OK, so you want to race RC cars. First I recommend you buy a magazine (I like RC Car Action. Got some good pics and words!) from you local newsagent. By doing this you should get an initial account of what its all about and all the current racing formats. You may also like to find out some more info on the internet (please check out our links page).
Hopefully you've decided you really want to start racing electric touring cars, so the next thing you should do is visit our club. Please contact us first to check when the next meeting is (there may be a cancellation). You can stay to watch all the racing and talk to other racers if you have any questions.
If you still really really want to race its time to vist your local hobby shop, see what they've got and buy your first car. You're going to need some money, probably around £300-350. You could get away with less, but if you spend this amount you'll get something that will suit your needs as your skill progresses. There are two ways to buy, RTR or kit. Buying an RTR (Ready-to-Run) means you get a car that is fully assembeled and includes all the basic running gear (radio, motor, ESC, battery, and possibly charger). Buying a kit means that everything needed to run the car must be bought seperatly and the car will have to be assembled. Most racers go the kit route, as the car can be custom built to their needs/budget and the car can be built to their own standard. Although buying a kit can be a bit daunting for the newcommer I would have to recommend this route. Some of the electronics supplied in RTRs arent up to racing and would eventually need replacing. The main reason I would avoid RTRs though is that you won't know the cars construction, making cleaning and maintenace harder. If you do decide to buy a kit here are a basic list of items you'll need:
Car kit - obviously
Radio - including transmitter, receiver, and possibly a servo.
Electronic speed controller (ESC)
Battery - 2 packs minimum, 3 would be ideal though
Body Shell - some kits may include this
Wheels and tyres - some kits may include this also
You should also allow in your budget the cost of some tools including a philips screwdriver, a set of allen wrenches, needle nose pliers, a small paint brush, scissors, and a craft knife. This will probably see you trhrough the construction, if you need any other tools then other racers are usually willing to let you borrow. You may also need a soldering iron (about 60W) and would be a worth while investment for later on.
There are many good car kits suitable for the beginner, but here are short descriptions of those I consider to be the better choices as far as long-term invertments go: (you should also look at their websites for detailed specification)
Yokomo MR4 TC sport - around £100. Although the MR4 range is getting a little old now they are still very competitve. The car has a very stable feel, which is a good thing for the beginner. Construction is easy but maintenance could be a little harder as it has quite an open drivetrain. It is also full ballraced and has ball differentials (a good thing)
Tamiya TL01 - £100. This car has probably been the most popular car for beginners for a long time. It is very robust, so you are unlikely to break anything. However, the transmission is not quite so suitable for racing. The gearboxes at the front and rear have a complex gearing system that means the transmission has a lot of drag. This shows in the cars lower top speed and accelleration. Some of the kits are not fully ballraced which will probably mean further cost later. There is also an 'LA' kit with longer suspension arms which provides more stability, so i'd recommend it over the standard version. Overall the TL01 is good for the beginner because it is strong, but it is not a good long term inversment.
Tamiya TA04 - £150+. The entry level TA04 Sport makes a better alternative to Tamiya's TL01. The durability associated with Tamiyas remains, yet has a much more effecient 2 belt design. The kit is only partially ballraced so I dont really think the extra £50 is justified.
Associated TC3 Racer - £150. One of the more expensive entry level cars, the TC3 has become very popular with club racers. The car is fully ballraced with rubber shielded bearings and has a shaft drive design, so is very effecient. It handles as well as any any higher end car though the beginner may find it feels twitchy. Beginners may also find it breaks easily. The TC3 is a VERY competitive car and is good for a beginner looking for the best long term investment.
Schumacher Mission S1 - £150. The British designed and built car also has a very competition orientated design and this lower priced car is spec'd has highly as the more expensive version with the exception of the chassis material. Schumachers are generally know for good durability and spares are easy to come by and cheap. The mission is also a good long term investment.
This is just a brief list of whats avaliable, speak to other racers or your local hobby shop to see what they think is good.
The following is another short guide to all the other things that need to be bought:
Radio - £50-250. These come in stick or steerwheel designs. Most people use stick but steerwheels are becoming more popular. Entry level radios are offered by Futaba and Acoms.
ESC - £30-150. There are many differing specs for ESCs. As a beginner you should look for one with a motor limit of around 15-17 Turns and expect to pay around £50. Also look for other features such as current limiting, thermal shutdown or even waterproofing (shouldn't need that!). LRP, M-Troniks, Novak, and KO all have suitable examples.
Motor - £20-30. Any 27 Turn 'Stock' motor (prefrably rebuildable) is good. Many companies including Trinity, Orion, Peak, and Reedy offer these with various features. Ask the shop what they have available.
Battery - £30-60. You should buy 3000mAh NiMh cells as Nicd cells will be banned in few years. The cells will be assembled in a stick pack or be sold loose to be self assembled into either saddle or side-by-side format to suit your car. Self assembly requires soldering, so unless you have a lot of prevoius experience of soldering, ask you hobby shop if they can do it for you (at a small fee).
Body Shell - £15-20. Many designs are avaliable, just make sure you buy a 190mm one. The Dodge Stratus is a popular design as it has a very neutral feel. Popular bodys are made by Protoform, Trinity, and HPI.
Wheels and Tyres - £20-30. The besy thing to do is to see what every one else is running and copy them. At Over R/C Take Off CS27, and Pit Shimizu treaded tyres on dish wheels are popular.
Charger - £20-150. As a beginner you probably wont be able to appreciated features of high end chargers so go for a basic one. Make sure it has support for NiMh, delta peak detect, and prefrably variable charge rate.
Then all you need to do is assemble the car, paint the body, gather all your stuff together, and turn up at our club. You'll be given a brief intro on the racing format and then you can finally get racing.
Tom Lau 2003