Tag Archives: driving

Egomaniac, You Never Listen


A while ago I wrote “The Art of Testing”, where I explain how one problem with getting feedback from drivers, is that the results they get aren’t in my opinion reliable. Developing a car is complicated, and when someone comes to you and says “This was so much faster, easier”, whatever, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. In the end I need to do everything myself, so to a large extent feedback is not required, until I want to verify my findings.

I got the idea for this post because today at the track I was verifying some of my findings. What I like to do is watch another driver drive so I get an idea how they drive their car, and then either give my car to them, or if they are running a JQ already, have them adjust something that I want to test, on their car. In both cases I then watch them on the track to see the difference, and then ask them what they thought. I first ask what they thought in general, and don’t let them know what my specific interest is, as I want to see if it was a big enough point that they mention it themselves. Let’s say I think my car, or a setting makes the car exceptionally fast in hairpins. I won’t ask how was the car in hairpins, but I will be hoping they mention it. This way I will know that I have found something others agree on too. If they don’t mention the things I was looking for, I will ask more precise questions, but without guiding them as to what the answer should be.


I also like to get feedback from different skill levels. I think complete beginners aren’t valuable, some people may disagree, but there is no value for me in that. Every person will be different, it’s irrelevant. What I look for is someone who is new enough to where they can drive around the track consistently, but are still relatively inexperienced as far as setup goes. I also have someone test that is a national level driver, this way I get a broader range of feedback. The car will also be driven in a different way so I can actually tell what the car is doing on the track. The less experienced a driver is, the longer it will take them to adjust to the car, and you can tell what it is doing wrong, or different easier than if a very good driver was driving it.

So there you go, there is more to it than you think isn’t there.

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Euros 2016 – Seeding Practice

Today was seeding practice. In the morning we had a 5 minute free practice run, and then after that two 10 minute seeding rounds, where they took the 3 best consecutive laps. I really suck at the 3 laps thing, and don’t like it at all. But at least in 10 minutes you can just run your pace and you will have 3 good laps somewhere.

I stuck with my plan, and didn’t get psyched out by what others are doing. Run this tyre, this guy did that and was fast, etc etc. I don’t care, I know what I need, and I am doing that, I don’t care what anyone else does. Maybe I don’t have their driving style, or talent, so I worry about myself, not them. I have only run LW Medium Impacts. Nothing else. I tried some different wheels today, as they were harder, and liked that. I changed my gearing, going to a 48t main gear from the 47. I am running the smooth gearing here, (43/13) as it has more punch, and it’s needed here accelerating uphill for example.

The only setup change I did was before the first run today, I lowered the front link in order to get more steering that’s it. So total changes at this race are thinner front swaybar, 2.2 from 2.3, 48t main gear from 47t, and front link bottom hole on tower from middle. All changes I have done before and know exactly what they do.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, was that one thing I am focusing on with my driving, is accelerating straight. On this track there are many places where I tend to still have the wheels turned when accelerating. You can flow around the track this way, but squaring up early and accelerating with the wheels straight is quite a bit faster. That’s one of the things I need to improve on, along with maintaining my speed better in the tighter corners. I also need to be a bit more safe in the places with no marshal, there are a couple of places where you will loose 10 seconds if you crash, and it’s not worth risking it there.

I hope I can keep this going now for qualifying. I seeded 10th and my 5 minute pace is better than that. Let’s see how my head is, and my confidence. My car is very very good. The slower I go, the faster I am, it really is easy to drive, and I just need to not make mistakes and I will be good. Tomorrow we have a short practice in the morning, where I won’t try anything lol, and then 3 rounds of 5 minute qualifying.


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The Starting Point


As has already been determined, I don’t have much talent for driving, if any, and limited skill. And skill is what I need to build up over the next few years. If you don’t know the difference, read about it here. Now that the season has began, with Nitro Challenge and Silver State, and a few smaller series races it’s time to look into where I am now, and what I need to do to improve.

At Nitro Challenge I was in the B main in both electric and nitro buggy. In electric my batteries dumped, but even so, I was not going to bump up. I was maybe in 5th. In nitro I actually had a very good chance of bumping up but ran out of fuel half way. At Silver State I was again in the B main in both, bumped in electric and was in contention for about half the race in nitro, then had some issues and dropped back. In Europe it’s the same. Semi final and sometimes in the main sometimes not. So any given race, I tend to be 7th – 20th most of the time.

