Meet Andrew Howard, Eurekan, father, RC car guy | Photos/video: Stephanie McGeary


Andrew Howard, a 35-year-old lifelong Eureka resident, has been interested in cars almost his entire life. Growing up with a car enthusiast father, Howard started learning about classic cars at a young age, and was working on his first car – a ‘73 Plymouth duster – by the time he was 12 years old.

As an adult, Howard still collects and works on muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s, but has also developed an interest in much smaller vehicles – radio controlled (RC) cars. Now his hobby has turned into a passion project and the City of Eureka is working with Howard and some other RC enthusiasts to build an outdoor RC racing track in Eureka. 

“[I’ve] been working with the city for a little over a year to get something going,” Howard told the Outpost during an interview at Halvorsen park on Wednesday. “The city is scouting locations … . It would be really nice to see an area that’s rundown become something that’s really nice.” 

Howard said that his love for RC cars really grew during the onset of COVID-19. Like many folks, Howard was looking for an outdoor activity that was safe to do during the pandemic. He took up the hobby with his son, who is now 11, and found it was a great way to get outside and have some fun during lockdown. He started with a couple of cars and now has a collection of around 60 RC vehicles ranging in size and abilities. 

Eventually Howard started thinking that there must be others in Humboldt who share his passion for piloting tiny cars, so he started the Facebook group 707 Humboldt R/C Vehicles, which now has 380 members. Howard started connecting with other RC hobbyists and holding group meetups in outdoor spaces to drive and race their vehicles. Sometimes up to 20 people would meet at a time, Howard said. 

Howard also works on RC vehicles, fixing broken ones or making modifications and improvements. As he was trying to get people out to race with him, many people said they had an old RC car, but that it had been broken for a long time and they couldn’t use it. Howard said that there is no other place locally that works on RC cars, so he started offering the service and said he has helped get around 200 cars “back on the road.” 

“I’ve created a little niche,” Howard said. “Fixing them up is definitely one of the funnest parts.”

One of the places the group liked to use their cars was in a section of Sequoia Park, but after some community members complained, the City asked the RC group to stop running their cars there. Instead, city staff suggested a different solution — that they work together to find a suitable location to build an official racing track. 

Because the city had also had similar complaints about BMX (bicycle motocross) and there is currently no designated off-road bike track in Eureka, staff also suggested that the RC folks combine efforts with the BMX community to design a park that would have both an outdoor RC racing track and a BMX track, and the concept for the Eureka Off-Road R/C Track was born. 

The project is still in the very early planning stages, Howard said, and a location for the track has not been nailed down yet. But staff from Eureka’s Community Services Department have been working with Howard and have identified a few possible locations, including near the PALCO Marsh behind the Bayshore Mall in the area previously known as Devil’s Playground. 

Howard added that he is still trying to find some BMX enthusiasts to get involved with the project planning, since that is not really his area of expertise. 

A sketch done by Howard of a potential park design that would include the two tracks and other amenities

The other thing that the project needs, of course, is funding. Howard said city staff is working to find grant funding for the project, but to get things off the ground, the City is hosting a fundraising event on July 9 at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature two indoor racing tracks – one for 1/10 scale RC cars and one for 1/18 scale cars – as well as a course for RC crawlers. There will also be an RC car show, and attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite car, based on its looks, style and quality. The car show can also feature RC vehicles that are a little too big to race on the tracks. 

The event is free to enter, with a suggested donation, and will also feature raffles, food and drinks. All of the proceeds will go toward funding the Eureka Off-Road R/C Track project. Howard wanted to mention that he is still looking for donations for the raffles and food vendors. If you would like to help out or have any questions about the event you can contact Howard at (707) 616-9188. 

Howard also emphasized that this event is for anyone in the community to attend, not just RC nerds like himself. And yes, Howard is fully aware that his hobby might seem a bit nerdy. But he loves it and is completely fine with the label. 

“When you’re out there having fun and you see other people seeing you and laughing at you having fun, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I look like a nerd.’ But, you know what? I’m having a good time, so it’s okay.”

just a few of Howard’s RC vehicles