The Allure of UF1
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bill Jeric, and I’d like to take a moment to share with you the reasons for my enthusiasm about UF1 racing. One evening last November, my friend Ron Schuur invited me to stop out at TQ Raceway, as he and some others would be there practicing for something called UF1. I’d never heard of this type of racing before, and my curiosity won out. I’d been away from on-road racing (my original passion in this sport) since 2004, as a combination of business and school demanded the vast majority of my time. Ron was gracious enough to let me take a few laps on the carpet with his F1 car, and that’s pretty much all it took to rekindle my interest in returning to on-road racing. The kicker was attending the UF1 race on November 17th. I witnessed not only close competition with clean driving but most of all a passionate yet friendly community of drivers, many of whom are 1:1 scale F1 fans. I felt confident that this style of racing would provide me with a fun way to learn if I had any driving skills left. Well, I can say unconditionally that racing with the UF1 group has been one of the most enjoyable in the 30+ years that I have been involved with RC cars.
What makes it special?
• A great place to race. TQ feels like racing slot cars in a friend’s basement. Friendly, comfortable and convenient. Break something or need a part? Sean has it. Rarely have I seen a retailer support a niche category as well as he does. Of course, I have yet to experience the UF1 outdoor season but indoor is cool because the drivers and equipment are all in one relatively compact and temperature-controlled environment.
• A terrific struggle-to-fun ratio. Let’s be honest. Few of us have unlimited free time. At a UF1 race, if you don’t practice at all you’ll receive 48 minutes of “on the clock” competition in a day that lasts less than 8 hours. Compete at any sizable off-road event in SoCal and typically you’ll have two five-minute qualifiers and a five to seven-minute main, and chances are good that you’ll spend a minimum of 12 hours at the track in order to obtain that 15 minutes of race time.
• Open-wheel cars demand a careful driving style. Although I enjoy off-road racing, I certainly don’t care for getting blown off the track by those who consider their short-course truck nothing more than a large Lexan bumper. Now please don’t misread me here. Off-road racing is primarily what puts bread on the table for my family, and I have nothing but respect for the driving skills of experts who can drive “carpet lines” on a blown-out dirt track that changes every lap. For me, though, the enjoyment of UF1 is that the track won’t beat me. If my equipment and driving is on point, then my results will reflect it. In off-road there are simply too many other variables. When you add in the fact that when F1 cars touch, generally someone flies the unfriendly skies, therefore the benefits of driving clean overshadow the mindset that “rubbing is racing”. I find few things as exciting to watch as talented drivers like Passehl, Berger, Schuur, Medel, Neisinger, and others racing F1 cars lap after lap within millimeters of each other while never touching. The colorful conga line of RC F1 cars is a visual delight for both competitors and spectators alike.
• Rubber tires in my opinion are a huge deal in leveling the playing field. One need only recall the demise of foam touring cars to understand that limiting grip helps newcomers develop their talents and makes precision throttle control mandatory.
• Scale-looking cars. Who can forget that touring cars “back in the day” actually looked like 1:1 touring cars or that 1/12 scale used to look like Can-Am or GTP race cars instead of door stops or slot cars? Look at the bodies that 1/8 nitro on-road cars must run today to in order to remain stuck to the asphalt and tell me where a real race car exists that looks like that. UF1 is wise to insist on what Tony Phalen calls “realistisch” color and trim schemes.
• The people. I’ve had the opportunity to meet or become reacquainted with some really nice people through my involvement with the UF1 series. I like that fact that I see a varied range of ages involved with UF1. Young people such as Jacob Dee racing alongside his father are a real encouragement. Without young people getting into our sport, the future becomes bleak. There are myriad examples of hobbies and pastimes that became exclusionary or elitist, and by failing to encourage or help newbies that sport simply faded into oblivion.
I hope that by expressing some of these thoughts and opinions about UF1 it will encourage all of us to be UF1 ambassadors and spread the word both inside and outside the RC community about what a cool thing we have going on here. It would be a shame to keep it a secret or develop a feeling that we have to “hoard the fun”. The more the merrier. Thanks for listening and have a great day. See you at the track!
– Bill Jeric