Our apologies for any inconvenience. The Races2U store will be closed from August 14 to the 21. We will reopen for the last week of summer break on the 22nd at 11am.
In keeping with the “Fast and Furious” style of making movies out of order, Part III of our series on this custom built track is actually the first. You will be able to see Parts I and II next week. Here are the final results of the track we built for Infor that made its debut at the Javits Center in New York City earlier this week. Thank you to all the great people at Infor, Hook and Loop, Birst, GT Nexus, and Koch Industries for making this track a reality. We really enjoyed working with you all. It was easy to see why Infor and the rest of the team are the industry leader in their sector. The camaraderie, teamwork, and knowledge was evident at the show and they were all outstanding professionals. If you were there and see yourself in any of the pictures, you can also find them on our social media and feel free to “tag” yourself. A HUGE “Thank You” to well known fashion model and actress Ms. Laura Petersen for keeping the races running smoothly. It takes fast reflexes and a lot of patience to be a member of the Races2U pit crew, and she did an outstanding job.
Races2U was asked by Infor to build a custom slot car track that would let them showcase their IoT (Internet of Things) capabilities at their Inforum convention in New York this July. This project was begun in February, and started with a simple idea. Races2U would build a track that would allow Infor to demonstrate the capabilities of their IOT platform. The track had to look impressive, yet be sturdy enough to be easily transported without damaging the track or scenery. It also needed the ability to have live video captured of the racing as well as capturing data from the cars.
Although Infor was our client, they are also an internet technology company and have a lot of technical experience integrating devices with the internet. The first thing they did was set up a small temporary track with two cars to see if they could integrate their technology with our slot cars. The prototype worked well, and as such we moved into production of the full model. (insert photo here)
The next step was to design the layout for the big track.
Races2U has built many tracks on various bases, using things as diverse as wood cabinetry, rolling metal tool chests, or simple frames built with 2×4 lumber and surrounded with a cloth skirt. For this project, since the track was going to be a major showpiece in the middle of a large convention, and we needed durability, we built the frame with welded and powder-coated steel tubing. It was built in three 4’x7′ sections for easy transport that bolted together underneath to create a 12’x7′ table.
The long front side and one short side were finished off with solid faces of MDF that would look attractive plain or allow for branding to be applied.
The other short side had drawers built in that would hold the slot cars, controls, and tools as well as a laptop computer and video recorder. On the back side of the track we installed two large cabinets that could be used to store prizes, give-away materials, more computer hardware, and personal items. (insert photo here)
The track was surrounded by Plexiglas to keep speeding cars from flying off the table on to the floor. TV’s were mounted to the track to display race statistics from the computer and video from the various cameras around the track. All the wiring was under the table and set up with quick connects between each section. All electrical devices could plug in to one large power strip on the back of the main section for easy power on/off.
To see how the tech works, proceed to Part II
The Lamborghini Hurracán LP 610-4 is in an elite group of sports cars. 601.65 hp and acceleration of 0 – 100 km/h / 62.13 mph in 3.2 seconds justify this status within the uppermost eschelon. With this special edition Lamborghini celebrates itself and Italian aviation. The car is decorated with subtle details from the world of aviation. Feel the wind, feel the speed, up – up and away! The Carrera DIGITAL 132 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 slotcar is an impressive, faithfully detailed reproduction with head, tail and brake lights. This Carrera car can be individually coded, is digitally controllable and guarantees authentic racing thrills.
Purchase yours here!
Two things that go well together- slot car racing and ice cream! The Scooper Bowl Ice Cream Festival in Boston is the largest Ice Cream Festival in the US, and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the Jimmy Fund to search for a cure for children’s cancer. Thank you to our wonderful sponsor, Henley Enterprises Valvoline Instant Oil Change for the opportunity to participate in this fun and worthwhile event. While this year’s event got off to a cold and wet start on the first day, the beautiful weather and huge crowds over the next couple of days more than compensated for the slow beginning. Tens of thousands of people came out to enjoy samples of ice cream from companies like Baskin and Robins, Ben and Jerry’s, Breyers, Edys, Hood, and many more. One of our personal favorites was the frozen Greek Yogurt Bars from Yasso. Thousands of people raced on the two NASCAR tracks we set up, and Warren and Sky and the rest of the Valvoline team were helping kids of all ages race from noon to sundown for the three days of this event. Enjoy the pictures, and look for more on our Facebook page and video on Youtube (coming soon!).
