Journey of RC Racing Pt 2

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RC-RACERS-header Welcome back to our journey of racing RCs. Since the last article, we’ve gotten quite a few races under our belts and learned a lot, though I know we’ve got loads more to discover.

In the last article we were rushing to build our RC vehicles and get them ready for the soon approaching race day. That was three kits in about a week, painting and all. I must say, looking back, we overlooked a few important aspects of building quality kits.

I’m going to split this article into sections to better organize my thoughts. We’ll discuss things like vehicle choice, race class, breakage, setup, driving styles and attitudes, friendships, goals, accomplishments, and just plain old  having fun. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started!


 

Choosing the right equipment:

Vehicle:

When I bought the RC buggy lineup, covered in the previous article, I chose 2wd buggies because I believe it’s a good platform for learning control and driving patience.

My older son has always been kind of a 4wd nut. He likes being able to jab the throttle,  allowing the front tires to pull him out of trouble. I must admit, it is crazy fun, especially on a dirt track. I used to absolutely love my RC8T 4wd truggy. This time however, I had a different idea. I wanted them both to learn throttle control, as well as steering control. It’s difficult to learn finesse when the vehicle just soaks up your mistakes.

The 2wd platform is perfect for teaching both of these very important skills. If you’re not paying attention to what your fingers are actually doing to that transmitter, before you know it, a 2wd vehicle will spin out of control or push into the barrier. A few set up changes and learning to ease into the throttle will completely solve this, providing the driver with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I wanted to enjoy the experience of watching both of my boys learn these important driving skills. I’m sure I’m preaching to the quire here, as you probably already know this and are a better driver than I’ll EVER be, so if you have additional pointers about anything I ever write, please share in the comments below. I greatly appreciate being able to read about your experiences as well.


 

Now that we’ve decided on 2wd buggies, which brand and model? Because I wanted to support my local hobby shop, I chose a brand they carried parts for and that they recommended, the Team Associated B5M Lite. Unfortunately, they only had one in stock and I’m a bit impatient, so I considered the other options. They did have an Associated 4wd buggy that my older boy would have loved, but I wanted to stick with 2wd. So, after a discussion with the shop owner, I decided on the Schumacher KF2 for my younger son. This all seemed like a great idea because the KF2 is an awesome buggy and more than capable for a twelve year old. It is also frequently finishes first at the local carpet track.

I guess I should also mention my buggy, the RC10 Worlds edition 2wd vintage buggy. I must admit, I do like nostalgia. I actually had no intentions of buying myself a buggy on that trip, but the price was right and I let the excitement get to me. I’ve got a lot more excuses I can give, but I’ll save them for a later purchase. Lol.

Motor/ESC:

We chose Novak motor/ESC combos because that was the most affordable 17.5t option at the local hobby shop. We knew we wanted to race the stock class, we’ll get more into that later, and the Novak was a good choice. My younger son was running a Tekin Gen5 ESC and Track Star 17.5 motor, both from previous reviews. All the motor/ESC combos we are running are sensored brushless.

Radio System:

The radio system was also chosen with price and availability in mind. Our local hobby shop had some Spektrum radios in stock so I bought each of the boys one for their buggy.  The Spektrum radios have worked well for them both and the boys are pleased with them.

Because of a lack of funds, I decided to use a cheap RTR radio I had lying around the house for my buggy. I used the Venom VR3 radio for my first race event and it seemed to work well, though it was a bit uncomfortable to hold while racing. Soon after, I received the Hitec Lynxs 4S radio system for review. It included the drop down steering wheel configuration and I absolutely love the way it feels. It is much more comfortable to hold and responds quickly! I have actually noticed better final race placement with the new radio as well.

Servo:

I bought a Futaba S9551 cordless digital servo, off of a recommendation, for my RC10 Worlds buggy. I also planned to use Savox SC 1267SG steering servos in both of my boys buggies. This is the servo I used in the Tamiya review done much earlier. We’ll get into why my plans changed in a couple paragraphs below and how my younger son ended up with the Futaba servo instead of the his Savox.


 

Breakage:

The following month of racing was not what I had envisioned in my pre-planned and “well thought out” future of happiness, excitement, and bonding with my family. To be honest, there was a lot of disappointment and unfinished races.

The AE B5M driven by my older son took a lot of abuse and kept completing race after race. He had zero breakage from the start. My younger son’s experience however, was a bit different. I think he only finished a couple heats/races out of many. As you can imagine, he was a bit disappointed. It seemed as though every time I turned around, something was broken. The first component that kept breaking was his steering servo.

