A History of Radio Controlled Model Car Racing in Gloucestershire

Radio controlled model car racing began in Gloucester in the mid 1970’s at the Pireholt club in Hucclecote. In 1977, the founding members moved the car club to the Gloucester Y.M.C.A. in Sebert Street, near the Rugby ground, as it was more central to the City and on race nights they had the hall to themselves, instead of having to share the venue with other users. Racing was initially on polishedGERCC logo history wood floors and only 1/12th scale ‘flatbed’ cars were raced. These were fitted with foam tyres and, in order to improve grip on the slippy surface, they were coated with a layer of clear silicon and the tyre rolled on a flat surface to produce a ‘stipple effect’. This resembled a tread and made a significant improvement.

By the early 1980’s a new class of car, the 1/10th scale ‘Buggy’ was developed for racing on rough surfaces. Although it was primarily designed for outdoor use, it quickly became a popular class indoors and was raced alongside the flatbeds at the Y.M.C.A. After the Gloucester club became more established several other clubs were started. Bob Whitefield started a Sunday afternoon club which several keen Y.M.C.A. members supported. Another Friday night regular, Mike Smith, started the Brockworth Buggy Club (B.B.C). They raced on the car park at the “Cross Hands Pub” in Brockworth. This was only for buggies because of the rough surface and was held on a Sunday mornings before the pub opened. Another club was run at Thornbury on Monday nights from 7pm till 10pm. Following the success of the hobby several clubs in the south west started a southern league.

The Stroud model car club started in Stonehouse Youth Club but then moved to a room in the Shambles in Stroud. The track in Stonehouse had to be laid around the wooden floor boards. At that time track edging was not yet in use and courses were mostly marked out with garden hose and sand filled fire hoses.

Quite a few members supported the Worcester club on a Wednesday at Ombersley in a new hall. It was around this time that “Works” supported drivers started attending race meetings. As main meetings were getting more professional new and novice drivers turned to the buggies of Tamiya, RiKo, Yokomo and others. The Gloucester club catered for these members and followed the national trend by introducing a carpet surface to race on and wooden track edging to contain the cars. This was necessary as improving technology was making the cars significantly quicker. However, lap timing was still done manually on paper. It was at this time when C.J Models started a club at Beaufort School in Tuffley.

Dowty Sports and Social Club in Staverton, Gloucester had a very good Model Section. Originally this was for boats and aeroplanes but was extended to cars around 1983. The Car club met fortnightly on Monday’s and was run on carpet but as the majority of members were visitors, the Social Club made all drivers temporary Dowty engineers. This did not go down well with the factory workers and so the model car club section closed around 1988.

A spin off from this venue was an outdoor buggy track (next to the rifle range) which is now part of the trading estate of Mercedes, Chrysler, Land rover etc.. This was the site of the Cheltenham Model Car Club. Buggies were very popular in the early 90’s and the track was so good, Radio RaceCar used it for a national championship event. The growth in interest in 1/10th Touring Cars during the late 90’s affected numbers and the club eventually closed down.