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.
Ladies and gentlemen, my biscuits have been burned, and I am here to tell you about it. Before you read any further, I woke up to my shoes being eaten by the dog, my wife using the last of the toothpaste, and my morning unsweet iced tea was served sweet today. In other words it’s going to be one of those days here on A Moment With Mike, so if you aren’t in the mood to listen to me complain – no one will blame you for clicking the back arrow right now, and coming back next week instead.
As many of you may know, in addition to my daily roles here at LiveRC, I also travel from time to time working as an R/C race director/announcer. I have spent a lot of time behind a computer screen with a mic in hand running R/C races over the years, and one thing that seems to be a re-occurring issue at races is unprepared racers.
As a race director I have been called a lot of different names, some good some bad, for my “drill sergeant” way of running races. I believe that no matter how big or small an event may be, it should be run on schedule, organized, professional, and most importantly efficient. For me, running an R/C race is a lot like racing in one. As a racer you are trying to get the most amount of laps in the least amount of time, as a race director I am trying to give you the most amount of racing in the least amount of time spent sitting around waiting. No one wants to spend hours and hours waiting to race if they don’t have to, and as race directors we do our best to keep the show moving to ensure the boring wait time is cut to a minimum, to ensure you enjoy the time spent at the R/C track, and to ensure you aren’t getting home at 3am to an angry husband or wife accusing you of spending too much time at the R/C track.
A large part of an efficient race program has absolutely nothing to do with the race director, but rather the racers themselves. Extreme amounts of time in a race program can be gained or lost depending on how prepared the racers are. On a good day, 95% of the racers are usually prepared, but it’s the other 5% that are totally unprepared that really burn my biscuits.
Let me ask you a couple of questions in real-life terms:
- If you are scheduled to be at work by 8:00am, but you don’t start putting your pants on until 7:59am, is the office supposed to put work on hold, wait for you to finish getting dressed, brush your teeth, arrive at the office, and then work late to make up for you being unprepared?
- If you choose to shop at multiple malls across town from each other, but you don’t prepare enough time to get from Mall A to Mall B, should Mall B be forced to take an extra-long dinner break and stay open late, just so you can shop them both?
The answer to both is obviously “No.”
Now let me ask you those same questions in R/C terms:
- If you are required to pass your car through tech inspection before your race, but you don’t show up to tech until your race is already warming up on the track, should all the other drivers and remaining races be put on hold to make up for you being unprepared?
- If you choose to run 4 classes, but aren’t fully prepared to do so (not enough batteries, not enough transponders, etc.), is the race program and remaining other racers supposed to take extra-long breaks and stay late, just so you can race them all?
Once again, despite what some may thing, the answer is once again “No.”
My point here is simple – BE PREPARED. It’s not your fellow racer's or race director's duty to run according to your personal schedule. If your race is coming up, have your car prepared, ready, and through tech before your race starts. If you choose to race multiple classes, only do so if you are fully prepared to handle the added pressure of additional turn marshalling, charging batteries, swapping transponders, and/or whatever else it may take to do so – including considering how many racers and races are in the race program.
As a race director I tend to be more lenient with new racers, and those who are still getting the hang of it, but too often it is some of the most experienced, fastest, and “well trained” racers who are the problem. It is your responsibility as a racer to do your part in keeping a race program going in a timely manner and remaining fun. We all make mistakes, and we all need an extra minute every now and then, but for those who are constantly unprepared and holding up the show - before any more biscuits get burned - PLEASE for the love of R/C know how long it takes you to be ready, know how many classes you can handle racing, and prepare yourself on-time accordingly.