Bamidele O. Shangobunmi
rc car

RC & Me

To most folks, the term "radio controlled car" brings to mind images of plastic-built toys that you would buy for a child at Toys R Us, Wal Mart, or maybe Radio Shack. You can see a ton of them reviewed in detail here. As it turns out, that's an accurate mental image, as most RCs are just that, kids' toys. However, there's a far more serious (and more expensive) side to RC. Consider these interesting little facts:

  • As of this writing, the world RC speed record is over 160 mph
  • There are full-time professional RC drivers
  • Local, regional, national, and international RC car & truck championship races are held around the world
  • There are normal-sized (foot & a half long) RC cars that cost $750 US just for the vehicle with no radio, and require over $400 more to actually get running

Surprised yet? Here's one of better-known vehicles. It topped out at a modest 45 mph or so, but what it really excelled at was flying:

My serious interest in RC started around age 7, but it wasn't until the year 2000 that I purchased my first "hobby-level" machine, a 1/10th scale truck called a Traxxas Rustler. Success with that truck on the local racing scene led me to start my first RC website, and as I got more vehicles and my popularity in the hobby grew, I ended up with over a dozen sites and an RC forum with over 750,000 posts.

I ended up owning & operating over 400 RC cars, trucks, boats, planes, helicopters & drones, finished 1st through 3rd in more than 40 races, and even got in a couple magazines. Many of my vehicle modifications have been duplicated by fans around the world, and a quick Google search shows that I was even verbified in some circles -- people would  "Jangify" or "Jangified," referring to the practice of cutting material out of an RC car chassis to lighten it as I did with my Rustler.

rc truck rc car

A full room in a previous house house was a dedicated RC workshop outfitted with two rotary tools (one on a configurable base, one with a flexible shaft), a scroll saw, soldering station, heat gun, charging station, acetone bath, three open workspaces, countless hand tools, and shelves & compartmentalized storage caddies everywhere you could turn. I'd modify or make from scratch chassis & suspension components from carbon fiber, Delrin, Lexan, aluminum, nylon, and other raw materials.

So there you have it! That's how I fit into the RC hobby, until the nearest RC track facility moved too far away to frequent and I got tired of being hassled or threatened by park rangers & even police for playing with my (quiet, electric) toys in various public fields with no other people or animals in sight. C'est la vie.


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