Get in the waaaaaay back machine and come with me, 20 years ago, Rose Cottage Inn on the Monaro highway, the second Sunday of every month.
Here you would find me and dad setting up a rickety old cards table and crappy fold up chairs, pulling a car battery out of the boot of the car connecting some wires to it then to another smaller battery. I would then be carefully removing a small 1:10 scale buggy from the boot, in the early days a Tamiya Frog then later a Tamiya Hornet and a Tamiya Hotshot. Checking the battery level of the stick (then later, wheel) radio control unit, chatting with friends, selling my home made battery eliminators, eating terrible half cooked hotdogs from the Inn and finally putting my charged car on the starting line, ready to race.
I was pretty good too, in the early days due to the quick reflexes, some driving tips from dad and enthusiasm of youth and in the later days to sponsorship I managed to secure from a hobby shop (Zanter Hobbies, Google has failed me in finding any trecent trace of them except for this) my car and I were competitive and I still have a box of trophies in the shed to prove it. Unfortunately, despite the sponsorship, skill and enthusiasm the hobby got away from me as more and more adults and their full time jobs and full time salaries joined in, spending more and more money on much more expensive cars than I could afford put me out of competition, the hobby had ceased to be fun and turned in to a business.
Since then I haven’t really kept up with RC technology but have occasionally gone to watch the weekend races hosted by CORMCC Club in Canberrra and casually look at hobby shops to see what sort of cars people were racing/driving these days and it wasn’t hard to tell that the trend which began when I stopped racing has continued and grown since then.
From my little research on local forums and the CORMCC site the racing scene is just as big as it was back in my day, we would regularly get 20-30 racers out on an average day and by the looks of the results page on the CORMCC site they get about the same. The main difference being that back when I was racing there was only really one class of car available, 2WD or 4WD electric 1:10 scale. These days the classes seem split between 1:8 electric, 1:8 Nitro, Buggies and Truggies, and then there is a whole different set of racers for on-road electric, nitro or drift. As far as I can tell Nitro Buggies are the most popular format and a little more research reveals that the average budget for a race competitive buggy would be close to $2000! ….and I thought it was expensive back when I was making my own electronics and buying drive shafts from guys cutting them on a lathe in their garage….crikey!
Just before Fathers Day a friend sent me a link to some cheap RC helicopter a friend of his has bought from RC Hobbies, and while I wasn’t terribly interested in the helicopter I ended up browsing around the site and found this RTR (Ready to Roll) HPI Nitro Monster King, the perfect fathers days present.
I figured for $200 I’d get a fully assembled nitro monster truck ready to drive out of the box, this includes the engine, radio unit and almost everything else you need to get driving, little did I know it needed an additional $150 worth of batteries, fuel, glow plug ignitor, charger and other accessories but it was still a good way to get back in to the hobby, so I figured.
Here’s the beast in the flesh, after going through the quite extensive run-in procedure I am yet to complete the engine tuning process but these are well documented so hopefully I’ll have it fully tuned and ready to belt around the back paddock in no time.
The next stage in the master plan is to get on the ride-on and mow out a track in grass, then carve out a track in the dirt complete with jumps and other monster truck appropriate obstacles (not alpacas).
In the back of my mind buying this truck was mostly to see if driving was still fun (it is!) and if Alex would like it (he does!) with the ultimate aim being that I would eventually be able to buy a competitive buggy (electric or nitro, I’m undecided) and go racing again, giving us something to do together much like my dad and me did all those years ago.
Now that I’m one of those adults with a full time job and a full time income I can go back and have my revenge on the hobby which cast me aside all those years ago, finally, MU HA HA HA *cough* *cough*.