July 16, 2013

In Control?

In Control?

Whichever class you focus on, it seems that one of the key talking points throughout the past two years has been tires.  In the on-road nitro classes, that discussion has largely been focused on tire additive.  For many years, the cars ran without additive being used on the foam rubber the 1/8th and 1/10th cars run on – but in recent years people began to realise the advantage the correct additive and application could provide. This dark art began to put people off racing in these classes, and races tried to find ways to prevent additive being used.  But with additive difficult to detect and police, many realised the only way to police its use effectively was to allow it to be used.

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July 4, 2013

On the Grapevine – Kirchberg

On the Grapevine – Kirchberg

My latest travels took me back to Austria, this time for the concluding round of the two race Euro Nitro Series ‘Pilot Series’. I don’t make any apologies for the fact that onroad nitro racing is my favorite class as it was the accidental discovery of a small club of 1:8 Onroad club racing in a car park over 25-years ago that got me and my father, and then my brother, hooked on a sport that myself & my brother now have the pleasure of calling our occupation. It took a number of months of hard saving and ultimately a rather big contribution from my father to get started out with a second-hand Associated RC250 (younger readers may need to Google this high tech chassis!). Unfortunately after only a few races my Super Tigre engine, originally designed for use in an rc airplane, expired when the ends of the crank decided to have a falling out and split. With my short but very enjoyable r/c involvement now in serious jeopardy, the engine failure would actually prove to be a key moment in my professional life as with no money to buy a new one I turned to the idea of sponsorship. Picking up the Golden Pages (an Irish business directory), on my third call I struck gold with full size car battery company Exide agreeing to sponsor me a new engine and from this moment I took a keen interest in the area of sponsorship and public relations as I typed up a report, had photographs developed and posted them (no e-mail back then) to Exide and my growing list of sponsors. The experienced gained from doing this lead me to being asked to help a friend, who raced karts, to write a report for a local paper and from there I ended up working professionally in 1:1 motorsport for over 15-years before going full circle and returning to RC racing when I was asked to do some press work for VRC and Serpent in 2004. The 1:10 200mm European Championships in Madrid in 2007 would the be first event Red RC ever would attend and report on, so you can see why I will always have a close affection for onroad nitro.

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July 2, 2013

Real World Relevance?

Real World Relevance?

My column this time around was going to be about tires. But, following the events of this weekend’s British Formula 1 Grand Prix, it appears all the best headlines have been snatched up by the newspapers across the world. In thinking about why manufacturers are involved in full size motorsport, I am reminded of a conversation I had last week with one of my racing friends. We were discussing the results of one of the recent RC World Championships and thus who the current World Champion driver and manufacturers were. He then replied “well, it doesn’t really matter to me, because I’m never going to race on that track or with those tires”. That got me thinking – one of the big movements in full size motorsport at present is to enhance the “real world relevance” of the various categories and formulas. Essentially, what is learnt from building faster, more efficient or more aerodynamic race cars filters through into the road cars you and I can buy. Does that also apply to the RC world?

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June 19, 2013

On the Grapevine – Traiskirchen

On the Grapevine - Traiskirchen

Last weekend I traveled to Austria where the Yokomo Euro Touring Series set down at the unique Traiskirchen track for the penultimate round of the world famous championship with a great air of anticipation & excitement as four of the best drivers in the business came to town with a chance of making the title fight go to next month’s season finale at the Hudy Arena in Slovakia. While the series has established itself as a must do event for the world’s best drivers and manufacturers, an incident packed Leg 2 of the A-Main highlighted just how important an ETS win has become to the drivers. The most fraught 5-minutes of racing in the series’ six seasons of existence, the outbreak of raw emotions that ensued following four key incidents, while not a great advert for our sport, showed the intensity at which these guys perform. While the faces of the involved drivers after Leg 2 sent out a clear message that myself & my white notebook would be best off leaving them alone, I think the tension clearly showed these are not just guys ‘playing with toy cars’ but competitive sportsmen who have a passion for what they are doing. Don’t get me wrong I would not like this to become a regular occurrence but like any sport when there is a bit of drama it does create some extra buzz. I am glad to report that come the prize giving the drivers were exchanging hand shakes and admitting that things said in the heat of the moment where just that. Ultimately Marc Rheinard took the win in Austria from Ronald Volker to set the stage for a thrilling show down to the 2012/13 ETS between the two great German rivals.

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June 18, 2013

Watered Down Racing?

Watered Down Racing?

I was fortunate to spend a day last week at another sporting event in the UK.  One which was interrupted throughout the day by rain showers.  During one of the numerous showers, during which the event was stopped, I thought about how the rain also affects our sport. Racing outdoors, which forms the majority of the important races in almost every R/C class, always has the potential to be affected by the weather.  Obviously, some classes, such as the offroad classes, can be less affected, but generally a change in weather means a change in set-up, a change in attitudes and often, a change in results.  Of course, we’d all love to have facilities like this weekend’s ETS venue in Austria, or the ROAR Nationals track in Texas – an “outdoor” track with a roof!

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June 4, 2013

Surface Tension

Surface Tension

So, after much discussion, debate and deadline extensions, the 2014 Electric On-Road World Championships was awarded to the USA, and the Full Throttle Speedway in Florida. Personally, I think it is right that ROAR should hold this event – yes, the on-road element in the States isn’t anywhere near as strong as off-road at present, but we often see the ebb and flow of popularity between classes. It’s also a great advertisement to get more people into the on-road classes and, let’s not forget, the event is for the 1/12th class as well as the Touring Car Class. The US is home to many of the smaller 1/12th-producing companies – an excellent opportunity for them to attend that section of the event and again promote their product.

Continue reading Oli’s column here