KSG and Hyperdrive are still on top at the big events, but at the same time they're also filling the classes with drivers that they sponsor. It depends on what you define as "best"-
ease of setup?
Already replied on Facebook (IMHO, the double-posting in both locations is a bit confusing.. it starts the same conversation in two different locations)
I agree with Brian. Hyperdrive and KSG are still on top, but there are a lot more smaller companies that have closed in on them. Companies like RIP Motorsports, Darkside Motorsports, Muddslide and McPappy to name a few have become very competitive. The Thing to remember here is that for the most part, pan cars are all the same. They all use a variation of the Associated Dynamic strut front end, they all run the same basic pod design and 1 of say 3-4 shocks on the market. Dont get me wrong here, there are some minor differences like in the caster blocks on the front end, small changes to the rear pod (mostly side plates and shock mounts), but they are not reinventing anything. The biggest differences between the companies are the main chassis and the way they have built flex into them to gain bite. Another big change that I think was really coming in back then, is the Link style Pod versus the T-plates. Honestly, anything will work, and if not it is easy to buy parts to swap out to make it work.
Associated fo' life!
Brian has convinced me - pan oval is dead LOL.
I remember when the Dynamic strut front end hit the market back in the day when I was running my RC10LSS at the banked concrete oval we had here in town. Made a huge difference in the way the car ran. Associated has always been decent stuff, but most of their newer kits seem to be very limited on gearing. The L40 that I am setting up for my oldest daughter to run now has a set of after market side plates that push the axle back a good bit and more than doubled the motor adjustment.
Pan oval is far from dead, It is just slow around here. The most watched Live Snowbird races were the Pan cars. They have a huge following, and it shows by the number of small mom and pops businesses producing cars and parts. They just seem to be big in certain areas. Honestly, I had forgotten how much fun Pan Oval was until I ran the Cook Off.
Last edited by Cegpcola; 03-11-2013 at 10:20 PM.
The fact that only mom and pop businesses are producing parts and kits, really indicates that it is not very popular. I'm not really knocking it, but we have to be realistic - if it was popular there would be an abundance of kits for it and there are not. RC manufacturers want to make money (lots of it) and pan cars are the easiest car to produce from both a cost and a parts count and yet not a single major manufacturer makes one. As Brian mentioned AE dropped the L10, which means that there is not a single pan car (unless you include the RJS/Bolink) that is availabe through regular distribution. Most hobby shops won't purchase items that are not available from either Horizon or Great Planes. Serpent, Xray, Corally, CRC etc.. are well known, but they are not major players in the RC industry when it comes to actual sales numbers. Draw a circle with a 300 mile radius on a map and look to see how many venues offer pan car racing and have more than 10 entries. Look into that same circle and see how many off-road venues there are. As a whole RC racers make up less than 1 or 2 percent of all RC participants. In the industry (maybe not racers themselves) touring car racing in the U.S. is considered all but dead and it dwarfs pan car racing. it's really more popular around here than it is in most places. The Snowbirds is not a good measuring stick of what's popular in RC racing. The Snowbirds is a unique venue tht has part of it's roots in pan car racing. None of this means that it's not fun or isn't popular in some areas. I'm really just helping the discussion along LOL.
There is no doubt that Pan car racing is slow, but the fact that so many Mom and pops companies have sprung up producing pan cars and are surviving does mean that there is interest in the class, however I feel that these mom and pops are hurting the class as well to a degree because the lack of availability in Local Hobby shops. I am sure that the lack of Pan oval interest across the US has caused in part the drop of the 10L series from Associated, however they have in part caused their lack of sales as well. The Company has not really followed in my oppinion the needs or desires of the racers in the class. They continued to produce cars that had more limits to settings ie; Their pod designs did not allow for much gearring options to run larger gears, though they had adjustments in their frontends like caster block roll centers, they lacked some of the other adjustments like sliding track widths. Basically the mom and pops shops have further developed off of Associated's designs and Associated has not kept up over the last decade. I remember when Associated Pan Cars were the way to go, but it just isn't that way anymore. However it is hard to judge the strength of the class off of Associated's withdrawl itself because on one hand it does hurt that there is not a readily available decent kit for the hobby shop, but on the other hand they did kinda hurt themselves when it comes to that class. The fact of the matter is that honstly the serious RC racing days are all but over because the bashing side of the market has become so huge. Back in the hay day, there really wasn't much in the workd of bashers, but as the bashing side of the market grew they wanted to start racing their bashers and then taking over the Races building classes based on the more econo based kits. This is what has killed most all of the racing classes that were popular. That is also why you have race classes of the month that pop up. Just my 2 cents, I am not disagreeing with you in regards to the slowness of the Pan Car class by any means though.
