The Jimmy Babcock Racing League — a radio-controlled car racing league — honored its namesake, Jimmy Babcock, with a surprise ceremony that celebrated its 20-year anniversary on Saturday.
The ceremony, attended by about 50 people, happened before a race at Babcock’s outdoor dirt racing track located on Railroad Avenue in Newhall. It was kept completely secret from him for nearly a year and, according to the event’s organizers, he didn’t even know it was happening until it did — which they were very proud of.
As gifts, Babcock was presented with a Los Angeles Dodgers jersey that read “JBRL,” in place of a last name, and the number 20 on the back. He was also presented with a crystal microphone, in honor of his additional duty as announcer for the races.
Babcock said he never expected the community he created to grow as large as did — now averaging about 100 racers per week, depending on weather, and traveling far and wide to compete. The league had humble beginnings, with Babcock doing almost everything on his own.
He was already passionate about RC car racing, so making his own league was the next step. He borrowed equipment, computers and hung up banners on his own. This also required him to tear it all down once the race was over. He described this as tiring and wanted his own pit crew to help out, which came with time.
He described the last 20 years as “long,” but was grateful for every milestone the league hit.
“I remember I hit, I hit 10 years and I was like, ‘I think we’re gonna be I think we’re gonna be done after a few years,’” said Babcock. “But, we just kept going and here we are … I had a few people in (my) life that kind of pushed me towards it and believed in me and, you know, said ‘go do it,’ and so I did.”
After 20 years of work and dedication to his passion, Babcock was clearly a celebrity among the community he’d built — evident in the loud cheering during his speech, vulgar but playful jesting toward him and the large group that formed as he took an interview with The Signal.
“I appreciate everything, I wasn’t expecting anything but I appreciate it very much … I really appreciate you guys doing all of this stuff and, more so, I appreciate you just coming out to the races. That’s the most important thing, because if you guys didn’t show up, we wouldn’t have anything to announce or any races to put on for anybody,” Babcock said during his speech to the crowd. “So it really starts with you guys and I’m just the vessel.”
JBRL races at the track behind Babcock’s store on Railroad Avenue, Hot Rod Hobbies, take place on Tuesday and Saturday nights, are open to the public and free to watch.