By Aaron Waldron
Where’s Waldo is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Aaron Waldron gives his take on hot-button issues within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
While comparing oneself to others and competing with peers is totally natural, and for thousands of years was helpful for survival, it has become an increasingly problematic in today’s social media-driven world. Measuring one’s career, financial, personal and overall well-being based on that of others, particularly the filtered context of what’s shared on the Internet, can have a powerful psychological and emotional impact on children and adults.
RC car racing is, by its very nature, competitive. Each time a driver hits the track is a chance to see where he stacks up against fellow racers, so it’s impossible not to make relative comparisons to your peers — either to tout your accomplishments, find motivation to improve, or at least defend how good you think you are. Sometimes, that differentiation evolves in a simple, straight-forward manner - like a new racer who practices like crazy and moves up from the Novice class to become one of the fastest Stock Buggy drivers at the local track. Sometimes these superlatives are less direct, like when someone who finishes fourth in the B-Main points out they were the top non-sponsored driver.
The truth is, even without social media race reports and online archives of race results, those comparisons can be tough to digest. Some drivers will spend years of their free time, and thousands of their hard-earned dollars, languishing in the middle of the pack in Sportsman while someone with six months of experience drives laps around them. Some of the most well-known racers around the world will log notable finishes at major races for a decade and yet watch upstart up-and-comers race on past to claim some of the industry’s most coveted titles.
There’s no magic formula to calculate who will excel at RC racing, and when success will come. It’s easy to say “those who practice and put in the work will improve,” but then you have part-time pros that show up at a big race or two every year and bump the dedicated twice-a-week diehard out of the main. Natural talent is certainly part of the equation, but even those who are inherently gifted at putting together five minutes of fast laps experience a roller coaster of results and return on investment of time, money and attention. Two years of learning the hard way might be rewarded by four months of solid results, and then be followed by six weeks of struggle. And those who soar to the top of their game can just as quickly grow frustrated with being unable to recreate such success.
Every driver starts from a different “square one,” and follows a different path to a different result. No matter the start and end points, the path is never a straight line.