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.
As the spring season is upon us, and outdoor racing across the Midwest is in full-swing, more and more tracks, events, and promoters are announcing their races throughout social media. Over the past few weeks I’ve tallied up a lengthy list of races that I would love to attend. When I presented the list to my wife she asked, “I’ve never heard of some of these, why do you want to go there all of the sudden?” My answer to almost every event she questioned was, “Hold on, let me show you the pics of this place they posted on Facebook."
The photos I showed her from Facebook all had very different types of tracks, very different types of facilities, very different racers, and overall they are all very different events ranging from off-road to oval and even R/C monster truck racing. We determined the one thing that they all have in common, which is what caught my attention and had me eager to add them to my list in the first place, is how clean and professional they all appeared in the photos.
Whether you are racing 1/10-scale R/C cars, full-size stock cars, and/or anything in between, I truly believe that the overall appearance and presentation of a race track is key to having a successful facility. For some hardcore racers, they could care less what the facility looks like as long as the track is good to race on, but for many people that look to bring family, friends, and kids - apperance of a track and facility can be very important. I am not saying everyone needs to build a multi-million-dollar facility or spend big money to have the latest and greatest in amenities, but what I am saying is that it’s important to take pride in providing a clean, professional, and welcoming environment - regardless of how elaborate the facility may or may not be. In my opinion, this is an often-overlooked key to catching the eye of new racers as well as bringing back the old.
There are a lot of truly amazing facilities throughout the world in which allow us to race R/C cars, but as I look back at all the events I have enjoyed the most (regardless of my results), those I’ve enjoyed the most tend to be those that the facility and track is professionally ran, organized, maintained, clean, and welcoming (both by friendliness and by sight). Again, I’m not talking about multi-million-dollar facilities here, as many of my favorite race tracks over the years have been in someone’s backyard. I’m talking about the facilities that are organized in their race programs, the grass is mowed, the trash is picked up, the pipes are straight, the infield is well kept, the pits are clean, the staff is friendly, and the overall atmosphere gives you the feeling of being at a professional race track – regardless of how big or small the facility, the event, or whether its the IFMAR Worlds or a backyard club race.
I look at going to the R/C track as a vacation. Would I rather take a vacation on cruise ship overlooking the ocean, or a vacation on a trash truck overlooking the city dump? 9 times out of 10 I am going to go with the cruise ship.
I’m not just talking to track owners here, I am talking to racers just as much – if not more so. As track owners and ESPECIALLY racers, it’s important to take pride in your local track and its overall appearance. Clean up after yourself, volunteer to help maintain the track from time to time, pick up the trash, clean up your mess, lift the rim in the bathroom when you go to pee, offer to mow the grass, so on and so forth.
R/C tracks are not always, nor are they expected to be, located in the most luxurious parts of town. Even if your local track is located in the dark basement of an abandoned shopping mall on the shady side of town - that still means as a track owner and as racers you should take pride in it, put effort into taking care of it, and make it as welcoming and presentable as possible.
My theory is that hot looking guys may get all the girls, but hot looking tracks get all the racers.
Take pride and work together - a clean track is a good track.