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Why modifications are needed (Rules, Part 3)

November 30th, 2006 · 6 Comments

Other leaders and race organizers often ask me why a boy would need to modify the parts that come with their kit. Other than to gain an unfair advantage, why would someone lathe their wheels, change the axle slot location, or buy replacement axles? Wouldn’t it be best if everyone were using the exact same kit? The thing is, forcing the use of stock, unmodified kits is the best way to create an unfair advantage. That’s because not everyone will be using the same kit.

The BSA kits are terrible. The wheels are out of round, unbalanced, have crooked axle holes, varying wheel bore diameters, and uneven surfaces. The blocks aren’t square, the axle slots are poorly cut, and they have different vibration dampening qualities. The axles are crooked, have different diameters, and the nail heads aren’t perpendicular to the shafts.

Some kits are better than others. If you restrict a boy to using a kit as-is, and allow no modifications from stock, you are reducing the race to chance. All fairness has been eliminated and the kid who happens to get a good set of wheels or a straight block suddenly has an unearned advantage. You might as well not hold the race and just flip a coin to determine the winners.

This is the third in a series of articles aimed at race officials. In the series you’ll learn why complicated rules hurt the kids and the integrity of the race.


6 comments so far ↓

  • Reed C // Mar 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Simple rules make for a great race!
    We had a derby as part of a family reunion.
    Rules were as simple as what was in the box. Mom judged the cars. Had GREAT races, even on a terrible track. Kids loved making the cool adjustments to make faster cars.

  • Reed C // Mar 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Also, at recent local Pack race a kid showed up with one wheel completely missing 1/4 of the tread area from malformed bubble during manufacture, ‘from the kit’.
    Axles were hard glued in, couldn’t get them out and substitute wheel before registration. The poor kids’ car lost every race, could barely make it down the track.

  • Richrd Ver Steeg // Aug 12, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Simple is better. If you can’t or won’t enforce a rule, get rid of it. Races I’ve been involved in use the official rules (no local variations) but really only enforced the most concrete rules: dimensions - which are self enforcing anyways, and weight. Seeing cars race that have clearly broken sends all sorts of bad messages.

  • Hypertech Pine // Jun 8, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Its funny how those who dont perform well always assume everybody else is cheating. Hence the creation and extensions and modifications, and ultimately bastardization of rules about the rules to try and make it fair for everybody (i.e. those lacking in knowledge, skill and drive)
    Take away every possible modification so its no longer a derby but a coin flip
    Yea…. that sounds like allot of fun!

  • Mike // Jan 24, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I think we’re missing the point, when I see a car that does poorly it’s always immediately apparent why, and it’s not that the starter kits were bad. It was that no effort was put into the car and 2 days before (or during the impound) the parent’s / scout are in a panic trying to build thier car …

    Our scouts always have a great time, our Cub Master gives out awards like “Worst Gas Mileage” (for the slowest car) and “Most Spectacular Crash” for those instances and we end up laughing them off as a pack, great fun for all.

  • Bill Klingler // Feb 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    The only one I agree with here is Hypertech Pine. A scout would learn nothing pounding 4 nails into a block of wood. Why does everyone seem to agree we use graphite? What’s the point? The car that makes it the farthest down the track wins. We wouldn’t have to spend any money for these expensive timers and we could “Dumb Down” the scouts at the same time.
    However, I have read the rules that come in the box and I would love to race under those rules. They don’t say anything which is the way it should be. Turn the kids loose and let them learn something.

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