The popularity of bashing really grew the industry. But, you are right, the diversity of all the basher styles probably did impact racing. It was a lot easier to build strong classes when you only had buggies and stadium trucks. Now you have buggies, 1/8 buggies, SC buggies, stadium trucks, SCT, 4wd SCT, truggies, monster trucks, dessert trucks, mini everything, pure late models, Frankenstein SCT late models, TC late models, sprint cars, mini sprints and late models. We all get the point I'm sure LOL. I had the most fun when the HPI Nitro RS4 was the dominant touring car. HPI really created the touring car craze. Tamiya started it and HPI turbo charged it. You could walk into the store and buy an RS4, add a 2 speed and pipe ($425) and be competitive. Although at that time our racing was dominated by Steve Clark with a Traxxas 4-tec Pro (Traxxas actually had a carbon fiber Pro LOL). That didn't last for long. Then the pivot/pillow ball cars debuted along with the legalization of foam tires and that changed everything. You then had to spend upwards of $800 to even have a chance of being competitive. Steve Clark still dominated with a stable of Mugens. He dropped out and at that point the Mugens and the Serpent reigned supreme and Mario Cranford was the king of the track. Alas, I have digressed LOL. Back in the good old days LOL. But, as I was telling someone today in the store, of all the years that I hosted racing, the group of racers that we have now are probably the best bunch of guys and gals that i have raced with.
I have to agree that we do have a good group of guys out there. Honestly though, Just as the Bashers have grown the industry, they have also kinda killed the hobby aspect of it to a degree. Now this is just my opinion and is not meant in any form of negativity, however....look in either one of your stores at any time and you see a pile of RC cars and trucks waiting to be worked on by your shop (Les more directly). It is a great service that you offer and I would never say otherwise However back when the racing was strong, you did not go to a hobby shop to have someone else work on your car, you did the work and learned from it and prgressed in the hobby. You might have gone and asked questions, but you took the suggestions and help and did the work yourself. Nowadays, it seems like there are more and more people that just want to drive the car for hours at a time without having to maintain anything on it. They have confused the RC hobby for RC toys. Now that is not a huge section of the market or of your customers, however I do feel that it is and has been a growing effect that the bashers have brought.
The whole RC industry is like that. Twenty five years ago most airplane guys built their models from kits or plans - now hardly anyone does. It's society - instant gratification. I worked part-time at a Radio Shack in silicon Valley when Radio Shack got it's first RC Cars. It was 1986 and they encouraged us to take them out in the parking lot and run them to attract attention. I thought they were great. But, I knew I could find a better one and in the Bay area there were loads of hobby shops like Sheldons. I went out and bought and looked at all the buggies (everything was a buggy then). The RC 10 gold chassis was king then and I think it was $300 for the kit. I bought a Rock Buster - it was a Grasshopper clone. i bought combo that included a battery (1200 I think), 14 hour charger and a radio. I was devasted when I opened it and realized I had to build it LOL. I think you would be surprised at how many hobby shops built cars for a fee, even back then. I later bought a kyosho Ultima because it had just won the worlds and hated that I had to build it LOL. That is exactly what made Traxxas the number one surface RC manufacturer. A lot of people don't realize that Traxxas originally sold kits and were a big player in off-road competition. When they said they were departing from racing and going to build hobby level RTR's everyone laughed. They're not laughing now. When I first opened, we sold Rustler and Stampede kits. 70 percent of our stock were HPI RS4 kits and Tamiya kits. Things have really changed. Back in the 80's people didn't buy ESC's they built them - I remember construction articles in RC Car Action.
I remember Traxxas in their racing days! I actually raced a Traxxas SRT with a Losi Hydradrive slipper fitted to it back then and they meant it we they said lifetime breakage guarantee on it. I sent parts to them and let them know we had a series going, and they would overnight the parts back to me. Back then, it was usually down to Brian D., Jonathan and myself as to the top three in the stadium trucks. To me, the hobby is more about the complete experience from buiding the kit, driving it and down to fixing it when it breaks. I also remember building the mechanical speed controls.
Oh, No doubt that the smaller businesses are only side businesses and not their primary business. Also Associated is still a good car without a doubt, but what hurts is that you can basically buy the parts to build whatever it is that you want. Associated has had most of all the adjustments, however it is how these adjustments are made such as spacing the wheel out for track width versus moving the entire assembly out or in on each side (small change, but it does small difference overall in the setup but also makes it easier to change). Another big one is flex and controlling the flex. Chassis flex is a very usable tuning tool from track to track. It can be used to help the front or the rear to bite, as well as individual corners controlling chassis twist. Guys have been doing this for many years by cutting their chassis, however some of the newer cars are coming with chassis precut for the flex, but use tie bars and links to control how and where the chassis flexes giving greater control over this tuning option. Even though Associated's cars were capable, Associated did not stay on top of some of the trends. But you are correct they do get bad mouthed a lot online.
With the R5 front end you can move the front end in and out without just spacing the wheels with shims on the axle. You can space the arms themselves out (I moved my LF out 2mm Sunday to get more steering mid-to-off), or if you need to adjust roll center, you could also move the caster block/arm mount inward to lengthen the upper arm. Tuned flex on pan cars was a fad that's starting to go away. McPappy even dropped the tuned flex chassis option with their latest car. Neither KSG or Hyperdrive use it, either. That's also why you don't see slider chassis anymore. Manufacturers are going back to a stiff, solid platform and tuning the car with tires/suspension. The key to getting a car to work since the switch to 1s has been moving as much weight to the LR as possible. That's why you see cars like the TOP and CEFX where the right side of the chassis is pretty much non-existent other than the nerf wing to protect the axle on that side.
