Radio-controlled vehicle racing gains popularity in Halifax area
RC enthusiasts build 167-metre track and 'bash area' at Beaver Bank baseball diamond
A core team of radio-controlled vehicle hobbyists in the Halifax area has built a race track and demonstration park open to the public.
The Halifax RC Park in Beaver Bank is on the site of a former baseball diamond, with the backstop, dugout and stands still intact.
"We brought in six or eight loads of clay dirt, rolled it flat as we could with a machine, and then we laid out Big O pipe [for the track edges]," says Rhodri Armour, president of the Halifax RC Park Society.
The society convinced the Halifax Regional Municipality to lease out the ball diamond in 2014 because of an increase in the hobby's popularity in the city and to have a safe, competitive, space where RC hobbyists could gather.
The Halifax RC Park had its grand opening in 2015.
"Radio control cars are great for going around your yard at home when you're on your own, but it becomes boring quite quickly and also fairly dangerous," Armour said.
"If you're running up and down your street then someone can come in their full-scale car and cause a right mess on your little thing. So, it's better to have somewhere to go and where everyone can come to."
New battery technology and electronics
The Halifax RC Park is made up of two areas: a 167-metre race track, coiled in on itself, and a "bash area" where people experiment with their cars off man-made jumps and obstacles.
"If you want to try something new and you have a mechanical inclination and you like meeting people and having some fun, then it's a great hobby to get into," says society treasurer Pierre Plante, who's raced RC vehicles since the mid-1980s.
Plante estimates there are close to a thousand dedicated RC hobbyists in the Halifax-area.
"It seems to really have picked up in the last five to 10 years," Plante says.
"It's been the ease of use, especially with new battery technology and new electronics, makes it much easier and much safer to use, and you get longer run-times."
Plans for a drivers stand
Armour says the Halifax RC Park is used regularly by hobbyists, although use drops off in the winter because of cold temperatures.
Races involving four to six vehicles happen weekly on the track during the late spring, summer and fall.
Armour says the next step is to build a drivers stand, about a storey in height, where competitors can have better sightlines for tracking their vehicles. He said the control consoles for RC vehicles are similar to gaming consoles, giving the hobby cross-over potential for video-game savvy kids.
"It's kinda like gaming, except you're outside, which is a real benefit of radio control cars as a hobby," Armour says.
"It means you have to be outside to do it, you can't sit at home and be inside, so you get a bit of fresh air."