By Aaron Waldron
This weekend marks the second time that a marquee event at LiveRC Raceway will attract top pro racers and regional competitors from across the U.S. LiveRC Raceway was built in 2009 in the backyard of LiveRC founder Brandon Rohde’s home in the Green Bay area of Wisconsin, and held a round of the Midwest Nitro Series in 2014 before the series folded. Now, the unique aspects that have caused the LiveRC race grow in popularity among nitro off-road racers in the upper Midwest have helped establish its place a destination event for racers across the region and beyond.
The track itself is the product of hours of hard work, and Rohde’s perspective after seeing facilities of all types around the world. The large dirt lot has been sculpted into a tight and technical layout, with unique features like a split lane and astroturf section complementing a mixture of jumps, elevation changes, and corners. A tall drivers’ stand offers a towering view of the racing surface - which was built with optimal draining in mind, which will allow the track to return quickly to racing condition even after storms such as that which struck the facility earlier this week.
Because the race is hosted at Rohde’s home, he and his family focus on provide a family-friendly environment unlike that found at many major RC races. On-site concessions including burgers, brats, hot dogs, pizza, snacks, and refreshments keep racers fed and fueled all weekend.
It’s not just the location and racetrack that has helped the LiveRC race stand out from similar regional events. The unique schedule offers over eight hours of open practice on Friday afternoon for those able to attend, with an additional 2.5 hours on Saturday morning before the condensed one-day format - which gives out-of-town racers the opportunity to travel home Sunday. In addition to a special rate at the local Holiday Inn Express, one of the many businesses in the town of just 25,000 people to benefit from the boost in local tourism, racers are invited to camp in the track’s parking lot - with cheap RV electricity hook-ups and plenty of room for tents available.
Brandon’s family and friends contribute to the incredible effort required to put on an event of such magnitude, greeting visitors with a smile and welcoming them with open arms.
That process begins in the days preceding the event, with the Rohdes opening up their home to receive packages shipped from out of town racers and manufacturers.
Top Serpent America off-road racer and former national champion Mike Truhe will return to the LiveRC Race to defend his Pro Nitro Buggy win from 2014, bringing with him a star-studded cast of racers from across the country.
Truhe will be joined on the track by veteran Team Associated racer and fellow former National Champion Richard Saxton and long-time Midwest icon Matt Gosch. Joining Saxton in making the trek from California is Carson Wernimont, marking the first nitro off-road race for the 2014 IFMAR Worlds podium finisher since his departure from Team Associated.
What will be the next 1/8-scale buggy to wear Carson Wernimont’s
own Lexan body design? We’ll find out this weekend!
The attending out-of-town pros are just a small fraction of the entrants, a list that eclipsed 100 pre-entries on RCSignUp.
The favorite among regional racers is, without a doubt, Tyler Jones of Rochester, IN. On top of winning races across the Midwest during an incredible 2015 campaign, Jones won the first-ever national championship for nitro buggy racers under 16 years old back in June. Last year, Jones finished second behind Truhe in the nitro buggy division and dominated the nitro truck class.
Jones will be joined by top area drivers Chad Due, Derek and Collin Weatherholt (the reigning Electric Buggy champion), Cole Tollard, Brad Shearer, Zac Rose, Cory Podolski, Brian Mellow, and more.
The winners of each class will take home some of the coolest hardware ever awarded at an RC car race.
In addition to being broadcasted live on LiveRC, this year’s race will once again be featured on local news broadcasts across the country. FOX affiliate WLUK will shoot Saturday morning’s Good Day Wisconsin broadcast from the track.
Additional coverage will be provided by local ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates.
At least five racing divisions will compete this weekend, with the biggest change from last year’s program being the combined Open Nitro Truggy competition that will pit Pro and Sportsman class drivers together, such as will be done for the Open E-Buggy and Open 4x4 Short Course classes. Separate Sportsman and Pro divisions for the 1/8-Scale Nitro Buggy racers will highlight the on-track action.
In memory of long-time local racer Tyler “Mouse” Frea, who died on June 27 at the age of 25, Frea’s family will provide a “Mouse Money” cash purse of over $1200. The purse will be paid out to the top three finishers in each class, as well as a “hard charger” award for the racer who improves upon his grid position most in a 1/8-scale A-Main, and a “Practice TQ” award to liven up Friday’s festivities.
Matt Gerald’s LiveRC short course buggy will be among the full-size racing vehicles displayed for spectators to check out during racing intermissions.
Entries will remain open until Saturday morning, and racing fans of all ages are invited to watch for free on www.liverc.com or at 3545 Bower Creek Rd. in DePere, WI when racing action begins at 9:30 AM Saturday morning. Whether you’re in the area or anywhere in the world, don’t miss one of this weekend’s most exciting events!