Switching Gears: Owners of Tucson’s HobbyTown close store, track after two decades

KOLD 10 p.m. Daily - VOD - clipped version

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The race is over for another Tucson business.

After nearly two decades, HobbyTown owner Adam Crippen hosted his final race on the track next to the store on Speedway Boulevard.

“I miss the days when it was just fun to finish the race, have fun, maybe a neck and neck battle to the finish," said Crippen.

For mechanic Justin Raley and his wife, Bernie, the track has been a home away from home. The couple doesn’t see any rivalry on the track with their remote control cars.

“We love building the cars, we love how it takes you away from the daily life, the daily grind - like any hobby," said Raley.

A hobby that has seen better days and bigger crowds. Crippen said the buy-in’s for races used to supplement the sales inside the store, but in the last few years, there just hasn’t been a demand.

“I remember going back 15 years, we would have 125 to 200 people out here racing on any given night and that number has dropped aggressively over the last five years," said Crippen. “Online has just become so prevalent and it’s really hard to fight it anymore.”

In a Facebook post, Crippen wrote:

To all our great patrons!

After 23 great years in Tucson, the Crippen’s have made the decision to retire from the hobby business and close as of January 26, 2019. Thank you to every customer, our fantastic employees, and the volunteers who have touched our hearts.

Beginning January 2, 2019, all remaining products and fixtures will be marked down progressively until everything is sold. Come in and get deep price reductions on cars, planes, boats, drones, models, parts, paints, supplies, fixtures, and glass enclosures.

The radio control race tracks will be open for practice and fun running during this time. Radio control car racing is suspended until one final day, Saturday, January 26.

“Our Salute To The 520” Race. Adam Crippen, who started it all, will host and run our last club race. We invite all our previous customers, current customers, racers from out of town, and new racers to come out for our last Trophy Race. Gates open at 9am. Races start at 12 noon. Throw back $5 Race Entry Fee.

Note limited January business hours:

Wednesday 12-6Thursday 12-6Friday 12-6Saturday 11-6Sunday 11 -5Monday ClosedTuesday Closed

Once again, thank you to everyone who has made Hobbytown Tucson part of your lives. Please come in to say “Farewell” and share your fondest Hobbytown memory with us.

With Appreciation, Adam Crippen

“We’ve seen a lot of people come and go," said Crippen. “I won’t miss the competitive part of it, I’ll miss the comradery part of it.”

Crippen won’t be the only one to miss the afternoons with a remote control in the palm of his or her hands.

With no other track in Tucson, Raley plans to drive to Phoenix to get in a racing fix. Raley said he hopes to see another track open soon in Southern Arizona.

“You don’t worry about things, you are just in the zone and it takes you to that place where all the worries go away and you just focus on what you love," said Raley.

Crippen said his family is not selling the property and business will stay on Speedway Boulevard, but the focus of the business will shift gears.

He mentioned the possibility of more construction services, something the family has been a part of, turning the store into a showroom for kitchen or bathroom remodeling.

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