By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
It’s no secret that more than a few companies in the R/C industry are tightening the reigns on things as they have seen less than anticipated sales, turnaround, and interest. This past weekend my wife and I hosted our annual 1/10-scale off-road event known as “The Off-Road JAM”. The event took place at Fastlane Raceway in Blue Springs, Missouri. Racers travelled from across the Midwest to join us, ranging from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Arkansas, spread among the 10 different classes offered. While I was ecstatic to see such a variety of racers and talent in attendance in all of the classes, the one class in which I was most excited to see was perhaps the one class I questioned whether or not would even see a single entry prior to the race; Novice.
The 2018 Off-Road JAM had 12 entries in the Novice class this year, which may be minimal to some of you reading this, but for this particular race and our region, this was an absolute joy to see. 12 entries is no comparison in number to that of the nearly 50 entries in stock buggy, however, it wasn’t just the quantity of Novice racers who chose to race that excited me, but the quality of them as well.
Too often Novice racers are intimidated by bigger races, and choose not to participate. They either feel they “aren’t good enough”, they “aren’t ready for a big race”, or “they don’t belong” because they are new to the hobby. This past weekend I had the honor of watching 12 incredible new racers set those fears aside and smile ear to ear as many of them enjoyed their first big race ever. The Novice class ranged from 5-6 year old kids to 50+ year old adults, boys and girls, buggies to short courses.
So why am I so excited about 12 entries in the Novice class you ask? I am excited because while many feel the industry is in a bit of a recession, the sight of such a diverse group of racers all wanting to be a part of a three-day trophy event (which has never seen this number of Novice racers over it’s six year lifespan), is a positive sign that the hobby IS still growing.
While I love all of my friends who have been around the track for years, their appearance at the races is important for the present day of racing, but the novice class and new racer count is what’s most important for the future of R/C racing.
With all of that being said, to the tracks, hobby shops, and companies throughout the industry seeing and feeling a bit of an “R/C recession” in recent months, don’t give up, as there is hope. Speaking to several of the parents of the Novice class racers, as well as several of the Novice class drivers themselves, I asked them what made them decide to race this past weekend. The most common answer in a nutshell was, “It sounded like a really fun event, and everyone encouraged me to race.” Key words being FUN and ENCOURAGEMENT.
As long-time racers, track owners, race promoters, and even major companies, we tend to focus solely on the serious aspect of high-level professional racing. While that is very important, it’s also equally important make a serious effort to make sure our sport is fun to do, and encourage those who aren’t yet (and may never be) as experienced or seriously involved.
R/C is a little bit like YouTube. If you find one or two videos on YouTube that you really enjoy, it will suck you in until entire work days are spent watching and enjoying non-stop YouTube videos, but if you start out watching a bad video, chances are you will close out half way into it and never look back.
Existing racers, track owners, and companies – I encourage you to really make an effort to go out of your way to help, encourage, and bring fun and focus towards the new and novice class racers. Introduce yourself, help them out, don’t get frustrated and angry if a novice driver interrupts your hot lap in practice, offer a welcoming racing environment, and share the same great experience with them that sucked you into the R/C world and never let you go.
To all of the new and Novice class racers in attendance this past weekend, I would to personally thank each and every one of you for joining the Off-Road JAM! I certainly hope that you all enjoyed the event and racing as much as I did watching and announcing your races as friends, families, and fellow racers were cheering on the sidelines. It was truly an honor, and the highlight of my weekend to see the future of R/C growing with so many new smiling faces. Congratulations to you all!
2018 BOOMrc Off-Road JAM Novice Class Results
- Ryker Brown
- Shane Alberico (TQ)
- Gage Hettich
- Evan Stansbury
- Shawn Ross
- Gavin Catalano
- Nick Largent
- Morgan Skaggs
- Brody Witmer
- Andrew Jarozewski
- Tim Gillham
- Blake Witmer