My goal every time I race–club race or big event–is to just make the A-main. Of course, I want to win, that’s always the ultimate goal, but I’m firmly in the ‘I rather finish last in the A than first in the B’ camp. Making the A-main is my success benchmark. Making the A-main means I was competitive. But, RC racing being what it is, not every competitive driver makes the A-main. Sometimes things just don’t go your way during qualifying. You get hacked to pieces in a bad heat grouping or have an unexpected failure of some sort. Even if there are three rounds or more of qualifying, it’s possible to have three rounds or more of bad luck. You can wallow in self pity in the C-main or get up on the wheel and drive your way to the A . . . if there are bump ups.
If you’re unfamiliar, bump ups are when a certain number of drivers, most often two, get to move up to the next highest main. With a bump up system in place, if you won the C-main, you’d get to race in the B-main. If there were two bump up spots, if you finished second in that C-main, you’d start last in the B. In theory, you could bump your way from the lowest qualifier all the way to the A-main. Sounds great, right?
Turns out not everyone likes bump ups and for good reason. Say your track can accommodate eight drivers in each main. In order to have two drivers bump up means only six will qualify directly for the A-main. Two empty spots have to be left open for the bumps. Guess what? If you qualified seventh or eighth, you just got screwed. You now have to race for the starting position you already earned. Another negative is that RC racing attracts racers of all different abilities, which is a good thing. Qualifying and reshuffles in-between rounds is designed to sort the drivers so that everyone can have a good race. Fast racers don’t like getting crashed into by rookie drivers and newcomers don’t like feeling they’re just in the way. Sometimes there’s a big gap in skill between a B- and C-main. Bumping two drivers up can cause a lot of necessary chaos. C-main drivers deserve to race just as much as anyone else and more than once I’ve seen C-mains that were cleaner than the A-main, but the reality is bump ups can take drivers and put them in races where they’re really out of their element. Chaos ensues.
What’s great about bump ups is everyone loves a Cinderella story. And, they do happen. While everyone thinks of dirt oval when they think of bump ups, bump ups used to be the norm at a lot of big nitro off-road races. I used to cover a lot of races when I was an RC magazine editor and I can assure you that when a fast driver was working his or her way through the lower mains and all the way to the A, it had everyone’s attention and became the story of the event. Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Bump ups also simply add a lot of excitement to lower mains. All of sudden you’re racing for something. You want to see someone excited to finish second in a C-main? Tell them they bumped up to the B.
So, what do you think? Do bump ups rob someone of their qualifying position and create chaos or do bump ups give everyone a chance to make the A-main and add excitement to each main?
If you want to read what ROAR says about bump ups, go here and scroll to section 14.9.3.
If you like these somewhat controversial topics, check out this article on claim rules here.