“You learn something new everyday if you pay attention.” Ray LeBlond
One of the great things about what we do is going to so many different trade shows for so many different industries. The TCEQ show was all about environmental programs, compliance, regulation, and just about anything that had anything to do with the environment, from cleanup and transportation of waste to various ways to reduce pollution to code enforcement and more. An international crowd of vendors, students, representatives from various municipalities, and even members of the general public attended this 2 day show at the Austin Convention Center May 16th and 17th. Our sponsor was EDR, the leading provider of environmental data to engineers, consultants, banks, and end users for due diligence information. They were a lot of fun to work with, and we learned a lot about their company and their industry. We set up our 6’x10′ NASCAR track in their 10×20 booth, and it was one of the most popular and visited booths of the show. Several hundred people raced with us over the course of the event, and they all left with smiles, whether they won or lost. Overall another great show, and we learned a lot!
While we love spreading the joy of slot car racing to people that have never done it before, we really love repeat racers. This year we were invited back by O’Reilley Media to OSCON, which was again held in our hometown of Austin, Texas. This international gathering of programming professionals was 4 days of learning about open source software, networking, and fun. The fun part is what we do best, and many of the participants in this conference took time from their hectic schedules to leave it all on the track! #OReilley #OSCON #Races2U
Races2U has been asked to build or consult on many interesting slot car projects over the years, but it is a rare opportunity when we get to act as a consultant and others do almost all the work. One of our most recent projects is an amazing piece of work, created by SISU Devices for Cisco, in collaboration with Races2U and talented acrylic artist Bill Cornelius of Central Texas Plastic Fabrication.
Although Races2U and Cisco have crossed paths many times at various tech trade shows and events such as the Open Source Convention (OSCON), NetApp Insite, and OpenStack Summit, this was a project far beyond our expertise, or that of any slot car guru for that matter. For what Cisco wanted, they really needed a talented mechanical, electrical, and software engineering team, so they turned to SISU Devices to develop and integrate some high-tech features into an otherwise pretty standard slot car track.
The purpose of this project was for Cisco to be able to demonstrate through a visual means how their Time-Sensitive Network Switches (TSN) would route priority traffic over routine traffic to keep networks running smoothly. How better to demonstrate this than using actual automotive traffic, on a smaller scale. The track was designed to have a series of features that would normally impede traffic flow- a draw bridge, toll gates, and giant windmills (not normally a problem on most roads, but hey…). The idea was for users to be able to drive their cars on the track, both in “normal” mode, where they would have to wait for the obstacles to clear (or crash), or to run in TSN mode, where the obstacles would sense the cars on the road and synchronize with them to keep traffic flowing smoothly. In the event of a crash, there are emergency switches (red buttons on yellow boxes)at either end of the track that the staff manning the track can hit in an instant and stop the action.
SISU Devices is an Austin area company that specializes in industrial automation, and is staffed by some of the best and brightest engineers and designers in several different fields who create robots and machinery that help make difficult tasks seem easy, or in this case, create a slot car track that would fulfill the needs of their client, Cisco. So, if you have all kinds of engineers on staff, but no slot car experts, where do you turn? Well, to Races2U of course. We spent several hours with some of the talented folks at SISU going over the merits and drawbacks of various types of slot cars and tracks- digital vs. analog, routed wood vs. plastic manufactured, the differences between various brands of track. After much discussion, we settled on using Scalextric sport track for the project, based primarily on its width, flexibility, and smaller turn radii. The idea was for the track to evoke the streets of San Francisco, and to allow for some elevation changes (although in the end that was not necessary). The cars are a mixture of Scalextric and Carrera modified with smaller guides to run on Scalextric track. (Carrera models shown). The overall size of the track is roughly 3.5 feet wide by 14 feet long, and all assembled weighs close to half a ton!
