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Interesting post on the Planet of Speed forum, to which the guy was called a bitch :(
(Originally Posted by...
by takedeadaim » Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:01 pm

The state of HO racing today; My experience a the 2014 HOPRA Nationals

This was my first nationals; I planned for over six months and really had high expectations of a good time and good racing. I wish I could say that is what I experienced. Let me say first off that I met some great people who were friendly, helpful and took me under their wing, offering help, cars parts and moral support to help me get cars on the track.

A bit of background on me is that I have raced a number of different types of “cars” on several levels over my life so I come to HO Slots with a background I think few people bring. Among my experiences have been racing 1/12th scale RC on a regional and national level, RC 1/10th scale on road gas on a club and regional level, (Midwest series). I have also run SCCA Solo events both club and CenDiv, and SCCA Club racing in Formula Vee and Formula Ford. I have also had the privilege of being a co-driver at endurance events in a P2 car at Sebring and Canadian Motorsport Park.

With that said I am used to a specific rulebook and procedures for class rules, race procedure and tech inspection. I was very surprised at that lack of these things at the HOPRA Nationals. I had issues at tech in a couple classes that I thought were very subjective interpretations of the rules. How does this happen? The rules are not specific and neither is the process of tech. The same cars that had “passed” tech inspection at HOPRA regional series races were disqualified at the nationals.

This was very upsetting as a new participant and with my background difficult to understand and very frustrating. How can a car be legal under HOPRA rules to race in a state series and illegal at the nationals? One car, my NEO entry was even inspected by the same individual who had inspected it for two state series races. How can this be? If its HOPRA legal at the state level how can it be disqualified at the nationals. It was frustrating; I was angry and nearly walked out of the nationals without ever running a competitive lap!

In every other form of racing I had ever run, even club RC racing, there was one set of rules, the national rules, they were clear and published so any racer could tech their car and determine its legality before coming to a race. No surprises, except maybe a scale difference that required a bit of lead added, but if your car met width, length and other specs as defined in the tech manual it was legal. No subjective interpretation of the rules, no opinion. It either met the specs or it did not.

The 1:1 racing was the same, a long tech book as you can imagine with specs on type of materials used for frames, roll cages and intrusion panels, but all spelled out and after a couple reads you got the idea. IF not a tech consultant was available when you were building new or setting up a used car for yourself. Prior to your first competition you had an individual full inspection, any minor issued were noted in the cars log book and you were given time to remediate them, safety issues could either be resolved on the spot and the car could be run that day out of competition or not run that day. With my cars the local inspectors were kind enough to set up time for the full pre completion inspection on a non race day so I had time to fix any issues and return for a re-inspection early on a race day. A nice system for a complex set of rules, many of them for the drivers’ safety.

I’m not suggesting a system that complex or involved but there are things to take from that process. I strongly believe that a HOPRA event, club, regional or national should use the same rules, perhaps a new racer with an issue could be allowed to run a car for a day with the understanding that a change needs to be made before the car would be allowed to compete again.

The rules as they exist are vague in many areas and if history has determined a change in the rules then updates are needed. Finding out at a race that five years ago someone put paint on magnets and that’s no longer allowed is a bit late when you have tested that car are prepared to run it and tech is minutes before qualifying. Its further annoying to be in the process of now trying to get another car set up and be told you have x minutes to qualify or your not going to be allowed to race, then an update on the time every 30 seconds while you and a helpful group of people are helping you build a car in a matter of minutes. In case your wondering a car built under that pressure and in that short time period runs just like you would expect, about 50% of the car you ran all season and again had “passed” tech at state races.

In another class it was a subjective decision that disqualified a car. The rules state “any guide pin” I had one that had a retainer that allowed the guide pin to float per the design of the car, yet kept it in place. Nothing against this in the rules and it certainly fits the definition of “any guide pin”. So why was it dis-allowed. Someone with an agenda against a certain chassis manufacturer, that was evident by the shear number of people running that car that were disqualified at pre-race tech for similar reasons. Example, the person sitting next to me was disqualified for a guide pin that was said to be too far back in the car, suggesting the chassis had been modified. In comparing it to both new and old chassis of the same model the pin was .006” further back than the others measured. This soft chassis can be stretched .010” if one puts in the effort. How could the “impartial” inspector notice this? Can your eyes see .006” and more importantly this could be attributed to chassis normal wear? Molding tolerance? A worn guide pin? Again here if these types of dimensions are to be part of tech, then a standard set of dimensions for each chassis needs to be supplied to all as well as a procedure for measuring them so a competitor can check their own car and more importantly so the tech process is consistent between inspectors, clubs, series and national events. ONE SET OF RULS FOR ALL RACES.

