By Aaron Waldron
Rick Wang was a dedicated enthusiast earlier in life, but he was reintroduced into RC racing full-steam when his son, JJ, fell in love with the hobby eight years ago. JJ’s attention was captured by the speed and sound of nitro on-road racing, and at just seven years old he showed flashes of brilliance that hinted toward a successful future behind the wheel - so Rick did what any father of an aspiring racer would do when racing his family in a developing world power: he built a racetrack.
LiveRC Facebook account -- various pictures and results
LiveRC Twitter account -- breaking news and live race updates throughout the weekend
LiveRC Instagram -- JConcepts Pit Report account -- pictures from the pits
Along with a partner, Rick founded TRS in 2007. The nitro on-road track operated for three years, giving local racers - including JJ - a place to hone their skills and compete against one another. Rick found a coach for JJ, who suggested that the quickly rising star begin traveling internationally to find greater competition. The track operated for nearly three years until a lease-hold issue forced its closure in 2009.
Keen to maintain a facility for his son to practice, Rick opened the first RCI - which then stood for “RC Club Indoor” - the following year. The asphalt track was situated inside a warehouse, which allowed for much more consistent track conditions now that JJ had begun racing predominantly electric touring car. RCI opened its doors in 2010 and stayed in operation through 2013, but it wasn’t an ideal solution. “The environment didn’t really suit what we were going after,” said Wang, who fielded an interesting offer from the owner of SMP RC Racing, a local hobby shop.
Along with its retail storefront, SMP had built an astroturf outdoor track in a developing industrial area of Shanghai’s Minhang district.
They approached Rick with an offer to help build the facility from the ground up into a true destination spot for racers from all over China and abroad. The original RCI had been closed for about six months before construction of China’s first-ever carpet track began in December 2013, and the 2014 Asian On-Road Championship kicked off at grand opening of RCI V2 in April.
Not only has JJ’s racing career benefitted from Rick’s constant effort in providing a place to race - he qualified for his first IFMAR World Championship final at the 200mm Worlds in Bangkok last fall - but so have racers from all around Shanghai. “The overall level of Chinese drivers has risen tremendously,” said Rick, “and we’re seeing more and more Chinese racers able to compete at the top of races across Asia.”
RCI V2 a terrific option for drivers who live in the area, but its proximity to accommodations for out-of-town racers is terrific for those traveling - there’s a JinJiang Inn, a Chinese hotel chain on par with Holiday Inn Express, that’s less than a five-minute walk away, along with restaurants, grocery stores, a bank, movie theater, and more along the same street.
When you walk in the front door of RCI V2, you’re greeted by a large Formula One mural (Shanghai is the host of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, after all) and large scoring monitor, with comfortable couches and a beverage vending machine. There are well-stocked counters and display cases that make up one of three on-site hobby shops, selling equipment from HB/HPI, Yokomo, VBC Racing, Kyosho, Reedy, LRP, Muchmore, Dualsky, Protoform, and more.
Walk to the left, and you enter a heated and air-conditioned pit room with 32 seated pit spots and windows that offer a panoramic view of both the carpet and off-road tracks.
Walk to the right, and you’re led to the edge of the track (where the air compressor and restrooms are located), along with a staircase that takes you up the spacious drivers’ stand with an incredible view of the track.
The second floor of the building also includes ten private pit rooms that can be rented annually.
The announcer’s booth is located in the back right corner of the track, which gives RCI V2 track manager Bobby “8B” Zhang a terrific view of the course during local club racing - and will serve as Scotty Ernst’s office for the weekend. RCI V2 is now running LiveTime for practice and racing!
Of course, JJ has his own private quarters - complete with trophy collection and awesome blue corduroy lounging furniture.
The track itself measures 14 meters deep by 32 meters wide - or 45.5 x 104 feet. It’s made with genuine CRC carpet and Clik Trak barriers, and the layout is changed a couple of times a year to keep the racing experience fresh. Though the current layout has been in for a while, this weekend’s AOC race will run the track backward - counterclockwise - to help level the playing field.
That means the long back straightaway leads into a left-hand sweeper, which ends in a 180. The track opens up into a large right-hand 180 and a short shoot before it really tightens up - following the right-hand 90 that points the cars back toward the drivers’ stand comes a series of three double-apex corners going left-right-left. The final section feeds into another high-speed sweeper approaching the back straight. Drivers in all classes have said that the narrow lanes, unforgiving barriers, and high speeds make for a difficult challenge.
With over 100 entries entries expected this weekend, the off-road track was converted into temporary pit space.
Adjacent to the off-road track outside of RCI V2 is a building divided into suites, one of which is filled by SMP RC Racing. SMP’s vast selection includes kits and parts from Axial, Serpent, Traxxas, Team Associated, Team Losi Racing, Team C, XRAY, Futaba, KO Propo, AKA, Pro-Line, dBoots, and VP-Pro among others.
The Chinese headquarters for HB-HPI Racing are at the opposite end of the building from SMP RC Racing, with a small warehouse built to complement a larger space downtown.
An office is set up upstairs, where business within the Chinese market takes place.
Between SMP RC Racing and HB-HPI China, Hongkongese manufacturer 3Racing also has a retail shop. In addition to the brand’s own off- and on-road vehicles you’ll find various items from companies like TOP and Team Powers.
With so much available to RC racing hobbyists at RCI V2 and the surrounding marketplace, this facility is truly a must-see place for those making a trip to Asia.