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Mrowka

A racing thought experiment

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We all know that a competitive modern off-road racing buggy is very different from a competitive buggy from the 1980s.

Not only that, but today's offerings have less and less resemblance to anything like a full sized off-road race car.

How would you design a racing class that would reverse this trend, without venturing into nostalgia class racing?

For instance, a low-slung cab-forward design makes sense on a smooth high-grip carpet track, but might be almost undrivable on other surfaces.

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Good question. I think these days it comes down to what will 'sell' rather than what looks 'scale' accurate. I personally would like to see a touring car class that actually resembles 'real' touring cars rather than generic aero looking bodies.

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On 11/6/2020 at 1:23 PM, Mrowka said:

How would you design a racing class that would reverse this trend, without venturing into nostalgia class racing?

Since I live under a rock and haven't seen the outside world of full-size off-road since the 80's, I had to google what a current, say Baja 1000, buggy would look like today. They are quite different from the Rough Rider-looking buggies I remember. At any rate, off the top of my head, (considering we are avoiding nostalgia racing) we'd need buggies that emulate current full-size ones and (wait for it...) actually run them on normal dirt. Novel concept it may be, but that's what drew me to off-road.

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4 hours ago, toyolien said:

Good question. I think these days it comes down to what will 'sell' rather than what looks 'scale' accurate. I personally would like to see a touring car class that actually resembles 'real' touring cars rather than generic aero looking bodies.

Unfortunately, today's r/c buggies, racers and bashers alike, look like they were designed by WWE enthusiasts for Bros.

I didn't have a buggy when I was a kid and I am not nostalgic for my youth. That's why I don't have much need for vintage racing, per se. On the other hand, I also don't have much use for Marvel Comics.

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6 minutes ago, Saito2 said:

At any rate, off the top of my head, (considering we are avoiding nostalgia racing) we'd need buggies that emulate current full-size ones and (wait for it...) actually run them on normal dirt. Novel concept it may be, but that's what drew my to off-road.

I have a feeling that track surface would be key. Full-sized off-road race buggies would probably look very different if they didn't have drivers and they raced on astroturf.

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For off road racing I think dirt/grass tracks are hard to maintain unless they get a lot of recovery time between meetings, especially in wetter climates - and increased car maintenance might put people off running on dirt/grass/mud all the time as well, so I think any new off road class needs to work on astro (at least in UK). 

In terms of surfaces I think astro is good as it's pretty consistent and all weather + its clean, but the high grip level pushes up the cost and complexity required to be competitive IMO - so I think the answer lies in always picking a decent control tyre that can last a good amount of time but also provide less traction than we're used to - this can really help level the playing field and increase the enjoyment of a large chunk of competitors I think, as running super fast motors and having the latest 'high traction' version of your choice of competition brand car this season matters a lot less when cars are traction limited in a big way. 

 

Trucks of all kinds appear hugely popular now compared to 10 years ago so I'd focus on something with scale looks for those who care, but still capable racing on offroad tracks (gearing permitting!). 

So if I was designing a new class today Id go with some kind of 1/10 4wd off road truck/pickup class, with regulations specifying solid rear axle, wheelbase and width to fit decent scale looking bodies if desired, 2s lipo with maybe 13t to 17t motor limit, minimum weight around 1.5kg and a max weight around 2kg. Something appropriate to Tamiya CC-01/02 really - but with racing centric hopups required for the speed and power. It would be like a narrow body 4wd version of the shortcourse truck classes that were popular a few years ago I think - though probably not as capable on the jumps... 

 

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The cab forward design these days, is to allow for a mid motor layout, if you want to have any kind of, modern speed and handling, there's not that many body designs, mind you need 3 clear windows for number stickers too.

Pure outdoor tracks, grass (that turns to dirt by the end of the day), are brilliant, and all we have in Scotland atm. Unfortunately, that means you need a heavy head count to look after it, the grass needs fertiser ,mowed ever few days in summer, and the track moved at least once a week (depending on the amount of meetings that week) , otherwise the grass dies in the heavy braking / throttle / corner zones / under track markings , and you have a job on your hands getting back in shape.

The other downside ,is car maintenance,  this is my car after just one heat race, and is like this every time it comes off the track, so 5 times in a single race meet, and I run 2 classes (ran 3 on that day.....😳😩

2020-11-10_01-13-58

 

Indoor and carpet is the best for hassle free racing, roll out the carpet, position some jumps, and off you go. Finish your race, Marshall, batteries on charge, have a natter and a laugh, throw the batteries in and off you go again for your next race. Astro turf is the next easiest, once all the hard work is done laying it (finding it's not just a case if ,throwing it down, all the drainage needs sorted, soil samples and other ground works ain't easy...), they do lack the "off road feel", but it's so much easier!!! 

