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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The digital club thread crystalised some thoughts I have had about slot clubs and attitudes towards them and so on.

I am not a regular club member but have been exploring a bit the club scene, as well as obviously seeing a lot of club discussion here.

Ecurie Ecosse was pointing out the benefits of small clubs - some with only 5 regular members and wishing to remain that size. However - where is the line between a club and a few mates round someone's house? If 5 people go out drinking every week, that is not a club. If other people are not welcome, it doesn't sound like a club, just some mates who have hired a venue for their track. Fine for 'em to do that - but not really relevant when talking about a 'scene' or 'promoting the hobby'

There are lots of other arrangements - Jonny's pheonix club seems the most welcoming and least intimidating to newbies, but some people seem to see it as un-club like that it is run as a business... this i find baffling.

I dont expect all clubs to be a certain way, and am glad there is a variety of arrangements to suit different people, and different types of magnets from box standard RTR's to custom brass chassis/sponge tyres on wood. (and hopefully some digital clubs in due course!!!). But I do find the elitist/exclusive views, or attitudes that only one sort of club is good or benefits the hobby very strange.

I am also interested to know how clubs work in other countries - spain where the hobby is massive? france? italy? USA?

hope you guys will put your thoughts on how clubs should be run, how they are run, what you like and what you don't like, here!

Dave
 

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Scott Brownlee
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Astro,

I may have given the wrong impression. The clubs I go to are the friendliest places you can imagine. It has been a great thing for me to go along and find a place where other people like and play with slot cars. Having a ruddy huge track to drive on is almost a bonus to the chat.

However, add in too many new people at once and even the friendliest group will struggle to absorb and welcome just because of human nature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My first club do was the pheonix GT competition with over 100 attendees, my most recent the Rally day at Wrexham, with around 10. As you say, the atmosphere at the different sized events are quite dissimilar. In the smaller group, you do get as you say a more intimate, informal and friendly social atmosphere. In the larger gathering there is a different buzz of that many racers prepping and fixing cars, vying for race points etc.

As many gains as losses to me, just different. I wouldn't call 1 better than the other.

I would suggest though, for a club to survive over time, it will need to be of a certain size to accomodate people leaving for whatever reasons, and therefore have a steady influx of new people. Without some kind of chnage of blood, the smaller ones you mention (5 members and not looking for more members) are an equally fun and valid activity, but do sound more like a group of mates rather than a 'club'
 

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Each and every club needs to be organised and run according to the needs of the members. There are so many different ways to run a club and hopefully we`ll read about a few of them.

I`ve never outlined here exactly how our club operates but it is club first and everything else follows. I have reorganised the club since taking over to operate a progressive club where members can start on a given night and as they wish, move onwards and upwards. Some of the older members may not be completely happy but I work extremely hard to try and keep people happy. Not easy.
 

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A Few Points:

QUOTE If 5 people go out drinking every week, that is not a club.
- But if 30 go out for a drink, is that a club?

- The only profit maker from a club, should be the club. As soon as anyone takes any money (whether it be to repay labour or whatever) then it is a business, IMO.

- My 'elitist' view (see other post) is obviously not in the best interest of the hobby. And I know this. I love slot racing, but I like it the way it is for me at the moment. I want to win if I'm good enough, and if I'm not good enough, then I want to loose. Simple. If anyone disagrees, then IMO, they aren't playing fair.

McLaren
 

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I've been a member of a local club since the beginning of this year.
The club has about 50 members paying the annual fee, and usually there are about 10-15 members attending the weekly race nights.

The club started with 5 friends, and when they began expanding there was some discussion whether they should accept only a few new members, or if they should take as many members as possible.
They went for the latter, and it is still working out very well with the current numbers. Despite the positive experiences there is some concern that the club might not be able to accommodate more members, and that there might eventually be friction among members if the expansion continues.

For me the important thing is that I meet other enthusiasts when I go to the club. The exchange of tips and tricks about the cars, and glancing at each others new acquisitions is almost as much fun as the racing itself.
My fear is if the club was turned into a place where someone dropped in casually, expected to run my cars (because they are prettier than the club cars, or faster or whatever), and then leave after breaking them without any real interest in the hobby...

