Returning tournament entries and shipping, entry etiquette
I know I've brought this subject up before but here we go again. Return shipping could end up the death of mail in tournament hosting for BlueLine Racing in the end.
I've committed to an awesome 2022 schedule and that will go forward but beyond that I am not sure. The reason isn't editing, videoing, or racing the actual cars. It's the return mailing.
Depending on the size of the tournament it could be as many as 64 individual cars going to 64 individual addresses. I assume this also played a huge role in why D64 departed mail in racing and some others have either quit or failed at it as well. It's actually more time consuming than racing, videoing and editing all together.
The truth is diecast racing is far more popular than even 2 years ago when I got started. I remember tournaments where 12-20 people would sign up for a drag race and now a race fills 32 spots in three days and could easily fill 50-60 spots . Unlike some other channels and race hosts I am not monetized and charge minimal shipping for returns. I have no other interest in racing cars other than love for the hobby itself. That being said chasing return addresses and $6 a person is wearing on me.
New rule for 2022...
Any car shipped without a race slip containing return address and return money is going to be assumed as a prize to the winner of the race.
I am not even going to ask if you want it back. It's just too time consuming. Also, I would highly discourage sending any plastic cases to ship cars. There are safe ways to mail cars without cases but if you do send a case please understand that you may not get it back. Especially one that has no team markings on it. I probably have 15 cases here that I have no idea who they belong to.
If these rules aren't for you that is completely understandable and no hard feelings. I don't go without blame in this. I've taken on huge numbers of entries because I don't want to leave anyone out and have let return money slide. The Bone Shaker Brawl was 57 cars. This stock tournament is over 90 cars and the F-150 tournament is probably going to be close to 64 cars. After that I will likely keep all tournaments to 32 cars. Also be aware that when you sign up for a tournament and don't show, you're likely taking a spot away from someone who really wanted to be involved so please, if you do sign up be sure you can make it. If you can't make it some notice is nice so I can give someone else a chance.
Just a little common courteousy will go a long way in ensuring everyone has a place to race in the future. I considered cancelling mail in racing this year but with so many hosts dropping out of it I didn't want to put that kind of dent in the mail in race schedule. Please help me keep it going. I'm not asking for a lot.
I want to thank the few people who always seem to put a little extra money in the box and always send a race slip. It's noticed and it has helped me make up for those who don't send anything at all. I've never made a dollar racing cars and don't intend to but I have to make this a little easier on myself or I'm doomed for hosting.
Thank you for your consideration.
I think your outline of rules is fair for everyone to play by. Everyone should include some sort of entry slip with their name and address - that's minimal effort. And if you use the RLD entry slip, there's even a checkbox for not returning cars - use it.
And as far as drop-outs are concerned...just communicate. If you can't make a race, let the host know sooner than later. I've dropped out of a many a tournament that I have all intensions of building a car for. But I try to at least let them know I'm out so they can go down the waitlist and find someone else.
But return shipping is a killer all the way around. Even with my half schedule last year, it was zero fun and too much stress dealing with shipping, hence I went into hiding for the last few months. But for one, the postage prices keep going up which hurts everyone. And for two, everything else you said...tracking down people, having left over containers, etc...and international is just iciing on the cake.
My solution has been limiting my entry count. I will sometimes limit races to domestic entry too. I rarely have races more than 64...32 is usually my sweet spot. That's just for my sanity and so I can get things done in a timely manner. If I want to keep racing I need to keep fun and manageable. When it starts to be a chore and a stress, that's when people leave the hobby. Like you, I'm not getting any real payoff for this outside of the fun of sharing the hobby...so there's a limit on my effort, to be honest. I know some people will get shut out but there's always more racing and plenty out there beyond mine.
I've also had a thought of just doing year-end returns of cars. Regardless how many mail-in races I do, the cars stay with me until the end of the season, then I ship all the cars back in bulk. I haven't done the math, but I have a hunch it might actually save on shipping costs rather than $5 per car every other month (or more). But...I know some folks may want to re-enter the same car during the year so dunno...might be a on-demand thing or something. Still just an idea...
But an idea that is coming this year to the RLD website is better event management and tracking. I'm currently working on some features that will hopefully make it easier for hosts to get an overview of the entries and easier for people to enter a race and get reminders (and drop out). It won't help missing entry forms but it should be something to help fight the good fight.
- Thank you for cleaning up my rant and your efforts to streamline this process. I’ve considered mailing all cars back at the end of the year and then considered having 300 cars to return in Dec/Jan and where to store them and how to keep track of them and that idea went out the window. I do store cars for our international racers which is much more manageable. — BlueLineRacing
Totally get where you're coming from and it's one of the reasons I have a no returns policy for any of my mail ins, because on top of the time, minimum international shipping from nz is at least $25-30 non-tracked per car.
Everything you've set out seems very fair. It really throws out tournaments when you have no-shows and there's no communication.
