Elephant in the Room? Servicing cars in exchange for points

GravityThrottleRacing Friday, 4/26/2024

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Hello Diecast builders:

I would like your feedback.  My Baja Bouncer tournament is underway, but during the time trials I announced (aka Richard Gear) that builders could reach out to me for help to improve the performance of their entry.  To some, this might have felt like the "elephant in the room" just trampled through.  To others it may have felt like a therapy dog; hence, why I am asking for your feedback.

The premise was simple.  Reach out to me and I'll see what I can do.  The caveat was, if I modify your truck, it will cost you 3 points in group racing.  You start with -3.

Dean from Beaverworx Diecast was the first to contact me and basically said, "do what you want".  He was in Group 1.  I tightened his cleverly-engineered active suspension but didn't share the details in the Group 1 video.  People in the comments asked what I did.  Okay, fair enough!  In the second group race video, I went on to explain what I did to Dean's truck as well as two others that were about to race.  We are now thru 5 of the 8 groups.  I believe 5 builders asked for my help.  Two of them have survived the first round.  There's one more that asked for help in Group 6 coming up next.

Now, let me back up a minute.  I did not outline this "opportunity" in RLD.  I made this pivot only after seeing some serious shortcomings with some of the builds while giving them their warm up runs.  The Baja Bouncer is metal on metal and stands higher than your typical HWs car, so weight placement is crucial.  Shavano Mountain Raceway is pretty unforgiving, too.  I felt like I needed a way to "show all the builders" what can be done to improve performance.

Do you like this idea?  Yes or No.  Why?  Please write freely in the comments.  Don't worry about insulting me and don't feel the need to pad what you say with, "but your track is awesome".  Now, if you have NO trouble speaking your mind like my wife does, good for you!... just please don't be brash.  Lol!   

Thanks a ton!  -Mark H. GTR



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On this side of the table, not as a builder, I understand what you were doing. We see our tracks and know what miner tweeks to a car/truck can help, especially if they aren't getting down the track and really have no shot of finishing. Even more so with your style track, which no builder can really test till they send it to you. Ours is still pretty straight forward. So reaching out and offering, I probably would have done the same. These builders put some time and money into these cars and hate to see it go to "waste" due to lack of testing. It's a fine line to walk. But again, I'm not a racer just yet, so I'll be checking on this post to see what their feedback is, so then I'll know as well. 

Godbless Christian

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JBlotner42 4/26/24

Hello GTR,

You contacted me about the Bison my wife and I had sent in for the upcoming tournament. You had noted that they needed some additional weight added to the underside to help stabilize the trucks during their runs and asked if it would be OK if you added those, which of course, being a new builder, I said yes and greatly appreciate the offering.

You definitely have a unique track And as LRL said there is no real way to test a vehicle for that before it actually gets there.

You clearly announced after the time trials what the options for the builders would be and why and then gave them the choice of upgrading or not. I believe the point penalty you offered was fair as well, As it only takes a couple of good runs to come to overcome that. No one likes to see their cars crash or not finish or do well on any track and it also doesn't make for very exciting content either , unless you are junkyard joust.

I think the key here is clear communication.

I approve of everything that you have done with this tournament and look forward to seeing the rest of it.

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redlinederby 4/26/24
Site manager

Hmmm...it's a very interesting concept and I think the trade-off of exchanging points for tuning is quite clever. I think given that most tracks are more or less "blind" and as a racer just hope for the best, it's a very neat way to engage people and make racing more interesting for everyone. And if your track has some unique features then offering that type of insight is even more valuable.

I think so long as you document what you did so you can provide a report to the car owner so they can take that info and use it next, it's great. When I was still hosting, I remember one guy sent me a bunch of same-model cars that he had each adjusted differently...asked me to run them and report which did better and such. For a moment I thought maybe that service could even be offered at large but since I didn't do any long-term hosting, I never took it further.

And after a few more people going through that process, you'll have a nice "strategy guide" for your track that people go get (or buy). Might work...

