200 top drivers to compete in remote control Winternationals

More than 200 top race car drivers, from 10 states, will be in Rochester this weekend, tearing up the clay oval track and sometimes turning laps in less than 5 seconds.

Some of the racers, at just 6 or 7 years old, have little or no experience in a national championship setting. Others have been involved in racing for three decades or longer.

They'll come from as far away as North Carolina, but they didn't drive hundreds or thousands of miles towing their race car in a trailer. Instead, their cars, their backup cars and their backup-to-the-backup cars could fit in a suitcase.

Tea's Hobby Shop in Chester will play host to the 2011 Midwest Outlaw Remote Control Car Winternationals.

This is the third consecutive year that Tea's will play host to the Winternationals and, this year, the field is full, at 200 entrants. They'll compete in nine classes, from novice level on up, beginning today, for a spot in Sunday's A Mains.


"Some of the guys coming are pretty professional races," said Tom Ashton, who operates Tea's along with his son, Charlie. "The A and B Mains on Sunday will be incredible races. Some of them have been doing this for 25-30 years."

Everything at the Winternationals will resemble what you would see at a major dirt-track racing event. Racers work on and tweak every part of their cars, down to the tires and shocks. All cars are fitted with transponders, so lap times and race results are available instantly after each race.

The track record at Tea's clay oval track, which is 172 feet around, is a 3.2-second lap.

The competitors in the novice class, many of whom aren't even 10 years old yet, won't challenge the track record, but they are skilled at motoring their stock trucks around the track.

"Some of them are wizards at it already," Ashton said.

The Ashtons have been involved in RC racing for more than 20 years and moved into their building on Chester Avenue about two-and-a-half years ago, Tom Ashton said.

The field will even include drivers from Tony Stewart's Custom Works R/C cars. Stewart, according to his website, bought the R/C car-making company in 2003 and moved it to its current location in Denver, N.C., in 2003.

"He's been great about putting his money back into motorsports at all levels," Ashton said.

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