The ever growing and developing Hot August Showdown once again brought in racers from as far as Washington to test their skills in low-key competition at the Kootenai RC Racers’ track outside Libby Saturday and Sunday.
In its sixth year, the competition brought in around 15 racers entering almost 30 cars in four categories, said KRCR president Steve Scheer.
McCoy Starkey comes each year with his dad, John Starkey, and the two said they enjoy the more relaxed pace and opportunity to just hang out and enjoy the company of like minded people the event presents.
David Robinson, from Medicine Lake, Washington, said that the Starkeys got him coming along to the Hot August Showdown, and he is happy they did. The race has the hometown feel he remembers from when he started over 30 years ago.
“This is just like that, kind of how I grew up on it with the racing, so, coming back to it’s kind of nice,” he said.
For Jim Mann, from Kalispell, it was his first time racing in Libby. As someone who travels with his nitro-powered cars as far as Washington to compete, he said he could see coming back for the KRCR event next year.
There are a lot of nice touches, Starkey said, from the laid back fun and the guys just hanging out, having a few beers and dogs, to the personalized trophies that Sam Scheer makes for the winners.
Nathan Goulding, another Spokane driver, said he enjoys the group atmosphere, not to mention being able to do things in radio control racing he could never afford to do with a full-sized car.
While it’s not a major, licensed event, the growth and popularity with such a wide range of drivers allows them to attract sponsors such as Venom Power, Boca Bearing Company, Maclan Racing, Savox Servos and Team Trinity, Scheer said. Being able to raffle off the items those vendors give for free to the event helps to cover the costs of holding the race, as well as ongoing maintenance.
A family thing
The Starkeys compete as a father and son team at a slightly higher level than many radio control racers. John said he works as the mechanic, and McCoy is the driver.
In the past two years since 17-year-old McCoy took an interest in racing, John estimates he has invested around $30,000 in cars and equipment, including items such as a $600 charger.
In contrast, Scheer, who also owns and operates Scheer Bros. Hobbies in Libby, said that getting started in radio control racing for the average person should cost between $190 and $230. That would purchase everything someone needs to get out on the track and run some laps.
But, the Starkeys go to competitions that can have 300 entries, with races running until 2 a.m. and starting again the next day at 7 a.m. So the equipment demands for moving quickly from one race to the next can be a bit more demanding.
Still, the cost has been worth it, John Starkey said.
“To me, that’s easy money. I’ll invest that in our relationship, heck yeah,” he said. “We just enjoy doing our things together.”
Starkey said he was into radio control racing when he was younger, but gave it up as he took on the responsibilities of raising children.
He continued to fly radio control planes, and that was an activity he and McCoy already shared when a visit to a local hobby shop in Spokane peaked McCoy’s interest in radio control cars and racing them.
“We got him a car, and he just took off from there,” John Starkey said. “We’re probably closer now than we’ve ever been before.”
John Starkey compared radio control racing with McCoy to any other sport a parent might invest in as a way to connect with their child.
“I love watching him have fun. I love to be able to travel and hang out with him on a regular basis,” he said.
The sponsors like having a team like theirs as well, he said. It allows McCoy Starkey to take the time to go out and be a brand ambassador during the races while also helping other racers, John Starkey said.
Sam Scheer said that the Starkeys have been an asset to the KRCR club and the Hot August Showdown, both in encouraging others to come out and race in Libby, and in some of the tips McCoy has been able to give racers.
As someone with 20 years of experience in radio control racing, John Starkey said he had a good base to build on when his son took an interest. Yet, the technology has taken off in that time, and there was a lot to learn.
That was also part of the reason for the investment to get to where they are now, with multiple on-road and off-road cars, and both battery and nitro-powered racers.
Technology has also put some things in easier reach, Steve Scheer said. A part that even a few years ago retailed for around $200 may only cost $20 now.
Better batteries also mean that cars can run for longer on a single charge and are getting smaller, adding less weight, he said.
While it may give drivers the opportunity to do things with a “toy” that they couldn’t afford to with a real car, there are also a lot of things no real car can do that a radio control car can, such as changing direction mid-air.
McCoy Starkey said there are any number of things a driver can do with braking, acceleration or even moving the tires that will have a significant impact on how the car travels in the air because of the physics of the smaller cars.
There are near endless ways to modify and improve the cars, Steve Scheer said. Part of the fun for all the radio control racers is sharing ideas for modifications as well as tips on driving.
KRCR is always open to new members. Those interested can find out more by contacting email@example.com or by stopping by Scheer Bros. Hobbies on Mineral Avenue in Libby and asking for Steve.
Kootenai RC Racers
Hot August Showdown Standings
(TQ = Top Qualifier from August 4)
1. McCoy Starky (TQ)
2. Dan Thomas
3. Marty Mann
1. Steve Scheer (TQ)
2. Jim Dennis
3. Rosie Rosenlof
1. McCoy Starky (TQ)
2. Jim Mann
3. Steve Scheer
4x4 Short course Truck:
1. Dan Thomas (TQ)
2. David Robinson
3. Alex Goulding