When people think about RC cars, driving around the backyard or in the driveway immediately comes to mind. However, there's an entire category (or culture) dedicated to RC car drag racing. But what is RC car drag racing, and how can you get started to drag racing RC cars?
In this post, we will explore what is RC car drag racing, the rules of the hobby, and look at different types of drag RC cars and trucks. 3, 2, 1. Let's go!
RC Car Drag Racing Explained
The concept and rules for RC drag racing are very similar to real-life drag racing. Two cars line up side-by-side on a flat straight track and compete to see who can reach the finish line first. The two cars will line up on the starting line and a starting light will count down and signal the racers to go. The first car to reach the finish line is the winner.
Take a look at this Team Associated 1/10 DR10 2-Wheel Drive Drag Race Car. I think this car is very cool and is a great entry-level drag RC car. Or maybe the Losi Drag Truck is more your style. Both are great beginner vehicles.
Types of RC Drag Race Start Lights
There are two popular systems for RC drag racing.
- Simple starting light
- Christmas tree light
Simple Starting Light
A simple starting light is popular for local no prep RC drag racing leagues. This type of light does not track false starts, reaction times, or race timing. This type of light will have a random duration from when the amber staging light comes on to the start light signaling the racers to go. This random time between the staging light and the start light keeps the race honest, so drivers cant try to anticipate the start light.
Christmas Tree Start Light
The Christmas tree start light is a complex system that uses sensors to detect when each vehicle is staged and exactly on the starting line. The stage lights ensure no car has any head start advantage and are signal the timing lights to start the countdown process.
The starting line sensors also track if one car starts the race before the green starting lights illuminate. The red light will flash, and that vehicle automatically loses because the driver started too soon.
The advanced Christmas tree lighting systems are used when racing in a league or at a major event. They take time to set up, but they will accurately decide who won the race and the maximum speeds for the run.
If you are a beginner and just starting to drag race your RC cars, it will be fine to use a simple starting light. You need to practice on your starts and driving your drag car as straight as possible. As you get more runs under your belt, your reaction time to the starting light will also improve. Remember, reaction time can make the difference in a win or a loss if both cars are equally matched.
Traditional RC Drag Racing Winner Example
In regular drag racing rules, both cars are given the green "go" light at the same time. The car with the fastest total time is the winner. That could mean the slower car could still win with an excellent reaction time.
Driver A has a reaction time of .0320 and runs an 8.35 elapsed race time. You add these numbers together to get 8.382 seconds total race time.
Driver B has a reaction time of .420 and runs an 8.15 elapsed race time. You add these numbers together to get 8.57 seconds total race time.
The winner is driver A because they had the lowest combined time. The car was not the quicker of the two vehicles. But the clock starts when the light turns green, and reaction time determines who wins.
Types of RC Drag Race Classes
The three popular classes of RC drag racing are:
- Beginner or just for fun drag racing class
- No prep street outlaw drag racing class
- Bracket class
Just For Fun Beginners Class
The beginners class is for new racers that want to learn how to drag race RC cars. There typically is no winner in the beginners class because the goal is to teach drivers how to race so they can gain the confidence to drive in the official classes.
No Prep Street Outlaw Class
In this class, drivers race modified short-course chassis RC vehicles. The cars must be two-wheel drive and run 2S / 2 cell batteries with an 8.44 maximum voltage. The vehicle's body must cover the wheels and have a 12 to 13 inch wheelbase.
The Traxxas Drag Slash is one of the most popular chassis to get into drag racing RC cars.
Bracket Class RC Drag Racing
In this class of RC drag racing, each driver provides their "dial-in" time to the racing coordinator. The green start light is then modified to signal the slower car to go first, giving them a slight head start.
Slower drivers can race faster drivers because the green starting light levels the playing field.
This type of RC drag racing class is tough to set up and takes planning and coordination. But it makes for a fun day on the drag strip!
Types of RC Drag Race Cars and Trucks
If you plan on racing in a league, make sure you take a look at their classes and rules. But generally speaking, the 1/10 scale short course trucks with modified chassis are the most popular option for drag racing.
1/10 scale car chassis are also popular.
Most RC drag groups only allow 2WD vehicles, so a 4x4 vehicle modified to sit lower to the ground won't probably work out, and you can't race it in the professional classes.
Also, double-check the types of power systems allowed to race. 2S LiPos are the most popular.
Finally, driving assistance technology is not usually allowed. Traxxas TSM or Spektrum AVC are prohibited because these driving assistance features help you drive in a straight line without needing to correct the steering. Essentially, the gyro and computer help correct the car if it starts to veer of course. This takes the fun out of drag racing because steering is a crucial component of the race!
RC Drag Racing FAQs
What is RC drag racing?
RC drag racing is a type of radio-controlled car racing in which two or more vehicles compete to be the first to cross the finish line. The races are typically held on a straight track that is either indoors or outdoors and are often organized by local hobby clubs or national organizations.
How do I get started in RC drag racing?
To get started, purchase an RC drag racing car, transmitter, battery, and charger. Traxxas, Losi, and Team Associated have all released RC drag models that are perfect for beginners. A quick Google search should pull up your local RC drag racing club, and my advice is to head out to their next event and ask lots of questions. Make sure to read up on the rules and regulations of RC drag racing to ensure that you are following all of the necessary guidelines. There are different classes and rules and not every RC drag car is eligible for each class.
RC drag racing has been growing in popularity over the years. Traxxas, Losi, and Team Associated have all come out with their drag RC cars that have helped propel the hobby forward. If you are an RC car enthusiast and want to test your reaction time and steering control, find your local RC drag crew and race. I guarantee you will fall in love with this corner of the RC car niche, and it will soon have a workbench covered in drag upgrades!