- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

FARMLAND, Ind. (AP) - In one man’s own backyard, surrounded by cornfields, there is an RC racing track so big, it can be seen from an aerial Google Maps view. Yes, it’s bigger than his house right beside it.

Dan Bartles, known as “Nitro Dan” to his peers, possesses more than 50 radio-controlled vehicles, which rest on shelves in his garage. He’s a collector, a buyer, a seller, a trader and a racer.

And more specifically, he’s a “nitro guy.” It’s how he got his nickname.

“I’ve been a nitro guru, I guess you could say, forever. I can make anything nitro run,” Bartles said.

“Nitro cars” run on a combination of methanol and nitromethane. A typical 200-mL fuel tank runs seven minutes, as opposed to an electric car that can run an entire race after being fully charged. That means in an average, 30-minute race, pit stops are required to keep the car going.

Bartles used his talents as a home builder to construct his own race track on his property for his own nitro cars. He calls it “The Danger Zone.” It’s made with a little field tubing, wood and dirt, equipped with its own pit stop and a stand that allows racers to oversee the track.

The Danger Zone used to be something only he and his six children would enjoy, but recently the track turned into a means of getting his community involved in the hobby he loves.

“For the longest time, I had built it for mainly me and my boys just to have fun and play on, and everybody kept asking me, ‘Why don’t you open it to the public?’” he said. “So, I started opening it.”

Bartles allows access to the track on weekends. He charges $10 a day to bring a car on the track and race and $15 to rent one of his cars. He said it’s a way for beginners to try it out without the commitment of purchasing an RC vehicle, which can range anywhere from $100 to $400. He just asks that his guests provide their own fuel.

“Come out. Take it for three hours. Test it out,” he said. “You like it? Go buy you one. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. You rented one, had a fun time. Come out and rent it again if you want.”

Bartles was introduced to the racing life himself around 8 years old. He began with BMX. Then it was four-wheelers, and then, motocross. He even raced actual cars until he had his first kid at age 27.

Now, he’s translated that passion into his RC cars. It’s still the same concept, just a little less dangerous and a lot less pricey.

“It’s still a bit of an expensive hobby, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the real (cars),” he said.

Eventually, Bartles wants his hobby to become his main source of income. Until then, while it remains his main source of fun, he can gaze at the shelf of awards in his garage, holding trophies he’s earned from various races.

The adrenaline rush from winning is what keeps him going, even if it’s with smaller cars than he used to race.

“Whether you get paid for it, whether you get a trophy, none of that matters,” he said. “It’s the fact that you know that you outran that other guy. It’s exciting. It’s fun.”

If anything, the trophies bring back memories of moments spent with his kids. Each of them has at least one car of their own with which to race on their track. Bartles said he likes to see his children outside racing or in the garage working on cars rather than parking themselves in front of the television playing video games.

His hobby has become a family thing, a way to give his kids a chance to see what he loved so much growing up.

___

Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, https://tspne.ws/2aAT6zq

___

Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide