CHICO – The signal for the race has been given. The drivers gave full power to their throttles.
“Reeeeeee!” sounded the electric motors of radio-controlled cars rushing along the carpet.
“The loop is alive, the loop is alive,” track director Kevin Jelic said into the loudspeakers.
On Saturday, people from all over the northern valley brought scaled-down versions of vintage-style cars, European trailers, dune buggies and Formula One cars to the AMain Sports & Hobbies indoor race track in Chico.
Djelic said people come and race at Chico Racecourse to race weekly, and in 2015 they hosted a World Championship race that people flew in to compete internationally.
John Taylor is one of over 40 riders who have competed in the weekly Carpet Club races. Taylor brought in a Vintage Trans Am radio-controlled car modeled after cars from the 60s and early 70s.
These RC cars scale to about one-tenth the size of their real counterparts and have limited power depending on their class. Taylor said he enjoys driving Vintage Trans-Ams because racing is about the skill of the drivers.
“I’ve had it for several months now. This is a fun class because you can race; there is competition,” Taylor said.
Taylor has a workbench in the hole; a large area where drivers’ tools, spare parts, charging stations and dismantled cars occupied more than 20 tables.
Between each race, drivers performed maintenance on the pits between races and adjusted settings to match race conditions, similar to how full-scale racing works.
“At a club race, you want to go out and try something new,” Taylor said. “You always have guys who are always experimenting because that’s the key: you want to go faster.”
Robert Beaver built and raced his radio-controlled cars for six months. In the driver’s cab, Beaver smeared tire sauce on the tires of his green 1969 Chevy Camaro Z28 to improve traction on the race track.
In classes where all cars have the same horsepower, such as the Vintage Trans Am class, racing is usually driven by driver skill.
“You know, the challenge is to put your car in a corner; not jumping around when dealing with traffic; someone either walks behind you or bypasses people,” Beaver said. “In my case, mostly people are walking behind because I’m slower.”
Beaver’s workstation is filled with tools designed for radio-controlled cars, which he learned to use by being around other drivers.
“I love being on the race track — the camaraderie too. It’s a good group of guys and we’re all sharing information,” Beaver said.
Taylor said one of the coolest things about the RC car community is that the people who show up are very friendly and often share trade secrets or information to help each other.
“You have so many different areas of life. I mean, you have deli owners, I work for the Air Force, construction guys, retirees, kids,” Taylor said. “It’s one hobby that, no matter your age, occupation or whatever, brings everyone together.”