BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Two new tracks behind the Fort Madison Christian Church are bringing radio-controlled vehicle enthusiasts a new place to show off their hobbies.
Fort Madison’s Dan Horn, with some help from his church, has built two tracks behind the church at 1029 48th Street, one oval and one off-road, and is now offering racing opportunities for enthusiasts in and around Fort Madison.
Horn said he used to race in Mendon, Illinois and would help coordinate the races, but he said the owner of that facility closed the tracks and used the parcel of land to construct a building. So Horn said he scraped together some funds and purchased some of the equipment to build his own track.
He started construction at the beginning of the April with some help from family and friends and took about two months to create the off-road and oval tracks. The oval sets just to the south of the off-road track with a driver’s stand constructed between the two for the drivers to stand on while racing.
Horn said his first event was last Sunday afternoon.
“It was a little quieter that I’d like but we haven’t done much publicity about it,” he said. “We had about eight racers but we had about 14 spectators which was nice.”
He’s hoping the Fort Madison RC Raceway will attract a wide variety of racers including men, women, and children. He said the typical race will be 4-minute timed heats on the oval with 6-minute main events and 5-minute heats on the off-road track with 7-minute main races.
“The racer with the most laps in the races will win and if two racers are leading on the same lap the first one across the finish line will win.
Registration for races starts at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday with racing set for 1 p.m. The Baxter Sports Complex has been opening the concession stand for racers to enjoy a cool beverage and a snack.
Horn said after the expenses for racers such as ribbons and prizes are paid, he would like to donate the proceeds from the races to the church, which donated the land for the track. Registration for racers is $10 for one class of racing, $5 for additional classes. He said there will also be a powderpuff league for women and a novice league.
“We’re trying to keep the rules as simple as possible. We don’t want it to be too difficult for people to come out and enjoy themselves. Racers will be asked to marshal the tracks for flipped cars if they aren’t racing in the heat.
Points will be used to determine season winners on each track. No points are given for the novice league as Horn said he wants to use that league to generate interest in the racing.
There will also be a youth night on July 12 in conjunction with the church’s event, where area youth can come out and use the track.
Costs for the cars will run about $250 and anyone interested can get a car locally at Hobbycraft at 803 Jefferson in Burlington or they can look up the cars online and get kits to build the vehicles.
“You can get racing for about $250 with a pre-built car. Those come just about ready to go and they’ll get you on the track racing,” Horn said. “You can also buy kits to build your own and those can run upwards of $600 to $700 but you custom build from the kit. Those provide adjustability in the car and it’s more of a high-end model and is a bit more durable.”
The batteries in the units last about 20 minutes on a full charge depending on the size of the car and the speed they are running at.
Interested racers are encouraged to visit Horn’s Facebook page at Ft Madison RC Raceway for complete information and rules for racing at the track.