BROCKVILLE, ONT. – A new remote-controlled racetrack north of Brockville recently opened to the public, bringing an underused park to life.
The new attraction opened on August 21 at Clifford E. Hall Community Park in Greenbush, replacing an old baseball field.
“We were looking for something that was off the beaten path because our parks were clearly underutilized,” said Elizabethtown-Kitley Councilor Christina Eady. “There isn’t a lot of baseball or football, mostly because of COVID, so I was thinking about different ideas and this one came to fruition.”
The grass covered diamond had not been used for about 10 years; the idea of an RC race track, coming from its neighbor.
“I actually saw my neighbor driving on the road and said it was a silly place to drive,” Eady said. “Then I started to be interested in this and the history, then I started to do more research and found out that it was actually a very popular sport, so thought we would try it out here. “
With the help of another advisor, Tom Linton, the duo volunteered their time to create the track for a few weeks.
“Back then, I remember having a few drinks here and having fun on Sundays,” Linton said of the park. “Some mixed softball leagues are gone, the park has been pretty underutilized.”
Local construction companies LA Knapp and Tackaberry provided materials and equipment to begin the transformation.
“It was great to have some local support,” Linton said. “It has been really minimal, the cost and the effect it has on the people here is really refreshing to me.”
Linton said about 40 people showed up at the grand opening to try out the track.
“I think last weekend on a Saturday there were 22 of us all together at the park which when we were building the park we went for weeks and never saw a soul so we are happy to see it used. “
Elizabethtown-Kitley Mayor Brant Burrow praised the team for pushing the idea.
“I have to give Councilor Eady all the credit, she was the one who came to the recreation committee with the idea,” Burrow said. “It took a bit of convincing because it was well outside the traditional recreation for a municipality, but I was quite proud that everyone supported it. “
“There was a grandfather here with a few of his grandchildren and they were just getting started after seeing the trail ad,” Burrow said.
“We’ve got some guys that’s pretty serious, they come up with a pickup truck and they’ve got half a dozen cars in the back, air compressors, a whole toolbox full of parts and tools and everything, so that covers the whole gamut, “he added.
The track is free to run and Linton said it wasn’t too expensive to get into the hobby.
“The (cars) go from $ 30, just a smaller, cheaper one, up to as much as you want,” he said. “The two that I have can go up to 60 miles per hour. There are actually RC cars that will go up to 100 miles per hour.”
He said his cars cost around $ 800 each, but to be competitive you can find between $ 100 and $ 200.
He said the track would adapt to the park because RC cars aren’t that loud, and he hopes to raise money to get a supply of RC cars that the kids can take out.
“So everyone can have the chance to play. There won’t be any kids sitting here who want to play and can’t,” Linton said.
“Come and maybe try one, or borrow one and get your hands on it and try it out a bit,” Linton added. “I’m sure people will appreciate it, it’s really fun to go out in the stands and have him do a little race.”
Even the mayor tried his hand at the controls, after 30 years without using one.
“I think I’m still itchy. I think I’m going to dig in my wallet and get a car,” Burrow said.
And while it seems easy to go around the course, it does take a bit of practice and skill.
“It’s like playing golf. It looks very simple and when you come out on the course. It’s a big challenge,” Linton said. “But it’s a lot of fun, really.”
The team saw people from Ottawa and Smiths Falls come forward to use the trail, with the expansion already a conversation.
“The goal is to get bigger and better obviously,” Eady said. “We’re going to try to do a crawler track next, and then hopefully next year we can build an oval track.”
“The point is, why should we build what everyone else already has? Said the terrier. “Doing the same thing again and expecting different results is crazy. When Christina came to the recreation committee with this great new idea, we said okay, low cost and the worst part is if that fails, we just walked in with a skid steer loader, load it up, take it away and we’re done. “
“The reaction, it’s been fantastic. I hope it continues. I think it’s just going to grow and grow,” Burrow added.
“It makes me super proud, really happy,” Eady added. “I’m really glad he got to where we wanted him to. There are actually more people here than I thought.”