I’m sure you’ve experienced this. You club race week in and week out and your not sure if you’re really getting any better.
Months go by and your finishes aren’t improving. Sometimes you get disappointed and even question yourself.
But the truth is you want to see results.
So, what should you do?
Go to more Championship Events.
I know what you thinking, you’re not good enough yet. I thought this same way back in 2017. I just got back into the hobby and was seeing some success at my local track when my friends Ben and Brad asked if I wanted to go to Beach RC for the Palmetto Classic.
I said “no way guys, I’m not good enough for a big race like that.” I will just be disappointed running in the back. But I went to that race, made the Amain and learned a lot that weekend.
But I really didn’t realize how important big races were until this year when the rc track near me, Speed RC closed its doors.
I was devastated. I just landed my first sponsorships and was really looking forward to 2018. I thought man how will I ever stay sharp without somewhere to race weekly?
My only opportunity was to attend as many trophy races as I could at Beach RC. Surprisingly I realized although I was racing less I wasn’t really losing any speed. It was actually the opposite, I felt many aspects of my rc racing were improving.
Surprisingly I realized although I was racing less I wasn’t really losing any speed.
It was actually the opposite, I felt many aspects of my rc racing were improving.
You have heard it before, it’s about quality not quantity.
If you want to see the quickest improvements in your rc racing in the shortest amount of time I suggest you plan on attending more championship events, even if that means less club racing so you have the funds.
So let me share with you the 5 reasons I believe championship events can do wonders for your rc racing program.
Reason #1: The Competition and the Level Playing Field
After a couple months of club racing, results become predictable. You roll up, survey the parking lot and have a good feel for what position you will be racing for. Come on, you know you do it.
Depending on the competition level at your local rc track there may come a day where you are not being challenged. You’re in a rut. You’re faster than the guy who runs 5th but can’t touch the guys who podium.
If you’re not getting side by side racing lap after lap or within striking distance of the position in front of you, it’s tough to improve your rc racing skills.
Championship events provide more entries where the competition is stacked. Whether you’re in the A main or the F main, you’re going to have to work for position. By the time the weekends over you will have a lot of close racing under your belt. Perhaps more close racing that you have had in months of club racing.
You see racing with people just a little bit quicker than you does wonders for your driving. It helps you work on all the fundamentals.
You will be pressured for position, teaching you to run your own race and be consistent. You will be faster than others, teaching you to apply pressure and pass clean, and you will have to do all of this lap after lap in close proximity of multiple cars.
These are all very important skills that will take you further in rc racing.
Higher level of competition always makes you better. You have heard that saying your only the average of the 5 people you hang around? Well at big events your likely to be around the fastest guys in your region or even the world if its a Jconcepts Event!
Take advantage of this opportunity and be a sponge! I encourage you to introduce yourself and meet new racers. I know it feels odd, like you’re cheating or something, like oh look at him he can’t figure it out so he’s asking the fast guys.
But remember those fast guys weren’t always fast.. They got fast by asking the the right questions and putting in the work.
If you’re ever lucky enough to be at a national event where the pros are there watch what they do. During Practice day you will see them working together.
They will go on the stand together, they will wait for each other on the track, and they will always be sharing what’s working. I have witnessed this several times with Ryan Cavalieri and Spencer Rivkin.
So find the fast guy running the same chassis and tires as you and chat with them. Ask them whats working for them. You may come across some attitudes, if you do move on to the next guy, more than likely he’s not the one you want to be listening to anyway.
Personally I have learned the most from traveling to these large events. People like AJ Marasco, Alan Wight, Jeremy Reilly, Tyler Jones, and Dustin Evans have answered my questions and really made a difference in my racing.
I would even say that if you do it right you will learn more in one trophy race than you would learn in a full month of club racing.
The Level Playing Field
While the competition is fierce at these events it also is a giant reset. It levels the playing field. This is because new layouts are put in place the day before the event.
Nobody is allowed to practice on the layout before the event starts. This lets everyone start with a clean slate and there is no home field advantage.
So that kid that spends day after day learning the new club layout while youre busting your tail at work no longer has the advantage. Everyone is learning the track at the same time.