 

Servo:

savox-box
I had planned on using the Savox SC 1267SG metal gear steering servo, I had previously used in the Tamiya Nissan review, in my younger son’s KF2 buggy. It’s an amazing servo and would have been perfect. Unfortunately, the on road Tamiya kit required a set of mounting tabs to be cut from the servo in order to fit it into the car. This modification wasn’t going to work in the KF2 buggy. It needed the mounting tabs on both sides of the servo for this application. I Thought I was doing him a justice by giving him the expensive servo I bought for my RC10 Worlds buggy and using the altered servo for myself. 20160406_144108So I let him have my Futaba S9551 coreless digital servo. This Futaba servo is a low profile servo, with good speed, is light, and supposedly “snaps” back to center with authority. This is why I originally chose it for my vintage RC10 Worlds buggy. The Futaba servo fit great into his KF2 and he was very appreciative. I was able to lay the altered Savox servo flat onto the RC10 chassis just fine, securing it with the single side of mounting tabs still left and a bit of double sided foam servo tape to keep it from shifting while in use.

Though I hated to give up my new servo, I was happy to help my son get the very best buggy he can for the upcoming race. Well, on his first run with his brand new KF2 buggy, he stripped the Futaba servo gears. I couldn’t believe it! Thankfully, Futaba has excellent customer service and they replaced the servo for me hassle free. To be honest, I believe this servo was designed more for a high performance airplane situation, like the aileron, rather than a “non-servo-saver” steering situation. Because I’d already spent all my “fun cash” I couldn’t afford to dish out another $60 for servo. This led to using all the RTR metal gear servos I had lying around the house. Some were ready to go and some were still in the trucks they came in. I soon discovered, five servos later, that was a mistake. My son stripped an additional steering servo every run he made with his buggy. Now keep in mind, at this point, his driving style resembled bumper cars more than racing, but he sure was trying and he deserved to have a fighting chance to at least finish a race. In the end, I ordered a replacement upper case for the Savox SC 1267SG servo and mounted it into his buggy along with an aluminum servo horn. His servo issues were finally over. So what did I learn from having to replace so many steering servos and seeing that heart crushing disappointment on my son’s face multiple times? Get a servo that is designed to handle the abuse. Make sure it’s not only fast, but metal geared and rated for a lot of torque, like the Savox SC 1267SG. In the end, it’s worth every penny!

 

Buggy:

_MG_9820Once the servo issue was resolved, he was able to stay in the race long enough to break something else. Poor kid! He was still unable to finish a darn race because of breakage. The number one part he broke repeatedly was the right front lower suspension arm. The kit came with rigid plastic arms that minimize flex and provide superior control. While this rigid plastic may be great for handling, its a bit brittle. I bought a set of softer medium flex arms to try out, but unfortunately, they didn’t last a single heat. Keep in mind, all of this breakage was directly related to his “drive fast” and “if you can’t go around it, go through it” driving style. Once he actually slowed down (we’ll talk more about that later), he finished races and actually placed 2nd in one of the Mains. There were just more races he didn’t finish, than he did finish.

I think I’ll take this opportunity to pause and make a summary statement. The Schumacher KF2 is an incredibly fast platform, but it was absolutely the wrong buggy for my son. My older son was crashing his B5M too, but not a single thing broke. I think the KF2 is a great buggy for more seasoned drivers who tend NOT to hit everything on their way around the track, but not for beginner racers. My wife and I felt so bad for him that we dug really deep and bought him a B5M Lite kit just like his brother’s. He is now able to finish most races, Lol, and is enjoying the hobby much more. His buggy is the multicolored one on the right. As you can see in the picture, we all decided to paint new bodies for our buggies, this time a little less rushed.20160413_172657_resized


2. Choosing the right race class for you.

Choosing the right race class is as easy as looking at the equipment you already have, or the equipment you want to buy. Since I bought 2wd buggies, for reasons mentioned above, we race the 2wd buggy class. All that’s left to decide is stock or pro. That was easy for us, stock. Although the stock class is sometimes thought of as a beginners class, there are many fast drivers in that class. I firmly believe it’s best to start in the slower classes to build a good foundation of driving skills and racing ethics. You can always move up to the pro class once you feel the need for more speed. But hey, if you’ve got a modded out 4wd short course truck, go for it! It’s all just for fun anyways!


