The Terrace club for radio controlled car racing is finalizing a number of improvements as they prepare for a special R/C sled-pull event to tie into the Heavy Horse Pull and concert at the Thornhill Community Grounds on May 28.
“We built a special sled for the R/C vehicles to pull,” said club director Rod Steele.
The R/C races are a new competition adding to the second-annual Heavy Horse Pull event which starts at 12 p.m. The R/C races will be at 3 p.m. and the R/C sled-pull at 6 p.m., and live music will be playing starting at 3:30 p.m., with Juno award winner Julian Austin performing at 8 p.m. Anyone with an R/C vehicle can try out the track between events, or register for the races or sled-pull up to an hour before those events.
The North West R/C Club is quite new in town and built the racing track at the Thornhill grounds for its first event at last year’s fair. Since then, the club has built a new driver’s stand and installed a state-of-the-art timing system, which will announce the names of racers and their times for each lap around the track. That system, along with music and announcements from MC Tim Andersen, should boost the race-watching experience for their audience.
For members, the timing system gives them a way to compare stats and accurately calculate hot laps and rank the racers.
The new driver’s stand will be on top of a trailer-sized portable container and will put them higher up so they have a better vantage-point to steer their cars more precisely over jumps and around tight corners.
During the summers, club members meet and race every Sunday afternoon and Thursday night, and for many of the members, the draw of R/C racing is the family-friendly environment.
“I like it because it is good, clean fun,” said member Dave Essay. “The whole family can do it. It’s not loud and noisy… and everybody has good spirit here and helps everybody out.”
He also likes the mechanics.
“For somebody who is young and who is interested in vehicles, it’s good for them because they learn how to set a vehicle up for a track, which tires to use and which shocks to use, and basic maintenance,” Essay said.
Membership in the club gives racers access to the track when ever they want to race and Craig Mills said it also provides a great group to exchange parts and share ideas for customizing and rebuilding R/C vehicles, which cost between $250 and $1,300.
“Most people just think of it as toy cars, but there’s a lot you can learn from it… like mechanics, electronics, suspension,” he said. “It’s almost like being a mechanic, but a smaller version of it.”
With the compact size of the cars and their parts, children often make the best mechanics. One member boasted that 10-year-old Carter Steele is a great mechanic, as his nimble fingers can maneuver the tiny parts much better.
Another bonus is that R/C racing is safe compared to most other types of racing.
“You can drive and crash and not get hurt like motocross,” said Andrew Kennedy.