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In pursuit of fast cars and volleyball

by Dave Price | dprice@recordcourier.com
Rick Jenkins leads a cheer at the youth volleyball clinic this week at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center. Jenkins is a familiar sight coaching youth sports, including his new role as head coach of the Douglas High boys tennis program. On top of that, he owns Caster Racing Parts Plus, an online web store that sells remote control cars and parts.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Rick Jenkins developed two passions when he was growing up in the Bay Area community of Livermore, Calif.

Beach volleyball and fast cars.

Jenkins has managed to parlay both into a lifestyle, and today, the Carson Valley man wears a variety of hats as a youth sports coach and as owner of Caster Racing Parts Plus, an online web store that sells remote control cars and parts.

Jenkins moved to Carson Valley 23 years ago to join his mother and stepfather, Connie and Dan Slader, in their Just for You carpet care business.

“I love it up here,” he said, flashing a smile. “I can’t imagine moving back (to the Bay Area).”

And in the process, he discovered the world of radio controlled (or R/C) cars — model cars or trucks powered by battery or gas and controlled by a transmitter.

“I came from a background of building regular street race cars at the drag strip and doing things like that,” Jenkins said. “And then when I decided to get out of the bigger cars, I took on these little RC cars probably about 14 years ago and really never looked back.”

ON THE TRACK

These vehicles have become popular for racing on tracks or simply for recreational enjoyment, Jenkins explained. His business deals with customers from Carson Valley and nationwide.

“You have off road racing, dirt, jumps,” he added. “It is almost like a small scale of a motorcycle track, but for remote control cars.”

For those who prefer some competition, two tracks are available in the Reno area that offer opportunities for racing. One is an indoor facility operated by Track Time Hobbies. CKRC Hobbies also operates an outdoor facility.

“I sell anything to be competitive at the Reno tracks,” Jenkins said. “Or if you just want a car to go outside here locally, to play in the dirt and jump it and bash it — we call them bashers — and I do that as well.”

He added that the radio controlled cars are popular for participants of all ages, male and female alike.

“There’s nothing to win, per say, except podium pictures and stuff like that,” Jenkins said. “But it is a great sport for all ages, anywhere from say 7 years to we have people in their 60s playing with these cars.”

Both on-road and off-road vehicles are available. Off-road models, built with fully functional off-road suspensions, can be used on various types of terrain.

“I enjoy working on the little cars … you can sit on a bench or on a chair and it’s not really all that greasy or dirty,” he said. “They’re (the cars) tunable and adjustable … it is full-on racing and it is exciting.”

Jenkins races himself and has enjoyed a number of successes, among the highlights being a second-place performance at the 2011 Nitro Challenge in Phoenix, Ariz.

As for speed, Jenkins noted: “An electric modified motor, a four-wheel drive, 1/10th buggy, I think we’ve clocked them at 40-42 mph down the straightaway. If you’re an 1/8th-scale car, they’re normally geared to run about 50 mph on a big track.”

COACH JENKINS

Jenkins’ expresses his passion in a way that is contagious, whether he’s speaking about cars or the teams he coaches. Just ask about volleyball.

“Doing the volleyball … I get so much enjoyment out of watching these young ladies improve and grow,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

He has become a familiar sight on volleyball courts over the past three years as eighth grade coach at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School and freshman coach at Douglas High School, although he is moving over to the tennis court this fall to coach the Douglas boys squad.

He spent a considerable amount of time as a teenager and young man playing beach volleyball in Santa Cruz, Calif., not far from Livermore (he is a 1991 graduate of Granada High School).

Jenkins took that experience and turned to passing the sport on to other youngsters. In addition to his work at Douglas and Pau-Wa-Lu, he has coached club volleyball for Northern Nevada Juniors and this past week worked with Dan Hannah during a youth volleyball skills clinic at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center. Classes were held for girls and boys in third through eighth grades. Another series of classes for the fall will begin on Aug. 31 (see Sports Digest for information).

Jenkins feels fortunate to pursue his passion for sports through his life.

“It is amazing to take a hobby and turn it into something I could make a living out of,” he said.