You may have seen the RC Tech thread that we shared the other day on our facebook page titled “The Crisis in Our Sport: Junior Participation” , if not, you can find it here http://www.rctech.net/forum/australian-racing/813885-crisis-our-sport.html . I’m not sure i would call it a crisis, but much of the discussion appears to be centered around on road numbers. However as I don’t race at enough places here or on the big island, I can’t comment on numbers there.
The thread is a few pages long with some interesting ideas and thoughts thrown around the place. Now a lack of juniors is a problem in any sport, but a sport such as ours where the numbers are much lower than many other sports to start with, it can be devastating. Personally I think that cost is a problem as it has always been in this hobby, however I also think that not enough Fun and some entirely too serious people are also partly to blame. At my local club I have witnessed some highs and lows in this vein. From a new racer leaving, never to return, after being the subject of another members dummy spit, through to seeing three boys, all under 7, playing together with short course trucks near to the track on a social day on the Saturday just passed.
The event on Saturday of the weekend just passed was at my home club, Launceston RC. We had what can best be described as a Social / practice day. Because the venue costs us a significant amount each time we use it, and it is some distance from town behind locked doors and gates, we can’t have the track regularly open for practice. So the committee decided the best way to promote the club and bring people together socially, was to run a casual practice day. $10 got you access to the track from about 9:30 until 4:00 pm, some snags from the BBQ, and the time to practice, bring mates out for a try, have a play outside with any vehicles that didn’t suit the track (A 10th rally car beside a Baja SC is quite a sight), and generally have fun. Track time was not limited in any way, it was open for all with the computer on for practice. Pick a quiet time for a run, let a mate have a try, or let the kids have a go as my 6 year old son was.
You see at the moment I am working out if my son would use a proper RC car (he wants a 2wd buggy) enough to warrant the $250 odd dollar investment to get him one. As he only has toy RC cars I dialed my Blitz back to 50% throttle, and for the first time let him drive on the track, unaided but supervised, while it was quiet. He was struggling a bit with not going 100% left or right, but he was doing much better than last time I let him try, I was a proud father indeed. Slowly the track got busier as more people finished lunch and came back on to the track. Most people know my distinctive Green, White and Black Blitz and many figured that it was my son, not me driving as while I am not great, i’m a little quicker. They were also giving him plenty of room which was good experience for him to avoid other cars on the track.
However one person just didn’t get that the day was about fun. There are many stereotypes at a RC track, this person falls within the Very Serious type of racer, I am at the other end of the spectrum as I race because it is fun. I have nothing against the serious racer but mixed with a bad attitude it can cause a problem. Mr Serious started mouthing off from the drivers stand (I was standing on the ground in front of the stand helping my son) saying who is that person, they keep getting in the way, they shouldn’t be on the track and becoming fairly irate and aggressive towards whoever the driver was. Beside him was my Brother, loving Uncle of my son who is also fiercely protective of him. For those that know him, they know that he too is passionate about racing for the fun of it and not taking it all too seriously. Needless to say, this kind of behavior and attitude directed towards a 6 year old did not go down well, and there were some very terse words said for some time between the two. By the end of it, Mr Serious still didn’t get why we should waste time running controlled practice by classes and experience on what was a fun and open practice day where the track was open for some 6 1/2 hours to anybody who wanted to be there.
I personally think it is people with that kind of attitude that put off people staying at local clubs, and certainly I would not want any child exposed to that kind of behavior. Not the serious racer, certainly not, but the serious racer who gets angry and takes it out on the world. Our club is based around drivers having fun, and being a family friendly environment and having a class for pretty much everybody to get on track and have fun. Abusive behavior like we witnessed on the weekend has no place in any sport or hobby, and certainly does those of us trying to promote the sport to others no good whatsoever.
I think one of the best things we can do, is loosen up, have fun, and bring all of your friends racing!