Evan Smith was enamored by the sights and sounds of the dirt track racing as soon as he saw it himself.
Not the full-size cars at the Boone or Knoxville Speedways. Rather, he was captured by the speeding electric RC cars zipping around the twisting, bumpy dirt track at Hobby Haven on 86th Street in Urbandale.
“I thought they were cool and wanted to try it, so I saved up my lawn mowing money and bought a car,” he says. “They’re kind of hard to control at first, so I had to practice a lot before I tried a race.”
Hobby Haven’s dirt track is open for practice any time the store is open and has racing every Wednesday night — when it’s not wet and muddy.
“I’m pretty good at it, but I can still get better,” says Smith. “Some of the guys I race have been doing it for 30 years.”
Smith’s season culminates at the Hobby Haven Off-Road Shootout, a three-day race attended by competitors from around the country on Labor Day weekend.
“This is a fun event,” says Smith. “I get to compare myself to the best in the country. It makes me a better driver.”
Smith, who has two RC electric race cars, is building a third.
“He’s building his little hot rod from scratch,” says his father, Greg Smith, a machinist. “He’s getting experience cutting and bending metal for the chassis, and he’s fabricating some of the parts from stock aluminum. It’s taking a long time, but we work on it a couple of hours a week.”
“It’s going to be fast,” says Evan of his evolving electric car. “These little cars can go about 35 mph on the straightaways.”
With a pile of wheels, extra electric motors and batteries always on a charger, the Smiths take their little hot rods to tracks in Omaha and around the Midwest. Locally, the 80-35 Raceway in Grimes has both an indoor and outdoor track for year-round racing.
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”