By Aaron Waldron
An early apology to those who are going to be offended by me writing yet another “doom and gloom” column about how not everything in this industry is all about sunshine and rainbows.
One of the most common comments on Facebook regarding any story on LiveRC that exposes anything remotely unpleasant about RC is that I’m potentially harming the hobby’s ability to grow. And while I’m flattered that anyone would insinuate that I have such influence, there are so many other things that happen in this industry everyday that do more damage.
Earlier this week, I was forwarded an email from a disgruntled track owner. The rant griped about a fellow race promoter in the general vicinity who had scheduled a large event very near the date of his own large event. The ensuing paragraphs attempted to make a case for which party has done more for the hobby, tugging at heart strings in a desperate grasp for support.
Naturally, there was a Facebook blow-up, names were called, facts were skewed, and in the end no one will come out of it looking good. I’m not going to out anybody or write a story about it - because chances are, if you live in the affected area, you’ve probably already heard.
In place of trying to build sustainable club race turnouts of “sponsored” racers chasing traveling trophy races, fights between tracks continue to escalate over an increasingly busy “big race” calendar. Why? Because many see it as the only way to keep their doors open. Tracks are competing for entries in the same way that manufacturers are competing for customers, only race promoters typically don’t have the buffer zone of retail and wholesale mark-up to be able to sponsor racers without hurting their bottom line.
In that track owner’s email, as is often echoed in the cries of fellow frustrated track operators and manufacturer owners, was the underlying message of “we are all in this together!”
No, we’re not.
And the sooner that we all stop pretending that everyone is trying their best to preserve the industry’s overall health and help RC racing grow, the faster that we come to grips with the fact that, at some point, the industry will no longer be able to sustain the number of tracks and brands in the industry without another short course-style boom. This is a business, and when supply (of tracks, races, or products) overwhelms demand (by customers), companies will eventually falter.
These are the types of things that are not going to help the hobby grow:
- When a manufacturer introduces a product outside the rules, forcing other manufacturers to catch up, and rules to change.
- When a new facility begins operating within an area already saturated with tracks.
- When a promoter schedules an event within two weeks of another, at any track within driving distance.
- When a media company blatantly lies about a product from a (potential) advertiser or “borrows” content.
- When a manufacturer sponsors a racer who had been previously club racing at, and buying products from, his local track.
- When a track suffering from local club race turnouts schedules a big race.
- When someone decides to copy a race promoter who has created a successful event or series, and try to cash in on the same pool of racers.
- When a manufacturer demands free press coverage, or attempts to become the press.
- When a track volunteers to take a financial hit in order to sway customers from attending another race.
Here are things that WILL help the hobby grow:
- Winning customers over with better/faster/more durable products that are legal.
- Communicating with nearby tracks to share desirable dates (and maybe even resources/revenues).
- Telling the truth.
- Selling products directly to tracks to pass savings onto "sponsored" drivers.
- Reaching out to the non-RC community.
- Offering racers a consistent, regular program rather than just the chance at a trophy.
- Supporting the tracks and companies who are attempting to maintain a sustainable future for RC, not just who gives you the best deal.
Everyone can do their part. Will you?