Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Drift Bible: Track Styles and Decisions

Want a hot topic.  RC and Track Selection. Should I dare even discuss it...? Is this one topic or more?

High Grip, Low Grip,
High Speed,
Low Speed, 
Open corners,
Square corners,
Constant Angle,
Constant Transition, 
Chassis types,
Outright vehicle potential,
Time to get into position, 
Beginner friendly,
Pro only.
Tennis Court
and of Course... COST

Where do we even start to find a balance between preference.

I know I have tried to cover these before. So I guess I'll just go through the main points with some experiences.

Consider a broad spectrum of driver level:

True Beginner - 
         Happy to just have a car and get it sliding.
         Investment is Low and Care is Lower.
Best Target - High grip and Large wide open high speed tracks.
              ie Car Park, Tennis Court. Carpet,  Roped or boarded area
         Beginners love to mash the throttle,  Test the TOP Speed.
         Beginners never use brakes
         Beginners are NEVER - "on line"
         Crashes are Fun.Test the durability. Oh - My car doesn't break... go faster... jump it, roll it!

Intermediate - 
        Probably have a couple of bodies,  maybe a second chassis,
        Learning about control, but resistant to braking.
        Invested in tuning ,  Invested in bodies
        Have learned from the Local track visits and maybe starting to decide a style choice. 
Best Target - medium size, round constant open corners, few transitions.
Why this track?
          Learning to control the car with a small challenge,
          Don't want to crash so much.
          Time to get in position is available.
          Transitions are smooth and easy


NOW HERE IS A DISTINCT SPLIT and decision is made for direction and the two are so far apart that there is almost no common ground. 

Pro Level - Competition
        A Drift Competition is not hours of fun.
        It's a few minutes of intense pressure.
        Huge Power, Huge Speed, Big investment, Ultimate performance of RC components.
        Serious competitors will target aero and body choice for "Handling and Proximity" as a priority
        Power and Grip are also top priority
        As fast as the RC car is capable of.
        Strict Rules!
        Strict Judging.
Target : Huge Track,
           long straight,  Reducing radius corner + Switch.
           Specific Markers.
           2 corners only!
        Max Speed - OK
        High Speed - Pinpoint accuracy.
        Tuning Inputs and best components = Great capability
        Driver takes a lot of skill to push the chassis to even get close to full potential.
        A beginner can probably drive these machines well,
        But a Pro can make them super fast and super accurate.
Fun + Competition? Only for the winner.

Pro Level - Scale
        Realism, Realism Realism (think scale modellers)
        Scale Speed.
        Scale Handling Dynamics
        Scale look
        Scale track world
        Real Street Cars
        Replica Drift Cars
        Team Group Drift
        Photography Friendly.
Target : Smaller Tracks with realistic width for closer contact to the vehicles.
         Lower grip and speeds for more time to enjoy the machines.
         Different surfaces are real.
         "Scale" elevation is fine
         "Straights", Tight, Square, anything real world is OK.
         Car park drift... Only if it's scale.
       Fun! -  not Pressure
       Hours of drift
       Appreciate the look and build of your expensive machines.
       Challenge of Different Setups. Not just outright speed. Also try for minimal speed. 
       Challenge of driving line and tight proximity.

SO.... Whats the problem...

Well, You need 4 tracks!!!! No compromise. That's why Yatabe Arena has 4.

Like all beginners I went through the stages of wide open spaces with big speed and big grip, overheating ESC and 15 minutes of full power. 

I used to think that this was about as close as I'd get to realism. Body posts for the pain.

Single colour bodies, a drift package, ni-cad and chunky brushed motor. But I wanted more...

Lured by Japan's availability...

I started RC drift with a serious intent. I saw an ad in a Japanese RC magazine. MAX ONE... I am going!!!!

circuit help from Weld - Overdose. 

Talk about right in the deep end!!!!!

Elveation change, Narrow, Overhangs, No visibility, High Grip + Super fast Carpet, + High power 4wd chassis.


The first day I crashed so much, I thought I'd break everything!

I was not a true beginner, I'd had many years of 1/12 on road and 1/10 Off road race experience. I also knew about real 1:1 drift , So I thought I knew all about line, braking and acceleration.

Not really, this was foreign. The missing component for me was drift car setup.  Once sorted, I was on my way. But I already knew that scale was where I wanted to head.

So I dealt with the hardest track, with the fastest car. It took me a while to realize that wasn't the goal.

