Words: Peter Gray Images: Twinset
Back in 2015, when RCCZ hadn’t even been conceived yet, and I was still editing Radio Race Car International, I had an idea. It was either the best I’ve had in a while or one that if it went wrong, would A: Cost me a chunk of money personally. And B: Let down a large group of people and an aspect of the RC hobby that I care very deeply about; namely the Scale, Trail and crawling crowd right here in the UK.
You see I had been following the Global RECON G6 community and its figure head, Brain Parker, since its conception. My idea was to co-host a full-on RECON G6 right here in the UK. We would hold it on the same weekend as out regular UK Scale Nationals, an event that had been steadily growing in popularity and drivers numbers for the last half decade and was previously run under the RRCi banner. The Nationals was a known entity, the G6 something new and from the photographs and video’s I had seen online, more about being part of a global community, having Adventures and something that’s often forgotten in RC events of late…good old family orientated fun.
One thing I was sure of though, was I didn’t just want to parody the events Brian runs, trying to re-create the G6 spirit ourselves. No, even with the great team we have at RCCZ that would be both an insult to him and the hard work he’s put into his Scale Adventure Series, and the 150+ UK drivers we wanted to turn up and attend. We needed to fly the man himself over, experience his way of setting the stages as he calls them, witness his very unique driver’s briefings, and be a part of the RECON G6 global family first hand. In some respects it was a big ask, but I always believe that life should be full of new experiences, and however big the challenge seems, if you tackle it head on, and have a great team around you, anything is possible.
A Little Re-wind
For those not familiar with Brian Parker and the ethos behind the RECON G6 events, I suggest you read some of the back issues of RCCZ, it’s a subject we covered in some depth in the run up to the event itself, including a very in-depth interview with the man himself and reports from at least two G6 events. Suffice to say, his involvement with not just the 1/10th and RC, but also the 1:1 Crawl and Off Road scene, goes pretty deep. His face, that gravelly voice (not to mention the trademark unique footwear and Tactical Kilt) are probably the most recognisable in the scene at the moment. There are people and nicknames that over the years stick in your head as pioneers of the scene. Bender, Gatekeeper, and Parker are just three examples. His transformation after losing a side bet during a comp to become Axialman is a classic example…he’s in this for the fun, friendship and comradery, not just the money. Having chatted with him at length many, many times online, I always felt he was someone I actually knew (even though the reality was that we had never physically met).
To anyone looking from the outside in, Brian has played a pivotal role in the growth of ‘Scale’, and been the life and soul of many events, right from the early Axialfest’s, through to the latest RECON G6 events held across Europe. His direct links with the former have now been severed, but just like the demise of RRCi spurred me on with the birth of RCCZ, Brian has been further energised and has grown the G6 brand globally. Just like the now discontinued Axial “RECON G6 Certified” SCX-10 RTR a few years back, new G6 emblazoned products from brands like ProLine, Boom Racing and PitBull Tyres keep appearing to show that the industry is taking notice of the brand identity he has created, and with RC4WD as a headline sponsor, events like the Hong Kong G6 in November, and regular dates in both the US and Europe, this kilt wearing, coffee fuelled phenomenon doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon!
So, in late 2015 I rang him and pitched my idea…there was a long pause, I was bracing myself for the worst, and that his schedule wouldn’t allow it, or the UK wasn’t of interest to him, but then I heard a laugh at the other end of the Skype line…and four words: ”Let’s make it happen!”. We chatted for a further hour or so, about everything from BMX bikes to Jeeps and RC, then bounced a few provisional dates around. Eventually we decided upon the middle of June 2016. This would allow Brian to fly into Europe, attend and co-host our event, then fly over to Austria, host 2 more G6 events before flying home a few weeks later.
There would also be some C.R.R.M (Coffee Related Roasting Matters) to attend to in Austria also, and those that know Brian well, will understand that…Work hard, play hard is all I will say on that matter, and having met him now, he does both with gusto. We said our goodbyes, did a virtual knuckle bump via instant messenger, and then the line went dead on Skype…
The Kilt Said Yes…Now What?
I sat back in my chair and thought about the consequences and enormity of that single Skype conversation. This was the first 6 months of the magazines existence, we were growing, our core readership was loyal, we were keeping our head above water and we had amazing support from the industry. But if no-one turned up, or the weather ruined the event, we could potentially end up with an invoice that could put the mag under. I winced a little at that thought, but smiled as well at the thought of a UK RECON G6.
