WAITE PARK - Drones and remote controlled vehicle racing has become increasingly popular in Central Minnesota over the last few years.

Baker’s Hobbytown is going all-out to accommodate the growing number of hobbyists by building a massive indoor dome in Waite Park. The idea is to have a St. Cloud metro destination to race drones and RC vehicles year-round.

"We're planning to put up a new dome where the old Stardome was and it's going to be huge, it will be over 33,000 square feet," Laura Knutson, the co-owner of Baker's Hobbytown says.

Thunder Dome Raceway will be 210 feet long and 160 feet wide, it will have four race tracks: a RC car carpet, an off-road track, a rock crawler track and a drone race track. The dome will be about 45 feet tall to allow the drones to race. Baker's Hobbytown will soon be relocating to the building in front of the planned dome at 500 Sundial Drive.

Remote control vehicles can be blazing fast, some easily reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Laura's son Ryan Knutson is the manager of the Thunder Dome Raceway, he says he got hooked on RC vehicle racing when he was 10-years-old.

"It's a little adrenaline rushing until you remember you're not actually in it, and then you do something even crazier and your heart starts pounding, because it's like 'oh wait-I have $500 into this thing!'"

The Knuston's say RC vehicle racing is a growing family-friendly hobby. Some hobbyists are also very competitive with racing, which the Thunder Dome hopes to become a destination for.

"Up into the pro-classes, you're talking prizes in the thousand dollar range," Ryan Knutson says.

When the dome is finished, there’s a possibility it could be one of the largest indoor RC facilities in the country. Laura Knutson says her husband Steve is a RC vehicle enthusiast, and the timing seemed perfect to build something extraordinary for a growing hobby.

"We had the idea after just seeing this growing interest and yet a lack of places to get together and race or just drive around."

Baker’s Hobbytown will be moving into the location in September. They hope to have the dome installed later in the fall.

For more, you can visit the Thunder Dome Raceway website.


Ryan Knutson and a RC Car. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)