FLASHBACK FRIDAY: What happened to ROAR's Clubman Series concept?
Friday, Oct 20, 2017 05:00am
By Aaron Waldron
Everybody knows that Friday is meant for reminiscing old times. Each week we take you back in time as we flashback to some of R/C racing's greatest moments, products, drivers, and more!
ROAR Clubman Series pilot program
Tomorrow, October 21, marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement that ROAR created a Clubman pilot series program. Three tracks — the Hobbytown USA HobbyPlex in Omaha, Nebraska; Fastlane Raceway in Blue Springs, Missouri; and The Track in Gaithersburg, Maryland all organized 17.5-turn spec classes using impounded handout motors as a trial run for a cost-controlled category that presented racers with an even playing field, and ROAR took care of the advertising and awards. Basically, it sounded like the sanctioning body was taking a stab at solving most of the problems that racers complain about so often.
Did it work? According to those in charge of all three tracks, no.
“It didn’t go well here at all,” said Chuck Kleinhagen of Fastlane Raceway, which chose the Hobbywing JUSTOCK fixed-timing motor, “and I can’t really say why. It just didn’t really catch on with our racers.”
Alex Sturgeon of the HobbyPlex, who is also the Competition Director for ROAR, had a similar experience with the Trinity Equalizer 17.5-turn motors they chose for the facility. “It started out okay,” said Sturgeon, “but died off the second half, as most of the participants didn't want to use handout motors anymore.”
Mimi Wong said The Track had a reasonable amount of success for the one or two times her facility offered the class. “It was fine,” said Wong, who estimated she had 20-30 entries for the Clubman class using Maclan Racing 17.5-turn motors, “but I think it would take a few years to catch on. It’s a good idea because no one has an advantage.”
All three had different theories as to why the Clubman program wasn’t popular.
“The biggest complaint we got,” said Kleinhagen, “was that we had made the decision we would run the Clubman on Saturdays, and guys that run with us twice a week didn’t like switching motors back and forth with their cars. They didn’t want to run the Clubman motors on a Saturday and their regular motors on a Wednesday.”
Wong said, “I bought all the motors and numbered them, and then the racers used them for the races. If they wanted to practice with the spec motors, though, they had to buy their own.”
Sturgeon’s opinion, though, had less to do with the logistics of running spec motors but rather the use of a spec motor entirely.
“I think racers say they want equality,” said Sturgeon, “but when it comes to their own equipment it's a different story.”
The Clubman class did spark a change in the HobbyPlex race program, though, that has persisted. “I still do an independent class for stock buggy and truck,” said Sturgeon, who referring to a separate category to award non-sponsored drivers, “but I usually roll them into the regular stock class, because there aren't enough participants to fill up the class on it's own. I'm doing an independent series again this winter, but it won't require a ROAR membership and won't be handout motors.”
Both Kleinhagen and Wong had ideas that could help improve the Clubman concept.
“I run a carpet oval series, the brushless racing league, and we run a spec-motor class that works really well. But that’s once a month, so it’s not as big of a hassle,” said Kleinhagen, “and if I were to do it over again, I would probably do something with a locked, fixed-timing, sealed motor where the racers provide their own so that we could get around taking the motors in and out of their cars.”
“I’d rather them buy the motor outright, so we don’t have to try to get them back. But I’m okay with it either way,” said Wong, who added, “I hope they continue doing it. If ROAR keeps doing it, the racers will join. I’m sure some tracks will do well.”
If either Kleinhagen or Wong, or any other track, wants to try running handout spec motors in the future they’ll likely have to forge ahead without assistance as ROAR may not continue trying to make the program work.
“I think it's dead,” said Sturgeon.