How Good Do You Want To Be?
The first year of racing RC cars and what I had to overcome.
By Venom Team Pilot Paul Peterson.
First of all let me tell you about myself. I have been racing for 1 year, 3 months. So far it has been a challenge to say the least. I got into this sport never racing an RC car before. I received an email from my friend Redwood who had a photo attached to the email that said my new RC car. I opened the photos and it was a dirt late model body mounted on an Associated SC10. I was sold on it immediately and wanted to know more, as I have always been a huge Dirt oval fan in full scale. This was my ticket to the closest form of racing I could afford and still have the competition I was looking for.
I went out and purchased a truck on EBay used and asked my friend Redwood make a body for me. He does an awesome job at lettering and really made my new model look fantastic.
I then started my research to find out more about info on my local RC scene and came across a few tracks; one in particular was Attitude Raceway in Waupun Wisconsin. Just 15 minutes from my home…bonus. I contacted them and asked if they would let Redwood, my brother Wayne (who we got to buy one as well) could come out to race and they agreed.
Since then this class has gone from just Redwood’s car to over 30 drivers at Attitude Raceway. Wayne and I brought the classes to a few other tracks in the area, too. Now other tracks are having people show interest in that class too!
I thought I was going to take the world by storm, as I have been very successful racing 1/24th scale slots cars for over 20 years. Here is where reality kicked in and I found out some of the hard truths of RC racing…
I thought I would just pick up and go win… Wrong. It was a huge struggle to learn set ups, throttle and steering control and about 500 other things to process. The first pointer I can give you is that you will get a lot of information probably too fast for you to process it. Don’t get frustrated. Take the time to learn the car before you go hog wild with set ups. Get comfortable with your model and always ask questions. Understand that what works for one person may not work for you but take notes after any conversation you have with knowledgeable drivers. I have found out that most people in the RC industry know how you are feeling at the start and are very helpful. You CAN and WILL make many friends at the track!
My first race – LOL, Well it didn’t go very well as I was really pumped about racing and well, I finished last and spun out a lot. I mean, like, A LOT. That said, I was up for the challenge to get better and I listened to my peers that all said “practice, practice, practice”. If you stick with it you WILL get better. Trust me, it’s a blast! The control around a dirt oval is like always being on the ragged edge of control. Either you are sliding sideways in the turns or you’re spinning out. There is one constant though, you almost always have another racer at your side.
Maintaining control of your RC is huge and this skill will come to you with more practice. After a few races I was actually showing control, but frustrated how fast some people were. I got very frustrated, but you can’t give up at this point. I started researching and reading all the information out there about setups and adjustments for my vehicle. I would go toDirtoval.com and RCTECH.NET and just read…and read…and read.
Now here is the next piece of advice… Don’t always believe everything you read because people give information like it’s the next best thing. Use the info you find wisely and study it so you can come to your own conclusion. This is difficult at first, but the understanding comes a long later when you are able to process the information you read. It’s for this reason I always printed articles or forms that I really liked for later reference.
So then it happened… my first broken part. I was upset! “How do I fix this?” I asked Redwood and he sat down and showed me just how easy it was to repair your model. I was like “Really?!? This is simple to fix an A-arm and repair the truck!” As parts on my rig broke, I did my best to do the repairs myself. Sometimes I went back to my new RC friends to ask for help and they were always more than willing to show me how they did it. Once again this goes back to the point that everyone had to start where you do so they know how you feel. Now I was interested because I like to tinker around so I started just taking apart a few components to see how they went together and this came in handy at the track knowing how to fix things. Here’s another great tip: Keep your manuals as they are great for reordering parts or as a reminder how to fix things at the track.
My next truck was again purchased on EBay, used. I started racing a second class and actually won my first heat in SC late Model class. Now I thought I was finally here. I had arrived. Wrong again! LOL. Now I had a new problem. Due to racing 2 classes of oval cars I was now getting confused between the two classes. I wasn’t concentrating on one and I started to have problems. I didn’t realize I was starting to fall apart because at this point I was hooked and feeling like racing every class. I worked my way up to 5 classes in the first 6 months. Big mistake. Like, MASSIVE and here is why: When you are new you are excited to race and what you end up doing is spreading your resources too thin and you hurt the other classes making you non-competitive in all classes. That’s why today I race 2 classes for points and one class just for fun. You will find out it is better to sit around and talk with other drivers instead of racing and wondering if you have your Venom batteries charged or if you set them with the non-charged batteries you just used. I could go into a lot more detail on this.
Near the summer season end I was getting better and had a handful of heat wins but still not making the A – mains. I was still racing 4 classes at this point but now I was starting to understand the set ups and what the changes did for me. Remember those notes I told you to take? I started going back and reading the notes I had been taking and the stuff was making a lot more sense. Don’t get frustrated in the beginning! It does come to you.
My venom Sponsorship
After buying a Venom pro charger in the beginning, I thought I would send a photo of my car to Venom to show them what I was doing. They liked the car and logo very much and I asked if they were interested in sponsoring my race season. (Keep in mind that this is not a deal where companies hand you free stuff and you race for free! Speed costs money, how fast you want to go?)
Being a team pilot is a job in many ways. You represent a company and they are helping you out and in return you are helping them sell products by getting their name out there. Venom is a very popular brand name and I do my best to present myself as a professional representative of their company at every race I attend. Each day someone news gets into the RC hobby and needs to hear about Venom as it is a completely new company to them.
Venom likes how I represent their brand with very nice looking cars and how I’m taking my newfound knowledge and helping people less experienced than myself (trust me I still had a long way to go at this point myself).
A special technical note: Make sure you plug your batteries in correctly! Some batteries have the positives and negative plugs on the opposite side a safe way to avoid hooking up incorrectly is buying a hardwired battery and using Deans plugs, but if you choose to hook up with the battery shown in the photo of my truck mark the positive or negative side with tape or some paint as it is much easier than trying to see the positive and negative symbols on the pack.
If you hook up the battery incorrectly it will kill the pack instantly. (Trust me, I learned this.) It is not fun having a nice new LiPO become junk in one, easy mistake. If you hook up the battery backwards and you accidentally left your ESC on it will burn that up instantly too so you can see the importance of making sure you hook it up correctly!
I hope you enjoyed this blog article! Stay tuned! I’ll be posting my winter season contribution in the near future!