Indoor Carpet Racing
A Cure for the Winter Blues
Unless you live
in Southern California, then you know that
winter is upon us. The outdoor tracks are
closed, your fingers are frostbitten, and
you're only weeks away from being able to race
across the lake. But don't put that
transmitter down just yet. Why? Because it's
indoor racing season!
is an immensely popular sport in most of the
country. Depending where you live, the season
begins in late October/early November and goes
until March or April. The beauty of the sport
is that you don't have to worry about weather.
You might have to drive your full-size car
through a foot of snow, but your 1/10-scale is
safe and sound.
Team Losi XXX-S RTR zips across a
standard carpet track in Bloomington,
carpet tracks use standard carpeting called
"gray Ozite", which provides great
traction. It is the official surface for sedan
racing, ensuring that track conditions are the
same everywhere you go.
There are four
standard classes that most on-road tracks have
in the US:
- 1/10 sedan
- 1/10 sedan
- 1/12 stock
Tracks may also
class, which helps you to gauge your
class, which includes 2WD trucks and
Stock" class, which places limits on
batteries to curb costs and is
- Team Losi
Mini-T class (coming soon!)
popular class for carpet racing is 1/10 scale
sedan stock. Here's what you should get for
All cars are goods to start with.
There's no building necessary and it's made of
hard, flexible parts that tend not to break if
you hit a wall.
Your best bet will be purple compound rears
and purple-orange compound fronts. They need
to be trued before you race. A set should last
roughly three to four races.
ROAR legal 27-T is the standard. You can't go
wrong with the Trinity Monster. Others
available, look the local/nationals rules
The more traction, the better. Trinity's
"Death Grip" will do the job.
You'll need three packs. Get GP-3300's or
higher if you aspire to be at the competitive
level. Dynamite carries a large and diverse
selection for any skill level.
Sure, they can be expensive, but you want the
perfect shape and diameter, don't you? Hudy
makes a good truer.
All those batteries have to get charged.
Dynamite has great variety of chargers for all
Dynamite, Team Losi, and a host of other
manufacturers have good-quality sets for all
that necessary tweaking.
Get your car race-ready like the pros.
Download this indoor
setup (PDF) for the car you own.
How to Get Into It
local hobby shop! Chances are that they either
run races or know where races are held. If
you're a beginner and are not sure how you
stack up to the competition, ask if there is a
Adams, Engineering Manager, Horizon Hobby
Winter Racing in the
in the Midwest, one of the few types of RC car
racing that takes place during the winter
months is indoor carpet racing. From October
through March, indoor racing on carpet is very
popular in this region. And next to my
obsession for 1/8-scale gas cars, carpet
on-road racing is my favorite class. Indoor
on-road carpet racing is precise, fast, clean,
competitive and fun. At Horizon we have a
group of about a dozen staff members that
include some of the top aerobatic and jet
aircraft pilots in the country and, when the
weather turns cold, we all break out our cars
and head to the local carpet track.
Engineering Manager, John Adams'
indoor carpet XXX-S with Alpha body.
contests, I don't have a prayer of beating the
likes of Mike McConville, Peter Goldberg, or
John Glezellis. However, it's a different
story at the carpet track! Never mind that
I've been carpet racing seriously since 1979,
while these guys just dabble from
time-to-time. Truth be told, I have more fun
watching them do battle with each other for
Monday's bragging rights at the office than
racing myself. Throughout the following week;
it's comical to have each of these guys
individually sneak into my office asking about
tips on how they can go faster to beat their
work buddies the following weekend.
season I hold a seminar at the local indoor
track that covers driving techniques, setup
information, and motor and battery tips. Our
web team got wind of this and asked if I'd
write some of this information down so that
they could put it on the site, so here goes.
and even some experienced racers aren't
totally sure what
they are supposed to be thinking about and
concentrating on while practicing and racing
or even the purpose of practice. The following
tips should help.
