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Old 12-07-2005, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default Driving - Practice Theory

This thread won't be as sexy as finding a new way to rehash the daily "what r best turing cars 4 asfalt" questions, but hopefully people will take a break from all the excitement and help out.

I've been trying to practice as much as possible (usually about 4 packs before the races start, and maybe one other night a week) to increase my comfort level with driving, and improve the lines I take around the track. People always say you should practice more, and I agree, but they don't say much about how you should practice.

During the IIC race, Barry Baker (that was me with the E&L question) was asked why drivers from overseas are dominating US drivers. I found it an especially interesting question, since it was happening with foams on carpet, which is sort of an American thing these days. Barry said that because they get a lot of practice driving on low traction surfaces, they learn how to take faster lines around the track, which benefits them even more when they're racing in high traction situations. And it seems to make sense that if you're more used to racing on high traction surfaces, you could develop bad habits, like "point & shoot" driving, instead of properly apexing corners and maintaining maximum corner speed.

So, when I practice, I want to practice smart. Even though I race foams on carpet, would it be more advantageous to practice with something that's lower traction so I get a better feel for the car, and how to get it around corners quickly without relying on the foam tire crutch, or other bad habits? Are there exercises or other things you can try to maximize the benefit of practice time other than simply driving the track over and over? To supplement practice sessions, I've spent a bit of time watching videos of big races (like the IIC) and studied the lines good drivers take. I've also read some of the driving theory pages I've seen linked here, which has helped fill in some gaps.

So, instead of "practice more," perhaps we can expound upon that and talk about how and what to practice. I know there are a lot of professional drivers that lurk on this board. Maybe you guys can chime in on what you did (or do) during practice to help refine your skills, outside of the time you spend at actual races.
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Old 12-07-2005, 04:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syndr0me
This thread won't be as sexy as finding a new way to rehash the daily "what r best turing cars 4 asfalt" questions, but hopefully people will take a break from all the excitement and help out.

I've been trying to practice as much as possible (usually about 4 packs before the races start, and maybe one other night a week) to increase my comfort level with driving, and improve the lines I take around the track. People always say you should practice more, and I agree, but they don't say much about how you should practice.

During the IIC race, Barry Baker (that was me with the E&L question) was asked why drivers from overseas are dominating US drivers. I found it an especially interesting question, since it was happening with foams on carpet, which is sort of an American thing these days. Barry said that because they get a lot of practice driving on low traction surfaces, they learn how to take faster lines around the track, which benefits them even more when they're racing in high traction situations. And it seems to make sense that if you're more used to racing on high traction surfaces, you could develop bad habits, like "point & shoot" driving, instead of properly apexing corners and maintaining maximum corner speed.

So, when I practice, I want to practice smart. Even though I race foams on carpet, would it be more advantageous to practice with something that's lower traction so I get a better feel for the car, and how to get it around corners quickly without relying on the foam tire crutch, or other bad habits? Are there exercises or other things you can try to maximize the benefit of practice time other than simply driving the track over and over? To supplement practice sessions, I've spent a bit of time watching videos of big races (like the IIC) and studied the lines good drivers take. I've also read some of the driving theory pages I've seen linked here, which has helped fill in some gaps.

So, instead of "practice more," perhaps we can expound upon that and talk about how and what to practice. I know there are a lot of professional drivers that lurk on this board. Maybe you guys can chime in on what you did (or do) during practice to help refine your skills, outside of the time you spend at actual races.
Thank you for that post. I find it very interesting. My main goal when I practice is three-fold:
1) Stay off the walls
2) Run consistant lap times
3) Try to match my lap times with those of the better guys that run at my club (hey, I should get lucky once in a while)

I try to concentrate on these.

One thing that has helped me that will definately help others is to watch the better guys run. We have guys like Bobby Flack at my track and man, you'd be dumb not to watch this guy and others like him run if you have the chance. Watch his lines, his control, how they use the throttle and brakes and how smooth they are. I am amazed that every single time, every single corner, they hit the exact same spots every time. I personally think this is the first level everyone should aspire too and once you reach that level and only then, should you concern yourself with other aspects of racing.

The one thing that really keeps me from getting better is my lack of getting to the track. With my work and school schedule, it can be darn right impossible. If I want to get time at the track, I need to take a day off of work.

Becuase of my times, I cannot race on race nights. I firmly believe that when you run with others on the track that are better than you are, you will get better. Unfortunatley when I practice, I am usually at the track by my self.

My personal philosopy is that I am to buy the best equipment available. That way I cannot blame the fact that I suck on anything other than myself

Hope this helps
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Old 12-07-2005, 04:11 PM   #3
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Probably one of the best post I have seen on here in a while. Jump in Matt F.,Dirt, Hodapp, PW please any if you top guys give us some input I have been thinking on this very real subject.


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Old 12-07-2005, 04:20 PM   #4
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Fantastic thread and dead sexy! should be topical for all levels of experience. Thanks for bringing this up!
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:16 PM   #5
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One of the best ways to increase your abilities is practice 2wd nitro truck or 2wd modified buggy on dusty tracks. The TC track I race at also has an off-road track. During the weekdays, it gets very very very dry and dusty. So if I had a free day and nothing to do, I'd take my XXXBK1 out to the track with some V2 modified motors. As long as you keep the slipper nice and tight, you'll spin or slide that buggy all over the track. Running in such unstable conditions makes you learn throttle control and steering precision. This has helped me, and I've seen others preech the same thing. But we're still rookies compared to the guys RKeasler mentioned, so maybe they can shed some light.
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:17 PM   #6
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Good thread, I agree!!........... Practice is everything, but not getting into bad habits is key. Watching the fast guys does help and its a great training aid. I try to mimic what the pros are doing to achieve consistent lap times. Because remember, you might be smooth during practice after you figure out the driving line, but practicing with traffic does help a lot too.

