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Old 04-06-2008, 09:12 PM   #91
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Tom,
Great thread. I can see the topic is getting it's usual fervor. Please don't take anything I'm about to say to be critical or discouraging. I think your energy is great and truth be told it has been the energy of many people just like yourself that has kept this hobby alive for over fifty years.

The only real obstacle to growth of RC Racing is the size of the hobby industry. Globally, the hobby industry as a whole, is only about a $2 billion market. This takes into account RC cars, Trains, Slot cars, plastic models, boats and planes. At the most a third of that is domestic. As a marketing guy you know what advertising costs and you can do the math to realize that makes for a small budget. But the problem is complicated by the fragmentation in the industry. Consider the number of manufacturers in the RC arena and now realize there are probably three times that in model railroading. There are a lot of very small hobby companies out there and none of them can afford TV time. The most obvious players to lay out the cash for such campaigns are Horizon and Great Planes, but if they were doing national campaigns it would do far more for their suppliers and customers than it would for them. This is why consolidation is so important, however consolidation requires a broad strategy to buy literally dozens of companies that are difficult to integrate at a time when LBO money is very hard to come by.

In the past few years Horizon has shown that they get this, but it takes time. Unfortunately with Losi, they seem to have been sidetracked. In their train ventures they have been able to integrate and turn around brands quite quickly and are now selling products with premiums unheard of prior to acquisition. With Losi they are trying to do the same thing but are in fact shooting themselves in the foot. Their strategy is a good microcosm of what is happening across the RC segment.

This post is long enough so I'll stop the industry speak for now. I'll go on if you ask later. I will say that your idea with your local parks is right on the money. The hobby developments that I have seen flourish in the past few years have had the support of local parks departments. If you are serious about starting a track however talk to as many other track owners as you can first. It is a very difficult undertaking and can burn you out real easy. A good place for you to start is Bruckner Hobbies in the Bronx(Tremont and Lafayette Aves). Ask for Tom Sr.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:55 AM   #92
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Thanks for your insight Thugs. You are right the hobby industry as a whole is relatively small. RC needs to separate itself from the general hobby category. Through the proper marketing, it can be redefined as an activity and a sport.

Again, this really is the fault of the manufacturers. I don't mean this in a bad way, it is just that these companies are fairly small and they are afraid to take risks. They don't want to put all their eggs in one basket so rather than market what they have more aggressively, they open more revenue streams. I think this is poor strategy as it just sucks up revenue that could be directed at advertising into yet another niche hobby. Yes, they may be successful to a degree. For these companies, successful is usually defined as what does not yield a loss. They are being too tight on their dollars.

If I had the capital and the time, I would start my own company to prove my theory. There is a huge demographic of people that would invest into RC. They are just not being reached. Nothing leaves its niche without gaining notoriety in the national market. RC does not effectively do this.

Again, a way around the risk is to partner with larger companies. Like Apple. Steve Jobs is a nut. I could see hiim developing electronics for RC. I for one would be first in line to buy an iSpeedo - touch screen edition they day they came out. This is of course speculative, but not improbabl in the least. Along with something like that, you have a serious companies name attached to your product and a very strong market presence coupled with the advertising power on the national TV level.

I look at companies like Losi, AE, Novak and I see a bunch of motivated enthusiasts, electronics geeks (i mean this lovingly as I am a geek of sorts), thrill seekers and dedicated RC fans who genuinely love what they do. They are most likely smaller group tight knit guys and gals who have helped build these companies to where they are and they are to be commended for that. What they need now is to listen to people like me who if given the opportunity and about a year can vault their company to new heights and gain mainstream recognition which is good for all involved.

Maybe they don't like people like me, because there are egos and pride at stake and they would rather keep things the way they are rather than listen to a high-speed pro like me. No one likes to admit that they can be doing things better, especially when it comes from a guy like me. In the end, its their decisions that have bottlenecked the RC industry as a whole. If they are content to keep it niche with supplies and parts dwindling around the country as hobby shop after hobby shop closes, then so be it.

