In the not too distant past, the RC industry was predominantly focused around three areas – Japan, California and Western Europe. Almost all the manufacturers were located in these three areas and the majority of major races also took place nearby. But, in the last 10 years, we’ve seen a very obvious shift into different territories as our hobby expands globally.
Perhaps the most obvious examples of this is the emergence of Thailand as a hub of racing. A number of drivers and teams now call Bangkok and the surrounding areas home, and more big races take hold in the ever-expanding market. With a lower cost of living than in the ‘traditional’ homes of RC racing, Thailand also has a huge number of excellent tracks and a climate that makes extensive testing and track time both possible and achievable.
In Europe, we’ve also seen more RC racing moving east, with the most obvious illustration of this being Xray and Hudy’s phenomenal facilities located in Slovakia. But there’s also been the story of the Russian brand Awesomatix and the Hobby Arena circuit in Romania to name some others.
One area which has amazing potential for growth is of course China. Already a centre for much of the manufacturing for both the RC industry and most other industries world-wide, until recently China never really seemed to do anything more than just the manufacturing. Perhaps part of that perception is the limitations on internet access between China and the rest of the world. However, what we saw just a few weeks ago in Beijing was nothing short of extraordinary.
Admittedly, there of course have been some races in China in the past, yet none have received any great deal of media coverage or publicity. The FEMCA Championships held this year was a chance to change all that. The Chinese authorities clearly decided this was the chance to put China on the map for RC race events. They involved experts from all over the world in order to put together a great track and race event. The race track and pit building was constructed in literally a few days, and finished as drivers were arriving and the event was about to begin.
Clearly, this took considerable resource and money from the Chinese authorities, but it sent a clear indication of the effort that they were prepared to go to in order to attract both drivers and attention to the race and their country. This certainly laid the ground works for what could be possible in the future, and I for one wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them bid for even more or bigger events, including World Championships. Or, of course, they have shown that they could quite easily stage an unsanctioned race and, thanks to the financial backing the event would likely receive, would quite easily attract a number of star drivers.
I think that, despite all of the grandeur of the event, the one thing that stood out to me that signaled the intention of this race was the media coverage it received. With previous races in China being shadowed by the lack of attention they received, to ensure that the race was covered by Red RC indicated that this wasn’t just a one-off race for the drivers that attended, but a very clear signal to the rest of the world that they may be racing in China very soon.
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Oli Meggitt is a race organiser, announcer, RC racer and has also been known to stand and talk in front of a camera. Now a columnist for Red RC you can read his thoughts, insights and ramblings fortnightly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.