Weather

Another feature in the ARC app that requires careful low speed calibration is Weather. Imagine a day of sun and showers at a British circuit or a race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife punctuated by the downpours so common in the Eifel mountains... The random weather changes generated by the ARC app can add realism and a lot of fun to your racing.

To illustrate the use of the Weather feature, we'll be racing the Scalextric Ford Sierra RS500s and BMW E30 M3s that battled hard in saloon car championships around the world in the late 1980s and early 90s. Not only were these cars front runners in the British, European and Australian Touring Car Championships, they also took part in and won prestigious races such as the Nürburgring 24 hours and Bathurst 1000. That means we can have the basis for a single driver format or a team race with two or three drivers per car.

Scalextric BTCC cars

For this simulation, we will recreate an early 1990s British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) race at an autumnal Brands Hatch. Although both are FIA Group A cars, the Sierra ran in Class A (over 3000cc) and the BMWs in Class B (2000-3000cc) in the BTCC. The Sierras would often disappear up the road and fight for the race win, but the BMWs would be right up there in the championship, which was based on class points. The Scalextric Sierras should, in theory, handle a bit better than the BMWs thanks to a slightly wider rear track. However, I haven't found much difference in practice. To simulate the real-life power advantage of the Sierras, we could decrease Max Power of the BMWs to 80% - or even less if the cars are running without magnets. I think it'll be more fun without giving the Sierras an advantage - we'll keep the Max Power settings of the two makes of car the same at 100%.

Set Up

Each BTCC season in the late 80s and early 90s included one or two endurance races with teams of two drivers per car. That would give some nice variety to run a multi-race championship with the Scalextric cars, with a long pairs race as the highlight of the season. We'll keep this example as a more standard 30-lap single-driver race using the Grand Prix mode. The main feature we'll use is Weather. If we need to stop the race for any reason, we'll hit the Pause button and then Resume.

ARC Pro Grand Prix set up screenARC Pro Grand Prix Race set up Screen

However, if we chose only Weather, the effect of a downpour would be to reduce the cars' speed to the calibrated slow speed until the track dried. In order to be able to pit for wet tyres (and cancel the slow speed setting), we also need to enable the Tyre Wear feature.

You might have noticed that I have also set the Start Type to Dead - meaning power will only be available when the race has started. There can be no jump starts with a Dead start - that is only possible with the Live start option. The Race End Type is set to Standard - meaning all cars must finish their lap after the winner finishes the race. The All Finish option means that all cars would need to finish the complete race distance (30 laps in this example) before the race finishes and the result screen with More Stats is shown. Unless you want to compare each driver's total race time over the full 30 laps, the Standard option is neater - and less embarrassing if one driver is ten laps behind.

ARC Pro start type screenARC Pro end type screen

Don't forget to calibrate the low speed for each of the cars, especially if you have been using different cars with different set ups (magnets, motors etc). It is important that when the weather changes, the cars slow to a fairly equal low speed so they will benefit from a pit stop and change to the correct tyres for the conditions. The calibration process is described in the Trans-Am format.

The Race

When the race starts, you'll notice a sun icon in the bottom right of the race screen. That means conditions are dry and the cars will automatically be on the correct 'dry' tyres. All drivers will need to keep an eye on tyre wear. There will be a controller rumble and audio prompt when you need to pit. Enter the pit lane on your layout and hold the brake button until the Tyre Wear icon has turned green and the green GO prompt flashes. If you miss a pit stop, you risk a Tyre Blowout and a potential retirement - you will be shown as a DNF on the race screen if that happens.

Tyre wear displayTyre wear display

When the weather changes, you'll see a thundercloud icon covering the race screen and hear a crack of lightning as an audio cue. Your controller will, of course, rumble like thunder... You'll also notice that your speed has dropped to the calibrated slow speed and the icon in the bottom right is the dark thundercloud. You should head to the pits, hold the brake button until the tyre change is complete. There is no way of telling from the screen whether you have wet or dry tyres, but you should be back up to full speed as you leave the pits.

Thunder and lightning symbolRace screen with weather and tyre wearRace screen with weather and tyre wear

When the rain stops, the icon in the bottom right corner of the race screen will simply change back to a sun. You won't notice a change in speed and you can continue on the same tyres until your next scheduled pit stop. Weather changes are random. The first rain might come on the first lap or the weather could stay dry until after the first pit stops. The rain might last a couple of laps or half the race - it is impossible to predict. If you gamble on a short shower and stay out at low speed, you might take the lead or - if the rain continues - you might have ruined your chances of a win.

Although relatively simple compared to the weather simulation in RCS64 (for the Scalextric Digital Advanced Powerbase), I think the ARC Weather feature is one of the best features of the app. I wouldn't recommend using it all the time. If it is raining outside, you might want to replicate the day's weather on your Scalextric track. Or you could roll a dice to decide...

Scalextric Ford Sierra