Maybe, just maybe a crazy guy like me may just launch his own company in a few years and show these guys how to do it the right way. I dunno. But their lack of support for this thread is disturbing to me. If I were CEO of any of these companies, I would consider this thread gold. What better way to get into the minds of your potential customers than to come in here and listen to what they are looking for and what they need to stay in the hobby and keep buying their products? Again, this just shows that these guys are not wired for marketing. They are hard core enthusiasts with the cooolest toys around and I am jealous. Nonetheless, they can improve on their marketing game. Hell, if they hate me because of my criticism, I can direct them to a branding and identity firm that would really show them the potential they have.

This is meant to be constructive criticism and I hope they hear it. I respect what theses have accomplished. I just want to see them up the ante and take RC to the next level.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:00 AM   #93
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I think the issue is the people. I see people go out spend the money get there butts spanked and then they quit cause it's to hard. It took me around 6 months to get a win on a competitive day at our track. I practiced alot the first 3 months and spent a weeks vacation at the track to get up to speed. I have now moved out of 19t and up to mod.Most people dont wanna put the time in or take on the challenge this sport is based upon. The guys in my office think it's stupid i take this so seriously but i tell them the rush from the compitition makes all that more fun. I told them they are welcome to try it and i would like to see them attempt it just so i can be like " you suck, so dont diss my r/c racing lol..... I told them if they can complete there first lap cleanly they can diss r/c all they want. THey still havent taken up the challenge.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:10 AM   #94
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I think the issue is the people. I see people go out spend the money get there butts spanked and then they quit cause it's to hard. It took me around 6 months to get a win on a competitive day at our track. I practiced alot the first 3 months and spent a weeks vacation at the track to get up to speed. I have now moved out of 19t and up to mod.Most people dont wanna put the time in or take on the challenge this sport is based upon. The guys in my office think it's stupid i take this so seriously but i tell them the rush from the compitition makes all that more fun. I told them they are welcome to try it and i would like to see them attempt it just so i can be like " you suck, so dont diss my r/c racing lol..... I told them if they can complete there first lap cleanly they can diss r/c all they want. THey still havent taken up the challenge.
You are right to a degree. What fixes that is a marketing campaign that uses the sport to tease potential customers with the performance capability of these little machines but shows them that they can have a fun, relaxing weekend just puttering about in an open field with their friends and family without the stress of competition. Its no different than owning a dirtbike. I know many people that have several dirt bikes, quads and mini-buggies that never saw a day of competition, they just take them out when they have the time and have fun. RC is no different. Practically identical. The difference being is that, it is cheaper, requires less planning, can be done in the back yard without disturbing the neighbors and far safer. The same people that own recreational off-road vehicles will find RC a nice alternative for the days that they cannot get out on the quads but still want a little thrill.

There is so much that I could put together on this that I am beyond convinced that it would be very successful. All that is needed is attention from the powers that be and working capital.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:59 AM   #95
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Tom,
As far as the smaller companies managing their marketing dollars better goes, I think you have to realize that the vast majority of them have only barely enough marketing dollars to stay in front of their current customer base. When you say they are putting all their eggs in one basket you need to realize that they only have one egg. Most of these companies are break-even at best and yes that is a goal but one of necessity not aspiration. Of course they would all like to make money but they are caught in a catch 22, they can't grow without broadening the audience but they can't broaden their audience without growing. Remember if you are break-even you can't reinvest profits in marketing and you can't even borrow money to gamble with. Realize also that this industry is defined by competition so they must spend a greater percentage of their resources on development than even many of the tech industries.

In regards to partnering, I think you see this best from RC Driver magazine. These guys have done a good job getting out to major 1:1 races and putting RC in front of a broader audience. It makes sense as their business model is most impacted by the audience size, they have no development costs and they have at least some technical proficiency in marketing. But again these are small companies so they are very limited in what they can do. Also RC Driver's efforts to broaden awareness helps RC Car Action as much as, if not more than it helps themselves. Horizon has done some good work with Discovery Channel getting some product placements but that seems to have a fairly limited set of opportunities. Ordinarily an industry association would be a good solution here but remember this industry is made up of many often competing niches. So even an industry association would end up with small budgets to promote RC, Trains, Slotcars, etc., etc.

