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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Daltonsville Raceway Park: Fast Track to Family Fun

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, August 27, 2005

Richard Haskins and his son Dalton, for whom the "Daltonsville Raceway Park" was named.
View Slide Show
Adams – It’s a dream come true for a four-year-old child: a 17-foot-long racetrack for miniature “hot rods ” complete with authentic, wall-mounted yellow-green-red starting lights [known as a “Christmas tree”], dual racing lanes powered by four car batteries, micro-switch controllers, and accessorized with tiny grandstands and roadside “towns.”

The “Daltonsville Raceway Park” was built by Richard Haskins of Apremont Street for his son Dalton, 4, and the elaborate garage-based “drag strip” is providing good, clean slot car racing fun for Dalton, his dad, and numerous family friends.

“When my garage doors open, the Daltonsville raceway comes alive,” Haskins said.

"For My Son"

Speaking on Aug. 27, Haskins said that the raceway construction began when his son was about two years old. An avid NASCAR fan who’d owned slot cars as a child, Haskins said that he wanted to create something special that he and Dalton could enjoy together as the boy grew older.

“I love this,” Haskins said. “I really wanted to do this for my son as something that he and I could share, and he loves it. I built him a Spiderman funny car and it’s just the coolest thing.”

Dalton’s enthusiasm and excitement were evident; as Richard Haskins spoke, Dalton had a few questions.

“Can I race? When can I race, Dad? When can I race?”


Racecars ready
Area racing aficionados have formed the Miniature Hot Rod Association, and Haskins is hosting the “Inaugural Summer Nationals” competition this weekend. The Aug. 27 event hosted two youth racing divisions. Brandon Haskins, 11, and five-year-old Joshua Vallieres, won championship trophies, ribbons, and gift certificates donated by Hobby World in Adams. Racers in both divisions were awarded ribbons and gift certificates for their efforts. Additional racing events are scheduled for Aug. 28 and 29 at the family home.

Raceway Roadside "Under Construction"

Haskins said that as he designed and built the racetrack, his imagination ran full-throttle with ideas, and the raceway became more detailed and extravagant. The track width measures 10.5 inches with 5.25-inch lane spacing. The timing system is a Trakmate Drag Pro 3000 program, and the track hosts five sensors per lane, including pre-stage sensors. “Power taps” are spaced 16 inches apart to keep the power level consistent. Haskins erected two drivers boxes outfitted with micro-switch controllers and the track is equipped with bump switches.

And he isn’t finished yet.

The raceway “roadside” was created by using toy tractor-trailer trucks, miniature cars, small buildings, and other accessories meant to bring an authentic “drag strip” feel to the raceway.

“I want to put in some [miniature] carnival rides and a [miniature] dirt track,” Haskins said. “And I’m going to fill the grandstands with miniature people. I want to do lights for night racing. I’d like to get some smoke [effects] under the cars. I really want to do full scenery. This is extreme slot car racing and I love it.”

Haskins is a maintenance worker for the North Adams Housing Authority and his wife Michelle Haskins is employed by the Adams Council on Aging. He and his wife are very family-oriented, and the club was launched as a way to bring families to the raceway and enjoy the hobby and the competitions, Haskins said.

Good Races, Good Sports

Raceway events hosted at the home are kept free of alcoholic

Brandon Haskins captured a championship trophy during an Aug. 27 youth race.
beverages, unsavory language, and aggressive, unpleasant behavior, and are filled with good sportsmanship and a spirit of cooperation.

During the Aug. 27 youth races, parents accompanied their children and the races went off without a tear or tantrum from children or parents. Children raced against each other in pairs and race winners were paired up for the "finals." The young “drivers” sat on stools and eagerly watched the lights flash yellow and then, as the signal blazed green, hit the controller to launch their racing car. A computerized system determined the finish and the winner; the cars moved so quickly that the naked eye could not determine the victor.

Club member Gaylord Saulsberry was among the adults who assisted Haskins with the race.

