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.
My grandpa used to tell me, “I see all, I know all, I am grand-pall.” To this day I still believe that he truly did know all, however, I am not my grandpa, therefore I do not know all. In fact, there are more things in life that I don’t know (but wish I knew) than there are things I do know. For example, I wish I knew how my oldest dog with a bladder the size of an acorn doesn’t ever pee in the house, but my 160lb moose of a great dane must unleash his 30-gallon tank of a bladder multiple times a day on the furniture pieces of his choice?
When it comes to R/C car racing, there are also a lot of unknown questions I would love to have answered. Some of these questions can be answered by simply reading an instruction manual, such as which way does the rear diff go in my car. One question that can not be answered in an instruction manual is, “Where has everyone gone?”
More and more off-road tracks across the nation are closing their doors, struggling with low entry counts, and scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do to keep racers coming back. Some tracks believe it is the racing surface and have gone as far as removing dirt to install carpet/turf or vice versa. Some I have spoken to believe it is the staff working and have hired a fresh group of workers to interact with the customers. Others have felt it is their location and/or current facility and have chosen to move their entire operation across town or state lines in hopes to improve attendance with a fresh clean start.
Talking with racers, some say their own personal lack of interest comes from how expensive, complicated, and setup based off-road racing has become just to be competitive on a Tuesday night with their buddies (similar to what I have seen and heard in on-road racing over the years). One friend described his lack of interest after only a few races in comparison to playing video games by telling me, “Trying to race R/C is like playing a video game you’ve never played before, but you have to buy all of the expansion packs first, you start on level 100, and there is no tutorials along the way...let alone any chance of surviving.”
I have sat down and analyzed a number of popular tracks from different parts of the country and their club racing entry count averages from the start of 2017 compared to the start of 2018. The average entry count per club race of every track I looked at decreased. The average club race entry count of some tracks decreased as little as 2-3 entries per club race, while others decreased as much 20 entries per race. Regardless of the margin, the fact is that they all decreased.
I fully understand that not all tracks are seeing this decline, but with the number of tracks closing their doors and/or expressing their concern, I think it’s safe to say that we have established there is in fact a problem. The question is, how do we fix it? Like most things, I don’t have the answer to that…BUT I do know someone who does, and that’s YOU.
Race tracks need racers, and racers need race tracks. Seeing that there isn't such a thing as an industry conference to where manufacturer's, teams, business owners, and drivers can all gather to discuss topics like this - today I am asking you to take a few minutes out of your day to share your thoughts, opinions, and comments more than ever.
It’s time to start the discussion, begin rebuilding what R/C has lost, and take the hobby to a new level that it has never reached before. So gather your friends, your family, your track owners, your hobby shop owners, your fellow racers, and anyone and everyone R/C to share your thoughts, comments, opinions, and ideas below!
What we need to know:
1.) If you are a diehard weekly club racer – what about your local track and/or R/C in general keeps you coming back week after week?
2.) If you are someone who has lost interest in club racing and/or R/C in general – what caused you to lose interest, and/or what can be done to bring you back?
3.) What is something you feel could be done to provide a more welcoming atmosphere to new racers?
ATTENTION ALL TROLLS: Before you start typing, please keep in mind the idea here is to provide POSITIVE feedback and opinions for tracks, racers, and our industry to consider in their efforts to growing our hobby. In other words, if you are a keyboarding troll just looking to start a problem or an irrelevant argument that does this hobby no good, climb back in your cave and find another thread to stomp on – you’re not welcome here.