 

3. Driving styles.

Don’t start racing to become a pro, race to have fun.

I’m sure there are many different outlooks on the subject of driving styles, but I’m going to share what has worked for us.

My son’s and I went into this with two completely different outlooks on how we should drive, and I must say, we’ve met somewhere in the middle.

My outlook was to drive as carefully as possible and stay out of everybody’s way. This worked well for making friends and keeping my buggy in one piece, but it didn’t win races. I was completely fine with that, as my goal was never to win, but to have fun with my family while doing something we enjoy. I was perfectly content with being the slow guy, but it really irritated my older boy. “Dad! I know you can win if you’d just try!” Well, I don’t know about winning, but I agree, I could be much faster.

My two son’s shared a very different view than I did. Drive as fast as you can and WIN! Well this proved to be unachievable for beginner racers and they ended up spending much time on their lids than on their tires. I kept telling them to slow down and they will in turn be faster. This was one of those things you say as a parent that earns you the “why are grownups so dumb” look. Slowing down, to be faster, made absolutely no sense to either one of them and they refused to try it until I actually  proved it.

One day we were practicing on VRC Pro when I challenged them to the fastest ten laps. They could drive as fast as they wanted, and I could drive as slow as needed. Needless to say I whooped them! Ha! That’s one of those glorious parental moments when you get to prove you’re NOT an idiot, even if only for a moment. From that point on, they both slowed down a bit and wrecked much less. And guess what? Their lap times got much faster.

20160306_20065020160306_200617Both boys ended up with some podium finishes after slowing down a bit. Go figure! Tyler, my youngest, actually managed to finish a race with his KF2 and got 2nd! He felt like he was driving slow, but it just goes to show you, if you can’t finish you can’t win.


 

Ok, now back to my “granny” style of driving. I took their advice and upped my game a bit. I still do my best to be respectful on the track, as I want to be a racer that others actually enjoy competing against. I must say, my nerves still get to me and I sometimes get tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision:

Tunnel vision is where you only focus on your car and about one foot around it in every direction. In this mode, flipped over, or slower cars seem to appear right out of thin air and directly in front of you. Oops, sorry! This happens when I get really nervous, usually when the announcer says my name and position. If I’m in first, and the announcer tells everyone, forget it. It’s an automatic loss of at least one position for me.

As I’ve put more races under my belt, I’m able to see more of the track at once. It’s like you get into the “zone”, whatever that is. You just stop thinking, and start driving. You don’t worry about position, speed, others on the driver’s stand, you just drive, until you hear your name. Lol!


 

4. Attitudes and friendships:

This is an important one for me. I want everyone around me to feel appreciated and important. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but I usually try to point out how well someone is driving, and possibly share my doubts about my performance for the next race. Although this makes others feel good, it also eases anxiety in me as well.

People usually don’t want to be around those who are always talking about how awesome they are or flaunting how much they know, so I try not to be that guy.

A good rule of thumb I try to follow is, everyone there knows, or has learned, something I don’t know about. Everyone! Even if I listen to five minutes of something I do already know about, I still pay attention, there will be something in there I can learn. I may not get the ultimate secret to winning, but if I just listen, I may make a new friend, and that’s much better than winning.

One more thing I should mention about attitude. Try not to be that guy who always complains about who made him loose the race. I understand things, out of our control, will happen, but in the end, we’re a bunch of overgrown boys driving toy cars around a really cool track. I can understand getting excited if there’s $1000.00 prize at stake, but we can all still be respectable. That kind of complaining creates a negative atmosphere and when someone gets called out on the drivers stand for a mistake they’ve made, it just creates more nervous mistakes. That’s just my two cents. We’re not all professional drivers and we all make mistakes. We’re not supporting our families racing RC cars, we’re having fun. The day I stop having fun, is the day I stop racing. It’s supposed to be fun. Let’s set a good example for our kids and all other kids out there of how grown ups should behave. Ok, someone take this darn soap box from me. Lol.


 

Setup:

Setup is such an in depth subject, there’s no way I can fit an in depth explanation of what each change is supposed to do in this, already lengthy, article. I will, however, go over some mistakes we made while building our vehicles, as well as posting setup sheets for each vehicle. As we change our setups, I can post new articles with setup changes and why we changed it. Hopefully this can help some of you.

Build mistakes:

The first mistake we made was rushing to build our buggies. I usually try to take my time to build or work on kits, but this time we rushed through it. Here are some of the things that were overlooked or less than perfect.

