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Updated: June 17, 2013 16:26 IST

Miniature marvels

PRINCE FREDERICK
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CRAZE FOR CARS Shivakumar Kamallakharan
CRAZE FOR CARS Shivakumar Kamallakharan

MEET Shivakumar Kamallakharan doesn't stop with making scale models of aircraft and cars; he also runs a facility for RC car racing in the city

Three cc and four cc engines lie helter-skelter on the floor. Perched on a drawing board is a huge building plan for the Super Stearman, an aircraft engaged in Red Cross work during World War II. Japanese and customised remote control (RC) cars with nitro and electric engines are neatly packed and kept in small wooden compartments. Amidst these things that showcase miniature technology, stands Shivakumar Kamallakharan. Bespectacled and wearing a t-shirt, he looks every bit the techie he is.

A 1,000 sq ft space on the ground floor of an apartment complex in Palavakkam (on the East Coast Road) lets him display model aircraft and RC cars for sale. It also doubles as a classroom for people keen on making such scale models. Well-used blackboards show these classes are a constant feature of Shivakumar's day at work.

He also engages in a more interesting activity — RC car racing. He manages a dirt track for RC cars at Adventure Zone, a sprawling facility for adventure sports in Maduranthakam. Participants outdo one another in manoeuvring their four-wheel-drive remote cars over a variety of obstacles — gravel, sand, soft log, hard log and so on.

Easy to prepare

Shivakumar dispels doubts about RC car dirt tracks. “It can be prepared anywhere — in a spacious conference hall or on the terrace of a corporate building. A track for electric and nitro RC cars takes up only 2,000 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft of space. RC cars with gasoline engine however require more space. The smallest gasoline engine has a displacement of 23cc; the minimum dimensions for a gasoline RC car are a length of two-and-a-half feet and a breadth of one-and-a-half feet,” adds Shivakumar.

Spread over 10,000 sq ft, Shivakumar's track at Adventure Zone is ideal for racing RC cars running on gasoline. “For flying lessons, our students are taken to Vada Nemili (where the Crocodile Bank is located.”

Shivakumar speaks with the animated enthusiasm of someone who has successfully made his avocation a vocation.

He and his father, Radha Kamallakharan, flew model aircraft and raced RC cars as a hobby before turning the activity into a business in 1992.

In the last two decades, the duo has taken on many challenging projects. An unmanned aircraft with a twin-cylinder, a 100cc petrol engine and a 15ft wingspan sitting smack in the middle of the room is an experiment in crop-dusting. This project, partly sponsored by TEPP and monitored by the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), displays the Kamallakharans' ability for serious work.

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