First Race Meet Primer

If you’ve decided to join in on all the fun and are now wondering how it all works, here’s a bit of a primer for you on how to approach your first race meet.  You’ll be welcomed and made to feel part of the group but there’s still probably some questions you have upfront that you’d like to understand before you turn up for your first day’s racing.  So here are a few things you’re probably wondering.  Hopefully this makes your first race meet less daunting ….

What do I need to bring?

Beyond your obvious RC car kit, there are a few other things you’ll want to plan to pack for the day.  The club has some of these available as a fall back if you forget to bring your own, but you can’t rely on it! 

  1. A gazebo to set yourself up under.  Most racers have their own or arrange to “pit” with someone else that has one but either way, you will want to get in early and set yourself up in a spot within the pit area.  3x3m gazebos are common and relatively cheap at any of your regular outdoor stores (BCF, Rays, Anaconda, Autobahn etc).
  2. A chair.  Whatever suits but folding camp chairs are the most common and can fit in cars easily.
  3. A folding table to set up all of your goodies on for the day.
  4. An extension lead / power board.  We have power and run a series of extension leads out to sections of the pit area for you but you’ll want to have a power board and some lead room to run to your table to plug in your charger and accessories.

What time do I need to get there?

It’s up to you but when we say we start at 9am, we start at 9am!  So most people tend to get to the track at least an hour prior to the start time to give them enough time to set up their gazebo, get their car(s) ready, charge up battery packs and register. There’s always a lot to do including blowing down the track and prepping it, so any help you can give, the better prepared we can be.

Entries / Registrations will open around 8:30 (for a 9am start) and you will need to register, pay and collect your transponder (if required) from then onwards.  The earlier you can do this process the better for our event runners who need to do a lot of work to get ready for that 9am start!  This is why we ask everyone to register prior to the event day as it allows us to prepare and do as much data entry and planning into the race control system as possible.

We run a quick drivers briefing 10 mins before the first race, so 8:50am for a 9am start and expect everyone to be ready to come to this meeting.  So it is important that you are fully prepared and ready to go by this time.  The drivers briefing is where we will introduce new racers, run through the day’s format (including the race order) and any general rules or other points of note.

What facilities are there?

We have a fridge with water and soft drinks you can buy from throughout the day and we also cater for lunch with either a BBQ or a pizza delivery.  So we’ll use the drivers brief to gauge catering needs and plan for lunch in advance.  Please bring some money with you for drinks and lunch (as well as race day payments) as we do not have any electronic payment means (eg no eftpos facilities).  There is an ATM machine available over the road in the APCO petrol station if needed.

There are toilet facilities attached to the site.

What is the format?

Race day formats can (and do) vary depending on the meet but usual club day events consist of 2 grading / qualifying heats first up where you race to determine the grid order for the finals.  Finals are a series of 3 races (therefore 5 races all up for each class over the day) and you start each of those 3 races in the position you qualified in through the practice heats.  You will need to look up where you qualified after the qualifying heats and remember your position for when you get to “grid up” at the start of each race.

We have an electronic “live” timing system that you can access via your mobile phone throughout the day and we also post results after each race on a print out in the pit area for you to review as well.

What else do I need to know / do?

Immediately following your race, you need to quickly return your car to your pit area and then come back to the track to “marshal” the next race.  This means you essentially help put cars back on the track when they need help.  Everyone in RC racing shares this duty and there can never be too many marshals to help!  If you are running multiple classes and your next race follows directly after the previous race, you are exempted from needing to marshal that race, for obvious reasons.  We do however, encourage you to marshal an additional race somewhere throughout the schedule where convenient.

When does it finish?

It varies based on how many different classes will run on any given day.  So if we have 7 classes, it means 35 actual races and based on that, we usually expect it to go til about 4pm.  We wrap up the day with presentations of place holder ribbons and a bit of banter. 

Any advice?

What is always great to see with newcomers is the level of enthusiasm and passion they bring.  But it’s not uncommon for people to turn up on their first race day wanting to run in a number of different classes.

Three simple pieces of advice for you:

  1. Limit the classes you run.  I tip my hat to anyone who is prepared to rock up day 1 and run 3 classes!  But it is a massive undertaking to do that and you need a lot of experience, preparation and planning to pull that off.  It is a precision operation to be able to charge batteries, fix cars and get on the drivers stand when ready.   Balancing that with swapping out transponders and your day is hectic.  Even the most experienced racers struggle with 3 classes and you’ll find 1 or 2 (max) will mean your day is significantly less stressful and you’ll enjoy it more.  It will also give you more time to focus on your car, take things in, socialise and learn more throughout the day.  
  1. If you loved the experience and know you’re comfortable in taking this up as a regular activity (great!), consider investing sooner rather than later in a transponder of your own.  You will love the fact that you don’t need to do anything beyond having your car transponder number entered in the system ONCE and that from then on, you never have to worry about it again.  And no more holes in the bodies either.  
  1. In addition to the transponder, get yourself a fold out table and chairs as your next investment.  It makes the day so much easier on you when you have somewhere to sit and have everything set up for you to easily reach and work with.  It’s a long day.  Make sure you are as comfortable as possible as it’s a long day and being set up with some comfort will help ensure you don’t get both physically and mentally fatigued.

You can feel free to take on as much or as little of this advice as you like.  But I can almost guarantee you that if you do, you will find the day even more enjoyable!