by Warren Jané
Kris Miller smiles with pride and whispers quiet bits of advice to his 10-year-old stepson Justin Chan as he carefully checks and replaces one of the shocks on his very own RC car.
Miller, president and co-founder of the OutlawRC Club, is currently trying to raise enough money to build an off-road racing track radio-controlled (RC) cars at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds so that more families like his can get together and enjoy their hobby with other RC enthusiasts.
He first discovered RC car racing a few years ago when he was searching for a hobby for his two boys, but quickly found out there were no outdoor racing facilities to be found in the Fraser Valley that catered to RC cars.
“Once you start getting into something, you start researching it and you start looking everywhere,” says Miller. “You start reading all the forums and you realize that there is nothing out there.”
For RC enthusiasts, that means racing the toys in backyards, on public streets and in school yards.
OutlawRC’s vice-president and co-founder Tim Mockford agrees that there is a serious need for a track south of the Fraser River.
“There’s not really anywhere to race,” says Mockford. “There’s only the one track in Coquitlam and it’s not really family oriented. If you go down there, you have no cellphone reception or anything like that.”
So the two men began looking into potential Surrey locations for a new track that would be more appealing for all ages.
“I spent months last year talking to realty services and parks and development [but] I wasn’t really getting any answers back,” says Miller. “So September of last year, I looked at Tim and a couple other guys that were driving cars on Wednesday nights and approached them with this not-for-profit idea.
As president of the newly registered club, Miller’s inquiries began garnering some serious attention, particularly from Mike MacSorley, general manager of the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition, who saw the potential in the idea right away.
“We’re excited about it and we want to help move it forward and make it work,” says MacSorley. “It’s an additional source of revenue for the fairgrounds and I think it helps the community as a whole to get a place where people can gather.”
OutlawRC built its current membership from online forums, such as the one on www.rcpitstop.com, the website for RC Pitstop, a Langley store that deals in all sorts of radio-controlled vehicles.
Vanessa Turnbull, whose husband Wes owns RC Pitstop, says she has seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of RC hobbies with new advances in technology.
“Customers often say how this hobby has brought their child outside and interested in something other than the TV or computer,” says Turnbull. “Families are doing something together and that’s great to hear.”
OutlawRC has raised about one-fifth of the $5,000 needed for liability insurance and the first four months of property rental on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds location, after which point, they expect sponsorship and club membership fees will cover all future payments.
For more information about OutlawRC, visit outlawrc.org