RC racing is a skill and a profession, and each course requires a specific skill set. So, if you are a master of the long course, it doesn’t mean you are any good with short distances.
It's safe to say that the nature of short course racing is different from long course racing.
Therefore, I created a few tips for beginners and professional racers that have not yet raced on a short course.
Tip 1: Momentum and Newton’s 3rd law
While racing is about being the first over the finish line it doesn’t mean you have to be the fastest all the time. Short course racing is more about the corners and how you handle them since the ratio of the corner to straight track is much higher in a short course.
The trick in short course racing, especially on a 17.5-turn class race is to drive smoothly and don’t get heavy handed. The faster you try to go on a short course the slower you will reach the end. Drive smoothly and plan those corners like a ballerina doing a pirouette with a book balanced on her head.
Tip 2: Keep Safe
You might think that a short course is another name for demolition derby and start attacking anything and everything that gets in your way. Well, guess what, when you slow someone else down you are slowing down too.
You don’t have the time to enjoy on a short course; you need to drive safe, keep clear of any competition and make a clear run for the finish.
Tip 3: Don’t catch-up, only Pass by
Yup, you can catch up to anyone with enough pedal to the metal, but so what. Short course racing is about tactics as much as strategy.
The overall strategy includes driving safe and not speeding too much. One tactic to make sure you are always in a good position on the track is to pass competitors through skill, and not catch up to them at dashing speed. The end result might slow you down when hitting a patch of the track with a bad angle and a bad speed.
One frequent rookie mistake that happens a lot when you are involved in catching up and overtaking even slow trucks on a straight. This is called “target fixation” this is when the driver of the other truck is focused so much on your truck that he/she veers unintentionally into your vehicle forcing you to maneuver and correct your ride.
The best place to pass by is in a corner, where maneuvering skills come in handy with correct speed adaptation. Most rookies and inexperienced racers will hit the corner wide due to speed, so you slow down and pass them from the inside.
Tip 4: Real Racing
According to MechanicFAQ.com, short course truck races imitate real life driving, so when you take on such a race consider how you handle your cart in real life and drive your truck the same way.
This means you accelerate in a corner and brake only in straight lines, as such, you should hit a corner at optimum “slow” speed, and accelerate out of it once inside the curve.
Tip 5: Practice makes Perfect
Don’t make a rookie mistake of arriving early to a race and practising on a clean track. The track does not race ready and is not going to give you much real-life conditioning.
As such, you should wait till all the races are over and use the used track for practice. You might need to ask the race director for permission, but if you practice on a used track, you will get a much better performance condition than on a clean track.
Now, if you live in rural area, you might want to create your own track and race that one, and make sure its condition is as bad as it gets so you can push yourself to maneuver the truck to learn how to perform in the worst-case scenarios.
Short course RC truck racing is first and foremost fun, if you convert it into a competition sport don’t take the fun out of it, enjoy the ride and don’t listen to those “win or die” idiots. They spend so much time grumbling about losses that they end up missing out on the whole point of RC trucks: they are toys meant for fun and entertainment.