by Scott Guyatt
David and Scott Guyatt
1991 Qld Championship, Maryborough
Last updated January 2023
Chargers RC, a remote control (RC) car racing club based in South-East Queensland, has a long and rich history. Dating back to the halcyon days of the early 1980’s, the club’s lineage takes in off-road racing at eight off-road venues, and multiple on-road venues over almost 40 years.
Chargers, originally known as 'South Brisbane Chargers' formed in the early 1990s as a result of the merger between the 'South Brisbane Nomads' and the 'Jimboomba Chargers' clubs. Each of those founding member clubs had a rich history of their own.
The Beenleigh Days
Racing began behind the Beenleigh Police Citizens Youth Club (Alamein St, Beenleigh) in the mid 1980s. The track was a narrow, twisting layout using the natural dirt surface as was typical for the day. Both sides of the track were lined with concrete garden edging making for a permanent layout. Key figures in the club at this point included Col and Bev Powell and their kids, as well as Bruce Ward. The club had a good relationship with the nearby Eagleby Eagles, whose track stood where the current Eagle Tavern (Fryer Rd) stands. Steve Smith is one driver who began his time at Beenleigh and still floats around Chargers today.
South Brisbane Nomads
The Nomads began life as a club affiliated with the Lota Police Citizens Youth Club, with a purpose-built track located adjacent to Lota Railway Station at the end of Coolana St (near where the skate park is currently located). Getting started in 1984/85, the club benefited from extraordinary leadership from key founding families Shane and Leanne Cowan, Kevin and Janice Seib, Mark and Victoria Nicholson and Shane and Pam Kelly among others. The club was so successful, that during 1986 club membership was capped, and racing limited to club members only. Peter Scott started his career during this period, joining a huge 4WD Junior Stock class, later joined by Scott Guyatt - two blokes who are still active within the Chargers family today.
When the city council wanted to rebuild the park and the Lota PCYC decided to cease the R/C part of its operations, the club went looking for a new venue in the late 1980’s. This resulted in several years of searching, with racing for a period at Wishart (Boorabin Picnic Ground, Stagpole St) and an even shorter-lived venture at Rochedale (now the site of Rats Mountain Bike Club’s hub in Underwood Park, Underwood Rd). There was even a close look at Whites Hill, before eventually settling in Mt Gravatt Showgrounds (just inside the Wardle St entrance near the now mini-golf site). All this moving resulted in the club adopting the name ‘South Brisbane Nomads' to describe its nomadic lifestyle. Wonderful leadership in this period was offered by Barry Fry and David Guyatt among others.
In this period of the club’s history, on-road racing also became a staple of the club with regular racing taking place at the Showgrounds on a concrete surface, as well as at the long-lived Yeronga Railway Station raceway. For a brief period, racing also took part in a carpark at Garden City shopping centre, and then indoors on carpet at Yeronga State High School. Later, under the 'Chargers' umbrella, the club would also support on-road racing in Toowoomba under the leadership of Grant McDonald.
Lota Track (circa 1986)
Photo courtesy of Evan Black
The Jimboomba Years
With the closure of the Beenleigh PCYC track, Col and Bev Powell and Bruce Ward moved the club out to the new growth area of Jimboomba, formally establishing the 'Jimboomba Chargers' at the sports fields off South St (remnants of the driver’s stand can still be seen adjacent to the skate park). The club began racing and quickly built a strong local following.
In 1992, the Nomads Mt Gravatt Showground raceway was closed, and the two clubs (Jimboomba Chargers and South Brisbane Nomads) entered into negotiations before merging to form the 'South Brisbane Chargers', racing at the Jimboomba site. The club hosted the Queensland Championships in both 1992 and 1993 before preparing to host its first National Championship event in 1995. Through this period, club racing regularly took place on Saturday nights, with a strong following from right across the south-east Queensland area. Facilities developed with a large driver’s stand, cafe and race control area, dedicated pit tables, excellent flood-lighting and so on. The track, built on a gentle slope, featured lots of three dimensional features, and a famed section taking competitors right past “The Tree” - resulting in more than one race-ending collision.
The Powell, Ward, Fry and Guyatt families continued to offer leadership, joined by Andrew and Kathy Lyons, Mark Donataccio, Grant McDonald and others.
