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Radio-control enthusiasts feed their need for speed

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Updated: October 21, 2013 6:50PM



WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — The first beautiful day of the week marked the last big outdoor race in Porter County for radio-controlled vehicle enthusiasts.

Saturday, they raced their electric cars and buggies in the second annual Fall Fest at King Hobbies and Raceway in Washington Township, running three qualifying races in each category of vehicle.

“The last hurrah of the year, and the weather’s beautiful for it,” said Jim Walker, owner of King Hobbies and Raceway and parts manufacturer King Headz.

It’s a serious sport for many, and although cars can start at $300, some people put more than $1,000 into their vehicles.

“Some people take this seriously; some people are out for a good time,” said Jeff Hautzinger of Chicago. “I’m kind of in the middle. I’m out for a serious good time.”

Hautzinger began racing three years ago and eventually had to choose between hobbies.

“I played golf for many, many years. This was different,” he said.

Working on the cars gives him something to do when he’s not at the track.

King Hobbies is about the same distance from his home as the indoor track at Joliet, but Hautzinger prefers this in the summer and feels it’s less competitive and the track is changed around more.

Walker built the track five years ago to test products for King Headz but set it up as a separate business three years ago.

“We were getting so many requests from the hobby shops, we had to open it up to the public and for races like this,” he said.

Most that come race electric cars, although sometimes King Hobbies has special events for those racing nitro-charged vehicles.

The sport is increasing as the economy gets better, and many racers are those who’ve been injured in sports like motocross or snowmobiling, he said.

Kris Poloncak of Hebron, who’s raced for 35 years, said it helps that technology has changed so much that people can buy cars ready to race or work on them without being a machinist.

Many at Saturday’s event have been at it for a while.

“As with most hobbyists, they have a passion for it,” he said. “I still feel like a kid at Christmas when I get to race.”

Tina Losiniecki of LaPorte began racing with her dad 10 years ago when she was 15.

“I work and I race, that’s about it. It’s my passion,” Losiniecki said.

It’s not a passion shared by many women or girls, in her experience.

“Pretty much anywhere I go, I’m one of the few,” she said.

Carissa Pressnitz drove almost an hour from Baroda, Mich., for her first race Saturday.

She got into it through her 13-year-old son, Jason Pressnitz, who started in May, and through friends and her boyfriend into it.

Jason likes racing for many reasons but most of all, he said, “I like taking things apart and fixing them.”



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