I tend to be about 1 second a lap off the pace. If we imagine that I loose time in every corner, because that tends to be where time is lost, it works out to be less than 0.1seconds per corner. That’s not a lot. But most of the time it is certain sections where I lose the time, not every corner.

What the hell am I doing...

What the hell am I doing…

Why are some drivers faster?

There are three main ways I lose time, 1. I don’t hit my lines right, go too wide etc, but more importantly, 2. I go too slow in control using the right line, or 3. I go too fast and end up scrubbing too much speed in order to do the right line, turn the wheel too much scrubbing speed, get out of control accelerating out, losing time etc.

The thing that the best drivers do so well is they drive as fast as possible without going over the limit that the car or tyres can handle, they maintain their speed in corners, and don’t slow down too much unnecessarily. They don’t go into the corners too fast upsetting the car, sliding the rear in a way that slows the car down, braking too hard too late, unsettling the car, or turning the wheels too much slowing the car down. They are able to find the limit of traction and handling and stay just within that limit, and when they notice they have pushed too hard, they correct with throttle and steering input before speed is lost.

The best drivers control the car a lot with the throttle and don’t roll around very much, mostly the car is on throttle or on the brakes.

How do I improve?

Setup helps a lot, don’t get me wrong, but I am sure that the White Edition LV is now good enough that if one of the top drivers raced it, they could win. I already know that a top driver who is about 1 second a lap faster than me can take my car and go 1 second faster, because I have let some drivers run my car. So yes working on setup helps, but if I want to win, right now what I need to do is work on my driving. That’s actually what everyone needs to do if they want to win. I think that sometimes people think a car should drive itself, and they forget that the best drivers don’t necessarily always have the best cars.

What I want to do is practice increasing my corner speed, and focus on entering corners slower and more in control, and in turn driving faster through them. I need to do lap times, and 5 minute timed runs, and not change the car, but change my driving, and really think about the way I am driving and what I am doing. I will write about that in the future. All I know is it’s not going to be easy. One mistake that I have noticed that I do is I brake too late, and too hard, which makes me mess up the corner entry, and my speed in the corner. Most of the time when I “slow down” I go faster. I need to slow down and prepare for the corner earlier, and work on increasing my speed mid corner and out of it. That is just step one. There is a lot more to it.

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Smooth or Even Smoother Gearing


The difference between the Smooth Gearing 43/13, 46-48/13, 43/13, and the Even Smoother 45/14, 47-49/13, 45/14 is noticeable, but quite tricky to explain, because it’s not quite straight forward. In general, the 43/13 gearing is ”punchier”, you need less run up to jumps in order to clear them, as the car accelerates harder, it’s better for small tight tracks. The even smoother, 45/14 gearing maintains momentum better, but doesn’t accelerate as fast from a low speed to clear a jump for example. So you could say, smooth gearing, 43/13 for tight technical tracks, and even smoother 45/14 for large, fast, sweeping ”euro style” tracks, but you would be mistaken, and here is why.

With the smooth gearing, 43/13, the car accelerates more, but not initially. Say you let off the throttle for a corner, the car slows more, so it is easier to control. Then you add just a little of throttle, and the car won’t do much, at first, you need to pull the trigger or push the stick more, you need to get deeper into the throttle before the car really starts accelerating, so you don’t need to be so careful and precise. Basically you can stay in control, and drive around the track with more throttle applied.

If you look at the video above, the sections where this was really evident was the right hand corners at 9 seconds and at 16 seconds, where after changing to this gearing I actually stopped because I wasn’t pulling the throttle enough. Also at 13 seconds, accelerating up to the jump I needed to apply more throttle, however, let’s say I made a mistake in the corner and lost all my speed, I could now easily clear the jump, where before I had to maintain my speed. Finally, the whole section starting at 25 seconds all the way to the back of the track, I had to use more throttle, so it felt like I was driving more punched to go fast.

43/13 Smooth Gearing: Basically you can stay in control, and drive around the track with more throttle applied.

With the even smoother 45/14 gearing, the car naturally carries more corner speed, so you have to make sure to brake enough to slow down. Also, when you then just barely touch the throttle, the car will go a lot more, so you can’t pull the trigger too much, you have to ”baby” it around corners more. You also need to maintain your momentum and flow around the track. It’s not as good if you point and shoot, then you are better off with the smooth gearing, 43/13. However, it has been our experience, that average racers prefer the even smoother gearing, and that is why we include it as stock with the LV kits. It takes less effort, and less throttle to go fast, and traction is very consistent.

