In slot car racing, we race small chassis, powered by electric motors, with plastic bodies attached. Theoretically, chassis A can be attached to body B and the performance will be the same as when its attached to body A. In other words, the performance really comes from the chassis end of the equation, no matter what body is attached. OK, so we can provide parameters that limit the chassis end (eg: a specific motor model, specific tyres, etc.) so that different chassis have similar performance, again regardless of which body is attached. This is the first (and probably most important) aspect of classifying cars with the aim of having close racing within a class.
So what about the bodies? Slot car racing is primarily about racing model cars. The purist's view of a model car is a scaled-down version of the real car from which it is modeled. Back in the heyday of slot racing in the 1960s a category of car bodies emerged that earned the ungainly - but well suited - title "Thingies". These were bodies that looked like anything other than real cars. Hideous, arrow-like creations that appeared to have been spawned in hell. Really ugly things. There became a wide, uncrossed gap between model car slot racers and thingie slot racers. Thankfully, thingies are now far less popular than the real model slot cars we race today.
Moving on to another level, in the real world F1 cars do not compete against GT cars. Likewise, a current-day LMP car does not compete against Sports Prototype cars of the 1960s. As slot car racers, we can decide upon how realistic our racing should be without necessarily going to extremes. We race F1 cars as a group, we race GT cars as a group, but do we race F1 cars with GT cars? Generally, no. This is because we are modelling our racing after real-world racing. On the other hand, we do race F1 cars with Indy cars, so although this is not done in the real world, we make the compromise on a temporary basis to enjoy a well-subscribed single-seater class.
My point here is that we make rules for two reasons:
- To provide close and fair racing.
- To model our racing after real-world car racing (as much as is practical).
Its with all these thoughts in mind that I try to lay down rules that make as much sense to us all as competitors and enthuiasts of slot racing at FRC. Whenever there comes a time when I or others see the rules being stretched - most often very innocently - I feel it important to nip it in the bud in the best interest of us all. If at any time any of you feel that there should be a change in our rules, by all means let us all know (the FRC Forum is an excellent place to air such thoughts).
This is all about us and our hobby. Let's make sure not to spoil it.