It’s hard to believe that it was just over one year ago that a few of us sat down and started kicking around the possibilities of reviving organised R/C racing the Launceston area. We thought we’d take the chance to reflect on our first year, and perhaps dream a little about our future….so if you’re interested, click through and read on!
That first conversation concentrated on the possibilities of mid-week, indoor EP racing, and somebody (can’t remember who…maybe Graham?) suggested we go check out Rutherglen and see what was happening with the old sports stadium.
We duly trotted out, said g’day to Mike at Rutherglen and asked for a look. What we saw amazed us….a huge indoor area, floodlit and sitting unused.
We quickly organised a test day, laid out a very simple track and cut some laps to see if the surface would work. We then negotiated a casual lease arrangement….and the relationship between Launceston R/C and Rutherglen Holiday Village was born.
Right from the start we dreamed about providing a venue that would suit both on-road and off-road buggies, and offered a number of classes to suit just about any EP R/C car.
Racing started in February 2010, with a borrowed laptop (thanks HEAPS to Dave Holloway), a cut-down freeware version of our software, and driver’s stand that consisted of a few old chairs we found scattered around the place. The track layout was simple – but catered for both on and offroad, with a table top jump and carpet covered ripple strip being the primary off-road obstacles. Bart, Graham, Katrina and the Hobart-based STMCC donated rope, pipes and jumps to help us get up and running, while Paddy turned an old table-tennis table into a table-top jump.
It was simple, primitive even, but it was fantastic. Just a few months after dreaming of what might be, we were up and running!
From there, things developed quickly. Numbers grew rapidly, topping out at about 40 cars, before eventually settling in at about 35 cars.
Short Course trucks have been consistently our biggest class all year. At one stage we were hitting 20 trucks a night, but typically 15-18 trucks. We were pretty tight on rules with this class right from the start, limiting horsepower, minimising tyre choices and in so doing ensuring that the class wouldn’t become a tyre (or money) war. By any measure we’d have to say it has worked, plenty of guys running the whole year on one set of tyres, and with budget ESC/motor packages providing competitive horsepower. In terms of race wins, the class has been dominated by Rocket, Sam Wells and Scott Guyatt, but there are plenty of drivers gathering pace and its only a matter of time until we have a new first time winner.
It’s hard to believe that on what is a relatively small track, the 8th scale (“Big Bangers”) class has been so popular. While it has settled back of late, mid-year we were seeing up to 13 or 14 or the big beasts. Massive horsepower, 4wd grip and handling, they are definitely a fast class and have been lots of fun for the guys who have stuck with them. Once again Rocket has been quick when he’s run, Steve Madziara is there abouts, Josh Fogarty getting quicker and quicker each week and others like Scott Guyatt and Sam Wells making a few (but fast) appearances in this class.
10th Offroad has a typically diverse mixture of entrants. Anything from 2wd to 4wd buggies, stadium trucks and even the smaller 16th scale mini-revo chassis have appeared this year. It’s a class that has started to grow of late, and we reckon will be one of the most competitive in 2011, with quite a few guys lining up for 4wd buggies, and Paddy Hume a definite starter with his AE B44. On track, this class has been all about Steve Madziara. He’s dominated the whole year, but of late it’s been getting closer – with Ben Wilson and John Silczak getting closer and closer. With plenty of new faces headed for 10th offroad in 2011….look out!
Our TC class has had an up and down year, with numbers low and fluctuating between about 4 and 7. For all that though, the cars are looking better and better on track as the construction work in the building wraps up, dust levels go down, and grip levels correspondingly improve. I’m tipping this as another class that will grow in numbers next year. On track it’s been Rocket and Sam Wells that have been consistently quick when they’ve run, with Graham Viney most improved and Pete Hutton getting better and better as he gets to grips with TC.
We also ran a novice class for much of the year, consisting mainly of 10th off-road cars, and providing space for the guys who were totally new to R/C racing to find their feet. Ben Wilson, Sam Leader, John Silczak, Steve Willis and Paul Tenteye were all fast at times, and have all now moved on to the 10th Offroad class.
The track has evolved throughout the year too, with two major revisions leading to the current layout. At times we wrestled with how to incorporate both on and off-road, but the current layout offers a very good circuit for the TC guys (definitely the best yet) and is still fun for the off-roaders. We’ll continue to change layout reasonably regularly next year, probaby putting down a new track each time we run a new points series.
