New Milford business caters to radio-control fans
NEW MILFORD — Radio-control enthusiasts from throughout the area are looking forward to the opening of a center this weekend that was designed specifically with them in mind.
The Hobby Hangout, which is slated to open on Saturday, was created by local entrepreneurs John Gallagher and Greg Vogel and includes several racetracks for radio-control cars as well as a rock-crawling area, complete with tunnels and waterfalls, for the radio-control truck crowd. The center has also been designed to include equipment for drone racing, a hobby that’s been quickly gaining in popularity in recent years.
Gallagher, who was involved in the hobby since he was a small child, said he already rented the space off Grove Street in an industrial building and used to practice with some of his own cars when he decided to create a race track out of the space. Cameras throughout the facility allow participants to get an up-close view of the action on the track.
“For us, it’s really important to offer a fun and positive activity for the children in the area so they can spend less time on their tablets and cellphones,” said Gallagher, who used to teach the hobby regularly to area children through the Bethel Off-road Racing Association. In fact, Gallagher’s partner in the business, Greg Vogel, the chief editor of MapleGate Media, a Danbury-based company that publishes RC Driver magazine, used to race at the Bethel track as a kid.
While Gallagher said some radio-control tracks that have operated in the past were often dark and dingy places, The Hobby Hangout will be a comfortable environment that is designed not only for the hobbyist but also for birthday parties and corporate events, with its own separate party room.
The facility also includes a service center as well as a small Hobbytown USA outlet store where hobbyists can get the extra parts they need. as well as the latest RC cars and drones available. Gallagher, a former worker in the construction trade, and Vogel did most of the work inside the facility themselves, including a specially designed driver’s area that is accessible to those with disabilities, including wheelchair access.
“Everything in our center is accessible,” he said. “That was also something that was very important to us, particularly for the injured veterans who don’t always have the support they should.”
Gallagher said he hopes to start a program in the near future that will provide free track rentals for injured veterans. Participants at the center can bring their own equipment, rent equipment on site, purchase a one-day pass or pay monthly for the use of the track and facility.
“It’s going to be a great place to go, hang out and drive your cars,” said Tyler Hanna, who recently purchased the Hobby Center in Danbury with his brother, Jason Hanna. Hanna added that having the facility in the area could help to spur additional interest in the hobby from those who haven’t explored it in the past.
“It should be good for everyone in the industry,” he said.
Gallagher said the grand opening for the Hobby Hangout, at 48 Anderson Ave., will be held on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Special packages will be available during the event, he said.