Early Years of the HOA

Early Years of H.O.A.

By: Arlynn Simon

As I recall, and this is written by an old fart that some people say is senile so this may not be completely accurate, the H.O.A. was started in the fall of 1971 at the old King Radio plant in Olathe, KS. I recall Bill and Ken Campbell of Delta, Elmer and Dave Schilli, Ted Schaefer, Bill and Tony Stuckwich, George Schultz, Larry Flatt, Mac Klotz, myself Arlynn Simon, Rex Widmer and about three others (whose names escape me at this time) were entered. I cannot tell you who won overall but Max Klotz and I had a haphazard race in beginner's class, which I won, not bad for the first time running an RC car. The cars were a mix of Delta, Associated, MRP, Dynamic and 1 RaCar hybrid. The engine of choice was a Veco 19. Radios were wheel or stick by Kraft, Futaba, Delta, Champion and a couple of others. Fuel was airplane fuel with about10% nitro. Tires were the equivalent of about 45 Shore on the rear and rocks on the front. Rear tires were 2 ½" wide while fronts were 1" wide. Suspension was almost non-existent. We had solid rear axle, no diffs. The chassis on most cars were 1/8" aluminum, steel, or spring steel. Brakes were almost working. Bodies were made of Butyrate or fiberglass. Weight, who cared? Quick-change wheels took 3 minutes if you were fast. Carburetors, they were junk even if you had a good one. Races were about 20 minutes or until the last man was standing, whichever came first. More times than not it was the last man standing. Keeping a car together or an engine running for 20 minutes was a major achievement, not to be looked upon lightly, almost lifting the person accomplishing the feat to a mystical or God like stature. To listen to the B.S. at the end of the day we were all the equivalent of A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty or Fangio. Remember this was '71 or '72, Gordon, Hornish, or Schumaker were still having their diapers changed if they were even around then.

The H.O.A. consisted of 1 race its first year since it started in Sept. or Oct. Only the Midwest series is older. The following year St. Louis and Des Moines were added to the schedule. Attendance slowly rose from 15 to 20 in the early years to 60 to 70 in the early 80's. Lincoln was added and then Minneapolis. Des Moines was dropped, as was Lincoln; Omaha was added and Sioux Falls was later added.

Lap counting was done by hand on paper to start with, and then we modernized and got the push button counters. We only had 6 frequencies in the 27 MHz bands that were legal so our features only had 6 cars at a time. Runaways were rather commonplace. Eventually we really became modern and got a computer to help run races. Still we had to punch the cars in by hand but we were in the computer age. It still took 3 people to run the race; one to announce, one to call out the car numbers and one to punch them into the computer. By now we were allowed to run 72 MHz frequencies so we could run up to 10 cars in the feature. We were still limited to 10 cars in the feature because the computer would not allow any more.

Brands of cars kept coming and going, Associated, Delta, MRP, Dynamic, Star Car, RaCar, Champion, Amps, Heath Kit, MRC, Marker, PB, Cook, BMT, Serpent and even some others that I can't remember the names of. Dynamic had the first suspension car that I can remember: Heavy, Heavy, Heavy. One rear wheel and tire assembly weighed as much as a complete set of four now. One car had a flat pan chassis and four wheel drive with a chain link system running the front wheels. Amps cars were fully independent suspension with gear diffs and heavy.

Engines were Veco 19, McCoy Veco19, Enya, K&B, O.S., OPS and some others. In the beginning Veco 19's were the most reliable and then you moved to a McCoy 19 with a ringed piston that you changed the ring in when you started to lose compression; and then the K&B 21 came out and almost made the McCoy Veco obsolete. We ran a restrictor class at that time, with the K&B's running small carbs. and 10% nitro but with the 19's you could run a larger carb. and 20% or 30% nitro, which was the way to go as they were much stronger than the restricted 21's. Later we ran a super stock class with no nitro fuel. You could mix your own fuel at home with methanol and Klotz 2 cycle oil for about $4 a gallon. Nearly all of the early engines were airplane engines that we clamped heat sinks on for cooling, and then they started milling the heads so that you could mount a larger more efficient cooling fin to the head.

For the first few years we ran straight pipes and megaphones for exhausts on the engines. Your ears would ring for a couple of days after a big race. Eventually, mufflers were required. Some mufflers worked, some did not. Some you could buy, some you made from metal gas tanks on your own. Sometimes you fabricated your own fuel tanks. Pressurized tanks were unheard of in the early days. Two and three speed transmissions, you've got to be kidding? You never put traction on tires or the track either. By the end of the weekend you had fairly decent traction from the oil off the exhausts. You stood on the ground to race until you got a milk carton. We then moved to a drivers stand about 5 feet tall.

Through all of this we still had great races and great times and made some good friends (and enemies) but we all had a blast. We had about six women drivers race with us through the years. Sheila Barnett, Georgia Campbell, Peggy Nale, and Rita Robertson are some that come to mind. They did their share of winning also. Probably the biggest name to come out of the H.O.A. besides me is Art Carbonell. He won more than his share of the races. I actually beat him one time in an exhibition Australian Pursuit race. That's the way I remember the early days of H.O.A.