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dr_dodge 4/26/24

I love the concept. 

as a track owner you want to see everyone's cars make a showing
very commendable attitude

building a car that can be field tuned would be a challenge, but would be a fun event.
movable/removable weights,
suspension loosen/tighten,
ride height all adjustable
front end alignment
(for a fee...lol)

added when we got the car back, it would be a baseline to test our future builds against

great idea, great channel, keep up the good work, and have fun!!


  • Thanks for all your feedback. Hey, Dr Dodges soapbox derby therapy car for Billy is a very, very, very, good drifter. Watch Group 6 halftime this weekend! — GravityThrottleRacing
  • of coarse, watch it be my best build ...lol, and I'll be a watchin' for sure — dr_dodge

It appears to this noob as a dual edged sword... I like that you saw the need and offered to assist by allowing participants to take you up on your offer if you see issues... with a penalty of course. The downside, for the purists at heart would say, no dude... that ain't fair regardless. Race them as received. So some group will be unhappy either way.

To me, when I saw your offer, my first thought was ok... so many issues, you had to take action to ensure the race was held and that the preponderance of participants would finish. The sign of a proactive host. Unique track leads to unique issues. Nobody wants to join or watch a race where no one finishes most of the time.

IMHO, you would most likely never see this option offered on a drag strip.

Another interesting facet to this race is the single car model only. All the cars are equal-ish when purchased and racing them as a class really brings out any build issues where a multiple class by car brand or style does not. Maybe this is the whole reason behind finding the issue you saw.

The final part of this for me is my car is not in that race... I am in the Bison race so it didn't impact me directly. I made changes to the Bison based on what I saw in my Braggin Wagon cars performance... But I can see that maybe some of the things I did to my car may not be optimal and I wonder, if offered the chance, would I take you up on an offer to try and improve my car? I think I would pass. I made it, I sent it and want to see it perform, good or bad, as sent.

So now maybe as a lesson learned and the main take away would be to add a blurb to the contest announcement stating that entries may be modified by the host if an issue is seen in the time trials and state your criteria with the penalties associated with changes as a condition of entry so that all know in advance. Fair warning is fair game.

  • Some very good considerations. Hmm... Thanks! — GravityThrottleRacing
  • I agree, this would never happen on a drag strip. The uniqueness of this track and of the model it self are big factors I think. — JBlotner42
  • A really good, balanced response. Cheers, good uck out there! — CutRock_R_Marc_D
  • Thanks Mate... hope you are well... — Stoopid_Fish_Racing

I like the idea, your track is so unique and most of us don't have anything similar to test with. It's nice to see people to be able to salvage a build that may not be working out. 


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Fat_Dad 4/26/24

Mark, I thought this offer to racers stood out as very generous.

I mean, I was nervous about my performance the first time I raced at your track. If I had done even worse, I definitely would have loved any help or input, even if it only served to better my chances next time. I tend to ask hosts after a tournament about feedback so I might improve my performance. 

I think, as several have said, communication is key. I think having it laid out in the tournament listing is a must. I think maybe the ideal would be an open convo with the builder for permission and guidance - maybe it'd be a effort of teamwork to problem solve.

Hope this helps! 

  • Good point at the end. Others have implied the same, that i communicate to the builder what was changed and why. — GravityThrottleRacing
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RC_Attucks 4/26/24

Despite the fact I have no "dog" in your race, I think it's a great idea that you offer help at a price. I love to see all the cars finish or at least flip over near the end.

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Chris_Hood 4/26/24

Purely from the perspective of a long time fan, it's a fair, very fair, exchange you've both proposed and executed, GTR! Yours is a track so unique and the Baja Bouncer far outside the usual type of vehicle fielded in an event that in the pursuit of providing a better experience for all involved you have allowed unprecedented wiggle room for a modified tournament. 

