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Is Retro too fast?


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#26 Wizard Of Iz

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 07:17 AM

"....... In the short time i've raced slot cars off and on over the last 25 years, I've seen top racers that now run mid b main cars. It's not that the cars are too fast for everyone, they're too fast for racers that aren't able to keep up with them. It's natural, it happens to everyone, I will probably be bitching about slots cars being too fast one day if they're still around.

I get everyone wants to be competitive but are the cars too fast or are racers past their prime?"

 

Somebody has to be the "hole" saying it.  

 

Oh, I'm WAY past my prime. And even in my best days, I wasn't as talented as you or DZ or Biscuit or... many others..., but I could hold my own controller.  

 

Happens to everybody eventually. Even to professional drivers in NASCAR. The great David Pearson - late in his career - could still bust off a good (great?) qualifying lap... but he couldn't race competitively. It's a matter of concentration.

 

God help y'all if I accidentally qualify into the A Main. Because I don't want to be there to mess up y'all's race any more than y'all want me there. It becomes a real PITA to constantly be pulling over on the straightaway.

 

Yes, cars (whether we're talking about Retro or Flexi) have gotten faster. And that's happened at the same time as many (all?) aging drivers' reflexes have gotten slower and concentration level has gotten lower. Tough combination and a tough reality.

 

Once upon a time... Greg Walker and I tried to classify racers into three groups ... Amateurs, Geezers, and Experts or AGE. It proved to be just too hard to do for a traveling series as a guy that struggled away from home could still race for the win on his home track. 

 

Don't change the power to something ridiculously low. But do establish a power number for all tracks to follow. Some are 14.2 and others are 13.6 or 13.8.  

 

Racing seems to be tighter at 13.6-ish and motors last longer.

 

For God's sake don't go to break-outs.  

 

But also, don't approve any parts that would allow the cars to go faster.  

 

And if it takes going to a spec body to get the ultra-thin out of the hobby... do it!


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#27 Dan Ebert

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 07:59 AM

Every genre of Slot Car racing the cars have gotten faster. 

 

Nature of the Beast,  things evolve, change and improve. No one has ever said let's take this and make it worse. 

 

Tracks, chassis, bodies and tires have all greatly improved. If a track wants to reduce the speed of their cars for house races, fine.   

 

But to suggest that Retro nationally or regionally should reduce power, spec bodies, spec tires or gearing will just force racers to find other avenues for speed. 

 

Motors are limited by rules now. Gearing is limited by risk of blowing up. Bodies are regulated by rules and enforcement of them. Chassis are limited by rules and weight. 

 

What happens outside IRRA doesn't concern me. I travel and race for the love of the hobby. So when I travel hundreds of miles and spend hundreds in a weekend to race, I don't want to be subjected to local or haphazard rule sets. 

 

There are just a couple of tracks where speeds are at the breaking point. If you don't want to go fast, just don't go there.   

 

I am comfortable racing Retro on any track in the USA. I may not be the fastest guy. But that won't hold me back from being there.


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#28 Bucky

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 10:23 AM

Didnt we all see this coming? I'm not a historian, but my understanding is that the golden era of slot cars that IRRA harkens back to eventually became open racing with wing cars in heavy glue. This was too fast for many, so scale racing realistic cars at slower speeds, i.e. flexis, came about. Those turned into blobs at high speeds, and Retro was introduced to go back to a time of reasonably powered cars that look more realistic.

If we follow the cycle, Retro needs more aero, hotter motors, and even more unrealistic looking backpoured bodies before whatever comes next. It's evolution.


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#29 MSwiss

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 11:06 AM

Ye of little faith.

 

I think the IRRA can be proud that we've kept a minimum weight and body thickness in place. The cars have only gotten faster in the past few years because of the CR102 and racers ability and willingness to overgear them.

 

When I first tested one in a Retro car, I tried a 9t pinion and I thought it was great on my flat track, maybe a little shy on bank speed on my King. With a 10t, it seemed about right.

 

Good Retro Hawk lap times and an acceptable amount of heat. It didn't seem like it was running so 'ice box' where it could be geared a lot more aggressively.

 

What I didn't envision was that you could run the motor black without lap times dropping.

 

With the Retro Hawk, and its type of magnet, once you over-geared it, lap times dropped fairly quickly so there was no reward.

 

All the above said, I think Eddie is in the minority that the cars are too fast.

 

PS: IMO, slot car racing was so much better in the '80s when we spent the six days before the next race working on new things, and looking forward to next week's race, vs. airing every minor grievance we have.


