Monday, April 22, 2024

“That Track Sucks”

Team Associated B5M

Off-road racing is a lot of fun and also poses a large variety of challenges for the driver. When you travel from track to track, you’ll encounter different track sizes, varying jumps and variations in surfaces. For racers this is part of the fun, dialing in your machine to accommodate track conditions, perhaps even altering your driving style, all in the hunt for the faster lap time to get you into the A-main. But as a new crop of drivers pop up, I’ve also noticed an increase in criticisms and lashing out at tracks.

Recently, during a fairly large event, I overheard some driver talking about how the racing surface was slick. I heard the sentence “That track sucks” quite a few times. Then after the race was over during the following week, drivers took to message boards to further complain. Is this really where the RC world is going? Let’s talk about where it’s been and perhaps learn from the past for a better RC future.

First up, when I started racing in the mid 80’s, we didn’t have sugared, calcium chloride or mineral oiled tracks that compacted the surfaces into an almost concrete like texture. What we had was dirt, just dirt that was churned up and then rolled with a big push roller if we were lucky the day before a race. Nothing was prepped weeks in advance. Then when we showed up we had a pair of tires to run, the same pair we ran all year. Some racers did have multiple sets of tires, but guys in the stock class pretty much ran what was on the car. The oil in our shocks was brown, weights didn’t mean much of anything and what we did with the cars was drove them. There were no setups, you just drove the car, learned the track and learned the car’s traits to put skill into the mains.

When we had an issue with the track, we stepped up and talked to the track directors and offered help. We picked up shovels and we helped maintain the track. Never did a group of racers stand around and balk and criticize a track or its owner, we were happy to have a place to race.

So nowadays when you go to the track and you can’t get your car to hook up because it doesn’t seem like the track is right, guess what? It’s not the track, it’s you. You are responsible for your car setup, you are responsible for finding the right tires and you are the one behind the wheel with the skill to get your car around the track as fast as you can. Everyone is running on the same track as you are so therefore it is a completely fair race no matter the condition. Now let’s say you do want to make the track “better”, I understand that many tracks are privately owned and that you’ll have to approach track owners who are financially invested. But you should approach them. If they’re a smart business person; they will listen to their customers and try to incorporate the customer’s ideas to maintain a good business. Offer to help. After all, last time a checked no state is overrun with tracks and we don’t have too many to choose from so help keep them around. For those that won’t accept help or work with ideas, then walk away. Sure you’re entitled to your opinion that you don’t like a track but that doesn’t mean the next guy feels the same. Everyone deserves a fair shot at trying a venue on his or her own. And in the end no matter what path you pick when attending a race or running at a facility, remember it’s all about fun. We’re all in RC to simply have fun.


  1. Amen, I go to all kinds of tracks, carpet, dirt, clay, indoor outdoor, onroad, offroad and oval. I do ok by asking local racers for help and checking out their cars but do not expect to win the A over people that have more experience on their home court. So far I have not found one I do not like, my main goal is to get more consistent by the end of the day not win everywhere I go, even in the B or C there is competition.

