Rules! We’ve all fallen foul of them at one time or another, more than likely as a result of a simple infringement like being a couple of grams underweight or half a millimetre below minimum ride height. When it happens it can be frustrating and usually prompts various expletives and criticisms to pass our lips; “what a stupid rule to have”, “well it was OK this morning” and “your measuring equipment must be inaccurate” are just a few of many.
“Can’t we simplify it drastically?” I hear you ask? “We could shrink the rulebook so that only the bare minimum of stuff remains”. It’s so easy to say isn’t it and it sounds so simple! Indeed there are independent race series’ out there which benefit hugely from a more relaxed application of the rulebooks set out by the international federations; it’s easier for organisers and less stressful for competitors. Better all-round then? It would definitely seem that way when you take a passing glance at the situation.
Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple when you think about it further and start to unpick the implications. Let’s imagine for a moment that we went ahead and did the above; got rid of all but the most basic of construction rules for the classes we race. The likes of EFRA, ROAR and IFMAR would effectively become nothing more than sanctioning bodies who run race events to very basic rules. Where would that actually leave the bigger picture?
The short answer is ‘in a mess’! I think that without a carefully defined and written set of rules the series’ which currently choose to employ the ‘relaxed’ approach to rulebook application would be faced with a major problem. As competitors we are all appreciative of events such as the ETS, Reedy Race of Champions, NeoBuggy Race etc…, but the fact is that the cars raced at these events are designed and manufactured to the rules set out by the major federations mentioned above.
Take those rules away and manufacturers would have much more freedom to experiment and diversify their designs. “Great!” I hear people shouting. “Maybe then we wouldn’t have cars which are basically clones of each other with different coloured alloy parts”. That is true, but who would then end up footing the bill for all that design and development work? That’s right; consumers.
Let’s use speed controllers as an example. The average brushless speed controller only costs a few dollars to manufacture, and yet they retail for several hundred. It’s the research, design and development that went into the product long before it hit the shelves that we pay for. The actual cost to manufacture is only a small part of it. If there were more stringent rules surrounding the design of speed controllers for RC competition, then perhaps there would be less scope for manufacturers to develop highly complex and sophisticated systems? Progression would be slower, and there would be more similarities between the various products available. Costs would reduce because there would be standardized components and possibly even software and it would eventually come down to consumers simply having to choose the colour they prefer. Sound familiar?
So now the need for rules becomes clearer; it levels the playing field for manufacturers and competitors, makes the equipment we use cheaper and in fact it also gives race organisers the choice of how strictly to follow the rulebook at their events. They can run their race knowing that all of the cars being raced (electric touring cars for example) have been designed and manufactured to the same set of regulations.
It follows naturally then that the federations who create and maintain these rules also have a very important part to play in it all, even if it doesn’t seem that way from the outside…