A local father-son duo is hoping a little hard work will help cement the city-owned radio control raceway at Melvin Miller Park as one of the premier racing destinations in the United States.
Located at 1217 Childrens Home Road, the raceway originally opened in 2011 and was known as Urbana Blue Groove RC Raceway until this year, when the track opened the 2016 racing season on May 6 under a new name – the Urbana Ohio RC Raceway & Park – and new management.
“This is one of the nicest facilities for RC racing in the whole country,” said Cable resident Jerry Jordan, who co-manages the RC raceway with his son, Joshua, a 2015 graduate of Graham High School.
The crown jewel of the facility in Jordan’s opinion is the two-story, 40-foot-long driver’s stand.
“It’s probably one of the top five driver’s stands in all the country,” he said. “In fact, it’s probably the best in the Midwest.”
How the driver’s stand and clay race track ended up in Melvin Miller Park is a story in and of itself.
According to Jordan, after the original owners – Rob Knasel and Mark Mader – put thousands of dollars into building the stand and track for use in the back yard of Knasel’s South Vienna home, the noise emitted from the nitro or gas-powered RC cars led to complaints and thus the need to relocate the raceway.
“Their property wasn’t zoned commercial, so that was the end of that,” Jordan said. “The two guys decided to donate everything to the city of Urbana.”
During the RC racing season, which runs from May through September, the Urbana track is open to the public Monday through Thursday during park hours at no cost.
While the city owns the raceway and mows the property, Jordan said, he is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the clay track and driver’s stand. The raceway also features several flood lights allowing for races to continue into the night if needed.
“I have to pay the electric,” he said. “The city doesn’t pay any bills.”
Jordan also owns and operates the timing system and scoring software needed to host races.
“Time is kept using the newest MYLAPS Sports Timing system, which is very similar to NASCAR’s timing system, and it’s very sophisticated,” he said. “I also use the LiveTime RC scoring system software, which is top of the line.”
To help offset the costs associated with managing the raceway, Jordan has scheduled Saturday and Sunday races through September with the track open to all racers on Friday for practice.
For $20 per entry (discounts available for multiple entries), individuals can enter into one or more of the 11 different classes offered on Saturdays and Sundays. The classes include Nitro Buggy, Nitro Truggy, 1/8 E-Buggy, 1/8 E-Truggy, Short Course 2WD, Short Course 4WD, 2WD Mod Buggy, 2WD Stock Buggy, 4WD 1/10 Buggy, Monster Truck and Novice.
During a typical weekend, Jordan said, he averages roughly 200 entries or about 100 per day of racing.
For those RC enthusiasts unable to race on the weekends, Jordan is now offering Wednesday night races and will continue to do so as long as there is interest. Racing fees on Wednesday is $5 per entry.
“During the summer, we bring a lot of people out to the park whether it’s to compete in the races or just watch, so it’s a good thing for the city to have because it brings people into town who buy gas, lunch and supper here. Jordan said. “I want to thank Chris Stokes (city parks and recreation superintendent) for everything he has done for us. Without him, this RC raceway wouldn’t have happened.”
Jordan added, “We basically operate as a nonprofit as this raceway is not a money-making endeavor by any means. I do this because I love the sport. It’s been around a long time, and it’s getting bigger.”
For more information on upcoming races in Urbana, visit the Urbana Ohio RC Raceway & Park’s Facebook page.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.