As far as your position in this whole thing, I would not take it personally. First off no one is ignoring you or hates you, they just aren't aware of this forum. While many if not most sponsored drivers and product execs are here, the folks at the top that direct the marketing dollars aren't. The fact is RC racing is a niche within a niche and if the "CEO's" of the major hobby companies were to be in only half of the forums for all the niches they cover they would literally have time to do nothing else. You are correct that most of the hobby industry has been built by people who love the product and not the business and as a result have not been as effective at broadening the audience as a typical industry. But by now every hobby niche realizes that the market is shrinking and there are many very smart people in these companies that are thinking daily about how to fix that. This exact conversation has been going on for at least twenty five years. When I got started in racing in the early 80's during the so called heyday, people were constantly talking about how to broaden the market.

Again I would suggest getting some perspective. Go visit with Tom Sr. up at Bruckner. He has a great shop and those guys have been working with racing in NYC for a long time.
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Old 04-07-2008, 12:50 PM   #96
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Thugs, this is the stuff that helps. Thanks again. I can only speculate at this point without actually being involved, so of course there are factors that I may not have even thought to consider.

One thing that pops at me is the slots and trains. These things will never go mainstream, they may generate more income, they they also generate more overhead. Thats why I mentioned earlier that they need to make hard decisions like dropping the trains and the slots, concentrate on just marketing their RC surface vehicles with a larger focus on electric with an nod towards nitro.

This hobby...no activity is HOT. How hot? I just showed my neighbor across the street my RC10. I zipped up and down the street and he was awed. He is an auto mechanic that restores old cars. He wants to get a few kits to race around with and customize. I directed him to my local hobby shop, where to his disliking, found that they had nothing he was interested in, so he ordered online, but he said it would have been more fun to buy the kits in the store and bring them home and start building. This is what will kill this activity, my RC10 is down pending the arrival of my new front suspension arms (been down for 3 days already for a $4.00 part).

Instead of spending money on trains, slots and rockets and whatever, else, launch a chain of retail outlets where hobby shop owners can stock up and local enthusiasts can get the parts they need without having to order and wait a week. Hell they can even invest in already existing hobby shops. If the hobby shops fail, the entire hobby will be lost in a tiny niche of racers and the backyard basher will give up all together.

None of this is impossible. You are right, they need to grow to get more customers and they need customers to grow. Catch 22. Thats why they need to do a few things: 1. Redefine the hobby as a sport/activity. 2. take RC out of the toy and hobby category and give it its own identity. 3. Aggressively market into already easily identified group of speed junkies, technophiles, wrench heads, thrill seekers and race lovers.

This is all about branding. Brand it right and they will come. It is possible. Without knowing the net worth of these companies and their budgets its hard to gauge how possible. This is why I am willing to donate time. Knowing that budgets may be tight...a free exploration into the possiblities is a very strong tool for any company.

On the magazines, as a graphic artist who has plenty of publication experience under his belt as well, they need a little work. Not much. I love the overall layouts and formats of them but they are basically the same thing. They practically steal each other's column ideas, sometimes I forget which one I am reading. They need to be more distinct from one another as they all seem to concentrate more heavily on nitro. I find myself thumbing through most of the book as I don't own any nitro vehicles and though I may buy one in the future I am more interested in electric. Electric needs more exposure than nitro mainly because nitro vehicles have zero chance of being mass marketable unless they find away to make them run as silent as electric. This is another thing choking the industry. The only other aspect of these magazines is the over abundance of adverts. They are far beyond the acceptable 50/50 ad to content ratio. They need to write reviews on those products and in those reviews, have advertising in quarter and third page sizes so they compliment the article. These can be charged at a premium because they will be located on real estate that already has their product all over it and in most cases can charge as much as a full page layout. When It takes me more than 20 minutes to finish one of these magazines then I will know that they listened to me.

In short for the magazines:
1. More distinction from one another other than nameplates.
2. Little less nitro and a little more electric
3. Change ad paradigm to be at no more than 50/50 ad to content ratio
4. More reviews and previews with related products advertised through the article.

OK. I am sure I am pissing someone off now. I am sorry. I just call it like I see it and I am willing to donate time to prove it.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:38 PM   #97
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Tom,
I think a little history is in order. First of all the grandaddy of hobbies is model railroading. Before Joseph Kennedy was blown up in one of the first RC planes, Model Trains had already been around for almost a hundred years. You can say their heyday was in the 1950's but the products continue to have real relevance. While that demo may be aging, trains are still a very compelling hobby and may in fact have a much greater growth potential than RC racing. Slot car racing saw a mainstream boom in the 70's and in fact most of the pioneers in RC came from that medium. As with most toys/hobbies it went through a boom then bust and has been relegated to the back shelf for about thirty years. In recent years slots seem to be having a resurgence and from a growth perspective have a strong future. The best current analogue for these various segments would be paintball. Although far more active than any of the other segments noted it is still primarily a hobby and is currently at or near the apex to it's boom. The fact that paintball is occasionally on ESPN has more to do with the changes in television than in it's differentiation from the other activities. Like RC racing, Paintball is a very difficult activity to base a compelling television product on.