I rang round the RCCZ team and got their unanimous support. I told them the provisional date and my plans. We decided that we would run the G6 on the Saturday, and also incorporate a night run into the mix. This would mean that competitors would have in theory a 12+ hour day ahead of them, the latter finishing in real terms past 11pm that evening. Speaking again with Brian a few weeks later it seems there would be two long G6 trails. The “Little Britain Stage” with white trail markers placed on the right, and the “Go Large – US Stage” with the white trail markers on the left, for obvious reasons…I was tasked with making the trail markers, but more on that later!
The Nationals on the Sunday would consist of 2 long 100 gate self-scored trail runs, using our usual red and yellow gate markers, and a very technical 10 gate organiser scored (and timed) comp course to decide its winners. We even decided to take along a set of ‘Old Skool’ tennis balls to set out a Comp Crawling Course in memory of our buddy Skippy, who, if you read the mag will realise we lost a few months before the event, but who was a huge part of the early days of the UK comp scene. It was designed as a fun, guest event for those still with a comp rig still in their collection and we also sold smiley face stickers (a skippy trademark) with proceeds going to his favourite charity. This is something we hopefully can grow for our next event, as there seems to be enough interest in the genre (especially with the recent launch of the RC4WD Bully 2 MOA rig). It seems comp crawling may get a mini renaissance very soon, and there are rumours of more rigs by other manufacturers in late 2016 and beyond…
Gate Markers, Trailside Signage, Glow Sticks & Prizes
I also did my usual ring around of the brands that have always supported our events and got unanimous support from the Scale, Trail and Crawl RC Industry. Our headline sponsor would be RC4WD, and Tom Allen and the RC4WD crew really stepped up in a big way. Not only would they be offering goody bags for every entrant of the G6 and Nationals double header event, they also offered us the biggest prize package we’ve seen to date, with 2 rigs, T-Shirts, Hats, sets of axles, beadlock wheels, trailers, tyres, and more individual accessories than we’ve ever seen before.
Tom also surprised us by secretly making scale sticker sheets just for the RECON G6 UK Edition, perfect for adorning our rigs with and celebrating the fact this was the first ever event of its type on UK soil…Kudos guys, we cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support.
Martin at RC Bits also donated an RC4WD rig as a prize for the G6 event and some scale accessories. He also supported us as ever with a huge Trailside retail offer, giving entrants not only the opportunity to lighten their wallets with a selection of the best the industry has to offer, but also essential spares to keep the competitors rigs up and running all weekend in the event of a breakage of electrical failure.
Other RCCZ friendly distributors like AsiaTees sent over G6 endorsed prizes by brands such as Boom Racing, with sets of shocks, beadlock wheels, accessories and sticker packs. CML Distribution sent us some scale specific prizes from ProLine and FastTrax, The Hobby Company a very cool Carrera slot racing set as a junior prize, and HPI a box full of tyres, pit mats and wearables. Add to already substantial prize pool vouchers for invaluable brushed motor strips and tunes by Andy Smith, 3D printed axles stands, barrels, fuel cans and sand ladders from and our very own Scott (AceofAxe) Curlin.
Buts that’s not all folks…Ivan Carisma from Carisma RC also sent a huge box of Scale accessories, injection moulded on sprues with everything from generators, to tool boxes, oil barrels, fire extinguishers, pots ‘n’ pans to bicycles in perfect 1/10th scale, all ready to cut off, glue together, paint and then be added to roof racks or scale garages. The generosity these companies show the scene each year is nothing short of amazing. The whole team would like to thank everyone involved with this event for their commitment and generosity. Having great prizes and a fun raffle ensures that the winners get something they can be proud of. Everyone else still has a chance to win something of real value, and get some cool hop up’s and scale accessories.
A Golden Ticket
Axial Racing were the headline sponsor of the Nationals on the Sunday and simply offered the winner a Golden Ticket…At first we were a little confused by this, until Andrew Rawlinson enlightened us that it would entitle the winner to get one of the very first SCX10-2 rigs in the UK, and that he had even brought along the only built sample of a SCX-10 in the UK to whet the appetites of perspective future owners. (We, admittedly by this time had also been secretly sent our review sample by Axial direct…as seen in this issue, but had not had time to physically build it yet…but when you see the results you will understand why!)
So, we had the dates and the venue booked, Parker’s flights and accommodation arranged, the prizes and goody bags agreed, now it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and make all the things that take this type of event to the next level. I first designed some trophies for the Nationals based on Axial Logos with RR10 wheels and tyres as their bases. I went to see Phil Lawrence, who not only writes for RCCZ, but also owns www.makeitbuildit.co.uk and commissioned him to 3D print the trophies and then set each onto its wheel/tyre base with a Carbon Fibre rod.
