By Aaron Waldron
For many Americans, the fourth Thursday in November is about stuffing as much food in their mouths as possible. The tradition dates all the way back to the first Pilgrims in 1621, and it has been a national holiday since 1863. The namesake of the holiday is a religious tradition, but modern Thanksgiving is as secular as you can get - it’s one of the most major holidays in the U.S., with special sports games, parades, and charity events marking the occasion. No matter what you believe, the meal is typically accompanied by honoring what you have in your life.
Last year, I listed three things in RC for which I was thankful. In the spirit of making this annual pre-Thanksgiving column into a new LiveRC tradition, here are the three things I’m most thankful for in the RC industry this year:
1. Competition breeding innovation
Say what you will about the extreme costs of competing in the stock class, and the out-of-control “sponsorship” saga in RC racing, but the fact that many racing classes are packed to the brim with manufacturers has also served to make brands try to get better - or go broke. Long-gone are the days of the same kit remaining on top of the industry for half a decade or longer. Electronics manufacturers don’t just slap a label on the same mass-produced OEM item - they develop and manufacture their own designs, even combining multiple components into one unit. There’s not just one ideal tire, insert, and wheel combo for any particular track, either. Instead, there are multiple options that work just as well. Manufacturers have been forced to compete with one another in quality, value, and aggressive sales tactics - and the consumers are winning.
2. Race promoters that sweat the small stuff
Competition has increased the stakes among event organizers as well. For every handful of track operators that mails it in with a cheesy flyer and important-sounding title, there are those who aren’t afraid to try something new. We’ve seen races with big cash prizes, heads-up race formats, charity donations and clever themes to help their events stand out from the rest. It takes more than the promise of some raffle prizes and the novelty of a two-day-long race to draw publicity - promoters have to leverage social media to spread the news of their event, and then put together a flawless program to ensure the message to potential entrants after the race is a positive one. And when it comes to hosting our LiveRC broadcast crew, I can’t stress enough how important it is when track owners are open to working together to put on the best show possible. Running races can seem like a thankless job, but the effort doesn’t go unnoticed.
3. A bottomless supply of things to talk about
There’s no question that technology has forever changed how we humans communicate and share information, but the RC industry has only truly embraced the power of the Internet over the last half-decade or so. Scraping together specific product info or race results from the mid-2000s is no easy task, but even the smallest entities know how to make sure their messages are heard in today’s digital world. Over 2200 different posts have hit LiveRC’s home page since last Thanksgiving - most of them about new product news or race results, but there is always enough to discuss for my weekly interviews and rants.
Of course, I am grateful beyond words for the support of LiveRC’s rapidly expanding audience, which continues to our mission to provide news and commentary on this sometimes-crazy industry that we all love.