R/C track proposed in Rusk
Pictured is an example of a remote control vehicle that will be available for rental at the proposed R/C race track in Rusk. The Redcat Racing Blackout model is a one tenth scale, off road model with stock motors and six cell batteries. This model will run at an approximate speed of 20 mph out of the box and will be featured in a separate class at the track.
Rusk resident Chris Baker wants Rusk to get its race on – remote control style.
Baker, a recent transplant from California, presented a proposal to Rusk City Council members Thursday, Aug. 9, to install a race track featuring radio-controlled (R/C) vehicles at Jim Hogg Park, or wherever city officials deem it would fit best.
“I always figured as soon as we invented the wheel, people started racing the wheel,” Baker told council members with a laugh. “My goal with this project is to provide clean, fun, family-inclusive entertainment and events in Rusk.”
His proposal initially placed the 60-foot by 30-foot oval dirt track, with jumps, a 1.5-foot raised pit area and a small booth for rentals, at Jim Hogg Park.
“These machines are hobby-grade,” he explained. “And can be expensive. But my track will have one distinction over every other track in the country – I’ll have race-ready vehicles for rent, so anyone who wants to participate, can.”
Baker said his ultimate goal is to bring outside racers to his track by becoming ROAR (Remotely Operated Auto Racers)-sanctioned and reported R/C race events generated about $89 million in revenue last year.
“ROAR is the governing body of R/C racing,” Baker said in an interview prior to Thursday’s meeting. “They’d provide insurance, marketing and would send people from all over the world to this track. R/C racing is a huge hobby. Some people spend $5,000 to $6,000 on their racers, then outfit an $80,000 trailer to get to races with. Then they pay to have the whole thing put on a boat and shipped overseas to race in other countries. It’s that big a deal.”
He said he understood concerns had been aired via social media.
“I know there’s been a lot of concern about putting the track out there,” Baker said. “The area I’m proposing is at the very edge of the park, next to the road, away from the equipment and buildings already there. But I’m more than happy to work with the city to find a better location, if they truly don’t think Jim Hogg Park would be the best place.
“It would be an ideal location, since there’s already infrastructure there,” Baker said. “I do not plan to expand into the park and I plan on working with the city and keeping the integrity of the park. I’m a wood-worker by trade so I plan to match the aesthetics of the park with anything that is built out there and make sure it’s not an eyesore.
“There will be no pavement, no habitat disturbed, no trees cut – I’m also restricting racers to electric only, to keep the noise to an absolute minimum, so neighbors will not have to listen to any gas-powered motors.”
Park Director Amy Rinehart said while she thought the idea of the racetrack is a good one, she didn’t think Jim Hogg Park was an appropriate location for the attraction.
“There’s a very specific feel at Jim Hogg,” she said. “I just don’t think something like this would be in keeping with the historic value of the park. Maybe moving it over here by the pool and the Civic Center might work better. We’ve got lots of room over here, and utilities, too.”
Area resident Monica Thomasson agreed, when the citizens’ comments on that item were invited.
“I want your business to be successful, I really do,” she said to Baker, before addressing the Council, “but we don’t want see the integrity of one of our local landmarks destroyed. Lots of people agree, there are better places to put something like this than at Jim Hogg Park.”
District 2 Councilman Walter Session asked, “How fast can these things go?”
Baker answered, “Generally, 20 miles an hour but some modifieds and open-class racers can go to 110 miles an hour. Off-road racers can get up to 50 or 60 miles an hour, too, and can jump up to four feet into the air. These are not toys.”
Baker illustrated his point by bringing out an R/C car, and demonstrating how it handled, how loud it is, how fast it could go by piloting it around the Civic Center floor.
District 5 Councilman Jan Pate declared with a laugh, “You’ve just sold it right there. But someone on Facebook just posted the deed to Jim Hogg Park said it can only be used for recreation or education, not for business. We need to check that out.”
District 4 Councilman Ken Ferrara agreed.
“That looks like a fun father/son, or mom or daughter thing,” Ferrara said. “I’m all for it, if we can find someplace everyone can be happy with.”
Rusk City Council members took no action on Baker’s proposal during Thursday’s meeting, but did agree to work with him to find a suitable location and revisit the matter at a later date.
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