To put things in financial perspective, trains make up perhaps 30% - 35% of the overall domestic hobby market. In Germany those numbers go up dramatically. RC planes and helicopters also make up perhaps as much as 25% of the market. Slots are smaller but the point is this is a diversified industry of which RC racing is only a small part. When you say "they" need to drop trains and slots, who are you referring to?

The plight of the hobby shops is an interesting one and you are right that the future of all these segments lies in the hands of hobby retailers. Hobbytown USA is doing a good job in reinventing the bricks and mortar retail environment through their franchising scheme. I would suggest you find one and check it out. Traditional hobby shops have been commonly pretty bad merchandizers and at this point really only the best of the best have survived.

With the magazines I agree they all need much content help. I've subscribed to many over the years and bought at least a copy of every one I've ever seen and the successful ones have always been pretty worthless from a racers point of view. I think this goes back to my earlier point about their recognition that they must access a broader audience to improve their financial position. The big ones, RCCA, RC Driver, Extreme RC, realize that they are essentially catalogs for kids in Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Borders. What's more, since this is a product based hobby, the news cycle is closely tied to the product cycle, which is quite long. This leaves the magazines looking to basically fill the pages with something remotely interesting in between product releases. The best magazine for RC racing was hands down, Competition Plus. This was a magazine that relied on advertising from race oriented companies and subscriptions for revenue, but provided great race coverage and reasonably objective reviews. No surprise it didn't last as Trinity and Tower got a much bigger bang for their buck out of RCCA, but it was a far superior magazine if you were Hardcore Other interesting mags were ROAR's Rev-up, and Mike Myers' Starting Grid which is still online. http://www.sgrid.com/SGM/index.php

Enough for now.
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:59 PM   #98
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Very interesting thread. But Tom, one thing I'm not sure you realize, is the individuality in this hobby. You vision of a large outreaching company may well work, but if successful it will to a some degree, I suspect to a large one, backfire in the racing world. Traxxas and Losi for example, have grown significantly, greatly expanding/consolidating their product offerings, but many racers now dismiss them as "toy" companies due to their success. And I just offer these as examples, perhaps they aren't the best, I'm not trying to sideline this into a discussion of those particular companies. The wide variety of products, which rightly causes issues that you identify, is in my opinion a huge aspect of this hobby.

Plus I agree with Mr. Hohwart, RC is actually pretty widespread and widely available already. I cheer on your enthusiasm and respect your knowledge, but I don't think this industry got to where it is by being led by some guys who don't have a clue what they are doing. Individual cases, sure, but not all. I suspect the challenge is a just a little tougher than you realize. But, if you can prove me wrong, I'm all for it! Just my perhaps less than 2 cents.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:27 AM   #99
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I respect all viewpoints here. Again, thank you all for your insight.

I still see a lot of potential. I agree that RC is widespread. The problem is overbranding or underbranding depending on how you look at it. Trains are great. I don't put them down, but they still do not capture the excitement and pulse pounding action that ripping around with an RC buggy can. I still attribute it to underexposure but also to internet availability making it hard for smaller local businesses to compete.

From a marketing standpoint, of course the money needed to advertise and generate creative for a new campaign can be staggering. What many people in business today dont' know is how relatively cheap generating the creative is now. This is where my perspective from the creative angle comes into play. Many companies as of now still outsource their creative as they did not want the responsibility of hiring and training personnel since it is not a 24/7 thing that needs a full time crew. However, major advances in the creative industry have yet to be tapped mainly because, quite frankly, there are too many old dogs running creative teams who are too used to the more tedious way of doing things and extreme right-brained people who want to know nothing about the technical aspect of the job. WIth the advent of PDF workflows and highly experienced creative staff capable of handling every aspect of a creative project from conception to final output, a large company such as Microsoft, could assemble a 20 person staff, that could probably handle 90% of all their branding, design, production and prepress needs for a fraction of what they are paying for several companies processing their creative all over the world.

