Rediscover the Joy of Hobbies with Remote Control Cars


Rediscover the joy of hobbies with remote control cars.


Remote control cars enjoyed a surge of renewed interest during the COVID pandemic of the early 2020s. As they searched for ways to keep their families active and entertained at home, many adults remembered how much fun they had racing remote control cars when they were children. So they decided to get remote control cars for their own kids. The kids loved them! But the parents, too, were in for a surprise when they discovered how much RC cars have changed since they were young. Now they were hooked again, too.

If you’re a recent empty-nester or retiree who’s looking for a hobby to fill your free time, check out how remote control cars have changed in recent years. These aren’t the toy-like RC vehicles you may remember from your childhood. Expect to find yourself falling in love with the radio-control hobby all over again!

Remember those remote control cars of yesterday?

There’s a good chance that your first exposure to remote control cars came when you were given one of those futuristic-looking, fluorescent-colored RC toys sold by department stores. If so, you likely drove it into a wall almost immediately and that was the end of it. Those radio control car toys weren’t made to last, and the manufacturers didn’t sell any of the replacement parts you’d need to keep them going.

On the other hand, if you had one of the more expensive remote control cars that were sold mostly by hobby specialty stores, you probably started with a box of parts to assemble and a thick assembly manual to follow. Most hobby-quality radio control cars up until the mid- to late-1980s were kits. After days or weeks at the workbench, you had yourself a durable, realistic, and powerful RC machine — these remote control cars weren’t just toys made of plastic. And it was probably powered by a miniature internal combustion engine than ran on a special fuel blended from oil, methanol, and nitromethane.

On the plus side, these classic nitro remote control cars were fast, fun, and loud. But they also took some skill and patience to assemble correctly, required waiting before you actually got to drive it, and needed a fair amount of tender loving care to operate. The engines could be finicky, being sensitive to weather conditions and demanding proper tuning to get started and keep running.

Then there was the frequency conflict problem. The natural thing to do with remote control cars, of course, is to race them. But if you and your buddy happened to both have RC cars equipped with radio gear on the same frequency, signal interference made them impossible to control.

Remote control cars use much better technology today.

Guess what happened while you were away from the remote control car hobby? All of the problems mentioned above that interfered with your fun were fixed!

Around 2004, the Spektrum RC radio brand unveiled 2.4GHz spread spectrum technology. It was revolutionary, making radio frequency conflicts a non-issue. Today almost any number of remote control cars can race together at the same time. Each will respond only to its own driver’s commands. No more chasing after runaways.

And with the lithium-polymer batteries and brushless motors that came along a few years later, electric-powered remote control vehicles have now become every bit as fast as the engine-powered RC cars you drove. In fact, they’re often even faster. It’s not unusual to see modern electric remote control cars reach 80 mph, 90 mph, or even 100 mph.

Even better, these new, high-speed electric remote control cars require much less ongoing maintenance than their nitro-fueled counterparts. There’s no oily exhaust residue to clean up. Keep a spare charged battery on hand and you can continue running with barely a pause in the action. Nitro-powered remote control cars are still available if that authentic racing sound and smell beckons, but by and large, the RC car hobby has fully embraced electrics in recent years because of their convenience and performance. Even top racers go for them!

Now you can run remote control cars right out of the box!

In the late 1980s, RC car manufacturers saw that hobbyists were becoming less and less interested in devoting long hours toward building kits. The development of ready-to-run or RTR remote control cars meant that you didn’t have to build — or even paint — your RC car yourself.

Ready-to-run remote control cars proved enormously popular and are now the overall preferred choice for the majority of RC car hobbyists. There are a lot of advantages to RTR remote control cars beyond just saving some building time.

Most RTRs come with everything needed to run them, with the possible exception of a battery and charger. You don’t have to research which accessories will work best. The manufacturer has already put the best matches right in the box. The factory-applied paint jobs on RTR remote control cars are also pretty spectacular. You may not be an artist, but you can still arrive at the track with a scale RC car that’s so perfectly detailed, it takes everyone’s breath away.

Finally, when you purchase a ready-to-run remote control car, you can be sure that it has been put together correctly. If your kit building skills are a bit rusty or you’ve given away your hobby tools, no problem. You don’t need them. But you can still fix broken parts or add upgrades to hobby-quality RTR cars, so they’re not disposable like the toy RC models you once ran. These, you can race practically forever.

Remote control cars are now more varied than ever.

The sport of RC car racing isn’t just for kids. It actually has a lot in common with real auto racing. The remote control cars blast around elaborate tracks at high speeds, navigating their way through tight turns, high jumps, and a pack of other RC cars.

Joining in the fun is pretty easy. Check out all the remote control cars available from Horizon Hobby here. For as little as $300 you can own a fast, well-made remote control car. It may not be the top dog at the track, but it will give you a good taste of the action. Then you can decide if you’d like to become more deeply involved. Some hobby shops offer beginner-level classes and instructional sessions so you can learn the ropes before getting out on the starting line.

Racing remote control cars is also a great social activity. RC drivers enjoy sharing stories and advice with each other. It’s a great way to meet people and make new friends.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your hands on a remote control car, stop by your local hobby store and check out what’s available now. The technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Today’s RC may be the hobby that will get your heart racing again!

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