Nestled inside Lake Mayer Community Park is a little-known piece of Savannah history, Phil Hurd Raceway. This outdoor track is the second oldest continually operated RC racing facility in the U.S. And, according to S.C.O.R.E. (Savannah Chatham Off-Road RC Racing Enthusiasts) club chairman, Cramer Giddens, there was even a time when the races held at the track were so popular, fully sponsored racers would make a stop in Savannah to compete.
“Racing was what they did for a living,” he says. “... And we hope that bringing back these types of races will encourage more people to come out to see what we are all about.”
One of those races the club has begun to host again is the Georgia State RC Off-Road Championships, which take place Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Lake Mayer. Registration is $40 for the first class and $30 for additional class. Trophies are awarded to the top five finishers in each class and the event features a number of raffles and giveaways.
The event is also free and open to the public to come out and watch. Spectators are allowed access to the pits and are encouraged to talk with drivers about their hobby. Giddens suggests meeting with drivers on Sunday, as Saturday will be non-stop races to see who makes it to the final rounds.
The race weekend kicks off on Friday, Aug. 31, with arrivals and practice, and the following day features the qualifying races.
“Saturday could easily last from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” he says. “Those are races to see who qualifies for the main races on Sunday.”
He adds that while the club is seeing more interest from out-of-town racers to come to Savannah for this series, he’s hopeful these events will also draw local interest.
“The track is open to the public since it’s on county property,” Giddens said. “Membership is $40 each year and $5 to add a family member. Those fees help cover the cost to maintain the track. We just went through a rebuild to fix up the track, so it’s a brand-new layout — we try to do a complete rebuild twice a year.”
While this hobby can become expensive, Giddens says he often sees new members after they have a chance to see what RC racing is all about. There will also be vendors on hand at the race, so newbies can take a look at what it takes to put together and maintain the RC cars.
“Our goal is to put potential members with a club member that teaches that class so they can point them in the right direction and get them started. I’ve seen kids come out and start and the next thing you know, their dad is putting together his own car and racing, too.”
Giddens says last year, the club had 137 members and their goal is to reach 150 this year.
“We are gaining in popularity,” he says. “In the late '80s, this property was one of the premier East Coast facilities … and we want to back to that.”