............Because you have to be there at the end!

Knowledge is power.........
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:33 PM   #7
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I'm fairly new to R/C been racing tc for 2.5 yrs now.Like everybody says track time is the key.Being able to practice with an expert or even a pro is that much better.I have found that I can only keep pace with them for maybe 3 or 4 turns.Although I am starting to get somewhat of a feel for the fast line I still have trouble with other drivers that don't have the courtesy not to slam you in the rear sending you straight into the walls.I to would like to know if there is more that we new guys need to know that can help us out.Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:35 PM   #8
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I've noticed the gains from practicing plateau after a while, especially if the track layout doesn't change for a few weeks. To combat this I'll make a change to the car which forces me to re-learn the driving characteristics. Keeps the brain on it's toes. Also serves to increase knowledge of the car itself.

Wanna really freak yourself out? Practice when the drivers stand is empty, clear out all the boxes and milk crates, and walk sideways, back and forth, WHILE YOU'RE DRIVING! Makes standing still seem easy.
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:50 PM   #9
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syndr0me, props to strating a really good topic!!

I my case this is what I do:

1. Watch the good guys, see how they drive. Listen to the way their cars spool up and drop down. You will never see a top driver "stab it" at any time on any surface. Pay attention to their lines on the tack and try the same.

2. Always run a practice with a race ready car!! Pretend like your going to run your main. Stage your car, start the same way, drive like you want it. Along with this, have the lap counting system on. You will most likely know what the fast lap times are and work towards that.

3. If you are testing new setups AND it's not working...STOP. Take the car off the track and change it!! Don't do the common mistake of "I'll run it until the pack dies, or the tank is empty". Go back to your pit, change something and try it again.

4. If you are new to a particular tack, ask other racers or take a quick glance at their cars. If it looks like a stiff setup, then start there. No reason to re-invent the wheel here.

5. Get someone to watch your run. Ask them "how's it look in the sweeper" or "is it handling the chicane like your car" or something. They may see something you don't.

6. And the #1 tip is, always race for FUN!! When you are relaxed with no stress you will have faster lap times!!

Have fun racing!!
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Old 12-07-2005, 07:02 PM   #10
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Well said, Dan...................Especially #6
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Old 12-07-2005, 07:24 PM   #11
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Who ever said this hobby/sport was about having fun! It's about buying a new car every other month and then struggling with the set-up until you give up and buy the next car. It's about constantly having to upgrade your batteries and buying the new go fast goodies. It's about truing tires and cutting comms

I think we all sometimes forget about the fun factor as we take this hobby so seriously we forget why we got involved in the first place.

It's funny, there have been many days where I have wanted to throw my radio at the wall and sell all my RC stuff and never look back. But when all is said and done, at the end of the day, no matter how badly it went, I always seem to leave the track with a smaile on my face.

No matter what I am doing, I'd rather be at the track!!
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Old 12-07-2005, 10:57 PM   #12
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Thank you for all the kind responses guys, and thanks for all the good advice as well. I studied music the first time I failed out of college, and a lot of emphasis was put on practicing rather than trying to get the best instrument. But, more than anything, the way you practiced was what was most important. Scales and patterns that, while they don't sound good to listen to, greatly improved your technique and familiarity with the instrument. It seems like the same approach could be taken with R/C, though it's a topic you don't really hear much about. Like someone said, most of the time around here, it's about complaining about this car or that car because you can't get it setup just right, and then moving to the next car thinking things will improve.

Clearly, setup is important, but I find it hard to believe that I could take advantage of a great setup without refining my skills quite a bit driving first. It seems like, in the competitive aspect of R/C, and by that I mean the kind on the track and not the bench, this topic is greatly overlooked.

I hope the rest of you will chime in if you've got something to add. I didn't expect people to be so receptive to this topic, but I'm quite glad to see they are.
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Old 12-08-2005, 12:06 AM   #13
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I belong to the school of " buy the best", that way it is only me to blame if it performs badly.

Trouble is I (re)started our club, and was the most experienced driver there though relatively new to racing .

My question is: how do I learn the best way to do things without a mentor.

I win regularly at home but when I go out of town get my butt kicked

I dont feel I am improving as I have no real competition locally.

How does someone such as myself grow in the hobby.

Sorry, I have no answers only more questions
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Old 12-08-2005, 12:14 AM   #14
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Another thing that is not as likely to happen, depending on where you go, run the track backwards. It is a different track. If you are alone on the stand and the track owner doesn't care, turn around and go the other way. If there are others up there, ask them if they want to go backwards. When I used to race go-karts at this one track, every other heat we went backwards. It stepped up the challenge, and helped you to learn to adapt to a different track.
Another great tool, like was already mentioned was to wait for a local fast guy to hit the track and then go out and try to follow them around. I do that and it helps. When you are really on your game some-day, you will drive right by them!!!
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Old 12-08-2005, 12:17 AM   #15
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Even if you get your butt kcked out of town, go more often. It will help you, and make you that much faster when you get home because you have learned something. Also, when you go out of town, invite the racers there to come to your track. When they show up, see just how slow you really are. Maybe they are just fast on their home tracks like you are. Its all about improving as a driver and having fun.
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