'I just wanna win!': Thrills and spills at indoor RC races

Hop in the car with a 12-year old racer from Summerside. Although Evan Hume drives his radio controlled car on carpet, it still provides plenty of spills and thrills.

The Red Clay Racing Club sets up an indoor carpet track in Summerside

Thrills and spills. Hop into a remote controlled race car on P.E.I.

5 years ago
Thrills and spills. Hop into a remote controlled race car on P.E.I. 0:58

It takes a few hours for members of P.E.I.'s Red Clay Racing Club to tape down carpet and put up the jumps at the Wilmont Community Centre, to prepare for the next day of races.

The club rents the space every two or three weeks in the winter to race radio controlled cars.

In the summer, races move to the club's own outdoor track in Stratford, P.E.I., one of the largest in the Maritimes.

"It's just awesome to watch people race and race, and if you crash, it's kind of funny because sometimes they make funny flips and stuff," said Evan Hume, 12, who has been racing radio controlled cars since he was five.

Twelve-year-old Evan Hume proudly shows off his winning RC car. His scaled-down car even features a suspension system that can be tuned just like a real car. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"As I'm driving, I'm thinking about not to crash and for my other opponents to crash so I can pass them," he said. "I just wanna win!"

Up to 60 km/h

The cars fly over the jumps like a swarm of grasshoppers.

Evan's scaled-down model runs on batteries. It's one-tenth the size of a real car.

These cars travel anywhere from 25 to 60 km/h.

An RC car takes to flight on one of the jumps. The cost of one of these cars starts at about $300. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The race may only be five minutes long, but drivers never take their eyes off their speed machines. 

"It takes a whole lot of concentration but it's a whole lot of fun at the same time," said Evan. 

A member of the track crew pulls a car from one of the many pile-ups. (Pat Martel/CBC)

'I don't even like to blink'

His dad, Shawn Hume, also a member of the club has just won another nail-biting race.

"My eyes are very buggy from the last race, I don't even like to blink." 

Shawn Hume has been with P.E.I.'s Red Clay Racing Club for a decade. (Pat Martel/CBC)

'A lot of fun to work on'

These little race cars provide more than just excitement.

"It's great family fun, I've got my two sons in it," said Shawn Hume. 

Shawn Hume says the RC cars are a lot of fun to work on. 'They teach you a lot in terms of mechanics and electrical skills.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

"They teach you a lot in terms of mechanics and electrical skills," he said. "They're just a lot of fun to work on and a lot of fun to race with."

Repairs can be painful

But with so many crashes, RC racing can be an expensive hobby. 

"They do smash, they do break, batteries die, things of that sort and the trip to the hobby store to pick up repair parts can be painful at times," said Shawn.

RC battery-operated cars line up for the next race. (Pat Martel/CBC)

And then there's the cost of the car itself.  Most of them start between $200 and $300.

For Shawn, it's all worth it.

"Every hobby costs money," he said. 

The races only last about five minutes, but driver Shawn Hume says he has to concentrate every second of the race. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"I'm into photography as well and that costs a lot more than this hobby, so you gotta spend money to have some fun and I don't mind doing it."

No minimum skill required

Shawn added that the cars are actually pretty easy to drive. 

"A few minutes in the driveway and you'll pretty much get the hang of it," he said.

A view from the cockpit of one of the RC racers, taken by a GoPro camera. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"No minimum skill required to come out and race so we allow anybody from the very first time up until seasoned racers as well."

The non-profit club doesn't have membership fees, but does sell season passes for the summer. In 2016, the fees for the summer pass were $20 per family.

P.E.I.'s Red Clay Racing Club has one of the largest outdoor tracks in the Maritimes. In winter, the club has to settle for carpet racing at a community hall. (Submitted)


Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.