CHEK Upside: Interest grows in remote control racing amid COVID-19 pandemic

WatchThe Island Radio Operated Car Club, better known as IROC, has been hosting remote controlled car racing on Vancouver Island for decades. Now, thanks to COVID-19, they're seeing more people turn out than in years past.

Every Sunday a dedicated group meets on Sooke Road in Colwood to race.

The Island Radio Operated Car Club, better known as IROCC, has been hosting the events for decades.

“The cars are just as technical as a full-size car in some situations more there are more adjustments on that car than a full-size car. Your reaction time has to be pretty good,” says long time member Craig Roberts.

It’s eye-catching, sounds like a swarm of angry bees and while the cars might be scaled down, the speeds are not.

“[They’re] capable not here but on a big track it’ll go 120 kilometres per hour – here we’re doing 90 to 100,” says Roberts.

The cars range in price from $500 on the lower end to upwards of $2,000.

There’s tents set-up for the racers to fix and tune up their vehicles when necessary, and there are even stats provided for each race.

“It’s a pretty inexpensive form of racing, it’s not dangerous it’s COVID-friendly right now because it’s not a contact sport or anything like that,” says IROCC organizer Blake Bell.

Bell was drawn by the mechanical aspect of constructing a racing RC.

“I’m sort of a mechanical type person so you gotta build the cars and maintain them so it’s part of it,” says Bell.

Though the racers are passionate, it’s by no means hyper-competitive.

“We have fun that’s the thing it’s all about the fun factor,” says Roberts.

Perhaps due to its COVID-friendly nature, but the club is seeing its biggest turnouts in years.

“You have your own personal car and controller you hold, so you’re not sharing equipment with anyone else,” says Bell. “You don’t need to be near anyone else when you’re driving, we’re six feet apart so it’s quite good for that.”

Anyone who is interested in joining the racing is welcome to stop by and you don’t even have to have your own vehicle.

“I’m pretty sure if you hang around long enough someone will let you try one,” says Roberts.

You can find more info on the group by searching IROCC on Facebook or visit

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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