Ballcup looseness:

I would say the most important thing that was over looked was making sure all ball cups moved freely. This actually caused some binding in the suspension creating an unpredictable buggy. Thankfully, it was easy to fix. Stephen, one of the local fast guys, recommended we take a pair of pliers and squeeze the plastic ball cups to stretch the plastic a bit. We did, and it made a tremendous improvement. Thanks Stephen!

Shock length:

The front two shocks should be the same length, and the rear two shocks should be the same length. This will allow the car to jump level and offer more consistent settling. Our shocks were close, but not perfect. I used a caliper and got them perfect. Though there wasn’t a huge difference, it was still noticeable.

Shock fluid:

It’s important to have the same amount of shock fluid in the shocks for even dampening. By turning the car upside down and gently pressing each wheel, you can feel how much air is in each shock body. We were pretty good on this too and only needed to top off one or two shocks out of the twelve.

I would say everything else Pretty much falls into the set up category. I will list a couple changes we made for the high traction carpet surface.

Ride height:

We originally set up our vehicles as recommended in the instructions. The KF2 was pretty close, but the B5M was a bit off. The carpet track we were racing on is a high grip surface, which requires a lower ride height than a typical outdoor dirt track.

Note: Your best recourse for setup tips are the local fast guys. Ask them what they are running and use that as a base to go buy. I asked Harry, a local fast guy, and he recommended I lower all of our buggies. He told me what he was running, and has actually helped us with many more setup tips week after week. Thanks Harry.

The lower the ride height, the less the chassis will roll in corners. This will lesson traction roll and allow you to carry more speed through the corners. I noticed on my RC10 worlds that lowering the ride height too much causes the buggy to bottom out on big jumps. This made the moment right after touchdown very squirrelly and caused me to slow down a bit while the buggy settled. So there is usually a trade off with setups. I chose to run a bit higher ride height in my RC10 for more stability while landing jumps, but I’ve got to slow down a bit in the corners.

Adjust ride height by moving the collar above the spring. Some vehicles use different sized clips, while others use threaded collars.

Instead of typing out all of our set up choices, here are the setup sheets for you to see for yourself.

Screenshot_2016-04-13-16-52-31_resizedScreenshot_2016-04-13-16-51-17_resizedScreenshot_2016-04-13-16-52-09

Here are the set ups for our Novak ESCs. As you can see, I just write directly on the manual in my Note5 phone. I can also erase or change what I’ve written on the fly. Many phones have a “write on PDF” app you can download for this.

Screenshot_2016-04-13-16-53-11_resizedScreenshot_2016-04-13-16-53-15_resized



 

EXTREME Carpet Initiative results:

MATT B-MAIN.Still002I have a great story about sportsmanship and friendships. The local track had a large scale race sponsored by JConcepts, and many others, over a month ago. Blake Boggs and JR Mitch were a couple of the pro drivers that showed up.

During this race event, I raced in the vintage class with my RC10 Worlds buggy. I wasn’t doing so well and only made it into the B-Main. I managed to pull off a 1st place win in the B-Main and gotten bumped up to the A-Main.

Well, during the A-Main warm up laps, I broke my RC10 Worlds buggy. I was a bit disappointed, but stepped to the rear of the drivers stand to stay out of the other drivers way.

MATT A-MAIN.Still00120160320_193912Out of nowhere, Mike Kirby, who also raced in the B-Main, offered his car and a fresh battery for me to compete in the A-Main. At first I declined, but he talked me into it. Wow! What a guy! He dropped his vintage Losi buggy onto the track and handed me his radio. It drove completely different but I was able to keep it on the track, mostly. Thanks to Mike, I walked away with a 5th place plaque from the EXTREME Carpet Initiative. Thanks again Mike!

Videos of our main events at the Extreme Carpet Initiative:

Tyler’s 17.5T Buggy Main Event race Video:

ty-b5mTyler did well that entire weekend and managed to get into first for a brief time during the his main event. Unfortunately, his nerves got to him and the last of many crashes proved fatal. I’m proud of what he’s learned and he loves his new B5M Lite buggy!


