track was still cool, so I used additive and tyre warmers on my well-worn Sweep 24R slicks.  That seemed to be about right for the start of the day, although as the track temp came up throughout the day I'd find myself turning down the tyre warmers and then abandoning warmers and additive altogether.

The FF01 improved throughout the day, with only a few changes of spring to try to balance front-end slides with grip roll and oversteer.  I don't really race that much and despite doing a few rounds of the TORC at Stafford with a TL01LA, I still felt badly out of practice and it took me all day to get my lines right and feel that I could hit the apexes and get the correct lines every lap.  Even then, I was a good way off the front-running pace and it was clear from midday that I wasn't going to be challenging for a podium spot.  Content to settle for "not last", I focussed on making the car driveable and staying away from the kerbs.

I decided to give the FF02 another try for the first final.  I fitted the scrubbed Sweep 24s without additive or heat, and stiffened up the front of the car as much as I could.  I started 5th out of 7 and got a typically good start (it's the only bit of RC racing that I seem to be good at), struggled with low rear temps in the first lap, then found a rhythm with the car and was starting to get some good times.  A few laps in the heat got into the front tyres and it started grip-rolling - uncontrollably.  That seems to be the curse of the FF02 (as it is with the M03 it is based on) and once the final had started there was no going back.  I finished the race with the feeling that in the right hands, the FF02 was the faster car - despite being more primitive in design, the suspension really seems to work and it's a real joy to drive, far nicer than I expected (until then it had literally had a few seconds on the patio and nothing else).  If I'd stuck with the 02 all day I might have played with front camber, glued the outer edge of the front tyres, experimented with ride height or even some ballast, but as it was I had to settle for 6th, 3 laps off the lead, 1 lap off the closest car and ahead only of a driver who retired after 3 laps.

For race 2 I went back to the trusted FF01.  The speed difference at WLRC is marginal, and there was a mix of 01 and 02 in the top 3 places, so I figured I was better off with a car I could control than with one that would pass down the main straight.  This time I fitted a set of newer Sweep 24Rs to the front, unscrubbed and slick.  These were slower to heat up and offered less bite, helping to control the grip roll that was affecting even the FF01.  For the first time all day I was able to properly push, really enjoying the driving and mostly avoiding the frustrations of grip roll.  Towards the end of the race it started to bite again, but I was able to keep it on the black bit and put in some solid laps.  For the first time all day I beat the 14 lap barrier, finished in 4th, 2 laps off the lead and 1 lap off 3rd.  In fairness, 5th and down didn't actually finish (one didn't even start) but it was a little victory nonetheless, and one I'm proud of, considering how bad the cars had been at the start of the day.

In summary - the racing was great but the atmosphere was better.  VRC can only get you so close to the real thing.  I'm not a hardcore racer, nor am I an extroverted socialite, but for me racing is about people and atmosphere, and the Iconic Cup had both.  I had a chance to meet up with friends I haven't seen since last year (or the very least, since the start of lockdown), and to check out all the fresh Tamiya stock at the Racecraft R/C pit shop.

Given the state of the world and the uncertainty that lies ahead of us, there are no solid plans for any Iconic races next year.  We're all silently hopeful that things will look better once the next season comes around, but there's a lot of planning and organisation that must go into a full vintage season well in advance of the first race, so next year might have a truncated season or maybe one or two one-day events.  We'll have to keep quiet and see what happens.

A few pics of the racing in my showroom here:


Here's some pics of the FF cars I ran:





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Last night my middle daughter saw a youtube vid of an iconic vintage race from a few years ago for buggies. She wonders if they are still running races for vintage tamiya buggies, she has just got a new re-release Terra Scorcher and wants to know if there is going to be a vintage race next year that she can enter?? 

However she is potentially going to fit a Reedy 19t motor and modern ESC so I'm not sure that would be eligible anyway because it would not be a vintage motor option?

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The Revival should be on again next year,  and hopefully back to more of a normal situation. There is an Iconic RC page on a well known social media site that's worth a look too. Electrics are open,  so you can run brushed or brushless setups and lipo batteries if you wish. 

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This year's Revival was one of the best Revivals since the beginning, probably the best I've done, I'm planning to write up a review of the event but haven't had time yet.  Vintage buggy racing at its very best.

Mr Iconic told me at the end of the event that they are waiting to see what happens before putting a calendar together for next year.  I'm really hopeful it will happen but it will probably be a long while before we get any commitments from the Iconic crew, as I think we're all waiting to see what winter brings us.

Join the FB group and keep your eyes peeled for updates :)  and be advised that the Revival is always over-subscribed even in normal years, so entry tends to open fairly early in the year and is only open for a limited time.

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