My last issue was with the Spec Stock class in which the rules state the following:

1. Chassis must be stock and cannot be modified in any way except to cut off molded in body posts and drill holes for axle retainers.
2. Mass produced injection-molded hard plastic bodies only. Body must weight no less than 3.5 grams and cannot be cut in anyway. No open-wheel bodies allowed.
3. The use of glue is not allowed except to secure armature bushings.
Apparently the promoter made a decision to allow racers running BSRT G3 cars to deviate from these rules by; modifying the body attachment clip, removing the top section to lighten the clip and thereby lowering the cars roll center. Further the remaining parts of the clips were allowed to be glued to the body and then epoxy applied to the bottom edges of the body to make the body meet the minimum weight requirements.
This gave these cars a significant performance advantage. It was outside the published rules and the change was not published or listed on the event web site or sent to competitors. How can this in any way be considered fair or in the spirit of competition? I was and am appalled this was allowed at a national level of competition.

These issues are a clear indication of the need for a revised set of specific rules for each class run as well as a mandate that regional/state series run the same tech standard at their races and a suggestion that at the club level those rules be adopted an run for classes listed in the HOPRA rule book.

The inconsistencies shown in the tech process are clear evidence of the subjective nature of tech inspection. The establishment of a tech inspection process and guide book to be used by all inspectors would bring HO racing in line with other forms of motorsport and make the process consistent and therefore increase the quality of competition.

The other thing that surprised me was the existence of manufacturers and manufacturers representatives on the HOPRA senate. Since the senate sets the program rules and approves products for competition this would seem to be a conflict of interest. In most organizations and in the corporate world even the appearance of a conflict is avoided, simply to validate the process and remove any concerns on the part of competitors/members and employees.

In other racing organizations I have participated in, tech inspection is never completed by a competitor in that class. This again is done to avoid the appearance of impropriety on the part of the inspector. It’s not a statement about any inspector but rather to remove any concerns.

If this was my experience at the nationals, and it nearly drove me to leave, how many people have gone home as disappointed as I did and decided to never return or even to stop competing in HO racing all together. IF this is the way we treat our new racers, we are eating our young. The sport will die a slow death and at the end we will have a group of 10 people at the nationals, all playing in a little group with each other. Content that things have continued to be done the way they always have. Potential racers will be having fun in their own or friend’s basements with agreed upon rules and better competition. Imagine the state of motorsport if NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula One had followed this path.

We would not have the hybrid car, the high efficiency alternative fuel engines and countless other technological advancements in everything from safety to tires on the cars we use every day. Wake up HO racers! Ask yourself do you want to be part of change? Do you want the sport to survive, or want the status quo to kill it?
 

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Really? He was called a bitch? If you're going to mindlessly cut and paste posts from other boards, at least get them right.
 

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This is the beauty of any great organization, it allows the freedom to express a viewpoint which is counter to the status quo. If used properly it can be a wonderful tool to improve and grow. In this case, Dean has given us his viewpoint on his experience. He is not just registering a complaint for the sake of complaining. He is looking to be part of an ongoing improvement for the organization and has offered to Help in whatever manner he can. Paul when responding did not know that Dean had also gone through proper channels and wants to help make the Nats process better. That's why his post saying "so besides bitching" was put up. No one was called a Bitch Ralph. So now that You know the rest of the story Ralph, would you like to amend your original post?
 

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Rules for slot racing, especially HO slot racing, have always been a problem. Arguments over what the rules should be, who should write them and how they should be interpreted have caused many divisions in the hobby. I have been involved in writing the rules for HOCOC for a number of years, so I am well aware of all of the issues involved in the process. HOCOC has many classes that have evolved over a long period of time, there are some rather novel classes that are not run by other groups that I am aware of. We do run several pancake classes that use ECHORR rules and those are so painfully detailed that they go on for page after page. I have written the rules for my 1/32nd club and the rules for five classes only take up about two and a half pages.
I can see what might have caused some of the problems mentioned in the original post. For one thing it is not always practical to do a complete technical inspection of each car before a regional qualifying race. A teardown is usually necessary and mostly only the top three finishers are subject to that. Especially if you are not a top finisher some infraction of the rules might not be detected until you go to a major event.
Keeping everyone on the same page with respect to qualifying events that are run in parallel is very difficult. Different inspectors are bound to have their own interpretations of the same set of rules. One would at least hope that the same inspector would at least be consistent.
 

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Then maybe you should have said you copied it from facebook. In any case, no one was called a bitch on Planet of Speed as you suggest in your post above.
 

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Great insight and response Rich!

Ralph-- I see the poster on the board you copied from was the infamous Deane Walpole. AKA NICO, MONTOYA etc. My guess is the wording was changed by him to inflame and mislead. It is all understandable now.
 
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