Realistically, the only way you'd get enough for a race, (more than 6 ) would be to have vintage/ Re re races, usually on carpet or Astro,  as you find people don't want to have to strip and clean after each race.

 

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At first, I thought that carpet was sort of a decaf or neutered version of off-road racing, but the tracks and cars are certainly easier to maintain.

One thing that I am wondering is how removing track marshals would change things.

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On 11/14/2020 at 6:52 PM, Mrowka said:

At first, I thought that carpet was sort of a decaf or neutered version of off-road racing

There's loads of features, but do lack the , natural degregation ,of an off road track ,ruts forming in corners etc. Carpet racing for us is in the winter months, indoors, high grip, super quick.

The EOS - 

 

On 11/14/2020 at 6:52 PM, Mrowka said:

One thing that I am wondering is how removing track marshals would change things.

And what, leave the rostrum, run across the track, and Marshall your own car? It would make it stupidly hectic and pretty dangerous tbh (for us mere mortals anyway! 🙄

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No, more like if you crash and can't recover, you're out. Perhaps they could have marshals to remove crashed cars, but that's all.

Something more like 1:1 racing.

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On 11/17/2020 at 6:18 PM, Mrowka said:

No, more like if you crash and can't recover, you're out. Perhaps they could have marshals to remove crashed cars, but that's all.

Something more like 1:1 racing.

While I appreciate the purity of your approach, I fear you'd end up with a lot of very short races that way.

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10 hours ago, Yalson said:

While I appreciate the purity of your approach, I fear you'd end up with a lot of very short races that way.

Or drivers would have to slow down. Races would definitely be more unpredictable. 

As I said, a thought experiment at this stage.

 

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On 11/17/2020 at 8:23 AM, Wooders28 said:

There's loads of features, but do lack the , natural degregation ,of an off road track ,ruts forming in corners etc. Carpet racing for us is in the winter months, indoors, high grip, super quick.

The EOS - 

 

And what, leave the rostrum, run across the track, and Marshall your own car? It would make it stupidly hectic and pretty dangerous tbh (for us mere mortals anyway! 🙄

Well that is... tiring. Rather than RC, that seems closer to slot car racing (which I also used to do, much longer ago). Because the surface is so regular and grippy, the cars are running really soft suspension with barely any ride height, which means you can hear them bottom out and thump into the carpet when they land every jump. If nobody has considered applying a self-adhesive PTFE coating to the outside of the undertray to reduce friction and stop the car from dragging at that point, then they're not really trying.

I mean, it's cool, but it's only off-road by the most literal of interpretations.

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6 hours ago, Yalson said:

Rather than RC, that seems closer to slot car racing (which I also used to do, much longer ago)

These guys are top of the tree, so yeah ,they'll be consistent,  club level is a bit different 🙄😂

 

6 hours ago, Yalson said:

If nobody has considered applying a self-adhesive PTFE coating to the outside of the undertray to reduce friction and stop the car from dragging at that point, then they're not really trying.

Chassis are smooth anyway, with all the bolts counter sunk. Part of the pre race tech inspection checks for anything loose/sharp that could rip the carpet. Found anything self adhesive on the undertray, starts to peel back ,and then you're worse off, you're better with spraying the smooth aluminum chassis with PTFE spray, if anything.

 

6 hours ago, Yalson said:

it's only off-road by the most literal of interpretations.

Not really many realistic options for racing during the winter months. Outdoors isn't an option with ,ice and snow, grass doesn't grow inside (the reason the Houston AstroDome invented artificial grass) and artificial grass (known as ,Astro in the UK) is quite bulky to store, and much the same as carpet when down anyway.

We're hoping running Astro outdoors, will extend our outdoor season...🤞

Our club tried different ways to make carpet racing more, off road. We tried putting ,sleeping policemen ,under the carpet, but found they got pushed out of the way, so I tried screwing random lumps to an 8x4ft sheet 6mm MDF, but found that started to damage the carpet. Slippy sections worked well on some corners, using a bit of thin board.

With rent for a suitable sized indoor venue around £1000 a month, you've only really the option of renting a sports hall for a day, so you're rather limited of what track you can build.

Storage has been our stumbling block too, getting track features wasn't an issue, but ran out of club members garages to store it all in! (Plus transport..) 

As always, any suggestions are welcome, as an off road club we'd love to race "off road" all year round , but can only "urinate with the appendage you've got" (or something like that...) I think the saying is 😂😂😂

 

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While traveling in the US I've seen a couple of indoor offroad clay tracks. Basically hard-packed dirt that'd been treated to stay put somehow.

Also, realistic offroad? Look at trophy trucks. They move, lean, and behave much like their 1:1 counterparts, and the Traxxas Slash is the de-facto control cup car on those tracks.

