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Old 07-24-2002, 03:50 PM   #1
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Default Can San Diego support an R/C Track?

Hi guys,

I know a few of you here are either in or around the San Diego, CA area. Since the El Cajon track closed, the area has been without a "permanent" on-road track, and hasn't had an off-road track since the DHW days.

My question is, do you guys think there is enough interest in the area to support such a facility?

We are kicking around the idea of opening an R/C Tech-sponsored facility in the area, likely in the first or second quarter of 2003. We haven't looked at particular buildings yet (just locations), but we would be targeting something close to a 2,000 square foot building with space enough outside to construct an offroad track down the road.

Location-wise, we are looking for something as close to the 5 freeway as possible, south of Oceanside Blvd. and north of Balboa Ave. Chances are we would have to look a little more inland, but there are some good possibilities closer to the freeway that we would explore first.

The track would initially be an indoor carpet track, with the offroad (outdoor, dirt) part opening at a later date as things gear up. We are looking at two days a week of indoor on-road racing, one weeknight, one weekend. Once the offroad gets going, the other weekend day would be offroad.

Weeknight racing would be $10 for two heats & the main, weekend racing would be $15 for 3 heats & a main. Open practice would be $5/day whenever the track is open. ROAR annual membership would be required for liability reasons.

Classes would be flexible, based on what people would like to run. In other words, if 3+ people show up with anything, we'll run a class for them. The basic classes we'd like to run would be Stock Rubber sedan and Mod Rubber sedan. Seasonal points series' would be run based on the most popular classes, with winners awarded trophies or race credits (their choice, but no cash payouts).

Scoring would be provided by an AMBrc system, supporting personal transponders, which would be available for $55 each on track. A rack of 10 digital "loaner" transponders would also be available. Practice software will allow for scored lap-times during practice runs in addition to racing. Bathrooms and snack machines will be on-site. Electricity, power strips and pit tables/chairs will all be available on-site. Cable TV and internet access MAY be available on site. depending on our other costs.

The long-term plan for the track would of course be to get the offroad track up and running within 2-3 months of opening the indoor track. The offroad track would have the same scoring features as the indoor track, with pit space available inside the building. Because of noise concerns, the offroad track would likely be open ONLY on the one weekend day each week, with a possibility for practice on the other weekend day. It is unlikely that we will provide lighting outdoors for nighttime racing. In any case, noise is obviously a major concern and will be a big factor in the location we select.

Because there are other local tracks that do outdoor (nitro) sedan racing, we don't plan on doing outdoor sedan racing at all. If things work out, you never know in the future, but it is doubtful. Another option is indoor truck racing, something we do quite successfully in the midwest. If there is any interest in this at all, we would love to try it out on a test-basis.

Also, there will be little or no parts support on site, and we will not be allowing dealers to sell parts on site. There are plenty of hobby shops in the area, and we are not planning on competing with them (not any time soon, anyway). However, there is a good possibility we may have some of the basic consumables for sale on site: tires, motors, brushes, fluids, etc.

Anyway, that is what we are kicking around right now. I would be really interested to see what any of the locals think. Any feedback on desired amenities, track size, format and so on would be welcomed. This plan is in no way final, but we have everything we need to make it happen, including a couple experienced people who are excited about the opporunity to run such a track.
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Old 07-25-2002, 01:08 AM   #2
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Not trying to offend any of the San Diego area racers but in the 16 years that Ive lived and raced in Southern California, San Diego has been a black hole for permanent track owners. That being said, I think that your concept would work just about anywhere. Its well thought out and I think the novelty of carpet would draw down LA-area guys.

Good luck and I know that if it goes, we (the SoCal Pan Car group) will come down to race.
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Old 07-25-2002, 01:57 AM   #3
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Just wonder why did you guys pick SD??? Why not around LA area?? In LA area there is all sorts of track but No carpet track~! If you guys can open carpet track only place around LA, that sure would draw a lot of people to race there.
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Old 07-25-2002, 02:38 AM   #4
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MarkA: I have seen tracks come and go in SD for years now as well. The problem is that the owners try and be a hobby shop first and a track second. Retail space is ludicrously expensive down here, and the overhead in running a hobby shop is just too much for the economy right now -- that's why in an area like SD, the only real hobby shops succeeding are chain stores like HobbyTown and Hobby People (with one or two exceptions).

TRF-Powered: The reason we chose SD is that we live there. Well, I am only here a few months out of the year, but if we start this project, that will probably change. I would likely be running the show for at least the first few months.
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Old 07-25-2002, 03:32 AM   #5
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I go to UCSD, I need a track!! I run 1/10 touring.
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Old 07-25-2002, 03:46 AM   #6
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I think a carpet track in Southern Ca would be a great idea. I'm one of the Socal Pan Car guys and I once drove from Long Beach to race at El Cajon before it closed. It would be cool if the track were a little closer, but if it comes out as good as your making it seem, I'd sure race there.
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Old 07-25-2002, 10:18 AM   #7
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A- it would be racers opening the track - bonus #1 (previous attempts included those who were not racers. . .)

