The body of an RC car is on display. Made mostly of plastic, the car may require a lot of fixing and repair skills.
by Hannah Tetzlaff
Sometimes all it takes to create a club is finding one of your dad’s old toys.
When Ben Swayze stumbled upon his father, Tracy’s, old remote control car, it fueled his interest in remote control (RC) racing.
“[My dad] had a remote control car and he used to race at Oshkosh every once in a while” Ben said. “Then, that kind of died, and then I found [his car] and got interested in it. I got a car as a Christmas present and this just kind of took off.”
Tracy noted he possessed the toy car because remote control racing fascinated him when he was younger and was a cheaper alternative to actual racing.
“It’s just been something that I’ve always been interested in,” he said. “I’ve got an electrical/mechanical background and it’s a way to race much cheaper than the guys racing at Oshkosh Speed Zone. I’m talking about people racing actual cars. You can get a decent RC car set-up for $400 to $500 and that doesn’t even buy you a set of tires for a real race car.”
After realizing that many others in the community were interested in remote control vehicles, Ben and Tracy created the RC Club.
“We started it … maybe January last year just because a lot of people got RC stuff for Christmas and with the weather, there was no way to go outside and play [with their toys],” Tracy said.
Ben added the club fills the need for entertaining activities for young kids during winter.
“There truly are no winter fun clubs; there are fun clubs, but no fun clubs for younger kids,” he said. “The RC Club lets younger kids come in and have some fun.”
According to Tracy and Ben, the purpose of the club is to gather like-minded people interested in RC racing and give them an opportunity to enjoy the sport while practicing their skills.
“We built little sides out of wood and made ramps so people can come and have fun for an afternoon, and then we do races and the winner gets a candy bar or something as prizes toward your accuracy,” Ben said. “It’s fun and games, but you’re also trying to improve your skills instead of going to a competitive race track [where] there is no fun to it because you’re just there to win.”
When the club meets, members perform practice runs by dropping the car and racing around the tracks. They also do races and skill-building runs that are timed, where if they hit a cone or wall, it adds seconds to their time.
Because the tracks have obstacles and the cars are plastic, kids gain an added skill and learn how to repair their cars.
“If you’re going to run remote control cars, you have to be able to repair them because they break,” Tracy said. “You slam into walls and you’re fixing things because they are mostly plastic. It’s a good thing for kids because they learn some repair skills and they learn about electricity and batteries.”
Though fixing cars may be necessary, it shouldn’t deter individuals from joining the club because members are more than willing to lend a hand.
“There are always people willing to chip in and help with fixing cars,” Tracy said. “People shouldn’t be intimidated, thinking ‘Oh, I don’t know anything mechanical. What happens when I break it?’ Somebody will help you.”
Besides lending a hand, members also will lend a car if individuals don’t own one.
While individuals may join if they don’t own a car or know how to fix one, Ben and Tracy request that kids under 12 have a parent with them.
Many club members’ parents appreciate the opportunities it provides for the kids.
“Some of the parents have commented that it is nice to get the kids out and interacting and doing something other than sitting at home, playing a video game or watching YouTube videos,” Tracy said. “If they actually happen to learn something, like repairing their cars, then that’s a bonus.”
Although RC cars make up the majority of the toys, the club welcomes drones as well.
“If we can get more drones, then we have plans to set up a drone race course,” Tracy said. “Right now, we only have about three people that have brought drones.”
For the drone race course, the club would use color-coded sheets signifying what direction the drones should fly in.
Since the club meets in Green Lake’s Town Square bingo room, there is plenty of room for more members and if they bring drones, an aerial race course, as well.
The club starts in October and meets the first and third Saturdays each month until March.
Those interested in joining may attend their first meeting for free, but have to pay $5 for each following session to cover the cost of the room fee.
For more information, check out the Green Lake RC Club Facebook page.