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March 16 Special Event in Springfield, MO (Event Recap)

The Train Show presented by the Ozark Model Railroad Association (OMRA) and co-sponsored as a Special Event by the LCCA included several participative activities for families with children. The FasTrack Layout Building Contest (FLBC) developed by TLR Editor Mike Mottler (RM 12394) was presented through LCCA as part of that trend.

Ron Williams, President of OMRA, made many advance media appearances, and he often mentioned the FLBC. One "live" TV appearance was focused on the FLBC with the newscast co-anchors trying to put an oval of FasTrack together.

The Remington Event Center in Springfield was the venue for this Train Show. The building is a "big box" with a large exhibition space on the main floor, several side rooms (used for clinics and layout set-ups), a full kitchen and concession area, support facilities, and a large carpeted stage at the front end of the room -- which was the site of the FLBC. Stage lighting and a PA system were provided.

The FLBC registration table was located at the base of the steps leading up to the stage. Local resident and LCCA member Roger Wasson (RM 28049) was the volunteer Registrar, and two OMRC club members were the timekeepers, ready with two stopwatches and two calculators to do the hexadecimal math. Mike was the Coordinator, Judge, and "play by play" announcer of the action on the PA system. He often mentioned Lionel and LCCA, so both got "minutes of fame" from this appearance.

Teams of two to four contestants – about 95 total participants – enrolled in three preliminary rounds of competition during the morning hours as Division I (20 teams with lots of families with younger kids), Division II (8 teams), and Division III (2 teams).  One family team assembled the track plan for Division I (a simple oval) in record time: 1 minute, 37 seconds. The previous record was 1 minute, 43 seconds.

After a lunch break, the winners and runners-up of each division stepped on stage for the championship round. Mike presented a Lionel logo T-shirt and an engineer hat to these competitors, and they wore this "uniform" during the championship round. The track plan for this round was a much more difficult design. The winning team, THE JAYHAWKS, comprised of father Josh Madson and his son Isaiah Madson (age 10), performed the best time: 6 min. and 51 seconds. They took home the grand prize – a Lionel train set. The other participants in the championship round received a LCCA SE Commemorative Pin.

The President of OMRA confirmed that the turnout for this show was a record-breaker when compared to attendance at train shows of the past decade. The FLBC probably shouldn't take all the credit for that, but it certainly helped!

Mike originally presented the FLBC at a Train Open House event in 2012 sponsored by the Central AR Model RR Club (CAMRC) in Conway, AR. If interest and participation in the FLBC grows, it could become a future attraction within other LCCA sanctioned activities. The contest requires FasTrack sections, age-related and skill-related track plans, Lionel trains (THOMAS trains and cars preferred since kids know and love these trains), CW-80 transformers, stopwatches and calculators, and the support paperwork, forms, rules, sign-up sheets, etc.

Mike, Thanks to you and your team for representing the LCCA in the heartland!