View Full Version : best race circuit design

24-Sep-12, 06:34 PM
the recent world championships circuit was short with chicanes on the land and the water, F1's were doing 40 second laps with enough opportunity to hold them flat out

the result was many laps with close and exciting racing in all formulae, gets me thinking we should try to achieve this at our venues, just because we have a massive lake or land available doesn't mean we have to have a 1/4 mile straights

comments please

24-Sep-12, 07:57 PM
I have said this in the past. From a spectator point of view some of the racing is really boring to watch, especially the novices. Before jumping on my head I dont mean it in an offensive way. My favorite races to watch was the f1. Reason I find the novices and f35 boring to watch is exactly what you mention above. The craft become too spead out very quickly then it can be like watching a carnival procession. A shorter circuit would bunch the craft up more which I feel would lead to more over taking which is fun for the racers and spectators alike. The faster craft would catch up the tail enders that much quicker leading to even more overtaking.

I feel a shorter circuit would benefit racers, spectators and ultimately the sport as a whole. maybe it could be tried on one of the meetings then make descission for other meetings based on that.

I'm not a racer just a spectator

25-Sep-12, 07:12 AM
Race circuit design will always depend to a considerable extent on the terrain of the venue!

Technical courses are of course a preference, but too tight and there will be no opportunities for overtaking, which can make it more of a procession, not less.

We had nearly twice as many craft at the Towcester WHC, not sure this would have been so successful on the Saalburg course.

Personally, I want to see a variety of courses, as one particular course will never suit everyone.

I would also like to see an increase in the number of laps on shorter courses. 40 second laps....10 laps....means a 6 and a half minute race....thats 26 minutes of racing in a weekend. We make Novices do 10 minutes + 1 lap because historically thats how long a race used to last. Shortening races doesn't save that much time - after all, the 10 minute board etc proceedure takes longer than the race itself!

25-Sep-12, 09:56 AM
I thought WHC course was a little on the short size with the leaders catching and overtaking backmarkers very early in the race. This seem to annoy a number of racers, especially if they caught them on the land section. This seemed to make it difficult for the leaders and little seemed to happen after catching the backmarkers.

Was the racing closer at WHC because the racers were at the top of the sport. In the GB races there is a wider range of ability and standard of craft. Currently the F50 racing has been exciting on all the courses and I always stop whatever I am doing to watch it. This is mainly due to their being several racers who are racing at the same level and of cause there is a good number of racers. Other formulas struggle with the number of racers to keep things interesting.

Making courses more technical may have benefits provided there is sufficient places to overtake slower crafts without loosing time.

I think adding chacanes would be interesting, shortening course would not be a benefit, but I think the main thing that will make the racing exciting is attracting more racers to the formulas that are undersubscribed. Unfortunately I do not have an answer to that, though I am doing my best to get more Junior's involved.


25-Sep-12, 07:16 PM
I can hear Dave Kemp typing...! He's long been a proponent of shorter tracks. He won't be able to resist this!

When I used to race in RallyCross, we in the peasant formula class would often race on a shorter circuit than the big boys. In F1, I used to like the fast tracks like Lydd where you could hit some decent speeds - but it was less fun in a 503. I'm not up to date with many of the the current UK circuits - is it a possibility to have ashort circuit for the slower formulas?

Jon Pert
26-Sep-12, 01:01 PM
"Re: best race circuit design"

Berlin WHC 2004.

Close thread.

1-Oct-12, 04:17 PM
Personally, I feel the whole 'show' lacks any attempt at entertaining the public... so if that's the goal then the whole program needs looking at, not just the course design.

This includes restructuring the weekend, matching craft together into finals, making saturday a 'closed to club' day and sunday more spectator friendly AND more interesting racetracks.

In every formula there's amassive gap between first and last - course deisgn won't close that up....

1-Oct-12, 06:49 PM
i had a suggestion to change the whole format to get novice and juniors done early thus releasing the afternoons for the main formulas.

however - claydon shows us the juniors at presently very entertaining to watch with the young bloods giving it all and with no fear.

the only way to improve spectator experience is to make the race intervals less, craft recovery from last race ongoing during next race etc and if your craft is not returned then its bad luck.

from all i get from spectators - its too long winded and too much down time.

there's no easy solution i fear.

James Limburn
2-Oct-12, 03:46 PM
DRS? KERS? Skirts which only last a couple of laps?