If you look at the video above, it’s the opposite to before, the sections where the gearing was really evident was the right hand corners at 9 seconds and at 16 seconds, where with the even smoother gearing the car will maintain it’s speed, and you just barely touch the throttle. Also at 13 seconds, accelerating up to the jump I needed to make sure to maintain my speed to easily clear the jump. Finally, the whole section starting at 25 seconds all the way to the back of the track, I was barely using the throttle while cornering, and it was easier to flow around this section and maintain corner speed.

45/14 Even Smoother Gearing: It takes less effort, and less throttle to go fast, and traction is very consistent.

The gearing isn’t really a setup change that is used from track to track. Both produce the same lap times, it comes down to driver preference. It’s hard for me to even decide on which one I prefer. The past couple of years I have been racing with the even smoother gearing, now I am giving the smooth gearing a try.

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The Difference Between Talent and Skill


If there is one thing that is apparent in today’s RC racing, it is that there are more fast and dedicated drivers than before, at least in 1:8th scale racing. The level of competition has increased dramatically, and that is good to see. Now I just wrote yesterday that I want to win, let’s take a look at what that will take.

Originally I started designing my own car because I wanted to get a job in the RC industry, that would last past my racing career. However, what motivated me was the thought that one day I could win. It would surely have been easier to do 10 years ago than now, I can tell you that much. I think at this point most people would say it’s impossible for me to win, because of two reasons, I don’t have the talent, and I don’t have the opportunity to focus on my racing. Both true statements, but I don’t think either one makes winning impossible. And that’s why I am still trying.

Talent and skill are different, and here is how I would define them, when it comes to RC:

Talent: This is evident when watching great drivers drive, specially when they have to adapt to a new situation. Talent is the “it” that some people have, it’s the perfectly timed jumps, the impressive corner speed, and the unlikely yet successful overtaking maneuvers. Talent is not something you can learn, you have it or you don’t, it is in-born, it is natural. Some people are immediately decent at certain activities, even if they have never done it before, others need to practice. That’s talent. We all have some talent, others just have more of it.

Skill: This is an ability that is built up by meaningful practice and repetition. At first you just rely on your talent, and when you practice you build up your skills. A lazy talented individual will eventually be beaten by a hard working less talented individual, because the hard working person is improving their skills, to make up for their lack of talent. But a hard working talented individual? That’s when you get someone dominating the scene.


How do you win?

I believe that if you don’t have enough talent, you can’t beat a talented hard working RC Racer consistently, it’s just not possible. The reason is that to win consistently you also need to win on your bad days, you need to adapt and adjust your driving when things aren’t quite right, and that is very hard to do. You can’t build up enough skill to do that. With talent you can adapt, with skill you have to have practiced and practiced each and every situation, and it is hard to adapt when you don’t have the massive built up experience of some new situation that you can rely on.

BUT, what you can do is you can beat them when everything goes right. When a hard working skilled, but less talented racer has a perfect setup, and a good day, they can beat anyone, maybe as long as the best talents aren’t having a perfect day too. And that’s what I am shooting for. I will never dominate, I will never win multiple races a year, but maybe, if I work hard, just maybe I can put it all together at least one time.

Think of it this way. Maifield, Cavalieri and Tebo are all extremely talented. How is this evident? No matter how hard you work, without talent you can’t basically be top 3 in every race you enter for 10 years. If you look at those three drivers, that’s pretty much how it has been. Insane results. Then you look at someone like Adam Drake, who works hard, and even according to himself lacks the same talent that some of his competitors possess. Drake has national titles, race wins, even against those three above, but no clear domination, not on the podium at every race. That’s because the skills are there, but the talent needed to adapt to less ideal situations in order to always be winning or close to it, isn’t.

So What Now?

Luckily for me RC is still somewhat underdeveloped, both in a business sense and racing sense. I should not be able to do what I am doing in the RC industry. There should be no way for me to compete with these companies, but I am. I can because most companies aren’t doing a very good job of marketing, sales and product development on the racing side of RC. I mean think about it, these companies have sales departments, marketing departments, multiple engineers in the R&D department, hell they even have a CEO. Now imagine one person does it all.  See what I mean?

Same goes for driving. I don’t think drivers are practicing enough, or smart enough. You look at Ty Tessmann or Robert Battle, and you can see their programs are solid. That’s why they are winning big now. But even there I think more can be done if you set your mind to it and think about ways to improve and practice even better and more effectively. Apart from them, to me it seems like most other top drivers seem to rely on talent a lot, and do some practice laps a few times a week. There is no deeper thought going into it. They are just that good.