B- it would be responsible people opening the track - bonus #2 (I can only assume responsibility based on the success and upkeep of this site. . . and previous attempts have included those who definitely were not)

C- no hobby shop, parts, etc. . . - demerit #1. We have seen a number of tracks around here that failed, in part, because he had no parts and racers had to leave to get parts - Corona's BW Raceway, ShoTime Raceway in Riverside, among others. In looking at racing, from a business standpoint, the track alone lacks support - which comes from parts. I would highly recommend at least having a partnership with a hobby store nearby that could set up a "booth" in your track for common parts.

(another idea that some of us had been tossing around - how about a vending machine with arms, etc. that are the common breakage. . .)

D- AMBrc - bonus #3. I just love these little things. Are you planning on going with JLap? I think it's much better than the other system (SoCal uses the other system. . .I have the demo of JLap here. . .I like it better. . .)

Price seems cool, esp with three heats! Me Like That. Flexible classes - that means you will get us, from SoCal, at least periodically bringing our Pro10's .

The farther north in San Diego, I think you'll get more of us from up North (I think Sherm is North of SD. . .) and, since there isn't much 'cept TJ South of SD. . .well. . .

Anyway, I think you score three bonuses and one demerit (or whatever) in my book, just on the surface. . . GO GET 'EM!!!
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Old 07-25-2002, 11:10 AM   #8
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I think I agree with everything Boomer said above...
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Old 07-25-2002, 11:43 AM   #9
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Just to add...I think any RACE facility will go off well here in S.D. There are lots of people who are either the casual enthusiast or the weekly, bi-weekly racer and even a hand full of "NATIONAL" racers. There are currently no carpet tracks here, but there has been one failed attempt..Being that all the racers here in S.D. are "parking-lot" junkies, carpet may take some adjustment for the locals to grasp...Though there are a few that will jump at it at first mention. If it is done right, I'm sure most of us will consider..

I personally think that an indoor asphalt track would get a bigger response.

As far as off road, I think that could get some response as well...that was once a nice off-road facility in S.D. that a lot of people was sad to see go...Plus there is an established off-road community just north-east of S.D. county that may be interested in a little diversity, and willing to make the short travel down.
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Old 07-25-2002, 11:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by futureal
MarkA: I have seen tracks come and go in SD for years now as well. The problem is that the owners try and be a hobby shop first and a track second. Retail space is ludicrously expensive down here, and the overhead in running a hobby shop is just too much for the economy right now -- that's why in an area like SD, the only real hobby shops succeeding are chain stores like HobbyTown and Hobby People (with one or two exceptions).


You will need some parts to sell as Boomer said. Not to mention that while Hobby Shops make literally $5-10 profit per car kit sold, the margin on parts is 40-50% and that could put you into the black instead of the red.

When we went to race carpet in El Cajon, the owner down there made a greater gross off of us buying stuff than he did off of our race entries, FWIW.
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Old 07-25-2002, 01:47 PM   #11
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My thoughts...

1. What about the Nitro guys? I don't race em but a lot of people do and they would be an important source of revenue because I don't see nitros working on a carpet track.
2. For me asphalt is more appealing- I can use the same set of sorex that are used at Socal and use them at the local parking lot tracks. Can I do that with carpet?
3. I would try and accomodate all forms of r/c cars from micros to nitros to pans and sedans- the more class of racers that aren't alienated the more succesful the track is likely to be- bottom line is a track fails when there isn't enough entries to pay rent...
4. Be sure to try and create new racers out there because the current crop are already stretched thin between all the tracks. Give the novice drivers some breaks and incentive to become regular racers of your track.

good luck!
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Old 07-25-2002, 02:23 PM   #12
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Well I would rather run carpet since there are after all plenty of parking lot races, and I am a So Cal local, so there would be more insentive for the drive if I got to run on Carpet. (it would also be more likely that the So Cal people will bring out some 12th scale in the future)

I am also off to college next year, and UCSD looks to be at the top of my list.

One piece of advice, if you have the races run on Sundays it would be more palatable for me, and others that I run with.
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Old 07-25-2002, 06:05 PM   #13
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I'll try and comment on a few things here.

Boomer: The on-site parts thing is still up in the air. The basic problem is that, from a business/license (retail) standpoint, it is far more complicated to do any sort of retail than it is to do just the racing fees. That having been said, having on-site parts availability is definitely something we are looking at. At the very least I would like to have the "consumables" available on-site, like tries, motors & brushes, and so on. If I can get parts for some of the more common cars (e.g. Losi/AE) without having to do huge wholesale orders, then I certainly would.

Basically, though, we are focusing on getting a stable track open, and then working on adding things as we go. The optimistic side of me would say, "expect to see parts on-site by the second month" while the pessimistic side would say "give it 3-4 months before we get that established." We'll see. A major point is, though, that we do *not* plan to be a full-scale R/C shop at any point in the near future. I don't plan on stocking kits or high-dollar electronics at any point. Keeping overhead low is a key point in keeping a facility like this alive, especially if we want to ride out the current economy.

