July 30, 2013

Great Expectations?

Great Expectations?

Last weekend, I, along with over 200 other racers, had the experience to race at the ETS Finale at the Hudy Arena.  I’m sure you’ve all seen, either through the reports here on Red RC or through the numerous posts on social networking sites from the weekend, the immense positive reaction to both the facility and the organisation of the race meeting. Whilst this was a rather special event, it did make me wonder what our expectations are of race meetings nowadays.

I don’t think anyone quite expects a venue of the quality and scale of the Hudy Arena as their weekly club race venue, but when you start considering the likes of regional, national or ‘grand prix’ style meetings, what should we, as racers expect from the facilities?  And, with my event organiser’s hat on, what is reasonable to provide to the event competitors?

Let’s face it – racing at anything above club level is expensive.  Whether it is a privateers own pocket funding their racing, or a factory team driver’s sponsorship providing them with the chance to compete, everyone makes a significant investment in order to be able to attend. Perhaps the most obvious part of the event is the visual impact of the track.  Keeping the track clean and tidy costs very little, but has a huge sway on people’s opinions of not only the track, but the whole event.  I am reminded of a National competition I attended recently where the track markers were dirty and broken, occasionally held together with different colour duct tape and a random collection of different sized pieces.  That immediately gave the impression of making the track look tatty and un-cared for.  A little time and effort (and importantly, minimal expense) could have made the whole track look nicer, neater, and given a significantly better impression.

Another area which certainly impressed everyone at the Hudy Arena was the whole cleanliness of the pits and other facilities.  Presenting the drivers with a clean pitting area at the start of the event certainly encourages racers to make sure they keep their pit area clean and free of rubbish throughout the whole event.  As I left the ETS on Sunday evening that was very evident as very little rubbish was left for the Arena staff to have to clear up.

I suppose what it comes down to are all the little things which add up to the overall experience of a race day.  Finding the track neat and well presented, the pit area clean and tidy and the other facilities as you’d expect them gives a great impression that the host track or club is proud of their venue and happy to welcome you to race there.  Similarly, turning up to a track that looks old and tired, with last week’s rubbish still blowing about the car park will certainly leave racers wondering why they are spending their (or their sponsors!) hard mearned money and give up a weekend of their time to go and race there.

As an organiser, I am very aware of the effort required in bringing a venue up to scratch to hold and high-caliber event.  However, we go into those events knowing full well the commitment that is required.  It’s often not so much about the financial impacts, but about the man-effort required.  I’m very fortunate that I regularly work with a great team of people and, crucially, we know the limit of what we can produce and focus our energy on what will create the best impression for the racers.

As our sport becomes more professional, racers are, in my opinion, right to expect more from the events they travel to.  The tracks and events which recognise this are the ones which will continue to succeed.

Have an opinion on the topics discussed? Leave them in the comments below.

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.


If you republish any elements from this page on another website, including text, original pictures or results please be sure to add a link back to this page as the source: