The art of drifting ... with radio-controlled cars
Radio-controlled cars are giving drivers a different kind of adrenaline rush
Men cheer, shout and pump their fists in the air.
All around them, cars speed past, leaving a trail of smoke and flames.
But this is not an F1 race.
The cars that are racing are miniature radio-controlled models.
Radio-controlled or R/C models are battery- or gas-powered model cars or trucks that are controlled using a special transmitter or remote control.
These cars have now become more realistic than ever, as R/C car parts are more easily available and you can modify these cars.
R/C car enthusiasts usually gather once a week at a shop in Jurong East called SGDrifters.
The shop's owner, Mr Bai Zhi Rong, is also the founder of an R/C cars interest group bearing the same name as his shop.
Mr Bai, 36, said: "Some might think that R/C cars are just toys, but they're not, because these cars can also do what other racing cars can.
"R/C cars can brake, drift and even produce smoke, sound and flames when drifting and on full throttle."
NOT CHEAP: Mr Henry Lim, 35, a hair stylist, posing with one of the two R/C cars he owns which he bought from SGDrifters and cost about $1,000 each.
Mr Bai's interest in these cars was sparked as a child when he saw how much fun it was when his uncle was playing with his R/C cars.
In 2003, Mr Bai started selling R/C cars by travelling around Singapore as he could not afford a shop.
These R/C cars are imported from countries like the US, Japan and Taiwan, and cost between $800 and $2,000.
CUSTOMISED: Small figurines like this Naruto figurine can be put in RC cars for a more realistic look.
Mr Bai finally bought a shop in 2004 at LW Technocentre, and now sells and does modifications on R/C cars, planes and helicopters.
His customers range from children as young as 10 to men in their 50s.
Mr Bai feels he has never worked a single day in his life as he is finally living his passion, but admits chasing his dream was tough at times.
He told The New Paper: "It's not a lucrative business and the popularity of R/C cars is gradually declining, but the money I earn helps me support my passion."
MODIFIED: The R/C cars have been modified by adding a backfire exhaust system (above) that allows exhaust flames to appear when the car is on full throttle, and a burnout smoke system giving it a realistic look when it is drifting.
One of his friends and customers is Mr Billy Lim, 29, a first aid instructor, who owns more than 10 R/C cars.
Mr Lim said: "R/C cars give us a different adrenaline rush and driving experience, especially during drifting. Drifting is an art form, you have to control the movement of the car while intentionally over-steering."
Mr Lim bought an R/C car from SGDrifters that cost about $1,000 last year and modified it into a replica of a Japanese police car.
ENTHUSIASTS: When free, R/C cars hobbyists will go to SGDrifters to shop and race.
With the help of Mr Bai, Mr Lim changed the alignment of the wheels and put the motor at the back of the car so that it can travel faster.
Mr Lim is also thinking of asking Mr Bai to modify the car so that it has a backfire exhaust system and a burnout smoke system, which Mr Bai figured out how to do in 2008.
Mr Bai said: "It suddenly came to mind one day, why can't R/C cars also produce flames and smoke like racing cars so that they look like the real thing? I started to experiment doing it myself because at that time, these modifications and systems were not available."
However, these modifications do not come cheap. They cost about $120 and take up to a week to do.
THOROUGH: Mr Bai, owner of SGDrifters, installs brakes on the wheel of an R/C car so it looks more realistic.
Mr Bai said: "People ask to modify their cars to be different and special, and have something in their cars that others don't."
When asked which is his favourite R/C car, Mr Bai replied with a laugh: "I really can't choose which car is my favourite as they all have their speciality and shine in their own way."
"Some might think that R/C (radio-controlled) cars are just toys, but they're not because these cars can also do what real racing cars can."
- Mr Bai Zhi Rong, a R/C car enthusiast
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