I've been into model car races for two years. My brother was into it and he couldn't get any decent result. He needed a mechanic (yes, we do pit stops for refuelling!!) and he asked me to go and assist him in a race. I have a pretty good workmanship. So there we went. What I saw was a bunch of mid-aged guys on the edge of an heartattack running around like madmen and a mix of teenagers and midaged on a stage driving the models with remote controls. A poisonous cloud of exhaust smoke and dust was all over the racetrack. The noise was unbelievable. Everybody was shouting and screaming. A turmoil. I thought: this is madness. Two weeks later I was racing with the rest of the nutters. The models are off-road 1/8 scale cars with internal combustion engine and remote control. The models are very sophisticated. Three diffs, permanent four wheel drive, disk brakes, indipendent sunspension with hydraulic shock absorbers, ABS, Thorsen diffs, carbon fiber frames etc. They weight about 4 kilos and if they hit you it's very sore!! Some years ago a rally formula has been developed in order to bring the races into towns. The same model, with a different suspensions setup, different tyres, gear ratio and a different body race on a solid surface. They can reach a speed of over 100kmh!! The engine is a 3.5 cc two stroke. The car model engines are really tuned up and they can rev up to 35.000 rpm with a power of over 2.5 bhp!! The model with off-road setup can make 60Kmh but on dirt surface it's a lot, and they can jump 10 metres long and 2 metres high! They are not hard to drive though, but winning is a different story. The race lasts the whole day. You get there in the morning and there are 4 qualifying sessions of 5 minutes each. You don't need pit stops because the fuel lasts 6-7 minutes. We have small black box called trasponder on the car in order to trasmit to a computer lap and race times. In the afternoon there are two semifinal of 20 minutes with ten cars racing together. So you need a mechanic to do refuelling. In a pit stop the pilot drives the model full throttle in the pit lane and the mechanic must stop it stomping on it with his foot. Then fiddling with mechanical components which have a temperature close to nuclear fusion, they try to fill the tank up while the pilot revs the engine like mad, trying to avoid it quitting. Hot engines usually quit as you open the tank. The mechanic job is a dirty job! If the engine quits while refuelling, guess who the pilot will blame? Then the mechanic runs like hell to put the car back on track. All this in the shortest time possible. A good mechanic can make you win. The first five pilots of each semifinal go to the final. Hurray!! I still remember my first final. After an hell of qualification and semifinal, when everything seemed to go wrong, I managed to get to the final. I couldn't get good rear tyres that weekend, so I was loosing the rear end at every corner. At the 13th (!) lap I spun the car and a bunch of speeding models hit mine. One wheel left the car with suspension and everything. I was annoyed. Bullshit!! I threw a fit!!
Around the circuit there are some blokes, usually non qualified pilots, suicide girlfriends and relatives, who help to put cars back on wheels and track in case of rollover. Nasty job. Cars are HOT and pilots keep revving to avoid the engine quitting. So mind the spinning wheels. And if you delay 1/100 of second to put the car back in race, pilots insult you and all your family. It's funny to see 14 years old guys insulting the mechanic-father in a way that you won't see in any other place and time. Once I've seen a guy almost killing the wife because she couldn't start the engine quick enough. Looking for a quick divorce? Start model car racing and employ your wife as mechanic!!! Starting the engine it's more an art, it's very difficult. Engines are really tuned up and they are very critical. A wrong carburation and the lifespan of your engine is shortened to 5 minutes. And fixing it will cost you 200 bucks. Ok, so you invest huge money on a state of the art model, engine and radio, lots of spare parts, 25 different sets of tyres, all together will make up over 3000$, and after a coupla years racing you win!! What do you win? Nothing!! If you are lucky you get a cup or a medal that's all. But the feeling is great. I never won a race, but the first time I arriver third, I nearly had an orgasm. Oh, it was almost like sex!! Well, I said almost!! The feeling is great. Was it worth spending all the money, night up setting the model and handmaking new parts, annoying the girlfriend, spending every weekend racing? Yes it definitely was!! I really miss those races and the crowd! One of the first races there were at least 2000 people watching. I still have the model, is sitting there in my room, waiting for some bunch of guys starting that madness in this country. Every now and then I start the engine and try the model. It's so well set up!! I could race and win tomorrow! By the way, it's a Crono, an italian model, with a Novarossi RX21 engine, italian as well, one of the best. Only the body is BMW, just because I couldn't get my usual Lancia Delta Integrale body!! Hey, have a look of the pics, and the mpg of a race. It's fun. The third mpg is shot in a racetrack in Dublin. The racetrack is good, pity there is very little people using it.