“It’s all about kids, adults, and families,” Saulsberry said. “There’s not a lot of nonsense. This is a competitive thing but there is a lot of support, a lot of helping out, stuff that you don’t often get with competitive things.”

Haskins has turned one corner of the garage/raceway into a design space for building, repairing, or fine-tuning miniature HO-scale racecars. Tiny parts were scattered about a workbench and a number of miniature racecars were displayed on shelves. People of most income levels can enjoy the hobby, Haskins said, and added that people may elect to buy or build modestly priced cars or go all out and spend more money.

The “raceway” has attracted numerous sponsors; BRP, Barn Speed Hobbies, Hobby World, Scalebuildings.com, Super Tires, KMS Computers, D & L Excavating, James Haskins, who is a cranial sacral therapist, Wizzard High Performance, and Scale Auto have signed on as racetrack supporters.

A Super-Fast Blast

Robert “Bob” Donnelly and his wife Donna brought their granddaughter, 8-year-old Tyra Donnelly, to the race. Bob Donnelly races on the track as well.

“I had slot cars when I was a kid,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly said that he accompanied Haskins on a trip to Pennsylvania for a nationals racing event when Haskins was investigating the hobby, and admitted that he wasn’t particularly enthused when Haskins invited him to go along.

“I really didn’t want to go,” Donnelly said. “I thought it would be a bunch of kids, but it was a bunch of older guys like myself and we had a blast. And that was it, I was hooked.”

The young racers gathered at the Daltonsville raceway offered high praise for the hobby.

“It’s a lot of fun to race and you get to see who wins,” said Tyra.

Micah Tassone, 5, said that his racing flame was ignited after a trip to see “monster trucks.”

“I saw the monster trucks and I thought that I wanted to do some racing,” he said.

Adam Haskins, 7, whose father is Richard Haskins’ nephew, said that he’s just started racing the tiny but swift cars.

“I like it because I get to have fun and be with my dad,” he said.


Madison Vigna, 6, came to the raceway with her father Stephen Vigna.
Jessica Haskins, 11, said she isn’t concerned if she doesn’t win a race.

“I don’t care about the winning,” she said. “I just like having fun. That’s the best part.”

Racing champion Brandon Haskins said he enjoys the speed.

“It’s just going super fast, like a real race car race,” he said. “I like it because it is fun and it’s not about the win.”

Stephen Vigna accompanied his six-year-old daughter Madison Vigna to the event. The Vigna family lives near the Haskins family.

“We’re actually neighbors,” Stephen Vigna said. “I think it’s great. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everybody gets so into it.”

Jacob and Joshua Vallieres were accompanied by their parents John and Sarah Vallieres.

“The boys were very excited to come,” said Sarah Vallieres. “I think it’s very interesting.”

“I think it’s pretty impressive and it’s going to be a lot of fun for the boys,” said John Vallieres.

Katie Cook, 11, traveled from Philadelphia with her family for the three-day event.

“It’s a good privilege for kids to be able to race cars and do this,” Katie said.

Jessica Zgura, 10, accompanied Katie on the trip.

“This was my first time doing this and I like it,” she said. “It was worth coming all the way from Pennsylvania.”

The Fast Wives Club?

The enthusiasm of the families and the delight of the children are music to his ears, Haskins said.

Tyra Donnelly, 8, tested a racecar using a micro-switch controller.


“I love seeing the kids getting involved and seeing them bring their dads,” he said. “I’d really like to see the wives get involved, and have wives races. I wanted all this for my son and I love seeing everybody having fun and being involved as a family. It’s just a great hobby; you aren’t spending $20,000 on a car and you don’t get hurt when you hit the wall. And the kids and their moms and dads can be in it together. I think it’s pretty cool.”

Haskins hosts a www.mhradrags.com Internet website about the club which includes information about the hobby, upcoming events, and race standings. The site also provides links to other slot car racing sites. A MHRA Halloween event, “Halloween Havoc 2,” is scheduled for Oct. 29.

A multi-photograph "Daltonsville Raceway Park Inaugural Summer Nationals" slideshow will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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