Saturday, March 24, 2018
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20180308 RC Racing Alamo Palms MILLER IMG 4707Tarry Freeman tinkers with his RC car in the “garage area” of the track facility at Alamo Palms.

The fans sat in the stands on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The anticipation was growing as the race cars rubbed and raced, sliding along the track at the turns.

Suddenly four cars wiped out along one of the wide, sweeping turns. The “big one happened” and the collective gasp could be heard from the race watchers.

No, it wasn't Daytona or Talladega superspeedways, NASCAR tracks that are as infamous for their racing as they are for their crashes. The “big one” is a moniker used for the two NASCAR superspeedways, where cars have what's called a restrictor-plate installed for those races for safety as speeds began exceeding 200 miles per hour. What those plates have done, however, is create equality and it's not rare to see those cars racing at 200 miles per hour five wide down a frontstretch. Because all the cars are racing tightly, one little miscue can wipe out 10, 15 or more cars, thus the “Big One.”

20180308 RC Racing Alamo Palms MILLER IMG 4591Resident Tarry Freeman giudes his remote control race car around the track at Alamo Palms RV Park. Freeman holds the track record, running his car around the oval in 7.9 second.

But this was Alamo Palms Mobile Park and the cars were remote control race cars – a hobby that is picking up speed as quick as the feisty autos are on the track.

Opened last November, the “facility” is more than a track. The mainstay is an oval track with a figure eight track in the middle. There's a booth for the “drivers,” to run their cars from and they have added technology that would make any RC fan excited. Behind those who are controlling the cars there is a television screen that is showing data from sensors around the track. Each driver knows how quick their car has made it around the track and are provided more data that prepares them for competition.

“When we created this track, we did it with the intention of being the leader of remote control racing in the Valley,” said Park Director Rocky Ramirez. “This is the future for the new group of Winter Texans. It's a different demographic coming and this is exciting and low impact and anybody can do it.”

The park made sure anybody could compete by building handicap accessible ramps to get to the RC control booth. The park also has RC cars and trucks for rent so anybody can give it a try before deciding to invest in the activity.

20180308 RC Racing Alamo Palms MILLER IMG 4696A remote control racer uses the new air hose to clean out his car during a practive session on the track at Alamo Palms.

Not only does the racing grounds have the technology with the sensors – and plans to place cameras around the track so they can livestream races – but they also have a “garage” area where car owners can tinker with their vehicles, fixing them or making adjustments. There are also air hoses and water hoses to remove debris that can't be reached by hand.

“We want to continually innovate and give our residents and those who come to race in our park everything that they need,” said Ramirez, who thought he held the track record at 8.6 seconds around the oval until veteran RC driver Tarry Freeman told him about his 7.9-second record that now stands.

“Wow,” Ramirez said. “I'm gonna have to get that back.”

Ramirez said that Encore RV Resorts and Thousand Trails Campgrounds, the park's parent company, sent out a manual to all of its locations and used Alamo Palms' blueprint as how to start and maintain a racetrack facility.

“That's a pretty big deal for us,” Ramirez said. “It tells us we are doing it right.”

The park was part of a racing series this year with two other parks, Alamo Rec-Veh and Victoria Palms. Ramirez said he wasn't sure how many more parks would be part of the series in the future, but said several parks had visited Alamo Palms to check out the facility – and of course take their turns on the track.

20180308 RC Racing Alamo Palms MILLER IMG 4597

Rocky Ramirez, Alamo Palms RV Resort director, works on his remote contol race car at the park's racing facility.

The park has close to 30 RC car owners and Alamo Palms had about 65 competitors during the racing series hosted there.

Alamo Palms has more than just the oval racetrack however, they also have a crawler track. A crawler track is similar to an obstacle course. Instead of speed, toughness, strength and durability are used, usually by RC trucks, to climb over rocks, run up ramps with boards and other obstacles set to create barriers and make the course more challenging.

“Again, it's being innovative and making the most out of our racing facility,” Ramirez said. “We also are looking in the near future to remove the figure eight in the middle and use that for tractor/truck pulls and mud races.”

Many times, Ramirez said, there are more fans watching the racing than there are running the cars.

Maybe they're all anticipating “the big one.”

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