People who know me know I love full-size monster trucks. Grave Digger, Bigfoot, Monster Mutt, Avenger, El Toro Loco, Thrasher, Mohawk Warrior–I could go on and on. I am a big fan of car crushers. On the RC side of things, I missed out on the original monster truck racing craze. Like a lot of RC hobbyists, I had a Tamiya Clod Buster in the late eighties/early nineties, but I never raced it. I bashed it a bit, but it was essentially barely used compared to my other RC cars. I missed out on side-by-side racing even though it was a pretty big trend at one point. Eventually, RC monster truck racing diminished in popularity. Full-size monster trucks, however, have never gone away and are just as big as ever. And, while RC monster truck racing may have faded a bit, it too never really went away and now that everything scale is big again, it seems to be surging. Case in point, I recently attended two events that had over 40 trucks competing. Now may very well be the best time for YOU to get in on real deal RC monster truck racing.
The two events I recently raced at were Winter Wars 1 and 2 held at RC Madness in Enfield, CT. Radio Control Monster Truck Challenge of New York (RC Monster Truck Challenge — NY) hosted these races and they are run by Kyle and Dan DeFalco. In addition to running the events, Kyle and Dan are experienced and talented solid axle monster truck racers. I mention this not to flatter them, but to point out that you will likely find a wealth of information at one of these events. Whether you race in New England, Hawaii or somewhere in between, the guys there, like the DeFalco brothers, probably know solid axle monster trucks inside and out and will gladly help you.
The RC Monster Truck Challenge follows the rules of the Radio Control Monster Truck Race Series (RCMTRS) association. The RCMTRS establishes national rules and the RC Monster Truck Challenge — NY groups adheres to them with the only exceptions being that batteries are limited to 2S or 7.4 volts maximum and brushless motors are limited to no more than 5700 Kv.
The actually racing is pretty straightforward–you race an opponent side by side. A bracket determines who will run against who and the field is essentially cut in half with each round and until two trucks face off in the finals. Usually four complete brackets are run in a day. Winning depends on your reaction time, how well your truck handles jumps and corners and ultimately how well you drive. The RC Monster Truck Challenge — NY group uses a fully functional set of staging and starting lights–when the green lights up, you go! The layouts vary with each and most clubs race on carpet, dirt and grass.
The most popular class is the Pro-Mod class–the name varies slightly among the different racing groups. Another class that many racers partake in is the Retro class which most often pits stock Clod Busters against each other.
YOU CAN SEE THE RCMTRS RULES HERE
SEE AN ARTICLE ON A CHAMPION RC MONSTER TRUCK RACER HERE
While many monster truck racers are diehard Tamiya Clod Buster aficionados, there is a bigger variety of trucks seeing action than you might imagine. The commonalty between all the trucks used is that they are all solid axle trucks–the rules require it. Some sanctioning bodies have rules regarding maximum dimensions and others do not. As common sense would dictate, check with the group you’re racing with prior to building a truck or showing up for racing. Below are some of the most common platforms used.
Tamiya Clod Buster
The Clod Buster is the truck that started it all and is still the most popular platform–and for good reason. The motor-on-axle design of the axles isn’t plagued by torque twist (the bane of shaft driven trucks). The Clod also has strong aftermarket support. With the exception of those competing in the Retro class, most race Clods only the axles with everything else getting replaced.
The TXT-1, like its Clod Buster brethren, is old school. It varies greatly, however, from the Clod in that it’s shaft driven. Out of the box, the TXT-1’s suspension is far more capable than the Clod’s, but most racers still replace just about every component but the axles. The biggest obstacle with the TXT-1 is combating torque twist, but plenty of racers have very successfully dialed this truck in. Tamiya has unveiled a TXT-2 for 2013, but it has yet to be released.
Redcat Racing Ground Pounder
The Ground Pounder has two things going for it: it isn’t discontinued and it’s inexpensive. The Ground Pounder uses a shaft driven drivetrain and has a realistic aluminum frame. It is popular to combine the chassis plates with Clod Buster axles to create what is called a “Clod Pounder.” When used in conjunction with HPI Wheely King axles a “Wheely Pounder” is the result.
HPI Wheely King
Like Redcat’s Ground Pounder, the HPI Wheely King is still in production and features a realistic chassis (in molded plastic). It is also shaft driven. The downside of the Wheely King, as far this type of racing is concerned, is that it is 1/12 scale and in stock form, the axles are significantly narrower. The Wheely King can be modified for competition against trucks such as the Clod Buster, but the No Limit R/C racing organization has a class specifically for the Wheely King.
Axial Racing Wraith
The Wraith is, by design, a rock racer, but the axles are wide, strong and there are numerous factory and aftermarket upgrades. The transmission is also strong in stock form and can be made even better. The biggest downside of the Wraith is that the axles feature locked differentials. The good news is Axial offers the parts needed to convert to actual differentials. Many racers are turning to these parts to create custom monster trucks.
SEE RC TRUCK STOP’S PROJECT AXIAL WRAITH HERE
About the Author: Matt has over 25 years of experience in RC and has worked professionally in media for over a decade. Matt enjoys everything from racing to rock crawling to bashing, and he believes RC should be all about having fun. Matt is as at home covering a world championship in an exotic country as he is showing a new hobbyist how to set gear mesh. His desire to share the hobby with as many people as possible inspired him to create RC Truck Stop and RCTruckStop.com.