Posted 17 July 2015 - 08:42 PM
With the current condition of the hobby being visible is the easiest thing there is, but that is true to almost any objective with the free opportunities of social media.
The real issue is what does it take and what are you willing to do to retain them once you have their attention? Personally I think there is a recipe or a checks and balances that make some establishments and regions hot, and others that are not. First off is your current group of racers and or regulars "groomed" enough to not scare off the potential new member? It is my opinion that one or two "nice guys" is not enough to attract and keep new members, but one or two overbearing "know it alls" are enough to get the exit door swinging. First impressions are key and the new member does not need to hear how great you were in the '60s and '70s on their first trip. A simple "hey if you need any help, just let me know" is all that is needed initially. I have seen and been victim to the bloated ego "hey look at me" types and it is a turn-off. Typical scenarios are great raceways with all the cool tracks and well stocked inventory that for whatever reason cannot get traction vs the band aid establishment that has tracks that are barely hanging in there and orders parts as the racer needs them that seem to have a decent racer turn-out. Neither makes enough to survive as they are missing the other key ingredient. I would venture to say that there are a lot of raceways that even if they sold everything on the walls, they still would not break even that month, that is a problem.
Now I also believe that you can do everything right and still fail miserably at this. Just because you have the greatest game plan does not mean you have the greatest market share regionally. If an area has not had success within the model building sector, I would venture to believe that growing a new market will be difficult. I think you either need a hobbyist or an automotive enthusiast to really have a chance to build a mainstream establishment. Square foot rental prices is a huge issue as it is not consistent throughout the US. The floor space required is astronomical when you are talking razor thin profit margins. Professionally it is a raceway's biggest enemy. Another seemingly bad trend on the rise is entrepreneurs that have never raced a slot car buying tracks because it looks cool and there is nothing in their area and they want a raceway, only to go out of business within 8-12 months. This is worse for the hobby than not having a track in your area! New racers invest money, only to not have a raceway a year later. They then dump their investment. New raceway comes a year later and they are still too damaged to want to have another go at it.
OK thread drifted a bit and probably crossed the line of what Cheater was not looking for.
Personally I disagree with the topic! I think that slot car racing is visible and viable. Commercial slot car raceways and racing may not be, but slot cars are. In almost every region a consumer can see and buy a track and/or cars at any Hobby Lobby or Hobby Town. HO racing seems to be picking up in popularity again, hell, I even dusted off my Scorpion and have been doing laps in the basement. But the home-based racing keeps people out of commercial raceways except for "big" races. Manufacturers/distributors sell to the basement groups and cut the throat of the commercial raceway which to me is wrong and does nothing but reduce the value of a commercial raceway. Wing car racing created it own demons with faster, faster and loose rule sets. It appears recent changes are making wing racing very attractive again. Group F wing cars are a blast and a great way to get a new racer up to speed quickly (no pun intended). Retro is solid and more than likely the glue that is currently keeping a lot of raceways active with racers. But from the looks of it, 1/32 plastic slot cars are the current hotness. They are mainstream and like it or not dominating the slot car sectors. Internationally they are like a fresh boy band and the Euro's cannot get enough of them.
I can tell this topic has been eating at Greg recently as he has made many remarks about it, the wheels have been turning. Personally I think if you wanted to make a run at rebuilding/revitalizing slot car racing within the US it would need to be with 1/32 plastic cars. Personally I dislike driving them, but my opinion is based off the fact that you need an influx of new competitors. You are not going to gain them with Lexan bodies, you will however gain them with realistic plastic bodies. The experience in most of you will quickly argue that they do not handle like a 1/24 car and again I agree, but globally you just cannot argue with the success and continued growth of 1/32 racing.
Lastly to me the biggest hole in our hobby is true competitive Flexi racing. Personally I think it is poorly promoted; the rules change too often and many times without reason. It could be much larger and without a lot of work in my opinion. I put partial blame on the sanctioning bodies but the majority on the manufacturers. The manufacturers are terrible at marketing new products as well as their product lines in general (do not confuse that with they make bad parts). Marketing their products through all the available media resources including press releases and product news as well as utilizing the great talent that is out there using their parts. This is where the R/C industry not only kicks the slot car industries ***, but many other industries. They do a great job at keeping those in the hobby in it and even a better job of getting the newcomer enthused. The slot car industry is an older clientele and there is a severe clash with this stuck in the '60s meshing with the modern youth/young adult. The R/C industry while led by some veterans and legends, overall is a generation or two younger.
No clue what I just said!
Cheater, Half Fast, Chris Dadds and 1 other like this