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Part of my logic in removing the track marshals was not only to make r/c racing more like 1:1 racing, but also to make races less predictable. A racer could be leading by a full lap, only to blow it all at the last second. The overall winner might be a mid- pack racer who happens to be the last one standing.

I'm far from an expert, but from what I can tell, one of the differences between buggy racing and golden age buggy racing is that back then, stuff was changing radically all the time.  A buggy that was the hot ticket a year ago might be out of date. A driver whom nobody had heard of six months ago might be the new champion. Regional scenes flourished. So did experimentation. Nobody really knew what might change things next.

By contrast, racing today is competitive, corporate, professional and predictable. Everyone knows everyone else in the business, everything is a more or less known quantity.

Removing track marshals doesn't fix much of that, but it's a start.

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On 12/16/2020 at 12:50 AM, Mrowka said:

one of the differences between buggy racing and golden age buggy racing is that back then, stuff was changing radically all the time. 

Kind of, you did get Fwd off road cars, rear mounted motors to mid mounted etc.

The biggest difference is battery tech, Lipos. These days, you can fit a low turn motor ,gear it however you want, and you can race it flat out to the finish. Bitd, if you went one tooth too tall, or a motor wind too hot, you didn't have enough battery to finish the race and heart break if you dumped on the last lap! 😭😭

People used to solder batteries direct to the esc, to remove any energy sapping connections, to free up an extra amp over a race!

 

On 12/16/2020 at 12:50 AM, Mrowka said:

By contrast, racing today is competitive, corporate, professional and predictable. Everyone knows everyone else in the business, everything is a more or less known quantity.

It always has been, as far as I remember. Although these days, you can pretty much buy from your local model shop, the same car that won the nationals that weekend (and so so much cheaper!) 

On 12/16/2020 at 12:50 AM, Mrowka said:

A racer could be leading by a full lap, only to blow it all at the last second. The overall winner might be a mid- pack racer who happens to be the last one standing.

You tend to find it's the mid pack and back racer that needs marshalling the most.

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On 11/10/2020 at 1:36 PM, Wooders28 said:

The cab forward design these days, is to allow for a mid motor layout, if you want to have any kind of, modern speed and handling, there's not that many body designs, mind you need 3 clear windows for number stickers too.

Pure outdoor tracks, grass (that turns to dirt by the end of the day), are brilliant, and all we have in Scotland atm. Unfortunately, that means you need a heavy head count to look after it, the grass needs fertiser ,mowed ever few days in summer, and the track moved at least once a week (depending on the amount of meetings that week) , otherwise the grass dies in the heavy braking / throttle / corner zones / under track markings , and you have a job on your hands getting back in shape.

The other downside ,is car maintenance,  this is my car after just one heat race, and is like this every time it comes off the track, so 5 times in a single race meet, and I run 2 classes (ran 3 on that day.....😳😩

2020-11-10_01-13-58

 

Indoor and carpet is the best for hassle free racing, roll out the carpet, position some jumps, and off you go. Finish your race, Marshall, batteries on charge, have a natter and a laugh, throw the batteries in and off you go again for your next race. Astro turf is the next easiest, once all the hard work is done laying it (finding it's not just a case if ,throwing it down, all the drainage needs sorted, soil samples and other ground works ain't easy...), they do lack the "off road feel", but it's so much easier!!! 

Realistically, the only way you'd get enough for a race, (more than 6 ) would be to have vintage/ Re re races, usually on carpet or Astro,  as you find people don't want to have to strip and clean after each race.

 

I like the #4 lawn mower

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I'm looking forward to FPV racing myself...stick a little camera in the cab, grab your goggles and off you go. Winner is last racer puking 🤢😁

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It's the unrealistic appearance of modern race buggies that turns me off more than anything else. I wonder if you could just add a couple of rules governing how the cars look, to make things more interesting. Off the top of my head:

- Roof of body must be the highest point of the car, excluding wings or spoilers. No more shock towers reaching for the sky, or pancake-flat rooflines. You want big shocks, you have to run a big body.

- All cars must run a driver figure (head/arms/torso) that is visible and distinguishable through the windows. Driver must be proportioned properly to the body size of the car, and roughly 1/10 scale.

- "Scale points" in the form of time bonuses/head starts awarded to cars with certain scale features: dummy engines/radiators/exhaust, tube roll cages, window nets, realistic wheels/tires, lights, etc.

Other than that, modern chassis/motor/ESC/battery is fine. This way, it wouldn't be retro or nostalgic necessarily, but you'd re-introduce some scale accuracy to the cars. It would be more interesting to watch, and have more appeal for those of us who are more modelers than racers.

