ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
You may not hear the famous “Gentlemen, start your engines” that signals the beginning of a NASCAR race, but if all goes as planned, by early this spring the sounds of race cars could be resonating from the Hillsboro Sports Complex.
These cars won’t be multi-million-dollar vehicles, but remote-controlled cars that are affordable to almost anyone.
Thanks to the efforts of local enthusiasts, the Back Alley RC racetrack could be just months from existence, according to spokesman Jessey Hiebert.
“We hope to be up and running early this spring, pending the success of our fund-raising efforts,” Hiebert said. “Initially, we need about $2,000 to get this thing off the ground and that will pay for the fence around the track and the drain tile to outline the track.”
The track became a serious idea when Hiebert and Hillsboro Recreation Director Matt Dalke, met with Hillsboro City Council and were given the go-ahead to develop it.
Site location of the proposed track recently has been altered from the initial proposal, but will be constructed at the Sports Complex just north of the west tennis courts.
“The city is willing to let us have the ground and the initial use of city equipment to get this track built, but the rest of it comes from our own funds-then it’s our obligation to take care of it and keep it upright,” Hiebert said.
“As the users, we’ll be responsible for the weeds and for the general upkeep of the track.
“It’s nice for the City of Hillsboro to let us host this track, especially at the Sports Complex,” Hiebert added. “That’s some pricey real estate, and for them to offer us this opportunity I think makes the city look good, and we’re going to do our best to hold up our end of the deal.”
Eventually, Hiebert and his colleagues hope to attract remote enthusiasts from outside of Marion County.
“There are already tracks at places like Salina and Hutchinson, and they actually have a series that run at those tracks,” Hiebert said. “For us to be included in that series, we need to bring some of those people here so they can see we’re serious about this to the point of hosting our own events.
“That’s our goal-to host an event to bring all those people into Hillsboro.”
Local use of the track won’t be limited to Hillsboro residents.
“We want other people to use it as well,” Hiebert said. “We have a lot of people from Marion who run RC cars as well. It’s being housed in Hillsboro, but it’s for everybody.”
Hiebert hopes the track’s association with HobbyTown USA in Wichita will also promote participation and local use.
“They’re offering discounted prices on anything from support equipment to actual cars,” Hiebert said. “Anyone who says they’re associated with the Back Alley RC track will get that discount.
“They’re also going to give us a nice banner for our fence, with our name on it as well as theirs, and they’ll be linked to our Web site.”
Hiebert said more information about the project is accessible on the Web at backalleyrc.com.
“This will give information about the progress of our fund-raising efforts,” he said. “We want to educate people and let them know we’re currently raising funds to get this thing going.
“Anyone with access to a computer and is interested in getting information about radio-controlled cars can access this as well,” he added. “It’s basically a bunch of operators who give information, such as how to fix cars, where to buy them and just general information.”
Donations for the track are being accepted at Great Plains Credit Union located at 110 E. D St. in Hillsboro
“People can go directly to the savings association and contribute to the account called Back Alley RC,” Hiebert said. “Also, if people want more information, they can contact me directly at 947-3220.”
Once the track is constructed, the group will not charge people to use it, Hiebert said.
“It will be open to the public,” he said. “For those people who have children interested in remote cars, this is a great opportunity.
“As an operator myself, I can tell you it’s a lot more fun running on a track than in your own backyard or on a slab of cement,” he added. “When you get your friends together for this, it’s really entertaining-whether you’re running a car or just watching.”
The track will also offer an opportunity for even more people to use the Sports Complex.
“Parents who comment that the Sports Complex isn’t used enough, here’s a chance for them to step up to the plate,” Hiebert said. “This isn’t all about little kids, because adults can have just as much fun by getting a car and running with the rest of us big kids.
“It’s a great bridge between kids and adults, whether you’re 50 or 15.”