So this past weekend I was attending for the first time a U4RC race. Now for those of you who may not know what this is, do yourself a favor and Google it. The racing is pretty crazy and I can see why those that do it, are pretty passionate about it. While I was there I was taking some track time learning the layout and trying to get used to this style of driving, etc. One of the guys that knew it was my first time was mentioning how “Man you pick this up quick” as I was making laps. He had mentioned how the “short course drivers” pick it up quick and generally do quite well at it. So he asked me “how do you guys do it?”
I had mentioned that in racing for me, it’s all about making the car consistently fast to drive quickly. What do I mean by that? Well it’s simple. I want my car to be as quick as it can be, with the least amount of effort from me trying to correct it while on the track going quick. Anyone that has driven one of my cars will tell you that I like a lot of steering in my car, but it’s also super stable. While that can sound like an oxymoron let me explain more. I will never claim to be a chassis engineer or any sort of engineer for that matter because I am not. I do however have well over a decade in the 1:1 auto business where I was lucky enough to get training from the Viper race team as well as several other engineering schools which were required to work on them. This is where I learned what I know about tuning chassis’s. And if you’ve crossed my path I will also be the first to admit I don’t know it all, which is the truth. There is always something new to learn.
When I setup my cars I set them up for my driving style which enjoys ample corners speed with good all around grip. In my travels I’ve spoken to guys like Gord Tessmann who agrees with my “idea” in tuning as they try and do the same for Ty’s cars. The group of U4RC guys didn’t quite follow this mentality as they were still chasing fast laps, or best jump section times, etc. How many times have you gone to your local track and heard everyone talking about “Did you hear that guys fast lap?” or “Man that guy just busted out XYZ lap time!” But how often do you hear people talking about the fastest 10 or 15 combined laps? Rarely right? If you ever see me looking at heat sheets, this is where I’m looking. Having the fastest hero lap does nothing for you in a race unless it’s the last lap while in the lead or taking the lead…so why focus on it? I’d rather run consistently low lap times that combined are the fastest run than run the fastest single lap time which combined is the 5th quickest overall time. Make sense?
So when you’re setting up your car, remember that the track has multiple sections and obstacles. Set the car up so you can get the fastest consecutive lap time out of it and don’t focus on the “hero” lap…it will come in due time. Having a car you can drive as fast as you can without it being on the ragged edge is what 98% of the drivers out there need. Now if you’re part of the other 2% you may need to compete at that “edge” but ask anyone running the longer nitro mains and they too will tell you it’s about having a consistently fast car they can drive at 98% and only take to 100% if they need to.
Learn from your mistakes, tune for the entire track, make sure that section you’re having an issue with doesn’t take your entire tuning focus. Watch your consistency and focus on hitting the same lines and same apexes with the same speed lap after lap. As you get better and better you will naturally increase your overall speed and begin clicking off “hero” laps before you know it. There is no replacement for practice. I can personally attest to this, trust me. But having a properly handling car that is easy for YOU to drive will be 80% of your fight at your next race.