Pro Contracts & Salaries…Do You Care?

Jan 11, 2011 12 Comments by

There was an interesting topic of discussion last week on a popular R/C message board—the topic of professional R/C racer salaries and contracts.  In fact, R/C driver contracts seemed to be the topic du’jour last week as many pro racers “re-signed” their contracts and commitments for the 2011 racing season.  Each day, another high profile A-main regular re-signed for a one, three or five year deal with the requisite “Johnny Appleseed resigns with ACME Racing!” press release. When most NBA fans seemed more irritated more than fascinated by LeBron’s “The Decision” media event, I can’t help but wonder whether pro R/C racers overestimate the impact of their re-signed contract on the average hobbyist…you know, the guy who wants to read how-to’s, look at cool videos and play with his toy cars to have fun.

I say “re-signed” in quotation marks because most of these contracts were formalities, more media glitz and glitter than substance.  These are contracts agreements to drive R/C cars at races many R/C’ers will never attend.  The drivers re-signing with their respective teams knew they were going nowhere else in 2011, and so did the companies signing them.  Yet one or two racers added pomp and circumstance to their contract signings by posting photos of themselves, seated at what must have been their kitchen tables, faux Montblanc pens in hand, ready to ink their soon-to-be-famous contracts.  In the blink of an eye, others followed.  Durango’s Ryan Lutz even went so far as to sign an unprecedented 10-year contract—the equivalent of signing away an average pro A-Mainer’s entire effective career to one team.  The pro racers I spoke to thought all of these signings were a big deal.  Many other R/C enthusiasts and friends simply asked, “Pro racers actually sign contracts?”
So all of this leads me to the following question: do you care?  In all of my decades in R/C, I’ve found the following to be true: R/C hobbyists want to know which products won the race, not necessarily who, and they want to know how much the products cost.  This isn’t to say that we don’t all have our favorite racers, because many of us invested in R/C could name last year’s ROAR A-main line up with frightening accuracy.  Still, does the contract signing buzz seem a bit much to you?  If Triumph The Insult Comic Dog signed with Associated, you could guarantee that I’d be fascinated.  That story would end up on TMZ.  I’ve yet to find an R/C racer with the personality or star-quality that Triumph possesses…and as a result, I’m not quite as invested.

What are your thoughts?

Featured News, Stephen Bess

About the author

Executive Editor I jumped into R/C back in 1987, when mechanical speed controllers and hard rubber tires were all the rage. Since then, I’ve experienced R/C in almost every state in the USA. I've built and raced every type of RC vehicle created, and traveled throughout the country (and world) to attend and cover more R/C events than I can remember. But what a fun ride it's been! I'm fortunate to live in Southern California, and I take advantage of my location by enjoying R/C outdoors year ‘round. Club racing is the future for R/C growth, and I’m always looking to bring new people into the hobby, whether it’s through backyard bashing or organized racing.

12 Responses to “Pro Contracts & Salaries…Do You Care?”

  1. electricdave says:

    I suppose I care just because it’s natural to be curious about salary in any field. It’s like driving by an accident scene, you should look away but you don’t. I have no clue what kind of money or deals these guys get but I know that they are usually excellent ambassadors for the brands they represent.

  2. Stephen Bess says:

    Right on Dave, but salaries are never revealed….just the fact that Racer Z re-signed the contract to race for their sponsor again.

  3. Squidward says:

    Advertising that pros are ‘signing’ with companies doesn’t really do much without disclosing salary IMO. That’s all most people want to know. I do find it hard to believe a company would sign someone (aside from Triumph, of course) for 10 years, that’s pretty comical.

  4. Tonys Screws says:

    I’m not so sure its that big a deal in 2011. With a crumbling global economy most peeps into R/C are more interested in value rather than what big name is driving/running what. I can name countless examples of BIG name drivers that run Brand X, yet when you talk to the local and online shops they’ll tell you that Brand CostsLessThanTheOthers sells best.

