For the last 4 or 5 years or so, Portland’s RC racing scene has been trying to find its identity. With a few relocation and numerous ownership changes, the community has endured through many questionable times only to lead us to an even more uncertain future. Each time the race track changed hands, the formula was altered with a dash of this and a touch of that with hopes in finding a perfect mixture of happy racers and a good business model. Unfortunately, it has yet to be done, but why is that? There is more than enough racers here in Portland to keep doors open for longer than just a couple of months/years per owner. Perhaps what Portland needs is a someone to shake things up A LOT and not just take things over and continue what wasn’t successful. Maybe…. just maybe what we need is to start things over on a totally clean slate? Hmmm…….
When Bruce Lawson first took over Top Gear’s clay indoor off road track in Clackamas Oregon, he quickly learned that in order to survive as a business the current model wasn’t going to cut it. Rent was higher than he’d like, cost of track changes were constantly adding up contributing to a higher overhead, and the summer was probably going to mean the imminent death of TGRH. Fearlessly, Bruce was looking towards the future and how he could make racing more viable as a business and next thing you know, the word hit the streets that Top Gear Raceway was closing down and moving location to a whole new facility AND on top of that it was going carpet!
When the rumor mill started spinning, the community felt a shock like it never had before. No more dirt off-road?! What?! Honestly, you could feel the RC community here tearing in half as some were open to the ideas of carpet off road and the other half was staying purist, loyal to dirt. Debates of carpet vs dirt were infecting social media, rctech, and literally …..every time I heard anything about RC, I would hear something about carpet vs. dirt. It was everywhere.
I’d like to congratulate Bruce and Amy on their vision and hard work. With just 30 days, they and a group of dedicated individuals got this place cleaned up, painted, prepped, and track installed. Huge thanks to the volunteers because without them, this place wouldn’t have been race ready on opening day. Yes, there is still a lot to do, but the ground work has been laid and the facility will only grow and mature with time. But what’s most important is that we have a nice facility to play at which is, as always a welcomed delight come winter.
The idea is to run multiple different types of racing on 1 track. Now that the jumps are actually really, “features”, they can be moved around and replaced with ease. This opens the doors for more than just 2 or 3 race nights and if Bruce really wanted he could have like 5 or 6 race nights… 2 days dedicated race nights per discipline or what ever he felt like or was up for. As of now, there’s even an indoor cement drift track on the side for all the drifters who want somewhere to run their cars.
With the move to Ozite, track changes could be done in less than an hour and each time you change the track, you can tweak it a bit to give racers a new challenge very frequently. New features could be built overtime and used accordingly to layout and track space. With carpet, there’s no more cost of renting tractor equipment and packers. No more watering the track at night or hearing complaints about the track being too wet or dry. There’s no humidity or mold growing because of the humidity. No more soft clay syndrome where you can’t walk on the track because it’s too soft. No more dirty cars and tires! My favorite has to be no more multiple bags of tires with different pin heights. The bonus is no more tire sauce! As for negatives? Well…. it’s not dirt, but I think I will get over that quite quickly.
1st Night of Racing
Opening night of racing was great. The usual die-hards and as well as the local who’s who of racing showed up in support of the new track. It was good to see and for the most part, everyone had a great time. I heard a lot of positives and even some of the early naysayers actually having a good time once they tried it. Yes, there are a lot of people expressing their negative opinions about off-road cars on carpet with ZERO experience driving on carpet 1st hand, which just boggles my mind. In the end, it’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong because that’s totally not the point. It’s about RC racing and doing it because we love it. It’s about the love of the sport and really is the one thing that links us all together.
This isn’t a race write-up so no results and podium pics, but a story about a track and its community. Also, another cool thing that happened on opening race night was racers were treated to a surprise BBQ brought to you by Discovery Auto Glass. Cheers for the free BBQ! What a way to kick off a new business!
As a kid I fell in love with RC cars almost instantly when I saw it for the 1st time on TV. It was a life changer and I had to have one. I had to play with it. Now many years later, I’m still playing with them and I still love driving them. You know what they say, “Some things never change.” However, with so many years being involved, it would be hard not to change a little. Cars and electronics are a bit different I guess, but much the same. The track, went from loose outdoor to now carpet indoor… polar opposites, but either way I will still love driving my cars all the same. To me it’s not about what or where I race, but the fact I still have a place locally to play with my toys and that is what I’m grateful the most.
With that, I wish Bruce and Amy all the best in a successful business venture into that proves to coexist with the community for a long time. Today marked the 1st race day of many more successful race days to come. Thank you for all the hard work up till now and can’t wait to see what the future holds. If you’d like to check out the new track for yourself, please do stop by if you have a chance. It’s a lot of fun and you might be surprised on just how much fun you’ll have.