Kayo Clark, 47, of Westminster, and Terry Turnbaugh, 60, of Silver Run, never outgrew their childhood fascination with cars. Both have long loved racing cars, but after this passion became too expensive to continue, they turned their attention to a more miniature, yet no less serious, hobby — racing remote-controlled cars nearly every weekend.
Both men are welders by trade. Turnbaugh said he used to do Sprint car racing, but was introduced to his new hobby when his friend, Bobby Easter, invited him to watch RC racing at Staub Brothers' RC Speedway, just over the state line in Bonneauville, Pa. There he fell in love with a new kind of car.
For the past three years, Turnbaugh has spent just about every Saturday at the speedway, running his remote-controlled, or RC, car. He keeps a trailer on the property with his cars, parts and a repair area inside.
"It's just a lot of fun," Turnbaugh said. "There are a lot of nice people in this hobby and it costs a lot less money than big cars."
Remote controlled race cars raced at Staub Brothers' RC Speedway are 1/10th the size of real cars. They have to meet specific regulations in specific classes. They have weight requirements, motor size and battery size specifications and some require a special kind of tire. A variety of classes are run every Saturday night. The class, or category of car running, is determined by car type, size, specifications and fuel type.
"Most people need to spend about $1,500, maybe a little less, to get into this hobby," said Scott Staub. He and his brother Todd own Staub Brothers' RC Racing. "You need to buy the car and then you need to buy the radio system to control the car. You need a decent radio. But we do have a basher class that is a little cheaper. Those cars, race-ready, are about $300 or $350."
Clark said he and Turnbaugh got to know each other when meeting up every weekend over the past few years to race their cars.
"One day [Turnbaugh] said, 'You know, I got a trailer and it's just me. We could partner up,'" Clark said. "So now I share the trailer with him. I help him out with things and we just have a good time. We drink soda, eat good food from the concessions stand, and sometimes the ice cream guy comes by. We have a good time."
Clark said he's been racing his RC cars for about six years now.
"I got into it for the same reason as Terry," he said. "They are cheaper than big cars. I drag raced all my life. My father was an avid drag racer too, but I haven't drag raced for about six years now."
Clark said he remembers running RC cars when he was 18 or 19, back in the late '80s at an indoor track in Beltsville. But then he said he got married and life took a different direction.
"When I decided to get back into it, I got on the Internet and started looking around," Clark said. "I found Staub Brothers. When I came up [to Staub Brothers' RC Racing], I made a couple of friends who were willing to help me out to get back into it. RC racing can be an addiction worse than drugs. It's terrible. I have 12 cars at home."
RC cars run on fuel or electric. Clark runs nitromethane gas cars, and Turnbaugh runs electric cars.
Turnbaugh and Clark both said they enjoy working on their cars as much as they enjoy racing them. They said most parts are reasonably priced. But Clark said he can remember one expensive repair job.
"I smacked into the wall and flipped the car over and broke the chassis," Clark said. "That probably cost me about $200 to get everything fixed. I was laughing the entire time, by the way, because it was fun."
Racing season begins the first Saturday in May and runs weekly through September at Staub Brothers' RC Speedway. The speedway is well known within the racing community, drawing competitors from states including Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and New Jersey, as well as Canada. Staub said their track is one of the oldest tracks in the Northeast still racing.
"You can go almost any place in the country and if you tell them your home track is Staubs, they know exactly where you're talking about," Clark said. "Those guys, Scott and Todd, do not get the credit they deserve. They spend countless hours maintaining and prepping this track. They've got the best concessions trailer in town. They even purchased an old firetruck to water the track. In my opinion, this is the best-maintained, best-run outdoor dirt oval in the country that I am aware of."
The concessions trailer sells food and is part of Staub Brothers' RC Speedway. Anyone can come watch the races, free of charge and purchase something to eat while they are there.
Competitors can see where they are in the race and in the standings by checking a flat-screen television with all the information posted as it comes in. The track also has a computerized lap counting system, and according to Scott Staub, it's the same system that NASCAR uses.
"Everybody has a little transponder in their car and each one has a unique number," Staub said. "Under the track there is a thin wire. When it goes across that it registers the number. We can tell you how fast you're going and how many laps you did. It used to be someone would have to sit there and count the cars going by to see how many laps each car was doing. This is a lot easier."
Clark said racing RC cars and racing real cars is very similar.
"One thing anyone who gets into this needs to understand is that this is a real race car, only smaller," Clark said. "There are actually more adjustments you can make on these cars than on a full-sized Sprint car."
Clark said his wife prefers "big car racing," but he said she's OK with the RC cars, and his 15-year-old daughter thinks it's "pretty cool."
Turnbaugh's wife, Nancy, said she supports her husband's hobby.
"I didn't get to go much last year because I worked Saturdays, but I'm going to try to make it more this year," Nancy said. "There's a wide range of people that do this."
Some participants are more serious than others, she said. Some people buy a full-sized trailer to store their cars and parts and they do car repairs inside their trailers; others simply set up a table at the event to repair their car on when it gets damaged during a race.
Clark and Turnbaugh said people who race RC cars come from all walks of life.
Staub said even race car driver Tony Stewart of NASCAR fame races RC cars.
"He owns a company called Custom Works with the largest RC dirt oval company in the country," Staub said. "And his sponsored drivers have come here to race."
At the end of the day, Clark said, racing gives him the chance to unwind.
"I like cars and I like to fish, but if somebody's going fishing and someone's going racing and I have to pick I'm going racing," he said. "I manage a welding shop and 14 guys. Every day is hectic. I come here to relax and have fun."