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The track layout is regularly altered (©AAH/AW)

Published 1st February 2024

Every Friday evening, Broadbridge Heath Sports and Social Club is taken over by radio-controlled car enthusiasts.  

Horsham RC was formed over 30 years ago. It was a heyday for remote-controlled cars, with Tamiya producing famous models like the Hornet and Tyco’s Turbo Hopper becoming a popular toy for children. Remote-controlled car racing is now enjoying a second golden age, with petrol and electric cars raced both indoors and outdoors across the UK. There’s even an historic RC scene that thrives on the nostalgia of classic models.  

Brian Stally joined the club a few years after its foundation, when the club met at Forest Boys (now Forest School). He recalls: ‘Back then, we sold remote-controlled cars at our shop, Horace Fuller in Park Street, Horsham. They were popular for a while and we became an official outlet for Schumacher RC, but eventually couldn’t compete with the internet. However, my sons played with RC cars, so it became a real family passion. Thirty years later, we’re still involved, while the club has gone from strength to strength.’ 

Joseph Moore races Schumacher cars at Horsham RC  (©AAH/Alan Wright)


To avoid petrol fumes in the social club, Horsham RC races electric cars. They have hosted a variety of RC classes but currently has races in three categories. The first is GT12, in which cars are powered by a single cell 13.5 turned motor. They are fitted with foam tyres, ideal for carpeted tracks. The second is Buggies, perhaps the purest, most prestigious form on RC racing, with jumps added to the course as obstacles. The third class is Mini Touring Cars (MTC), one of the most affordable formats of RC.  

Chris Moore, who has been Chairman for 15 years, said: ‘We meet throughout the year and while numbers drop slightly in summer, there’s always a good turnout on club nights. We hold five-minute races for people of all ages and abilities. Races typically feature only four cars to keep the track clear and drivers race the clock, bidding to complete as many laps as possible in the allotted time. We have a timing system that records to a thousandth of a second and informs the drivers if their times are getting faster or slower.’  

‘What’s great is that everyone finds their level and has a fair amount of track time, so they can improve. You can spend £5000 on the best equipment in the world, but if your fingers aren’t up for the challenge, money won’t help you. It is the driver that makes the difference!’ 


Horsham RC runs its own club championships, while more experienced members attend national and international races too. Matthew Heath, who works at Horace Fuller, is the current national champion in MTC, a class designed to be an affordable way to compete in RC. He said: ‘Horsham RC also hosts a round of the national championships, held at Worth School. Other venues are spread across the UK, including Torquay, Eastbourne, Nottingham and the Midlands, with talk of establishing a round in Scotland too. I think we’re in a golden age of remote-controlled car racing and yet there’s not enough clubs. We are blocked out most weeks and what we need is more clubs to support the sport’s growth. In an ideal world, we would hold another night to give beginners and youngsters more track time, but you need volunteers to commit a lot of time and effort to run it.’  

Matthew Heath is a national champion in the MTC class (©AAH/Alan Wright)


Matthew also helps to run another club called Gatwick Raceway, which meets at Holmbush Farm in Faygate and hosts off-road RC racing. The larger track there appeals to those who enjoy the thrill of off-road buggies. Although all are welcome at Horsham RC, children need to be supervised. Not that this prevents some progressing to the sharp end of competition. Joseph Moore races Schumacher RC cars and receives support from the leading RC brand, giving him a discount on equipment. This makes a difference when leading racers can change tyres every few weeks at a cost of £9 a pair.  

Joseph said: ‘I’ve been coming to Horsham RC since I was six and I turned 18 two months ago, so this has been my life! My dad brought me down initially after I found one of his old remote-controlled cars in the garage. I have improved a lot since then and now travel the country representing the club and Schumacher RC. In 2017, I was one of about 300 people to compete at the IFMAR 1/12 World Championships in Milton Keynes, where I finished in the top 100. It was strange, as races were held in a shopping centre, with members of the public stopping to watch. I was only 12 and was the youngest competitor there, but it inspired me to push on with my passion. One of the great things about RC racing is that it crosses generations. Brian Stally has been racing for twice my lifetime, so it’s an inclusive hobby that brings together people of all ages.’  


There has always been a strong social element to Horsham RC. Club nights offer a chance to wind down after a busy week, with members chatting to friends about cars and racing. Like many, Mark Rogers first developed an interest when he was a child and returned to the hobby after having a family. He is another member who competes in national and world championship events. And as Mark explains, while everyone is friendly off-track, the racing is taken seriously.  

‘The top competitors practice all-year round, experimenting with a wide range of settings and changing components, as you would an actual race car. They change the ride height, adjust the position of the tyres and test out gear differentials to find the best set-up. Top drivers could be separated by less than a second for an entire race, so one mistake can cost you dear. So, while it’s a social hobby, there’s an element of competition too. However, Horsham RC is a friendly and accessible club where everyone is welcome. There’s a lot of support for younger members too as you need to encourage the next generation.’ 

WORDS: Ben Morris / PHOTOS: Alan Wright 

Further information: For more details join the Horsham RC page on Facebook.