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.
Ten years ago, I found myself strapped to the front of a forklift, wearing a banana-yellow rain poncho, and racing my R/C car through some of the most treacherous conditions I’ve ever encountered at an R/C race for the 2008 IFMAR 1/8 Off-Road World Championships. Since that time, I have travelled high and low to announce a list of major 1/8-scale off-road events, but 2008 was the last time that I personally competed in a National or World Championship 1/8-scale event.
(Photo by NeoBuggy.net)
(My "custom painted" mud body I ran during the rain-soaked timed practice sessions. - Photo by NeoBuggy.net)
A few months back I was meeting up with my long-time friend, Jeff Crutcher, who I grew up with racing motocross and now co-host alongside for a periodic motocross podcast called “Over the Bars” (OTB for short). Jeff was the kid that was a best friend off the track, but I hated him on the track – as 99.9% of the time I was eating dirt off his rear tire as he passed by me. Jeff went on to get his pro license in motocross and competed in several AMA Pro Outdoor Nationals in his prime, but “retired” from the pro national scene after his last national race in 2009. Since that time, he’s continued to race locally and regionally, but simply for the pure joy of riding his dirt bike. During our last podcast episode together, he informed me that he would be returning to the national circuit to compete in three different AMA Pro Nationals this year.
(Jeff and I in studio prior to the OTB Podcast Show)
This time around he wasn’t entering the Outdoor Pro Nationals as a kid with hopes or expectations of catching the eye of a team manager lurking for the next up and coming young superstar. This time around he was entering as a hard-working adult with a full-time job, and his only hopes and expectations were simply to experience the pure joy of racing his dirt bike on the big stage at these events (regardless of results).
(Jeff slams a berm aboard his Fed-Ex themed 2-stroke at 2018 Red Bud Pro Motocross National - Photo by Brown Dog Wilson)
CLICK HERE to read Jeff Crutcher’s three-part “Working Class Privateer” journey on Transworld Motocross.
I am constantly preaching the importance of having fun racing R/C cars, but as my wife reminds me, I am too often the first one to put unnecessary pressure, unreasonable expectations, and frustration on myself if I’m not finishing well on the track – rather than simply enjoying the time spent racing and being at the track. Disappointment and frustration is understandable to a certain point, but I’ve realized that the unnecessary pressure to perform, and fear of being disappointed and frustrated with myself is a large part of what has kept me from experiencing numerous major R/C events over the years. In fact, I believe this is what keeps a LOT of people from having fun, attending races, continuing their racing, and enjoying R/C all together.
We all want sponsorships, signed contracts, our photos in the media, race wins, etc. – but we strive so hard to get it, that once we do, we begin to lose sight of the fun and replace it with unnecessary amounts of pressure to do well, unreasonable expectations to be an overnight superstar, and a feeling of failure and disappointment if we don’t live up to the expectations that we set in our own mind to impress sponsors and so on. I know I did.
The part that is often forgotten, by myself included, is that unless you are being written a paycheck from your sponsor, majority of your sponsors are sponsoring you for representation over results. What I mean by this is that results are important but representing the brand in a positive way to influence others to choose that brand as well is what really matters - that is your true “job” as a sponsored driver.
It’s hard to do your “job” if you aren’t at the track because you:
A) Sucked all the fun out of it with unnecessary disappointment and frustration in yourself.
B) Never showed up because you were afraid to fail at reaching unreasonable expectations that only you have set for yourself.
In the movie Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby’s dad told him as a young kid “If you're not first, you’re last.” He lived by that motto his entire life, and I feel that too many R/C car racers do too (myself included). As it turns out, just like his dad reveals to him in the end of the movie, that’s not true.
“Oh hell, Son. That doesn’t make any sense at all, you can be second, third, fourth… hell you can even be fifth.” – Reese Bobby
I’m not saying you shouldn’t line up pushing yourself to do well, get faster, and win races. I am saying that when you begin to push so hard, build up so many expectations, and put so much pressure on yourself to do well that you push away from having fun and/or R/C racing all together – it is time to re-evaluate. Don’t let the fear of “failure” keep you from having fun and going racing on the weekends.
Between Jeff lining back up at the gate of the AMA Pro Motocross Nationals and my wife’s encouragement to “listen to the words you preach”, I have decided to sit down the microphone and pick up the radio to compete in the upcoming ROAR 1/8 Electric Off-Road Nationals at the Hobbytown HobbyPlex in Omaha, Nebraska.
It’s been ten years since I entered a ROAR 1/8 National event, and this time there is no unreasonable expectations, no unnecessary pressure, no self-added stress, and no fear of failing…just pure joy in doing what I love.