Andy Cooke Interview
25 July 2013
After a lifetime of racing at the highest level in many electric onroad classes Andy Cooke is racing F1 to relax and beating the heck out of us all! David Stevens from RC Formula1 asks Andy about his passion for RC car racing.
RCF1: How long have you been racing RC cars and when did you first race F1?
Andy Cooke: Only 23 years so far. I think my first F1 race was around 1994, I remember a bizarre weekend after TQ on Saturday at a State Titles in Liverpool Sydney it was rained out by a storm of biblical proportions.
RCF1: What are the highlights of your racing career so far? [generally and in F1]
AC: Well my Pro10 National Titles and Triple Summer Nats touring mod wins are up there, racing at the World Champs in Japan, South Africa and Florida were memorable experiences for many reasons. Many Bangkok TITC adventures especially meeting girls at RC race tracks...where else...
But my favourite RC experience by far was winning the 2001 TCS Nats in Lemans class (F103 chassis) and the trip to Japan to race the World Cup in Shizuoka, the Tamiya factories tours, meeting Dr Tamiya and getting his signature on my Lemans shell, oh and the Japanese food...YUM.
RCF1: What was your first F1 car?
AC: Tamiya F103 naturally!
RCF1: What do you like most about racing F1?
AC: Firstly they look super awesome and loving real F1 helps. Secondly I like their simplicity in design but complexity in tuning and mostly the fact that they are tricky to drive requiring smooth skilful steering and throttle/brake application.
RCF1: What brands of equipment do you use on your F1?
AC: I utilise only Tamiya and Exotek option parts for the chassis, radio gear I have currently is the Spektrum with mini Rx, I have an old Speed Passion ESC and Team Powers 21.5 motor. My favourite tyres are the Pit Shimizu and occasionally Ride.
RCF1: Are there any hopups or mods that you feel are essential / highly recommended?
AC: The most important aspect to the F1 class are the tyres and differential. This will give you maybe 90% of the overall performance and the remaining 10%, and what makes the difference between winning and not winning, is an accumulation of all the other chassis and body fine tuning settings.
RCF1: How do you prepare your car before an event?
AC: There are so many little things and variations but in general I take the main components of the car apart (tyres off, motor out, shocks off, etc) and check all parts for wear and breakages. Replace any slightly worn (and broken of course) parts and clean everything as rebuilding. Check all the geometry settings against my latest setup. Then I check my supplies of tyres, spares, etc.
RCF1: Which team or driver do you support in full scale F1 and how do you rate their chances in 2013?
AC: Ayrton Senna, probably not rating much of a chance in 2013. These days I have no hard core favourite...maybe Lewis and Kimi.
RCF1: How do you start making set-up changes when you are at the track - What settings do you change first and what settings make the biggest difference for you to get a good result?
AC: First thing is tyres and additive, motor and gearing, unless controlled. Then I go on to things such as shock springs, oil, ride height, droop, roll centres. Shells/wings make a good difference but I usually don't change these much due to their fundamental effect on balance.
RCF1: What tyres do you prefer and do you use traction additive? If so how do you use it?
AC: for touring cars I like Sorex (if it’s not controlled), for F1 Pits, for mini Spice and Ride. I usually use additive, it can make a big increase in grip when used properly and the opposite when not utilised effectively! Whilst using additives is a bit of a black art a general rule is to ensure it’s completely soaked, rubbed in and the surface of the tyre is tacky and not slimy.
RCF1: Please explain your driving style and what suggestions would you make to less experienced drivers?
AC: My style is smooth and consistent (I like to think anyway). This is good for many classes of racing over the years, but these days touring mod calls for a more aggressive violent full throttle, full brake, full lock style of driving. If you’re learning your driving currently then I would recommend to practice as much as you can to get the best consistency, if you crash or miss apexes a few times a race then there's no hop-up or faster motor that will help!
RCF1: Australia is enjoying renewed interest in RC F1.What would you recommend we consider in order to best grow the class here?
AC: The F1 series here in Vic is working very well, so let’s keep that going! Also helping new racers and those new to F1 with setup and driving tips should help as the cars are more difficult to setup and drive than the planted 4WD tourers.
RCF1: What do you think the highlight of 2012 was for RC F1?
AC: For me it was winning the Vic F1 Series (of course!) and the awesome fun racing at TFTR with the other F1 racers during the series.
RCF1: What are you most looking forward to in 2013 for RC F1?
AC: Winning! LOL, but mostly seeing and racing the cool looking F1 cars on the tracks around Vic. Please anyone with an F1 and/or keen on the class please come and have a look and have a go.
RCF1: What is your normal day job?
AC: IT Solution Architecture.
RCF1: Do you have any sponsors or people that have been key to your racing career that you’d like to thank?
AC: Well these days not so much, except Ren from RAB Hobbies who has been really generous and helpful with Team Powers. Over the years Performance Hobby Supplies, Hobby Place, Ozcharge, Hobby Express and Corally - I'm tipping you young whipper snappers won't have heard of a couple of those! Also of course my chief technical engineer and motor tuning guru; Al.
RCF1: If there's anything else you'd like to say that you think our readers might be interested in please feel free.
AC: Mmmmmmmm well over the years of my racing I've usually been obsessive and driven towards winning and have had some awesome experiences and results as a result...but over the past few years I've stepped back a bit and approached the racing differently, mainly looking to have the most fun and enjoyment from what is, for me, after all else a hobby. As a result I've had the most fun and fulfilment from racing that I can remember. One last thing, please spend extra time and effort in wiring up your car! I see so many nice cars with hideous wiring, it doesn't take much extra (I think) to make your wiring neat and car looking trick ;)
This interview was published in Racing Lines Magazine July 2013 issue #202 on page 37.