40+ Racers, Crybaby’s or Just Wanting to Compete?
The 2021 DNC event where Adam Drake put 2 laps on the field in the 40+ A main has sparked the debate again. At least among those that will talk about it. I had this discussion with Ryan Lutz via messenger back after the 2015 DNC I believe it was. He was not happy with racing at 1:00AM or however late it was, justifiably so. But his belief was too many classes and 40+ was one of his targets in his posts. I had just started doing 1/8 nitro after my local 10th scale track had shut down and was excited to see a 40+ class at 1/8 nitro events.
In short his take was I should run Nitro Buggy and be happy with where I finish. That if I am in the O main, those were my peers, the people that had like ability and speed as me and that’s where I belonged at that event. It’s a valid point, in theory we should all just show up and run 1 class and where you finish is where you belonged at that event. As I just said, it’s a valid point that’s racing! It also takes me back to when I first started in the hobby back in the early 90’s, you ran stadium truck, buggy, I don’t even think 4x buggy was much of a class back then. At least not in my area of the world. Oh and there were very few people who got paid to race! I was quite shocked when I got back into the hobby the 3rd time in 2010 and the locals talked me into going to Fast Lane in Missouri …… this kid named Tebo who gets paid to race was going to be there. I was like, what, paid to race RC cars like as his job. I have to see this. He was impressive, but I digress.
My take to Lutz was, you want me to show up and compete against you. I am not a paid RC racer, I don’t get to practice 4 times a week and even if I had the time I couldn’t afford it. Fuel costs, tire costs, motors, wear and tear on the cars. Further, for those of you who have not hit 40 or even 50 because I was 49 when I started doing 1/8 nitro. You lose your eye sight, you lose your reaction time, your motor skill function deteriorates …………… getting old brings all kinds of new and interesting things out about your body! At 55 years old, I can’t even count how many times I now drop things just working on my cars or just in my daily life.
So needless to say I was excited, a 40+ class, I can race against people that have similar issues as me! There will be other guys on the stand that are wearing bifocals, awesome. I won’t have to run stock buggy with the fast kids yelling at me to get out of the way. If I tag somebody in the far corner of the track at Southern Nats they’ll understand that I really just can’t see the two inches that separated my car from theirs from 50 yards away. It wasn’t intentional! Those first couple of years 40+ was a blast people came off the stand laughing, rarely did anybody get mad or cuss on the stand. It was a great time, still is.
Contrary to what a lot of people believe most of us geriatrics aren’t big game plaque hunting. Maybe some are, that’s up to each person, I don’t know what’s in their minds. I have 1 plaque from the 2016 DNC event in 40+ electric buggy, I finished 7th but I think there were only like maybe 18 of us entered so it’s not like a prestigious thing that I run around bragging about. Hey I made the A main at 2016 DNC in 40+ Ebug..I didn’t even make the podium? I don’t brag about it because I don’t see 40+ as a premium class to begin with! There were only maybe 18 entries. Hence, even just a short time ago as 2016 not very many ran the class. To me it was a class to race in where I didn’t feel like I was in the way. I didn’t have people yelling at me if I held them up in a corner or crashed in front of them. That was all very prevalent in 10th scale where I was racing at. The 40+ class made me feel comfortable to go to events like DNC. I wouldn’t be in the way of the fast guys.
What I have noticed in the following 5 years, every event I go to now the practice line for 40+ grows and grows and grows. All those people that just a short 5 years ago complained about there being an old guy class, signed up for it as soon as they turned 40. Hell at the 2018 Southern Nats I remember that the Pro class only had an A and B main …… I was thinking hell I should have signed up in pro, I could put that I made the B main in Pro Nitro Buggy at the 2018 Southern Nats on my resume. Only the people that were there or did any research would know that I couldn’t have done any worse than the B main. That would have been more fun than saying I was in the E main in 40+.
That’s kind of the point isn’t it? Pick the class you can compete in not the class you can win in! In most forms of hobbyist racing if you win too many races in say the sportsman class they move you up! When I first started racing Miro Midgets (back in the day they were mini sprint cars with 250cc two stroke Yamaha motors stuffed in them) they had a Thunder and a lightning division. If you finished top five in points for the season in Thunder you ran Lightning the next year! You didn’t get to keep cherry picking the thunder class.
In an effort to shorten this blog, because I can run on and on and on sometimes let’s jump to why should any of us care.
The short answer is, we shouldn’t!
Let’s not make this about Adam Drake either, he’s 40+ years old if he wants to run the class run it. I don’t care that he put 2 laps on all the other former world champs, national champs, people in the industry, people with their own motors, team managers, legends of the hobby, so on and so forth. Everybody in the 40+ A main could have made no worse than the B main in the Intermediate class at this DNC. Looking at the results almost all of them were in the A or B main in intermediate or pro as well. So it’s not like Adam went out and beat a bunch of Hobbyists. Everybody in the 40+ A main was or is a pro level driver, they aren’t hobbyists! Some of them may not be full time racers any longer but they were all Pro level drivers at some point in their careers. For all I know all of them get their stuff for free, if they aren’t making money form the industry, so let’s not weep for them. They are all still very fast, highly skilled drivers.
So that brings us to, why should you or anybody else care about a 40+ class.
Take a look around, the 40+ class keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people supporting this hobby are the old guys, we are the ones spending money. Yes there are some fast kids coming up and that’s awesome to see. But overall, it’s much more likely that a beginner to this hobby is in their 30’s at least if not 40’s already. It’s much more likely that an old guy whose kids are out of the house and off to college is who might be looking to pick up this hobby for the first time. Or can even afford to do it! So why not have a class where these racers feel comfortable coming to a big event and yes having a chance, maybe a slim chance, but a chance at having a good result. Does that not grow the event? Would it help keep the hobby thriving? Hey just because you are 50 and have to have help up and down the stairs don’t quit. You can still have fun and compete. How nice is it to think that you at least had a chance to maybe just maybe make an A main in the old guy class if you had a great weekend.
Now 40+ is Pro Lite or a Legends class, it’s not the old guy hobbyist any longer. But if anybody says, hey what’s that dude doing in 40+ he’s in the A main in Intermediate as well or the Pro A or B main. We all of the sudden become crybaby’s. It cracks me up.
Why do we not ask, are the intermediate drivers plaque hunting? Are they crybaby’s cherry picking for potential wins and wanting to be in a class that they might win in?
The winner of Intermediate Nitro Buggy had average lap times that would have put him in contention for 10th or better in the Pro Buggy B main! Why are they still running Intermediate? He could have qualified potentially for the Pro Buggy B main one of the fastest 26 drivers there at the event! Chose to sign up in Intermediate. Let’s ALL be honest here we know the reason people aren’t signing up in Pro instead of Intermediate. They know they don’t stand a chance of making the A main at DNC in Pro! So how are they any different than a 40+ guy who says what are all these pros and legends doing signing up in 40+.
Give it some thought! If you are pretty sure you can make the A or B main at a major event in the Intermediate class but may not even make the C main in Pro ……….. and you choose to sing up in Intermediate, aren’t you plaque hunting? Aren’t you picking the class that gives you a chance to compete for a win? That’s all a 40+ driver is doing, he is looking for a chance to compete not just participate.
What’s the difference?
Some day you will understand, or maybe not, if you quit.