THE Cub Report, 04.06.2015, Version- Fixing On-Road Racing
Just in case you haven’t gotten the memo, On-Road racing here in America is F#&$%@!. Why do I say that? Turn outs at local races are abysmal, and even their national events have turned into a joke. And yes of course I am going to give you examples. In my local area, one of the biggest metros in the USA with hundreds of thousands of people, weekly turn-out for a local race is between 5 to 10 people (yipes!!!). And it isn’t any better at the national championship level either, all you have to do is look up the results of the ROAR on-road carpets nats held a week ago to see now all it takes to win a ROAR title in on-road is to beat 6 or 7 other guys. On-road isn’t just broken here in America, it is truly and utterly F#&$%@.
Believe it or not, I hate seeing this hobby go down the toilet, so for the past several years I’ve been asking the people that run this industry how they would fix on-road racing. While a few people had suggestions, most got a “deer in the headlights” look in their eyes, showing me that even they were baffled. Last week I had the head of one of the 3 biggest rc companies in America call me to ask what I would do to fix on-road racing (not sure why he cared about my opinion, but…), here is the gist of what I told him…
1. The current rules work really well for about 100 guys here in America, but they absolutely suck for the thousands of Joe Blows out there, and suck for people trying to sell product to on-road racers. While radical, and while it will never happen, the current rule book needs to be burnt at the stake. The next rule book needs to be written to cater more to the average Joe Blow than to factory/sponsored drivers. It needs to be written so that an average Joe Blow isn’t racing the same class as factory boys who will be lapping them every 3 laps, and that it needs classes that today’s Joe Blow drivers actually want to race. Want to run off an average driver? Have him get lapped 10 times in a 30 lap race, make him feel like he never, EVER, has a shot at winning. He will go home and take his toys with him never to return.
2. Some industry types will say that on-road needs to be less expensive and more scale realistic. Hummmmm… that one has already been done before with VTA racing. Unfortunately… on-road did what it does with every class, they made the VTA more sophisticated than an average Joe Blow is willing to put up with. For example, to run competitively in VTA took hours of set-up and more money than you would imagine. Personally, on-road racing is competing against me spending time with my kids, I am not going to spend hours setting up a car anymore. I am going to spend as much time as possible hang’n with my kids, and a small amount of time bashing around the track with the guys. If you want more of my time the racing has got to be pretty damn spectacular, and it can’t take me hours to get ready. Also… while VTA cars are more scale realistic than most classes, consumer’s expectations of a “scale” look are different now days. It has to be fully licensed, it has to look EXACTLY like the real deal, and it has to have lights, mirrors, windshield wipers, and an engine sound module. IMO the ideal Joe Blow class right now would be cars like the ones Vaterra is putting out, or like the on-road cars from Carisma, that are as scaled detailed as possible. Also… to keep the tuning and costs down, as much as it might make a typical on-road guy’s head explode, that class needs to be box stock, brushed motor and all (yes, even the transmitter/receiver/servo/tires/etc). Box stock means less expensive, box stock means less tuning, and box stock means fewer of the uber factory guys would want to participate in the class.
3. Current tracks BLOW hard. I know many of you have raced SCCA before. Some of their noob events are held out in parking lots where the track is literally marked out by cones. The parking lots are typically pretty flat, typically quite small, and while you might have fun racing such a course as a noob, you are truly enlightened the first lap you put in on a REAL on-road track like Laguna, Road America, Road Atlanta, etc. Real on-road tracks have elevation changes, they have off-cambers, and they vary a lot in raw traction. Current rc tracks are great for the guys that have put in thousands of hours dialing in a flat ozite set-up, but they absolutely suck for being fun to drive. I swear, people who like the current state of on-road tracks must have brain damage, they are boring and very poor at separating the people that can truly drive from the people that are great car tuners. Get rid of the stupid tracks, gain new drivers. Oh and… did I mention that these new tracks need to look scale as well? Yes, they do. The world is all about scale realism now days, having track banners, scale braking zones, etc, would go a long ways to pulling in today’s new breed of consumer who is all about scale.
Anyways… this industry is particularly resistant to change, so you can’t expect any major changes to on-road racing anytime soon. Nor can you expect on-road sales to take off again, nor an increase in racers at local or national events. So, as much as I hate to say it, stick a fork in on-road folks, I officially proclaim it dead. Good job there guys…
That’s it for this week ya freaks, support your local hobby shops and bash spots when ya can.
YOUR Cub Reporter