I’ve always been interested in the rock racing scene, I’ve just never stepped foot in the ring with one to try it out. This past weekend, though, I jumped head first into it for Round 1 of the 2018 U4RC Summer Series. Here’s my short story on how things progressed.
This was only my second try at rock racing; the first try was about a month or so ago when I attended the final race of the 2017 Winter Series. I was a little outgunned, rolling up with a semi-stock Axial RR10 Bomber on the kit tires. It appears those are a no-no, with everyone ripping around the track on Pro-Line’s new Hyrax tires. I learned a little bit about the RR10 during this race and knew if I wanted to sit atop the podium, my stock RR10 needed some work.
After a couple day rebuild session, I made the hike to Round 1 of the 2018 U4RC Summer Series at the Cherry Valley RC Raceway. It was a bit chilly – right around 48° – with enough of a brisk wind to mess up my hair. I set up shop just outside my car with just the essentials – pit table, chair, charger, basic tools, radio and car. Time to get things rollin’.
My first practice run was good. Car felt fast and had MUCH better traction than the last time I was here (thanks to the Hyrax tires). I was able to put the power to the ground and claw my way through the rock sections at a pretty decent pace.
Practice run 2, however, was where I found the true weakpoint of the RR10 Bomber. Not more than 1/2 a lap into it, I tried hitting a small double jump in the middle of the track and landed square on both front tires, sort of a nose dive if you will. Immediately the steering went away and I noticed a front link had popped off. It was the plastic rod end – easy enough fix with a some new parts I brought alone and I was back out on the track. It wasn’t even a lap later and I encountered the same issue with the SAME rod end. I brought it back into the pits, fixed it again but didn’t have enough time to get another practice run in as the qualifiers were about to start.
I lined up on the front row, knowing a clean start into the first corner could get me out front and not have to deal with any immediate traffic. My plan paid off; I was up in front after the first turn and basically held that position the whole time. The Bomber felt really good, I could grip it and rip it out of the corners, it felt stable over most of the rough sections and, as long as I took my time, could get through the rock sections easily. This was the first time that I’ve driven the Bomber where it felt like a possible contender.
I lined up on the front row again, but into the first corner got bumped a bit and flipped over. No biggy – I had TQ at the moment so I was going to use this qualifier as a recon run – basically testing different lines in case I needed to re-adjust my driving during the main. But that all came to an end after 1/2 a lap – yes, another rod end. It didn’t seem to matter if they were new or old, they just couldn’t stand up to very much abuse. So, I watched my second qualifier from the sidelines, wondering how I was going to keep this thing together in the main.
As I walked around the pits, I asked a few other Bomber drivers what they were doing to keep the ball ends from constantly splitting. I was told that the Traxxas rod ends are the way to go; they’re thicker and made from a much stronger plastic. I was able to acquire a pair of these to install before the main. The only issue with them is that they are a little shorter than the Axial ones, so you’ll need to add a spacer to adjust the front tires (without the spacer, you’ll have quite a bit of toe-in).
In Qual 2, a young kid named Deven Dodd actually took the TQ away from me, so when we lined up on the grid for the main, I was actually 2nd. That was fine with me since the 2nd place starting position was on the outside of the straight; this is the run line and most of the loose dirt had been swept away by cars ripping down the straight. At the tone, I was able to get a quick jump to the lead. It was a great race between myself, Deven and Jesse Villa, another extremely fast Bomber driver. I basically ran my race; slow and steady through the rough sections, as fast as possible on the flat sections. Jesse was a bit faster at certain areas of the track, but as time wound down, him and Deven started battling it out, allowing me to drive off for the win.
I think the setup on the Bomber is definitely close. There are a few more things I want to try, but the biggest difference is the tires. The Pro-Line Hyrax tires were amazing – AMAZING! These ARE the tires to have for U4RC racing no matter what class you run – I guarantee it!! I feel like I have a pretty good car under me for the rest of the upcoming U4RC Summer Series races!
(Thanks to Rich Morgan from The RC Network for catching my Bomber in action!)
Hitec D-951TW Metal Case, High Torque, Titanium Gear Servo
After destroying my initial servo, I knew something heavy duty was going to be in order for the front end of my Bomber. A quick call over to Hitec and I had one of their new D-951TW 32-Bit, metal case, high-torque, titanium geared servos on my doorstep. This little guy is rated at 486oz of torque with a .14 speed – but that isn’t the best part. The super servo comes with a full metal case, so there’s no worries about sheering off the mounting tabs when you’re bombing the Bomber through the tough rocks! A MUST upgrade if you plan on finishing a race in the rocks!
Castle Creations Mamba X ESC and 1406-4600kV Sensored Combo
I’ve always equated the name Castle Creations to some serious power, but the one thing their system lacked was a really good ‘feel’ to the throttle. Not anymore – this new sensored system is awesome! Round 1 really gave me a chance to test out the resolution of the throttle and I have to say that I’m really impressed with how well it feels! From controlled power-sliding onto the straight to slow-and-steady over the rocks, the Mamba X Sensored was fantastic. I have a review on the system here if you’re interested in reading it: Review: Castle Creations Mamba X Sensored 1:10 Scale Brushless System
MaxAmps LiPo 6500 2S 7.4v Dual Core Battery Pack
I’ve always used my MaxAmps packs as sport packs – out bashing in the woods with my Axial rigs to tearing up the streets in my Rally cars. When it came time to grab a couple packs for this event, I pulled my 6500mAh MaxAmps pack out of my fire container and figured I’d just use that. I was quite surprised by the power this pack delivered to my Castle system – and it’s an older pack! It has since been moved to the ‘race’ side of my container, for Bomber use only!
Futaba 4PX Computerized Radio System
While I do have one of Futaba’s new 7PX flagship radios, I’m hesitate to take it outside in the dusty dirty. It’s my precious. However, I do have my older but extremely trusty 4PX that I can use and, even better, it’s wrapped so it looks awesome! Like it’s now fancier big brother, the 4PX has a butt-load of features, alot that can actually be used to help tune your rock racer right from the drivers stand.
Pro-Line Racing Hyrax 2.2″ G8 Rock Terrain Truck Tires
Two words – Game Changer. That’s all that really needs to be said about these tires. The last time I drove this rig, it was on the stock tires. They worked, as in they allowed the car to drive around the track, but the grip level just wasn’t there. I mounted up a set of freshie Hyraxs (or maybe Hyraxes) and the Bomber was a completely different animal. Seriously, if you own a 2.2″ rig and you want to up the level of fun by 100%, get yourself a set of these tires!