By Aaron Waldron
After over twenty years in RC racing, some of my favorite memories are tied to the travel involved - whether it was the local track a half-hour down the freeway, or flying across the country (or world) for a major event, I’ve cherished the opportunity to visit new places and meet new people thanks to this wonderful hobby.
Travel, of course, isn’t always glamorous. I’ve spent days of my life in airports due to long layovers and delays, missed flights, participated (unwillingly) in car accidents, destroyed suitcases, lost my bags, and even once ran a rental car out of gas. I’m a notoriously late packer, and have forgotten more items - toothbrushes, contact lenses, headphones, phone chargers, underwear, etc. - than I care to admit. While trying to cram a week’s worth of one’s life into a couple of checked bags and a carry-on can be tough, I typically tend to do better the further I’m going; it’s the “just a few hours up the freeway” trips where I get sloppy. Thankfully, I’ve never gone without an item that would’ve otherwise prevented me from racing or performing my job, but there’s one time in particular that I got pretty close and it makes me laugh thinking about it.
The opening round of the old RC Pro Series West Division championship in 2006 was held at the Boulder City R/C Speedway in Nevada. I have an uncle that lives in Las Vegas, and I lived for most of my life in San Diego, which is just 300 miles southwest. This trip was short enough, and “easy” enough, to fall into the danger zone.
My dad and I commandeered my mom’s mid-90s not-so-minivan for the weekend and loaded it up with our luggage. The plan was to leave Thursday afternoon, stop in Ontario to pick up then-teammate Adam Drake, and make it to Vegas in time for a late bite to eat. Traffic was a bit slower than anticipated, and by the time we got back on the road with our passenger we were a bit behind schedule. We were at least halfway there when my dad had a horrifying revelation:
“Oh ****. I think we forgot the cars.” Remembering the calm tone he used makes me laugh to this day.
Sure enough, we had grabbed everything else - tools, tires, fuel, spare parts, starter boxes and radio, but not my trucks or buggies. The Drake immediately started cracking up, said “so what? Tomorrow is just practice!” and sprawled out on the rear bench seat for a nap while we turned the ship around at the next overpass. I tried calling my mom to ask if she could grab the cars and meet us halfway, but she was out of the house attending whatever event one of my younger siblings had going on that evening. By the time she corralled the kids, returned home to pick up the vehicles and started driving, we had reached the freeway exit — saving us less than 20 minutes total. We got back on the road and charged full speed ahead, and instead of a nice dinner in Sin City we settled for roadside fast food before arriving well after midnight.
Even though we were short on sleep, we hit the track Friday morning for practice. I don’t recall how the race ended up. I know I made both the Truck and Buggy mains and did pretty well in the Truck final, and I think Adam won both classes. The drive home went much more smoothly, and I never forgot anything that necessary ever again.
Have you forgotten an important item when traveling to a race? What was it?