Racing RC Cars

Proper maintenance of your RC vehicle is the key to achieving the best possible results. While the car may still perform while not in its best form, you can be assured that keeping it up will make certain even better results. By keeping your car clean, well-tuned and properly maintained, you can be sure you’ll get the top performance out of your RC.

Before you head out to the track, there are a few suggestions you should follow to make sure everything goes smoothly on race day:

Running and Racing Your RC
• Mark your initials on all your car’s parts.
It’s frenetic and exciting in the pit, which means in the haste of repair, refueling and racing, it can be very difficult to tell which parts belong to which racer. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that a lot of parts from different makes and models look remarkably similar. Avoid confusion by marking all your car’s parts with your initials and take care to keep track of those parts on race day.
• Mark your initials on all your tools and equipment.
Use a marker to write your initials on all your tools and equipment to avoid mix ups and losses. Over time you’ll spend a great deal of time and energy completing the set of tools and gear you need for your car—so be careful with your equipment. Marking your name on your tools makes it more likely you’ll get them back if you lose them, and prevents confusion in the event that several racers are using the same tools.
• If you have a nitro RC—always use fresh fuel and bring plenty extra.
Model fuel should not be stored for extended periods of time since the nitro methane it contains can degrade over time if exposed to air or water. Old fuel should be disposed of properly, and you should always race with fresh, clean fuel. Make sure you use a brand you are familiar with in competition: a race is not the place to test a new type of fuel. You’ll want to know how much running time the fuel you’re using produces and bring plenty extra to re-fill your car’s tank.
• If you have an electric RC—your batteries are the most important thing on race day.
How your electric car does on race day depends entirely on your battery packs. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly condition your batteries to extend their life and get maximum performance from them. When you’re racing, you’ll want to have several battery packs so that when one runs out, you don’t have to wait to recharge it. You need to know your car’s running time per battery pack in advance so you can count on how many battery packs you need to bring, and whether your charger can charge them up quickly enough between races.
• Develop a race-day checklist for your car’s systems and your tools. Well-prepared racers go through the same list of checks on their car and all its systems every time they race. Develop this list at home when you prepare your car for race day and include important reminders like securing fuel lines, checking gaskets, testing the glow plug, making sure the gas tank isn’t rattling. Test runs will help you know what to look for, and what to double check on the day of the race. Remember to add any equipment you need to fix these day to day problems to your tool box on race day, just in case you need them.
• Be respectful of other racers in the pit and on the track. There is nothing like the roar of an RC race—but excitement and exhilaration are no excuse for poor sportsmanship. Always be respectful of other racers and their equipment. In the event of an accident, remove your car from the track as quickly as possible. If you have complaints or disputes they should be brought to the race officials immediately and all judges decisions should be accepted as final. In the pit be courteous to other racers by keeping track of all your tools and equipment. Labeling your gear and keeping track of all of your belongings while you’re racing and marshaling will ensure that there are no problems with other drivers and their equipment.

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On Race Day
Make sure you’re ready for a long day, since there are usually long practice sessions before the racing begins. During this time you should sign up for the race and prepare your car. When you register, the race official will give you the frequency on which your car will run, and a frequency clip, pin or flag for your car’s antenna. This will make sure you don't accidentally run on someone else's frequency and prevents people from using your frequency.

When you are practicing, use the first run to get used to the track layout and slowly work your way to full speed as you get used to the track. Using the rest of your practice time to improve your time from there is one of the best ways to learn the track and your car.

Also try and be aware of the other racers—keeping up to someone faster than you can be a great learning experience. Often the pre-race tack will be crowded and unorganized, so take care while practicing not to run into others and risk wrecking your or someone else’s car before the race even begins.

When it’s time, the race director will announce that the qualifying heats are available for racers to see their car numbers and race numbers. These are very important! Get your car number decals and with a pen or marker mark your race number on one of the car numbers. This will make sure you remember when your race is coming up, you won’t miss one of your races.

A 'round' of races is one complete set of races, from race number one to the last race. Each round of races can last 30-45 minutes for a small track with just a few races, to an hour and a half or more at busy tracks. Most tracks will have at least two and sometimes three rounds of qualifying.

Qualifying is your chance to make your best run on the track, in preparation for the 'mains,' or the final races. Usually the top ten fastest racers in each class will be grouped in what is called the A Main or A Final, and the next ten fastest racers are in the B Main, and so on. Sometimes a class will have ten or less racers in it, so there is only an A Main and no B Main.

The novice class is usually the first class to race, so if this is your first race, make sure your batteries are charged up. If the track uses transponders, ensure you have the correct one installed. There will usually be a track employee at the transponder area with whom you should register. Watch the race numbers coming up and select the right transponder with the correct color.

When you get ready for racing, be as relaxed as possible and just try to make it to the end of the race without hitting any barriers or other cars - that is what will slow you down the most. Don't worry about winning, going faster than other cars or making any passes—simply run your car as consistently and quickly as you can. After the race is over, make sure you follow any directions the race director gave everyone before the racing started. Sometimes your car and radio must be left on a table, sometimes you are able to take your car back to your pit area. Either way, make sure you get back out to the track to do your turn marshaling duties. Every racer has to turn marshal the race immediately after theirs, this is the best way to make sure everyone does their marshal duty and everyone has an equal chance to get going the right way if they crash or make a mistake during their race.

Turn marshaling is basically watching a specific part of the track and turning over any cars that crash in that area. Failure to complete your marshalling duties could result in penalties to your score or disqualification from the round.

Where to Race RC Cars