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REMOTE-CONTROL FANS TURN SAUGUS TRACK INTO SCENE OF LITTLE CARS AND BIG THRILLS.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

SAUGUS - Hidden off San Fernando Road is a dusty track where power- packed remote control cars whiz down straightaways and over jumps, but Saturday's race brought about 150 entrants to celebrate the 60th birthday of a man who is known as the godfather of the industry.

Tented tables served as pit-crew stations where, among the pistons, screwdrivers and young racers sat Mike Reedy - a manufacturer of motors and batteries - for whom the 16th annual Reedy Race of Champions is named.

``I'll be 60 so I guess I'm old enough for the title of godfather. I take it with pride,'' Reedy said. ``My hobby turned out to be my profession.''

Reedy's profession has made hobbyists out of countless young men who grew up tinkering with remote control cars, some - like Jimmy Babcock - who have parleyed their skill of racing the cars into a means to travel to races as far away as Finland and South Africa.

``It's addictive,'' said Babcock, 26, a Canyon Country resident who has been racing for 10 years. ``The fun part is racing, but it's a lot of work to get ready for a four-minute run. The whole goal is to make your car run better than the next person's.''

And try they did, first adjusting oil-filled shocks and pistons and then getting their cars out on the track, where speeds reach about 40 mph. The track, about the length and width of a backyard swimming pool, is owned by Rod Weisbaum, who also owns Hot Rod Hobbies.

But Babcock laughed when asked if there is any money involved in winning. ``Since it's a hobby, it's pretty much bragging rights and bowling trophies.''

Added Weisbaum, ``It's really more of a prestigious event. Bragging rights are big.''

Regardless of winning or losing, 12-year-old John Cox sat in the stands with his family and admired the agility and skill of the drivers, who are perched with their controls above the track.

``It takes a lot of practice to be that good. I just like the speed and the way they maneuver around the track. It's really exciting for me.''

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) A remote-controlled car, above, is airborne as it speeds around the course in Saturday's 16th annual Reedy Race of Champions. Below, a pileup stalls things as racers vie for the best lap times. Racers from around the country competed.

David R. Crane/Staff Photographer

(3 -- color) Brian Kinwaled of Fountain Valley, who races for team Losi, tunes up his remote-controlled car Saturday.

David R. Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 21, 2001
Words:430
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