Now that the White Edition LV is performing, and we have even more performance improvements in the pipeline, and now that the company is rolling along, requiring less input from me, due to streamlined practices, what I want to do is see if I can out smart, and out work the competition. It will require a perfect setup, a lot of studying both the car and driving, and dedication. It will require me being able to surround myself with the right people, and it will require some luck too I am sure. But we make our own luck. I will share what I learn, and my progress on here. There is a lot to learn from watching the best drivers on the track, and also a lot to gain from perfecting the setup of the car for oneself.

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Anti-Squat – Change That First

Assuming that you have a good suspension set up, you should not start changing that as soon as you feel that you suspension isn’t working right. There are other things you do first. One such thing is anti-squat.

For the White Edition LV, a good suspension setting would be grey springs all round, 7×1.2mm pistons front, 450-500 JQ oil or 30-32.5 Losi oil, 7×1.3mm pistons rear, 350-400 JQ oil, or 27.5-30 Losi oil.

Anti-squat mainly works when you accelerate, it stiffens up the rear suspension and stops the car from squatting. This makes the car faster on smooth high bite tracks, but when it gets bumpy the car starts bouncing around and the wheels don’t stay on the ground. The car also jumps better with more “pop” with more anti-squat. I think anti-squat also affects corner entry, you have more steering into the corner with anti-squat, specially if you are landing a jump into a corner.

But the downside of anti-squat is bumps, and that is why the first thing you should do if your car isn’t handling bumps well, is to reduce the anti-squat. Go from the stock 2 degrees to 1, and then if you like it, try just 0.5 degrees. The car will feel softer, you will have more rear traction, and it just has more of that “wet rag” feel. Wet rag is the term is use for a car that just sticks to the track and slides over all the bumps. Imagine dragging a wet rag over a bumpy surface, it’s just going to follow the surface perfectly, adjusting it’s shape to the track.

So why don’t you just run less anti-squat all the time? Because when the track is flat, or the traction is high, adding anti-squat is faster, the car squares up and accelerates faster out of corners, and will just be more responsive and carry more speed. That’s why.

The Video

Not the greatest video, but it’s something. Notice how the rear bounces higher in the first clips, and how the rear suspension doesn’t compress as much through the corner. With less anti-squat at 25 seconds, it jumps flatter into the corner and watch at 31 seconds how the rear actually absorbs the bump and compresses a lot. That never happens in the first two clips. Watch again!

Entering the corner, you can’t really tell a big difference, but actually driving the car, it really did make a difference in feel and confidence entering the corner. The most important fact about the last clips, is the very last clip. If everyone is using the same line, and it gets bumpy, CHANGE YOUR LINE! I literally just went 1 foot to the right, and it was perfectly smooth. That makes a difference. If you pick smoother lines, you will be faster, because the tyres will be on the ground more, and that’s what moves you forward, or stops you when braking.

Finally, below you can see a lap on the track. When it get’s bumpy, remember anti squat, and line selection.


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Driving – Throttle Control & Line Choice

Today I went to the Dialed In Raceway track in Victorville, which is north of LA on the way to Vegas. The track is medium size with really good dirt, good for testing and practicing driving. And driving is exactly what I will write about today. There is a lot to be said about having the right set up, but at the end of the day, the driver is key. Every single person out there can improve their lap times without touching their car. That’s a promise. All you need to do is take a minute and THINK about what you are doing, or trying to do. I’m being serious. How many of you actually think about driving, and line choice, and how you are using your throttle? Next time you go to the track, think about these things, don’t just drive, and I guarantee you, you will be faster.

Look and the lap in the video above, and then check out some of the sections that I break down for you. The only two things you really need to know about cars and how they work for this article, is that the car will be easiest to drive, and have the most grip, when the tyres are equally loaded. So if you can see your car leaning this way, up on two wheels that way, up on the front wheels under braking, popping wheelies out of corners, you can be sure that you aren’t getting around the track as fast as possible. Another thing to consider is the way tyres work, really simply put, forward bite, accelerating and braking is one way the tyre can provide traction. Side bite, so left or right, basically cornering, is the other way. Both of these can be maxed out, but not at the same time, if you want to accelerate and corner at the same time, it’s a compromise. While cornering, you can’t accelerate as hard as you can going straight, because some of the available traction is used up for cornering. (Google traction circle). Think of it this way. If you brake really hard and turn your wheel, what happens? The car just goes straight. If you accelerate really hard on a loose track, what happens? The car starts wandering sideways. So basically, you need to know that if you want to accelerate or brake as efficiently as possible, you need to do it in a straight line, and if you want to maintain your corner speed, you need to make a smooth round arc. And that leads me to the first section.

