Basic HO Slotcar Driving and Racing Tips

These tips are opinion only, based on what has worked well for a particular racer over the years. Your track conditions and equipment, racing and car class rules, and personality will all influence how effective or useful these tips may be for you. There are many other effective techniques and strategies used by others. If something here doesn't work for you, then try something else! Also, talk to your racing buddies, they may have a different idea that works better for you.
-There are three important rules to good driving: concentration, concentration, concentration. Try to stay totally focused on your car as it moves around the track. Ignore the screaming drivers, corner marshals, Race Director, kids, heat, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, nuclear holocaust, natural disaster, or any other minor distraction.
-With that said, do keep one eye on the other cars, though. For cars with no or weak traction magnets, anticipate passing situations in the turns; avoid passing on the outside or being passed on the inside so you don't get "noogied" off by a fishtailing car. Also, think before smashing into someone else's upside-down car in your lane on the straightaway: other than being rude, will you get knocked off too? Or break your car or his?
-Another reason to be aware of the other cars is so you'll know when they fall off. Why would you want to know this? Because that's when you should stay on at all costs! You can pull way ahead of your nemesis when he's off and you're on, even if you're going a little slower than usual (Think about it: how long can it take for a corner marshall to replace a car or two? How fast are you turning laps? You can pick up anywhere between 1 and 5 laps as the marshall fumbles with the car!)
-What's the number one secret to turning the most laps? Simply keeping the car in the slot! Overall, you'll do better by driving somewhat conservatively and staying on, then by pushing too hard and falling off frequently. While your ultimate goal is to learn to "drive on the edge", (as fast as the car is able at all places on the track), until you reach that pinnacle of driving ability, just "keep it in!"
-Generally, you should have a minimum of two complete cars built (including bodies) for each class you race in. Build more if you can. There are a number of reasons: to have a backup car in case one is a dog, or if one has a breakdown right before the race starts, or to more easily experiment with different equipment combinations.
-Pick your controller carefully. A smooth driving style is the goal. Generally, you should not have to "feather" (rapidly move your finger) too much in the turns. If you find this happening, try a higher ohm controller. Also experiment with different controllers for different lanes; higher ohms for the inner two lanes, lower for the outer two.
-Be sure to practice on all lanes, especially the inner lanes with the tighter turns. If you can handle these, the others are a breeze! At the least, you'll know where your particular trouble spots are. Also, no matter how good a driver you are, some cars simply handle better on inner lanes, some on outer, and some on all (and some on none!).
-"Race the track, not the other cars." This old bit of sage advice is fine if you are racing by yourself. A more realistic strategy is to pick out a comparable or slightly faster car and shadow it. The competitive pressure may make both of you go faster (kind of like drafting, cool!), or the other driver may get rattled and fall off, or you'll be able to sneak by when he encounters traffic on his other side.
-Be sure to clean your rear tires between every heat. Dirty tires cause a significant deterioration in your car's handling. For silicone or silicone coated tires, use a roll of masking tape with the end folded back to expose the adhesive. Clean the front tires, too.
-Clean your pickup shoes between every heat. Dirty shoes really cut down on the power reaching your motor, especially in older cars without traction magnets. Use a cordless Dremel with a soft polishing wheel, or a piece of Scotchbrite pad, or an eraser.
-Don't over-oil! Excess oil does more harm than good. It gets onto the commutator and mucks up your brushes and springs, and gets flung off the car forming oil-slicks on the track. This makes the track slippery and attracts dirt. This is bad for you and the other drivers.

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