Speaking of which….as the year unfolded, and we started to find our way, we ran our first points series. Running over three months, with best five of 6 results to count, we had some very close racing, and some even closer results in the points series – with tie breakers called up on in a number of classes. It was a ripper series, and we’ll definitely be doing it again in 2011. At this stage we plan to run 3 points series over the year, each following the pattern of best 5/6 race meetings to count. At this stage we’ll run our Autumn Series from Feb to April, Winter from May to July, and Spring from September to November. That will leave a couple of non-points races in between each series, plenty of room for experimenting with new cars or classes….and just having fun!
The facilities at Rutherglen have come ahead in leaps and bounds. There have been plenty of people kicking in time, effort (and even $$) to make the track better, from building new jumps, to travelling to Hobart to pick up even more rope, designing new layouts and more. I’m nervous to name names for fear of missing people, but Paddy Hume, Greenie, Steve Willis, John Silczak, Chris Brickwood, James Atkinson….take a bow. If I’ve missed track workers…add them in the comments below.
The Fogarty clan gave us perhaps the biggest leap forward with the design and construction of our purpose-built driver’s stand. It’s a perfect setup for an indoor venue, and gives good clear view, and safe access (much better than standing on old chairs!). Thanks Peter and Josh, we appreciate your hard work.
Lap scoring has continued to be done utilising the laptop and Alycat software, with some changes along the way. Dave Holloway made us a very generous offer, so we purchased the laptop, and upgraded to the full version of Alycat mid year. The main objective at this point in time is to work towards lap counting using MyLaps RC transponders. This will mean fully automatic, and completely accurate lap counting. That’s great from a competitors point of view because lap times and race results are trustworthy (we mostly get it right as we are….but currently it’s a manual process with room for human error!). From a race organisers point of view its even better. We can be a little more relaxed at race control, giving us the capacity to do a little race commentary, and interact with everybody, enjoying the events and so on. We’ll also be able to watch more of the on-track action to keep an eye on rough driving, corner cutting etc….so that’s a good thing as well!
At this point we’re still on track for the MyLaps transponder system by around Easter. The scoring side of the system will cost the club around $4000. The car side means that each driver will need a MyLaps transponder installed in their car. We’ll buy these in bulk for those that need them, and they’ll cost around $100 each…..so if you’re running on a tight budget, start saving now! Trust me when I say it’s definitely worth it, transponder lap counting rocks!
Mid-year Launceston R/C became Launceston R/C Inc, as we stepped up to the plate, formally established the club, applied for and received Incorporated Association status, and did all the relevant paperwork (insurance, banking etc). It was an important step for a new club.
Paddy Hume stepped up as the inaugural President of Launceston R/C Inc, and he’s done a ripper job. Paddy is ably assisted by the executive of Scott Guyatt (Secretary), and the Green brothers – Andrew and Richard (joint-treasury), together with a committee that have contributed well in 2010. We haven’t been the most organised with committee meetings this year, flying by the seat of our pants a bit, but will be stepping that up next year. Scott, Paddy and Greenie have taken the bulk of the race admin duties as well….thanks guys! Graham and Katrina kept us warm in the cooler months with hot drinks and snacks…well appreciated!
It’s also been a year when some of our regular Launnie R/C guys have started to spread their wings, competing beyond our club, and shores. Matt Hodgetts, Michael and Aaron Peck, Andrew Barrett and Scott Guyatt have all travelled to race meetings on the big Island, while a bunch of us travelled to Latrobe for the first Tasmanian 8th Offroad Champs recently. In 2011 we’re hoping to take a crew down to Hobart for the Tassie EP OnRoad Champs in March, Latrobe again for the 8th Offroad Champs (possibly February to move the event to a better time of year), and just maybe get a few racers over to the mainland to broaden our experience level. Stay tuned for opportunities!
I also want to say something about the atmosphere at our club events. Organisation is important. Facilities matter. Track is critical. But the atmosphere and environment in the pits is the most important feature of any truly great R/C club. We have the capacity to be truly great. There is generosity, there is welcome, there is comeraderie. And there is competitive spirit. These things matter more than I can say….and I want to say as we enter 2011 that we’ve done well….but let’s keep on emphasising the friendly, welcoming, helpful, hospitable nature of our gatherings.
So here we stand.
One year in.
So much still to do, but so much achieved. It’s been a better first year than I dared to dream. We have a long way to go as a club, but we’re well on the way.
To all who have contributed, volunteered, raced, watched, marshalled, built, cleaned, carried, swept or just cheered on…..thank you. Those two words kind of seem inadequate, but I mean them sincerely. Thank you.
I can’t wait to see just where we get to in our second year.