It’s said the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, but when it comes to radio control cars, the lines blur.
“A lot of people say these are toy cars,” said Darren Hill, vice president of Radio Control Car Club of Spokane (RCCCS). “They’re not toy cars. They’re highly engineered miniature race vehicles,” he said. “They’re not a toy, but really they are,” Hill admitted. “They’re big kids’ toys. They’re just a kick and they’re for all ages.”
On Memorial Day weekend, young, old and the in-between will converge at the Hank Perry facility, an RC track in Spokane Valley, for the 25th annual Hank Perry 240 to maneuver their highly engineered miniature race vehicles around the newly renovated and expanded track.
Although predominately a testosterone-induced sport, Hill would love some estrogen tossed into the mix. “We’d love to get more females out. We have a couple now and they have just as much fun.”
In 1986, RCCCS founding members built the Hank Perry facility on Sullivan Road. Over the years, interest in the sport waxed and waned as the club changed hands with each new administration focusing on different goals.
The track was “pretty rundown” Hill said. “It was becoming real cumbersome to take care of and an eyesore. I heard serious racers talking about how small our facility was. I just got a hair and said here we go. Besides, we had to upgrade. The cars have gotten bigger, faster, more powerful and more durable.”
Over the past three months the facility has gone through major overhaul. Every weekend in whatever Mother Nature dished out, Hill and a group of volunteers dug, pushed, tore down and installed fence, lights, steps and a driver’s stand. The club also received thousands of dollars in donated equipment and materials from local businesses.
“This project was much bigger than what I thought it was going to be, “Hill admitted. “I thought, how hard could it be to move a fence and put a new driver’s stand up? Well, it turns out we’re zoned commercial and so we had to follow commercial guidelines. It cost a lot of money – money the club doesn’t have – but now that it’s done, it’s safer and follows a much tighter code.”
Hill is hoping this weekend’s event will help cover the $10,000 out-of-pocket costs and finish the project into a state-of-the-art RC track. “We’re here for the community; we’re here for the park,” he said. “We want to incorporate this into a park environment. That’s my goal.”
The Hank Perry facility is also the second in six stops on the Northwest Championship Tour. It attracts RC enthusiasts nationwide. “We’ve got guys flying in from all over the country to run,” Hill said. “Guys who are paid to race these.”
That doesn’t mean beginning RC enthusiasts can’t participate or come out and use the track. In fact, club members encourage people to come down any race weekend and “watch, ask questions, talk to the guys, get a feel for what we’re racing; what we’re using. It’s best for newcomers to come down and talk to people.”
Hill is a racer and fully appreciates the pure high-octane rush of being “in control of this little car. They’re so complicated that the set-up on the cars is just like off-road with shocks, engines, tires, even nitro.”
The club has 250 entries for the Hank Perry 240, and since many participants are traveling to Spokane for the event, Hill is keeping entry fees low – $40 for first class and $35 for second class.
“We’ll have T-shirts and raffle prizes. Trophies will be awarded to the first through 10th place winners in all classes,” he said. “Our president is building the trophies.”
The track renovation has also united enthusiasts and local businesses. Hill is adamant the renovation would not have happened if not for the many businesses who donated materials, equipment and raffle items particularly Mid-Mountain Machinery, H&E Equipment, Waste Management, B&B Hobbies, Idaho Forest and Alliance Door and Products among others.
“We went through major expansion and renovation to update and modernize the facility for the RC community,” Hill said. “I’m excited to get it done and see the people out here using it and enjoying it. They’re going to be in awe when they come out and see what it is.”