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Chances are if you are new to club racing that you won't have encountered tracks that are wired for brakes or have a single transformer per lane. You will find it much harder than it looks but with practice comes speed. Try to build a steady rhythm, going slowly at first and then building up your pace over the weeks. As in real motorsport, smoothness is the key here.

Consequently newcomers should remember that to finish first, first you must finish. Lurid tail-slides on the bends mean you are going to fast, liable to crash and are bound to annoy the more experienced racers. But then again powerslides are fun!

Most drivers will need several weeks before becoming competitive.

Accidents

"Accidents will happen," as Elvis Costello sings. Better to drive consistently than Hell for leather. Going all out for lap records may bring you into the well intentioned hands of the corner marshals, who with the best will in the world, will delay you by at least 3 seconds. When an average lap takes 9 seconds you can see how quickly the over zealous driver will fall down the running order. Drivers should avoid piling into someone else's accident for various reasons;

Be patient, if you get too close to an incident you may find the marshall inadvertently lifts your car out of the slot as he recovers the first de-slotted car. Give the marshall time, don't just give it throttle as the guide goes in the slot. Your car may go in at an angle and just gunning it will more than likely pop you out again to the disdain of the marshall.

Don't shout at the marshals. Ninety percent of the time it isn't their fault you had the accident.

Marshalling

An exciting race can be destroyed by bad marshalling or made so much better by good work from the marshals. All racers will be expected to marshall at some point during a meeting. It is therefore crucial that they follow these guidelines.

Car Preparation

The tricks of car preparation can take a while to master. Straight out of the box most cars will not be competitive.

Motors, gears and axle bearings should be oiled lightly, WD-40 should not be used as it can rot plastic. Super Servisol 10 switch cleaner can produce 'turbo' boosts of speed but after a few laps the effect is gone and so I'm told, it shortens the life of the motor but I've not seen that many burn-outs.

Motors should be glued to the chassis to prevent wear and tear on the gears and a little toothpaste on the gears ( read that again - it says a little!), for a short while, can help the mesh.

Rear axles and wheels should be as true as possible to stop bouncing and loss of grip. Axle bearings can be glued to the chassis for the same reason and tyres may be sanded to gain an even footprint and maximum adhesion. Tyres can also be soaked in oil to soften the compound and swell the diameter for better gearing. Care should be taken not to expand the rubber too far as this may result in very large diameters! Been there, done that.

Loosening the screws that keep the body on the chassis will often give an instant improvement to the handling, although if you slacken them too much they'll work free and doubtless cause a short on the track somewhere.

Ninco guides always need a little shaving down to allow smooth progress on Scalextric track.

Braids and tyres should be kept clean with lighter fuel. A little of a product called Tiger Milk on the braids helps maintain good conductivity and cleans the rails into the bargain.

Footnote

I've bought special oils, carbon based bush busters, even run in motors backwards and underwater because I heard it improved performance. My conclusions? There is no substitute for mileage. However you choose to prepare your cars, they will improve with use - the car will free up, you'll get familiar with its handling and down come your lap times.

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