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A bit late to this thread, but looks like an interesting one.  I'm all for scale racing (which is why I run frontie or vintage instead of modern touring) and I'm all for rules being in place to stop formulas from moving away from scale appearance.  That said, I don't think a return to dirt is necessary or desired - IMO outdoor astro has the best of both worlds - out in the open air, have to deal with changing temps and rain, plenty of space - and with a control tyre you could reduce the grip and slow down the speeds.

There have been some good-looking scale buggies on the market recently.  The Vaterra Twin Hammers and FTX DR8 have a contemporary look (although not sure if they are the same scale or even remotely similar in performance) and I'm sure there's more besides.  I think Kyosho had something in this market.  The rise of scale crawling has piqued interest in this sort of thing - all we really need to do is pick a readily available chassis and make a race series with it.

But, I think we already have this in the short course class - the Slash might have been a bit wide when it started the trend, so everybody else followed, but that's no different to the widebody touring shells that we put on our buggies back in the late 80s to do rallying with.  We could start something new or we could go with what's already there and bolster class numbers before it disappears.

On 12/16/2020 at 12:50 AM, Mrowka said:

Part of my logic in removing the track marshals was not only to make r/c racing more like 1:1 racing, but also to make races less predictable. A racer could be leading by a full lap, only to blow it all at the last second. The overall winner might be a mid- pack racer who happens to be the last one standing.

Iconic RC events often have an all-comers wheelie race during the lunchbreak.  We'd sometimes have over 30 drivers on track at once.  While there was marshalling, the race was usually run on a last-car-driving basis - it didn't matter that much how many laps you completed, if you were the last car still driving around when everyone else had lost their wheels or flattened their batteries, you were the winner.  Well, sort of, there weren't any trophies.

I'm not sure about racing without marshalling.  No racer sets out on a lap thinking "it's OK if I get stuck, I will be picked up."  In the top heat, the difference in flipping one more time than the best driver could be the difference between FTD and relegation at next week's meet.  But RC racing is less predictable than full-size racing - we don't have the benefit of a driver's eye view of the track surface or any tiny ripple that might put us over.  Even taking it super-steady, you can enter a jump exactly as you wanted to and still bounce upside down when you land.  Then there's grip roll - I don't know how much grip a modern Baja buggy generates but I doubt they have to contend with grip roll; modern RCs and tyres make enough grip to flip you over in a corner, and it happens so fast it's hard to catch - even if you do, you might end up off-line and stuck over a track barrier.

As said above - I think we'd have some seriously short races if there wasn't any marshalling.

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4 hours ago, Mad Ax said:

As said above - I think we'd have some seriously short races if there wasn't any marshalling.

Agreed and it would also be a bit tempting to 'accidently' rub another car, knocking them off the track - could become a bit of a 'Death Race 2000' scenario :lol: Something my kids accused me of doing to them when they were beating me in a race, nothing to with the fact they slammed their brakes on right in front of me of course :ph34r:

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2 hours ago, mud4fun said:

Agreed and it would also be a bit tempting to 'accidently' rub another car, knocking them off the track - could become a bit of a 'Death Race 2000' scenario :lol: Something my kids accused me of doing to them when they were beating me in a race, nothing to with the fact they slammed their brakes on right in front of me of course :ph34r:

that was a genuine tactic when my cousin was racing classic 1:1 Minis on a local oval circuit - the distributor pokes out the front of the engine bay close to the grille; hit the back of another car and it pops the cap off, putting you out of the race.  Got someone close behind in a faster car?  Give 'em a taste of the 7-inch anchor :lol:

I don't condone this sort of behaviour...

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What about racing on a beach ?

You can lay out the track however you like (Race round poles with flags on maybe, get the shovels out and make ramps, obstacles, etc.  Track starting to wear ? It will be all smoothed over once the tide has been in and out. It's a relatively loose surface so would favour grip over horsepower. it's also back to the roots of RC (How many old tamiya promo videos were filmed on beaches) without restricting how a vehicle is designed. it would also introduce a degree of uncertainty into track conditions so  car design could not be tailored to such a degree to track conditions. Bit of a problem if you don't live close to a beach, but no one stated it had to be accessible to everyone......

 

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On 1/24/2021 at 12:18 PM, MadInventor said:

What about racing on a beach ?

You can lay out the track however you like (Race round poles with flags on maybe, get the shovels out and make ramps, obstacles, etc.  Track starting to wear ? It will be all smoothed over once the tide has been in and out. It's a relatively loose surface so would favour grip over horsepower. it's also back to the roots of RC (How many old tamiya promo videos were filmed on beaches) without restricting how a vehicle is designed. it would also introduce a degree of uncertainty into track conditions so  car design could not be tailored to such a degree to track conditions. Bit of a problem if you don't live close to a beach, but no one stated it had to be accessible to everyone......

 

Not sure why the surface has to be a beach.

Local sandpit should do nicely and would help create a nice uneven surface to frustrate cars which sit too low.

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