By Aaron Waldron
One of the best parts of broadcasting major racing events on our site is interacting with LiveRC’s audience through multiple chat rooms.
On the other hand, one of the worst parts of broadcasting major racing events on our site is interacting with LiveRC’s audience through multiple chat rooms.
Don’t get me wrong — the whole point of social media and responsive media is the sharing of ideas, even when they don’t match up with popular opinion. With over five million people reached on Facebook alone, not to mention record numbers on YouTube and Twitch as well as those watching on our home broadcast page, this was the largest audience we’ve ever had — blowing away even last year’s Fuel Off-Road Worlds in Las Vegas. With that kind of reach, it was inevitable that a wide variety of perspectives were represented. Of course, as is the case in an often-anonymous online community ruled by the currency of sick burns and self-unaware savagery, that variety ranged from excitement and gratitude to not-so-subtle racism.
Perhaps the most absurd, however, was the near-constant stream of criticism of the event from those a half a world away. From the design and surface of the track, to the choice of spec tires, manner of rule enforcement, and talent depth of the field, no part of our industry’s greatest spectacle was left unscourged.
I’ll agree that the track constructed at the ARC International Raceway would’ve led to frustrating club-level racing if left in place for six months at a facility in the U.S., and that it was probably a bit overboard for the G-Main competitors, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t host an incredibly exciting week of competition as the best drivers on the planet struggled to cope with the grip levels and obstacles. The track was the same for everyone, developed character without falling apart, and provided a challenge that promoted close competition without turning into a one-lined train track. And what started as worry about wearing through gumball-soft treads in mere minutes turned into top pros finding out that older tires worked better anyway.
Make no mistake: there’s a big difference between noticing that a few factory workers thrown into turn marshaling open practice are wearing their overkill protective gear improperly, and insisting those clearly-adult men are in fact six-year-olds fed a diet of cat meat and SARS smoothies.
I also admit that I was sick at the thought of joining the traveling circus for the 20-hour trip to the other side of the planet for one of the most important biannual competitions in RC only to have the title determined by rain, but that doesn’t mean turning it into a roll of the dice based on which heats hit the track during brief reprieves from the storm was an acceptable alternative. Sure, I understand if you were upset you didn’t get to watch the ‘A’ heat on your lunch break, but how would you have reacted if the ‘G’ heat was faster because they didn’t have to run on a sopping-wet slip-and-slide? My guess is that, given how quickly reactions to wet weather turned to general emasculation, it wouldn’t have gone over well.
The entry limit for the Worlds in Vegas was expanded so that additional racers, most of whom were from the U.S. and finished as low as the L-Main at this year’s Nationals, could take part. But young kids from foreign countries permitted to share an event with half the turnout provoked outrage and ridicule.
Here's the problem: this event wasn't perfect, but the most notable issues that could have had an impact on how fair and fun the event was all happened behind the scenes and never came up in any of these self-important quests for martyrdom. After all, in order to sacrifice one's good name in order to do some good you must first do some good.
For those not living under the protective blanket of delusion, the RC industry as a whole might not be the pinnacle of financial health right now — and could greatly benefit from an influx of fresh eyes and new blood. Why take a chance at scaring anyone away when they tune into a free race broadcast just so you could try to impress your 3,000 RC friends you’ve never actually met with some joke you stole from someone else? Does it really make you feel better to question the manhood of those enforcing or abiding by regulations you haven’t taken the time to understand? Do you legitimately think an entire continent has no shot at success based on track conditions you can’t actually see for yourself, or are you just trying to expose your own prejudice? Is it really your distaste for the relatively tried-and-true rulebook that keeps you from attending these events, not a well-documented lack of talent and fear of inadequacy?
Thankfully, a good chunk of even casual Internet users understand the incendiary ramblings of those who use dog photos as profile pictures and sign in as “Sup3rT0ughPr0Rac3rGuy” say more about the individual, rather than the community. Still, I hope you slept well in between marathons of staring at your computer screen while 120 of the world’s best, even the 11-year-old regional champ from some province you’ve never heard of and certainly will never visit, competed for the entertainment of those vying only for attention.