What We Look For in Race Classes / Class Overview
While the process of coming up with classes for the farrOut Slot car Cub to race may not be obvious and some of the decisions may seem random, it is actually very very carefully thought through to provide as much fun with as little effort as possible from either the individual racing or the person running the club.   Below is the basic philosophy we have been followig since we started.

What We Are Trying to Find in a Slot Car Racing Class
We are trying to get 6 classes together that in any given class (and in absolutely no particular priority order):
  1. represent a broad variety of real racing classes and era's that people care about; 
  2. with cars that offer very different driving challenges; 
  3. with as many available car types as possible; 
  4. with as many available liveries as possible; 
  5. with the best model detail possible;
  6. provides cars that are very very evenly matched, without any dominant cars;
  7. with the best out of the box capabilities; 
  8. with the minimum preparation needed at the lowest cost; 
  9. with built-in controls to prevent "accidentally" get an unfair advantage (so it is a self-policing and non-confrontational as possible to maximize the fun and minimize the need for continual policing); 
  10. with easily available cars at decent prices; 
  11. with easily available and plentiful spares;
  12. all while avoiding the slippery slopes of too much work, cost, technology, complexity and potential inequality of car performance.

Now achieving all those at once - almost by definition - will always mean compromise.

The class I think best achieves the ideal is without doubt the Slot.it 80's Le Mans Group C class:
  • it ticks all the boxes above;
  • the only compromise has been to add a spec non-original equipment tire.  
    • Why? Unfortunately the OEM equipped tires from Slot.it have significantly improved in grip over the years since they started (Slot.it did not do it on purpose, they tried to avoid it - the Chinese manufacturing facility apparently changed tire formula's repeatedly on Slot.it over time) and you can't visually distinguish an early poor grip version from the latest hyper-grip version which would lead to cars with very different performance. 
  • As it happens any class made of sensibly grouped Slot.it cars will likely be as ideal as the 1980's Group C class is - it just happens to be the first class they made cars for. As a company they try to ensure cars released within a class are even in performance even when released many years apart and they are committed to providing spare parts.  

All the other classes are good BUT, on at least one aspect listed above, they each really truly suck, and suck very badly at that. 

What do the Class Goals Mean in Practice?
While I could be long-winded, basically the successful classes end up with:
 
  • 1. a "control" spec set of tires, wheels, axles, gears, motors, guides:
    • as much as possible they are what the car came with as OEM equipment
      • it minimizes cost and, mostly, the time spent preparing a car
    • we change any of these only if we absolutely have to, with a focus on preserving fun not speed
      • the OEM item is difficult to obtain OR the OEM equipped item is inconsistent in performance leading to "have and have-not's" situation 
        • e.g. using Ortmann tire s on Slot.it due to original tires being of varying grip levels
        • e.g. recent upgrade in SCX 4WD motors due to lack of availability of old spec motors AND SCX releasing newer cars with faster spec motors as OEM
        • e.g. tires on SCX and Fly cars due to variation in grip levels in manufacturing or poor OEM (Fly)

  • 2. where these spec "running gear" items are used in a spec set of chassis/cars that reflect a certain era/type of car

  • 3. and finally - as little as possible because it adds to preparation complexity - we then consider adding weight to help the cars if and only if it helps make the entire class more fun to drive (e.g. Fly 60's LM) and/or ensures they can all be prepared to be more equal in performance (Ninco 50's LM).  

  • 4. and that all typically means a single manufacturer providing cars for a specific era in time, with tight control on the running gear.
    • I wish this were not so but the reality is the manufacturers (with current exception of Slot.it, some Ninco items and maybe Pioneer and in the past SCX) are constantly upping the performance of their new magnet cars such that even if cars race together in real life the slot car from this year is invariably much faster than the prior year version.
    • It does not mean that multiple manufacturers cannot be in a class together but we need to test it carefully first.

Who We Are (Not) As A Club 
Finally - for those of you that managed to read this far - here are some key learnings from all the surveys of club members over the last several years, including the 2009 to 2012 surveys:
  • We are NOT a magnet club: at its peak, only 20% of people voted to bring back any sort of magnet car (7 of 35 votes).  This year that was down to 1 vote and 3 suggestions out of 29
  • We DO NOT want to add expense/complexity of upgraded wheels/parts - 22 of 35 voted to expressly not allow hop-up parts (60%) - despite this possibly saving time with having to sort out issues with plastic wheels etc. We had one request for metal wheels this year, albeit from probably our best and most prolific car preparer and most willing to help people to prepare cars
  • There is NO real interest in an unlimited/scratch-built class: 2 of 35 votes (6%), similar in past years and one suggestion for it in this survey 
  • There is NO real interest in racing Trucks: 4 of 35 votes (12%).  We have plenty of other things we want to try in the Drivers Championship.  We dropped them from the survey this year 
  • While we care more about fun than pure speed, the only thing really turning people away from racing with us is our group taking things too seriously.   So don't, just focus on having fun!