By Aaron Waldron
After over two decades on the calendar as one of the world's premier electric off-road races, during which it survived a handful of ownership changes, the Scottsdale R/C Speedway Cactus Classic underwent a huge change in 2015 when it moved indoors at a new location - the combined Hobbytown USA/SRS Raceway/Phoenix Indoor Karting facility - about 20 miles northwest of its longtime home.
Two years later, the race was dead. The facility officially closed its doors in December, marking the 30th annual Cactus Classic in March 2016 as its last. And while it could always return in the future, its legacy has passed.
LiveRC Facebook account -- various pictures and results
LiveRC Twitter account -- breaking news and live race updates throughout the weekend
LiveRC Instagram -- pictures from the pits
Phoenix RC industry veteran and owner of Tempe's Hobby Action, Larry Tom, took the opportunity to fill the void left in the desert's RC scene by opening a second location of his hobby shop with a 7500-square-foot indoor dirt track. Construction on the new location began in June 2016, and in December - just weeks after the closing of SRS Raceway - Hobby Action RC Raceway announced its plans to host its own big event called the Desert Classic. The next month, Hobby Action RC Raceway announced that multi-time national and Cactus Classic champion Ryan Maifield - the best-known Arizona-born racer in RC history - would serve as a consultant to help make the facility the best it could be.
And it's magnificent.
The track is made of dirt - like, actual soil that requires treaded tires - with outer dimensions of 100 ft. x 75 ft.
There's enough space in the pit area to all 171 drivers signed up for this weekend.
And the hobby shop is thoughtfully laid out with plenty of parts.
Though it took a little bit longer to get up and running than originally planned, Hobby Action RC Raceway hosted the public for its first practice day on February 25. The first club race on March 4 drew 130 entries, and 86 more showed up last night for the second.
Today, Desert Classic entries - including stars like Spencer Rivkin, Dakotah Phend, Ryan Maifield, Jared Tebo, Ty Tessmann and more - hit the track for one round of practice with three days of on-track action still to come. Here's the schedule for the weekend (local Mountain Standard Time):
Friday, March 10:
9:30 AM - Two rounds of controlled practice by heat, four minutes each
6:00 PM - Seeding practice round, four minutes each
Saturday, March 11:
7:00 AM - Three rounds of qualifying, with resort after round two
Sunday, March 12:
7:00 AM - One round of qualifying with main events to follow