The end results are simply stunning, and Phil did an amazing job, I cannot thank him enough for his efforts. Next I rang the guys at Hoverspeed RC. Now my contact with them up until now has been with my other hat on, as editor of a couple of Drone magazines. They actually make the most amazing air gates and corner flags and have been instrumental in pushing the FPV racing scene both here in the UK, and globally. I designed some start and finish gates for the RECON G6, incorporating the headline sponsor, RC4WDs logo, our very own RCCZ logo and of course an official “RECON G6 Certified” stand for good measure. A couple of emails later and the design was finalised, and when they arrived by courier a day or so later, I was gobsmacked. Tim had done a simply amazing job. They were free standing, with a pipework frame and legs, made from neatly laser cut vinyl and expertly printed front and back. We now had two start and two finish gates as a little bit of additional theatre to add to the event. I was starting to get really excited about this upcoming event…
Trail Markers R Us…(OK, R Me!)
The job that I was actually dreading the most was making any additional trail markers Brian may need for the RECON G6. What seems like years ago now, Speedy Steve had made us over 200 pairs of red and yellow gate markers using welding rod cut to length, with plastic tops and all individually numbered. They had served us very well, had lasted three years of comps so far, and were still going strong. Brian needed at least 150 if not 200 more gates to set out his two trails and the night run for day one. I was tasked with this job and wanted to ensure they looked totally different to the UK Nationals markers.
I went on EBay and ordered 300 green garden sticks, and 16 packs of large red and white plastic bunting. Each pack contained 12 plastic flags, and each individual flag could be cut into 4 smaller ones. The garden sticks could cut into two to make in theory 600 trail markets if required. I spent every evening until about midnight for the next two weeks making 200 pairs of red and white flag markers. It was as expected mind numbing…but vital work!
After showing Tom at RC4WD what I was up to, he again surprised me by sending us about 60 printed plastic trail signs that just needed to be glued onto sticks, to again add a little more theatre and detail to the whole event. It’s these little touches that make all the difference, and as ever Kudos to him for the idea…it’s something we will definitely be doing more of in future events.
Setup Day Arrived…
With the pace of life these days the event was soon upon us and myself and Scott loaded up his van and my Jeep with the prizes, banners, Trail Markers etc and headed to Bracken Rocks. We had arranged to rendezvous with Brian nearby and lead him in as the Sat Nav co-ordinates and site turnoff is notorious for getting first times lost…
An hour or so of driving later, and a black and yellow Citroën hire car appeared at our chosen meet up spot. In the car was Parker himself fighting jet-lag but beaming from ear to ear, and Joey W, fellow G6er, female 1:1 4×4 adventurer, Master Barista (I kid you not!) and roaster of some of the finest coffee anywhere on the planet. She would play a pivotal role in keeping the whole crew alert, awake and alive over the next few days. Scott I I gave each other a knowing glance…this was going to be one fun weekend!
Arriving on site, the team had got to work like a well-oiled machine. We all had our job roles and all knew how important set up day was to the success of the event. The Trail Control was already open, generator running, lights on and the on-site facilities unlocked and ready for action. Brian and Joey extracted themselves from the hire car and we said our official hello’s and introduced them to the team. As ever the RCCZ team of myself, Andy Moore, Scott Curlin, John Wasley and Speedy Steve was swelled by Ian Walters, and his Partner Claire and Speedy’s wife Sam. This was our core team, we had not just one but two epic events to stage, so we simply got on with it…
Torrential Rain & Muddy Trails Espresso
About an hour into dressing the site with banners, boundary marking the main areas and Brian and Joey starting to get their trail markers laid, it rained. And I’m not just talking drizzle or a light shower here. It was in all my years of hosting the Nationals the heaviest downpour I’ve ever seen, my heart sank and it didn’t relent. We have video of rivers of water flowing through and down the lower half of the site, by trail control and disappearing into the field earmarked for camping below. Martin appeared with his RCBitz pop up shop and fought the weather to set out his stall, torrents of rain and wind buffeting his efforts.
We by now were mostly all soaked, Parker and Joey had on some cool looking camo poncho’s and despite their baptism by fire (or cold airborne UK water) their spirits were high. They just kept disappearing into the woods and laying more and more trail markers. Returning muddier and wetter each time, but always smiling. Joey then got out all her coffee making paraphernalia and we called a time out. She proceeded to instruct us all in the fine art of making good coffee. From weighing and grinding the beans properly, to using a filter and water at the right temperature and brewing it properly. I even shot a video of the process that’s well worth a watch on my YouTube channel. Fortified and buzzing with some of the best fresh coffee I’ve ever tasted, we all got back into setup mode.