The software would probably be JLap -- UNLESS I can find the time within the next 4 or 5 months to develop my own. I have been using JLap at our track in Madison for about 6 months now, and although it is VERY buggy, it has a solid featureset and the developers are quite responsive. It supports AMBrc and the personal transponders, which are definitely the "future" of R/C in my opinion. For those of you that have never used a personal transponder, it is definitely one of those things where once you've used it, you never want to go back!

I am definitely thinking more "north SD county" than south. But really, it will all depend on whether the price is right, or not.

OSherman: Carpet does take a little bit of adjustment from parking lot stuff, but personally, I love it. I don't think that it will ever replace outdoor racing, but it is definitely a good option to have around. Indoor asphault would kind of be my "dream track" but it is not financially feasible right now for those of us involved in this project.

I see definite potential for a good off-road track in the San Diego area, but it is a bit more difficult to get going from scratch, and would definitely need on-site parts support. We are going to make sure that our facility has room for an off-road track, and we will work from there. Getting the carpet going first is the big goal, and off-road will be the next project.

MarkA: Good point, on the parts margin. As I stated above, it comes down to how much capital we have left to put into the track after the initial set-up costs, and how much the licenses will cost.

MikeR: The problem with nitro on-road is that we would have to find a larger building with a big enough (and smooth enough) parking lot that we could set up a track, and without ticking off local residents or other businesses. I'm not saying that this isn't possible, but it further restricts us in terms of finding a building. *IF* we happen to find something that has a large enough lot, then building a parking lot track would definitely figure into our plan.

Carpet racing does require softer rubber compounds than asphault. I have been running 36s or 36/32 combos on my cars outdoors, and 24s or 24/20 combos on my cars on carpet, depending on the bite of the track. Tire wear is normally pretty good on carpet, and there are some good tricks towards getting good life out of your tires for club racing. For example, we've had good luck running old Sorex 20s in the front and new 20s in the rear, and then just replacing the rears and moving the old rears to the front. Cuts your tire costs in half, and you stay competitive. Plus we'd be running piping and/or foam islands on the carpet track, all of which are much more forgiving on the cars than the normal plywood boards you have outdoors.

As for more classes and novice drivers, I am with you there, definitely. I forgot to mention micros in my earlier post, which is something we would definitely like to do. If people bring Micros and want to run, we are all for it. Novice drivers are also a big thing, and we *always* do whatever we can to get people going on the hobby. I have enough cars & parts that I will probably keep a couple of "loaner" cars on hand for people to try out on the track if they'd like, and hopefully I can get some support from local hobby shops in forms of flyers & the like.

Colin C: I would love to see a 12th scale class start up. We never have enough to get it going where I race in Madison, mainly just because sedans became so popular. F1 racing on carpet is another fun class that I encourage people to try out if they ever have the chance.

As far as exact race scheduling, that is something that would be decided once we got closer to opening.

All: We are definitely moving forward on the idea, although it is still just a plan on paper and I wouldn't expect to see a track open until early 2003 at the absolute earliest. If we do it, we are going to take our time to get things in place and do things right. So any and all feedback here is greatly appreciated. The "by racers, for racers" thing is pretty much accurate, and although I doubt any one place will ever make everybody happy, we will certainly try our best.

One more question: what kind of track size (indoor) would you guys expect? When we laid out the plans we were thinking something along the lines of 120' x 60' or in that neighborhood.

I also didn't mention it before, but the track would be constructed with piping material for barriers, with center islands carved out of foam. It is the most forgiving set up we can come up with, and with a variety of pipes/islands we will be able to change the track layout on a weekly basis for variety. The carpet would be standard ozite. If we can get a guaranteed lease for a year or so, we will probably take the time to glue the carpet down, but anything less than that and we will be taping down so we can move if necessary.

That's about all I can think of. Thanks guys.
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Old 07-25-2002, 06:17 PM   #14
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Thanks for even considering this as a place for a race facility. A lot of people in SD would I'm sure flock to whatever track you build. The support from the SD racers in my opinion has been dwindling more and more over the last 3 years. The 2 parking lot programs are seeing a decline in entries. That saddens me. I put a lot of effort in this hobby, and the more people there are the better. But, its been going the other way. I don't know what it is, whether racers are burned out on the same parking lot scene or what. Hopefully some one else will know.

Anyways you have all the right ideas and are open to our suggestions. Whether it would be carpet or asphalt, it only matters to me now to what would be more successful.

Definate more support for entry level racers is a must to keep them going. I would even charge the normal racers 1 or 2 bucks more an entry. Race entries since I started in '91 has always been 10 bucks. Times are changing and rates are changing. Why shouldn't race fees.

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Old 07-25-2002, 06:48 PM   #15
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Another pointer... dont instal the carpet upside down like at some other carpet track :P
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