Cameron’s 17.5T Buggy A-Main race Video:

cam-b5mCameron had a mixed day. He wasn’t pleased with his first run, but pulled off a 1st place in his second heat which qualified him for the A-Main. I think that alone, is a huge accomplishment! This video is Cameron running his B5M Lite in the A-Main. He was running with a lot of really fast drivers and felt like he had to drive “fast” to keep up with them. He has since realized he would have placed higher if he just ran a clean run. He’s doing really well and learned a bunch about sportsmanship and competition. Good job Cameron! Oh yeah, I think it’s funny how stressed my wife gets when the boys are racing. You can hear her talking to herself in the video saying “go go go go” and telling him to calm down, when she is clearly stressed out herself. Funny stuff!  It is definitely an exciting time, even for those who aren’t racing.


My Vintage B-Main race video:

rc10I too had a weird weekend. For starters, I made a HUGE mistake the week leading up to the race. I changed everything on my buggy. I thought a different setup would make me faster. Oops. Anyway, Thankfully, I managed to straighten out most of the changes during practice. As you can see in the video, the buggy is still too squirrelly after landing. Oh well, I’m not that great of a driver anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. 🙂


My Vintage A-Main Bump race video:

rc10-noWell I managed to get the A-Main bump from my B-Main win. Unfortunately, during a few  warm up laps, I broke my RC10 Worlds buggy. As stated above, Mike Kirby was kind enough to let me use his vintage Losi buggy. In this video, I’m driving Mike’s buggy for the first time and I’m just glad I didn’t break it!

 



What About That KF2 Buggy?

20160315_095959_resizedI’m glad you asked. I obviously inherited the Schumacher KF2 buggy after buying the other B5M LITE for my younger son. He didn’t want to give it up at first, until I told him he could have it back when his driving got better. It was the right choice.

I installed a 17.5T Novak motor/ESC combo, Hitec receiver, and Savox steering servo into the KF2 buggy and raced it for the first time the other week. I must say, this thing is amazing. A huge step up in performance from my RC10 Worlds buggy! The only thing I changed from my son’s chassis setup was added front toe out. I like 1-2º of front toe out so the buggy turns in quick.

My first week driving the KF2 buggy was amazing! I absolutely loved the way it felt on the track. The KF2 is so nimble and quick. It jumps and lands great too! I managed to place 1st in the first heat, 2nd in the second heat, and took 1st place in the Amain. Now I’m sure a lot of that was luck, but I’ll still claim it.

The entire family made a good showing at the last race in 17.5 buggy. I won the A-main with the KF2, Cameron got 2nd in the B-Main with the B5M Lite, and Tyler got 1st in the C-Main with the B5M Lite. I was so proud of my youngest son, Tyler. He showed excellent sportsmanship and allowed the two leaders, who were lapping him, to go by freely. Good job Tyler!

 

All results Matt results

 

 

 


Thanks for reading my article. Please post any tips, suggestions, or encouragement for me or my boys below, I always look forward to reading your comments!

 

 

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About Author

I built my 1st real RC vehicle in 1986 and have enjoyed this hobby ever since. I like all RCs, cars, trucks, boats, planes, helis, etc. I think every RC vehicle has its place, whether it be toy grade or hobby grade. They’re all fun to me, but the best part about this hobby is the people I’ve met and friendships I’ve made. But hey, enough about me. Share your background in the comment section of this article.

7 Comments

  1. Excellent series so far, ive enjoyed reading along keep up the good work and racing. May try adding a little weight to the front end of the b5 to stop that on throttle push, the brass arm holder helped me a ton.

    • Thanks Nate. We will definitely need to look into the brass arm holder. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your advice. That is exactly what we need! I look forward to more. 🙂 that’s one thing I enjoy about this hobby, everyone is willing to help everyone else. Thanks again Nate, I really appreciate it.

  2. Great info in this article – thanks for sharing your experiences with your family. I love hearing how a hobby can bring together people and at the same time pepper in a bit of friendly competition. Best to you and yours, and I hope you update us on how things continue. It would be cool to have a short paragraph from one or both of your boys about their personal experiences and what they’ve learned as they progress.

    Keep it up.

  3. Bruce Reafsnider on

    I knew that multi-colored buggy looked familiar! Extreme is a great place to race. I haven’t met anyone up there who wasn’t friendly and VERY helpful. I might be running against your sons in stock buggy in the next couple of weeks.

    • Yes, that is an excellent group of guys and gals. Very nice track too! We’ve actually taken a little break, but hope to be back there soon. 🙂 I already miss seeing everyone and, of course I miss racing. When we come back, I’ll also be running stock buggy for a while. All three of us will will be in the same class.

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