Macomb has now entered into the world of competitive remote control (RC) car racing through the newest addition at Veterans Park.
Jason Miller, a Macomb resident, suggested the idea of building the dirt race track at Veterans Park. He said the Macomb Park District was on board from the start, donated the land for the project, and helped pay for the driver’s stand that overlooks the track.
Miller designed the race track, pitched in money to pay for it, and then convinced his friends and family to build it.
“My father Stephen Miller brought it to life,” Miller said. “He’s the one who did literally all the work. I am a disabled veteran so I can’t do very much labor so he’s got a lot of hours in this and used his own equipment.”
Miller told Tri States Public Radio he started competitively racing RC cars just this year and said he went “haywire,” quickly becoming hooked on the sport. Miller said he was traveling a lot on the weekends to visit raceways in Moline and Peoria, Illinois as well as in Fort Madison and Keokuk, Iowa.
“We travel around to a lot of different towns, have a lot of fun, and have a lot of good people show up to it,” Miller said. “I thought this would be a wonderful thing to bring to Macomb not only for our youth, but it also brings people in from out of town.”
Miller said he hopes to start hosting racing competitions every Sunday beginning next spring, which he said could be a tourism draw for the community.
It was at such a competition last February that Miller met Larry Wright in Fort Madison.
Wright, who has been involved with racing for nearly forty years, said the sport has become quite popular and people travel around the region to compete. He said that he can typically find a competition almost every weekend within a four-state area.
Wright said the track in Macomb is one of the nicest he’s ever seen. “It’s a nice large track, it’s got wide turns, wide straightaways, relatively high banks, and a nice quality drivers stand,” Wright.
He said the driver’s stand, which sits about 15 feet off the ground, is a must for racing competition. It gives drivers a much better and complete view of track versus racing at ground level.
But, Wright said what’s in the vicinity might be even more of a selling point than the track itself. Veterans Park in Macomb is close to area hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores, and there’s even a playground within view of the track.
“Those are all things that help make a difference in the success of a track because us racers will bring our families,” Wright said. “A lot of people have younger children and the wives come and a lot times they’ll load up, go to the park, go shopping or whatever while we are here racing.”
It’s too late in the racing season for Macomb to host any competitions this year. In the meantime, they’re hosting "Sunday Funday" events for anyone who wants to come out, bring a RC car, and test out the track.
The ones he races are tenth scale racing cars which are, “bigger than what you’d buy at Walmart, a lot more technical and quite a bit faster. We do full chassis adjustments just like you would on a real race car,” Miller said.
Those cars can be expensive and many of the ones he owns cost several hundred dollars. As part of his efforts to introduce RC car racing to Macomb, Miller said he’s working to organize a swap meet. “They’ll give people in the community who want to get started [racing] [a chance] to buy a good used car without the full expense of going out and buying a new one,” Miller said.
Miller said the track is open to any type of remote control car and is free for the public to use anytime Veterans Park is open.