Short Course: The Missed Opportunity

Nov 17, 2010 7 Comments by

Most people in the RC industry or those  involved in hobby for a significant amount of time recognize that the short course segment is the best thing to happen to the hobby in a long time. It has renewed the interest of veteran enthusiasts and has drawn in newcomers. In some respects, short course has all but taken over the hobby. In many respects, short course seems perfect and it is certainly a positive for the hobby. At the very least, it’s the current buzz. What’s not to like? As far as racing goes (that small but extremely important part of the hobby), short course has been nothing more than a missed opportunity. RC racing, from the weekend club level to the nationals, needs to change. Short course should have been the perfect opportunity to turn our back on a failed system and shift our focus to a new format based on average Joe. In its current form, racing is not inviting to newcomers and caters only to the more elite, serious and dedicated racers—the diehards. This includes everything from the vehicles to the track designs to the format of the races. If short course continues on its path of being the new popular racing class, it will just become part of the failed system. Short course needs to be used as the impetus for real change—change that is long overdue. The vehicles should be scale in looks and performance. The tracks should be easy to drive. “Technical” should be the new dirty word when used to describe track designs. Lastly, the race days need to provide more racing. Three rounds of qualifying at a weekend club race is beyond comprehension. Nothing is on the line, so why the need to spend the vast majority of the day on ensuring the perfect sorting of talent? How about a single two minute qualifier and two 12 minute mains? The race day would be significantly shorter and each racer would do far more actual racing. Do this on a wider, easy-to-drive track and you’ll a lot more participants having fun. Short course gives us the perfect reason to change. They bring a different driver to the track and they work best on a different type of track. If short course used to change the way we race, it is just another class and nothing more than a missed opportunity.

Gallery > Short Course Nationals 2010

Matthew Higgins

About the author

About Matt:I think it’s safe to say I’ve done a little bit of everything in RC. That said, I predominately race off-road and my current passion is short course. One of my all-time favorite classes is oval carpet racing. Besides racing, I can often be found working on one of my many never-complete projects, and it seems I have an ever growing collection of rock crawlers—specifically scale crawlers. Matt’s 5 Hot Topics: Short course, Racing, Scale Builds, Crawling and the General RC Hobby

7 Responses to “Short Course: The Missed Opportunity”

  1. Matthew Armeni says:

    “Three rounds of qualifying at a weekend club race is beyond comprehension. Nothing is on the line, so why the need to spend the vast majority of the day on ensuring the perfect sorting of talent? How about a single two minute qualifier and two 12 minute mains? The race day would be significantly shorter and each racer would do far more actual racing. Do this on a wider, easy-to-drive track and you’ll a lot more participants having fun. Short course gives us the perfect reason to change.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more! I hate qualifying at club races, especially when there’s only going to be one main. It’s also hard (and almost embarrassing) to explain to some people (like my wife who comes to watch me race sometimes) that the 6 minutes I just spent on the track wasn’t racing, it was me trying to put up my best time. Booooring. We have an opportunity to really try out some different race formats- lap races instead of timed, my local track has done the half way re-group like full scale, one race normal direction and the next reverse, heads up starting grid, I’m sure there are other ideas that could be tried.

  2. Matthew Higgins says:

    I like the halfway re-group idea

  3. RC Smith says:

    When you think about it, it really is a dumb idea to have two to three qualifiers for one main at a club race. All we are doing is setting up the starting grid for the actual race, and we all know what happens in the first turn. The quals mean nothing. I would be interested in a different format than we use now.

    • Matthew Higgins says:

      Maybe we’ll see some change. My dream is to someday own a hobby shop with a track and you can bet I won’t use the current format.

  4. KB says:

    This last season, we got away from qualifying altogether. Now we run three 10-minute Mains and I think it’s the best average finish that wins.

    We’ve done the same with our nitro classes as well. We have a noise ordanance that limits our time so we try to maximize it as much as possible. With the new format, each class gets an extra 15 minutes of track time without going over our noise allowance.

  5. James says:

    Unfortunately you have to have a club willing to accept change in the first place. For some SC is just another class in a dying hobby, it brought in new blood but it brought it into a broken system that some don’t want fixed.

  6. FoxWithRoosterTails says:

    I ran touring car in the late 90′s and I’m seeing SCT class shaping up to make the same mistakes… mainly becoming too difficult and pricy for the weekend warrior to compete.

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