SPRING HILL — Racing a car at Daytona, crunching obstacles in a monster truck, cutting sky-high figure 8's in an airplane — all of those youthful dreams can be realized at Xtreme Enterprises USA, a one-man shop specializing in radio-controlled cars, trucks and aircraft.
Yes, the vehicles are scaled down to one-fifth, even one-sixteenth, of the real thing. But the thrills and skills replicate the real-life experience, owner John Dasch said.
From his first radio-controlled dune buggy when he was a teen, Dasch, now 47, has turned his passion into a business that serves hobbyists worldwide.
Dasch had become a regular wherever radio-controlled buggies were racing across sands or model aircraft were diving through the skies.
"When somebody had a question, people kept coming to me," he said. "I thought, apparently I know something."
The business was born.
From a tiny storefront opened in January, and a much larger work station and mail-order warehouse he has operated since 2010, Dasch sells, services and repairs all things radio-controlled. The bulk of his business is through his website, xeusa.net, which registers some 1,700 hits monthly.
Yet Dasch's enthusiasm ramped up on a recent morning when Mike Cassavant rolled in, "looking for something I can sit and play with, something to occupy my mind." The disabled Army veteran from Port Richey, in a wheelchair, said he'd recently become interested in quads — four-rotor helicopters, to the uninformed.
Dasch grabbed a couple of ready-to-runs, boxed models with all the parts, including batteries, transmitter, controls and LED lights, starting at $110.
Cassavant, 50, didn't flinch at the price, having done his homework on the Internet.
Yet his eyes roamed from the palm-sized quad to a bigger-boy toy, a one-fifth model airplane with an engine like that of a chain saw, price at about $9,000.
"There's no rule where you start or where you end, whether it's vehicles, planes, boats or tanks," Dasch said, adding, "It's a hobby that's a lot like gambling. You only spend what you're willing to lose. But it's a lot of fun."
Yes, the toys crash.
"Everything," Dasch said.
And like any vehicle, things wear out, though Dasch likes to teach owners to make their own repairs.
"People really should know about them, especially a father. He can teach the son," Dasch said.
Knowledge leads to tinkering for fun, customizing a model, attaching a different body shape to a chassis, switching tires to a different tread, applying decals, pin-striping, installing smoke or lighting systems, "putting their 2 cents into their own particular vehicle," he said.
For Cassavant and his chosen quad, Dasch suggested he join an aero modelers club. The Hernando Aero Modelers, of which Dasch is president, owns a flying field near Brooksville, where members safely launch their aircraft and learn the rules and regulations established by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Whatever and wherever the vehicle, Dasch said, radio-controlled modelers cover a wide demographic — mostly men and boys, "from an 8- or 9-year-old to a 90-year-old who wanted to do it as a kid and now has the time."
Contact Beth Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.