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Nestled just a stone’s throw north of the University of Nevada, Reno – amidst a cluster of nondescript business edifices – lies a hidden gem of high-octane excitement. However, the contenders here are not your typical race cars — they tip the scales at a mere four and a half pounds, and have no real drivers, just remote controls. 

Welcome to Whip It: RC Raceway and Hobbies, located at 1005 Standard St., in the heart of Panther Valley. Without insider knowledge, this thrilling world would remain a secret – its existence unbeknownst to passersby.

Emily Hess/Nevada Sagebrush

Step through the unassuming entrance, and you’re immediately transported into an electrifying realm where the air is tinged with the scent of rubber and the soundtrack is a symphony of whirring motors and the occasional thud of a racecar meeting the clay track. This is where the miniature heart of motorsport beats the loudest.

Racers, each with their personalized pit stop along the perimeter of the racetrack, come prepared with an arsenal of equipment: RC stands, batteries, chargers and an array of tools essential for the fine-tuning of their machines. The vehicles, despite their diminutive size, are marvels of engineering – delicate yet capable of breathtaking speed and agility. It’s a rare sight to see a car cross the finish line without bearing the scars of battle, necessitating a pit stop for adjustments or repairs before the next round.

Before the official races kick off, participants are afforded a couple of warm-up laps for last-minute adjustments and strategy planning. The competition is structured into classes based on the vehicles’ specifications: 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive divided into expert, intermediate, sportsman, short course truck, stadium truck and novice. This ensures a level playing field, allowing for fair and fierce competition.

On the track, the race is not just against time but also a test of skill and strategy, monitored closely by marshals ready to intervene. These trackside guardians leap into action to right any vehicles that stray from their course, ensuring the race flows smoothly.

Emily Hess/Nevada Sagebrush

At the core of Whip It: RC Raceway and Hobbies is a community that embodies the spirit of inclusivity and mutual respect. Here, age and experience level are merely numbers; what truly matters is the shared passion for RC racing. It’s a place where advice, support, and sometimes even spare parts are freely exchanged, fostering an environment where everyone, from seasoned pros to eager novices, feels welcome.

The raceway’s calendar is meticulously organized to cater to a wide range of skill levels, ensuring that everyone — from those experts wielding 2WD buggies with expert precision to newcomers getting their bearings in the novice class — finds their stride and thrill.

The technology underpinning these miniature racers is nothing short of impressive. With advancements mirroring those of their full-sized counterparts, RC cars boast customizable components like adjustable suspensions and electronic speed controllers that can be fine-tuned for performance. The evolution from NiCd to LiPo batteries and brushless motor technology has revolutionized the scene, offering lighter, more powerful, and longer-lasting energy sources, making the races more dynamic and strategy-driven.

Emily Hess/Nevada Sagebrush

As the race begins, the excitement reaches a fever pitch. The air buzzes with the collective anticipation of racers and spectators alike, each crash and successful jump met with reactions ranging from gasps to applause. Winning requires a blend of speed, skill and strategy as racers navigate not just the physical track but also managing their vehicle’s battery life and avoiding the pitfalls of aggressive competition.

Whip It: RC Raceway and Hobbies stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of racing, distilled into a form that is accessible yet no less thrilling than its full-scale counterpart. It’s a place where friendships are formed, skills are honed, and the spirit of competition thrives, proving that the love for racing knows no bounds — physical or otherwise. In this corner of Reno, the race goes on, inviting anyone with a heart for high-speed adventure to join in the diminutive yet deeply compelling world of RC racing.

Emily Hess can be reached via email at or via Twitter @emilyghess03

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