Beginners guide to Offroad RC

We often get emails and questions track side about the basics of offroad racing, and how to get started with RC racing…so the following is hopefully a handy quick start guide to the racing we do at Mendip’s offroad track.

Our first piece of advise is always….come down and see the racing and chat to the racers BEFORE committing any of your hard earned cash!  There are so many options and factors to picking the right car, that getting some hands on advise will always improve your experience.   We’re a friendly bunch and always happy to chat about it in person and show you what’s what.

But to give you some background info before you come to the track, take a read of of the information below, it should hopefully give you some insight into things so you can ask us better questions when you come along.

Step 1  – What “class” of offroad RC car racing?

Firstly, looking around in shops and on websites there are many scales and types of RC cars, each one fits into a specific “class” of racing….our offroad track is designed specifically for 1/10th electric cars, and within that, there are a few options and variants to consider.

There are smaller scale 1/16th micro cars (typically electric powered) , or larger 1/8th scale cars  (available as electric or nitro fuelled).  Micros do run ok on our track, and occasionally we do run them, but the track is quite bumpy for them and quite large.  1/8th scale cars are just too big, and too fast for our track, so it’s neither safe or fun, consequently we don’t allow them on our track.

The only classes of racing we regularly do at Mendip offroad are:

1/10th 2wd buggy
1/10th 4wd buggy
1/10th trucks

How do you choose which class to pick?

There are no hard or compulsory rules to this but to give you an idea…

2wd is the normal ‘beginner’ class, and is actually the most popular class of racing on our offroad track.  All levels of drivers race this class at every race meeting.  We typically all started here because, although they might look a little more difficult to drive than a 4wd, they are cheaper to buy, much easier to build and maintain, and move a little slower in most circumstances, so don’t break so easily.

They do require a certain technique to keep them moving forwards, and quickly, but once you’ve mastered this, your literally ready for anything in the RC world!

4wd tends to be something people pick up once you’ve mastered 2wd.  As all 4 wheels are driven, they are more stable, but they are also much more direct and aggressive in driving style.  We do run 4wd’s at most of our club meetings, and all levels of drivers race them, but they are less popular than 2wd’s, are more expensive to buy and are more complicated to build and maintain.

Trucks are very much the fun class.  Trucks come in either 2wd or 4wd, but as with buggies, 2wd trucks are more popular.  They also come in either short course or stadium truck shell shapes.  Short course is the most popular because the wheels are enclosed, and although not strictly speaking  encouraged, you can make contact with other cars without causing too much trouble for either car.  Trucks are also raced by people of all levels, and “Truckers” are often heard to say “rubbin is racin”…this is a little bit of a sign of the type of racing that goes on with trucks!

Step 2 – What model of RC car?

Well this is the BIG question!  And one debated long and hard on forums and track side on a daily basis all over the world, and in truth…there is no ultimate ‘best’ car!

There are many manufacturers, and many many more models of car thereafter, and you should do your research and find the car that suits you.  So what factors should you consider?

1)  Can you get spares easily  We have a track side shop called RC Octane, if you have something they stock you stand a better chance of keeping the car running if you have a breakage, and if your new to the sport…you will break things!  The guy to speak to there is John.

2)  Can you get setup advice?  Find out what cars are popular amongst other club racers so you can speak to people to get help.  After your own head and thumbs or fingers, the car setup** is the second most vital thing you look at to making a car go better around the track.  If no one else knows your car, then chances are your on your own for finding how to get it working well for the track and conditions.

** It’s a mythical/black art thing “setup” and you’ll here a lot of chatter about what tyres, what ride heights, camber, roll centres, etc, etc…so don’t expect to know about any of this until your racing and trying to knock off that vital 10th of a second to beat your nearest rivals!

3)  Do I like the the look of it?  Every manufacturer does it differently…find one you like the look of!  The best car is the the car you like best…if you like your car, chances are, you’ll be more confident, and therefore better driving it!  If you don’t get it right first time, don’t worry, there is a busy and thriving second hand car market within RC!

As a guide though the list below are the popular manufacturers commonly found running around at our track in the most popular 2wd class:

  • Associated
  • Schumacher
  • PR Racing
  • Yokomo
  • Kyosho

Step 3 – What motor and electrics?

To begin with, electric RC cars have seen a bit of a revolution in the last 5 years.  Brushless motors, and 2 Cell (7.4 volt) lipo batteries are the normal type of drive power used these days.  Plus a speed controller (ESC) capable of brushless control and lipo cut off.

“Lipo cutoff” is a safety feature and  basically means it’s capable of shutting the car down before the battery drops below a certain voltage.  Lipo’s can become unstable if over discharged, so this is compulsary.

Motors come in different speed ratings, known as “turns”.  The lower the number of turns, the faster the motor spins.  As a newbie slower is definitely faster!

The top guys run 8.5 or 7.5 turn brushless motors in 2wd on our track, but don’t expect to be able to drive those from the beginning…you’ll only crash more and frustrate yourself.  Starting on a 10.5 or 13.5 to begin with will be much more fun and get you faster race times.  Once your up to speed and getting round the track more consistently for a full race without crashing, only then think about a faster motor.

Beyond this, there are vast arrays of manufacturers making electrics for RC cars.  Apply normal logic here, buy the best you can afford within reason…the most expensive parts don’t make you faster unless you know what your doing with it…so buy sensibly and appropriately for your skill level!

The faster your going, the more damage you can do if you crash.  “He’s fast between crashes” is a term you’ll get used to hearing about yourself if you’ve fallen at the first hurdle with over specced electrics!

Step 4 – Do your research!

Your here and still reading this, which is both a miracle and hopefully a good start!  But there is a wealth of other information out there about all this stuff.  Our next big tip for this is one particular forum website….if you haven’t found it already, look up oOple:

Main forum front page

Our club section on there:

The main forum pages contain a wealth of information, mainly about the 1/10th electric offroad RC racing scene..from club to international level racers, manufacturers, shops, you name it!

And that’s it… far at least.  We’ll be updating this from time to time when we get chance, but if you can’t find the answer to the question you have, feel free to email us with anything…no matter how stupid.  We’ve all been newbies so know what it’s like!