Here is a summary of my findings regarding the powerplant history for the US Vintage Trans-Am racing series, as well as our Minnesota variant. Some of the comments are moot-point as the previous series manufacturer, Novak, is no longer in business. But it may provide useful insight for the newcomers out there.
To start, there is a prolific amount of information out there. I’m hoping to give you the too-long;didn’t-read (TL;DR) version, but even my abridged one is going to be long. There are two threads on RCTech.net dedicated to Vintage Trans-Am. The first has 14,000 posts on 900+ pages, and the second has over 10,000 posts on 600+ pages and is growing.
As a newcomer, I found the Vintage Trans-Am series to be a great place to start. The rules set a framework for the “Spirit of VTA” – which includes a statement about low costs. However I found that the series mandated $100 motor seemed a bit steep. So I set out to find out why. I saw some ugly, unhelpful comments, and finally got to the bottom of it.
The Novak Monopoly
My research first led me to page 641 where I came across this:
|11-16-2010, 10:49 AM||#9609|
Join Date: Jun 2005
The reason Novak has the “monopoly” is because USVTA tested some prototype 25.5 winds we built for them and asked us to make this special, custom wind for the organization.
The 25.5 motor is the most expensive both parts (copper) and labor that we make, but we offered a special, affordable system to USVTA without passing on these additional costs.
Uninformed comments, like yours, really annoy me…
While I appreciate that a Novak company representative chimed in to clear things up, unless you’ve followed the development of Vintage Trans-Am from the beginning, it’s hard to know why any of these decisions were made. And now I’m annoyed at the Novak company representative for his/her attitude.
From an outsider’s perspective, it did look like Novak had a monopoly on the Vintage Trans-AM motor. The published rules are not forthright with the fact that they commissioned Novak to build a motor just for this class. Shortly after the Novak rep made that comment, this follow-up was made:
|11-16-2010, 11:57 AM||#9615|
Join Date: Jun 2008
Trader Rating: 12 (100%+)
Not very helpful at all. In fact searching this thread for “25.5” yielded the maximum result set of 500 so I could only go back so far without attempting to view every page and every thread.
Keeping speeds “scale”
I did some asking and some more reading (so you don’t have to). Since my local track runs a Vintage Trans-Am variant using a 1-cell battery and 17.5 turn motor, I asked what the history of it was since the national VTA rules at the time specified 25.5 turn Novak motors.
The class originally borrowed a spec 27 turn brushed motor and 4-cell NiCad/NiMH battery from 1/12 scale racing, but put it in a 1/10 scale touring car to keep it slow and realistic.
At Molzer Mowery Raceway in Minnesota, as the 1/12 scale stock brushed classes evolved into a 17.5 turn brushless motor and a 1S lipo battery, the local VTA racers followed suit. It turned out to be a good combination because the car is kept light.
Update to 21.5 then 25.5
Nationally they began to use Novak 21.5 turn brushless motors and 2S lipo batteries, but apparently things were getting too fast, so a 25.5 turn motor was tested – which hadn’t previously existed. Since a 21.5 Novak was originally specified and Novak had a trade-in program, the switch was the easiest, most cost effective move.
The official 25.5 motor rule change is posted on page 476, along with an insightful post comparing several setups, shortly before the official rules change post.
While forums are a good place for discussion, not everyone has time for them. Forums like RCTech are unaffiliated with any series, so it seems strange to have your canonical series discussion on rctech.net when your rules are posted at usvintagetransam.com. I understand not every club or organization is tech-savvy enough to manage their own discussion forum. But rules and rule changes (and possibly rule history) should be maintained by the series organizer in a way that adequately explains things – especially if rules are coming into question.
An early takeaway for me was learning the best price for a Novak 25.5 turn motor is to get a reconditioned one straight from Novak for $75 – not from someone in the Buy/Sell/Trade forum. Novak motors are reconditioned to factory new specs. I wish it were closer to the old spec brushed motor $50 limit, but I took what I could get at the time.
After Novak announced it will be going out of business, the series organizers acted to allow any ROAR-approved 25.5 turn brushless motors. My immediate hope is that Hobby King will submit their 25.5T motor to ROAR for approval, so we can get back to budget racing.