Bangor Daily News

King of the Dirt remote control event in Maine expected to draw racers from across North America

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Posted Sept. 13, 2013, at 5:12 p.m.


OAKLAND, Maine — Kevin Purnell II figures he has been working 20-hour days over the last five weeks.

That’s because the owner of the Granite Leisure Time Hobby Shop and Raceway in Oakland is preparing for the King of the Dirt remote control truck/buggy event at his facility on Sept. 20-22.

Some of the proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.

Purnell said it will be the fourth year of the event but this is the first year it is affiliated with the Komen foundation and the magnitude is much larger than ever with racers from all over the country and Canada heading to Maine.

One of the primary reasons for the draw is national champion Matthew Olson from California is planning to attend thanks to his friendship with Bangor-area racer Rob Jones, whose wife, Lindsay, is doing the Komen Race for the Cure in Bangor on Sunday. Olson is editor of Velocity RC Magazine and a professional racer.

“When we confirmed Matt’s plane ticket, the event really elevated. It went from a one-day event to a three-day event,” said Purnell, who has been joined by six people in feverishly preparing the 140-by-105-foot outdoor dirt track and 60-by-48 indoor track.

“We have already landed 53-54 sponsors,” said Purnell, who is looking for about 100 competitors.

“It will be a huge, groundbreaking event for the state of Maine,” said Andrew Trask of Pittsfield, who competes at tracks across the Northeast virtually every weekend during the season.

There will be eight classes. An initial entry fee is $35, of which $10 will go to the Komen foundation. If racers want to enter any more classes, it will cost them $10 per class.

Trask said there will be seven-minute heat races in each class and times will determine starting positions of the racers for Sunday’s finals, where each feature will consist of a seven-minute race.

In addition to the racing, there will be a tent with live entertainment and the tracks will have remote control helicopter and rock crawler demonstrations.

Friday, Sept., 20, will be a practice day starting at 10 a.m. Practices followed by racing will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Racers can pre-register at

Kennebec Journal

Radio-control vehicles take flight in Augusta 

January 10, 2011

By Mechele Cooper
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — The classic cars and souped-up racers on display at the Northeast Motorsports Expo were impressive.

But it was Kevin Purnell’s miniature vehicles at the Augusta Civic Center Sunday that generated excitement for radio-control hobbyists.

Radio-controlled vehicles take the shape of cars, rock-crawling trucks, boats, planes, helicopters, tanks and motorcycles, and range in price from $100 to $1,500.

It is a dream hobby for young and old alike, according to Purnell, who opened a 6,000-square-foot facility at 85 High St. in Oakland two years ago with the help of his father.

The indoor radio-control complex includes a professional radio-control shop, raceway, challenging rock-crawling track, and an indoor flying area for radio-control planes and helicopters. Purnell said it is 28 feet high at the peak of the ceiling.

The father-and-son team bought out the RC Hobby Shop in Fairfield and opened Granite Leisure Time in 2008.

Their collection of vehicles grew from quarter-scale vehicles right down to 1/36th-scale vehicles. And they started selling radio-control helicopters, planes and boats.

On Sunday, Purnell manned tables at the car show stacked with a sampling of his radio-controlled vehicles. He also gave demonstrations.

A small crowd gathered as a tiny red and white helicopter hovered overhead. Purnell spun it right and left then around in circles.

He then put the hand-held controls down on the table to show how it could sit unmoving in the air.

“It’s coaxial and that helps stabilize it … it has two blades,” Purnell said. “I did a presentation for the Rotary Club and sat my controller down for two minutes and it was unbelievable. It stayed right in place. I had three people who came up to me and bought them.”

He said the hobby-grade helicopter sells for $120.

Purnell said his facility schedules indoor flying time for individuals and organizations.

The Kennebec Valley Model Aviators in Sidney meet and fly their radio-controlled airplanes at the complex on the first and third Wednesday of every month, he said.

Purnell said he rents out the facility, which also has a concession stand, for racing events and group parties. Schedules and events are listed on his website,

“There’s this one guy who spent thousands and thousands of dollars on this and never showed it to anyone because he was ashamed,” he said. “He kept it in his basement, but said he had to get out of there and tarred over an area outdoors (for racing).”

Purnell said the hobby is growing in Maine.

“We held a Race Against Hunger right before Thanksgiving, and we had 70 (entries),” Purnell said. “It’s for all ages, not just kids … but this gets them off the couch. They might not like sports, but they like racing, and this gets them out doing things.”

