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Old 05-09-2006, 11:14 PM   #31
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Default track owners - some of our ideas

We have an indoor track that we opened just over a year ago, FastCats. Our family runs it together. Tracks just do not make money and so we knew we would have to be creative to pay our overhead, so we decided our building had to be open to the general public. We have tried many ways to do this, some have worked, others haven't...the following is an overview, perhaps this will give some of your tracks some ideas as I have enjoyed reading the above posts too.

We purchased some RCP track, some duratrax micro streetforce cars and we do birthday parties. This serves two purposes for us, it pulls in what 15 guys would pay for a whole day of practice in 2 hours (we can do 3-4 parties in a day) and it promotes the hobby to a whole bunch of new racers. We give the birthday child a FastCats t-shirt which helps to promote the track to others. We run the parties on a practice night or mainly Saturdays practice day and then the kids and the dads can see the hobby guys in with all their equipment racing the cars around. John has spent many hours introducing a group of dads to the cars, explaining what you can do with them and he then will show video of past races so they can see what a serious race looks and feels like. We also make sure we invite them back on Sunday for the big race day of the week. We have since made a small row of bleachers for visitors to sit on and watch the racing.

I have also made contact with a number of schools in our area for me to go to the school's BBQ with my RCP track and a few cars to set up a small race track as an activity. I do not charge the school but I do take the tickets from the children that they have purchased for the blow up rides and such. At one school I raised $400 for 3 hours. This allowed me to be seen in the community and promote my birthday parties but my son JB came and brought some of the 1/10 scale and 1/12 scale cars and by putting them on a table he generated lots of questions from the dads.

I have also found a science teacher who, not in the hobby, realized the potential of the cars to teach grade 7 & 8 science and who now has purchased 2 car kits at a significant reduction in price but who is promoting our hobby in the school and letting the kids get their hands on the cars directly, some of our drivers have donated tires and batteries and one gave an old radio. There is another teacher who I didn't get started but who we have supported as well in another town near us. Getting into the schools is a great way to promote the hobby to the "tween" age group.

We also have a radio control car summer camp, where a child builds a car with us from scratch and we give them all the foundation information, we hope, to stay in the hobby and it also servers to make the staff, other drivers and the building less intimidating to the younger person. By the time they are finished they seem much more comfortable and they even know some of the regular drivers and will ask them questions. We support them on Sundays with a class just for them, they are typically under 16 and they run a silver can tub chassis, we haven't been fussy on the tires or the battery. We don't have a lot of them but they do feel like they have a place for them to join.

We have run workshops on different topics relevant to r/c. We have typically asked a regular driver who is known for being knowledgeable in a certain area and we have offered them 2 free practice coupons for a couple hours of their time. They typically have lectured to a group of 10 or so and then people ask questions for an hour or they trouble shoot on their cars, depending on the topic. We have had Martin Crisp doing a session on setting up a car, which is always a popular one.

I had posters made of the track, minus the hobby shop pics, and sent them out to all the hobby stores in a 50 mile radius from us, not promoting or competing for the store but to highlight the track. People who purchase in other hobby stores still have to know that there is someplace to go. I also sent 10 1/2 price coupons to each store for them to send their employees to see the place and thereby promote it or for them to give their valued customers. Unfortunately very very few of these were used, although I did hear that some hobby stores had posted the poster. Also in our hobby store anyone purchasing a car kit gets 2 free practice coupons, an added value that other hobby stores cannot give.

We had a garage sale of r/c equipment where people rented a pit table from us. We charged $3 entry and donated it to MADD (appropriate for car racing) and we got recognition in the local paper which helped to promote our community involvement. We also did our RCP track at a Tim Hortons Camp day in a local parking lot to help raise money.

Unfortunately we are in the back of an industrial unit and have no exposure to street traffic, this is and always will be a very difficult thing to overcome, which is why you have to be creative in other ways. Advertising is expensive but I have since found out that you can take last minute spots for about 1/2 the price of the regular ones. You just have to have a basic add ready at all times and ask your local paper to call you last minute.

We had a driver relentlessly calling a Toronto community news program everyday until they agreed to come and check us out. We are now going to be on their morning show live in June which will go along way to getting the public to see us.

We also have rental cars. These are difficult because you don't always have a battery charged and the faster guys don't like the rentals on the track. Plus a newbies battery will last forever, we slow the cars down, and so we have to limit the time the rentals are on, 5 minutes on and then 5 minutes off etc. This does allow someone to try on the car and see if they like it. It would be great if the car companies saw the benefit in someone trying out their cars and giving the tracks the cars as promotion, but they don't. We do have a basic kit, car, radio, charger, 2 batteries and 2 practice coupons for a special price but as we stress to the customer, this is a starter package and it does get them on the track. Later they can decide what they want to upgrade.

