Arts and Entertainment

A perfect 10

Nate Schmidt, left, and Tim Verdick, right, stand among dozens of scale rock crawlers at RC Hobbies on West Washington Street in Sequim. Sequim Gazette photo by Amanda Winters.

Nate Schmidt, left, and Tim Verdick, right, stand among dozens of scale rock crawlers at RC Hobbies on West Washington Street in Sequim. Sequim Gazette photo by Amanda Winters.  

Nate Schmidt can drive his truck along creek beds, over rocks, logs and beach debris, but sometimes a wrong maneuver can land his truck in the water. When that happens, he can reach down and pick it up.

That’s because his truck is a remote control scale rock crawler.
Nearly identical in looks to a full-sized truck, scale rock crawlers are not more than 6 or so inches tall and are designed to mimic the extreme sport of rock crawling on a smaller scale. Scale rock crawlers can negotiate the challenges of outdoor courses to compete in a growing hobby that is making its debut on the peninsula: scale rock crawling.
Schmidt and his friend Steve Verdick started the Northwest Scale Rock Crawlers group with the help of Verdick’s father, Tim Verdick, who owns RC Hobbies at 1254 W. Washington St.

Increasing popularity
Schmidt said he got interested in scales in 2004 after he got a truck and modified it into a rock crawler. Groups along the I-5 corridor have held competitions since 2004, he said.
In a rock crawler competition, a course is set up outdoors, often near water, with obstacles such as rocks, sticks, dirt and 10 gates. Each participant starts with a score of 0 and gets -1 for each gate they progress through. For every time they crash, reverse or otherwise get off-course, there is a penalty of 1 point.
The goal is a perfect -10, Schmidt said.
The Northwest Scale Rock Crawlers, which has close to 40 members, already hosted two competitions and a third is scheduled for January.
“Rock crawlers have gotten incredibly popular,” Tim Verdick said.
Ranging in price from $250 to in the thousands, scale rock crawlers can be purchased pre-assembled or as a kit. Schmidt said it takes eight to 12 hours to build a scale rock crawler from a kit.
Tim Verdick has a scale semi-truck with a 5-foot trailer made from a kit.
Building a scale truck teaches steering, suspension and geometry skills, Schmidt said.

Friendly fun
The competitions last 10 minutes per course and are pressure-free, friendly fun, Schmidt said.
“If somebody’s truck breaks down, three other competitors will be opening their tool boxes to help,” he said.
Schmidt said his wife and Steve Verdick’s 8-year-old daughter are participants in the competitions. The youngest member is 6 years old, he said.
To learn more about the Northwest Scale Rock Crawlers go to www.north westscalerc.com.
Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com

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