He said the Race For Hunger took place the week before Thanksgiving and all proceeds were donated to the Augusta Food Bank and the Oakland Food Cupboard.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408



Sporty Sermon–Bringing families up to speed

 Written by Shelby Gilcott

 Monday, 01 March 2010

Last weekend, my dad bought a new truck. It is white, has big all-terrain tires and stands about a foot off the ground. (No, this is not a misprint.) He bought a radio-controlled (RC) vehicle called a Summit. It looks like a monster truck with a plastic Hummer body, and it is powered by two battery packs, each having 8.4 volts.

Although many would call it just another electronic toy, my dad, along with many other fans of this sport, would disagree because the maximum speed for the Summit is 55 miles per hour. If you ask me, that’s no toy.

The best part about his purchase is that it makes his face break into the greatest smile I have ever seen, with his eyes wider than the tires on the truck. Ever since we introduced him to Granite Leisure Time in Oakland as a birthday gift, he has been comparable to a little kid who has just been told that candy is for dinner.

New hobbies are great–they are fun, they are exciting and they help you get that much closer to Cloud 9. Everyone has their favorite diversion from daily life that they enjoy, but it is hard to compete with a place that delivers it all—Granite Leisure Time. They have a hobby shop (every wall glittered with hundreds of parts and accessories) and a race track (a road course which can also be converted to an oval track). A huge rock mountain is also available to challenge your RC skills, and they even sell planes, helicopters, boats and much more.

The owner, Kevin Purnell, describes his facility as a place “where they [the customers] can vent and have some fun. It’s a family thing too.” And it is exactly that.

Kevin and his son, named Kevin II or K2, share ownership of this new-found glory and are
excited that their hobby has become so popular. Kevin’s wife and Kevin II’s fiancé also show a lot of interest by supporting this hobby and owning their own RC vehicles. After just one year of being in business, they explained that it is something they both enjoy together, and that is just the message they want their customers and friends to appreciate.

At seven o’clock on Friday nights, races are held inside the very impressive 6,000-square-foot building where the homemade racetrack is laid out. This event brings families from all over the state—Cornville, Caribou, Presque Isle and Belfast, just to name a few—and as word continues to spread, the crowds grow larger every weekend.

This is when being a spectator is just as much fun as being a participant. Cindy Bourgoine, a proud mother of 14-year-old race participant Mathew Bourgoine from Newport, describes the Granite Leisure Time facility as “a good atmosphere” that also acts as a learning tool for her son. She says, “To me, it’s education because he [Mathew] is learning the car inside and out, and he knows how to fix whatever breaks. It also teaches a lot such as patience and controlling emotions .” This, she agreed, is very important in young teens.

Remarkably, Mathew said, “This is only my fourth week doing this. I got first and third my first time doing it [racing].” He is also the youngest contestant, who competes with his orange and black four-wheel-drive Slash truck.

As the echoing whine of electric motors fills the air and cameras (including mine) flash, an average of eight short-track vehicles flip over, smack barriers and (in their own way) argue for track positions. This is an old sport with an affordable new outlook that is highly recommended by all ages.

I personally have found—after purchasing a truck for myself—that Granite Leisure Time is a non-stop fun atmosphere that can be enjoyed by whoever steps through the door.

Granite Leisure Time Expanding to Have an Indoor RC Motorsports Building
Granite Leisure Time is thrilled to have begun construction for their RC Motorsports Building.
 July 2, 2009 

This new building will offer scheduled events including, but not limited to, COT/Legend Car race events, Micro-T & Mini-T racing, Slash & SC10 Racing, and Rock Crawling. We have not left out the fliers, with 20′ eaves and cathedral ceilings allowing ample room for the helicopter and electric plane enthusiast. We plan on operating 7 days a week with scheduled times for events. We are planning end of the month special racing events and will be working out the final details as construction continues and feedback is received.

Our facility will offer a rock crawling wall for vehicles, 30′ x 60′ carpet oval, may change to road course and add some interesting things for other events with Slash, SC10 and electric monster trucks, who knows what we will run. We also have special foam tracks for the Micro and Mini T vehicles that can be modified from oval to road course style.

Don’t know what to do with the family, we have room for spectators with seating and a planned concession stand with goodies.

Most events are scheduled for 4 hour periods, special weekends differ. Admission fees and sign in for racers and spectators are required at each and every event.
Our intention is to create a facility that you and your kids can come and enjoy and get some family fun in.

We will also do parties, and special events

Naturally we are in the building and planning stages and things are still subject to change, please offer suggestions