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Get Your Motor Running With R/C Car Racing

By: Brandon Arakaki

Date Posted: 1999-12-31

Do you like auto racing? Do the sound of high revving engines and the smell of burning fuel excite your senses? If so, how would you like to race your very own Porsche, Mercedes, or BMW? Before you run off to your favorite sports car dealer, take a short breeze: real Porsches, Mercedes, or BMWs are not our objects of attention here. However, what the race presents is probably the closest most people will ever get to driving the exotic, high-performance racing machines. The subject is radio-control, or R/C car racing.

R/C car racing is a very popular and fast-growing hobby (or sport, as some folks insist on calling it). The racers drive model cars the size of shoeboxes; but do not even think of these cars as “toys.” R/C cars are a lot like full-size racing automobiles, with features like four-wheel drive, hydraulic shock absorbers, and transmissions that shift automatically. They are powered by small engines that burn nitro fuel and can propel the cars to speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

One of the things that make R/C cars so neat is the fact that they have realistic bodies that make them look like miniatures of full-size cars. These bodies are made from same stuff as the space shuttle windshield panels, so they are pretty tough as well. There are dozens of body styles to choose from, and when you get tired of racing a Dodge Viper, you can swap bodies and drive a Corvette or a Mercedes at the next race.

How do you drive these little cars without getting behind the steering wheel? Via radio-control, of course. The driver of a R/C car holds a radio transmitter that’s shaped like a pistol with a steering wheel on top. The “trigger” on the transmitter controls the car’s acceleration and braking, while the steering wheel does the rest. It takes lots of practice to be competitive, but getting the hang of driving a R/C car itself is by no means difficult.

Perhaps the most frequently asked question about R/C car racing is “How much does it cost?” Well, as your friendly AAFES car exchange salesman would say, it depends on what options you want, but you can get your feet wet for a lot less than you might think. A ready-to-race package that includes a car, engine, radio system, and some support equipment can be purchased for around $300. For those who have the urge to splurge, there is an endless array of “trick” optional parts for their cars, and the proverbial sky is indeed the limit. In any case, the best drivers compete with cars that are basically what is referred to as “box stock,” meaning the cars are not heavily modified or “hopped up.” R/C cars and equipment are available through local hobby shops (Okinawa R/C Center near Camp Foster and Top Run Hobby in Urasoe), and also through mail order from the States.

Most buyers of R/C cars use them to tear up the backyard or chase the family pets around with. While the aforementioned activities can be a lot of fun, racing a R/C car is just an absolute blast. There is one place on Okinawa where you can hook up with other R/C car enthusiasts; that is, the Kadena R/C Car Club, or KRCCC.

KRCCC was formed in 1997 to promote the sport of R/C car racing on Okinawa. The club organizes and stages races at its home track in the Chibana recreation area. KRCCC enjoys a healthy partnership with the local community, and the club’s regulars are comprised of nearly equal numbers of Okinawan and SOFA-status members.

If you’re interested in racing your own R/C car, or simply want to know more about this fun hobby, visit our web site at http://home.attmil.ne.jp/a/kadenarcclub/ or make a point to be at the next KRCCC race. Races are held on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. For more information on how to get your motor runnin', contact Mark Armstrong @633-4155.

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