There is something special about racing in the truggy class. I think it’s the combination of size, speed and durability. I know I’m not alone because it seems that when the truggy A-main comes up at my local track, everyone gathers around to watch these powerful trucks compete in an epic battle. If you are going to race, you may as well arm yourself with every possible tip, tweak and advantage to help you turn faster lap times. Follow these 5 simple tips and you just may find yourself on the podium!
1. Tighten the Servo Saver
My last two truggies were what you would call “Race Rollers.” They came pre-built; all I had to do was install electronics and power and I was ready for the track. In both cases, however, the servo saver was set very loose and “safe” which meant that the steering was not nearly as sharp or responsive as I would have liked. A few quick spins of the servo saver nut will compress the servo saver spring and sharpen up that steering allowing you to carve much tighter lines and get much more precise steering. Beware, however, that it will transfer more force to the servo, so be sure you have a strong, healthy servo which can handle the added stress.
2. Read the Rubber
Today’s race vehicles have dozens of adjustment options to help you dial your truck into the track. Yet, the most important tuning a racer can do is the easiest of all–just pick the right tire for the current track conditions. You can have all the power in the world, but if you can’t put that power down to the ground, your truggy will never reach its full potential. Also realize that traction needs change throughout the race day. Maybe the temp changes, maybe they water the track right before your heat, maybe the track is swept before the mains. The changes that take place may alter your optimal tire choice. It’s always handy to have a few choices in your pit bag when you head to the track. Learning to read the rubber is a skill learned over time, however, one easy way to do it is simply to check with the track owner or the local “fast guys.” They have likely put in hours of trial and error to find just the right tire, foam and wheel choice. Just start with their choices and chances are you are you’ll be well on your way. If you want to find out by yourself, run one tire for the first qualify round and a different one for the second. Then look at your lap times, which tire gives you consistently better times? Run that one in the main.
3. Thicken the Center
Truggy center differentials are filled with silicone fluid and changing the viscosity (thickness) of that fluid has a direct affect on the transfer of power from the front wheels to the rear wheels. Using a thicker oil in the center will give the truck a much more locked in feel which translates to quicker acceleration. Be aware that this quickness can be too much for some drivers. You must have good throttle control when running a thick center diff fluid. Thinner diff fluids in the center are usually easier to drive and more forgiving. This is one are where you can experiment with little work. Record your lap times on your present setup then try 20,000wt in your truggy. Compare the times, then experiment with +/- 5000wt and I’ll be it can shave a few tenths of a second off your lap times. Once you find a fluid which gives you good lap times and a nice feel given your driving style, stick with it.
4. Tweak the turnbuckles
While tires are the biggest tuning aid, there are a few others worth mentioning. Camber and toe angles are two which every racer needs to adjust periodically. At most tracks, truggies are the biggest and heaviest vehicles run (unless your track runs 1/5-scale) and those truggies are subjected to some pretty extreme forces as they battle on the track. Often camber angles can change due to hard hits or crashes. A simple gauge like the Hudy Quick Camber Gauge can help you to keep your angles in check. Just line the gauge up with your wheel and twist the turnbuckle until the wheel hits the guage on the top and bottom. Easy and quick. There are some complex systems which can be used to measure toe angles however I tend to do that with a combination of measuring the steering links with a caliber and eyeballing it. Generally, I run only a slight amount of toe anywhere from +1 to -1 degree of toe. A slight amount of toe-in (front tires pointed in slightly) will help your truck track straight. In contrast a slight amount of toe-out will help the truck dive into corners.
5. Convert to Electric
I realize this is an extreme way to improve your lap times, but it works. If your track is like most, 1/8-scale racing is no longer the most popular class. Today, short course is the latest RC craze and track owners have taken note. They often change their tracks to be more “short course friendly” which means the days of super-cross style quadruple jumps are gone and we now have much smaller jumps, tighter tracks and lots of technical and twisty sections. While the nitro vs. electric debate will rage on forever, there is no denying that electric 1/8-scale truggy is the king of acceleration. Given the popularity of these smaller, tighter tracks having a vehicle with superior acceleration becomes more important. Even if you happen to race at a larger track, having the instant snap of an electric truggy makes clearing jumps with little run up child’s play. All that quickness will improve your lap times significantly, it certainly did in my case. While I do race at a small track, our mixed nitro and electric truggy class is almost always dominated by the guys who converted their nitro vehicles over to electric. Thanks to the poularity of this switch there are usually multiple conversion choices for just about every truggy out there. Check out conversions by Tekno and RC Monster as well as OEM conversions before you decide which way is right for you.