Model Racing and Engineering

May 17, 2021

One of the cheapest ways of getting into motorsport and at the same time show off your engineering skills, is to race something so small you can’t even sit in it. Lewis Hamilton started his career at 6 racing radio controlled cars, and there are competitions for slot car racing all over the United Kingdom. The TV show Robot Wars kickstarted competitions all over the country organised by the Fighting Robots Association, whilst little engineers compete in Greenpower or F1 in Schools, and prospective engineers wanting a long term career in motorsport can look at Formula Student as a starting point. We’ve listed some of the places to start looking for your career in motorsport to get started:

 

BRITISH RADIO CAR ASSOCIATION

Essentially the BRCA races radio-controlled model racing cars, trucks and bikes, however this isn’t as simple a statement as it might seem! There are over 13 different classes ranging from small electric powered ones that do about 30mph through to cars powered by 3.5cc internal combustion engines that do over 80mph and even those with 23cc petrol engines. The racing caters for people from all backgrounds and doesn’t discriminate on sex, age, or disability. Radio-controlled model motor racing does provide a challenging sporting environment where the skill required to drive and build the cars can be tested against other likeminded competitors. It’s also where Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton began his motorsport career.

The four objects that define The British Radio Car Association.
(a) To promote the construction and racing of radio-controlled cars.
(b) To facilitate the exchange of information and ideas relating to the sport.
(c) To set rules and standards for construction and racing.
(d) To encourage National and International competition within a co-ordinated calendar.

There are 130 clubs within the BRCA all over the United Kingdom, and you can find your nearest club here.

 

 

BRITISH SLOT CAR RACING ASSOCIATION

B.S.C.R.A is the controlling body for slot car racing in the UK. It publishes a magazine “Slot Car Racing News” which includes articles on car, controller and track building, race reports, news of new products etc. The BSCRA organise races at regional and National level, and (in co operation with international slot car racing organisations) organise international events including the World Championships.

Organised slot car racing has come a long way since the humble beginnings using home set equipment in the sixties. Modern cars can lap a typical 30 meter club track in 5 seconds. In those 5 seconds the driver has to brake and drive round 6 or more corners. The faster cars are capable of 60 mph on the straights. (that’s actual speed not scale speed) and have covered over 400 miles in 24 hours.

The best way is to go along and join one of the many slot racing clubs around the country. Here you will meet many people who can help and advise you to acquire the necessary driving and chassis building skills. Click here for a full list of clubs. Many clubs have their own web sites and there are links to these from the Association web site.

 

 

FIGHTING ROBOTS ASSOCIATION

The Fighting Robots Association is the governing body for robotic combat and competition. Featuring robots that have competed in Robot Wars, Battlebots, Technogames and others FRA members make up a strong community of roboteers dedicated to the sport. As a professional organisation established in 2003 the FRA oversees the safety of the sport. In addition to maintaining rules for building, fighting and judging competition robotics the FRA provides a community for its members including an online forum and website.

There are competitions and exhibitions all over the country including the revamped Robot Wars TV series, Extreme Robots, Robots Live, and national championships across the country, travelling to places such as Colchester, Maidstone, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Manchester, Gloucester and others. You can keep up to date with the latest events, find out how to get into the sport and learn about the robots that compete or have competed in the sport via the Fighting Robots Association website.

 

MAGNETIC RACING

The system was developed by Wes Raynor after a lifetime of slot racing and r/c car design and manufacture, because  existing systems of small scale indoor racing have shortcomings.   Slot racing has unrealistic tracks with slots and pick up tapes, speeds are excessive and driving skills are limited to speed control or pressing a button to change lanes. Free running radio controlled cars, in small scales such as 1/32, cannot be controlled accurately enough to enable cars to follow the racing line through corners or to overtake without serious risk of hitting the other car or leaving the track. MAGracing cars can be steered to follow a perfect racing line, can be driven at high speed in close proximity to other cars and can overtake without fear of hitting the other car.

The track width is around 7” (18cms) and the track area can be as small as 39” (1mtr) by 120” (3mtrs). Up to 16 cars can be raced using easily switchable frequencies and cars are steered to racing lines and lane changes with a steering wheel on the transmitter pistol. The recent addition of reverse now enables cars to race without the need for track marshals as cars can be driven back onto the track/wire from any ‘off’ situation.

Car and radio power is by a single low cost AAA lithium ion battery. Run times are in excess of 20 minutes, car battery change in a pit stop takes 4 seconds and re-charge time is approx. 30 min.