Now where it gets techy- Rather than running a DC voltage through the controllers and the controller varying the voltage on the track, the engineers at SISU connected the controller to a power amplifier that would simultaneously send power to the track and signal to the other electronic components integrated into the overall system. Through a series of sensors built into the track, computers knew the precise location of the cars at all sectors through the circuit. The magnets in the bottom of the cars would trigger some sensors, while laser sensors would trigger other responses when their light beam was broken. This allowed not only synchronization with or removal of the obstacles, but also for interesting visual effects, such as LED lighting placed along the edge of the track to follow the cars as they drove around the track. The effect is mesmerizing and quite exciting to watch. Rather than create skyscrapers to simulate downtown San Francisco, Cisco’s own network devices act as buildings, and their prominent placement on the track allows them to show customers exactly what they look like, while in a very differing setting then where they would normally be used.
All of the telemetry from the cars was visible on the displays mounted above the track, and you could see where a car was in real time on the track map. Another interesting feature of this track was the use of high resolution/high speed cameras to show the cars from various angles. Although this is not the first time that cameras have been used to show the action on the track (Click here to see a track we built for Interstate Batteries), it may be the first time that it was done with such clarity and the ability to see the action replayed in super-slow motion. The action and replays are also displayed on one of the screens above the track.
Now, to go along with the high-tech nature of this track, it needed a high-tech look as well. A Central Texas artist, Bill Cornelius, created a landscape built out of various colors of acrylic. A deep transparent blue was used for the water, a smokey grey and white for the terrain, and layers of clear stacked acrylic for the iconic Trans-America tower. The Golden Gate Bridge (modeled after the Cisco logo, or is it vice-versa) was built in red. We always wondered why the Golden Gate is red- it’s actually vermilion and it is to be more visible in the fog, but that’s another story.
The exposed wires, relays, laser sensors, switches and cameras all add to the high-tech look and feel of this masterpiece. The entire assembly is on an alulminum frame and industrial casters so it can easily be transported/moved to various trade shows and expositions wherever Cisco needs it to be. The TV gantry even lowers down into the base. Overall an amazing piece of work, and Races2U was proud to be a part of it, no matter how small our part was.
THEY may be one of the sexiest and most flamboyant – not to mention expensive – sports cars in the world, but don’t even think about asking for a pink Ferrari.
IT’S the ultimate in luxury sports cars — noisy, incredible to drive and possibly one of the most gawked-at set of wheels on the road.
But the one thing you will never see come out of the Ferrari factory is one in pink.
“It just doesn’t fit into our whole ethos to be honest,” Ferrari’s Australasia CEO, Herbert Appleroth tells news.com.au. “It’s a brand rule. No Pink. No Pokémon Ferraris!
“There are other colours that aren’t in our DNA as well and they are wonderful colours too but some are perhaps more suited to other brands,’’ he says, ever so diplomatically.
“The most popular colour is still red but we are trying to give as many choices as possible to everyone.”
While red does make up for around a third of Ferrari sales around the world, it is followed by silver and black with white being a colour Appleroth says is trending ‘upwards.’
“Enzo Ferrari used to say a different Ferrari for every Ferrari-ista, as globally we don’t want two cars to be the same.
“We have invested in our dealerships so each one has a tailored made, personalisation area.”
Of course, if you are spending anything from $400,000 to $2.5 million on a Ferrari you may choose to go elsewhere to have it painted pink once you have driven it out of the dealership. But at this point, there won’t be any pinkies brm-brm-brm-ing out of a showroom anytime soon.
“Every Ferrari is customised, personalised or bespoke,” says Mr Appleroth.
“There are many different levels of personalisation from sitting in the dealership and working through all of your options to the tailor-made progamme where you fly to Italy to the factory in Maranello and sit in the atelier and work out your specifications.
