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The first points fixture of 2018 at Brentwood RC Raceway was the micro madness event.
The bangers and junior bangers would be running micro banger shells which are based on cars that have 1300cc or smaller engines. The shell of choice seemed to be the K11 Micra but the field was nicely varied featuring Mk1 Ford KAs, a couple of Mk6 Fiestas, Corsa Cs and even a couple of classics made it to the meeting such as a 105e Anglia and an Austin Allegro.
48 senior bangers and 19 juniors would be racing which is a crazy amount for an RC meet! Typically at drifting we would have 30 cars at most! Although that was some years ago now so things may have changed there.
The bangers would be supported by 1300cc stock cars o which there were 39 in attendance. I was one of them! My little Mardave Vauxhall Nova was ready for it’s first taste of battle!
I must admit I was a little nervous. Going into something completely fresh can be a little bit daunting but the guys at Brentwood made me feel completely welcome! I was pitting between Mark Want who comes racing with his two kids, all three were really friendly, chatty and helpful and another family who’s names I didn’t catch but were really nice too!
A big shout out has to go to Rob Barnard. Rob’s been racing for about 10 years now and is an ambassador for the sport. Throughout the evening he was taking time out of his schedule to help the other guys out including myself. He helped me out with a bit of suspension set up and he lent me a good set of tyres for the evening. (Thanks Rob!)
There were a huge number of people packed into a tiny space. It made for great racing, which I’ll get to in a second, but it made getting photos a little tricky. I managed to sneak around the pits once or twice to get some photos of the cars before they got too knocked about. There is some incredible talent and imagination that goes into these liveries; shell builders use a mix of aerosol, brush painting, vinyl and airbrushing to achieve a desired effect. The creativity is certainly a part of what drew me to this hobby.
The racing itself is pretty intense. Both classes are full contact (the exception being 1300s shouldn’t go head on and you should follow people into the walls). A full size banger race is pretty chaotic but this is on a whole other level. A full size banger is doing about 40mph around Arena Essex so we’ll say the cars hit each other at about 40mph. A full size car is also made out of metal and so will crumple and absorb some of that impact. I’d say these cars do about 12-15mph which is 144-180mph scale speed and aren’t design to absorb that impact and are thus launched across the track. They then land against a wall or another car, correct themselves and 99 times out a 100 carry on going as if nothing happened.
When these sorts of impacts are happening between 10-15 cars all the way around the track it just looks like utter chaos. The better drivers are very methodical in deciphering that chaos though; they will bob and weave through the tangle of cars and will pick their contacts carefully, orchestrating another car into the catch fence in a way that won’t disturb their own progress. Thought and tactics go into this. It’s clear to see that’ll you’ll only get good at it if you learn to predict the unpredictable nature of the oval. I know there are some that slate oval drivers but I think, at any scale, that mastering this will make you a better driver overall.
After some time watching the others, it was my turn!
My first heat I got pushed from pillar to post. The first car around the track 40 times would win and trigger the race to end. I made it round a mere 20 times in my first race. The car survived though, I was happy!
The second heat was marginally better with a score of 21 laps. I was beginning to feel more comfortable with it though. when I could get get clean, fast(ish) laps around the track I was finding it really rewarding to get into a bit of a flow. I was also finding contact a little more comfortable too; I certainly wasn’t picking my battles I was more being thrown into them but I was able to spin the other cars and little bit more and work my way out of trouble.
(Thanks for the photo Midge! The little blue and white Starlet my car is sitting behind was lovely. Looked really smart!)
The third heat I scored 22 laps. It could have been 24 or 25 but I spent a bit of time on my roof haha! When the cars with the roof fins get tipped over the fin hits the floor and flips them back up the right way whereas my flat roof has no chance of doing that. A little modification to make before the next meeting!
The results of these first three heats get you a spot in a specific final. Since there were nearly 40 1300s there were four finals. I was in D final which is the bottom final predictably haha! The car went really well though! The screw that holds the front of the motor pod to the chassis got smashed out and after that the car absolutely flew! I managed 5th in the end which I was happy with.
All in all it was a brilliant night and the first time an RC car has made me grin from ear to ear like an idiot in ages. I have a few things to change before the next meeting but the little Nova proved her worth and lives to fight another day, albeit now with some fresh scars!
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