As a racer and track host I completely understand. Being a host can be difficult especially trying to put out a quality product while making the individual racers happy. Being considerate with proper information, return money and being patient with the return shipping goes along way. I personally would not want to lose track options because of something that I did. I appreciate all the efforts that track hosts go through for quality content.
I mentioned this before and I still would have no problem with a popular track destination such as Blueline holding my cars and shipping back once or twice a year.
Thank you to all the track hosts!!
I was going to suggest tha we should send return slips with our cars to make it easier as TexTenn_Racing said. I'll pobably do it anyway to make things easier for you.
Glad you said something as well. It needed to be said. Thanks for what you do. You're definitely a staple for drag racers and we should do whatever we can to take the some of the stress off of you, and anyone else hosting.
- Amen! — TexTenn_Racing
Okay, so after reading all this, I wanted to put in my pair of Lincoln's as a racer.
1. I always include at least a $5 bill with each car I send in for return shipping - I consider it an "entry fee" for racing on someone else's track. Say I race at the same track once a month. 12x5 = 60, so that's $60 towards any return shipping. I know it won't cost that much for twelve cars, but the rest of that money can go towards the track host for his time and effort with the videos, editing, upgrades to the track, new equipment., etc. Times 32 racers, that's a nice chunk of change going towards keeping the track going. That's my way of supporting a track and helping it grow.
2. I have no problem with the host doing a one-time shipping if all my cars from the races I have entered. This would be a lot easier than trying to send back a single car each month. Just hang onto ''em until the end of the season, and send them all at once.
3, Nothing over 32 cars. Anything else just multiplies the headaches and organization. Waiting list of six stand-bys in case of any dropouts.
4. I know some people want to run the same car for multiple races. With the headaches mentioned above, that's not fair to the race host, who is trying to do all the recording, editing, and so on. Just build a new car for each race like most of us do. Remember that these guys are hosting races because they WANT to - this is their hobby, their passion. When it becomes too much work and not fun anymore, they'll throw up their hands and leave. How many people would be upset if Monster Motorsports shut down because it got to be too much? What about Blueline or RedlineDerby's drag tracks? What if 3DBotmaker threw in the towel because he became overwhelmed and disillusioned with it all? (Remember he used to print out track pieces until it became too much for him to handle alone with all the videos on a timely basis.) Think of the behind-the-scenes stuff these guys are doing out of their love for the hobby to put on a good show for all of us, and start showing them some support and appreciation.
5. Fill out the race slip. I opened mine with a pdf reader, and typed in all the redundant information that had to be filled out on every form (name, email, driver, race team, return address), and printed off a pile of the form. Now I just enter the name of the race, how many cars, what kind of car, and $5 for shipping. Makes it real easy that way.
Right on Blueline, thank you for all you do! As Our Thing keeps growing and growing there should be more structure and organization. I would be more than willing to be a "Regional Distributor" with return shipping. Just throw all us Southwest Boys in a box and send them to me. I'll disperse from Texas. Not sure how the entries breakdown as far as where they all come from so even if its East and West i'll volunteer to help any way i can.
- I appreciate that and yes we do have to get more organized. Fortunately we have a good group of track host and hopefully everyone is on the Diecast Drag Racing FB group. It’s just a matter of figuring out a solution but until then if everyone can be aware of the struggles of a host and help out with these minor adjustments I think it would go a long way. — BlueLineRacing
- Well i’m stepping up bro. Anything i can do to help, i got you. — CaShMoneyBoyS
- Regional might not be a bad idea especially for any international people. Friends in UK and NZ would certainly enjoy savings for a single drop-off. — redlinederby
- BlueLineRacing -This isn't meant to be a rant and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I'm not on Diecast Drag Racing FB group. I don't have a FB account and from all the garbage I've seen of FB (not even including politics) I'd like to keep it that way. Two years ago when I joined RLD, I was going to enter my first race. For that race I needed to register via FB so I caved and tried to open a FB page as Pagoda Racing. I kept getting a message saying I was trying to open an account for a business or something to that effect and finally gave up. So how will having a FB account help me in this hobby? I'm not trying to be confrontational, just looking for info to decide whether or not I should try to join again. I'm just a low tech guy that's one of the reasons die cast racing appeals to me! Thanks, Old Grumpy — PagodaRacing
- I’m not proposing you start a FB account. I’m merely saying that if you are on FB that you might want to check out The Diecast Drag Race League. It’s a place where a month drag race is posted. That’s all — BlueLineRacing
I appreciate it very much but I don't think it would be cost effective to ship cars twice to get to a location, I'm thinking of different things
Brand new member and brand new to the hobby. I appologize beforehand if theres an aspect that wouldnt work with my suggestion. Im building my first cars/ attempts now. I was contemplating already how to streamline hosting races when im able to build a small track.
Why not require each contestant to include a prepaid return shipping envelope in the original shipment? It would also create an easy place to keep the plastic cases drivers send in. It would also give the drivers the opportunity to easily insure the return package if they wanted. All the host track would have to do after the race is drop the ones to be sent back in the envelope/small box, seal, and drop em off. Dont even have to wait in the line at the post office. Its what i was thinking for myself at least.
