BROCKVILLE, ON. — A new remote-controlled race track north of Brockville recently opened to the public and brings life to an underused park.
The new attraction held its grand opening on August 21 at Clifford E. Hall Community Park in Greenbush, replacing an old baseball field.
“We were looking for something off the beaten path because obviously our parks have been underutilized,” said Elizabethtown-Kitley Councilor Christina Eady. “There’s not a lot of baseball or football, especially because of COVID, so I was thinking about different ideas and this one came to fruition.”
The grass-covered diamond hadn’t been used for about 10 years. The idea for an RC racing track came from his neighbor.
“I actually saw my neighbor driving down the road and said it was a silly place to drive,” Eady said. “Then I started getting interested in him and his story and then I started doing some additional research and found out that it was actually a very popular sport, so I thought we’d give it a try here.”
With the help of fellow advisor Tom Linton, the duo volunteered their time to create the track in a matter of weeks.
“At the time, I remember having a few drinks here and having fun on Sundays,” Linton said of the park. “Some of the co-ed softball leagues are gone, the park has been pretty much underutilized.”
Local construction companies LA Knapp and Tackaberry provided materials and equipment to begin the transformation.
“It was great to have local support,” Linton said. “It’s really minimal, the cost and the effect on people here is really refreshing to me.”
Linton said about 40 people showed up to the grand opening to try out the track.
“I think last weekend, on a Saturday, there were 22 of us all together in the park, which when we were building the park, we went there for weeks and never saw anyone, so we’re happy to see it used.”
Elizabethtown-Kitley Mayor Brant Burrow praised the team for pushing the idea.
“I have to give all the credit to Councilor Eady; she was the one who came to the recreation committee with the idea,” Burrow said. “It took a bit of persuading because it was way outside of traditional recreation for a municipality, but I was quite proud that everyone was behind it.”
“There was a grandpa here with a couple of his grandkids and they just got into it after seeing the announcement for the track,” Burrow said.
“We have guys who are pretty serious, they pull up with a van and they have half a dozen cars in the back, air compressors, a toolbox full of parts and tools and everything , so it runs the gamut,” he added.
The track is free to race and Linton said it wasn’t too expensive to get into the hobby.
“The (cars) run from $30, just a little cheaper, to as much as you want,” he said. “The two I have can go up to 60 miles per hour. There are actually RC cars that go up to 100 miles per hour.”
He said his cars cost around $800 each, but to be competitive you can find between $100 and $200.
He said the track would fit the park because the RC cars aren’t that loud, and he hopes to raise money to get a stock of RC cars for the kids to tune out.
“That way everyone can have a chance to play. There won’t be kids sitting here wanting to play and not being able to,” Linton said.
“Come and maybe try one out, or borrow one and just get your hands on it and try it out for a bit,” Linton added. “I’m sure people are going to enjoy it, for sure it’s fun to get out in the stands and have a little race.”
Even the mayor has tried his hand at the controls, after 30 years without using one.
“I think I’m still itchy. I think I’ll go through my wallet and get a car,” Burrow said.
And while the course looks easy to navigate, it takes practice and skill.
“It’s like playing golf. It looks very simple and when you get to the course. It’s a big challenge,” Linton said. “But it’s a lot of fun, it really is.”
The team saw people from Ottawa and Smiths Falls showing up to use the track, with the expansion already a conversation.
“The goal is obviously to get bigger and better,” Eady said. “We’ll try to do a crawler track next, and then hopefully next year we can build an oval track.”
“The thing is, why should we build what everyone else already has?” terrier said. “Doing the same thing over and expecting different results is madness. When Christina came to the recreation committee with this great new idea, we said okay, low cost and worst of all, c is if that fails, we just come with a skid steer loader, load it up, take it away and we’re done.”
“The reaction has been fantastic. Hopefully it will continue. I think it will just grow and grow,” Burrow added.
“It makes me super proud, really happy,” Eady added. “I’m really glad it got to where we wanted it to. There’s actually more people here than I thought.”