|Ranks of RC hobbyists grow at Mitchell’s Toybox|
|March 11, 2016 Frank Marquez|
Photos by Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Mitchell businessman Randy Schanaman displays two of his remote control (RC) cars at his indoor track, affectionately called by fellow RC car hobbyists, “the Toybox.” On the left is a Yokomo B-max2-mr 2W drive 10th scale buggy. One the right is his Yokomo B-max4-iii 4 wheel drive 10th scale buggy. Area hobbyists gather on most Saturdays to practice with their cars. A race is planned at the Toy Box on March 19-20.
Randy Schanaman has just three rules for his unofficial club of remote control car racers who call themselves the RC Car Hobbyists of the Nebraska Panhandle. Have fun. No complaints. No cussing.
“Guys get fired up sometimes,” said Randy, who built a 70-foot by 47-foot complex of indoor and outdoor tracks at his Mitchell business, Randy’s Auto Service, endearingly referred to as the Toy Box. He doesn’t allow free flowing profanity, which the heat of racing cars can sometimes spark.
Randy’s track has been in the works for the past two years since buying a building in Mitchell’s east end. He moved his business from Scottsbluff after 13 years, deciding he no longer wanted to lease.
“It’s my hobby, my obsession. It started about 25 years ago, around 1992-93. I went and watched one time, got a car, and went from there. Back then, I raced locally for three years, with about six to 10 guys who were doing it on their own,” Randy said.
The group of racers started out on a track at the Monument Mall in the north end of Scottsbluff. Then the guy who ran the track closed it up and moved to Omaha, Randy said. Shortly thereafter, a track went up near the Scottsbluff Zoo, now the Riverside Discovery Center, the following year, and lasted only for a few years.
“It isn’t really a club,” Randy said. “We don’t elect a president, a treasurer or any other office,” to avoid squabbles. “It’s easier just to own it, and have all these guys help out to run and maintain it. Sometimes, they offer to use their trucks to haul in dirt,” Randy said. This spring he plans to bring in more dirt to resurface.
Two weeks ago, in Wheatland, Wyo., about 14 racers from the area, mostly from Scottsbluff and Gering – two were from Torrington and another two from Rapid City – entered races held there at the fairgrounds. Randy said the track in Wheatland usually hosts three to five races a year.
It’s more than an unofficial club; Randy considers the group of racers a sort of fellowship. They help each other, not just with cars. They offer prayers for each other in what Randy said is like a “ministry.” In a way, he and his wife, Anita, both members of the Mitchell Berean Church, met through the pastor’s wife and remain the bedrock for the band of racers. Married for four years now, Randy recalled when the pastor’s wife phoned him saying Anita needed help with her car.
Almost immediately, he sensed a set-up, something he said the pastor’s wife denied. They spent quite a while beings friends, went on a couple date, and eventually got married.
Since then, hundreds of racers have filed through the Toy Box, so named because someone said something about Randy’s toys. Another racer agreed, and said, “Yeah, it’s a Toybox.”
Anita joins Randy on occasion, though she spends most of her time tending to a quarter-acre farm just outside Mitchell. The couple tends to a dog, chickens, horses and a mule. They have no children, except for 55-year-old Randy, who considers himself a big kid, not unlike the ones accompanied by their dads, the older children who refuse to give up their toys.
After a long layoff from racing, Anita brought Randy back to it.
On Christmas three years ago, she bought him a remote control car – an 8-scale nitro Truggy (a cross between a truck and buggy).
“It’s my favorite to race, because it’s big and powerful,” he said.
There are an assortment of classes, which Randy rattled off, two-wheels, four-wheels, 4-wheel buggy, 4-wheel Truggy, but the one that seemed to matter to him most was the Sportsman Class, or entry level, because of his soft spot for beginners. “We let them race whatever they have,” he said. “Partly because the hobby can become pricey.” Normal starter kits can range in upwards of $250 and easily reach a grand before potential hobbyists can absorb the full breadth of it. “You need a remote, batteries, wheels, and that’s just the beginning,” Randy said.
He recommends Connecting Point, a business specializing in remote cars and sells ready-to-run starter kits for $180.
After reacquainting himself with his passion, Randy built a track behind his house, and then another in the pasture.
One thing led to another, then he decided to move his business from East Overland in Scottsbluff to an industrial patch east of Mitchell. “The place seemed too big, at first, but it turned out to be awesome,” he said.
This past winter, he decided to expand to weekly practices.
Starting in May, Panhandle racers can come out to the tracks on most Saturdays from 3-7 p.m. He said, the track would be closed on Sunday because it’s a day of rest and “most people are in church anyway.”
He holds one race a month outdoors May through September, and indoors November through March. Randy plans two days of races March 19-20 with three heats per class on the first day, and the main events on the second day. Racers will have a chance to earn Indoor Series Points for the top three places.
Randy, who dropped out of Scottsbluff High School, has proven himself a savvy businessman and hard worker. Yet, he said, “I still don’t know what I want to be when I get big. I know I’m going to get older, but I don’t want to grow up. We all have this little kid inside. I just got to let mine out.”
For more information visit the Facebook page for the Randy’s RC Toybox and RC Car Hobbyists of the Nebraska Panhandle.
RC remote control racers Matt Holcomb, Robert Greene, and 7-year-old Maxen Dietrich practice at the Toy Box last Saturday in Mitchell.
Photo by Lisa Betz-Marquez/Gering Citizen Seven-year-old Maxen Dietrich carries a plastic tube across the outdoor track on Saturday at his uncle Randy Schaneman’s Toybox. The outdoor remote car racetrack is in progress with ongoing upgrades.