Moment with Mike: Do you want sugar with that?
Friday, Mar 15, 2013 01:52pm
By Mike Garrison
With the 2013 Pro-Line Cactus Classic under way and racing live, the big conversation piece from the race is the track prep. The SRS crew used over 1000lbs of sugar on this years track, which in turn has provided unreal amounts of traction. So much traction that for the first time we are seeing top drivers such as Dustin Evans, Jared Tebo, and others using a mid-motor setup on their cars (primarily only used when racing on high traction carpet).
Over the years of racing R/C I have driven on a wide variety of tracks including tracks with sugar, tracks with laundry detergent, tracks with diesel fuel, tracks with WD-40, tracks packed like concrete, tracks tilled like a motocross track, and everything in between.
Each of these different track prep techniques offers unique characterisitics of their own for the track surface. Most would agree that sugar and sugar water prep undoubtably provides some of the most traction you will find on dirt. So much traction that getting a 2wd buggy to break loose is like asking your dog to use the toilet instead of the front yard...there is always going to be the one guy who makes it happen, but for the rest it's nearly impossible.
I am personally not such a good 2wd driver, and will order me a side of sugar on any track that offers it for that extra bite and traction! However, with traction of any sort comes tire wear. The higher the traction, most often the higher rate of tire wear. Example being the Cactus Classic, with such high traction conditions drivers are wearing through a set of tires in less than an entire run.
For the average racer the high traction found on sugar coated tracks is a costly race weekend, as in order to truly be competitive it will cost you a fresh set of rubbers every time you hit the track.
In MY OPINION, at any major race I need all of the help I can get keeping a 2wd going in a straight line...therefore I will gladly spend the extra cash on tires to enjoy the high traction surface. Do I think that club racing tracks should be sugar coated and super traction prepped? No. Anyone in the world can step into the sport of R/C racing, and anyone that hasn't won the lottery will have no problem stepping out if they have to buy new tires every round of qualifying for a sugar coated club race. There is a fine line of balance for track owners between traction and tire wear. Traction means fun, tire wear means money.
(A picture of Mike Truhe's tires after one 5 minute run, compared to a brand new set at the 2013 Cactus Classic)
So my question for today is would you rather race on a high traction track but have the expense of tire wear, or deal with a slick and loose feeling track but re-use the same tires week after week? Should tracks be prepped differently for club races and major races?
Share your thoughts, opinions, and comments below!