Creative budget is harder on a company than the actual advertising costs. When you cut out a large chunk of cost associated with developing the creative, you have a larger budget for placing ads in newspapers, magazines other than RC only magazines (Popular Science, Dirtbike magazine, Import Tuner magazine...etc) as well as web advertising on google, yahoo, myspace, facebook..etc. Its all a money game. Trust me I have seen this work. AS time goes on and the advertising starts brining in extra revenue then the TV ads begin to take shape.

I understand the need for individuality. Thats the job of branding. There is no reason that these companies cannot work together to promote RC racing and RC leisure activity. They can still maintain their identities. They can create a joint marketing campaign lets call it RC Revolution. They all pitch in X-amount of money to an agency that will put together a generic RC campaign that evokes interest into the sport while giving equal exposure to their products while highlighting the rivalries between them. I could put this campaign together in my sleep.

Then again maybe these companies do not want to grow the business. Maybe they like their price points and play on the rarity in some markets for parts and kits, driving up their profit margins. I would personally call that short sighted and not very consumer friendly but if that is their model then hey, I will back off now and just promote in my local area.

Keep the input coming guys. I may eventaully erupt in to developing a campaign strategy and the info here is gold to me right now.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:37 AM   #100
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Yea, frank i race with tom jr., tom sr.'s son and they are a great people. Tom is a really funny guy and it's no wonder they are a successful LHS with great influence in the new york area's race scene.

I used to work in a hobby shop owned by a friends uncle who was successful in the printing business by opening up franchises and hoped to do the same with the hobby industry but they never wanted to keep stock of things and wanted to order everything. The customers were always frustrated and so was i couldnt help them. they pulled the plug in a like 14 months in addition the tracks are just not known by the public as well.

we did have like 4,000 train kits in stock though....... those only sell during x-mas.

I would say it's not marketing it's on a community level.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:59 AM   #101
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Here are a few things that we know about r/c racing.
1-You must have a track to race at & a lhs to sale cars.
2-r/c racing is not organized enough, lets give tracks a reason to get organized & participate in an organized racing league.
3-the rules need to be set similar to the r/c pro series so that scrubs can get into the hobby on a budget too. Those 5 jatos that show up to the track will turn into gt2s eventually. There is no point in being a rules natzy when you are strugling w/ your numbers.

Now, this is what I believe needs to happen to make r/c racing more mainstream. I will start w/ the racing pont of view 1st.
*****Local Level*****
1-get r/c prizes to give out so tracks want to get involved.
2-set up a x race series @ each track that will run every other week.
All participating tracks will run on the same days if weather permits.
3-give racers points for running @ the tracks
*****regional race*****
1-set up divisions that will see a few tracks putting on a x many driver avg. turnout event once a month(double points race).
2-on the last race week set up a large regional race. Offer free hotel, gas, & ect. to the points leaders from each division. You want the fast guys there no matter what.
3-like quadruple points & prizes here
*****national level*****
1-Run like 3 or 4 sets of the local & regional races.
2-The top points guys out of each region will get to race for free @ a national race held @ the end of the season to cap off the event.
3-Run a summer outdoors off road season & a winter indoors season. I would run a mix of classes to please everyone. Something like li//bl w/ nitro 1/10th 2wd, & 1/8th scale. This would give electric drivers 2 classes to run in & nitro drivers 2 classes to run in.

**************************************************
Now that you have a very organized national level racing league it should make it much easier to advertise it to the people. How do you think flag football leagues & small soccer clubs advertise to the public? They stick signs in the middle of their community. So, now go out & have the participating lhs & track stick signs around the community to sign up for the r/c racing league. The lhs could even put togather a package for like $500 w/ a complete setup, tools, & a couple race fees. Something like this would make for a great cheap package.
1- nitro firestorm
2-tools
3-shock set, shock socks, & alum. front pivot(the shocks are actually decent)
4-starter equip


or
1-b4
2-mamba 4600
3-tools
4-3k lipo & charger
5-cheap radio//torquey servo combo
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:30 PM   #102
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It took a while, but I read this whole thread and will forward it to some including the president of Tekin if he has not already been reading it.
As a small RC Business owner and a Track Operator I appreciate all the input and ideas. Many of which I have been incorporating for some time now.
RC Racing is alive and strong in Michigan. Last season at my track we averaged 150+ entries per race with a high of 185.
The year before we averaged over 200 with a high of 231.
Here is how I do it... It seems to be working.

