The History of FORGASS:
Florida is the only state in the Continental United States to have it’s own region, region 4. It also consists of Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands. Florida is the home to some of the oldest racing series in the country: FORGASS (Florida On-Road Gas State Series) and FSEARA (Florida State Electric Auto Racers Association). The oldest series in the country is the Midwest Series that just wrapped up its 40th season in 2009.
FORGASS obviously runs On-Road Nitro cars around the state on 4 different tracks over 8 races throughout their series. The series was incepted in 1976, according to Doug Mcneely (one of the founding fathers). The original series involved clubs from Miami, Orlando, & Pensacola. As racers will do, a group from Miami would go to Orlando or etc and it all just came together as a points series. Over a period of about three years, the series evolved into a set schedule. Back in those days, a club only had one race per year.
The series ran races at various parking lot tracks in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Pete, Daytona, Fort Myers, Pensacola and a few other locations along the way. At that time there were no nitro sedans, impacts, or 4WD pivot ball cars… It was all 2WD 1/8th scale pan cars (made by Delta, Associated, Marker Machine) powered by K&B or OPS .21 engines. Old Futaba box radios were the radio of choice; this was before the invention of the pistol grip radio! Those were the days when you bought a car kit, you had to build fuel tanks & assemble your own linkages from scratch. You had to glue tire donuts to the rims and true them to size. It really was much more of a hobbyist era because of the large amount of craftsmanship involved. You had to be rather inventive to make things work properly. In the late 70’s, some European models came around to mix things up a bit. Serpent models came onto the scene in the mid 1980’s.
Orlando was the first track in the series to have a permanent track in the early ‘80s at the Orlando Airport. This was also the 2nd location for the Winternats race that draws racers from all over the world in February (http://www.winternats.com). The first location for this race was at a parking lot track in Miami. The Winternats will be celebrating it’s 35th anniversary in 2011, which makes it the longest running annual race in the country.
In 1989, the Fort Myers R/C Car Club built a permanent track at the Lee County Civic Center that has been home to the Winternats since it’s construction and is the epicenter for the Gas State Series. This track is known as the “Test Track to the World.”
Most races back in the 80’s and 90’s saw an average attendance of 50-75 racers. After hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, the series only saw 20-30 racers per event for a few years until interest picked back up with the introduction of the 1/10th scale on-road cars for racers who could not afford the higher priced 1/8th scale cars. When the HPI RS4’s and other comparable nitro sedans came out in the mid ‘90s, the state series was right there and actually ran a class for them before ROAR came up with one. It was run as an exhibition class, drawing new faces from all over the state.
The series has seen steady growth within the past few years and attendance has been high and competition has never been stronger! Right now the series runs from September to April, covering 8 races over 3 tracks in Fort Myers, Homestead, Kissimmee and new for the 2010 season, Arcadia. There are quite a few factory racers in Florida who run the series as well. We aren't a racing series, we're a racing legacy...
(contributions from Doug Mcneely and Jim Rice)