All too often we see poor driver etiquette on the racing track. Now I don’t mean bad driving from somebody who is learning or having a bad day, I mean poor driver etiquette. Now you wouldn’t think that etiquette, a code of behavior that defines expectations of social behavior, would have a place on a racetrack, but on a R/C racetrack it is very important. Why? Because without it races would degrade into a demolition derby. Yes, there are rules in place to black flag poor driving and poor sportsmanship, but it goes deeper than that. Let’s not forget that Racing Etiquette also extends to marshaling as well as you will see further down the page. Good, bad and inbetween, all drivers need to be reminded about etiquette at times.
Now this is something that you would expect would disappear from a race in the heat of the moment, but even at the highest levels of competition it is still not only desirable, but expected of drivers. Now I am no expert on the topic, although I try my best, so I defer to regular racer, and Racing Lines columnist Scott Guyatt who wrote the following piece on the website of my local club when he was a member. I have not edited out the references to my local club, the piece is not mine to tamper with, but it gives a good overview of the etiquette behind Radio Control Car Racing.
As we continue to grow as a club, and learn our way around the R/C hobby, perhaps it’s time to think a little about ethics for R/C racers.
R/C is like any sport in that there are some guidelines which enable all of us to enjoy our hobby more. Here’s a few that we want to encourage at Launceston R/C:
R/C is essentially a non contact sport. For sure there will be racing accidents (like there are in any motor sport), but we’re not doing demolition derby. The intent is to race cleanly, to pass cleanly, without crashing other driver’s off the track.
If you’re trying to pass another car, the responsibility lies with you to make it a clean pass. For sure push, probe, look for opportunities, but the car in front has the right to their racing line, and you have the responsibility to wait for the opportunity.
If you do crash into a car while trying to pass, racing ethics are to wait until the car you’ve hit is back on track and back in front of you (even if you have to wait for a marshall to intervene).
If you’re lapping the car in front, all the same rules apply – it’s your responsibility to find a clean way past.
The difference here is that if you are the car being lapped, it’s also your responsibility to make space for the car trying to find a way past. V8 Supercars and F1 have blue flags to tell drivers that they’re being lapped. We depend on each other to do that job – and the commentator and race-system will help let you know. Letting a lapping car by is better for both of you than racing against them and trying to keep them behind.
The track boundaries are there to mark the race track. If you accidentally cut across a corner (even if it’s as the result of an accident that’s not your fault) you need to drive back to where you came from, or at the very least to wait to ensure you don’t get an undue advantage.
R/C racing is a unique motorsport in that we stand side-by-side while we race. If you’re in a V8 supercar, or a sprint-car you can yell and curse as much as you like, and nobody can hear you (except maybe your pit crew on the radio!). If you start yelling and cursing on the Driver’s Stand at Launceston R/C, everybody can hear you. Abuse of drivers, officials and marshalls is just plain unacceptable. We discourage bad language so that we can keep Launceston R/C a great place to race for families of all ages.
It’s a standard system in R/C all over the world that you marshall immediately after you race. If you run two classes, you marshall twice. We all make mistakes on the race track, and we all want to be marshalled quickly and efficiently – so each of us needs to take that approach to marshalling.
Within the bounds of your physical capability (remembering that some of you are nearly as old as me, and we don’t move so fast!), marshall well. Watch your part of the track. Get to crashed cars as quickly as you safely can, put them back on the track as quickly (and safely) as you can.
Much as we all like to chat about our race, have a drink, something to eat etc, while we are marshalling just isn’t the time for those things. Marshall the way you want to be marshalled. Fast and safe.
Those are just a few of the ethics of R/C, of making your club an enjoyable place to go racing. Now, its over to you….
If you think this doesn’t happen at the highest levels, think again. Have a look at the footage below of a 1:5 Touring Car Championship final from 2010 as covered by RC Racing TV. In the first two minutes there are a number of occasions where front runners pause and allow the car that they have crashed into retake their position before continuing. THAT is the kind of racing I love to see. I’m not saying that clubs around the country aren’t teaching it, we all forget sometimes, however i’ve also seen top drivers conveniently forget when they are frustrated by slower drivers.