Most Amercians could car less about Formula One racing, but being the most elite motorsport on the planet I can’t resist watching it. Todays F1 race was in held in Brazil at Interlagos. If you are an rc road course designer, your dreams should be filled with thoughts of emulating that track. The elevation changes, the multiple apex corners, the off cambers, the Senna S’s, make Interlagos an absolute road course nirvana. Sadly the idiots running on road in rc think a perfectly flat piece of ozite is what a road course should be like. Anyways, the Red Bull team locked up their very first world constructors title today with a 1-2 finish by their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Red Bull has thrown mountains of cash into their F1 effort, and knowing how Red Bull likes to associate their name with only the best of the best, todays title must be ridiculously sweet for their team. Congrats to the Red Bull team, and like most F1 fans, I can’t wait to see who wins the worlds drivers title this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
So… Steve Pond was recently elected the new president of the largest sanctioning body in our hobby, ROAR. If you’ve never heard of him before, he’s best known for his work over at RC Car Action magazine, and more recently for what he’s been doing over at Kyosho. IMO, this is the most important reign a ROAR pres has ever had. Why? Because there has never been a time in our hobby that has seen so much manufacture money being used to market to the mainstream. Traxxas has seemingly endless Brinks trucks lined up to market to the 1:1 crowds in short course, motocross, monster trucks, and rally crowds. Associated, Horizon/Losi, and others, have also been cut’n the big checks to cross market. If there is ever going to be a time when the hobby grade rc market busts out huge into the mainstream, NOW is it.
But… rc racing, as it currently stands, is a train wreck, plain and simple. It’s not set-up to deal to with noobs (it’s set-up to cater to the core racer that’s been in the hobby for years), and on top of that, its system for determining a true national champion is a farce. Today, when the hobby is primed to take the next big step to the mainstream, we can NOT afford to have the racing segment hold us back.
So what should be the focus points for the new ROAR pres? Here are what “should be” the top 3…
1. Fix local racing. Nearly every local track uses ROAR rules as a template, unfortunately these are like kryptonite to noobs. IFMAR qualifying has never been fun, and never (ever) will be. When was the last time you came off the stand with a ginormous smile on your face because you had soooo much fun in an IFMAR qualfier? Never, that’s when. Would someone PLEASE kick IFMAR qualifying to the curb. And I’m one of the guys in favor of 1 hour qualifying. This is an idea that’s been out there forever, where the track surface is open for one hour to qualify the racers. As a racer, you come out any time during that hour you wish, and run as many laps as you like, but only your fastest 3 laps count. If someone hacks you, no big deal, scratch that lap. If you break, no big deal, fix it and come back out. If you get behind a moving roadblock, no problem, abort the lap. Don’t like your tire choice, pull your car back in and change’em. But the best part is one hour after it starts, qualifying is over, and racing can begin.
For those that might not know, a “typical” race day at a local track includes something like three 5 minute IFMAR quals, and a single 5 to 15 minute main. But people show up to freak’n race, not screw around with qualifying all day. Additionally, the technology has existed for a decade to have over 10 minute long mains, yet the average main is still 5 minutes. It’s time for less qualifying, and more racing. Run the one hour qualifying, then a pair of 10 minute mains (or 15, or 20). The racers end up with more track time, but they don’t have to spend the entire day at the track, a win-win situation.
ROAR has two main functions as a sanctioning body, to make rules, and to supply race officials. The time has come for a set of rules that make sense at the local level.
2. Fix the national championships. Why are they a joke? Because there are too many of them, and the ones that are held, come down to a single race day, not a good thing if you flame out, get hacked etc. The fix? One national champion determined by a series. One, 1, Uno champion, not dozens. Also, this champion needs to be determined over series, with a big check waiting for him at the end. Yes, a check with at least four zeros in it (at least $10,000 not $100.00 ya smart a$$es). If you have proven yourself the best rc racer in America, you have earned some decent bank. A total re-boot of the nationals are in order, and have been for a very long time. The world has changed, rc racing has not, it’s about time we catch back up.
3. Secure a major series sponsor. ROAR’s job isn’t to sponsor races, but sometimes even they don’t realize that. If ROAR were to acquire Monster/DC Shoes/Red Bull/Pepsi/Spy Optics/Fox Racing/Toyota as a title sponsor it would ad legitimacy, afford them the money to cut decent checks to the winners, and help pay for better marketing of the series and upgrades to venues. The bigger the sponsor, the better the series can become.
Now, I’m quite certain none of the 3 items above will ever be addressed by ROAR. Unfortunately they will carry on business as usual, squandering a golden opportunity. They’d rather debate rotor sizes and speed control timings, than what matters at the end of the day. Such is the way the world turns in rc.
That’s it for this week folks. Support your local hobby shops, tracks, and bash spots!
YOUR Cub Report