We find one of the most important things is to "welcome"......the family, the public and to take the time to help the newbie....they purchase their cars elsewhere but we inevitably end up educating them on their purchase and support them at the track. Hours have been spent teaching someone how to do something, or figuring out what they did wrong when they put it together.

Anyways, sorry for the long post, hope this might give some of you track owners some ideas and please post yours...you never know who you might be helping.
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Old 05-09-2006, 11:33 PM   #32
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I agree... I consider myself a newb at this hobby because i don't really get a chance to go on the track. But when I was really really really newb... to the point where I don't know what a brush was...

i remembering going into hobby shops... everyone's working on their setups and the poor little guy (me) who wants enter the hobby ... has only a view of everyone's back... including the hobby shop owner... who completely took no interest (after told him i just wanted to watch...) in providing me with any background into the hobby.... rctech.net was what sucked me into the hobby... i got the support i needed.... when i asked what car to get... 50 ppl give me answers... and i got a car... and a good number of informed suggestions.

to really begin to learn more about the hobby... i had to become the "super pest"... around the hobby shop... seemingly hated by all.... bothering them lathing motors and charging batteries ... etc,... until i got an understanding of how things worked...

my favorite lines were
"sorry to bother you..."
"what does this do?"
"how does this work?"
"can you please help me?"

this went on for about half a year... before people started to actually talk to me.....

not too many ppl can bear this kind of "abuse"....

giving a young person a friendly talk... let them drive your old practice car on an open parking lot... giving them a chance to hold your 1.5mm hudy hex wrench is sometimes all it takes to suck someone into a hobby...

but i don't see it happening a lot. not where i play anyway.
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Old 05-10-2006, 01:58 AM   #33
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Some good points there.

Another small suggestion is if a club appoints one of its members to look after the newbies,set up a pit table next to their own and have a small sign or something where the newbies can go with their car,it might make them feel a little more approachable to the appointed member than can help them out,then they can sit and talk about whatever problems they have with the car and/or make some adjustments on that table to the car.

Sometimes its not easy for a newbie to explain why their car isnt going very well so they need somewhere/one they can go and approach someone with good indepth knowledge of how everything works,with a friendly face
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Old 05-10-2006, 02:00 AM   #34
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Anything to get the "pro-golfer" mentality out of the hobby would be good. Racers not always acting so ultra focused and way too serious around new people would be refreshing. Race-Face has it's purpose but this hobby wont last forever if we dont make newbies feel welcome. Its not for the elite its for anyone that wants to race and experience the sensation of being on a track and trying to do the best that one can. Way back in the 80's we had the Tamiya class, man what a blast! Cheap and enjoyable, at the track and in the backyard. I miss it.

So what else can be done to keep the new guy feeling comfortable and interested???
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Old 05-10-2006, 04:00 AM   #35
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not sure if its a good idea... but group newbs whenever possible. nothing like sharing the boards with someone about the same level...

have grouped newb times at the track.. where a few vets are not there to race... just to help ppl enjoy their time at the track.. share stories... over a smoldering motor... roast a few capacitors...

that type of thing.... make it a more social event... rather than just a hardcore... "car and myself" type of thing.
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:45 AM   #36
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Our shop keeps some of the cheaper Traxxas rustlers on hand to use for kids and others who want to try out r/c dirt vehicles and we take them to several community festivals around our area each year to get people interested...we take upwards of 50 battery packs and 8 vehicles each time and let them be run all day by whomever wants to and include setting up small basic races and small prizes for them...Hopefully we will be working with our local county to get an asphalt track set up in the park area for basic racing sometime this year....At races at other tracks we have donated prizes and made sure some of the younger kids and racers have won them so they get some new upgraded items to have and put to use...

Jim
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Old 05-10-2006, 06:56 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRF415boy
He he, won't thank you enough for all the lifts matey, and i'm not even a newbie, or a kid Agreed kids should be offered lifts from racers in their area, it also helps them making friends and having people to turn to when they need help.

