Well, your Car is ready to race, but the race is still a few days or weeks away. There are some worthwhile things to do for your car. There are also some things that you should not do.
First, your Car is a finely-tuned racing machine. Avoid doing anything that will affect its ability to race well. Dropping it, playing "cars" in the sandbox, and shooting it across the kitchen floor are some no-no's that come to mind immediately.
When your Car has retired from its "racing career", you might allow a friend to touch it. Until then, protect it carefully.
If your pack allows "check-out runs" on the track before racing, only run your Car enough to assure that it runs on the track without problem, one or two runs per lane. Every run down the track is a risk!
Also, some people feel that the wheels "get slower" every time the Car is raced.
There is one thing that I think is very worthwhile. Every day, add some of your best graphite between your Car's wheels and axles. Then spend about five minutes spinning the wheels by hand. To do this, hold your Car, belly up, gently in one hand and gently spin each wheel with one finger of your other hand. Try to keep all of the wheels spinning. But, by all means, be gentle.
Race day has finally arrived. Today we will find out just how good this Car is. What should you do to give your Car its best chance to win?
If you are among the unlucky Cubs who must sit and watch as the Derby Officials race your Car, there is little that you can do but hope that they give your Car the same tender, loving care that you did. Mostly, they will, but accidents do happen. You also hope that they will know which is the front end of your Car. Mostly, they will, although I have seen exceptions. If you see that your car is about to be staged incorrectly on the track, speak up... loudly! "Hey! You've got my car backwards!" Once the heat has been run, it is too late. (Yes, it has happened!)
If you are one of the luckier Cubs who gets to race his own car, there are several things that you may be able to do.
Listen carefully so that you will know what to do and when to do it. You don't want to be rushing around with your Car in hand.
Watch carefully. How will you know which lane your Car will race in? Sometimes, a coin toss will give "choice of lanes" to one Cub or the other. If so, you must know which lane to choose. Tracks often have minor differences which may favor one lane over the other. Keep track of which lane has the most winners so that you will know which lane to choose.
Look at the track. You probably designed you car to perform best on a Modern design track. What kind of track is this one? If it is an older design S-Track with a very slight initial slope, turn your car around and let it run backward... On that track the center of mass belongs in the front. (Remember, the alignment procedure in this book set the car up to run straight and true either forward or backward. If you used some other alignment procedure, that is usually not the case.)
Staging your Car at the starting line is an art. Start by lowering the front wheels down to the track with the front of your Car centered in the lane. Then gently lower the rear wheels to the track, again carefully centered. Reach carefully over the top to gently pull the wheels out toward the ends of the axles, first the front wheels and then the rear. Then make one final check that the Car is lined up to go straight down to the finish line. Be very careful not to touch your opponent's Car. If you staged first, watch to assure that your Car is not jostled by your opponent.
Your Car has raced its last race. Win or lose, you did your best! Your Car performed for you to the best of its ability. It deserves a place of honor among your keepsakes. Find it a place where others can admire your work, too.
I mounted my Car on a plaque and hung it on the wall of our family room. Now everyone who visits can see it! (There are twelve plaques and Cars on our family room wall now, because Mom, Dad and Cub all raced! There were no "Tiger Cubs" back then.)
If your wheels and axles performed very well, check the race rules. It may be permissible to use them next year. If so, remove them from your car and put "display wheels" on the car. Carefully store the racing wheels and axles in a padded, dust-proof container. (I like resealable plastic sandwich bags for this.) Next year, try to make a better set, but race with the best.
Latest update: 7/20/2002
Copyright 1995, 1997, 2002 © by Stan Pope. All rights reserved.