I raced a local event this past weekend and had to pay a fee to rent a transponder so that I could be scored. After the race I returned the transponder to the promoter, but he didn’t return all of my deposit. In essence, he charged me extra to be scored, even though I paid an entry fee. I thought scoring was part of the deal, after all, without scoring, I’m not really paying to enter a race. I know that MXA won’t lie to me. Is this a rip-off?
Of course it is—if the promoter uses the transponders as a ruse to charge you more money. The whole idea of paying to enter a race is that you will be scored. In the old days, and at the vast majority of local tracks across America, scoring is still done by hand. We’ll admit that hand scoring does have an error rate that can vary between minor to wow. Transponders insure some level of accuracy, although at least one scorer is still require to catch glitches.
However, the fact that the promoter invested in transponders does not mean that he should be charging you extra to use them. It is a cost of doing business. His return on investment will come from needing less scorers, his riders happiness with the system and the ability of many electronic systems to record lap times of every racer on the track. Those are pluses that should, over time, increase his turnouts—which in turn will pay for the cost of the equipment.
Plain and simple, when you paid the entry fee, you paid to be scored...if the promoter wants to charge you for his investment in transponders, he should raise his entry fee to cover his day-to-day costs—not tack on some phony fee after the sale.
The coolest thing we ever saw at sign-up was when a racer paid his entry fee and started to walk away. The sign-up girl called him back and said that he needed to rent a transponder to get scored. He said, “Well, in that case, I’ll just race and you can forget about scoring me! I’ll know where I finished without you.”
Our experience with transponders and promoters has been good. The MXA test crew races at a lot of tracks and with several organizations that use transponders, and we have no issue with leaving our driver’s licenses or putting a deposit on the transponder just in case we forget to return it after the race. We fully understand. The transponders are too expensive to have rider’s walk off with them. This is a common occurrence and many tracks have a sign on the exit of the front gate that says, “Did you return your transponder?”
Having to pay an extra fee to get scored is a rip-off. A big rip-off. It would be like going to Burger King to get a cheeseburger and paying for your food, only to have the person behind the counter ask if you’d like to rent the grill to get your burger cooked.