Playing with big boy toys

Many may know Tshaka Mayanja as a musician or music promoter courtesy of the Jazz Safari concerts but few know him as a car fanatic and his love for motorsport, in particular.
He is in love with what you may call “toy cars” but these are more than that. They are RC (remote or radio controlled)ars, professional and fun. He is part of Zulu RC team, which comprises him and a friend.
Most people may think these cars are the average toy cars but this is not the case.
“These cars are not like those in supermarkets. Some cars are not for [children] they can hurt them. They use specialised battery chargers. The cars come with manuals just like real cars do,” Mayanja observes.
Parts such as screws and batteries are bought separately. Car bodies are bought clear without paint. Then you paint them yourself or get someone to it for you.

Expensive hobby
But just like in real cars, there is a car for everybody. You can bid and get a car at an auction on eBay, an online bidding site.
Like any passionate fan, he has several contacts abroad from whom he buys accessories and also gets latest industry information.
“It is a multi-million dollar industry,” Mayanja points out while noting that it is an expensive hobby.
First of all, they are not cheap some can actually cost more than an average used car. Though there is also RC for fun. Professional RC cars start from $80 (Shs240,000) to $700 (Shs2.1m). Remotes come from different brands ranging from about $40 (Shs120,000) to $1,000 (Shs3m) or more.

How fast are they?
The car can go up to 60mph. However, Mayanja adds that abroad, they have proper speeds some brought down to scale can do about 400kph, which is really scary in case of a real car.
But without a proper track, he cannot subject the cars to top speeds. These cars are based on real rally cars, it is a cheap way of having rally fun. They are some cars meant for bashing. These practically go anywhere as off-road vehicles, they handle dirt, water, among others.
To demonstrate this, Mayanja shows me a video of a Toyota Tundra customised to handle all the dirty work, which includes climbing over rocks and logs. It pretty much handles it with ease.

Costly?
This depends on how you look at it. Like earlier noted, there is a car for everyone. Just as it is for starters and for professionals and so is the pricing.
“It is a fun sport for people who love cars. We don’t know how many people have such cars in Uganda,” Mayanja explains when asked about starting a club here. He is not alone, he knows of some people who do drifting competitions at Panamera Bar in Kampala. Some RC cars were made for drifting.
One online site states that high-spec racing vehicles are generally sold only as kits, and companies like Thunder Tiger, Losi, HPI and Tamiya sell kit and RTR versions with the benefits of a kit version being in upgraded parts or lower costs, respectively.

Addictive
Like any sport, RC cars can get you addicted to the fun within minutes. During this interview at the Magic Parking venue sandwiched between Christ the King Church and Theatre La Bonita in the middle of Kampala city, Mayanja remotely controls his green and black Evo VI from his seat to speeds that capture the attention of onlookers.
A passerby, who said he was coming from a meeting, asks about the cost of the cars and how he can acquire one. But as Mayanja observes, many like this gentleman, at first impression, want to buy them for their children. But these are not children’s toys, they are for grown ups who love the sport.

In other places like Europe, there are complete race tracks for RC cars and they even have championships with awards at stake.
There are F1 cars, drifting cars, trucks, buggies and pick-ups. Some meant for smooth surfaces, others for off-road. There are even some RC cars that use petrol and have two stroke engines. There are even hobby shops where you can buy parts from. You can strip the car and replace some parts.
There are people who do repairs like it is for the real cars. There are also those who specialise in customising cars.
“We replace shocks, tyres like it is with real cars. The remote which is bought separately, has reverse, a timer, traction control and other features of a rally car,” Mayanja asserts. “RC cars can let you know a lot about real cars.”
He gets information about the hobby from other people who are also involved in it. First time ‘drivers’ need to do lots of research about RC cars and related issues. “It has taken me about four years of research. Before, I used to make many mistakes, now I know a lot,” he says.

What does he have in stock?
“I have a Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi EvoVI, Subaru Impreza N14, a VW Golf MkV, VW Beetle Bug, Ford Focus, a truck, I also had a BMW FG that could do 100kph,” he notes.
As we wind up the Sunday evening’s interview at about 8.30pm, Mayanja is just preparing to do some racing as this is when the “track” is almost free of people and other obstacles that would hinder his enjoyment of ‘burning some rubber.’ He is armed with a bag that comprises the car, remote and other accessories.
With sound from the muffler similar to that of a real rally car, xenon lights, matt finishing sometimes with popular rally legends names such as Tommi Makinnen, the cars are pretty fast that you cannot help but feel like joining the hobby.

What are RC cars?

You may have heard a remote control car referred to as an RC car. In fact, RC is used to describe other remote control toys and hobby items. However, RC is also used to describe radio controlled cars, and there is a difference. The most striking difference is that remote control cars use wires between the remote and the vehicle, while radio controlled cars do not.
A RC car allows the user to control speed and movement through a hand-held device. Other options may allow a RC car to make precise turns and to be stopped without shutting it down.
Full function options are equipped with six to seven different actions, which include forward, reverse, forward left and right, and reverse left and right. The seventh action would be the ability to stop the car by not pressing any buttons. The car will stop until another button is pushed.
Highly aanced models may incorporate one or more joysticks as well as many buttons. These aanced systems allow for optimum control of the RC car or toy.

Source: www.wisegeek.com and carfanz.co.ug

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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