R/Cers revving up for season of racing
The odor is a mixture of ozone and small-engine exhaust. The whine of the motors rises and falls like cicadas on a summer day.
Standing five abreast, racers practice the course, maneuvering their gas powered and electric remote-control cars through the turns, and sometimes missing them.
They are getting ready for the big race, the fifth week they have been able to compete in Carson City thanks to the formation of the High Desert R/C Club.
Those on the wooden stand move with the cars, as though they were actually behind the wheel, as they navigate the track laid out on the south end of the Edmonds Sports Complex parking lot.
It’s early yet, and there are only a dozen or so drivers warming up for the start of heats on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Mike Santiago is preparing the track for the race. His wife, Patricia, is taking money for membership in Remotely Operated Auto Racers, a remote-control model racing organization that provides insurance coverage.
Santiago, 25, moved to Carson City in 1993 and has been interested in racing cars since he was a teenager.
But, there was no place to race in Western Nevada, which is one of the reasons the Carson City racing club has become so popular.
“About 40 percent of our racers come here from Reno and 15 percent come from Hawthorne,” Santiago said. “It’s an hour and a half drive for anyone who wanted to race before we set up this track.”
The track is put up and taken down every race Sunday. It consists of white tubes laid out to make the actual track, the wooden stand from which the racers control their cars and the computerized system used to keep track of
Up to 10 racers participate in the heats leading up to the main race. Racers establish pole position in the heats and earn points based on their place.
“Everyone makes the main race; we just set them at different levels,” Santiago said.
Santiago pointed out there are several father-son racers participating in the club.
The youngest racer, Jake Lopes, is 10 years old and races with his father.
Jake, a student at Meneley Elementary School in Carson Valley, won the trophy dash and the novice class the weekend before.
“It’s fun. I enjoy it,” he says as he struggles to get the battery cover onto his remote control. He is a little more forthcoming when discussing the TC3 sedan he races.
“It has a Monster Stock Jr. motor,” he said. “Gas engines are faster, but the electric is easier to control.”
Jake’s father, Lance, said the hobby doesn’t stop when they leave the track and go home to Gardnerville.
“At home we have to get the cars ready,” he said.
The racers use the same system NASCAR does to keep track of whose car crosses the finish line.
Each finish earns the driver points and the end of the season, in November, they will be tallied up to determine the winner.
Santiago said there are only two Sundays over the next six months when the racers won’t be out, but that doesn’t mean bad weather won’t stop a meet.
He said the club hopes to establish nonprofit status and club members are working on bylaws.
Anyone interested in joining the club may stop by the racetrack on Sunday afternoon, except June 9 or Nov. 3, or contact Santiago at 841-0720.
Point series races are every other Sunday and started May 26. Trophies will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in each class at the end of the season.
All racers must join Remotely Operated Auto Racers, which costs $30 a year and $10 for additional family members. Entry fee for non-point series races is $10. The fee for the first car in point series races is $10 and $4 for