Serious business of racing fast toys

Nick Pow is the first to admit his hobby may seem a bit silly, but he and his radio control car club mates take it seriously. Tim Miller reports.

Nick Pow is the on-road race director of the Otago Radio Control Car Club and has been tinkering and racing radio-controlled cars both on and off road for about six years.

''Like most young boys I had a small car when I was younger then I became a teenager and focused on more important things, then a couple of years ago a friend of mine showed me his car and since then I have been hooked,'' he said.

Despite getting a hard time from his friends and work-mates about playing with toys, Mr Pow still meets 20 other radio-control car enthusiasts every third Sunday at the club's track in a car park on Victoria Rd. Depending on how much someone wanted to spend, a good car could cost anywhere from $300 to $5000, he said.

''Each year I will get a new set-up but at the moment the set-up I have was only about $300, but there are some guys who spend a lot of money trying to make everything perfect.''

Mr Pow has a shed full of old cars and parts, and often sells them to people wanting to get into the hobby.

''Even though the price of the cars has come down in the past couple of years, they can be still a bit expensive for people, so getting a second-hand car was a great way to get into it,'' he said.

Those who are more serious about the cars can spend hours tuning each part to make sure the speed and the handling of the car is perfect.

''I have kids so I can't spend too much time on mine but some guys will spend hours and hours fine-tuning their set-up, getting it just right.''

With only 25 members, the club was relatively small compared with others in New Zealand.

It promoted a fun atmosphere, unlike some of the more competitive aspects seen at other venues, Mr Pow said.

''I mean, at the end of the day we are really just a bunch of guys down here playing with our expensive toys.

''There are some of us who do regional competitions and national competitions, which can be get quite competitive, but when we are down here on a Sunday it's about having fun and trying things out,'' he said. On most club days the group gets a lot of curious fathers and children sitting and watching the action.

''You have a lot of dads with their kids and they are sitting there drooling, wishing they had a car. It's great.''

Anyone interested in joining the Otago Radio Control Car Club, or who wants to know more, can visit the car park beside the Dunedin Ice Stadium, Victoria Rd, this Sunday from 10am.

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