Yes, the featured image for this blog is Mario Kart, and yes that is a real RC car–one I would rather play with 99 times out of 100 compared to a race-only on-road car that would require hours and hours of set up. Why? Because all of those set up hours would be spent smiling, laughing and having fun with the Mario Kart car.
Racers are an important though tiny portion of the RC hobby and industry. Some racers think a little to highly of themselves and their impact on the industry, insisting that racing is the money maker and that companies wouldn’t be the same without racing. The truth is, bashers and “for fun only” RC cars represent the preponderance of total sales and by far the largest number of hobbyists. Arguably the largest company in RC right now is Traxxas, and they don’t sell a single “true” race vehicle or sponsor a single driver. What I’m getting at here is that while race cars are vital to our industry, they ain’t the be-all, end-all of RC cars. Yet some of our racing friends are so obsessed with racing on a track that they’ve never driven an RC car aimlessly…away from a track….in an open field…with friends…for FUN.
I find this a bit disturbing. As Matt Higgins mentioned in one of his recent blogs, when you get right down to it, RC cars are toys. I’ve always believed that RC cars are toys, for over 2o years of being in the hobby. RC cars are big, expensive, highly engineered and high performance toys. Toys exist to be played with, to provide entertainment and stress relief. I know of several friends of mine, one in particular who now works at an online retail outlet, who “retired” from professional RC racing having never driven an RC car ‘for fun’ until they were forced to. And guess what, both of my friends loved it–it was like an awakening. One other friend is a current racer, who after driving a brushless monster truck, questioned what “the point” of having something so overpowered could possibly be? These guys think like racers, and they concentrate on tenths of a second. Lap times. Others call this stress.
My suggestion is always the same thing: racers, take off your racing hat for a day or two, and drive the fastest or cheapest RC car you can find with a friend. Trucks with plush suspensions or SC trucks with fewer total adjustments than your racer car’s left front suspension work particularly well. Build a basic jump with some plywood and a few bricks. Drive for an hour or two, or until you break something. Laugh with your friends, and do stupid things you’d never try on a race track. Then try to tell me that wasn’t fun?
RC offers so much more than lap time print outs, tenths of a second here or there, or being “fast” or not. While the racers among us consider making fast laps “fun,” bashers consider this nerve wracking and uptight. Don’t get me wrong, I love to race…but one must have the ability to appreciate bashing and the fun parts of RC to really understand what this hobby is all about.
So, to answer that friend of mine who, after driving the fun monster truck, asked “what’s the point?” It’s simple: to have fun.
Photo of Mario Kart RC car: thinkgeek.com