Losing grip – getting up to speed
Anyone who has ever driven an RC car, is probably familiar with the most common question from casual observers: “How fast is it?” I suspect this is one of the main reasons why high speed runs have gotten so popular recently – it must be pretty cool to be able to answer that “Well, today I’ve only hit 106 mph, but it’s still early morning and I expect to reach 110 as soon as the sun has warmed up the asphalt”. Impressive. Me? I go: “Well, since it’s a drift car I might be able to hit 20 mph. Downhill, with a tailwind, if I accelerate carefully.” Not impressive.
Actually, I have no idea how fast my car actually is, except that it is fast enough. Fast enough, and pretty scale accurate, which makes it a joy to watch. I find it pretty fascinating how closely an rc drift car mimics the real thing, considering that the laws of physics doesn’t translate very well when downsizing. While the length of my Camaro or Nissan is a tenth of the real thing, the weight is roughly about one thousandth, but since it’s driven only on flat surfaces this doesn’t really show. I don’t do any jumps, I don’t bounce on any rocks – two things that immediately makes it very obvious that an RC car behaves in a different way than it’s real scale counterpart. A Traxxas Slash doing a twenty feet jump, well, that would be two hundred feet in real life. Ain’t gonna happen. So I stay planted on the ground and go sideways, and truly enjoy trying to look as the real thing driving.
So, this ever present question of how fast it is, got me considering of scale speed, and I believe RC drifting hits the mark. In Formula Drift, entry speeds might be roughly 60 to 100 mph at the very most. In Red Bull Car Park Drift probably a fair bit slower than that. Scale it down to RC drifting, and that means a speed range that goes from baby crawling speed, up to a slow jog, with most of the time spent at walking speed. If you’re into filming and photography, this is very convenient. I took the pictures for todays column with my sun driving around me, and me essentially just turning on the spot, taking the occasional step to follow the car. Perfect.
This accurate scale speed bug that recently bit me, also had me having a second look at my favorite drift spot. It turns out this place is not only close to home and in a nice part of the botanical gardens, but it is also a good size for a realistic track. For track design I utilize crayons. High tech and expensive, I know, but that what it takes if you want to run with the best. It takes me but a couple of minutes to design something decent – a few slow, tight turns, and a couple of sweeping bends – all easily fitted within fifteen by fifty feet. But I have quickly come to realise that track design takes some skill, and that different types of track requires different setups. That’s what I am working on now, trying to figure out where my preference lies. Aiming for higher speeds and longer drifts, or going slow through intricate combinations of curves?
While I am still trying to establish some kind of personal drift style (long way to go, I tell ya), it seems to me that the rest of the drift world is going for speed. Weight is being moved ever further back, for more rear traction. It wasn’t long ago that Yokomo released a rear ESC mount for their YD2-chassis, in order to get more weight on the rear axle.
So what then, is MST up to? I am intrigued by their recent announcement of the MST FXX 2.0 KMW, with the motor up front and aligned length wise. Not what I had expected, so I am really curious to see more details on this kit. Regardless, it is bound to be awesome. In my very first column, I mentioned how different kit names can be rather confusing, but this one makes perfect sense: I believe that KMW stands for Krazy aMount of Wop-ups. At least judging by the MST RMX 2.0, which is absolutely loaded with fancy aluminum bits and pieces. I expect the FXX 2.0 KMW to be in the same vein – lots and lots of upgrades. I want one!
On that note I shall leave you for this week. Get out there, lose grip and go sideways!
Oh, and don’t forget, hit this link to read a few more columns.