I hope this is a simple solution that might help us all!
Best wishes all. Look forward to getting to know everybody and doing some racing, Johnny Spruill
*edit* It would also eliminate the need to send cash in the mail!
- Not a bad idea. I do know a lot of people don’t like their cars shipped in envelopes which might be a problem — BlueLineRacing
- If they included a plastic case it shouldnt matter, or send the original shipment in a box big enough to fit a small return box with postage paid. — Diecast_Autosports
- Padded envelope of course* — Diecast_Autosports
- After our first mail in event, I saw that this would be an issue. Currently all Survivor Series entries are all being shipped home. With the exception of the final four who are making an appearance before going home. I understand the frustration for sure. — DiecastDudeRacing
Bigger the box the more the cost. You'll figure it out when you host a race.
Prepaid envelopes/boxes can be a double-edged sword. I had a few people send prepaid bubble wrappers for races last year but when I'm sending stuff back, often there's more going out than was coming in...whether that's prizes, extra cars, or whatever...which makes that prepaid not enough (or the mailer not big enough). While on the surface it seems to make sense, I'd prefer folks not send prepaid.
Instead of prepaid, I'd ask that people use a shipping box that can likely be reused for the trip back. I've received cars in cereal boxes and other thin/weak cardboard that has no choice but to be ripped open rendering them unusable. That makes me have to find a box to send the car back, and that can be a pain or at least a cost to buy a box. Bubble mailers are less of an issue but still. The cost to send a poorly made box vs a better box is the same. Unless your package is heavier than about 10oz, it's all the same. Shipping price goes up by weight, not size.
If you're a host (or even a frequent racer), I would suggest just opting to buy a stack of new shipping boxes to use. You can get them in bulk from Uline and other places and it's fairly affordable. They come in all sizes and foldability. You can get a stack of 25 boxes for $5 which could last you an entire season. Plus you can add your logo or stickers or whatever to the outside, which is a bonus.
Personally, I don't mind the plastic containers for cars as long as people put their name on it. It does make it easy to send cars with less worry, and it makes less worry for me shipping them back. The cost bewteen a bubble wrapper vs a small box is negligible. The $5 entry fee usually covered cars going back (domestic). If it was more, I'd take that hit which would probably be made up by someone else's entry fee anyway.
I know this topic isn't about cost of hosting exactly but just know that you will spend money when you're hosting. Whether that's for postage, or boxes, or extra cars or whatever. The best you can hope for is breaking even which rarely happens. That's the cost of business...but thank goodness this is a hobby and not a business.
I just hosted my first mail in tournament. So I am no expert for sure. But, I have watched other channels struggle after having unlimited entries. And other channes struggle that never return cars. People don't want to put in the effort if they won't get thier cars back. I personally won't bother with stripping and painting if it's not coming back most of the time. My first tournamtent was limited to 8 entries and invite only. I wanted to start small and make sure I know what I was doing before I opened it up. My tournaments will be limited to 32 cars max. for all races moving forward. If I open it up to more they will qualify and only 32 will compete. Any non-qualifiers will be donated to the winner. All the cases that I received had the markings of the team on the plastic case and everyone used the crayon case from wallmart. This seems pretty easy to keep track of to me. I even kept their boxes and I will just return them in the same boxes this week. I do understand the return shipping label issue, but that could actually be part of the RLD race entry form. Just a suggestion. I have enjoyed this hobby and I have taken 2 years to build my 3 tracks and tune them to what I believe is an enjoyable racing experience. If I had half a clue in filming and editing I think I would have a good end result. I hope to see you in the future at Treetops Raceway Park.
- Actually, if you look on the Redline entry form, the return address section can be cut off and used as the return shipping label. — SpyDude
- Sneaky_Bob, could you post a pick or link to "crayon case from wallmart". My search of Walmart.com came up with many things. — PagodaRacing
- Here is the 6 pack of the case. https://www.walmart.com/ip/seort/262808821 — Sneaky_Bob
- Here is the single case. https://www.walmart.com/ip/seort/259890837 — Sneaky_Bob
I haven't started any races yet (well, first of all because my track isn't built..) but have been researching all aspects of the logistics involved and decided on a few things already. The shipping is one of the things that just came up yesterday.
1. Limit races to 32 cars plus 4 stand by's.
2. I will have three types of tracks set up (2 permanent & 1 temp.) so the cars will have opportunities to win races. (Each track has it's own advantages and one car cannot win all the races). In other words, each set of cars will go through three types of races to make it worth the effort and give everyone a chance to compete instead of one and done.
3. All drivers will send in a return address slip with their name & address and the cars to be shipped back. This will be taped on the return box for shipment. I will do my best to keep the slip inside the same box the cars came in to be returned as well as containers, if any.
There are other things, but this is some of what I have in mind.