Look on Local: Nor-Cal Hobbies

RC cars are, apparently, a thing. I’m not talking about those dinky little, AA-powered remote control cars from Toys R Us that my parents keep giving Grimlock for Christmas.

Real RC cars are about the length and width of a laptop. They have complex components and sturdy bodies. They can be modified to race on a track or grass or street. A starter model runs about $300-$500 dollars. Some people think they’re fun but I could personally use that money for a new camera lens or canister filter.

 photo Yeti Car black_zpstsknhoyp.jpg
Futurehusband’s RC car.

To each his or her own, which is what we did last Valentine’s Day. (I firmly believe a good relationship supports and fosters the growth of hobbies and interests independent of the relationship itself; each partner needs his or her own circle of hobby friends for emotional support.)

So on Valentine’s Day, we went to Nor-Cal Hobbies for Futurehusband, and Neptune Aquatics for me, which I’ll cover in a later post.

 photo Yeti Car original paint_zpsessiqkrp.jpg
Yet RC car before paint.

I’m not into RC cars, so these opinions are from an “outsider’s” point of view. As in, I don’t know why suspension-shock-things for a toy car costs as much as a pair of Levi’s.

Nor-Cal Hobbies (really, only one hobby) is, in my opinion, in the middle of nowhere in San Jose: 2099 S 10th St, San Jose, CA 95112.

 photo Nor-Cal Hobbies_zpsxwtw0ach.jpg
It’s also called Nor-Cal Hobbies and Raceway.

On a Saturday afternoon, we had no problem parking right in front. The first thing we encountered was the large dirt track and uh, I guess the pit area where people were servicing their cars. Is that the right word for it? Servicing? Fine-tuning?

Beside the track room, there’s a little store where you can buy cars and parts to upgrade or fix your car. I think you can even build one from scratch.

Being in Valentine Day duds – a jumpsuit and wedges – I felt overdressed. But the vibe was very welcoming, and I would return to support Futurehusband in his racing endeavors (but I’d bring, like, a picnic basket of food and a couple of books in case they don’t have free wi-fi).


The racing track is indoors, which was nice in the brisk winter weather, but I don’t know if it’ll be air-conditioned in the summer.

An automated system misted the track between racing rounds but it’s a pretty dirty place simply because the main activity takes place on, you guessed it, dirt. Don’t wear an outfit you’d be sad to get grimy.
 photo Norcal Dirt track 2_zpsremxr3im.jpg
I would say it’s a family-friendly place for kids five or older. As a mom, that’s the thing that impressed me most about the venue. The first person who greeted us was a 9yo boy who asked if it was our 5yo’s first time racing. There were also some fathers setting daughters up with their first RC cars. I appreciated that the environment and workers seemed welcoming to kids and people of all sexes.

There’s even something like a rookie-race, which Grimlock and I watched, which is a slower, less intense version of their regular races because it’s done by kids and new racers.

However, I would not say it’s an ideal environment for mobile kids under 5 because there are a lot of small, delicate components within child-reach. Also, there’s not that much space to wheel around a stroller.

The store part of Nor-Cal Hobbies is one small room about the size of a garage, but they’ve packed it with a lot of products, which all looked like paperclips and pen tubes to me. I was overwhelmed by everything, but Futurehusband knew what to look for, and the shopkeep was knowledgable and friendly.
 photo Norcal Products 2_zpspjzt17at.jpg
 photo NorCal Cars products_zpsw60srr81.jpg


Not really ideal for infants in strollers or loose toddlers.


Welcoming vibe and a fun place to buy, upgrade, fix, or race RC cars.


Connect with me by leaving a comment below, Twitter (@JoanWIP), or Facebook.

Hang out in my mental playground! My short are stories available on Amazon, Fresh Cuts: Breaking Volume. 

Check out my review of another local place: Chilly & Munch.


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