The pan car class is a catch 22- the class can't grow because the availability of the cars is horrible, but the horrible availability of the cars is due to the fact that the class isn't popular anymore so the main distributors won't carry them. What pan car needs to make a resurgence is a cheap platform from a large, worldwide manufacturer like AE, HPI (even HPI once had an oval pan car), or even Trinity that is available in both sport and race trim. Remember, the 10L was available in both fiberglass and graphite versions. On a track surface like a parking lot, the fiberglass car would actually be a better option due to the lower cost to replace a beat up chassis plate. The oval racers tried to attempt a cheaper class with the SK cars, but the problem is, the same companies that build the $400-500 pan cars are also building the SK cars, so they're still $200-300 just for a roller. The oval industry has killed itself with pricing. If RJ Speed can build a car and sell it with a body and tires for around $100, then larger companies should be able to knock it out of the park. If KSG, Hyperdrive, McPappy, etc.. wanted to grow oval racing, they would offer stripped-down versions of their existing cars:
1.) Use G10 Fiberglass instead of carbon fiber. There goes around 50% of your material costs.
2.) Swap the strut front ends with the old school block front end. It's still available and still used to win national championships on Speed Merchant cars. It also has the same bolt pattern as every front end except the R5. Fewer tuning options = better for a newcomer. It also takes a beating without all of the adjustments being thrown out of whack.
3.) Use swizzle sticks/dampening tubes instead of side shocks. One dampening tube can handle the left/right motion dampening of the rear pod. T-bars also still come with tweak screw holes in them.. use them (no side springs). This also simplifies tuning for newcomers.
4.) Include a set of tires in the box. One of the hottest oval classes right now is spec truck, so throw in a set of spec WGT tires with the kit. Even if you don't run the truck class, you have a set of tires to practice with or trade off.
5.) Put a bumper on the car that doesn't cost $25-30 to replace when broken. Bumpers are supposed to be the expendable part of the car.. why are they all over $25 now? Kydex is your friend. I made 5 kydex bumpers for the R5 with a 12"x12" sheet and a Dremel for less than $15, and they're far more durable than the carbon bumpers.
6.) Go back to offering aluminum or fiberglass axles in addition to the current graphite axles. They flex instead of breaking, and they're cheaper to produce and sell. I'd rather strip a $5 spur gear in a crash due to flex than to snap a $30 graphite axle.
7.) Put a cheap set of molded body posts in the kit. You don't need a $30 set of machined aluminum/delrin body posts to make a car go around the track. Body clips and molded posts with multiple height adjustment holes have worked perfectly fine for over 30 years.
It would be easy for any of the current companies to make these changes, but they won't because the hardcore oval guys are just going to tell the new guys that they HAVE to have this and they HAVE to have that to be competitive. Associated stopped offering the team versions of their cars in favor of the Factory Team because they weren't selling the team versions. Granted, the FT version was only $30-40 more than the team version, so who could blame the buyer for choosing the FT? In this case though, the price difference could easily be $100-150 or more depending on the design of the car and how you made the cutbacks. If I were selling cars I'd rather sell 5-6 of the low end kits on a lower margin, instead of only selling 1-2 high end kits on a margin that's probably not much better.
I agree 100% that cost is the huge factor in this. Honestly, even the old 10LSS cars with the friction disk, center shock and tweak screws can be competitive if set up properly. I never messed with the R5, however I have looked a little at the front geometry. I did not see that you could space the arm out on it, but I can see that now thinking back on it. Basically, someone needs to build a kit that is about as bare bones as possible but still be upgradeable to move into higher classes. Spec racing is great fun however it isn't for everyone, but it would help get more people into the class. Honestly the industry has overcomplicated Pan car chassis and did not leave cheaper more simple to tune options on the table to grow the class. Pan car is not the easiest class to tune because most people are confused about the exact way the suspensions work. I was about ready to buy a R5 but when I started really thinking about it, they had already pulled them from the market. Pan car has always been a fun class and honestly teaches you a lot about driving which is why I would like to see the class pick back up over here in Pensacola. I feel like there are enough of us to get it going, and also think that others might follow suite once they see them run. A RJ speed class with the SK bodies could be a fun class to get started. I love the look of the SK cars, but I agree that those cars have also become way overpriced. The Beefy SK cars were reasonable, but since DRC and KSKT have really taken over that market, the cars are way overpriced. Another class that would be fun to build out of pan cars is a vintage or classic oval Something using either classic style NASCAR bodies or even using the List of VTA Bodies. I am hoping that some of the new bodies that Dale Epp is planning on releasing by September will bring in a newer generation to oval pan cars. He is fading the FHD, DHD and CHD bodies out and going to start working on new Gen 6 Style NASCAR bodies. The Gen 3 Dodge that he just released looks fantastic, and I think that the more realistic body styles could help buiuld a little more class support. Ultimately I think people are attracted to the look of the cars more than the speed because it is cars that they can relate to. The Nationwide bodies that Protoform has been producing have worked great, but they are dated as for as the 1:1 style goes.