TRF Racing adventures.. Racing on low grip

I have taken things a bit slow in regard to getting back to racing since the lockdown measures have started to ease. Whilst there are a few ...

I have taken things a bit slow in regard to getting back to racing since the lockdown measures have started to ease. Whilst there are a few options starting to appear when it comes to racing outdoors I have prioritised catching up with friends racing at a local club simply as that is the element of racing I have missed most. 

With that in mind I have now raced for three weekends on a temporary track laid down in a large car park and have had to battle with a range of issues, including bad prep (Covered in the earlier article), rusty thumbs and some really low grip.

It has taken a while to slowly get over the rusty thumbs I thought I had. I like to race twice a week where possible, at the peak of my racing prowess I was probably running more than that. Although even before lockdown I had sometimes found it hard to even race once a week. Commit to track time and you will improve your speed, simples. 

Over a year of lockdown has affected all of us racers, and whilst I have driven other RC where possible, the intensity of racing is just hard to replicate unless you are on a track. Over the last three race events I have found it hard to feel connected with the car.  The car was snapping into uncontrollable oversteer into some corners or washing out with oversteer when trying to hit an apex

I was concerned that I had just lost 'it' although some could argue that I never had 'it' to begin with 😵 It took me some time and it was only at the third meeting that I actually felt like I was driving at a level I was happy with. The large factor here was learning to get the car working on low grip. 

The goal here is to work out why you have low grip because the set-up changes you will have to make can be different.

Is it really low grip? 

The very first thing you have to consider is if the bad handling is down to your set-up (Including tyre prep) or is it genuinely low grip. As a rule of thumb, if every one is struggling then it's low grip, if  its only a few racers including yourself then you need to look at your set-up.  This could be tyre issues or it could be that the surface is the big problem that needs to be addressed. 

The chart above basically covers the main scenarios when you can experience low grip.  The first thing you always need to consider is the quality of the surface. 

As a basic rule of thumb, if you are racing on a well maintained race track the surface is usually good to great. So it will usually be the temperature of the track being out of the usual operating window for the tyres that is causing the low grip scenario. 


In the UK one of the main issues with racing outdoors is that it can be too cold. The track might be perfect, clean and well prepped but the UK's weather is very changeable and in the Summer you can sometimes even get a morning frost. 

Cold temperatures are the most common. In this situation you want to work the tyres harder to get temperature into them. Things to change are
  • Stiffer springs 
  • Softer shock oil
  • Higher Roll centre
  • Move shocks further out
  • Harder anti roll bar
  • More rear Toe
Most of these settings make the car more aggressive, giving you more bite into the corner and pushing the tyres to do the hard work. This should help get more temperature into the tyres and help them start to work better. 


Less rare in the UK is that the track gets really hot and the tyres just lose grip. This is easy to spot as your grip will quickly go away as the race progresses.  In this scenario you want to make the tyres do less work so they do not overheat. 
  • Softer springs
  • Thicker shock oil
  • Less rear toe
  • Lower Roll centre
  • Softer anti roll bar


This is more common on a temporary track. The surface issues can range from dust, to the actual tarmac used and can even be a combination of the two. If you look at the surface, sometimes you will see that many carparks etc have quite large gaps in the tarmac. This is an issue for 1/10 onroad as the 24mm tyres only have a small amount of contact with the track surface, and if the top layer has small gaps then you will have even less rubber on the track. 

In the case of a low grip surface, you want to change the set-up quite drastically to a usual race set-up. You need to make the car much softer than you would ideally and then start to tune out the softness once you have a base soft set-up.
  • Softer springs
  • Softer oil
  • More camber
  • More rear tow
  • Softer Rear Diff oil
  • Lower roll centre
  • Softer anti roll bar
  • More Chassis Flex

As mentioned, for me the surface was very much the issue. So I dived in an made a wide range of changes to the Tamiya to ensure that it would at least move around the track.  

Once I got the TRF to be handling more consistently. I then started to work on making it more reactive again. That is always the battle with trying to hunt grip. You want the car to really be more stiff so that you are able to make more finessed moves and quicker changes of direction.  As the temps were still cold I mainly tried to make the tyres get more into the window by running stiffer springs and tweaking the roll centre.  

In the end the car was working well. I managed to pop it on pole for the A-Final and after a few laps I had a very comfortable lead and the car was easily the quickest out there. The race didn't quite go my way as the motor screw loosened and the motor moved so I lost all drive.. That damn TRF417 motor mount was always a nightmare for stock gearing. 

That screw is impossible to reach unless you remove the top deck and spur... gah!

With all of the changes I had made I didn't check the tightness of the obstructed motor mount screw.. my fault.. but that was a maintenance issue which Tamiya changed with different motor mount screw positions for the TRF417X 

So a mixed day, but after these three meetings I feel that I have got a better set-up for the TRF to work on this track and my driving prowess is slowly starting to come back. 

Let me know if you have other ideas or further tips for dealing with a low grip situation.

I'm still tempted to resurrect these parts :)
TRFAdventure 5696648888120205944

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