MAX ONE feel was good, but It was not actually that realistic. The overpass was like a car park entry.
Elevation was too steep and hard to ascend without hitting the ramp at full pace.

 Once up there, the super narrow width (barely enough for a single car at angle. ) was incredibly challenging.

I spent a lot of time perfecting that.Probably the main reason for my skill up.

Visibility was an issue. You learn to use peripheral vision a lot. 

 But it was incredibly involving. diving under the overhangs and slashing through the scenery was incredibly rewarding. But others hated this track.  Do you want to go to MAX ONE... No WAY was often an answer.

It was the tight layout that added so much more as my skill improved.  

Even with the incredibly tight and challenging layout, you still needed more. So you add things to target line and angle.

I LOVED the imagery, so I put more and more effort into my machines' looks also.

I was getting 45 minutes to a battery run... This training on a super tight, super fast course requires accuracy and self restraint.

BUT... I saw many many beginners come and go at MAX ONE. It was not the place for True Beginners.

I also had Kazama D-LINK2 in my region and if any track was further from MAX ONE style, this was it..  Kazama Tuning House + D1! Do you get the Link?

Carpet was the rage at this time... Reduced cost from tyre purchase and low noise meant you could move indoors.

Huge track meant my transmitter at the time was susceptible from interference at this venue.
I could hardly see my car in the distance. How can you judge 1mm proximity at this distance?

Speeds were super high, 4WD cs ratios were low, when you get it wrong accidents were big,

Run time was about 15 minutes for a Lipo.

this level of proximity was the norm. I can't remember running wide lines all that often. Look at these four cars. front wheel angle is negligible as they are flat out headed for the high speed run to the next flick point. No-one was out near the walls.

These cars include myself, Tanaka-san (D1) and two D1 pro RC drivers.

This track kind of settled my style choice on scale rather than RC high speed capability.

D-Link 2 was one of the first P-Tile courses also. My ventures were awesome, I spent much more time on this than the main track, but at the time with high power carpet setup, it was incredibly difficult.

 I went to a few street parties where temporary tracks would set up. but this temporary track style I didn't enjoy. I couldn't see the point of incredibly detailed bodies and no track detail.

That's why to this day, the large roped venues are not my style.

I started to search out more scale locations. RC Oahu. OMG! so cool for photography.

I think you can see how this is achieved. 

Super small, super close action, lots of tight corners and lots of switching transitions. Almost no-one on these smaller tracks run D1 liveries. Street and Touge Style live here.

When you zoom in, you see the effect. My first visit to OAHU was nothing special. but the track evolved more and more. Now it is P-Tile and highly decorated.

WARU, at this time carpet... but it introduced the "straight" as a definitely drift-able option.

With 4wd, constant drift is necessary, but RWD has so many options. At that time RWD did not exist.

I'd love to go back to these carpet tracks with current RWD machines... But as we will soon see. That's impossible.

Evolution has changed RC drift.  I think for the better.

messy ...

WARU was another track that I LOVED. Again WELD was involved here.

It had it all, straights, decent corners, elevation and scale. But looking back objectively at the quality of drifting. these days many tracks display much higher levels of talent, even from beginners.

CS 4wd is hard. Reflexes required, super high speed servos for lock to lock in 0.8sec. That's not for the realist.

Flat out up the relatively gentle ramp... onto a thin straight

full brake into a super tight 90 degree corner then down a super steep ramp.

With 50:50 or even CS 4WD. Definitely not for beginners either.

So where do beginners start... scroll up and check... out doors... car parks and tennis courts.

Luckily, WARU at this time had a large outdoor concrete track also which was perfect for the beginner / high speed comp fan also.

Larger tracks like Kazama Kasukabe, Speed way pal and the Huge Yatabe Arena were also in play.  But a lot of this is dictated by the space available.

Yatabe in Japan is HUGE and to satisfy this, track cost is High! $50 for a Yatabe licence then over $20 an hour for track time.
Most tracks in Japan are about 1500Yen for the first hour and between 2000yen to 3000yen for over three hours limit. ie ALL DAY 

If you only have to pay $15 for ALL DAY, you are very very very very very very lucky.

Roll forward a few years...

For me. Yes I'm interested in Scale RC. A Circuit like NEO is so amazing.  Is it the ultimate small track in Japan. Possibly?

the newer quiet P-Tile surfaces are low wear, keep speeds low and offer super tight drifting from slower reaction times.

That's not to say you get bored. There are many challenges from tight proximity and narrow street layouts. 

