Hundreds of drivers from all over the U.S. are gathering in Chico this week for the biggest radio-controlled car race in Northern California. It's an event that draws some of the most skilled R/C drivers in the world. The JConcepts Summer Indoor Nationals is part of a 5 race series leading up to a big championship event in Southern California at the end of the year. Organizers with A Main Hobbies, who host the race each year on their custom clay track in Chico, say the event has doubled in size over the past 4 years.
"This event is our largest. We're expecting about 300 entries. We get people from Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Florida, all over California," says Kevin Kaiser of A Main Hobbies.
Drivers of all skill levels will have the chance to compete in 6 different classes ranging from buggies to stadium trucks. The 3 day event hits the ground running on Friday when drivers get a chance to test out the course before the start of qualifying races on Saturday. Then, it's all about pushing the cars to their limits as drivers grind it out all the way to the finish line.
JConcepts President Jason Ruona says, "When we get into the racing on Sunday, where it's head to head, then there's people lining the track watching the event. That's when it comes together."
The event has become so big that it's turned into a full scale production with more than 100 work stations being put out to allow drivers to work on their cars before hitting the track.
"There's a lot that goes into it. They have to plan and prepare and make set-up changes; tire changes depending on the track conditions. So a lot of them come with a lot of extra stuff that they don't know if they're gonna need, but they're always ready for it," says Kaiser.
For drivers like Bakersfield native Zack Rogers, who has been racing for 6 years, the sport has become a part of everyday life.
"I didn't really know it was a big spectrum like this, worldwide with paid drivers. So just getting to do events like this even though I'm farther down the totem pole now is awesome. Just getting to see all the new up and comers and hang out with your friends and see awesome places like A Main Bobbies is a blast," he says.
When the winners make their way to victory lane on Sunday it doesn't mean the checkered flag is raised for racing season in Chico. A Main Hobbies is currently working on an outdoor track at the Silver Dollar Speedway to host even bigger races in the future. If you'd like to attend this weekend's race it's free to the public and kicks off with qualifying races starting at 9 a.m. Saturday morning at Outback Raceway on Otterson Drive. The competition will wrap up with the final races going on all day Sunday.