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The City Journals

Racers take over West Valley Fitness Center

Sep 09, 2021 11:50AM ● By Greg James

Mini-Z racers set up a modular track in a meeting room at the fitness center for the Summer Sizzler event. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The West Valley Family Fitness Center in cooperation with Salt Lake Mini-Z is now offering a weekend of remote control car racing.

The 2021 Summer Sizzler was held Aug. 13-15.

“I talked to the bosses and told them how cool this is and there is nothing like it around here,” fitness center employee Clayton Preston said. “We did this together and this is our third big race at the fitness center.”

They hosted the Black Ice event in February and monthly club races are in the planning stages.

The fitness center has invested in the track and timing system. It has become a developing program much like martial arts, pickleball or cornhole. The track is relatively maintenance free. It requires vacuuming and a water only mopping helps with traction before a big race.

The racing is a community event. Residents are encouraged to participate. Clubs from as far away as Denver and Evanston have joined in the fun.

“With COVID it affected the racing, but it is picking back up. We have had families come and watch the racing. It has been awesome,” Preston said.

There are several classes of Kyosho Racing cars available including NASCAR, Formula 1 and Pan Style cars. The cars and track are 1/28th the size of regular race cars. The palm-sized cars are powered by AAA batteries and have multiple interchangeable steering, suspension and motor options.

A ready set car can be purchased for around $200. It comes with the car, body, controllers and tires. You would need to supply the batteries.

“The awesome thing is all of the guys have so much experience that we all help each other. I was having an issue with my motor and a couple of the other guys asked me if I considered doing this and, wow, I found the problem,” Preston said.

The track tiles are reconfigured several times over. Brain Stanley has developed several track arrangements for Salt Lake Mini-Z, a club that meets in West Jordan monthly for club races. 

Stanley has a website called How Fast Are You (HFAY). He designs tracks and other clubs use those designs and upload race results. The 2021 spring season has 31 contenders in clubs from as far away as Minnesota and Arizona. 

“When we first started 20 years ago we raced in a garage on two sheets of plywood with PVC pipe for sidewalls,” Stanley said. “Racing has evolved a lot since then. We did not have timing systems. We just counted our laps.”

Stanley has become a Kyosho and PN Racing supplier to have the necessary parts when a car breaks down.

“My whole family gets involved. My wife, daughter and son all race. My son started when he was five. Everyone has different skill levels,” Stanley said. “Coming to the fitness center is good. I cannot set this size of track up in my basement. It makes it fun.”

Getting hooked on the sport is easy.

“I had a roommate that introduced me to it,” Preston said. “I figured for $200 it was worth it. It is super easy to get into. I had no car knowledge, and I have learned how to adjust everything.”