After three long days, I sat down to write this column as we waited for our Euro Tunnel crossing on our journey home from this weekend’s ETS race. Being just one of the 320 racers present for what was quite probably Europe’s largest ever R/C race (no doubt until next year!) I had a number of opportunities to take a step back during the weekend to try to think about what it really is that makes an event popular.
Last Monday morning I kind of broke one of own unwritten rules by wearing a t-shirt of an RC brand. I have also been very aware of brand association having had to deal with it during my time doing PR/Sponsorship work in 1:1 Motorsport. I probably first came across this when dealing with Colin McRae for a rally event I was involved in organising. Although Colin’s preferred method of transport was flying his own helicopter, when he arrived at the race course he had to land in a designation landing area and for the short drive to the pit area because he was rallying for Ford that short trip had to be taken in a Ford. Similarly when I chauffeured around World Touring Car ace Gabriele Tarquini, who came to Ireland to launch a Young Racing Driver Award, it had to be done in an Alfa Romeo for whom he was racing at the time. As a result of these and similar dealings, I have always been conscious about brand association and because of my work more so about remaining neutral. So while travelling to/from events we cover I make sure my clothing doesn’t represent any particular brand. While very grateful for the r/c t-shirts that do come my way I restrict myself to wearing them when I am enjoying some down time at home.
After a bit of time off so as to facilitate the visit of a certain Mr. Claus to my two daughters and to spend some quality time with family & friends the dawn of the New Year brought with it the busiest start to a season yet. Traveling to the west of Ireland to celebrate bringing in the New Year with a long time friend & his family, during our stay the question came up as to what date I would be free so as to attend the Christening of his new born son for whom I have been asked to stand as God Father. Looking up my calendar it was only then I actually realised just how many weekends, some extended, are going to be spent at various rc events around the world – over 9 weeks there are 8 events to be reported on. Kicking off that run of events was a race that in many ways is responsible for the continued growth of Red RC event coverage calendar – the DHI Cup.
It looks like we may be coming towards the end of one of the most active ‘silly seasons’ in RC that I’ve ever seen. Whilst it’s true that our sport does appear to move forward every year in the media elements, with both drivers and manufacturers realising the importance of media exposure and getting their news out to their fans and competitors, I did wonder what exactly it was that may have meant we saw so many news items, press releases and announcements concerning driver contracts for 2014.
Where did that year go?? Last weekend I made my final trip of the 2013 season travelling to a rather nippy Omaha, Nebraska, for the Finals of the five round JConcepts Indoor National Series. Our second year to cover the series, I have to say I always look forward to joining Jason Ruona and his crew for these events as after a long day at the track the ‘craic’ (Irish word for fun/enjoyment) on the trip to & from the track and during dinner is always good. Not just a successful designer of RC products, Jason is also an excellent story teller with a great memory for funny moments from years gone by. Add in anecdote’s from the straight talking Ryan Maifield, Dustin Evans, Team Associated team-manager Brent Thielke and the odd one liner from new 4WD World Champion Steven Hartson and you always end up having a very entertaining night of conversation.
Social Media is one of those things that has transformed the world in the last few years. It’s now easier than ever to interact with people around the globe and provide instant access for your views or thoughts. I think it’s fair to say that it has taken the RC industry a little time to catch up with the rest of the world in adopting the likes of Facebook and Twitter as key news sources. But, it does appear that many companies and drivers are jumping on board and using those outlets to promote products, events, results and, crucially interact with fans.
‘Teamwork’ – it’s a pretty simple word, and one we’ve probably all come across in our working lives in appraisals, performance reviews or job interviews. The idea that if a group of people work towards the same goal in an effective or efficient way, the objectives can be achieved quicker, easier or in a better way.
A common topic of conversation around the RC World does seem to be, sadly, the lack of young blood coming into our sport. There’s certainly many reasons why that is the case – the competition from today’s games consoles, social media, the seemingly never-ending class structure we now seem to have…