When you travel abroad with your club don’t be surprised if the local hot shoe at your track is right there with you on the time charts. Fresh layouts always favor better drivers.
Which brings me to the second reason why big races are so valuable for your rc racing.
Reason #2: Quickly Adapting to Tracks and Surfaces
Learning layouts and adapting to changing surfaces is something the best drivers have mastered.
They have this ability to go to any track any surface and be a second faster than everyone else.
It always amazes me when you see the pros at these events. They get there the same day as you but watching their car around the track and their lap times you would think they have raced this layout before.
Its because they kinda have.
Learning the Track
After you have competed in a handful of large events at different tracks you will begin to realize new layouts are different but they are also are the same.
Max Flurer first pointed this out to me. He said most tracks at these large events will be pretty tame and have maybe 2 to 3 sections that will be highly rewarding if you do them right.
My experience has shown this to be true. There will be a triple or an off camber corner or something that will be worth mega time on the track if you can hit it right. These are the sections that set apart the average joe from the fast guys.
For the pros they have been to so many events and tracks that there really is anything new to them. They have seen and conquered all of these tough sections. As a result they know how to drive through them.
This is a skill were building by attending more big races throughout the season. Being exposed to new elements that your local track builder does not incorporate into his layouts.
You may be intimidated by trophy races because of the short time to learn the layout but don’t worry, you actually have plenty of time. The format of large races usually goes like this:
Friday – Practice and Tech Day
Saturday – Qualifying
Sunday – Racing
So Friday is your day to focus on getting around the track by putting in as many runs as possible.
When I club race it’s not often I get to spend a day learning the track. It’s usually the hour before race night. And after a couple club nights I have it mastered, and then you know what happens…
Just after you have the layout down they change the track.
But at trophy races you’ll have an entire day. It may not seem like much now but if you maximize track time for that day I promise you will have that layout down to the best of your ability.
Usually for club night the track is ready to go, unless it is a new layout night (ugh! I hate those), but most of the time the track operator has done a great job getting the surface right and ready to race.
Because these nights are so short the track doesn’t change a whole lot. But trophy races are a different animal. There’s more cars on the track and you need to watch the racing and observe the track condition.
Is the surface getting dusty making cars slide around on throttle?
Is the track gripping up making cars wheeley and traction roll?
Are they blowing the track before your qualifier?
These are all things you will observe at large events that will teach you how to adjust your car and tires for different conditions.
Which brings me to another reason why Championship races make you a better racer.
Reason #3: Perfecting the Art of Tuning and Tires
Trophy races you have to be on your game. You think you have all this time because its a 3 day show but it goes really fast, and the actual window where the track is ready for you to make adjustments is actually quite small.
I have found that trophy races can be the best environment to actually feel the changes.
Your car is fresh, the track has grip, your tires broken in and after a day of practice you have mastered the layout.
It’s the optimal time to make changes and dial in your setup.
This isn’t the time to be making wholesale changes, your setup should already be close. But these pressure cooker events will help you develop a list of adjustments that you can rely on to make the car do what you need.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Front Tire Tread Height
- Diff Tightness
- Shock Position (Angle)
- Rear Toe
During the course of the weekend once you find an adjustment that gave you what you needed you need yo write it down your notebook. Be sure to note the track conditions and the tire as well.
These changes may not work the same at your local track when its blown out, your not on fresh tires, and your car is clapped out.
When your equipment isn’t fresh and your tires aren’t right your car is usually pretty numb to changes and its often very hard to tell if an adjustment was a gain.
We all have been there, money is kinda tight you are a decent driver and you’re trying to get the most life out of our tires.
So we run them over and over on club nights. Hey there still working right? Maybe you’re even like me and hoard tires thinking there’s going to be some scenario where these old ones will work?
There good enough but because you’re running on used tires for several weeks you are not becoming an expert in the art of breaking in tires and getting them to the optimal tread height.
This is one of the most important skills to rc racing.
At Trophy races you will learn real quick the minute you get behind on tires your entire weekend is in jeopardy.
