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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We're getting close to publishing the rules for the 2012-2013 John's BSR Tire's Brushless Racing League Oval Tour. Every year there seems to be a lot of debate as to what rule changes there should be. Most debates on rules amount to racers expressing their opinions about what would make oval racing better (based on their personal experience). Racer A's viewpoint often directly contradicts that of Racer B and there are obviously no absolutely right or absolutely wrong choices in those debates.

We actually read virtually all of the debate (sometimes accompanied by blood pressure increases). In the end we try to make rules that, in our opinion, will be best for our series. Our opinion isn't necessarily right or wrong; or better or worse than anyone elses. But the buck has to stop somewhere and when it comes to the BRL it stops with us.

Prior to publishing the rules we decided to start this thread to explain our view on some of the issues which have come up for debate this summer. We're not looking for an argument or a debate. As we said, there is no right or wrong on most of these items. We're simply looking to provide some insight into the thinking behind our decisions. We admit there are other viewpoints than our own which can be just as valid. This thread will be locked so that only we can post and those posts won't get lost in an extended debate. Those who want to debate are welcome to start up their own thread on any of the topics.

In the coming days / weeks we will make a number of posts on the issues we have considered over the summer while planning to make the 7th season of the BRL the best ever.

See ya at the races....

Big Chuck and the other Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter #2
World GT Tires

World GT Tires have suddenly become the hot topic on a number of carpet oval threads. To listen to some sing their praises you’d think they cured cancer in addition to the claims for reduced costs and closer racing. We think that folks need to be careful what they wish for. This looks to us like a perfect example of the Law of Unintended Consequences; a good idea on the surface that produces a bunch of unexpected and unintended effects.

Here is our view on WGT tires:

Problem #1 - There is fundamentally no control over WGT tires. The “specification” comes from a single sentence in a PDF file from the originators of the WGT on road class some years back. That “specification” required the use of a particular Japanese foam (R4). That’s it. There is no approval process and no monitoring to be certain that manufacturers comply with that requirement. Checking shore by race directors isn’t effective since other foams can have the same shore rating. BRL / TOUR rules require a blue or purple identifier stripe but the ugly reality is a tire manufacturer (or determined racer) could pretty much put that stripe together with any foam with a similar shore rating and we couldn’t tell the difference. Before someone posts that it works in onroad please note that many major onroad races running the WGT class use hand out tires of a single brand in part to avoid this problem.

Problem #2 – If you force racers (especially experienced racers in the faster classes) to use a hard tire limiting traction they will find a way to make them softer and regain as much traction as possible. One of our track’s more experienced onroad TC racers decided to try VTA at a big race. In spite of making A Mains at lots on big races in other TC classes, he was a lap off the pace. At least he was until someone gave him a set of “prepped” VTA tires (soaked in magic sauce and scuffed just right). The intent of the VTA tire specification was to limit traction and speed but as the class became more popular those serious about winning have found ways to gain traction. How long do you think it will take the experienced racer (you know the guys who are willing to work on sanding bodies to get a lower center of gravity or spend hours on a dyno) to figure out a prep routine to soak the WGT tires to make them softer? And then the complaints will start from the average racer who doesn’t know the secret prep routine or isn’t willing to go to the trouble and is now even further off the pace from the top guys now that there is less traction (which favors the top drivers anyway).

Problem #3 – We’ve read countless posts over the last 3 years complaining about how the 1 cell cars are so much more setup sensitive than cars were in the round cell days. Putting everyone on the same compound removes one tuning aid and should make it even more difficult for the average guy to compete in the faster classes. The remaining setup choices will become even more critical. Allowing guys the choice of harder or softer tires as a tuning aide to compensate for their driving or setup ability actually narrows the experience and talent gap in our view. Put another way, Monti still beats Joe Average but by an even larger gap.

Problem #4 – Smaller is faster. That statement is pretty much why there is so much debate about tire life. Guys have figured out that running a smaller diameter tire is faster especially in the faster classes. WGT tires exhibit that same characteristic although to a smaller degree. But even if it’s just 1-2 seconds over a 4 minute run the serious racers are going to start WGT tires as small as they do the current tires. Those that don’t will find themselves starting that 1-2 seconds off the pace plus whatever talent gap (setup and driving) they have. Many larger onroad races not only use handout tires but limit the number of sets of tires available to a racer in order to force guys not to true them down to become one run tires. Unless oval races adopted the same approach it is likely that being fast in the fast classes would still require a small starting diameter and there’d be very limited life.

We see WGT tires as barely manageable (in terms of competitive equality) in the Sportsman class where speeds are slowest and racers are the least likely to go to extremes in preparation. Our concern is that in any class with experienced, serious racers they will quickly become a part of the problem of inequality rather than a solution to that problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Spec classes

Spec Class or Limited Class?

Some folks would say that all the current oval classes are spec classes because they specify a motor limit. If you accept the argument that any limitation makes a class a spec class, then even Open Mod is a spec class because it restricts tire size, weight, wing size, etc.

We think there is a big difference between limited classes and spec classes. To use an example from full scale racing, a class where motor size is limited to say 360 cubic inches is a limited class. Different engine designs which meet the 360 cubic inch limit may be very different in power output. On the other hand, a class which specifies a particular brand of crate motor could be considered a spec motor class. Performance between different crate motors of the same brand would be expected to be much closer than between different brands of motors with simply the same displacement limit.

Our belief is that hardware is really only truly spec hardware if there is way to enforce enough specific technical specifications to assure equality between manufacturers or if the spec hardware is only available from a single manufacturer so that manufacturer equality isn't an issue. So an RC oval class restricting motors to 13.5 turns is a limited class while one restricting racers to a particular brand of 13.5 motor is a spec class. Just as in the full size example, one would expect 13.5 motors from the same brand to be closer in performance than motors from different brands. Our experience is that oval racers and manufacturers are so innovative that creating rules to enforce equality between manufacturers of certain hardware is pretty much a lost cause. The racers and manufacturers are almost always ahead of the rule makers.

