Is Remote Control Car Racing A Sport?

I have had a love of remote control cars since I was 8 years old, my mum brought me a toy R/C car from the local retail store for my birthday and since then I have been hooked. As I got older I became more involved in the hobby. I moved onto hobby grade cars like the Tamiya Lunchbox & Baja Champ.

I got into racing remote control cars when I was 21. Racing R/C cars is allot of fun, you build, tune & compete with other drivers to win races. The deeper you go the more you learn. The racing side of remote control cars is huge! there are magazines, sponsored drivers, simulators, club races, national events and even world events. Think along the lines of Nascar or Formula 1, but on a miniature scale and you get the idea.

So is remote control car racing a sport? – If we take the definition of sport from dictionary.com then R/C car racing is not a sport “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.”

Allot goes into the preparation for racing in order to win. R/C racing has all the same elements as full scale racing. Searching Google for anyone else who may have covered this topic before. Brought me to ABC News who featured an article on Mackay R/C track in Queensland Australia.

The track suffered over $9,000 worth of damages after Cyclone Debbie. The committee applied for funding from the Queensland government to help with repair costs. Their funding request was denied on the basis that the activity does not fall into the definition of a sport.

Here is a video of the 2017 IFMAR World Championships, for 2 wheel drive 1/10th electric off road buggies. A “hobby” which has world championships every year, sounds allot like a sport if you ask me.

R/C Tracks Are All Over The World.

Tracks cater for different types of R/C cars and cover a variety of surfaces. The two main types of R/C cars are Off-road and On-road. Off-road tracks have bumps, jumps and obstacles to catch you out. The common surfaces are dirt, clay, astro turf & carpet (indoor only).

Herts Off Road Track

Image credit: Herts Nitro Model Club

Common classes for off-road tracks.

ScaleTypePower Source
1/10thStadium truckElectric or Nitro
1/10thShort CourseElectric or Nitro
1/10thBuggy 4wd (4 wheel drive)Electric or nitro
1/10thBuggy 2wd (2 wheel drive)Electric
1/8thTruggyElectric or Nitro
1/8thBuggyElectric or Nitro
On road tracks are flat surfaces designed for cars with a low center of gravity, like touring or pan cars. The common surfaces are tarmac or concrete for outdoor tracks and carpet for indoor tracks.

Keitune On-Road Track

Image credit: serpentjp on youtube.

Common classes for on-road tracks.

ScaleTypePower Source
1/10thTouring Cars.Electric
1/10thDrifting Cars (similar look to touring cars)Electric
1/12thPan CarElectric
1/18thTouring CarElectric
1/18thPan CarElectric
A racing event is structured similarly to full scale racing events. Starting off with practice leading into qualifying and followed by finals. The size of the event will dictate in the number of rounds for qualifying and finals. I wrote an article on the format of a race day. Which outlines the structure in more detail.

The BRCA – (British Radio Control Car Association) is the governing body for the UK. They set the rules for each class of R/C car of which there are roughly 13 different classes. Every driver that races in the UK will need to be a member of the BRCA. This will then in turn cover them for insurance purposes should anything unfortunate happen.

The BRCA lists at the time of writing 224 different tracks. Lets just say each track has 100 members (a small number for some!) that equates to 22,400 R/C races just in the UK alone. I am very confident when I say that is an under estimation. There are no official figures released to check.

R/C Racing News And Media.

You only have to Google the phrase “R/C News” and thousands of websites will come up. All covering events, product releases, industry insights and more. You start to get a good understanding of how large the R/C racing industry is. My 3 personal favorites are:

RED RC

Red RC started in October 2006. They release daily news articles which cover product releases and event coverage. They also have 3 sister sites ETS – Euro Touring Series, EOS – Euro Off Road Series and ENS – Euro Nitro Series. These sites are each dedicated to covering a racing series spread across tracks in European countries.

LIVE RC

Live RC started in 2005 and was the brain child after a conversation between two friends Brandon Rohde & Doug Hay. The idea was to put live scoring of events over the Internet. Live RC now consists of a team of people and covers events with live streaming and scoring. I remember watching the 2015 Neo race on Live RC. Calling my friend who was at the event and talking about the battle between Ryan Cavalieri, Jared Tebo & David Ronnefalk. My friend was so confused, he thought I was at the event too!

NEO BUGGY

Neo Buggy was started in 2003 by Philip Mortstedt who originally set-up as a hobby. The main focus being off road news. Over the years the website grew in popularity and Philip started the Neo Race. This yearly event has become one of the largest indoor off road events in the world. The race has run consecutively from Harper Adams University in England. 2018 brings the Neo Race to the Redovan Track In Spain.