Championship events teach you how to get your tires broken in quickly and prepped for multiple situations. If your running an open tire class you will hopefully done most of the work at home. But for spec tire events you will have to mount and break in tires on practice day.
This can be done many ways and usually depends on how much time you have before you need them for qualifying.
You will also need to learn how to manage your tires. The goal is to have fresh sets for qualifying and a set for the main.
You don’t want to be in a situation where main day comes around and you burned up all your tires qualifying day. You won’t have time to break them in and get them right for the main.
Tire Prep (Tire Sauce, Traction Compound)
Your local club track usually has a tire sauce that most everyone uses except those few oddball guys who think they’ve got something better. (I used to be one of those guys)
But Traveling to trophy races the best prep will rise to the top. Dont stick with your magic concoction when all the guys in the A are running FDJ.
Traveling to these races and talking to other races you will become educated on what prep works at what location and how they apply them. All valuable skills for your rc racing.
Reason #4: The Format Makes you Better
The format for most large events is the same. It’s a long grueling 3 day schedule. You need to be prepared for early mornings and long nights. It’s so important to be well rested day after day so you can focus.
I’ll be honest I am still working on this one. I am bad about long nights wrenching the night before big races. It just seems there is never enough time.
Then traveling to the event Ill say im leaving early on practice night, there’s no reason for me to stay all night, if I haven’t figured it out by 8:00 im not going to figure it out. But it never happens.
I run laps until they bring the hose out and wrench until it’s time to shut the doors. And I often pay the price Saturday. Tired and sipping on Monster.
Not a good combination for being smooth.
If I am tired I am giving up time on the track. My reactions just won’t be as sharp and I won’t be hitting my marks like I would be if I was well rested.
But it’s not just about the time at the track. The race format does make you better. It makes you have a clear agenda and use your time very wisely. You know that every time you hit the track there is an objective.
You have a full practice day, 3 qualifiers on qualifying day and then your main on the final day. This is quite different than your club night. The qualifying point system also plays a big factor for your weekend. You need to put in solid runs to make it into the qualifier you belong in.
At Club races the car counts are low and if your lucky there’s more than one heat of your class. And let’s be honest you’re in beast mode every time you hit the track chasing that fast lap, not concentrating on solid runs like you do at big races.
The people who excel at championship races are those who can put it fast but more importantly consistent runs. Good speed with no mistakes. While this is also true for club racing, at big races you need to do it 3 times.
In addition to more qualifying big events will also have longer mains than your traditional club race. You going to have to stay on that fast tempo for an additional 2 to 5 minutes depending on what class you’re racing. This again teaches you consistency, and how to drive at your limit without crashing.
Reason #5: (BONUS) Great Opportunities
If you have intentions to be a sponsored driver you need to go to big races. These are the races sponsors attend and if you have a good showing you can turn some heads.
My own personal experience was my first Masters of Dirt when I qualified 4th in Expert Stock Buggy.
I will never forget getting a facebook message from Jconcepts CEO Jason Rouna congratulating me on a good run and letting me know he was watching.
That was special.
It was also the event that I met two great competitors and friends AJ Marasco and Alan Wight.
I will never forget the 2016 INS Finals when Ron Schuur was set up next to be doing motor support for the race. We struck up conversation and he was quick to help me with my motor and battery program. Surprised to hear that I was running stock he filled me in on what the west coast guys were doing.
These championship events really are about the people. I have so many great memories with my friends and have met so many new people, It really is one of the greatest things about this hobby.
This year I really began to understand how important big races are for every racer to stay sharp. I never realized by only club racing I wasn’t preparing myself for the stage I wanted to excell on.
We get better by doing. I have grown to love these big events, They have a totally different feel. After every one of them I come home with tons of knowledge I can apply right away.
Which is why I strongly suggest if you want to take your racing to the next level or if you just want to be on the fastest track to improvement you need attend big races.
So Go to RC signup and find one that is closest to you. I highly recommend the Jconcepts Events. At these events you will find the most competitive racing at the best facilities in the country.
Tell me about your experience!
How have trophy races made you better?
Great read! Very insightful.
Glad to hear Steve!