Seriously though, I found the racing in Saalburg (at least from what we could see on the video which was done very well) quite processional and the course what I would call mickey-mouse in the extreme. I agree that the racing was great but that was because there were more evenly-matched front-runners in most formulae. The course was short and dull and seemed to be two short straights with a couple of chicanes; almost an oval. In the UK, courses tend to have quite aggressive cambers, changes in altitude, sharp transitions and rough, undulating or otherwise tricky ground so, from a driver's perspective, they are more interesting and challenging. From a spectator's point of view, hovercraft racing is closer and more interesting than most other forms of racing in any case so I'm not sure it's "broke".

That said, maybe if we imported some rules from car racing like making people leave a craft's width if they've made a defensive move and someone sticks part of their craft alongside going into a corner, it might improve overtaking but then we're going to have to co-opt another twenty people to watch the races or another twenty cameras to provide post-race angles on incidents so we can judge indiscretions.

The big problem we have is getting air from the guy in front which is always going to hamper overtaking whatever you do about it, short course or long, rough or smooth and largely water or largely land so it seems having enough space on-course to avoid the craft in front's air is the key factor in overtaking which plays to the UK (and long courses') strengths in that, Gang W aside, our courses tend to be very broad with lots of space for overtaking whereas the whole land stretch and the chicane end of the course at Saalburg didn't.

Anyway, did we not have a tricky little chicane at Big Lake? And Hackett's? The only course which is less challenging than Saalburg in the UK is Rother which lacks the chicane-on-water and that, ironically, is probably the shortest course we have on the calendar (certainly the shortest mostly-water one). We could possibly add a chicane there.

I wasn't there but it didn't look like a template I'd want us to follow.

2-Oct-12, 05:36 PM
what about having other things going on between races or downtime, i.e. public rides across the lake, cruiser demonstrations

the organiser of the 'thundercat' powerboat racers at Cholomondeley asked if we could both operate at one venue and she said if we had suitable lakes greater than knee high depth they could have their races during out paddock open sessions - action all the time on the lake

thoughts ??

2-Oct-12, 06:56 PM
Hi Tony, i was meaning down time between individual races rather than between sets of races.

if you think about claydon - winner does lap of honour catching up with back markers = 2 to 3 mins
they all return to pits - the course gets cleared - 0 to 10 mins - then the 2 min board goes up.

so it can be say 5 to 15 mins between races.

this is what i get negative feedback on.

worse still at fawley where there is no dummy grid

3-Oct-12, 06:09 PM
The 10 minute board goes up on the 3rd lap of the current race, any sooner and drivers would be hanging around on the grid getting bored and you would still have to wait for the race to be finished and cleared before starting the next one. The course takes 30 seconds to clear at most then the 2min board goes up. I don't think there is much time to be caught up there.

Keith Oakley
3-Oct-12, 08:48 PM
Just to support Tamsin with some statistics - on sunday afternoon at Claydon between 13.51 and 16.04 we completed 10 races (of a mix of all formulae). Because we were trying to catch up on time lost earlier to a lengthy red flag the races were reduced to 6 laps instead of the usual 8. The average time between race start and winner taking the chequered flag was 6.8mins. The average time between chequered flag and start of next race was 8mins (varied between 4 and 17**mins). 8mins average is a considerable feat considering that includes all the following craft crossing the line and returning to paddock, plus trailer recovery of defunct craft, obligatory 2min board etc.
** The 17.5 gap after the FJ 1 sun race is probably wrong - I think there was another race started which was quickly red flagged and thus no laps recorded. Which would bring 8min average down to 6.7mins

The source for this is the Claydon 2012 lapchart on www.replay.raceresults.info (http://www.replay.raceresults.info) It shows we loose most time due to our rightly cautious approach to red flag incidents particularly where personal injury is suspected; not due to the turnaround gaps between races. I think our current redflag policy is right.

Incidentally you could also use the data to compare average laptimes at different courses eg Dan Turnbull 45sec at Magnoll & Rother, 65 at Big Lake, 50 at Gang Warily 54 Claydon 46 Worlds Practise


Scuba Kev
3-Oct-12, 10:24 PM
James, I doubt very much from what you were seeing of Saalburg on the internet was anything like to what the course was to actually drive/race, will ever be appreciated, Driving it I certainly wouldn't call it "Mickey Mouse"! on the water there were 4 bouys! yes one of them was on the dogleg/straight but if you got it right you could overtake on all of these by using your wit, watching your competitor and change your line accordingly! again the 1st part of land section had a slow hairpin but if you were chasing for position you could change your line into it to get a good line out of it... it's not always about holding the throttle open and hoping you come out the corner the best... admitedly when I first saw it in daylight I didn't like it!! that changed when I drove it.... Drive to the course and the conditions.