Barry Fry and Scott Guyatt co-ordinated the club’s efforts to host the 1995 Nationals, with Col Powell and Bruce Ward building the race track, David Guyatt leading the race control team and Bev Powell the catering crew. An entry list of just over 250 cars meant three days of incredible racing, the first time the Nationals had been hosted in Queensland since the 1985 edition held at Lawnton .
South Brisbane Chargers continued to host regular club racing at Jimboomba, together with the on-road side of the club right through the late 1990’s until the local council ended the club’s lease and the club were homeless once again.
1995 National Championship
On the Road Again : Ipswich Beckons
When the Beaudesert Shire Council decided to redevelop the sports field facilities in the late 1990’s, the Jimboomba days were over. The club, now led by the likes of Mark and Brett Farren-Price, Grant McDonald, David Guyatt, Mark Donataccio and Andrew Lyons went looking for a new venue, eventually relocating to Ipswich, for the first of three sites within the city boundaries. Ipswich itself has a rich history of RC racing, with racing in the 1980s and 1990s at two sites in particular - near the PCYC in Griffith Rd, and later adjacent to Bundamba Creek near the site of the current Bunnings store. Chargers legends David Lawrence, Chris Schoenfisch, Simon Smith and John Perkins all spent time at these early Ipswich race tracks.
The first track in Ipswich was built on a surplus clay tennis court at Leichhardt (off Ernest St). The surface proved ideal, with the club hosting quite a few years of excellent racing at the venue, culminating in the 2005 Nationals. The event, ten years on from the club’s first nationals in 1995 once again attracted some of the finest from across the country, including Iain Schwartz, on the podium in 2WD Group 20 and now once again racing regularly at Chargers RC. Multiple Queensland Championship events were also hosted at Leichhardt, with one such event seeing a very young Kyle McBride crowned champion - his first State Title win in what is now a glittering world-class career. Of note, the Jimboomba lights were relocated with the track to Leichhardt, and then again when the club moved on.
From the tennis centre, Chargers moved on to Redbank Plains, to the track located in the sports fields at the corner of Cedar Rd and Redbank Plains Road in early 2008. Track configuration changed multiple times during this period, including high-bite dirt and the liberal use of astro turf at different times, with the club struggling with no on-site water to maintain a good racing surface. A highlight was the club hosting its third Australian Championship event in 2014, the event marking Kyle McBride’s first EP Off-road nationals win. Chris and Gary Sturdy joined some of the long-serving legends of the club in David Lawrence and Ryan McColl in leading the club. Other major events included the 2012 Queensland Championship event.
Old Chargers RC Logo
By the mid 20-teens, Chargers (perhaps still living up to it’s old Nomads name) was ready to move once again. This would prove perhaps the most pivotal move of all, taking up residence in the newly built Andre Ripoll Park in Cobalt St, Carole Park - current home for Chargers RC. Built by the Ipswich City Council after an earlier nitro off-road group lobbied the council, the bones of the venue were complemented by a new track build as the current site got underway. Key leadership for the club through this period included Glen Chivers, Peter Boorman, Richard Petty and Michael Swales.
Carole Park January 2017
Photo courtesy of Gary Sturdy
Since the move in 2017, the club has gone from strength to strength, benefiting from a period of stability, from good leadership (for example in the hands of Gopal Pavlich), and from the advent of the Sic Surface track surface resulting in a consistent, high quality racing surface - a move well supported by Gary Sturdy, among others.
By 2022, Chargers was ready to host its fourth Australian Championship, helping the sport move out of the COVID19 pandemic period in which national championship racing had been on hold since 2019. Once again Chargers became the centre of attention for the national RC community, hosting five days of on-track action in September 2022. This places the club alongside Perth’s Bayswater club as a four-time host of the national championship event.
Carole Park November 2022
Chargers Off-Road Tracks
We believe only 1 race meet was held here
Current facility - 215 Cobalt Street, Carole Park
Chargers On-Road Tracks
Track on site since mid-1980's. Developed by Jonathon Borthwick as a replicate of Worlds track. Run in Partnership with Heavy Hobbies.
Yeronga High School
Mid 1990's - mid 2000's
Garden City S/Centre
Short-lived carpark track
Mt Gravatt S/Grounds
Indoor, concrete floor shed
Late 1990's-mid 2000's
Track locations marked at Australian RC Tracks (Google Map).