Get your cars out there!!! I work for a large company. We have an annual car show. I put my old scratched up Ford ranger right in the middle of the show with the tail gate down and the bed full of cars and trucks with batteries charged and radios on hand. ANYONE who wants to try get to drive.
I bring my cars personal race cars to work, hand the radio's off to any of my coworkers who want to give it a try.
Neighbors.. same thing.
There is a difference between "Mainstream" and expanding interest. For example Coke and Pepsi are mainstream. But there are many others out there that are still popular. Vernors is very popular in my area, but not even heard of in other areas of the country.
What I see many people wanting is to have good participation on a local level, not necessarily have RC Cars and trucks be main stream. They want a good reliable place to sell them parts and provide a place to race. And people to come out and race and (yes I will say it... ) play with. On a regular basis. If that is what Tom's original intent was to start this thread, then I am all for it... but mainstream is a little vague and my not be the correct phrase for RC Cars and Trucks. That is just my opinion. I like the idea, but I would not like it if the hobby became SO mainstream that it diluted the quality and reliability of the product to the point that the attitude once again went back to these being toys and once they break, they are just thrown away or put away.
One of the attractions of the hobby is the quality of product along with the technical advancements that are being made.
Let me get back to how to promote the hobby, so that people are more active on a local level.
There are some Race series that have regional race series that culminate in national and internation races. Tamiya is an example. But how many of us are really in a position that if we win the Tamiya regional event to travel to California for the National event and then to Japan for the international? We have a life right.
To promote the hobby and help it grow, I feel it is necessary to grow it on the local level. On a level that the average "Joe" cam come in to a track and have fun and leave feeling good. At my track I try to do that.
The track design is for C and low B Main drivers. My attitude is let the High skilled drivers fight it out with their set up skills and driving skills.
I was at the track in Tucson that was mentioned earlier. I was very dissapointed. It was Brian Kinwalds home track. MOST.. had a hard time even getting around it. An average of 7 of 10 vehicles came off the track broken. I didn't see hardly anyone smiling and having fun. That does nothing to promote the hobby and attract new racers.
I also put on events.
Last season I built a track for the Boy Scouts of America Camporee at Michigan International Speedway. It was pointed out that Traxxas is getting it right.. They are.
The loaned me a fleet of Rustlers. Between Friday evening and all day Saturday, we ran 600 trucks thru. 2 min races with 6 trucks per race. MOST had never driven a RC Vehicle before.
I have done a couple of events like this with my own trucks too.
The best thing I have found.. if you want the hobby to grow in your area... put a radio in someones hand.
"If you build it they will come" is NOT true... but if you let them drive it... they will come and help you build it.
I also rent XXXT's at my track. I have three of them. $40 for the whole day. It has been very sucessful. Many of my renters and now racers with us.
Another interesting aspect of my track. it is only open every other Saturday. I think it provides people with an opportunity to schedule other activities around the racing and helps keep my attendance and the enthusiasm for the hobby high in my area.
I need to rest!!! LOL!!
I look forward to more comments and input.
Dan
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:12 PM   #103
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Love the thread.

I will keep it short. It is hard to run a track. Maintenance is difficult, our local track (SE Michigan) at the county park (next to the BMX track and the R/C airplane field) is now on 2 races a month during the season- instead of every weekend. It is a source of friction between my wife and I to race every weekend. So the every other weekend is a good thing for keeping the peace.

When I visited my family in Traverse City, there was a program on the "local cable channel" the one that televises high school sports called TCRCTV Traverse City RC TV. It was a 1/2 hour show produced by an avid rc racer. It was pretty cool seeing some racing, nitro motor work and other r/c related stuff. Maybe this could be used by a high school production staff for classwork and promote the local track.

Good luck and keep up the enthusiasm.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:26 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by DJ1978 View Post
It took a while, but I read this whole thread and will forward it to some including the president of Tekin if he has not already been reading it.
As a small RC Business owner and a Track Operator I appreciate all the input and ideas. Many of which I have been incorporating for some time now.
RC Racing is alive and strong in Michigan. Last season at my track we averaged 150+ entries per race with a high of 185.
The year before we averaged over 200 with a high of 231.
Here is how I do it... It seems to be working.