QUOTE If other people are not welcome, it doesn't sound like a club, just some mates who have hired a venue for their track. Fine for 'em to do that - but not really relevant when talking about a 'scene' or 'promoting the hobby'

I think that promoting the hobby could be done in other ways than just letting people into the club. We have a mobile track that is being used for different events around the city, so that kids in all ages can see what slot cars is about.
Although we try to promote both the club and the hobby on such occasions, it could very well be done without mentioning the club.

André
 

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Brian Ferguson
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The American Heritage Dictionary defines "club" as:

"A group of people organized for a common purpose, especially a group that meets regularly"

I don't think it matters what the purpose is, or the size of the group. Small slot car clubs are the norm here, and none are the size of Phoenix.

My HO club never exceeded 32 members, and spent most of its 25 years in the 16-24 member area. With a 25 year background in a single club, I agree with Scott about how larger changes in membership (exits and entrances) can affect the atmosphere of the group as a whole. I'm not sure I agree that egos have a lot to do with it, so much as just the introduction of new personalities and viewpoints which may clash with long-established customs and practices. Over time, clubs evolve, but sudden change is often destructive. Our best years saw small but steady growth, our worst years saw large turnover and many new members - and the turnover was usually due to significant changes in club direction.

Slot car clubs, normally (I say that because I have never experienced something large like Phoenix), seem to do best with slow growth. I have seen rapid growth clubs fall apart, but slow growth clubs seldom do unless unusual circumstances occur.

Clubs generally have an identity and a philosophy, and they do best when they can maintain both. Promotion for the sake of a rapid increase in membership is likely to put these in jeopardy.

As always, JMO!
 

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(Fergy - where is "here" in your post?)

A lot of good points posted.

I think the European slot culture is part of the reason that slots has remained big. Its a sliding scale; a couple of kids have Scaley and join their sets up to race on a bigger track. Another kid, more track, more serious, rules appear. More people, regular venue bigger track...etc etc Its an evolutionary path with entities at all stages of evolution all over the place.

Here in the US it was all commercial tracks after a while. Stiff competition, money wins, new people intimidated and/or priced out. Hobby all but dies out.

When we set up we wanted to have a shop ( so that racers could get stuff they needed there and then, and so we could pay the rent), but we also wanted a club to house the track we had built.

We try to keep the club as a seperate entity from the company. But....it is no democracy. I wnat the members to be happy, but there is no voting. There are times when the members don't always know whats best in the long term! It sounds awful, but its sadly true. Example? We set the rules. We wnat to limit the expense, prep time and cost to stay in the realms of as many budgets as possible. The engineer-racers don't think they wnat this, but without there would be fewer racers, then less race fees, less shop sales, no rent money and then no track.

Our club is housed in our shop. You practice for free while we are open if you have your own car and controller. You pay $2.50 for Friday night race fee. You don't have to shop in our shop or anything (although we would prefer it).

The way I figure it, I wnat a big track to play on. I have four now, plus lots of people to race with. The shop supports the club which supports the hobby which supports the shop, and the whole time I have somewhere decent to play.

I think the difference is clear in the dictionary definition. A group of people who go out for a drink isn't really organised. If the same group had a pre-set purpose, some inidication of the costs of membership and the benefits of membership, maybe a website...I think thats what "organised" means.

Our club has a pre-set purpose - to provide a venue for people who want to race slot cars, and hang out with other racers, collectors and builders of slot cars. Its open to anyone to join unless they behave badly. And I think we have a clear definition of costs and benefits, and I would say we are pretty organised. I just counted - I make it 142 members. We are in Houston, Texas.
 

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Brian Ferguson
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Russ, I'm in Canada, not too far from Toronto.

QUOTE Here in the US it was all commercial tracks after a while. Stiff competition, money wins, new people intimidated and/or priced out. Hobby all but dies out.

And it has never really rebounded here as it has in many places around the world. Except for a few people I have met via the net, I personally know of no one into slot cars.

It sounds like HSARC and JonnyS's Phoenix club have many similarities.

Out of curiousity, Russ, how big was your group when you first decided to pursue separate space for the club?
 

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John Roche
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I have a 55' 4 lane routed track and have sometimes thought about trying to start a small club in Bedford but I'm selfish. I don't really like modern cars so I would probably have to compromise unless I could find local people into historic cars and scratchbuilding. I also work nights which would restrict the opportunities to race.

I've joined the club in Wellinbugger and go when I can and am happy to accept the classes they race so I buy cars for club racing as needed.



John
 
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