Also, prior to folks sending in their builds, you gave excellent advice, noting the design elements inherent to this truck that would hinder performance and how to mitigate those "flaws." Either due to that advice not landing effectively or the skill sets of racers, some builds chose not to utilise the major point, that of deleting the two metal "spare tyres" so far aft on the casting. Still, you reach out and offer your ability to adjust and enhance vehicles in exchange for a beginning deficit in points and races have borne out that deficit is overcome fairly soon when race day arrives. No one was forced to make that choice. 

Would this be something to do in the future with a much more accessible vehicle, the Dodge D-100 to name one example? Probably not. The Baja only released in two variants, both premiums, and truck racing is so under-represented in the hobby, leaving racers with a relatively smaller body of experience compared to other genres of racing. To conclude, a one of a kind track paired with an unusual vehicle build style of a relatively scarce casting that the host knows needs some TLC to succeed and the choice to make this bargain with builders is hardly Faustian

  • Hey, Chris! Thanks for chimming in. You have articulated beautifully much of what i was feeling. I know one builder employed the same suspension strategy that worked for his wagon, but didnt do so well for the truck. It's complicated. — GravityThrottleRacing
  • My pleasure, Mark! I might have to edit "Prior to folks sending in their builds" to "Prior to the event proper" as I mis-remembered the timing of your offer/advice. Still, everything you've done thus far speaks so very well to your quality as a host underneath all the bells and whistles you bring to the show — Chris_Hood
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StrayDog 4/26/24

I feel it is definitely a fair way to go about it. You offered the service for a fee and every builder at the track has the option to accept or not. I likely wouldn't (partly because I would like to see how my car runs without help, mostly because I would not subject you to the chaos that is inside some of my cars), but also wouldn't complain if I lost to a host-modified vehicle.

  • I'm with you here. I have entered two drag races by two different hosts. The skill of the experienced builders has me in awe. There are closely guarded secrets. Therefore, it doesnt make sense to apply this "service for a penalty". I sort of stumbled my way into developing a new diecast racing genre. I want builders to discover and keep secrets, but i also want to educate widely on the fundamentals. — GravityThrottleRacing
  • I love the idea, promotes innovation. ex: you made the semis, on the bump, take the adj or not. creates a much more engaged feel for the builders — dr_dodge
  • I don't think it's as needed on a drag strip. You're either fast or you're not. Your track especially is a different beast and I think it's cool to offer the risk/ reward of modding a car. Like I said, if someone doesn't take it because of pride of not wanting to pay the price they can't really complain. They had the same shot anyone else did. . — StrayDog
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Chaos_Canyon 4/26/24

From a track hosts perspective, there is also the fact that you are trying to make an entertaining video, so if builds aren't right and they keep failing you're the one that can get a lot of abuse about the track not being good enough, not the builders. When a simple tweak to the car could make all the difference, I think it's fair to reach out to the builder.

I've learnt from my Outlaws series what cars need to do well, which is why i gave plans for a simple drag/rolling test in my call for entry video, to show that if you're car can't do this, then don't send it. I had to be something you could do at home very easily with minimal equipment. Even then I still had cars that failed to qualify because they were too slow. I feel particularly bad for those builders as the cost is much higher to send cars to NZ (why i always say for them to send two and I'll race the fastest) plus the time to get here can be 4-6 weeks, so that is a lot more shaking, bouncing and bashing in packaging than they would get travelling locally.

Totally understand what you're doing Mark, and I think it is a good balance for racers and you as the host. I know you've also done wrap up videos before where you went over what different weight palecement, suspension etc does on your track and how it affects performance, so maybe you can do a very detailed one of those after this series, explaining how to set up vehicles for future races and they can watch that. Maybe give them a simple course to build at home with a standard HW corner, or one made from cardboard, and if their truck can't make it round that curve, then it won't work in your race.

Even though I didn't feel the need for asking for the help, I think it's a great idea. As been stated before, this track is very unique, and I dare say none of us builders have anything close to compare and test on. My experience is from racing on that beautiful track several times, so I may have more of an edge than some newcomers. 
Its a brilliant idea, it keep the competition up amd makes the videos mroe interesting!

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