Get your cars out there!!! I work for a large company. We have an annual car show. I put my old scratched up Ford ranger right in the middle of the show with the tail gate down and the bed full of cars and trucks with batteries charged and radios on hand. ANYONE who wants to try get to drive.
I bring my cars personal race cars to work, hand the radio's off to any of my coworkers who want to give it a try.
Neighbors.. same thing.
There is a difference between "Mainstream" and expanding interest. For example Coke and Pepsi are mainstream. But there are many others out there that are still popular. Vernors is very popular in my area, but not even heard of in other areas of the country.
What I see many people wanting is to have good participation on a local level, not necessarily have RC Cars and trucks be main stream. They want a good reliable place to sell them parts and provide a place to race. And people to come out and race and (yes I will say it... ) play with. On a regular basis. If that is what Tom's original intent was to start this thread, then I am all for it... but mainstream is a little vague and my not be the correct phrase for RC Cars and Trucks. That is just my opinion. I like the idea, but I would not like it if the hobby became SO mainstream that it diluted the quality and reliability of the product to the point that the attitude once again went back to these being toys and once they break, they are just thrown away or put away.
One of the attractions of the hobby is the quality of product along with the technical advancements that are being made.
Let me get back to how to promote the hobby, so that people are more active on a local level.
There are some Race series that have regional race series that culminate in national and internation races. Tamiya is an example. But how many of us are really in a position that if we win the Tamiya regional event to travel to California for the National event and then to Japan for the international? We have a life right.
To promote the hobby and help it grow, I feel it is necessary to grow it on the local level. On a level that the average "Joe" cam come in to a track and have fun and leave feeling good. At my track I try to do that.
The track design is for C and low B Main drivers. My attitude is let the High skilled drivers fight it out with their set up skills and driving skills.
I was at the track in Tucson that was mentioned earlier. I was very dissapointed. It was Brian Kinwalds home track. MOST.. had a hard time even getting around it. An average of 7 of 10 vehicles came off the track broken. I didn't see hardly anyone smiling and having fun. That does nothing to promote the hobby and attract new racers.
I also put on events.
Last season I built a track for the Boy Scouts of America Camporee at Michigan International Speedway. It was pointed out that Traxxas is getting it right.. They are.
The loaned me a fleet of Rustlers. Between Friday evening and all day Saturday, we ran 600 trucks thru. 2 min races with 6 trucks per race. MOST had never driven a RC Vehicle before.
I have done a couple of events like this with my own trucks too.
The best thing I have found.. if you want the hobby to grow in your area... put a radio in someones hand.
"If you build it they will come" is NOT true... but if you let them drive it... they will come and help you build it.
I also rent XXXT's at my track. I have three of them. $40 for the whole day. It has been very sucessful. Many of my renters and now racers with us.
Another interesting aspect of my track. it is only open every other Saturday. I think it provides people with an opportunity to schedule other activities around the racing and helps keep my attendance and the enthusiasm for the hobby high in my area.
I need to rest!!! LOL!!
I look forward to more comments and input.
Dan
This man is good!
Seems as if he is the only one putting his plan into action.
Do you have any "O"'s that race there?
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:03 PM   #105
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RBFive,
I hear what you're saying about the local hobby shops having to compete but that trend is much bigger than just the hobby industry. Truth be told there are some very good hobby shops but there were many, many more that were subpar. Basic merchandizing like cleanliness and good lighting were commonly ignored in literally thousands of hobby shops around the country. Twenty years ago you had lots of people opening hobby shops because they loved their hobby. While this provided a lot of tracks, and slot car tracks and train clubs, most of these shops failed because they didn't approach the business as first and foremost a business. Today we are facing that legacy and both enthusiastic hobbyists and sophisticated corporate strategies will be required to improve the exposure of most hobbies.

DJ,
I came up with my local offroad crew this winter and you are definitely kickin' butt. I think you are doing exactly what a local track owner should do to be successful. Promotion, rentals, easier track layouts are the top three strategies for small track success. I'm amazed that working a "day" job and running a track you have the time to do what you do, but you're on it and keep it up. By the way, it looks like we have about five or six of your 8th conversions ready for this summer.
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