These three news sites and many more like them cover most of the regional and national events worldwide. News sites is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to media. There are 3 magazines that come to mind which cover the R/C car industry. None of them focus primarily just on the racing scene, although all 3 do feature articles from events and tips from professional team drivers.

My personal favorite is Velocity RC magazine. The team behind this magazine includes Adam Drake a well respected professional racer, & Jeff Eveleigh the main behind XXX Main, pioneers in extreme R/C videos.

R/C Sponsorship.

It’s difficult to not think of R/C racing as a sport when sponsorships are involved. They are many different types of sponsorships most of which will include discount rates on product purchases. In return for drivers who professionally support the brands, can consistently win races and offer support to new comers.

Sponsorship opportunities have become more popular over the last decade. If your focus is to get a sponsorship to make money. Then you are thinking about it the wrong way. Very few and I mean very few people are paid to race remote control cars. Those that do get paid are the best in the world, and travel all over the world to compete with the best. I covered the topic of sponsorship recently in more detail.

Racing Simulators For R/C Racing.

2011 saw the release of VRC-PRO a R/C racing simulator which had been in development since 2005. This today is by far the most advanced simulator on the market. In addition to the simulator there are USB adapters that allow you to connect a receiver to your PC.

This allows you to use the simulator with a transmitter just like a real R/C car. The simulator has 13 different classes of cars and over 95 tracks to choose from. The tracks are designed from real world tracks and feature all the bumps, jumps and corners as the real world tracks.

VRC – Pro was released on the steam network in 2015. This is the same year another racing simulator was released. RC Simulation which has later been updated to RC Simulation 2. This simulator doesn’t have as many tracks to choose from.

What it does have is a range of other R/C models built into it. You can choose between cars, boats, planes and more. There is also a track builder, you are able to create your own track. At first glance the physics feel very realistic, the choice of cars and default tracks is great. You are able to use the same USB adapter you can with VRC to control the simulated models. I am still currently testing RC Simulation 2 in preparation for a review – stay tuned.

Parts of an R/C Car.

Professional hobby grade R/C cars come in kit form. This means you have an instructional manual and a several parts bags. You need to build the car from scratch, every screw and every part. This may sound daunting at first, but it pays off later on. You will know how to take it apart when damages happen or parts wear out. It’s also very rewarding racing the car you built from scratch.

The rest of the parts to R/C cars are pretty much the same. The main difference will be the power source you use.

  • Servos – these are motorized leavers which control steering or engine throttle and brakes. For electric cars you only need 1 servo for the steering.
  • Transmitter & Receiver – often sold together, the transmitter is your controller. These come in 2 different varieties a wheel transmitter and a stick transmitter. The receiver is a little device you place inside the car. You then plug your servos into the receiver and control them with the transmitter.
  • ESC – an electronic speed controller is only used in electric cars. It controls the speed of the motor and uses the motor for braking. ESC’s come with many tuning options to suit different driving styles. ESC’s connect to the receiver just like servos.
  • Power source – for electric cars you have an electric motor that connects to the ESC. Nitro cars use nitro engines that run on nitro methane fuel. The third power source is gas powered, which is very different to nitro. These are the same types of engines you will find in lawn mowers or chainsaws and run on a mix of 2 stoke oil and regular gas.
  • Paint – most kits come with a clear body shell, this will allow you to paint the car any color you wish. You can also have these professionally painted.
  • Tires, Inserts & Glue – tire compound and tread pattern make a huge difference in how R/C cars handle. Inserts are used as a tuning factor and come in various compounds. These change how soft or hard the tire is and tire glue is used to keep the tire on the wheel.

The Gear & Tools.

Ever took your full size car to the garage and had wheel balancing? – Well you guessed it you can even go as far as balancing wheels for remote control cars too! – it really does get that in-depth.

Muchmore Wheel Balancer

Setting up an R/C car perfectly is pretty darn close to setting up a real full scale race car.

  • Set-up stations – these help you setup camber, camber rise, steering throw & symmetry.
  • Shocks – different viscosity oils, pistons, shafts & springs all play a role in tuning.
  • Differentials – different viscosity oils is the main tuning option. On some cars you can fix the differential if needed (drifting cars).
  • Tools – hex driver set, rotary tool, vernier caliper, pliers, cutters, body scissors, body reamer, turnbuckle spanner and nut drivers are amongst the most common.
  • Set-up tools – ride height gauge, camber gauge, ruler, set-up board & wheel balancer.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, for a more detailed list have a look at What tools do I need to race RC Cars?

Conclusion.

All comments, suggestions and remarks are welcome – feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you didn’t know much about the R/C racing world, hopefully this article has given you a good perspective of how popular and involving this “hobby” is. It may not be declared as an official sport but lets be honest it is pretty darn close!

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