Motorsports are funded by sponsors. Formula 1 racers are billboards for international industries. NASCAR vehicles are covered in national corporate logos. And major energy drinks drive motocross.
So it makes sense that remote control trucks one-tenth the size of those should be sponsored by small businesses just down the street.
Exeter Hobbies recently unveiled its new line of sponsored R/C trucks available for rent at its indoor raceway. The 1/10 scale R/C truck bodies feature professional decals of local business logos that not only support expanding the hobby shop’s track but also add to the race day atmosphere.
“I think it kind of ties the whole community together,” Hull said. “It gives every race that Exeter feel.”
In all, 13 local businesses sponsored a 1/10 scale R/C truck including Classic Charter, Epic Print and Promo, T.E.Z Plumbing, Frosty King, Nielsen & Associates Insurance Services, Tricia Kirksey Real Estate, Independent Towing, 20/20 Financial Advisers, Exeter Tire Service, VIP Pizza, Exeter Police Department, Anagram Design Werks and Jim Tyler Construction & Solar. Each sponsor also got a banner hanging on the back wall above the track. In addition, each of those businesses will be the title sponsor of at least one club race in the next year. Because the trucks are rentals, they will be seen by more people and will be on the track more often.
“Most of the people who come to race are not from Exeter and thousands come each month, so that is a lot of new potential customers seeing their truck and banner,” Hull said. “I also try to work those cars into my Facebook posts about upcoming events as an added bonus.”
Hull gave the sponsors leeway to customize their trucks. For example, Jim Tyler Construction & Solar put solar panel decals on its roof; Garrett German, local partner in 20/20 Financial Advisors, selected the #20 for his car; and Tricia Kirksey painted her truck body pink before it was wrapped with decals.
“The girls really like to drive Tricia’s truck because it is pink,” Hull said. “And every kid loves Frosty King, so we get a lot of requests for that truck.”
All of the decal wraps were done by Epic Print & Promo in Visalia. Owners Gene and Rachael Lytle of Exeter designed all but one of the cars and did all of the printing and applying for the 13 sponsor cars, including their own. The cars were debuted at a sponsor-only race on July 12.
“It only took us about two weeks from the design until they were done,” Gene said. “Everyone loved their car.”
Hull opened Exeter Hobbies in the former Waterman Industries pattern plant in September 2011. The hobbyist turned businessman makes most of his money from as an international manufacturer and shipper of R/C custom parts. Hull started TGN Distributing out of his garage in Southern California and opened a warehouse in Visalia in 2001. Today, TGN is what continues to fuel Hull’s dream of owning a Hobby Shop and R/C track a reality.
“It was great to see all of these businesses supporting the track and what we have going on,” Hull said. “My family and I love Exeter and I want this track and the hobby shop to be successful.”
After moving to Exeter, Hull created a hobby shop in the northern half of the building and began constructing Tulare County’s only indoor R/C track in the back half. The track opened in June 2012 and was an instant hit with Valley hobbyists looking for a cooler alternative to racing at outdoor tracks in the summer. Hull continued to add to the track by building a grandstand for drivers and a pit area, complete with outlets for miniature electric tools, allowing racers to make adjustments or repairs between races.
Much of the sponsorship money was used for a major rebuild and expansion of the track, including extended hours to seven days per week for race rentals and parties. Part of the expansion was making the track more durable and reorganizing the pit area to create more room for friends and family to watch the race. Hull recently added a first person view (FPV) camera to the Nielsen & Associates Insurance car, after a suggestion by company president David Nielsen whose cousin is a sponsored R/C racer. Hull said the camera engages the crowd in the race broadcasting an action-packed point of view onto a flat screen monitor near the grandstand.
“This is one of the few tracks of this caliber in the Valley,” said Nielsen, who has been racing R/C cars most of his life. “We are lucky to have something like this and I wanted to do something to help support it.”
Rental cars are $10 for up to an hour of racing. About six cars race at a time with a staggered start to avoid wrecks on the track. The cars are 1/10 scale are battery powered and usually reach speeds between 15-20 mph on the track, depending on the skill level of the driver.
Hull’s latest edition to the R/C racing experience includes a four-wheel drive track, where drivers can indulge in the newest R/C craze of rock crawling. Similar to actual off-road vehicles, the R/C trucks are raised with independent suspensions and larger tires to traverse rough terrain. The course is lined with small timber and large rocks with the backdrop of a mural by urban artists Erik Gonzalez.
Exeter Hobbies and Raceway is located at 130 E. Maple St. in downtown Exeter. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 559-592-4883, visit ExeterHobbies.com or like them on Facebook.