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Revved up and ready, track opens

RC drivers maneuver their scaled-down race cars on track built from a dilapidated city tennis court. - Greg Skinner | Staff Photo
RC drivers maneuver their scaled-down race cars on track built from a dilapidated city tennis court.
— image credit: Greg Skinner | Staff Photo

When it comes to operating a radio-control race car, which can giddy up and go up to 35 mph, there are really only two things worth keeping in mind: the first thing to know is that it ain’t nearly as easy as it looks; the second thing is that it’s a heckuva lot of fun.

Monday evening Brandon Collins, of Port Townsend, won the inaugural race at the new outdoor RC raceway set on formerly dilapidated and unused tennis courts on the corner of 11th Street and Warren Avenue by edging around track owner Bryan Schoening’s car near the final turn on the scaled-down road course. Collins admitted that Schoening slowed slightly to make it a “better race.”

“I got him by about 15 feet,” Collins said

Now, beginners and RC road warriors alike have a chance to try their hand (and more to the point, hand-eye coordination) on the new Bremerton track.

Bremerton RC Raceway opened the doors to its indoor track, at 1123 N. Wycoff Ave., a few years ago and is expanding to outdoor racing after signing a lease a couple of months ago for the old and dilapidated downtown tennis courts. A ton of work has been done in recent weeks to clean up the courts and install the track and raised racing stand for operators.

Whereas the indoor off-road track is a red clay surface and full of jumps, the outdoor track is flat and fast with a concrete-sealed surface. The nearest such “on-road” facility is in Olympia.

Port Orchard resident Zane Courtway, 17, who works at BRCR, says Bremerton’s outdoor track will be a little easier for newcomers to get their bearings, since the cars are less likely to go flying through the air and flip upside down as with the off-road course.

Monday night as racers got acquainted with the new road course, cars flew off the track and bounced across the little lanes on their roofs before being righted and sent back on their way.

The track, now in its second incarnation, took about two months of group effort to convert the tennis court to a quarter-scale RC road course.

“The original design was too boring,” Collins said between races Monday.

Collins shared a pit tent Monday with his pal, Bremerton resident Ian Radford. The two RC drivers espouse different faces of RC racing. Collins favors all the high-performance and technical advantages — the expensive aspects — of racing, including tire warmers to keep the miniature tires near their prime racing temp while the battery-packed chassy sits in the pit for a recharge between races. Radford openly bragged about his $100 car with a Sharpie drawn “Team Ramrod” logo on the tail competing with the more fancy teams’ blueprinted cars.

“The cheaper the better,” Radford said of a hobby that can get expensive.

Non-racers shouldn’t be deterred, though, because RC racing is a family friendly experience and, like Courtway, who started racing RC boats when he was about 7, it’s never too soon to give it a try.

“That’s the thing with the new generation, with everyone playing video games, the kids are a lot better younger,” Courtway said. “I know a couple of kids that are 12 and they travel more than I do and that’s because the family wants to do it, but they’re gonna be awesome as they get older.”

Courtway and other longtime RC fans are stoked about the new track and hopeful that the increased visibility will add to the ranks of the fun-loving sport. Those that want to give RC racing a try can rent cars by the hour for personal use or parties at BRCR’s indoor facility at a cost of $25 for the first hour and $10 an hour after that. There’s also a hobby shop at the Wycoff location where newcomers can spend anywhere from $200 to $700 or more to own their own cars and equipment.

The outdoor on-road track now has a locked gate with free key code access available through BRCR. Access to the track will eventually run $25 per hour.

 

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