primary purpose of practice is to learn
the track and to evaluate how your car is
performing. During those first practice
laps, I think of my car as a tool that
allows me to learn the exact location of
what I call "goal points". I
call them goal points because it's my goal
to place the inside front tire directly on
that point every lap. Many racers call
these apexes, but I think of
them as an exact point on the track. For
me, these exact points are normally about
3 inches from the edge of the board at
each corner. The distance out from the
board where you envision your goal points
is dependent on your skill level. Again,
the goal is to drive such that your inside
tire passes directly over all of these
points every lap. The more accurately that
you're able to judge these points and the
more confident you are of their exact
location, the better/faster you'll be able
key to effectively learning the track
layout is to learn the exact location of
these goal points. During those first
practice laps, don't even try to go fast
but simply concentrate on accurately
placing the car conservatively outside
these goal points. With each lap you will
develop a greater sense of the exact
location of these goal points and as your
confidence grows, you can begin to drive a
tighter line with the eventual goal of
consistently hitting every point on every
lap. Remember your primary goal at this
early stage of practice is to engrain the
exact location of these goal points in
your mind. (Not to beat your buddies and
you're fairly confident of the goal
points' locations, it's time to start
evaluating your driving. As you drive
through each corner, think about how
successfully it was negotiated. Did you
hit your goal point? Did you maintain a
high corner speed? Obviously, you don't
have much time to contemplate
these issues as your car races around the
track, but start to develop a sense of how
each corner goes. Then, on following laps,
work on improving the corners that you
don't feel as good about and continue
evaluating yourself on each corner. In
summary, evaluate your performance in each
corner while you're racing, and with each
lap try to get closer to your goal point
and to improve corner speed.
practice is so important, on the day of
the race you need to arrive at the track
early to allow plenty of track time for
practice. It's a good idea to pre-charge 2
practice battery packs. Your car should be
totally ready to run when you arrive at
the track. Normally the track has the
least traffic early and that's the best
time to learn the track.
what should you focus on when you're
qualifying? The same thing! Focus on your
goal points and evaluate your performance
in every corner. Tighten up your line
until you can consistently hit every goal
point with your inside tire. Also focus on
maintaining a high corner speed. Oh yeah,
watch out for traffic!
what should you think about during the
main? Again the same thing! Hit your goal
points in every corner and evaluate your
performance in every turn. Focus on
tightening up any corner that you're not
satisfied with and be sure to maintain a
high corner speed.
the way- DON'T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
DRIVE INSIDE YOUR GOAL POINTS. This is
called a crash! The goal is to drive up to
and eventually directly over (with the
inside tire) the goal point, but never,
even if you've established the goal point
well outside the edge of the corner, drive
inside the goal point. This sounds obvious
but you must engrain this in your head and
when you do, you will greatly reduce the
number of crashes. Think of it like this,
"If I never get inside my goal point,
I can't crash on the inside of a
turn." I know this sounds obvious,
but you'd be surprised how many racers
miss their goal point on the inside as
often as out!
I'll continue this discussion on
driving and start to focus on chassis
set-up. In the meantime, check out my
setup I've been successfully using on
my Losi XXX-S. Give it a try and let
us know how it works for you. See ya
at the track!
Strategy is Key
Engineering Manager John Adams shows
the rest of the field how it's done.
article on driving tips generated some
interesting responses. Several full-scale road
racers and go-cart drivers commented on how
similar their driving techniques are compared
to RC car racers. It seems that full-scale
racers commonly refer to "goal
points" as "hitting the marks."
Interestingly, these full-scale racers are
focusing on some of the same fundamentals as
RC car racers.
This time, we'll go into more detail about
driving techniques, including creep and
getting consistently good starts.
XXX-S creeps around a corner.
No, I'm not talking about the guy that took
you out during the last qualifier. Creep is a
technique that many top drivers (especially in
stock class) use to help maintain corner
speed. When you let off the throttle, the
mechanical friction and residual inductance of
the motor create a slight braking effect. This
braking causes a weight shift to the front of
the car that can cause the car to over-steer
entering a high-speed turn (the rear end wants
to come around). While some expert drivers
prevent this by not letting off the throttle
completely when entering a high-speed turn,
many drivers find it easier to bump the
throttle trim up to the point that the car
rolls slightly under its own power when the
throttle is released. I've been using creep
for years and it's especially helpful with
stock class sedans in maintaining high corner
speeds. Try it! I think you'll like it!
Getting Off to a Good Start
With electric races lasting 5 minutes, (8
minutes for 1/12 scale) getting a good start
that gets you to the front of the pack is
critical. And while that first turn pile-up
seems inevitable, it's amazing how top drivers
seem to consistently emerge from that first
turn, laying near the front of the pack
virtually every time! The key to consistently
good starts is developing a good starting
strategy and technique.
