Monday, April 28, 2008
sponsored by Maple Ridge

More than one racetrack in Lincoln

Outdoor remote control racing starts Friday

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[April 28, 2008]  The cars can hit speeds of 60 mph, but speed alone won't win. Tight turns, jumps and other vehicles on the race course mean a driver's skill is more important than just opening up the throttle and outracing the other drivers. As with all auto racing, going too fast at the wrong time means a racer finds himself wrecked or overturned and probably out of the race.  Caption: Pictured are owners Darrell & Lorrie Paige.  [pictures by Mike Fak]  click on picture for larger image

At R.J.D. Hobbies and Raceway, however, the drivers always walk away unscathed from an accident, save perhaps for a bit of personal anguish at pushing their vehicles past the limits of good racing judgment.

The Raceway at Bee's Floral and Landscaping, 1302 State Route 10, is home to auto racing all year-round. The vehicles are remote control racers, but they are not the same as those early models that came around in the 1960s. These vehicles, either electric or gas engine, are far larger, more sophisticated and realistic than the originals that often couldn't outmaneuver the family dog.

Darrell and Lorrie Paige, the owners of the raceway, are kept busy, not only helping clients with landscaping help and lawn and garden equipment, but also with servicing an ever-growing number of remote control enthusiasts. These enthusiasts work continually to improve their vehicles to compete in weekly races at the track, which is right across from Lincoln Christian College.

The store has shelves filled with tires, suspension and engine parts that show an observer these cars are almost as complex as their larger counterparts that run the track during the summer at the Logan County Fairgrounds.

Lorrie explained that there are several different classifications of vehicles currently popular with racers. "There is the monster truck, the Truggy and the one-eighth scale Buggy, which is very popular and can hit speeds of 60 mph," she said.

Darrell was quick to point out that just like with its bigger cousins, the driver of a remote control car must rely on more than just speed. "Tire changes, pit stops for fuel and who can keep their vehicle on the track -- all these are factors in deciding who wins a race."

The raceway has an indoor track that offers electric car racing to enthusiasts in the winter when it's too cold and inclement to race outdoors, and they hold races for gas engine cars during the summer on their huge track just to the east of the store. Both agreed that probably 75 percent of the winter racers switch over to the outdoor gasoline racing in the summer. "Some of the indoor drivers are sprint car drivers, so we do lose them when their season comes around, but many remote control hobbyists race both types of cars," Lorrie explained.

Although the weather has yet to break, outdoor racing is just around the corner. "Our first race will be Friday night, May 2, and that will start our outdoor racing season, which will be every Friday starting at 7 p.m.," Lorrie said.

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The outdoor racing season entrants for the Friday night events usually number in the mid-30s, depending on other events around the state. "There aren't many tracks in the area, and we have drivers from Bloomington and Springfield and other communities that enjoy coming here to compete," Lorrie noted.

Even though, like its larger counterpart, remote racing is primarily a male sport, it by no means doesn't welcome women to try out their skills against the males. "We have a few women who race, and everyone is certainly welcome to become involved," Lorrie said.

When asked how someone, male or female, can get involved in remote control racing, Darrell stated, "You can buy a car that's ready to race right out of the box, if you want, or you can build your own from parts. Building your own can be involved, and a person can spend as much time and money on their race car as they want."

A basic car ready to race runs in the neighborhood of $300 to $400, and an enthusiast can take it from there, adding and refining as they progress as a racer.

Lorrie explained that there is plenty of enthusiasm for new racers to join the sport. "We have a novice division, and the expert racers are very decent guys who are more than willing to help out someone who is just getting started."

When asked the range of racers' ages, Lorrie proved the adage that we all are only as old as we feel. "Racers probably range from about 10 years old to 50," he said.

Although the initial cost of the hobby is not inexpensive, the continuing costs to be active in the sport are extremely reasonable. "We only charge a $15 entrance fee to race on Fridays," Darrell said. "The races can last for up to seven hours, and where can you have that much enjoyment for only $15?" Lorrie added.

To make the sport even more fan-friendly, spectators are welcome to bring their lawn chairs and pull up to the fence and watch the races for free. To continue to add realism and spectator interest to the sport, the cars are fitted with transponders that keep track of laps and lap times so spectators as well as racers can stay attuned to who is leading in the race.

Those who might be interested in taking up this sport are welcome to stop by on a racing night and see for themselves what remote control racing is all about. In the event you find yourself catching the bug to become involved, both Lorrie and Darrell will spend all the time you need to find out which car was made just for you.

A checkered flag is waiting.


Readers can find more of Mike Fak's writing at and

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