By Mike Garrison
Thanksgiving is over, I’m twenty pounds more overweight than I already was, and its back to the daily grind. While there is nothing better than sitting down and catching up with family members you can’t remember the name of, how you are even related to them, or when and where you last saw them, I spent probably more time during the holiday vacation scrolling social media than I should have. In doing so, I saw a lot posts with people asking for opinions on which nearby track’s trophy race they should attend because they are all scheduled for the same weekend.
One post I saw said, “Ok RC pals, I need help. The first weekend of December is [Track A]’s trophy race, [Track B]’s trophy race, AND [Track C]’s trophy race. The following three weekends are empty with nothing but club racing. Why all three are running the same weekend is dumb, but oh well. Unless I plan to drive from one to another between rounds there is no way to race them all…so who do I give my money to????”
I fully realize that as a track owner it’s nearly impossible not to have a scheduling conflict of some sort with someone at some point, but the scenario of multiple tracks within the same city, state, and/or close region hosting their bigger events all on the same weekend has become way to common.
Despite popular belief, R/C race tracks are a business. As a business they deserve to make money, that’s what the point of a business is. With that being said, I don’t expect anyone to shut down their business or stop their normal routine of club racing every time someone else has a bigger event – just as I don’t expect Wal-Mart to shut down their store when K-Mart down the street has a big sale event. My issue is that the R/C racing industry (key words “racing industry”) is small, and for racers who wants to support as many tracks and events as possible, scheduling one big/trophy race on top of another, that is probably already on top of another, is extremely frustrating.
It is frustrating for many reasons. First, it makes racers choose only one event to attend and race that weekend, which naturally creates a bit of a salty situation with the other tracks towards the racers that didn’t support their track and event instead. Second, it divides what could be a 200+ entry count for each event on separate dates into a lousy 40-50 entries at each on the same day because everyone goes their separate ways (ultimately costing the racers fun, and ALL of the tracks involved valuable profit). Third, not always, but sometimes these scheduling conflicts are no mistake, but rather an attempt by one track to sabotage another. Yes, perhaps the most successful way to make money as a multi-million-dollar corporation is to play a game of cut throat business tactics, but when it comes to R/C race tracks that doesn’t usually pan out so well. I truly believe that you could have 4-5 tracks all within a 30-mile radius of one another, and with the right cooperation between the different owners, each one of them could be successful.
Yes, all hobby shops have the potential to carry the same exact same thing, but no two tracks are identical – even if you tried to make them identical, something somewhere on it would be different. My point is that each track has its own unique characteristics, and racers are attracted to each individual track because of the different things they have to offer. These same racers would support them all if given the opportunity, but that opportunity isn’t there when everyone hosts some of their biggest races of the season all on the same day.
I have the utmost respect for track and hobby shop owners. They are a vital part of our industry, and without their hard work we wouldn’t have places to race and spend time hanging out doing what we love with friends and family. With that respect, I want to see all tracks and hobby shops truly thrive, and not just survive. I can’t tell you how to increase sales at the hobby shop, as that is not my forte. Running a track isn’t necessarily my forte either, however, as a racer I can tell you that when it comes to hosting successful trophy races and bigger events that with a little calendar work / social media research of other events, civil communication, and most importantly cooperation and willingness to work WITH your competitors, I believe you will see far more success than being the “lone ranger” with no regards to what other tracks are doing.
Scheduling conflicts do happen, and I will agree that to a certain point there is no way to avoid it, especially with the increasing number of trophy races, and more racers willing to travel farther to race – making the radius of tracks to avoid conflicting with grow larger and larger. The flip side is that throughout all the posts I saw about choosing races, which ranged from east to west and north to south, I find it hard to believe that ALL of these conflicts are unavoidable.
If you take someone out on the track in the first qualifier, chances are they are going to take you out for revenge in the second qualifier. That simply ruins both qualifiers for both racers. Same goes for hosting races. If you schedule on top of one track this weekend, they are sure to do it back the next. In the end, both tracks suffer, and no one sees the true potential that each individual event can hold.
I’m not saying one track should hand out business cards for others at the door, but the slightest bit of communication, calendar checking, and cooperation between "rivaling" tracks and events might not be quite as painful as you might think - not to mention what little pain it may cause is likely to be soothed by padding the pocketbook with the extra entries from racers who were able to race everyone's event, as opposed to having to choose just one.
If all else fails, at least my Facebook newsfeed would be free of that much less drama...