Develop a Starting Strategy to Your Specific
Not all starts are alike. The strategy used
when starting from the pole in a widely spaced
staggered start is very different than
starting from the middle of the pack in a
crowded heads-up start. It's important to
develop a starting strategy that offers the
best chances of emerging from the first lap
chaos near the front of the pack.
factors to consider when planning your
starting strategy include:
position (pole position, middle of the
pack, bringing up the rear)
- How much the
cars are staggered on the grid (space
- How well
your car accelerates and how well it
handles during acceleration
- Knowing the
driving habits of the racers directly in
front of and behind helps!
Stay in Control
Realizing that everyone in your race is
nervous (not just you) helps. Having a
starting plan, and going over it in your head
on the drivers stand just before the start,
helps to gain confidence and calms the nerves.
It's only natural to be tense, especially
during the start. It's important to relax,
stay calm and maintain precise exact control
so that you can effectively carry out your
starting strategy. Relax and listen for the
starting tone then put your plan into play.
car (in white) fights to stay inside
the Inside Line
Most races have staggered starts, which
greatly reduce the chances of the dreaded
first turn pile-up. But no matter how much the
cars are spaced apart, there always seems to
be a pile-up on the first lap. Recognizing the
signs for making a pile-up likely to happen is
important. Typically when a gaggle of 3 or
more cars are within a few feet of each other
fighting for position, there is going to be a
pile-up. While it's best to stay in front of
or at least a safe distance behind, if you
find yourself in this gaggle of cars, remember
this rule: In heavy traffic always stay on the
inside of the turn. In fact, do whatever is
necessary to get to the inside of the turn.
The car that's on the inside has a distinct
advantage and will get through the mayhem
first and best. That's because when any
bumping, sliding or crashing occurs, the
momentum naturally carries the car(s) to the
outside due to centrifugal force. In this
case, the inside line is definitely the
winning line and to consistently get through
these first lap pile-ups you either need to
avoid them (not always possible) or fight
through on the inside line!
First Laps Your Smoothest (Not fastest) Laps
It takes a couple of laps for most drivers to
settle down into a rhythm to begin turning
consistently fast laps. I've seen several
racers (and even top level pros) that
go-for-broke on the first corner, with
"broke" being the operative word!
Your first laps should be focused on getting
through traffic and establishing a position.
Focus on being smooth and accurate, allowing a
little extra distance off your goal points.
Within a few laps, your confidence and rhythm
will automatically come and you can start
cutting those awesome laps-but you've got to
get to this point first. Your best opportunity
here is to focus on being smooth (not fast)
for the first lap or two. Also realizing your
competitors face the same issues of taking a
lap or two to fall into a rhythm helps and, if
they make the mistake of going-for-broke on
the first lap, it can be to your advantage.
Standing Starting Practice
During practice, make a few standing starts
from the starting line. Evaluate the traction,
how your car accelerates and how it
tracks/handles. Does it pull to the right or
left? Doing a couple of standing starts during
practice will prepare you for the real thing
during the main, giving you the confidence to
rip-it if the traction's there, or to roll-it
if the surface is slick.
sure you're comfortable with the
traction or you may end up with none.
Okay, so now you've qualified 4th in the
A-main. The cars are staggered 5 feet apart
and your 4th on the grid. Traction is awesome
and in practice your car leaps off a standing
start in a straight controlled line. The two
guys ahead of you in 2nd and 3rd have been
your racing buddies for years and they can be
trusted in a close side-by-side battle. The
guy behind you in 5th is new at your track.
His fastest lap time in qualifying is 2 tenths
of a second slower than your best laps.
You'll want to
be quick off the line to get away from the
driver on your tail. Joining the group of guys
in front of you is your goal and you'll try to
catch them quickly after you've settled into a
rhythm. Listen carefully for the starting
tone, then full punch the throttle and feel
confident that your car will accelerate
straight away. If the racer from behind
catches you on the first lap, be cautious and
let him go by. You're faster and you can pass
him later. His driving style is still unknown
and you can't afford a crash in these early
laps. Focus on being smooth and let the rhythm
come to you, then tighten-up on those goal
points. Remember to avoid the gaggle of cars
that can result in a pile-up and, heaven
forbid if you're in that gaggle, get to the
inside of every corner. With any luck, you'll
be fighting for second place among your
buddies on lap number two.