- Associated Press - Monday, June 30, 2014

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) - There is a new buzz at Charlotte’s Lincoln Park - the motorized sound of remote controlled cars zipping around an off-road track.

On a recent night, Scott Mcintyre, 38, was at the new 50-foot-wide by 100-foot long track designed for the miniature cars and trucks he loves to tinker with and race. His four-wheel drive vehicle raced around the curves and launched off the hills, according to the Lansing State Journal ( http://on.lsj.com/1syYBBb ).

The RC track has been open at the 19-acre park for a month but the Charlotte resident and others who love the hobby say they come often.

“They’re just fun,” said Mcintyre, of the RC cars and trucks that he owns. “Whipping around the track as fast as you can go and trying to keep them on their wheels.”

Mcintyre admits that he can drive his RC vehicles “anywhere and everywhere” but having a local spot where owners can bring them out for a spin has been a joy.

That’s exactly what Jason Lilly, owner of Backdraft Custom Cycle, was hoping for when he approached city officials in October with a proposal to build the track.

Lilly, 33, has operated the motorcycle custom work business for a decade.

He said the shop specializes in custom Harley jobs but also sells battery and nitrous-powered remote control Traxxas vehicles, too.

The hobby is becoming popular, said Lilly, a 1999 graduate of Charlotte High School, but there was no local track to run and race them. Seeking a solution, he approached the five-member Charlotte Parks Advisory Board with an offer to build one himself at Lincoln Park.

Amy Gilson is Charlotte’s director of public works. She said Lilly’s proposal was an “exciting” idea for Lincoln Park, already home to a 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art skate park, two sand volleyball courts, a hockey rink and a 24-hole disc golf course.

“It’s the kind of recreational activity that fits with the park,” said Gilson. “It’s a family-oriented thing. We (city officials) were actually pretty excited about it. It’s a good fit.”

The concept got support from the Charlotte City Council last fall, but Lilly finished constructing it with volunteer help and a gravel donation from Gale Briggs Inc. at the beginning of May.

“Basically, it was all my time and labor and the donated gravel,” said Lilly. The project cost under $500 to construct and the effort has been well received.

“It wasn’t thousands of dollars,” said Lilly. “It’s great to see the families there enjoying it together. One of my main goals was getting kids off the couch.”

Cody Stetson, 23, of Charlotte goes often with his RC vehicles. Before the track’s construction he had nowhere other than home to enjoy the hobby.

“I’d play with them at my house,” he said. “This is 100 percent better. The track teaches you how to control the vehicle, teaches you hand-and-eye coordination.”

Beyond that, Stetson said it’s simply somewhere new to visit in Charlotte.

Gilson said the track has quickly become a popular attraction. “You see families out here all the time racing cars,” she said.

Lilly agreed. “Every time you go by there’s people there. I want people to use it. It’s a fun hobby, whether you’re 80 years old or three.”

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Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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