By 6PM we had everything ready to rock and roll the following morning. The site was starting to fill with campers, all totally undeterred by the continuing wet weather, but the field was getting pretty water logged and some without 4x4s struggled to get to their pitch. Add to this reports that roads were flooded on the approach to the site, I was still feeling rather nervous at this point, I just wanted the rain to stop and the sky’s to clear…
The Team BBQ Live + A Night Time Adventure For Parker & Joey
We called it a day on site and went to Johns for our now legendary Team BBQ. Parker and Joey Joined us as our honoured guests and in his trademark style Parker televised most of the evenings events live to the World using the Live feature of facebook. The video’s he shot are both funny and capture perfectly the closeness and spirit that the RCCZ have. We aren’t just colleagues. We are truly friends, and over the years have been through a lot between us, both as individuals and together. We are all very different, but share a love of anything Off Road, both RC and 1:1. We did a guided tour around John’s man cave, his motorbikes, Quad bike and his & his wife’s very modified Suzuki Jeeps.
The latter got lots of very positive reaction especially from the US based friends of Parker and the G6 family and can still be watched on Facebook, as can all the other Live uploads we made during that whole weekend. But it didn’t end there. We took the Samurai and the Jimny out to a local 4×4 trail and took Parker and Joey on a 1:1 4×4 adventure to show just how capable and robust these plucky little 4x4s really are! (note to self, as I’m well over 6ft tall and when sitting in the back of a Suzuki, I should wear a seatbelt)…Yes, I didn’t put one on. Yes, I hit my head on the roll bar, yes I broke my glasses in the process, yes I laughed all the way round and home again, no I probably didn’t learn a lesson from the experience!
Much later, back at The House Of Wasley, at well past midnight, and After much BBQ, Speedy’s Chilli Jam and (for those not driving) copious quantities of real ale supplied by Ian we all said our goodbye’s, vowing to be on site by 7.30-8am for an 9am start for booking in…or so we thought.
“Tyre Down, I Repeat Tyre Down…”
Then at around 2am I got a message…”We got a flat on the way home, had to leave car by the side of the road. Are both walking to the hotel, let’s talk in the morning about collecting Brian. I will go and sort car…Joey”
It seemed the funky French car with its low profile tyres had experienced either a blow out or possibly an annoying impromptu puncture half way back to Parker and Joey’s hotel. He had evidently shrugged his shoulders, put on his head torch, picked up as much as he could carry physically, and he and Joey had walked for 1.5 hours along country roads to their rather remote Derbyshire hotel. Imagine that sight if you came driving the other way at 2am…pouring down with rain, kilt blowing in the wind, head torch on full beam. It had been an eventful few hours.
Talk about a welcome to the UK. First the rain, (which still hadn’t stopped) and now this. I was assured by Joey there was nothing we could do to help until daybreak, so I unsuccessfully tried to get back into a deep sleep…
The Cold Light of Twinset
After dispatching Andy Moore to drive the 45 minutes to the hotel and go and collect Parker for around 9am, the rest of us made our way to the site. I was pleasantly surprised the amount of additional campers that had braved the weather, floods and closed roads and having posted on the official Facebook page about starting an hour late due to Parker not arriving until at least 9.30-9.45…we set about getting the first ever RECON G6 up and running…well after a hearty breakfast from the on-site caterers anyway!
I had made up a G6 score card and Ian had duplicated them into double sided A5 format. Brain arrived and immediately got to work being Brian. He has a way of just working a crowd. Everyone gets some personal attention, everyone regardless of age, or gender gets treated the same. He makes you feel part of something special and that’s the real key to what he does. Booking in started with each competitor and their rig being categorised and given a title…From “Drivin Divas” to “Veterans”, Not only did each entrant get to experience the full day and night trail, they also got a RC4WD Goody bag that included the exclusive RECON G6 UK Edition stickers. A queue formed and just kept filling up again. They just kept arriving, wave after wave of them. The turnout was astonishing all things considered.
By now the rain gods had decided to give us a break. The sky whilst not being blue was at least clearing if a little cloudy. Between 9am and 10am we had over 150 entrants book in and with the on-site caterers doing a roaring trade in breakfasts and drinks, things were starting to look very promising.
At 10.15 we called everyone together and had a drivers briefing. Brian inducted everyone into the global RECON G6 family and with all the rigs placed on the road loading up to the trail control it was an impressive site. The two “stages” as he calls them were described to the drivers. Brian explained that the “Little Britain Stage” to the right as you entered the woods had white trail markers to the right, and the “Go Big USA Stage” that started to the left had them on the left.