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#30 Tim Neja

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 03:26 PM

Well, why is 1/32 home track racing so popular then if speed is the only criteria? Those people enjoy the camaraderie and racing each other without having to deal with going faster every week.  

 

Retro is not the old slot racing where unlimited time energy and money were thrown at it. It was successfully designed to get the amateur builder and 'old' racer back to the track. It did so with great success.  

 

Reducing the voltage or spec gearing would get back to bringing more people out racing – the fast guys aren't going to go away. But new blood is the energy of all sports to thrive and survive.  

 

The cars have gotten too fast to handle well for most racers. If you want ultimate speed – there's plenty of classes for that as well. Go fast.


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#31 Phil Hackett

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 04:17 PM

I've been concerned about what I then termed 'speed creep' since we started IRRA over 15 years ago, but nobody wanted to hear it then and they still won't want to hear it now.

The basic problem is the faster the slot car, they fewer people who will want to race them. I call that Wells' Law and the evidence over many decades is that it is undoubedly true.

But speed is addictive, almost as bad as heroin it seems, and most of the top Retro racers essentially speed junkies.

 

[sarcasm of sorts]

 

Comparing the speed of slot cars to heroin (a downer drug) and not to cocaine or meth is kinda missing the mark... all are addictive.

 

[end of sarcasm....]


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#32 Samiam

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 04:39 PM

Easy – turn down the voltage.

 

Winner!  :victory:

 

Maximum voltage 13.0 at the panel.

 

Make it so.

 

Note: this comment is unqualified. Ignore if it offends you.


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#33 John Luongo

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 05:51 PM

With spec voltage, the finishing position/lap totals may get tighter with the top 10-12 racers. May not be as close as an IROC-style race, but a greater emphasis on driving skill and finishing position, especially when racing for points.

 

The cream will always rise to the top.

 

Be well.



#34 Cheater

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Posted 06 October 2023 - 09:11 PM

From my personal perspective, the question is this:

What is the goal here? What are we trying to accomplish via slot racing rulesets, sanctioning bodies, etc.?
 

Is it to craft a competitive landscape where a small number of talented and well-financed racers are minimally recognized as superior to the other competitors? Is it all about stroking the egos of the racers who consistently make the podiums at the big races?

 

Or is there a different goal, a different focus?

You tell me... what is the goal here? I know what mine is and was.


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#35 NSwanberg

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 01:34 AM

More racers.


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#36 usadar

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 04:56 AM

Speed is my life.
Its great that Retro cars are getting faster and faster.
Otherwise, I would quit racing.
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#37 usadar

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 05:02 AM

Please find the fact that Retro cars have got faster without much cost increase. The era of Retro Hawks was a kind of nightmare, at which you had to keep buying hundreds of them to find a single racable one. Now with CR102, the cost of racing is kept reasonable but your performance is improved.
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#38 Dominator

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 07:30 AM

So let me put my spin on what the goal should be for Retro or any form of racing.  The questions that should be asked is what is best for the raceway to keep racers coming back and attract new racers.  Aside from marketing and promotions, IMO if someone walks in and goes from a rental then jumps up to a LMP car where they are running sub-4 second laps, the cars are too fast. In the mid-'90s, a 16D in a TurboFlex would run low 5 second laps on a modern King of the time. A boxstock 12 ran in the 3.4s. Regardless of motor and class of racing if there is any hope, IMO, of enticing new racers we need a more entry level class. 

 

Now back to Retro. Tires and overall set-ups have gotten faster. Bodies have gotten only marginally faster. The major improvements in handling/speed have been from the Kelly Charger, RTR Lola coupe, and VFC Ti22. In my own testing with these bodies, I found these to be roughly half a tenth. The bodies previously usde for each of these classes (VFC Charger, Parma Lola Coupe, and Ti22)  eigned for many years as the go-to bodies. 

 

If one wants to slow the cars down to help keep racers coming back (or possibly reduce carnage), the best solution is not universal. If you take a modern Gerding King, switching from a 12 pinion to a 10 will only slow the car down about a tenth. On a driver-type track like a Hillclimb or older King, dropping a pinion size will simply make the cars more driveable with little change in lap times. Less spray glue and natural tires perhaps? Reducing power will help but the right power level may be subject to each specific track. 

 

Personally with as few tracks as we have I don't care what is raced as long as we are able to have a race and those that come have a good time so they come back next time.   

 

Bottom line, what ever works to help keep the raceways open. 


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#39 Wizard Of Iz

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 09:37 AM

I also believe that a factor in cars becoming faster – or at least lower lap times – is the continued improvement in controllers. Today's controllers-of-choice have more knobs than my old Yamaha CR420 receiver back in the mid-'70s. I've watched guys greatly improve their lap times simply by fine-tuning their controller. Truly impressive.