Our objective in starting the BRL 13.5 Spec class was to create a truly spec class where we limited as many things as practical to a single manufacturer. That is why we've always specified one battery, one brand of motor, one brand of tire and for all practical purposes one brand and style of body. To be truly effective we'd actually like to specify greater limits on ESC's and even perhaps a single chassis manufacturer. But these last 2 items are those with the highest initial purchase price and we've been reluctant to lock them down for fear of driving away too many racers. On the other hand; batteries, tires, bodies and even motors are things racers are more likely to purchase often (or at least annually) anyway.

Why do we bother? Well, Sonny Brown originally built the BRL around the idea of limiting equipment options so it is kind of in our DNA. We also think there are a number of racers who appreciate that the spec approach simplifies selecting the hardware needed to be competitive and the cost of racing. The cost reduction comes from knowing which brand of motor, battery, etc is needed to be competitive. A racer doesn’t have to buy multiple brands of batteries to see which is better for example. He knows the specified brand is all that will be allowed. We can’t necessarily stop folks from searching for the best example of each brand but by limiting the search to one brand we still limit the cost. And a racer knows in advance which brand of component will make him competitive in the areas where we specify a brand.

This approach to true Spec Class racing isn’t for everyone. Guys who are always looking for an advantage based on being the first to find some trick hardware won’t like it. Guys who are sponsored by brands other than those specified won’t run it. Guys who think they would have been competitive with cheaper hardware than specified won’t like it. Guys who already have hardware of another brand than specified won’t like it. Guys who don’t like limitations won’t like it. We feel we offer plenty of other classes for guys who don’t like the spec alternative. But we believe there is a reasonable number of racers who want to know that their hardware is competitive before they show up at the track without having to make RC racing a full time job due to testing lots of different hardware combinations.

The BRL’s Thunder Power 13.5 COT Spec Class is aimed at those racers and we accept that others won’t find it appealing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Handout Motors

The Brushless Racing League was initially formed with the idea that brushless motors would be the “crate motors” of RC racing. Since there was no brush tweaking, comm. cutting, brush alignment or other tricks involved with a brushless motor, the perception was that anyone could buy a competitive motor over the counter at the hobby shop. Bolt it in your car, work on your chassis and go win races. While there were certainly manufacturing tolerances which may have made one brushless motor “stronger” than another; most racers found that brushless motors created a playing field that was more level than brushed motor racing had become.

Many racers weren’t particularly happy with losing any advantage they may have gained over the years from understanding brushed motor tuning more than the other guy. But most racers seemed to prefer knowing they had as good a motor as the next guy just by buying one at the hobby shop or online. For a couple of seasons, racers concentrated on finding speed by working on their chassis and driving and left motor tuning as something that was done in the past.

As racers and manufacturers have better understood brushless motors, we have moved away from the “crate motor” concept. Instead of buying a motor and bolting it in, racers are testing optional rotors, buying multiple rotors for each option and checking strength, buying multiple stators and checking resistance, buying chassis and motor dynos for testing and tuning and generally returning to the same basic behaviors as were prevalent in the brushed motor days. This progression was probably inevitable as finding more speed is what racers do and giving racers more ways to find that speed is how manufacturers make money.

But as this shift occurs we’re again hearing racers lament that they aren’t able to be competitive without “a motor program”. Complaints about the cost of racing are increasing. And concerns about whether everyone is competing with legal equipment are escalating.

We feel that motor technical inspection at BRL races is as good as any in the country and better than most. But there are limits to what can be done quickly and non-destructively to determine a motor’s legality. And no amount of technical inspection can erase advantages gained legally by those who are prepared to spend the money and time to evaluate many possible motor combinations to find an advantage. Once found, that advantage tends to separate the field into those who have the means to gain an advantage through their motors and those who either can not or do not want to invest the time and money on a “motor program”.

There are many ways to segment the population of BRL racers but one clear split is between those who want to be able to tweak motors to try to gain an advantage and those who would prefer to bolt in a “crate motor” and go race knowing that they’re on more or less equal footing with others they are racing.

We have spent a long time discussing and evaluating the development on brushless motors and its impact on racing. We are committed to continuing and improving our technical inspection to assure all competitors that everyone is using legal equipment. But we believe that this isn’t enough for our Sportsman and Spec classes. These classes are designed for racers who don’t want RC racing to consume all their time. Racers in these classes accept equipment limitations in exchange for knowing that the playing field will be as level as possible as a result of those limitations. The overall intent of these classes is clearly compatible with the idea of using “crate motors” for racing in these classes. Both classes are aimed at racers who want to “arrive and drive” rather than spending hours each week on car and motor preparation.

As a result we will introduce a handout motor program in these 2 classes for all BRL races during the 2012-2013 season. We are still working with motor manufacturers to finalize details on the program. But the basics in both classes will be:

- Competitors will draw motors which have been previously tested, inspected and sealed
- Motors will be rented to competitors for the BRL weekend
- All motors will be returned at the end of the race weekend.
- The winning motor from each race weekend will be retired for the balance of the season to avoid any chance that one “killer” motor could dominate.
- The rental fee will be determined after final negotiations with the motor manufacturers but a racer running all 7 BRL events will spend less on rental fees than the cost of a single motor.
- Competitors who burn up a motor will be charged a replacement fee (just as they’d have to pay to replace a motor of their own if they burnt it up).

We realize that the handout motor approach isn’t for everyone and we will continue with plenty of other classes to give opportunities for those who want to search for more power.
 
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