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The City Journals

R/C racing a family and friends affair

Aug 29, 2019 11:49AM ● By Greg James

Lucy Herold began racing her 1/10 scale VW this summer. She wants to win every week, but mostly she wants to beat her dad. (Photo by Greg James/City Journal)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The r/c raceway has become home several nights a week for a group of diehard car racers. The group includes old men, young millennials and a 13-year-old girl from West Jordan, Lucy Herold.

“I am going to try to beat my dad today,” she said as she pulled her car from its carrying box. She runs in the on road mini class at Murf’s Intermountain R/C Raceway in South Salt Lake (1000 West 2480 South) every other Saturday morning. “It is fun; we worked on my car this week. We changed the ... what is it called Dad? The upper control arms, and I am ready.”

Working on a one-tenth-size car has been a good experience for a 13 year old. Her father, Louie Herold, engaged with his daughter in a different way than most parents. “I help her, but I try to let her learn with it,” he said.

“After the stunt you pulled out there,” Lucy said, pointing towards the track. “You spinned me out. You started it dad, you did.” They argued playfully in the pits after the race. Louie lapped his daughter several times to finish second in the mini division that day.

“I could not get my car to hook up today,” the mini class winner, Ryan Glazier, said. Glazier and the Herolds share a friendship on and off the track. 

On a smaller scale, Lucy and Louie have bonded while using cars that are less expensive than their larger counterparts, on a track that is not nearly the size of an international speedway.

Intermountain R/C Raceway is home to on-road and off-road remote-control car racing. Twenty to 25 competitors typically race outside on the eight-turn speedway built in the parking lot of the old warehouse. While inside the off-road course, complete with a driver’s stand and pit stalls, hosts national events with hundreds of competitors from all over the country. 

Track announcer Rob Gillespie is an Associated team driver and travels the country representing his brand and home track. 

“I have been racing since I was about 5 years old,” Gillespie said. “My dad was a factory racer just like I am now. We stopped racing for a while and came back when I was about 15 years old. I have been hitting it hard. I used to come to the track four days a week, but I have only been racing a couple of days a week recently.”

Off-road racing can have as many as eight different race classes while on the road could have as many as 40, but Intermountain typically hosts five or six different styles of cars. 

“The semi class is quickly becoming my favorite on-road class,” Gillespie said. “It is relatively inexpensive, and those trucks are fun to watch. We would let anybody run. The touring cars are the more elite around the country. We also run pan cars that are way cool to watch, but across the country they are not as popular.”

Gillespie competed in the electric off-road nationals Aug. 22–25 in Columbus, Ohio (after press deadline). The electric on-road finals were held Aug. 2–4 at Speedworld Raceway in Roseville, California. 

“I really like the off-road two-wheel drive buggy,” Gillespie said. “You can throw tricks in the air like a motocross bike, and I really enjoy that. I can do things in the air that make off-road a little more fun than on-road. I like the 12th-scale pan cars on the pavement they are fun. The race I am headed to in California sold out in seven minutes. They have become very popular.” 

One on-road class is F1. The cars are patterned after the worldwide open-wheel racing series. Several of the local drivers have painted their cars to match the full-size race cars. They even display the sponsor stickers such as Target and Jimmy Johns.

“I hear that the semi class runs about $200 with the radio and battery,” Gillespie said. “After that, you may need to buy extra parts to keep your car on the track week after week. Some classes can run $1,000 or more. The place we have here is very, very special to have. The dirt alone has been around for 30 plus years. It is the same dirt they used when the track was in Magna. The people that we have makes is that much better. The friendships and camaraderie are really enjoyable.”