Off to the races

MARSHALL – Brandon Skewes’ radio control car raceway, Genesis R/C Raceway, is up and running. He opened it last summer and has been making adjustments and improvements to it ever since.

Skewes and other R/C enthusiasts used to rent the old Runnings building near Hy-Vee before it was purchased by the Brau Brothers.

“We rented that for two-and-a-half years, and it worked very well,” he said.

Having extra land by his jewelry store business near Shopko came in handy when he decided to build a place to fit a raceway, viewing stands and workshop/pit area.

Skewes said R/C racing has always been a popular pastime nationwide but not so much in southwestern Minnesota. He said that is changing.

“I have friends that are making a living racing these cars,” he said.

Skewes does pretty well for himself as well with sponsors and companies wanting his opinion on new products.

“We test them out here and give them feedback,” he said.

In addition, last spring Skewes won the Minnesota State On Road Championships in Duluth.

Skewes said anyone can get into this hobby.

“A lot of fathers and sons race R/C cars together as well as people, usually guys, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s – there’s no age limit,” he said.

R/C racing is similar to playing a video game, he said.

“The skills are pretty much exactly the same,” he said. “It’s a little more active – it gets the brain to do more. You’re always thinking ‘if I change this, what would happen?’ There’s a lot of tinkering involved. The physics of these cars is no different than a real car – it’s just 1/10th scale. Some the best people I’ve seen used to race real cars – the skill transfers.”

At Genesis R/C Raceway there is a counter where people can buy needed R/C items.

“When you race something is always breaking down so we sell items that are commonly sold in a hobby shop, the commonly broken stuff,” Skewes said. “The worse thing that can happen is if you’ve broken stuff, and you’re done for the day.”

The cars race on Ozite racing carpet – “it does not conduct static electricity,” he said – and there is a computerized timing system under the track. The times are shown on a big screen.

Skewes plans to “eventually have rental cars for people to try to see if they’ll like it,” he said.

Skewes said people can spend as much time and money as they want to invest.

“You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be good at it,” he said. “You can take it as far as you want to go.”