Bring On the Fests!
Biggest RC car event, attendance-wise, GO. Did you say ROAR Offroad Nats? IFMAR Worlds? Actually, the biggest RC car event of 2017 was Axialfest. According to the guys running the gate at Tahoe National Forest’s Cisco Grove Campground, over 2,000 off-road RC fans streamed into Axialfest’s scale-4x4 “happening.” There was some competing going on, but the event was definitely not what anyone would call a race. And here’s the real kicker: there wasn’t a sponsored driver in sight. Everyone was there on their own dime, doing their own wrenching, expressly for their own enjoyment. And getting unlimited wheel time, as opposed to strictly scheduled practice, qualifying, and mains. Here’s my question: why is this only happening once a year?
If you heard a distant “pop,” that was the sound of Axial’s Rodney Wills’ head exploding. Relax bro, I don’t literally mean Axialfest should be more than once a year. But RC could certainly use more “fest”-style events. Racing is great, but there are more than enough “big races” competing for drivers, and organized racing in general tends to exclude drivers who just want to have fun—at least until they trade in their RTR for a race kit and “get serious.” Industry-supported, festival-style events could be a real boon for RC, especially if they’re near urban centers and opened up to anyone with an RC car rather than a single-brand event (Axialfest is strictly for drivers with Axial trucks, and held in a comparatively remote area).
In the RC airplane world, they’ve got this well figured out, with numerous fun-fly events that bring pilots together and help get new people into RC flying. It helps that the plane guys place a lot of emphasis on organizing into clubs, which we car guys do much less vigorously, or successfully. But with message boards, Facebook groups, and social media in general, it’s easier than ever to find and organize like-minded people. And there are already grassroots RC “bashes” and “jams” happening, with varying levels of organization, attendance, and notoriety. The more the better, I say, and if there can be three or four more annual industry-supported super-blowouts (a la Axialfest), that would be fantastic. As a reader of RC Car Action, you know how irresistible the hobby is once you see “real RC” in action, and a big, welcoming festival that brings together enthusiasts to put on a show for the curious will certainly have a snowball effect on the scene. That’s means more people in the hobby stores, more friends to run with, and more drivers who will graduate to organized racing. The more people we can add to the RC “base,” the better it is for everyone, no matter what RC niche you’re into.