Paying for Practice

Imagine going into a bowling alley, walking right past the counter and just grabbing a lane to practice. You’re a league player, but you’re just looking to have some fun, test out your new ball and improve your game on an off night. The bowling alley won’t appreciate you sauntering on in without paying. Why is the RC track any different? It shouldn’t be, but the vast majority of us don’t pay to practice. In fact, a large number of racers are even rather insulted by the idea. Out of one side of our mouth, we’ll complain about the rising race fees or tracks closing and out of the other side, we’ll rebuke the idea of paying to practice. This makes no sense.

I don’t know of too many activity-based businesses that don’t charge for use. You can’t play billiards in a pool hall without paying. Whether it’s practice or a league night, you pay to play. Paintball is the same. As mentioned in our first example, bowling isn’t free when it’s just practice. Sure, they won’t turn the lane on without you paying, but you get the point. The facilities that host these activities have bills. Rent, electric, employees, taxes, inventory, insurance, maintenance–the list goes on. They need to pay those bills. And, it’s hard to pay those bills if you’re giving your services away for free.

So, if you want your local track to stay open, you should do the right thing and pay to practice. Or, don’t complain about the cost of race day. If they aren’t charging you to practice, they are (or should be) factoring it into the cost of race fees.

I know a lot of track owners hate to ask racers to pay to practice. Even if they have a sign up that says something like “$5 Practice Fee” they simply don’t enforce it. They need you there. They don’t want an awkward moment over $5 to cost them hundreds in future business. A lot of racers know this and take advantage of it. Then, to make matters worse, they do what most racers who complain about tracks closing do–they buy online or talk up their latest 50% off “sponsorship.”

It’s time we start respecting track owners and paying to practice or zip it when race fees go up.

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Filed Under: CommentaryGeneral RC

Matt Higgins About the Author: Matt has over 30 years of experience in RC and has worked professionally in media for two decades. Matt enjoys everything from racing to rock crawling to bashing, and he believes RC should be all about having fun. Matt is as at home covering a world championship in an exotic country as he is showing a new hobbyist how to set gear mesh. His desire to share the hobby with as many people as possible inspired him to create RC Truck Stop and RCTruckStop.com.

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  1. Ralph D Sardon says:

    I do not have a problem paying to practice. My local track is free all day because it is in a public park. A track 30 minutes away charges $15 to practice all day. That’s from 10:00A.M. to 10:00P.M. There is also a shop there with a good supply of parts. This track has an off road track, a dirt oval, and is building a crawling course. The owner has to make a living somehow. $15 is very cheap entertainment for a day of fun.

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