EXCLUSIVE: What really happened at Fear Farm RC Raceway?
Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 02:08pm
By Aaron Waldron
On September 22, Robert Dolbin contacted the city of Phoenix regarding potential building code violations at the Fear Farm RC Raceway, site of the annual Dirt Nitro Challenge since 2012.
Within two weeks, the track was closed until further notice.
“My biggest concern was exposed electrical wiring and the guardrail,” said Dolbin, who has worked in architecture and engineering for 17 years during which he acquired plenty of knowledge about building regulations. Though he hadn’t visited the track since April, he felt he needed to speak up when got a new job as an inspector. “Knowing what I know, I felt I had to tell someone,” said Dolbin.
Dolbin noticed the issues after just a couple of visits to the track. “I’m mostly just the tinkering kind, and wanted to start racing at the Farm,” said Dolbin, “but the place left a bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to stay away.” Other racers in the area shared a different version of events, claiming Dolbin alerted the city to potential issues to spite the local community after he was unable to sell a lightly used engine.
Once the news of the track’s closure spread to racers in the area, and then online — and particularly to the private group “Az 1/8 racers unofficial” — the drama ramped up. Dirt Nitro Challenge organizer Joey Christensen contacted Fear Farm owner Ken Sheely and manager Robert Busse, who told him that the 2018 DNC would continue as planned. “They told me ‘We’ll do whatever it takes,’” said Christensen.
The next day, an email sent by local racer Joe Lacey to RC media sites was published on Neobuggy, casting doubt on the DNC and Arizona State Offroad Fuel Championships, and asking for money for repairs. The message was apparently sent without the approval — or even knowledge — of neither the Arizona Radio Control Racers club that operates the Fear Farm RC Raceway, nor that of Christensen.
AZRCR president Bill Mason said he’s been in contact with Sheely about exploring all options to get the track running again, and he did indicate that the club will likely reach out to the RC community for financial support via a crowd-funding campaign, in addition to assistance offered by multiple manufacturers since word of the closure first spread. “We have full intention of having this place up and running in a month,” said Mason, “and we have full intention of having the Dirt Nitro Challenge.”
Until then, though, the local RC community’s anger - as well as a long list of insults and implied threats on social media — directed toward Dolbin is unlikely to subside.
“I honestly don’t feel the need to defend myself, and couldn’t care less what they think of me,” he said, “my moral compass is on track.”
As more information and updates about Fear Farm RC Raceway become available, you’ll find them here on LiveRC. Below, you’ll find the official inspection documents from the City of Phoenix, which are accessible online as a matter of public record.