By Mike Garrison
The 2017 IFMAR 1/10-scale World Championships are fast approaching, as the event is slightly more than a month away now (November 11-18). This year’s event belongs to the FEMCA bloc and will be held in Xiamen, China. The pre-race “boot camp training” has begun for many drivers and their teams. Training, testing, and practice photos, videos, and updates for the Worlds are flooding the Facebook newsfeeds. The last IFMAR 1/10-scale Off-Road World Championship was held indoors on turf. This year’s event will be quite the opposite as it will be run outdoors on what is said to be a sugared dirt track, like that of the 2013 Worlds at AMainHobbies.com Silver Dollar Raceway in Chico, California.
In search of places to test and prepare for the 2015 turf Worlds, Team USA drivers traveled wherever they could to find carpet and turf covered tracks, as some of them had never raced off-road on anything but dirt. Since the 2015 Worlds, carpet and turf tracks have gone from being a once rare site in America to being so popular that even some of the most well-known indoor dirt facilities have ditched the dust and converted to carpet or turf instead.
Fast forward to 2017, and the same IFMAR World Championships that were last held inside on turf are now being held outside on dirt. The only top national level 1/10-scale outdoor dirt off-road event left in America is the Hot Rod Shootout. The last time I personally raced 1/10-scale off-road outdoors on dirt, and/or remember it being popular, was the ROAR Regionals in 2014…wait…2014? That was less than one year after the IFMAR World Championships in Chico outdoors on dirt.
So, in 2013 the IFMAR World Championships were held on dirt outdoors, leading up to the race and following the event outdoor 1/10-scale racing made a comeback from years prior and became popular on local, regional, and national levels. Popular enough that several tire manufacturers went as far as developing new outdoor racing inspired tires and treads – which have since been discontinued to the best of my knowledge.
In preparation and following the 2015 IFMAR World Championships held indoors on turf, a sudden burst of new carpet and turf facilities opened around the country, dirt tracks began converting to carpet or turf, American tire manufacturers developed their first carpet/turf tires, and all that was left of outdoor racing was campfire stories from “the good ol’ days”.
It’s now 2017, and we are full circle back to an outdoor World Championship on dirt. Social media is already seeing more and more photos and videos of teams and drivers once again running 1/10-scale outdoors in preparation. Several drivers I have spoken to are already working with their local outdoor 1/8-scale tracks to build and/or alter track layouts to provide Worlds outdoor test tracks suited for 1/10-scale.
What does all this mean? In my opinion, this means with the easy access and instant sharing on social media combined with the hype built from racers and manufacturers, R/C racing is a wave of never ending trends. While I don’t see an end to the trend of carpet and turf racing, I do foresee the pattern continuing and a possible resurgence in outdoor 1/10-scale racing in the future – assuming this World Championship event receives the same amount of hype/buzz, social media presence, pit talk, and coverage from drivers and manufacturers that the last two 1/10-scale Worlds have received.
Not everyone has enjoyed or welcomed the trend of carpet/turf off-road racing, but the trend has opened a lot of cool new places to race that would not have been possible if they were dirt. Assuming each has a good track layout with jumps, elevation, etc., I personally enjoy racing on carpet/turf and dirt equally. To me they are very different, but yet all the same – I’m still racing my R/C car and loving it. The wave that brought new life to outdoor racing in 2013-14 pushed back out to sea in 2015-16 as the new wave of carpet/turf racing made its way to shore. The tide of trends is once again changing, and a new wave is on the horizon for 2017-18 with the Worlds moving back outside onto dirt.
The forecast shows potential for American 1/10-scale off-road racing to reach an all-time high. If all plays out just right, this year’s Worlds wave will rejuvenate outdoor dirt and dirt racing in general, the carpet/turf scene will remain strong in the waters, and together the waves will flood America with some of the greatest racing and opportunities 1/10-scale off-road racing has ever seen.
Grab your life jackets folks, it’s time to go 1/10-scale racing.