A brief history of radio controlled cars
As the first drivable automobiles began to appear in the late 19th century, radio controlled cars were not far behind. According to the website Classic and Vintage Cars, the forerunner of radio (or remote) controlled car racing began in the 1920s when some organizations had already been established for racing clockwork cars.
These clockwork cars were essentially wind-up cars. Wind-up cars were propelled by pulling these miniature cars back slightly. This action would wind up an internal coil spring, and then releasing the car would propel it forward. When racing clockwork cars, they were released onto straight line tracks and could reach speeds up to 40 mph in three seconds.
The evolution of model racing cars
However, it was not long before American innovators were placing miniature gas-powered engines into model cars. As a result, there was more of a need to control the cars, so circular tether tracks were built so this new model could reach a speed of 60 mph.
However, it was not until mid-1966 that radio controlled cars were considered to be a viable product and became available from an Italian company named El-Gi (Elletronica Giocattolli). This company’s first radio controlled car model became available in the United Kingdom in December 1966. This model was a 1:12 Ferrari 250LM.
Then Mardave, a British company located in Leicester, began to commercially produce radio controlled cars in the mid to late 1960s. The first cars Mardave produced were gas or nitro powered and were sold in the Leicester area during the early 1970s.
Many American radio controlled car enthusiasts were building their own cars from scratch in the late 1960s. However, prefabricated kits for building these cars became available between 1969 and 1970.
Radio controlled cars have undergone huge changes as enthusiasts have created a long litany of innovations in the years since the first cars of this kind became popular.
Here are some of these evolutions:
- Mechanical changes to enhance drive
- Chassis material development
- The first electrically remote controlled car that was introduced in 1976
As radio controlled cars have become more and more popular, the number of companies producing varied innovative models throughout the world have proliferated.
Radio controlled car racing in England and the U.S.
The U.S. began to host radio controlled car races in the late 1960s, but the exact year is uncertain. The ROAR (Remotely Operated Auto Racers) organization was founded in 1967 and the first recorded races took place in 1968. ROAR serves as an authorizing group for competitive radio controlled car racing in the U.S. and Canada.
Then the BRCA (British Radio Car Association) was formed in 1972 and adopted ROAR’s rulebook as the template for its own rules.
There is now an international radio controlled car racing organization called the International Federation of Model Auto Racing (IFMAR), which was formed in 1979.
IFMAR states the following goals:
- Promote international camaraderie and cooperation around building and operating radio controlled cars.
- Set uniform international rules for building and operating these model cars.
- Coordinate international competitions for all classes of radio controlled cars.
- Manage the only recognized World Championships for Radio Controlled Automobiles.