 

I'm pretty sure that lap times would go up significantly if everyone was using a truly "Retro" controller. BTW... I'm very confident that the same fast guys would still be the fast guys.  

 

In the grand scheme of things... qualifying does a great job of matching racers of similar ability against each other. After all... once the race starts, you're just racing.


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#40 Martin

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 10:15 AM

Easy – turn down the voltage as Mike Low and others have suggested. :victory:

 

Is this not the best solution?

 

Slower speeds net better racing and more fun and more competitors wanting to get involved IMO. Remember "speed kills" the sport.


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#41 Dominator

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 10:45 AM

Unfortunately lowering the power alone will not be enough unless you spec a pinion/gears. Lower the power and guys will put bigger pinions on.
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#42 MSwiss

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 10:54 AM

Dom,

 

Do you believe there is any significant amount of people sitting on the sidelines, waiting for Retro cars to slow down 5-10%, before they jump in?

 

I don't. 

 

I think there is already racers who run Retro because they are slower than Wing cars.


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#43 jimht

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 11:01 AM

Just a thought: is Retro growing or declining or static? 

 

Deciding which of the three is going on might give a clue as to what 'needs' to be done.


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#44 bronxcomet

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 12:44 PM

Still lots of Pittman 195s left. gear 'em 5 to 1, must be 70 years old (senior league) to enter!!!

 

Marty P.... surfs up.


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#45 John Luongo

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 12:44 PM

As jJmht states above, is there a need to change anything? And which direction should it go? Slightly less power, under local option rules, could yield fewer track calls and a bit easier on the equipment. But, your set-up for one track at full power may not be competitive at another track using reduced voltage.

 

Fortunately today's motors are durable enough to handle all tracks regardless of voltage with proper gearing. Quite some time ago, we ran a hardbody class using 36D belt-drive WhisperJets. After the main Grp 10 event, guys could race these for $2 entry fee. Very evenly matched cars, but a lot of fun. In fact some racers would show up to help corner marshal the main event just so they could race the WhisperJets afterwards. It generated interest and new racer participation.

 

Stay safe!


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#46 JHMerriman

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 01:18 PM

Im not sure speed is the absolute reason for participation numbers. If you look at racing in Europe for example, youll find mainly flat tracks and upper end classes of racing with little to no rules. They routinely attract 40-50 racers. That could be just a difference in mentality between the US and them.

Ive frequently found myself having conversations with people who refuse to race if they dont feel like they can win. I personally believe thats more of the root cause of participation numbers fluctuating than any rule set or general speed of cars.

At the end of the day, youll never stop speed crazed morons like myself from testing and tweaking our equipment and ourselves looking for more speed.
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#47 Bill from NH

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 03:27 PM

Marty, do you mean Pittman 196 A or B? I've had a new one in the box for about 20 years and I'm not a collector.


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#48 Tim Neja

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 03:45 PM

Do you believe there is any significant amount of people sitting on the sidelines, waiting for Retro cars to slow down 5-10%, before they jump in?

 

I don't. 

 

I think there is already racers who run Retro because they are slower than Wing cars.

 

And that's the attitude that has killed slot racing for 60 years. Ignoring the needs of the many to take care of the few. 

 

Enjoy your birthday parties, Mike. We never lose the dedicated speed demons. We lose the greater middle racer and newbies that can't keep up at these speeds. Racing has never gotten better because of going faster. It simply means less will participate. And many race Retro because it's a lot of bang for the buck. Others because they enjoy building cars. A wide range that don't care about going faster – just racing with your friends.


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#49 MSwiss

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 04:23 PM

What attitude? 

 

I asked a question. 

 

I kill myself every month to pay the rent on a facility so anyone from enthusiasts to grandfathers and grandkids can enjoy slot car racing.

 

I specifically have adjustable power on all my lanes to make it as easy or as hard as as anyone wants. 

 

As far as my existing weekly racers, none tell me the cars are too fast.

 

I don't recall any situations where prospective racers express that the cars are too fast to want them to make the commitment to get involved.

 

Please don't scold me like a child when I go out of my way to accommodate as many slot racers as possible, be it serious or extremely casual.


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#50 Dominator

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Posted 07 October 2023 - 06:41 PM

Do you believe there is any significant amount of people sitting on the sidelines, waiting for Retro cars to slow down 5-10%, before they jump in?
 
I don't. 
 
I think there is already racers who run Retro because they are slower than Wing cars.


Probably not. But I think what some are saying here is cars are going too fast at certain tracks.


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