Tales From a 40+ Racer Blog No.1

Which one are you? “Sponsored Driver” or “Contracted Customer” ……….. Never fear, I am hear to help you figure it out if you don’t know! “Sponsored Drivers” are getting a quarterly allowance typically, by that I mean they get a certain dollar amount of free stuff each quarter of the year. “Sponsored Drivers” at the upper level are getting travel money or hotel compensation and entry fees paid. “Sponsored Drivers” are getting support at the track from the “Pro Drivers” and “Team Managers” ……. “Pro Drivers” are on a whole different level than sponsored drivers (i’ll drop the quotation marks as you should be getting the point by now). Pro drivers, are getting their kits and parts for free, they are receiving a salary, they are being flown around the world. They are typically getting contingency money on top of their salary’s for finishing on the podium or winning the event.
So now that we have determined that 98% of us are “Contracted Customers” (meaning you signed an agreement to use that brands product for a discount when you purchase directly from them) that doesn’t mean you don’t or shouldn’t work hard to have good performances! You should Represent the Brand professionally in all ways and promote their products ………….. if you are going to sign on the dotted line and take their offer it’s the least you can do!
How about we start with, once you get to the level of even just being a “contracted customer” you should be able to build the kit correctly per the manual …….. you should be able to maintain the kit, keep it clean, keep it in good running shape. At this level they aren’t looking for you to win they are looking for you to represent them well and to go to the races and get their brands exposure! They want you to have fun, help with cornering, help new drivers no matter the brand …….. they could be a future customer for your brand depending on how YOU treat them. Other drivers at the track will come to you if you are sponsored and ask for help. You should at the very least be able to look at their kit and see if it is assembled correctly!
I can tell you, as a former “contracted customer” I never sold any of my kits used that weren’t ready to hit the track when they left my house! I bring this up because I have been buying some used kits to try out different platforms before I decide on what I want to run. I had not run anything but Mugen for 5 years so I am interested in how the other brands handle and operate, how are they to maintain and work on!
If you are a “contracted customer” and you say ………. this car doesn’t suit me and you send your car out used to a buyer and it’s in the condition the JQ Black Edition I got was in, the problem isn’t THE CAR! Or at least you aren’t giving THE CAR (ok I will stop with the JQ’isms) a fair chance! You also aren’t representing the brand very well and how could you possibly interest another driver into switching to the brand you are running your car handles like shit and breaks down?
I bought a used Tekno NT48.3, I needed a Truggy love the class but probably won’t race it 4 or 5 times in a year most of the club racing doesn’t involve Truggy’s unfortunately. So I found a used kit on RCTech (remember them). This kit the left rear hub outer bearing was completely seized. I don’t know if the driver knew this or not or if it happened from just sitting for a while I have no clue! But obviously if it was like this the last time it was raced there is no way it could have run correctly!
So before any of the “contracted customers” start saying this kit doesn’t suit me or this car isn’t that good………………. at the very least please make sure the kit is in good working order with at least a balanced setup! Have the right tire or at least one that is decent, then practice your driving skills! Because in my opinion, until you can at least drive to the level of the truly sponsored drivers, copying all these setups the pros put out isn’t really going to help you. You aren’t driving the car to the same stress level they are so you are not getting the same dynamic feel out of the chassis that they are tuning for!!
My Hobby, My choice, why I am where I am in with the hobby today!…………….. You do You
I got frustrated with the kit I was running, from the day I first assembled it, I crashed a lot more. I ran fast laps but the car just wasn’t working with me! The car punished me! I wanted to change from the first week. I have since learned in reality it was my shortcomings and my lack of skill in setup and driving that was making me not like the car. I worked hard at it, or at least what I thought was working hard. But I was really just trying what other people had done or suggested. The more I practiced the better it was, obviously, more stick time meant improved driving skills. Which meant faster times less crashes! Being a good driver can make up for a lot of bad setup. I am absolutely positive that a Pro could have taken the car that I thought wasn’t working for me and obliterated my lap times! Simply because they are a way better driver than I am. They would have adjusted their driving to compensate for the issues with the setup. I actually had a friend who drove my car and went faster than I did with it. He knows who he is if he reads this!