When are you gonna get a car it like you got a personal taxi service at the moment.....
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Old 05-10-2006, 12:21 PM   #38
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Seems like the Internet and online gaming will put a big hit on R/C. How many kids do you actually see getting into it these days? Not to mention, the cost, like everybody has said. Plus, it's work, which isn't so much fun for this generation of kids that are used to having everything right now. Turn on the XBox 360 or the computer, click an icon, and you're there with all your friends, talking and playing. Nothing can compete with that level of instant satisfaction, especially not R/C. It's a different kind of experience for different kinds of people.

Having races in parking lots in populated areas is a great idea. Most tracks don't make enough money to put them in areas that get a lot of foot traffic, and are often hidden at the outskirts of town in an industrial park. In our city, the track is about 30 minutes from the part of town where people consider all the money to be. There's just no way busy parents are going to spend 2 hours of driving (30 minutes each way) with today's gas prices to take their kids to and fro. You'd like to think the parents would get involved with their children, but they're often busy doing their own thing. Like someone else said, it's much easier to push them toward soccer, or buy them Halo 2 or World of Warcraft. Seems like a losing battle.

What R/C really needs is a rich guy in every city that doesn't mind losing some money to put a track in a popular strip mall with big windows out front where people walking by can look in and see cars zipping around on a track right in front of them. SEEing people race is what gets them interested, not looking at cars on shelves.
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Old 05-10-2006, 02:30 PM   #39
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Although I am a veteran of rc, most of my racing has been on road, from pan car to touring. after a couple years out of racing. Now I've taken to oval, it seems to be the most user friendly. you only have to turn left. and although I've raced for years oval, i am a beginner all over again. Most of the guys at the track have been very helpful. Oval may be easy to start but to go fast that can take a while. learning set up and what is the best chassis is not easy info to glean from some of the faster vets. Most lhs in the LA area don't have a clue about oval racing, nor parts. there is a shop up in Bakersfield that is quite knowledgeable about oval. we do have a begginers class, which I should and will try to help them as they will keep the sport growing.

for any type of racing you will have to have a durable ego and strong motivation to continue to learn and go faster. You will need the bucks. spend wisely.

I urg all the veterans who have read this thread to have empathy for the newbies, yu used to be one. take a few minutes to encourage them.
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Old 05-10-2006, 03:34 PM   #40
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This shop is fortunate to have several veteran racers driving for it and those drivers all being people who will take the time to help out anyone at anytime with their cars....what we promote when a new interested person comes into the shop is everything from the basics to the most top line kits so they can make an informed decision on what they would like to do....at no time will we ever steer a newbie into something they shouldnt or cant handle in the way of setup or maintenance ....while we do not have an on site track we do promote the tracks in the area for people to go to as well as letting them know the people here will always help in anyway we can to make their experience a pleasant one. I would rather make alittle on multiple sales than gouge to make one big sale.

Jim
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Old 05-10-2006, 07:00 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashTstDummy
This shop is fortunate to have several veteran racers driving for it and those drivers all being people who will take the time to help out anyone at anytime with their cars....what we promote when a new interested person comes into the shop is everything from the basics to the most top line kits so they can make an informed decision on what they would like to do....at no time will we ever steer a newbie into something they shouldnt or cant handle in the way of setup or maintenance ....while we do not have an on site track we do promote the tracks in the area for people to go to as well as letting them know the people here will always help in anyway we can to make their experience a pleasant one. I would rather make alittle on multiple sales than gouge to make one big sale.

Jim
One of the other issues I notice is a growing trend in the customers I see come into the two stores I work. I've been doing this a LONG time, and there have always been folks that ask the "FAST" question, but to the new blood I see in the stores now, it's the only question!!! I personally feel very irresponsible selling a 10 yr. old kid a Nitro 4-tec, but since it says 60+ mph, that's what they want. I have what is nearly a script that I use to attempt to steer them into an RTR Mini Cooper, or TC4, XXX-S, but they don't go 60 mph!!

The biggest problems I see from a track's perspective have all been listed above, but there's two that really stand out.
1. EXPOSURE!!!! For involved racers I think the Gate's current facility is as good as any in the country, but for generating business, the original storefront location with all that glass was INFINITELY better. How many folks just wander down the hall and then the stairs there? Pretty close to none, because the place is better hidden than your average Meth Lab! It's still my favorite place to race in the country though!!!!