Tetsujin drift lounge is another that I totally "GET"

Asphalt and the right tire can make these tracks super fun and super challenging. A very good mix of fun and realism. A realistic size and Meihan style layout

Is this the ultimate circuit??? there's already a lot of debate in this, but if I lived in Nagoya, I'd be here a LOT!  

Again, circuits owned by real car tuners and enthusiasts like Tetsujin offer something extra.

Speed is a strong point here with a straight and big aggressive flick. Very D1.  But massive trains will NOT happen at Tetsujin. It's a tandem battle special and the aggression by nature breeds driving errors.

Proximity manics are satisfied by something like WIN'S Narita

Long constant corners, with the top level guys adding a challenge of super high power + low grip and max angle.

A few years ago... as above... WARU was 4WD and Carpet. (also asphalt), but now the main is P-tile + RWD and the whole image is much cleaner and closer and larger and more inviting.

At any track... the following is true.
Balance your speed to those around you and your RC drifting experience will increase.

You do not always have to go flat out and with 20 + cars on track, you can always find someone to join in at your speed.

The lead car will control the speed usually not at at full throttle, so tune your car for flexible angle and be capable enough to bleed more power than necessary. To go slower at times.

You drive in the zone. Managing your car, in a way, the aggressive battle is not there. Its a merged style. If you are too aggressive in a train, you get 20+ cars plowing into you after you make a mistake. Or if if you dive up the inside you bring three cars with you, forcing the lead car out of the way.

Keeping a constant distance teaches you to be consistent and basically learn to drive by emulating.

In some ways the instigators of this style have been at IROHA circuit.

The FR-D developers, Wrap Up Next are involved here with real world drifters and race drivers also here. they pass on their real knowledge to RC and end up with something right in the zone.
Car setup is on point and similar setups ensure constant running.

IROHA is wide enough for beginners, but beginners won't immediately fit into these trains, they will be intimidated. So beginners usually hang at the back. If you only have one track, those "beginner nights" and "tutorials" are something that should be promoted.

Don't underestimate the driving tutorial either. 

This track has a circuit feel, but it's not too large and not too small.

Is this another best of breed track?

But what I have found in the travels and adventures is this...

Small is hard to learn, Large is expensive. if there's a balance, then IROHA, WINS and Dr. meet a larger group of enthusiasts.

But without the space. NEO and OAHU take advantage of what they have to the Maximum, creating small inviting courses that breed a different, but no less skilled set of drivers.

Rear wheel drive is much easier for beginners and low grip P-Tile or coloured concrete + RWD and a slow tyre seems to be a major factor in consistency and is driving the future evolutions in chassis production and RC direction for Drift.

Even Yokomo have "finally clicked" and are producing specialist parts not only for FLAT OUT 100% throttle RC drift competition. RC can be fun too.

ALL new models this year have been targeted RWD machines with support for settings on line. The puzzle of RWD has been solved for many. albeit a bit too late. Manufacturers can do more. They could have done more to teach the theory behind solid setups required.

With a simple change of attitude, the fact that you can use these same chassis for racing also opens the appeal greatly. 

So If you have a scale focus for realistic action ...

Or a flat out addiction where max speed and open throttle is your primary concern

The track you visit means your style will change... Just like D1 Suzuka and Ebisu Touge course at Matsuri time,

they are worlds apart.  

You cannot meet all these styles in one place, there will be places that don't match your style, and places where your style doesn't match the circuit, so you may not understand right away.

Holding a corner slightly too long may mean you are not on the pace.  Being too aggressive on throttle may mean you are holding up the traffic, so to speak.  

As you travel locally or around the world, enjoy the differences and change your car setups and driving to suit the environment. The locals will help you. (unless its a competition, then you are on your own)

We know some will struggle with setting and the "at times overwhelming" streams of cars on track. Just like I did when I started.  We have all been there, pick the quiet times for skills training.

Just like F1 Vs MX5 Cup, they are both race series. But I don't think you can merge the two.
 So Suzuka D1 competition and Midnight mountain drift for pleasure are a different breed.

Drift is about emulation.

You can only satisfy a small range of styles on any one track. Speak to the locals about the style and the lines and options for other styles.

Now did I answer any question and stay on topic?
I dont' know... you can discuss this one for years and there is no one answer.

My adventure in RC has not been all the same.  It has evolved with the RC options and venues in play.  
But when it all comes together... I definitely have enjoyed my RC adventure.

I don't know exactly what the future is, but have fun out there while you can.

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