  5. Cory Drachenberg says:

    I find it interesting that the industry/drivers barely making 6 figures make a big deal out of it! If these were multi-million dollar deals then it’s a different ball game; but since they get paid the same as most professionals; it’s kinda dumb. I didn’t take pictures of myself and post it on my website when I signed the contract for my job!

    That being said, I think factories such as Losi, durango and kyosho are bruning money by signing big name drivers. I run an on-line hobby store on the side and this year my #1 selling cars are the hot bodies and the JQ. Both are on the bottom end of the price scale — neither company has made a splash with big name drivers this year. I’m not even sure if JQ has any salaried drivers…

  6. Fanke19 says:

    I think it would be interesting to know the “range” that most of these pro racers are being paid. Hearing what Cory had to say about earning the same as most professionals…in the low six figures…it makes me wonder how many of the drivers out there are in this range? I can’t imagine more than 2 or 3 drivers out there make 100K.

    What about the whole middle class of racers…are they making enough to barely pay a mortgage on a small house and a modest car…but their significant other covers the rest? I mean, I know these guys are getting paid to do something most of us do for free…but I never knew what to expect? Are they getting $25K a year…basically making it a second part time job? Or are they in that $50K range which makes it possible to actually find a place to rent and feed yourself?

  7. scoobyvoodoo says:

    IMO, I really couldn’t care any less about who signed with who or who is driving what or how much they make doing it. It do it for free because it’s fun and I love it and until it becomes more of a job than a hobby I will keep doing it that way. Or at least until it makes me go blind. LOL!

  8. rccartips says:

    Hi, I care and usually read those signing articles. But the next day I cannot remember who signed with whom :)

    Surprisingly when my 9 year old daughter started racing, she became very interested about professional drivers in the hobby and what cars they drive.

  9. Squidward says:

    One thing i don’t really like about some of the pro drivers (and this is only a small few) is the way they talk about the products they represent. For example, if they run for Byron Fuels they say ”it’s the best fuel on the planet” then if they switch to another company, they are right there saying “Sidewinder is the best fuel, etc” Seems like everything they run is always the best and greatest. kthx

  10. Kevin says:

    I honestly don’t care what the “pro’s” use or who they “sign” with. It’s really none of my or anybody else business.

    I actually feel kind of bad for those who have an obligation to be somewhere and a given time to promote a given product. To me, that takes the fun out of it . And that what this is for me, a hobby, not a career. I do understand it is for many people though.

    Sure I would like a discounted rate to buy my parts and kits at, but who doesn’t? This is not a cheap hobby, but definitely not the most expensive. However, I can make my mind up at any given moment to go race, or not. I am not obligated to anyone or anybody to be anywhere.

    To me, it really matters most with the pro’s how they handle their attitude and sportsmanship at the track that really counts. Class, sportsmanship, and helping a struggling kid set his car up or get it fixed for the next round are what stick out most in my mind. Not who they signed with.

    -Kevin

  11. Steve Dunn says:

    The only way a Pro Driver will make 6 figures is if he wins all the time and gets a bonus for it…..Dont believe the hype.

  12. James Mikoliczyk says:

    I remember the topic on said forum. I never really thought too much about it when I was young and new to the hobby. I was just ahppy to be out having fun with racing. Now that I am a bit older I do look and read the press releases about Driver’s signing or resiging for a given race season. Mainly it’s just to see who’s going where and sometimes the why they did so. The ammount they “might” make is not as much of an intrest. Too many variables to even try to figure it all out. I do think that those that actually get “paid” to race is such a small percentage of the hobby, that it shouldn’t matter to most people. Many if us race for fun and bragging rights amongst our friends. Yet I do get the curiousness of just how good or not a given Driver might have it. It sure gives many of us something to talk about in the off season. I would just hope that those that do get to “race” for a living still find a way to enjoy what many would look at as a dream job. With a little luck, maybe they can use their racing career as a stepping stone to something better in the industry as some have done. For what it’s worth, the income range can be anywhere from a couple hundred bucks a month to 6 figures. Just remember, that 6 figure income may only account for one or two years in a “Pro’s” career when they were the hot Driver at the peak of their racing. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

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