2. Elitist attitudes..... I've seen this happen at tracks the whole time I've been in the hobby. A new guy walks in, looks around and naturally has some questions. He seeks answers, so he goes to the race director. WELL, as we all know, most race directors don't have the time on a race day to walk a newb through the wild and wooly world of R/C racing, and quite honestly, most RD's can be a bit grumpy at times. So the guy seeks out a racer. Generally he walks over to the pit that has the most gear. He asks something like, "How much would it cost to get into this?" Then, if the local fast guy answers at all, he rattles off how much he has sitting in front of him. Now there may be a guy at the other end of the pits who's just as fast as guy A, but does it with a mid-level radio, mid-level packs, a two -year old car etc. But the newb went over to guy A because his stuff was more impressive.

I suggest that every track "elect" an Ambassador, to answer these questions each race day. The Ambassador could even be a rotating position, as long as the folks that do it are all on the same page. The new guy comes in and has questions, the RD or other racers send the newb over to the Ambassador, and the Ambassador goes over the ropes with said newb. This is an idea I've always thought would greatly benefit every track, hobbystore or otherwise.
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Old 05-11-2006, 07:21 AM   #42
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I suggest that every track "elect" an Ambassador, to answer these questions each race day. The Ambassador could even be a rotating position, as long as the folks that do it are all on the same page. The new guy comes in and has questions, the RD or other racers send the newb over to the Ambassador, and the Ambassador goes over the ropes with said newb. This is an idea I've always thought would greatly benefit every track, hobbystore or otherwise.[/QUOTE]

Anyone who ever see the Team AB Charles/eXpress group will always be welcome to visit them in the pits spaces and you will find that the team is made up of not only national ranked guys but also your everyday average type who just enjoys racing and the camaraderie of the hobby. One of the requirements placed upon the shops team is that they present themselves in a professional manner and always helpful no matter how rough things may be going for them. I am personally lucky that i manage a team that has no elitists on it.

jim
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Old 05-11-2006, 08:39 AM   #43
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Put yourself in the shoes of of an ideal "newbie" - a father with his 8-12 year old child. What does he see when he walks into a typical track for the first time? Or, better yet, what does he smell?

One guy leaning over his $500 cars inhaling solder fumes as he hard wires his batteries to the car, and the guy in the next pit either gooping up his tires with some raunchy smelling chemical, or cleaning the tires with lighter fluid.

This may not make a good first impression on some people.



As a recent newbie who races with his son, here's my 2 cents:

Location, location, location: Have racing demonstrations at shoping malls, county fairs, local (full scale) race tracks, etc.

Ambassador / mentors would be great if you can get people to fill those roles. I "didn't know what I didn't know" last year and got priceless help from a helpful driver or two and lhs (Trackside) employees.

A newbie-only practice night and race night would be great to minimize the intimidation factor. My son and I went to a track (not Trackside) for a day of practice and were not impressed. My sons car got punted several times with not a single apology (or any word) from the offending/offensive driver. We have never returned to that track, and never will.

Newbie class of vehicles would be great, but Trinity tried that with the T-Spec, right? I'd recommend using the Tamiya spec class rules. Or, better yet, Rustlers or Evaders, or T4s, or XXX-Ts with foam tires. Trucks are big, it's what a lot of newbiew buy first anyway, they're cheaper, they are easy to work on, and with big foam tires, they don't need to mess with tire goop. They're not touring cars, so any "elitests" would need to lighten up, but I'd say it would be worth a try.

Great thread.
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Old 05-11-2006, 08:56 AM   #44
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Fastcats and others-sounds great!! Of course it comes down to you get out what you put in. And in this case you got to put in a lot for a small return. MOst without a vested interest might not be so motivated to put in this type of effort.

I do have to say as others have alluded to, its racing and its gonna be expensive. But expensive overtime!! For certain-you can start people with a spec car like a Tamiya Tb02 or Ta05 and limit hop-ups. I am sure when i started I didnt have a tire or comm lathe for a year or two. I dont think i bought a new kit for 3 years. I bought used cars for the longest time. Heck-there are guys who have raced 10+ years who still dont own tire lathes. Its just not as convenient. And if convenience is important to you-then for certain you will buy them in time.

I will try to have a race in a public place later this summer and be ready with all the propoganda. Hopefully I'll get some major manufacturer and local hobbyshop and track support for it as well. Were all in it together.

Next is to see if we can get some factories to read this thread and see what they can do to help.

Thanks all and keep the ideas coming.
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Old 05-11-2006, 09:43 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by sosidge

Basically this is due to the popularity of RTR nitro off-roaders. Newcomers will only want to race what they already have, and 90% of them have something that burns nitro and is covered in dirt!
In my area, most of the EP on-roaders have too much ego to make themselves available for help.
I find the nitro guys and the off-roaders to be much more welcoming and supportive.
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