He also explained that he had hidden “Adventure Items” in and around the trails. From stamps and hole punches you could mark your score sheet with, to obscure objects like rubber frogs, even lost plastic toy puppies (allegedly that had escaped from the Derbyshire pound). If found any of these Adventure Items must be stowed aboard your rig and then brought back to trail control and showed when handing in the score sheets.
They not only ended up as a memento of the event and their time at the UK G6, but would also entitle the finder additional free raffle tickets for the grand prize draw on Sunday afternoon. One such ticket actually got one of the main prizes during this, so its proves the point about the importance of this additional aspect to the event, You didn’t just drive the stages, you explored them, and took time to actually soak in the surroundings.
“Trail Etiquette” Is also the Key
The other thing that Brian stresses to all competitors was “Trail Etiquette”. This isn’t a Scale Competition, it’s a Scale Adventure. Drivers are expected to work together to ensure everyone who goes through the start gate on either the UK or US side makes it round the whole stage and gets home safe and sound. It’s the same in 1:1 4×4 circles and is a great message for the whole community.
There were sections on both stages that had rigs stuck hard and fast. “Scale Quicksand” is how Brian described one section on the US stage. A winding section of gates that seemed near impossible to negotiate without using a winch or without the aid of a winch buddy. This is where trail etiquette really came into play. We witnessed one European driver from Daniels group spend nearly an hour in one section pulling rig after rig out of the mud and making sure they all got past that natural obstacle onto firmer and less perilous ground.
Other instances where were a driver had suffered a driveshaft failure half way round the huge stages. A complete stranger appears, stays with the driver and offers a spare he or she was carrying on their rig.
New friendships are formed during the event and the comradery between the “Competitors” (if you want to call them that) goes through the roof.
This isn’t just about winning or losing as many RC comps are. This is about being part of something much deeper, a member of a real community, and that’s the biggest life lesson anyone attending a G6 event will learn.
Whole blood related families went out through our RCCZ Start gates…bigger extended G6 families came back through the finish ones.
Another twist in the G6 way of doing things is the way Brian has set the stages. Often gates would just stop. You would see drivers looking around for the next, often for a matter of minutes. At first out British sense of black and white where rules and course setting are concerned threw up a few minor protests.
We all expect to go through gate 13 and then visually see gate 14 somewhere nearby. This wasn’t always the case on Brains stages…He pulled me and a group of drivers to one side and explained something:-
“Life is about going on a journey. We all make decisions as to the path to take. We sometimes make wrong turns, have to do a U turn or even double back and start again. But we learn from that and eventually we get from point A, to Point B and feel like we have achieved something. It’s your own journey, your own path, and your own choice…If you can’t see the next step, go explore a bit. You never know what you will find just over that next crest…”
You see Brian isn’t just someone who stages events and just like me and the magazine tries to make a living from doing something he loves. He’s truly and inspirational leader and that’s little speech made complete sense. You could see the expression on people’s faces change. They got it, and went off, driving their rigs before them to explore…then a shout went up. “Got it, next gate is over there, hidden between those two bushes…”.
It actually lead though to space you almost had to physically crawl after your rig to negotiate. That’s what elevates this type of event from a mundane drive to being pure class. The other thing to note is that Brian is constantly going up and down the stages, he‘s there to encourage the drivers, spurring them on to get past difficult features and gates, have some fun with them and keep the G6 ethos going throughput the event. If you could bottle whatever Brian has, it would be a rare commodity. But luckily you can’t and that the G6 magic and unique nature of this event.
Fog, Orbs & Glo Sticks…
At night fell, the majority of drivers readied themselves for the night stage and I got out my secret weapon. 200 8” Glow Sticks and 60 reflective gate markers. By using these, some additional lighting that Brain had brought with him, and sections of the Go Big US Stage, we created a night stage to be very proud of.
The combination of spooky stories about “Orbs” in the drivers briefing, the man-made “Fog” generated by the Vapers amongst the group and a pitch black woodland setting worked a treat.
Parker lead the group out to the start of the stage. Then went up and down the trail making sure everyone was having fun. He counted em out…and counted em back in again.
Meanwhile back at trail control, Joey kept us awake and alert with regular hits of black coffee, and stories of past G6 adventures and their hopes for the events going forward.
We left the site at past midnight, everyone having had a blast. Everyone getting back safely, all having thoroughly enjoyed every second of the run. No punctures were had that drive home…and Parker and Joey sent a message to confirm they had got back safe and sound. I actually slept that night, despite the caffeine overload.
WE had done good. The first ever RECON G6 was a huge success, and we still had a day of Scale comps and 200 gates if trail runs ahead of us!
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