Moment with Mike: Sandbaggers
Thursday, Aug 2, 2012 12:42pm
By Mike Garrison
I have a question for you. If you were swimmer would you rather enter in the Olympics finishing 10th and receive no medal, or enter the neighborhood swim meet...let the air out of the kids floaties...and win by a mile?
As I have travelled to various local, regional, and even national level R/C races there is always one common problem...sandbaggers. The term "sandbaggers" originated from who knows where, and in the racing world describes someone who has higher skill level but races entry level classes just to win.
Back in the day in offroad nitro racing their was one class, 1/8 Nitro Buggy. Today there is at least three, sometimes four (Sportsman, Open, Expert, Pro). The idea behind these additional classes are to group racers of equal skill levels together, creating closer and more fun racing for the racers and spectators to enjoy. The deciding factor of what class you belong has unfortunately most often nothing to do with skill level, instead it is how many sponsors you have. Chassis sponsored drivers run Pro, any other type of sponsored drivers run Open, and non-sponsored drivers run Sportsman.
The problem is, which I have witnessed first hand, there are pro skill level drivers who haven't pursued a chassis sponsor for the very reason they don't want competition...they want an easy win in the Open class. Same with Open class drivers attending a big race and entering Sportsman saying they have no sponsors.
Call me crazy, but I enjoy racing with drivers of my skill level and faster to eventually learn and hopefully go as fast as they do. I'm not saying Sportsman drivers should go out and enter Pro just to race with the world champion, but what I am saying is sandbaggers (in my opinion) who are capable of winning higher level classes but enter lower level classes to win are not impressing anyone by using the "sponsor rule" to go out and win by 6 laps. They are ruining the "spirit of racing" for the drivers in that class, as well as killing their potential of ever getting faster.
Forget whether you are sponsored or not, you know what class you belong in by your skill level, and so does everyone else.
On the flip side of all of this, there are also chassis sponsored drivers who are excellent representatives for a company, but not necessarily Pro level. This too is a problem, but we will save that discussion for another day. I would continue on but the neighborhood swim meet starts in an hour and I've got a LOT of holes to punch in those kid's floaties before the start of my race...