Big boy world of mini 4WD racing

MIRI: There is a maxim that goes: You can take away the toys from big boys but you cant take away their passion.

It certainly explains pretty much why Wong Ching Hui decided to make a career out of his love for mini 4WD (four-wheel-drive).

Mini 4WD is any miniature model car within the mini scale of 1:20 to 1:48 that goes on all four wheels and runs on AA battery.

A Japanese company produces the toy car model that locals call Tamiya.

Professional players name it according to model and brand, but eventually it became a common term among us players, Wong told The Borneo Post in a recent interview.

According to Wong, his decision to start a mini 4WD business was triggered when Tamiya re-introduced a whole new range of mini 4WD and its parts about three years ago in an attempt to relive the childhood memories of its many fans.

I always had a fascination for mini 4WD since the first mini I got in 1996.

Back then it was an expensive and precious toy a pride among the boys.

When a new series was introduced, I was thrilled and was later on inspired to turn it into a career, the 30-year-old said.

With a start-up capital of RM100,000, his business focused not only on merchandise but body parts for the main machine such as motor, gear, tyres, wheels, damper and rollers.

He also designs track layout for local races.

The tracks are made from imported specialised material which dont come cheap.

Wong spent over RM20,000 on purchase, design and assemble/building the tracks.

A standard 4WD machine uses a direct drive on all four wheels, even around corners.

Hence, every part of the 4WD plays a vital role.

Damper, roller, chassis, motor, gear, tyres and wheels; front and rear bumpers are among the details that need to be taken into consideration.

There are three types of racing categories for mini 4WD technical, semi-speed and drag racing.

Each of these races requires a different type of car designed to optimise performance.

At the moment, technical and semi-speed races are two of the most common races organised locally.

For technical race, the track layout is designed with more obstacles.

In such a situation, its about stability and speed, the cars usually race at a maximum speed of 20 to 30 km per hour.

The modification made to the 4WD must better withstand the difficulties of climbing slopes or running at turns.

There are wheels of smaller diameters for more stability as the cars centre of gravity is lowered.

Moreover, under such circumstances it requires smaller rollers at the front for more stability when running around corners, he reiterated For speed or semi speed race, which focuses on acceleration between 40 to 50km/h, the track layout will be designed with shorter landing distance, with more jumper ramp and additional lane changer system.

Hence, the motor used should have higher RPM which means higher speed maximum and additional accessories to make it stable.

There are several options of materials and prices for each part which depends on players standard and requirements.

To keep the race fun, exciting and more importantly, fair and just, official regulations have been made to ensure players abide by the rules.

Mini 4WD races are not just about being the fastest or having the best equipment but also about using your knowledge, and learning good set-up techniques/machine.

It is not only about challenging other racers but yourself, he said.

Under the regulation, usable machine types permitted for all races are Mini 4WD REV, Mini 4WD PRO, Racing Mini 4WD, Super Mini 4WD, Fully-cowled Mini 4WD, Aero Mini 4WD, Mighty Mini 4WD, R/C Mini 4WD and Truckin Mini 4WD.

The measuring system of the machine used is said to followthe strict measurements ofwidth, length, height, ground clearance, tyre diameter, tyre width, weight, rollers, drive train and gears.

Width of the machine including all attached parts must be under 105mm, length under 165mm (including all attached parts), height under 70mm (including wing), ground clearance from flat surface to have gap of at least 1mm.

These are the rules players must strictly follow otherwise they will be accused of foul play, he said.

The same goes for overall weight of the machine(at least 90g), front and reartyres (diameter from 22 to 25mm and width from 8 to 26mm).

The roller is the wheel that rests on either end of the minis bumper, allowing the car to change direction and maintain stability when it leads the machine to glide against the wall of the track course.

Modification is restricted to a maximum of six rollers for a car (including front and rear as well as left and right).

As it runs on battery and motor, the types of motors tobe used are normal motor,Rev-Tuned motor, Torque-Tuned motor, Atomic-Tuned Motor etc.

For legal race, all machines must be inspected (scrutineering) before being officially admitted into a race.

If any part of the car is determined to be against the regulations, the racer must make the necessary changes to participate in the race legally, and make the result legitimate, he added.

A mini4WD racer himself, Wong has made a name in various races, locally and throughout Malaysia.

The most recent race he participated in was in Ipohat end of last month.

People keep toying with the idea that mini 4WD is just a game for children.

I could certainly prove them wrong. Wong, who was a science student, said it very much involves the knowledge of momentum and force fundamentals of physics to be applied when modifying and designing the track course.

As I am a true mini 4WD racer at heart since a young age, I can say that it is better than any computer game.

Not only is the price reasonable (RM200 to RM300 for an ordinary set) but it gives young people the opportunity to make friends, he said.