Will changing cars improve your performance even if you don’t improve your skill? Sure it can, different kits have different geometry and therefore by it’s very nature it will have different base handling and operating characteristics. A different kit might suit how you like to drive better than the kit that you currently have!
But make no mistake, if you have any of the major kits on the market and you are having to apologize to the corner workers for giving them a cardio workout in a 5 minute qualifier ………… The kit is not the main problem! Your lack of driving and setup skill is …… the main problem!
I say this because that’s where I was at myself, this car doesn’t work for me, this car punishes me. But looking around a lot of other drivers that I thought I was at a similar skill level to were doing just fine with the same kit! So I got frustrated and was going to quit the hobby! My wife talked me off that ledge but I had made up my mind that if I stayed in the hobby I needed to try some different things and see what worked for me. I needed to get back to just having fun and for me that meant treating it as a hobby!
A couple of final points to this long winded blog. JQ may be an ass, I really didn’t follow him that much in the past. But the guy is basically an educated mechanical engineer even if he didn’t finish the degree. He has designed and built his own car (after buying a used Black Edition to see if it truly did make me better and having to rebuild the kit because the “sponsored” driver I got it from either didn’t know how to build a kit or simply didn’t care…..see the above rant on contracted customers…) there are some issues with the Black Edition, but JQ himself addresses and talks about the shortcomings of his own car on his YouTube videos. Speaking of those videos, IMO watch them, then watch them again …….. even if you don’t like the guy he knows about car setup and design and you can learn a lot just from listening to him talk about the geometry of the different cars and how that makes them want to operate! That’s not saying this kit sucks or that kit sucks, it’s saying this kit has these base characteristics based on their GEOMETRY! Once you know or at least understand that, then you can start to try and tune the setup for you in order to try and mitigate what you don’t like about it and make what you do like work better. Ryan Lutz once told me, years ago in response to my post to him asking which car is the easiest to drive ………….. his reply they all are if you get it set up correctly! I’m thick heaed but I believe that now!
Probably the single biggest reason I decided to step away from the “contracted customer” role I had in RC ……….. IMO it is polarizing ………. US the hobbyists.
Much like politics in our country, it seems like people have chosen their team and the other guys suck! We get to big races and we pit with our TEAMS because it makes us feel important. We criticize people based on what colors they wear! This isn’t the RC I got into back in the 1990’s, I get it, people are trying to make it a Pro Sport and trying to keep their JOBS basically. I respect that but …………………………... Pit with your friends, help out each other no matter what car or team they drive for. If you choose to do the “contracted customer” to sponsored thing ………… fantastic! I wish you all the luck in the world, but along the way let’s not forget that for almost all of us ………. this is a hobby! If you forget that, if you don’t welcome the new people RC can disappear. Help out at big races so guys don’t have to have a dedicated pit man in order to just come to a race ………… there may not be a hobby for you to make a living in, if we don’t! It’s simple economics, if you don’t have sales that justify these companies staying in business there won’t be a hobby or at least there won’t be as many choices or events! I can tell you one thing for sure! Over the past few years whenever I was at a race and needed a pit guy…… when nobody else on my Team was available…………… Keenan White in his JQ shirt always came through to help me out even though I didn’t run JQ …………… maybe that’s why I don’t have quite the negative attitude towards the Q that others do ………… maybe there is a lesson in there for the “contracted customer” ……………..
I haven’t driven The Car yet weather and work have prohibited that. But I have pretty much gotten the sponsored driver rebuild done ……………… and am looking forward to seeing how it truly does run ……….. I fully expect this kit to solve all my problems …….A Main in the we are all sponsored Sportsman Class here I come…… LOL
Kidding just kidding!

Brian Martinac –

Average Joe racer and hobbyist.