 

GREENPOWER EDUCATION TRUST

The Greenpower Education Trust’s objective is to advance education in the subjects of sustainable engineering and technology to young people. The trust’s mission is to change current views about engineering, presenting it as a fascinating, relevant and dynamic career choice for any young person, to demonstrate the importance of engineering, and associated STEM subjects, to solve the problems faced by societies today particularly in the areas of sustainability, to link education, industry and community through inspirational engineering projects, and to promote social inclusion through engaging with vulnerable and economically disadvantaged young people.

The vision and mission were realised from a study by Sussex Enterprise in 1998 looking at the needs of engineering companies in the region. This uncovered a worrying problem; an industry increasingly reliant on an aging work force with few young people coming into engineering to learn the skills and replace the workforce. Further investigation revealed low levels of interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) amongst young people, within schools and within communities generally. After an initial event to promote engineering run by Greenpower and Sussex Enterprise, publicity in the Daily Telegraph brought in requests from around the UK from teachers who wanted a similar project in their region. Hence the Greenpower Education Trust created a number of practical, educational engineering challenges which fulfil that mission and encompass all of the Greenpower values.

The initial project was an electric car challenge which requires students, guided by their teachers and an industry mentor, to design, build and then race an electric car. Holding events at weekends at major motor circuits around the UK ensures excellent attendance from the general public who can witness the amazing vehicles, focus and team work evident at these events. Since that first event in 1999 Greenpower has expanded significantly and now works with 500 schools and over 8000 students around the UK.

 

 

F1 IN SCHOOLS

F1 in Schools Ltd is a social enterprise working with committed industry partners to provide an exciting yet challenging educational experience through the magnetic appeal of Formula One. F1 in Schools is the only truly global educational programme that raises awareness of STEM and Formula One among students and school children in every region, in every country, on every continent.

Offering a way to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related subjects in such an exciting way is achieving great results and the sport is increasing the intake of students into Engineering careers. F1 in Schools is supported by the Formula One™ community – in particular Mr Ecclestone at FOM and, of course, the Formula One™ teams who make students welcome in the F1™ paddock and in their factories.

F1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students aged 9 to 19 deploy CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air powered balsa wood F1 cars. Teams must raise sponsorship and manage budgets to fund research, travel and accommodation. The challenge inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way. The founding constitution of F1 in Schools stipulates that it is, and shall remain, a not-for-profit organisation. Funds raised through sponsorship are invested in administering, developing and expanding the challenge. All income is deployed in accordance with guidelines laid down by Formula One Management.

There are many success stories who have actually come through the initiative and have gone on to achieve significant outcomes in their lives including positions in Formula One teams. As F1 in Schools moves into the future it continues to expand into more and more countries. This is the largest and most successful school based STEM program in the world.

 

 

FORMULA STUDENT

Formula Student (FS) is Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition. Backed by industry and high-profile engineers such as patron, Ross Brawn OBE, the competition aims to develop enterprising and innovative young engineers and encourage more young people to take up a career in engineering.

As a student, taking part in Formula Student gives you the chance to demonstrate your technical, engineering design, and manufacturing skills. You will also learn important lessons on team working, time management, project management, budgeting and presentation: all things that any prospective employer will be looking for.

Formula Student graduates also find that the professionalism they gain as practising engineers means they are well equipped for their future engineering careers.

Teams are tasked to produce a prototype for a single-seat race car for autocross or sprint racing, and present it to a hypothetical manufacturing firm. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable, with high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking, and handling qualities. During the competition teams must demonstrate the logic behind its proposal and must be able to demonstrate that it can support a viable business model for both parties. Each team goes through a rigorous testing process:

Static Events:

Design, Cost and Sustainability, and Business Presentation Judging
Technical and Safety Scrutineering
Tilt Test
Brake and Noise Test
Dynamic Events:

Skid Pad (Figure of 8)
Sprint
Acceleration
Endurance
Fuel Economy

Teams are judged by experienced industry specialists.

 

If you want to explore an education in motorsport, the following universities and colleges currently run motorsport programmes:

NATIONAL MOTORSPORT ACADEMY

SILVERSTONE UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY OF DERBY

BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE

COVENTRY UNIVERSITY

UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE

KINGSTON UNIVERSITY LONDON

UNIVERSITY OF BOLTON

CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY

OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY

STAFFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY

UNIVERSITY OF WALES TRINITY ST DAVID

BROOKLANDS COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY OF BATH

BANBURY AND BICESTER COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD

NORTHBROOK COLLEGE SUSSEX

BRIDGWATER & TAUNTON COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON

WILTSHIRE COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY CAMPUS BARNSLEY

MYERSCOUGH COLLEGE

WARWICKSHIRE COLLEGE

ASKHAM BRYAN COLLEGE

EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY

BARKING & DAGENHAM COLLEGE

LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY

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