Volkswagen's Internet-Connected RC Track Will Change Everything You Thought Was Cool As A Kid

Were you aware that, apparently, there’s a rivalry inside Volkswagen between the GTI and GLI performance teams? I didn’t realize that. And, it seems that instead of having a nice, civilized hammer fight like most people do, they decided to settle their rivalry with a big RC car race on a custom track. That’s where I am today, and I want to show it to you, because it’s nice and nuts.

VW, of course, is hungry for any sort of attention that doesn’t involve diesel anything or payout whatever, which might be the real genesis behind this GTI vs. GLI “rivalry.” That’s why they’re calling this whole event “Rival Road.”


Personally, I think while it may have some core of truth, it’s probably been hyped up for marketing purposes. I mean, think about it: GTI has been the performance badge that everyone actually knows about, and there’s been Golf, Polo, and even Up! GTI models.

The GLI is just for the Jetta, where they can claim, what, the awesome performance advantages of a separate trunk?

Here, VW made a whole video that should explain everything:

Still, it doesn’t really matter how much reality spawned all this, because the fun part is that they’re doing something with it. That something is this massive 1800 square-foot (30'x60') RC car track, a track surrounded by lovely low-polygon-looking mountains and full of Arduino-controlled obstacles that will be activated by the perverse will of people watching the whole thing on Twitch tomorrow.


The track is impressive, especially when you realize that it was all built in just ten days. It’s got nine separate controllable obstacles distributed around the track, including things designed to send the cars into the air, whack-a-mole-style pop-up cylinders, a turntable to whip the cars around, rumble sections, and more.


Tomorrow the actual race will be streamed via Twitch at 5:30 p.m. EST, that site where people watch each other play video games and talk shit, just like we used to do with out friends in real-time.


Noted full-size non-remote-control car racers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed will be here as well, to do color commentary and race one another. It seems Speed actually does a lot of RC racing and Faust does not, so that should be a brutal race to enjoy, if you’re that manner of sicko.

In the meantime, though, I’m going to be walking through the whole track and seeing how it was all built with this nice VW PR person who lost at rock-paper-scissors or something! Later, I think I’ll try and see if I can get Tanner to race against me. Here we go!

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)