“And there is the one-off program where it starts with the chassis and everything is completed around your specifications. But they are very, very rare. Eric Clapton has one like that.”
Mr Appleroth says the car brand produces an ongoing book with all designs from all over the world so they can see what some of the trends and what some cultures are doing when it comes to design.
“Like anything in fashion, we push the boundaries and our personalisation programs allow for our clients to basically create a couture car.”
And who exactly are the people buying these extravagant, mechanically masterful fast cars?
“Actually the car industry is booming,” Appleroth explains. “In our space, the ‘super’ car market, it has never been as good as it is now.
“In our segment, the Ferrari world, we have seen a 48 per cent growth in the last financial year. There are number of factors to it, from our economy doing well, there’s a stability in the market and people are doing well and feeling confident about their primary investment, which is usually real estate.
“There are people who have worked hard and think ‘I want to treat myself’ and they also see a car like this as an investment as the cars appreciate simply because they are so limited and all bespoke.”
While a half million dollar fast car is a mighty big treat-to-self, Mr Appleroth thinks Australians are maturing when it comes to buying ‘luxury’.
“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago luxury was thought of as a bit of snobbery,” he says. “But I think people like to reward themselves now and look up to those who have done well as opposed to the tall poppy thing where we were always ready to cut down anyone who has worked hard for what they’ve got.”
Either way, ‘the Ferrari family’, a term Appleroth has given to Aussies who are in the F-club, turned out in force in Canberra on the weekend at an event that was an ode to all things Italian and car-like, Auto Italia.
Held on the lawns of Old Parliament House there were hundreds of Italian cars at the public event, from the likes of Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Fiat, Lamborghini and Ferrari. Dotted around the lawns and owned by collectors and Italian car enthusiasts the lawns would have never had seen so much car porn in one space at one time.
So, what it’s really like drive a Ferrari:
When the Ferrari dealer handed over the keys to the $400,000 (plus!) Ferrari California T for the weekend test drive to Canberra, I suddenly felt rich. Like, seriously rich. Powerful and successful. OK, I shouldn’t really need a car to tell me that my life is a complete and utter triumph (insert eyeroll emoji here) but hey, this went the right way about doing it.
My little, borrowed friend was red, low-rise, streamlined, well-endowed at the front and bloody sexy.
The fact it can go from zero 100km/h in 3.6 seconds kind of concerned me as I slowly wrangled it out onto a busy and relatively narrow street from its inner city Sydney dealership.
But once I was sorted, seat hoisted up, strapped in and the ‘launch’ button pushed, it was hasta la vista baby.
Not being fluent in motorise — I’l leave all that torque to bona fide motoring writers — I have never seen as many people stare in my direction as much as they did than when I was behind this set of wheels. Needless to say, it is a car that requires your lipstick stays glossy and your hair fresh as you feel like you are on show just as much as your wheels are.
Some peeps stare in sheer wonderment at this marvel of motor engineering while a few look at you like you are an indulgent toss.
Which, as someone who grew up in public housing and where humility and self-deprecation was instilled into us from day one and … oh, stuff it. It’s just a superbly brilliant experience and ride.
We (carefully) motored down to Canberra to the Auto Italia event we’d been invited to and while 110km is our MAX Australian freeway speed (which isn’t even a stroll in Ferrari land) I kept the faith, much to the chagrin of my foot, which could smell the lead it was desperate to pedal.
Look, I’m not going to go all motormouth on you, preferring to go the more luxe and style route.
The fact is, this auto gearbox still has the feel and noise of a manual and the leather and stitching is exquisite and there is plenty of room in the boot and the convertible roof is a cinch to get off, with the push of just one button. Aah. it’s a real ride.
Okay, so if I was ever in the site to afford one, would I? Bloody hell, yes. Even if I nearly do my back in each time I limbo-ed into the drivers seat.
*Melissa was a media guest of Ferrari at the annual Auto Italia event in Canberra.