Reved Up!

RC racing fans flock to NewRed Hobbies.

By Cynthia McFarland

Radio-controlled cars have come a long way from the early commercial models in the 1960s.

Since electric RC cars were introduced in the ‘70s and ‘80s, technology has broadened the appeal of RC cars and racing. Today, the hobby includes participants of all ages from around the world. 

Here in Ocala, NewRed Hobbies, owned by Tom Hitchcock, is known as one of the best indoor tracks in Central Florida. 

Photo courtesy of NewRed Hobbies

A former master plumber in New York, Tom was disabled at age 29 and moved to Florida 33 years ago. His wife, Melanie, ran the business while he provided technical support until her death in March 2020.

“When my wife, who was the love of my life, passed, I thought I was going to close down,” recalls Tom.

Then the pandemic happened.

“After the first shutdown we opened our doors and had 100 people here racing the first day. We were selling cars like crazy. A lot of tracks closed, but we opened and stayed open. Covid quadrupled our business,” says Tom.

NewRed Hobbies holds organized racing twice a week. Race director Mason McCombs runs the facility and manages racing.

Racing on the outdoor dirt oval is held on Thursday evenings at 7pm and Saturdays at 1pm. Off-road indoor racing takes place on Saturdays at 6pm. There are numerous classes based on skill level, and racers range in age from 5 to 85.

Come by in person to catch the action, or check out the live race feed on Facebook. 

“It’s free to come hang out and watch some of the best racing at the only off-road indoor racetrack in the state of Florida,” says Tom.

NewRed Hobbies opened 21 years ago. Unlike some other race venues, it’s also a hobby shop. Tom keeps a large inventory of vehicles and parts in stock so racers can buy everything they need in one place.

“The nice thing about RC racing today is that it’s not a money game. It used to require a lot more money to get into it, but the price is much lower to buy a car than it was 15 to 20 years ago,” says Tom. “We sell lots of used cars so you can get into it for $200 for everything.”

Not everyone who buys RC vehicles is into racing, though. 

“Many people just play with them,” says Tom. “That’s why we call them ‘backyard bashers’ because people take them home and have a blast.”

NewRed Hobbies                                                                                         

609 NW 4th Ave, Unit C, Ocala, FL                                                                               

(352) 671-7302