And as for making a course spectator friendly... I'm sorry .. rubbish.. make it for the drivers they are the ones that pay to race, I suggest you don't put tight chicanes in on purpose so you go slower in front of the public so they can see the craft! thats what paddock open is for! don't get me wrong the public coming in, watching and paying helps to keep our costs down but I am sure they would rather see faster chicanes (where the space is available) and some overtaking manouvers can be made or holding your line to defend

Tristan Rhodes
4-Oct-12, 08:26 PM
Well, Hackett Lakes lends itself to be a short or long track. I'm sure David would let a few of us have a go at trying a few different layouts on the water perhaps to bring the long straight closer to the spectators, bring in both ends thus shortening the straight too and remove the water chicane. Bit of April testing/playing....

5-Oct-12, 01:45 PM
Figure of 8??? :p (Note i am unavailable to marshal this race!)


Jon Pert
5-Oct-12, 02:08 PM
Figure of 8??? :p (Note i am unavailable to marshal this race!)

Because you will be in it...

Ewan Black
9-Oct-12, 09:20 PM
I struggle with the whole concept of being here to entertain the public- we're here to race and have fun, we pay our own way and don't rely on the public to pay to underwrite what we do. BTCC costs in the region of 30 per head to watch- they have huge overheads, but put on a "show" commensurate with the cost to spectators.

We have an interesting mix of courses, some suited to F1 some to smaller craft.

For me, Black Ditch used to offer the best racing, a tight and technical course, every position contested for, and even experienced pilots who lost concentration found it bit back. Oh- and Heron's leap too!

The Dragon
10-Oct-12, 09:52 AM
the public are the clubs future members! )

Time for the Chiltern's branch to comment because they do masses and masses of publicity and promotion before their race days and on their race days, we all know its a big public event but from memory I don't think the return in actual members from the public watching is that great.

But I may be wrong........

We didn't join by being a member of the public either - I think you'll find most new members come from friends, friends of friends etc.

10-Oct-12, 01:28 PM
We didn't join by being a member of the public either - I think you'll find most new members come from friends, friends of friends etc.

I went to Hovercraft World Championship 2010 as a spectator, having never heard of the sport. Now my son and me are racing and my Daughter wants to next season. I am sure I am not the only person who spectated before becoming a racer.


10-Oct-12, 04:37 PM
We joined HCGB because we went as spectators to Claydon in 2009.
Both of us came away saying "I want to do that". :D

We bring along a junior and our daughter has now joined and wants to race next year.

Ewan Black
10-Oct-12, 06:27 PM
Entertaining the public is not our primary purpose, it happens, and they get a very good deal at the 5 or so a car that we used to charge at Blackditch, but they're hardly making enough of a contribution to be the deciding factor in how, where, or what we race.

Looking at the fine crop of Juniors coming through and those in pushchairs, we're fairly secure for the future

10-Oct-12, 08:08 PM
We joined HCGB because we went as spectators to Claydon in 2009.
Both of us came away saying "I want to do that". :D

--and now our friends and friends of friends...

11-Oct-12, 06:52 AM
As Membership Officer and Chilterns Branch member/organiser, I would say that maybe 5-10% of new members come via the spectating route, that would include demos and events other than race meetings. I would then say that the rest come from friends/family of those new members (and a few as friends and family of longer standing existing members).

For that reason, I agree with Ewan that public entertainment is far from our primary role, but in my opinion it is essential to have one or two events a year where we can entertain the public, as without that primary new influx, there isn't a new friends/family base to tap either.

This is yet another reason for a good variety of race circuit types....

11-Oct-12, 11:13 AM
I agree entirely. This is first and foremost a participation sport. Where possible we should put on a good show for as many spectators as possible but the active participants should remain our focus and we should be attempting to grow the numbers by all means available to us, which generally means reducing the barriers to entry.
Race courses should be fun to drive, a challenge to the racers and have varying characteristics based on terrain available and each course should challenge different aspects of craft design and driver ability, but don't tailor them to make it spectacular show at the expense of the other challenges we face as a sport. As already pointed out, most new drivers are attracted to the uniqueness and thrill of driving a hovercraft, not because they want to be part of a showcase.
P.S. best current race course; Rother Valley, but then i would say that as i designed it.

James Limburn
15-Oct-12, 09:39 AM
The best drive's circuit of all time was clearly Stanford Hall. We need to claw that back onto the agenda somehow then focus on the ample facilities for the public we could offer there!