A Newbie’s Guide To Buying A Winner RC Car

Okay, so you want to race remote controlled cars? Cool! Welcome to the world of RC racing, good to have you aboard! You’ll find that this hobby can offer almost all the rush of racing professionally in real cars, without the risk of major bodily dismemberment if you splash on the track. Plus, it also gives you a chance to twirl your hobbyist tools around if you’re into making models, since you can build your own RCs from scratch (later, when you get more experience, at least!) and customize your devilish little engines of speed with a many accessories as you can safely tack on without compromising performance. Or even compromising it just a weeee bit, if it’ll make your baby look loads better than everyone else’s RCs…

Okay, gushing moment over, let’s get into the gritty details of what you need to know to pick out a winner from the shops. The stuff I’ll be recommending here will be for newbies to the sport, so you can relax and not worry about info overload.

Fist off, you have to know the specs of the RC you’re buying. Ask the shop owner if it’s made as a kid’s toy (avoid those!), for casual racing, or for pro racing. I recommend getting a casual-racing spec RC first, but make sure that the model you buy has support parts and options from it’s manufacturer that will allow you to mod up later.

Next, choose the engine (uhm, I mean motor!) type. RCs run either with electric motors powered by a rechargeable battery or on mini-engines fueled by a milder form of gasoline, referred to as nitro racing cars. Both see active use in the tournament circuits, though nitro RCs have an edge over battery-operated ones in terms of power unless the battery-op has enough mods on it. If getting a battery operated RC, be prepared to spend more on mods later. If buying a nitro RC, be prepared to spend more on the RC initially, as well as more money on the fuel itself over time every time you race.

Next, keep in mind that there are ready-made RC kits out there, and do-it-yourself kits you can put together yourself. Unless you’re really good with your hands, getting a pre-made kit to start with is a safer bet. Over time though, you’ll be better off with a car that you assemble yourself, since you can tweak it to your specs. If you want something done right…

Also decide what type of remote control unit you’ll be most comfortable with. The two most common types of RC controls are old-fashioned twin-joystick type ones, one stick used to control acceleration and braking, the other for steering. The other type of remote control is a pistol-grip type, with a “trigger” for adjusting speed and braking, and a wheel set on top of the pistol-grip for steering. Choose something your hands will be comfortable with. Also make sure that the frequency of the antenna on your RC isn’t in the same range as radio stations in your neighborhood, as these can sometimes interfere with your control’s signals.

Lastly, do your research before making your purchase. Read racing magazines, and surf the internet and check out RC racer forums for veteran racer’s opinions on what are good purchases for beginners, and ask for their advice. Once you set your eye on a prospective model to buy, don’t pick it up yet. Check out the manufacturer’s website and make sure that you get something from a reputable dealer, preferably one that specializes in post-purchase customer support and offers racing upgrades to the model of RC you’re eyeing.

Jack Vallieres is the professional freelance writer. He’s also the webmaster of Talkofthecar.com