MOUNT VERNON — Racing remote control cars starts out as an innocent child playing with a toy. For an elite few, like Mount Vernon’s Cody Hogle, it can grow into a living.
Hogle, who is 18, has been a remote control driver for five years. He generally runs cars that are 1/8 scale, although he also runs 1/10 scale cars as well.
“I’m in several different racing leagues,” said Hogle, who is sponsored to run the top car models around.
It was a childhood dream come true.
“I first read about this in a magazine,” said Hogle, who got his first car as a Christmas present. “Also a neighbor got me into it. I was running it in the backyard and that developed into racing. I went to little local tracks and that developed further into all around.”
Now it is full-blown reality.
“It’s pretty serious,” he said. “We get people, who fly in to compete. That’s their job — it’s what they do. They travel around the country racing cars. They go to the pro series races and show off what they can do. There’s about 50 to 100 of them.”
The prospect of doing this for a living, intrigues him.
“I’d like to have something to do with it,” said Hogle, who just graduated from Mount Vernon High School and will be heading to Wright State University to study mechanical engineering — a good match for a racing career or designing these cars.
He has a busy summer ahead as he makes the rounds of the mini racing circuit.
“I’m up here (in Mount Vernon) for the summer and I head down there for my freshman year in September,” said Hogle, who will have a busy summer of racing. “We’re going around and doing a lot of racing now. This weekend, we are going to Pennsylvania, a little bit north of Pittsburgh. This weekend, on July 4, we have another race in Springfield, Ohio.”
Hogle also competes in Michigan, West Virginia and Indiana as well as in nearby Columbus. So far, his best finish was his fifth-place finish in Medina last weekend.
Hogle is hoping, one day, to finish with one of the top three-point totals in the region. That would qualify him to race in the Nationals in Texas.
This is real racing right down to every detail. A couple of Hogle’s cars are powered by fuel that is similar to what is used in full-sized racers.
“I have one that is a nitro-methane powered off-road-vehicle,” said Hogle. “We use methanol and nitro-methane — kind of similar to what drag racing cars use. We power .21-cubic-inch motors.”
So, how fast can these things really go in the flat?
“Depending on the gearing, they can hit 40 to 70 miles per hour,” said Hogle.
That’s not a scaled down 40 to 70, either. That is an object, which is 1/8 the size of the family car, moving at highway speed.
“It can be dangerous,” said Hogle. “I race off road, so I race on scaled-down motocross tracks. We have Corner Marshalls so, when you are driving and you hit a road jump, flip over and wreck, they right your car and help you out. They can occasionally get hit, but it doesn’t happen often.”
At those speeds, drivers go through plenty of spare parts.
“The cars are fully rebuildable,” said Hogle. “You can rebuild, even down to bearings on the cars. So, if you break it, you can always take it back and fix it. We always have an extra car’s worth of parts with us.”
Just like a full-sized vehicle, these radio controlled speedsters must get regular maintenance.
“The big thing is fuel mileage because, when we are racing, we’ll run 45 minutes to an hour long in the main event,” said Hogle. “We’ll have to come in to get a fuel stop. Maintenance-wise, we usually get a new car about every three to four months.”
Life is short at the top for an average car. Old remote control cars, however, manage a variety of after-lives.
“We usually keep it as a parts car or we sell it at the track,” said Hogle. “It just depends on the situation, really. We could keep them longer but, the more serious you get, the more you are going to run it and the more you are going to look at the wear of the car.”
Hogle also has an off-road truck that runs on alcohol.
“It’s just an extended version of the buggy,” said Hogle. “It has larger tires and a larger body on it. I also have (10 to 1) scale electric vehicles for off-road.”
Advances in battery technology have made the electric cars more powerful.
“It’s the same time frame,” said Hogle. “But the cars have better speed capabilities. The electric cars can run more than five minutes but, with the racing I do, we only run them five to seven minutes. After that, the battery starts to lose charge and things start to heat up.”
These cars may be small, but they are real cars with real metal chasis and drive trains and suspension systems as well as motors. Like real cars, they need maintenance and repair.
“The higher drivers have a mechanic, who travels with them,” said Hogle. “Very simular to (full-size) motocross and that type of thing. You usually have somebody with you to give you another view on what it might take to make the car go faster or what type of tires to use for the track conditions. When it’s hot, we’ll play with the tires and the motor. It’s just like a full-sized car. We check the weather. If it’s getting humid, the motors act differently.”