By Mike Garrison
Whether you are talking the laws of our country, or the rules of R/C racing, there always seems to be a select few laws and rules that are constantly stirring controversy and debate. In the world of R/C racing, there is a long list of “controversial” rules and bylaws to discuss. Today, I have decided to pick one that has become a recent popular topic of debate on social media as well as at several recent races I have attended.
This debate is centered on the following scenario:
A driver is leading the race and finds themselves multiple laps ahead of second place, but breaks and is unable to finish the full time of the race. Should they be awarded the win if they still have more laps than second place after the race is completed, OR because they did not finish their full race time should the win be given to the driver who completed the full race?
Before you dig out your ROAR Rulebooks, let me save you the trouble. In ROAR sanctioned events, the driver with the most amount of laps in the least amount of time wins. Therefore, in this scenario the driver (despite being unable to finish the full time allotted for the race) is awarded the win.
Example: In a 5-minute A-Main, Driver A wins with 10 laps in 4 minutes and 32 seconds vs. Driver B who finishes second with 10 laps in 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
The rule is clearly stated in the rulebook, so there is no debate or question as to what the rule is. The debate and controversy is whether or not this rule is fair.
The argument against the rule is that someone shouldn't be awarded the win without finishing the race. The argument in favor of the rule is that, in a time-based race, if you have completed more laps in less time, that declares you faster and/or the winner.
After much debate, I have decided to chime in on the topic with my two cents.
I have been personally been on both sides of the situation. I have been the driver who is given a second place finish, despite the winner not completing the full race. I have been the driver who didn’t make the A-Main to someone whose end qualifying time is 4 minutes and 32 seconds in a 5-minute race. I have ALSO been the driver who had a lap up on the field, and still won the race even after my battery dumped and I was unable to finish.
In terms of R/C racing, while I fully understand the frustration and argument behind losing to someone who didn’t finish the entire race, I believe that the current ROAR ruling is in fact the best way to handle the situation and should be observed at ALL local and regional races as it is at ROAR National events. I also believe that because the ruling is not always handled the same from track to track, event-to-event, and race director-to-race director, it only adds more frustration to the matter.
In other forms of motorsports, such as Formula 1, racers must complete a certain percentage of the race to even be considered a finisher – let alone a winner. While some might argue this should be applied to R/C racing, if a set percentage of an R/C race were required to be completed in order to receive a finishing position instead of no score or a DNF, the ratio of times it would actually apply and/or help to determine who wins versus the number of times it caused half of the field or more to all be scored “last”, or not scored at all with DNF’s, would be severely unbalanced.
As an avid racer myself, I want to win as much as the next guy. However, I want to win and know that I earned it. Nothing is more disappointing than knowing you can win the race fair and square, and then suddenly your biggest competition breaks or drops out – giving you an easy and rather unsatisfying win. If a driver is far enough ahead of me that he can break, pull off the track, stop for coffee, and still have more laps logged in even after I have more time on the track than they do - my hat is off to him/her, as they are clearly going fast and well deserving of the race win and/or position ahead of me.
With all of that being said, I have learned very quickly from my wife that my opinion is not all that matters, and often times is not correct. What are your opinions on the topic? Should someone who doesn’t complete an entire race still be able to win because they have accumulated more laps in less time? Or should it be required that you finish a majority, if not ALL, of the race in order to be eligible to win?
Share your thoughts, comments, and opinions below!