At the end of the straight you have a simple left 90 that tightens up at the end. Simple right? Yes, if you don’t care about going as fast as possible it is. So let’s break it down. Based on the above theory, it would make sense that you try and get the car to go in without upsetting it, just keep it level, and make a smooth arc. Braking brings the nose down, and the rear up, weight shifts to the front, the car is not settled and the tyres aren’t loaded as equally as possible. You don’t want to enter the corner like that. So brake early, brake very little, or don’t brake at all. For this corner, I don’t brake, I let off the gas and turn in, but I don’t let off all the way, and this is important. I may let off or brake a little when going straight, but when setting up for the corner I get on the gas slightly and keep an even throttle, because when the drive train is loaded in our cars, they are more stuck to the ground and hold their line. You often see people spin out mid corner, simply because they got off the gas, if they had kept the throttle steady they would have been fine. So let off at the end of the straight, and maintain a low amount of steady throttle around the corner, or if you are going too fast, simply roll through it. Then at the end where it tightens, quick tap of the brakes, turn the car around and get hard on the gas so you don’t do a 180. Getting on the gas hard usually stops your car from over rotating, so say you are rolling through a corner and you start to loose the rear, stab the throttle and you can save it.

Try and keep the car neutral on corner entry, maintain a smooth arc with none, or even throttle applied.

At 8 seconds, landing the 2nd double, and the two tabletops/rollers, and the left hander before the two big doubles, this whole section, ALL ABOUT corner speed. Everyone can go fast down the straight, not everyone can go fast around corners. The reason I am typically 1 second off the pace at any given race, isn’t because I’m slow on the straight, and often, specially in Europe not even because I can’t time the jumps, or because my car sucks, or this or that, it’s because me as a driver, I am not good enough to maximise my corner speed. It is very hard to do. You need to be on the edge of the traction circle I was talking about before. You need to get the most side bite vs forward bite you can at any given moment. You need to accelerate as hard as you can without loosing traction, you need to turn as hard as you can without spinning out. It’s not easy. Let’s break this section down.

If you look at the moment I land, to the moment I jump the 2nd of the two tabletops/rollers, it’s basically one long right hand corner. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Smooth arc, maintaining speed. I land in the middle of the track, and accelerate down the jump towards the apex, after hard acceleration I let off and use the throttle to control the car. I adjust the amount of throttle based on what the car is doing, remember I said without any throttle car’s can get unbalanced and even spin out? Sometimes rolling a corner is good, sometimes you need to gas it, it all depends on the situation, but the goal is to be able to use as much throttle as possible. This section is trickier because you have to time the jump going away from the driver stand right so you can downside it, all while cornering and maintaining your speed. At 11 seconds, notice how I intentionally made my previous long corner so I jump on the inside of the jump. This is so my line is better for the left hand corner before the big double. This way I can accelerate sooner, and harder, and have a very low risk of flipping over when landing the roller.

I think that’s more than enough information to digest today. More later.



If you are not good enough, you have two choices.

  1. Remain that way.
  2. Try to work harder and smarter than everyone else.

It really is that simple. After that what happens happens. But you at least know you gave it all you have.

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JQ Blog is Back


I will start posting frequent updates here, mostly to do with car setup, and driving. I will of course have to post some other stuff too hehe:-), but mainly it will be setup and driving info. THECar White Edition LV has proven to be really really good, which is a good thing of course. I will be mainly focusing on two things in my stories, setup, what the changes do to the handling, as well as driving technique. I have been working on this shit for 8 years now, and finally I am at the point where I feel that THECar is clearly better than me. By that I mean that where before the car was not handling the situations I put it in well enough, leading to mistakes or loss of speed and time, now it is handling everything, and I am the one making mistakes, or losing speed. THECar is now able to provide more than my skill level is able to deliver. A truly great situation to be in, and that means that it is time to try and perfect the set up, learn to drive better, and attempt to reach the top of the world, even if it is only for one race, one day, one time in my life.

I will be documenting my journey, so that all of you can learn what I learn, and improve your driving, and setup, and enjoy yourselves more too. Whatever happens, at least I will know that I gave it my all.

The more “diary” type entries and smaller ideas and tests will be posted here on this page (Advice Section), and the most important and helpful stuff will be gathered on the JQRacing website here.

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