Warm Up Woes?

Warm Up Woes?

Last weekend (OK, week!), the warm up race for the ISTC World Championships took place in Florida. A chance for some of the drivers who will be attending the main event later this year to visit the venue and begin their testing programme. Warm up events are always a controversial topic, so it only seems right for me to throw my thoughts into the mix. Typically, these events attract minimal coverage during the event because, let’s face it, it’s really just a glorified open practice day. Yet there still seemed to be plenty of ‘hype’ and interest about it – I was at another race in the UK that weekend, and lost count of how many times people asked me what news I’d heard from Florida!

But what does it really mean to the drivers and teams? It’s a great opportunity for them to visit the circuit, get accustomed to the track, surroundings and perhaps the style of driving required. They do test setups and try to learn how best to treat the controlled tire, but, such is the rate of development of RC cars, we know that practically everyone will have a different car by the time the World Championships actually take place in October. Whether it’s some small tweaks or changes on the back of the findings from the warm up event, prototype parts that the drivers believe will help, or a completely new car, in many ways the drivers will nearly be back to square one.

But what if the conditions change dramatically? We could get to the main event and find the temperature drastically different from the warm up race, the batch of tires or additive slightly different – and suddenly most of what you’ve learnt goes out of the window anyway. Of course, the teams that are fast know they probably have less work to do during the year and can probably focus more on the smaller changes, but those who ended lower down the field may feel they need a completely fresh approach.

On the other end of the scale, the 1/8th Buggy Worlds, also to be held later this year, will not have a warm up event. But instead, that event has had additional practice days added to compensate. Both of these approaches ends up in the same place – an increased cost. To those competing, to the teams, drivers (many of whom have to take holiday from their “real” job), and lets not forget those actually running the event too.

Is this really necessary for what is – ultimately – just another race? Yes, it’s the World Championships and, whatever your opinion of IFMAR is, it does probably mean more than any other race, but it’s still just one race. I believe, regardless of warm up events, practice and testing, the fast guys will still be fast, and the slow guys will be, well, slow.

My idea? Well, even for a World Championship, I really struggle to see how more than about two days of practice is going to gain you much more speed. I’d then like to see two days for qualifying, following by the finals day. Five days, the whole event covered in less than a week. No warm up meeting, no long manufacturer-exclusive test days. And time for Disneyland afterwards.

Have an opinion on the topics discussed? Leave them in the comments below.

Oli Meggitt is a race organiser, announcer, RC racer and has also been known to stand and talk in front of a camera. Now a columnist for Red RC you can read his thoughts, insights and ramblings fortnightly.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

Categories - Industry, Racing

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Comments

1. Mark S - April 9th, 2014 at 12:09

Warm-up race or not, the big manufacturers will still go to the track to test before the event. I raced at the 2012 TC Worlds at Heemstede, and went out there for 3 days of testing a couple of months before the main event. I didn’t do the warmup because I felt that I’d get far more out of 3 days of continuous, unlimited running. Had I not done that or the warmup, then I’d have finished much lower – that I know for sure.

It did, as you describe, add considerable cost to doing the whole event though – more travel, more hotels, more tyres etc…

The only way to stop it is to race the worlds on a temporary track, which kind of defeats the object of it being the world’s premier event, held at the best facilities available. That’s why I like 1/12 scale – you show up to the event and nobody has seen the track or layout before. It’s a much more level playing field in my opinion.

2. James Stirrer - April 9th, 2014 at 12:13

Commercial interests have caused most to forget that is a hobby, and when the hype is stripped away, we are still just racing toy cars.

3. Scott - April 9th, 2014 at 14:06

Well said. The only benefit to a “pre-worlds” is for out of country drivers to figure out which accommodations worked, which ones didn’t, and for track owners to fatten their pockets and heads. Regarding the actual race, its really varied on different approaches. The fast will always be fast, so it doesn’t matter if they come to the “pre-worlds” or show up day 1 of the worlds, they will be faster than 99% of the field.

4. Thomas - April 9th, 2014 at 16:24

The thing is , without the xp and knowledge you can do as much testing as you want . When the window opens for opportunity , the best will appear on the forefront :)

5. Car Guy - April 9th, 2014 at 16:38

True. If the “pros” can’t figure it out in 1 day of practice…maybe they shouldn’t be there.

6. Taky - April 9th, 2014 at 18:15

One one hand you are right on the other not at all. For me it makes a super big difference how much I practice under right conditions to get the right set up to start with. When I race EOS for example I always know after a race there was so much I couldn’t try and I am always many steps behind the top drivers who have a great starting point and start to improve it right from the start.- But for sure i am not one of the guys who fight for a worlds title. It depents on your driving style too, Marc Rheinard for example can put a bad car in the final, other pro drivers can’t though they can take wins on other days. The 20 pros who are really fighting for a win at a worlds all spent lots of time testing and looking at yatabe arena they built astro turf tracks to be better prepared.
I cannot see any way to change that. At the last touring worlds I know some drivers spent weeks there just to test and I think you could see who they were.
Many japan drivers racing in the US go to other US tracks before a big event so they have similar practice though not 100% the same.
For me it doenst change much if there is a warm up event or not- the money and time will be spent anyway. So why not have a warm up event which makes it easier for the guys running the track to get everything right for the event. And a worlds shouldnt be just like an ETS race

7. rcfan - April 9th, 2014 at 19:59

Like you say, make it a 5 day event, no warmup race, completely rebuild track if possible or at least some layout change.

8. Jake - April 9th, 2014 at 20:44

Florida, it is Disney World :P

9. Francis M. - April 9th, 2014 at 22:33

I’ve been to 1 worlds event and my pocket book would have loved a 5 day event vs 10 day event.

10. David - April 9th, 2014 at 23:10

Yes and No…
Pre worlds help organisers manage and limit some unforseen disasters.
Pre worlds can build local interest, its great running with the big boys!
Fast guys are always gonna be FAST, the rest of us should be enjoying the experience… and the hobby!
The professionals seem always to have time to help others and maybe dont get credit for this.

11. Paul - April 10th, 2014 at 06:00

I agree with David… Its like a shakedown for the big day. Im totally in support of a “pre worlds” event. Track time is track time. It all helps. Gives the lower level guys a chance to run with the big boys, gain exposure before a big event to that level of racing and that can only be a good thing and you can see where you are as opposed to the top guys and practise in the meantime like crazy and lift yourself to that level!!

Can only be a good thing!

12. Pat - April 10th, 2014 at 11:02

I don’t think a world champion should be choosen from just one race…why can’t just be say a 10 race league around the globe and the best 8 counts… just sayin..

13. Keith - April 14th, 2014 at 09:22

x2 …agree with Pat!

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