  2. I just finished reading this and the bit about potentially being sued for driving r/c’s. The world is a different place than it was ten or twenty years ago, so of course values and perspectives change. My first kit was a Tamiya Blackfoot that I bought with my own money that I had earned myself. I purchased a combo pack that included a transmitter, receiver, and two servos, a quick charger, and a nicad pack. I spent several glorious days building that kit, and when I finally drove it, I enjoyed the fruit of my labor. It was an awesome experience, and one that most folks today unfortunately don’t get to experience as they grow in stature, but not necessarily in character. I then developed some money management skills (for hop ups!) and learned how to care for my vehicle, so it ran better, more reliably, and lasted longer. The r/c industry wasn’t a part of the throw away culture back then. I eventually moved on to nitro trucks, and I still enjoy taking my Tamiya Lunchbox Re-release out for a spin. I earned my knowledge the old hard way, and I payed for my mistakes. We now have become so “user friendly” that manufacturers are offering electric cars that have tiny stereos that make real motor noises! Are you serious? I’ve got a couple of monster trucks that make real motor noises because they have actual internal combustion engines in them, and they are beyond awesome! There are very few things more rewarding than running a nitro r/c that is tuned well, and part of that satisfaction is the tuning process. The problem is that it isn’t well understood by too many people. We don’t need fuel injection, we need an effective system in place that teaches people how to maintain, tune, and operate their vehicles. I recently saw a youtube video where a fellow was surprised and disappointed that his 18th scale 1800mha battery pack almost caught on fire when he charged it at 8.5 amps.
    I think we need an educational body that can create videos and articles to help educate folks interested in the hobby. There is so much misinformation, finding good solid material can be a full time hobby in itself. Also, to someone with no experience, how do you know what is valid and what is junk? It’s all well and good for manufacturers to offer support (they should), but I feel there is a need for a nonprofit that owes nothing to any particular brand, and I think manufacturers and online retailers should choose to provide a home page link to said nonprofit. It could run off of funds contributed by r/c manufacturers, retailers, and r/c sanctioning bodies- in short, all the people who profit off of our hobby.
    I learned through trial and error, but many people today aren’t willing to put in the time or money to get to the point of being proficient. Good information that is readily available would help ensure that more people who got into the hobby became proficient and stayed in the hobby, and here in the information age, that should be easier than ever before. Thanks!

  3. We got my son his first RC-10 in ’91 and he was racing it on a local track 6 months later. Since then, he has run 10th and 12th scales, indoor carpet, offroad, dirt oval, paved road course, using electric and nitro; the only thing he has missed is the paved highbank oval. His racing experience includes 8 seasons of dirt oval racing in full-sized machines (hobby- and street-stocks and IMCA modifieds) on a 1/4 mile oval.
    In all of his racing, I have NEVER heard him trash-talk the track. (It did come close when the track operator would cut and water the track between the qualifier and the main.) He has always “brought his car to the track”. What I mean is that he has always run and adjust his machine to excel on the existing track conditions.
    Take note…even the NASCAR Cup and Indycar racers are always adjusting to conditions!
    Those folks that are looking for perfection out of the box and blame the track operators when they do not achieve it are destined to always be disappointed. The winners will always be the ones who can adjust to the track.

  4. That’s what you get with today’s kids and their way of communicating. I also think it goes a little deeper than you being responsible for setting up your car or truck. The track atmosphere itself could give you a bad vibe on enjoying your race day. One too many ego’s that are competing off and on track, bad attitudes, tracks only tending to “friends” of theirs (not paying the necessary race fees and/or membership), cliques, and one too many spoiled kids (and even adults) with their heavy wallet carrying parents spending way too much money on club races to show off. Times HAVE changed, sadly.

  5. So sad that at a worlds they set the example .
    As if the track is to slippy the put suggar on the track .
    On the other hand i do not find it proper to run a euro’s or so on a 8 the track with some minor ajustments .
    I do see a lot off hard work being done at most tracks and i have lots off respect dor those who do .

  6. The Trinity Track was a straight mile South down Newbridge Road in Hicksville, NY. Straight sand it was and nobody ever complained about it, not even a thought or hint of a subject for that matter. We didn’t get to roll up in Daddy’s new car with bins full of R/C luxuries. I mounted a milk-crate to my BMX bike, hung two folding tables on each side and loaded the basket with my Optima, tackle box and charger. Tires……Optima tires had spikes and Turbo Optima tires had 2-stages with a corvette-style rim that I upgraded for v. 5-star rims. The marshals didn’t have to work as hard either. Unfortunately there was still that one spoiled nasty brat that could never govern himself back then. Sure glad the calcium/sugar craze is over though. Calcium has its place just before certain events to let the surface pack in perfectly for a groove. But the enamel treatments at indoor and outdoor tracks are proving very easy on tires, cleaning and even track maintenance when covered from rain. But the sandy stuff still rules the most 😉

  7. Robert, You must race at the same shop/track I do. You just described every race night. 🙂

  8. People bitch too much about tracks today and then wonder what happened when they shut down. Back in the 80s we ran on real dirt, not this super prepped surface where you need a magnifier to see the knobs on your tires assuming it has knobs. We had the rc10 one car for dirt today you need two maybe three cars if you race on multiple tracks.

  9. three words: it’s off road

  1. Pingback: Is the track bad or is it you? | Modélisme

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