FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Timeline of Team Losi Racing 4WD buggies
Friday, May 12, 2017 11:58am
By Aaron Waldron
Everybody knows that Friday is meant for reminiscing old times. Each week we take you back in time as we flashback to some of R/C racing's greatest moments, products, drivers, and more!
Every Team Losi Racing 4WD buggy released
Today is the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the TLR 22-4 2.0 buggy, which won last year’s ROAR National Championship in the hands of former team driver Ryan Maifield and remains the latest 4WD buggy kit in the TLR lineup. You can read about that here:
Team Losi Racing was the first U.S. company to join the 4WD class all the way back in 1997, which helped transform the popularity of the class in North America and forever changed what had otherwise been treated as the support class of 1/10-scale electric off-road races around the world.
For this week’s Flashback Friday, I scoured vintage RC sites and Internet archives to put together this timeline of the 4WD buggies - and their spin-offs - that Team Losi Racing has produced in the last 20 years.
RPS Yokomo Dogfighter - Released in 1985
Though it wasn’t sold under the Team Losi name - which didn’t surface for another three years - the RPS Yokomo Dogfighter Special Edition was developed by Gil Losi Jr., who drove the buggy to the first IFMAR World Championship for the 4WD buggy class.
XX-4 - Released in 1997
After nine years in business, Team Losi released its first 4WD buggy - the XX-4. The car utilized a molded plastic chassis as the basis for its completely-sealed, three-belt drivetrain, and its long-travel suspension (compared to other buggies of its time) became the standard for 4WD buggies for years to come. The car was an instant success, winning the ROAR Nationals in prototype form, but finished 8th, 9th and 10th at its first IFMAR World Championship.
Two years later, Jukka Steenari - who finished second at the 1997 Worlds while racing for Schumacher - drove the XX-4 to the IFMAR title in his home country of Finland. Here’s his actual XX-4 from that race:
There were a few spin-offs of the XX-4 for both off- and on-road use. Losi’s “Heavy Metal” conversion kit used extended body posts to affix a closed-fender Ford truck body - a decade before the modern short course truck hit the scene:
In 1998, Losi released the Street Weapon - a touring car based on the XX-4 buggy. David Spashett drove it to the first ISTC World Championship when IFMAR recognized the touring car class as a demonstration class:
Later in 1998, Team Losi released the IWC - or IFMAR World Champion - Edition Street Weapon loaded with hop-up parts:
And in 1999, Team Losi responded to the growing rally scene in Europe with the Rally Weapon, based on the Street Weapon but with longer shocks to handle off-road use.
XX-4 Worlds Edition - Released in 1999
To celebrate Steenari’s victory, Team Losi introduced the full-option XX-4 Worlds Edition - rather than name the car after Steenari, as they had done for the XX-CR Kinwald Edition 2WD buggy kit two years prior, though his paint scheme was used on the box. A full array of graphite-composite parts included a new low-CG chassis, the motor mount had also been lowered, and other tuning parts were included.
XXX-4 - Released in 2002
Whereas the XX-4 was transformed into the Street Weapon sedan, the XXX-4 was based on the previously-released XXX-S touring car - which used a single-belt drivetrain that was completely sealed by the molded chassis. The car was incredibly fast on smooth surfaces but struggled in bumps and jumps. The XXX-4 debuted at the 2002 IFMAR Worlds in South Africa, where it earned TQ - but the title was won by Steenari, who had broken the chassis on his prototype in practice and competed with his trusty XX-4 Worlds Edition.
XXX-4 Graphite Plus - Released in 2003
The following year, Team Losi pumped out a Graphite Plus version of the XXX-4. Like other special-edition kits from TLR, it included all of the option parts like graphite composite chassis and suspension components, Ti-Nitride shock shafts and hinge pins, aluminum driveshafts, ball-bearing steering, threaded shock bodies, a new body and more.
Given the struggles of the XXX-4 on some tracks, Team Losi drivers were given the option of running either the XX-4 or XXX-4 during the 2005 season - and the XX-4 WE was re-released. The company published the following statement:
“Team Losi recognized that in some rare and extreme cases where the track surface is badly rutted and "blown out" the remarkable suspension package of the XX-4 still offers a competitive edge. So by popular demand it is being re-released as a "Limited Edition" graphite kit. The XX-4 four-wheel drive buggy ruled the raceways around the world for years but as the trend in tracks moved to smoother, well-groomed surfaces the XXX-4 was developed to take advantage of the new breed of motor and batteries. All the same graphite, titanium and machined aluminum parts are included to build the World Champion rough track wonder. All parts have been and will remain available as well.“
Coincidentally, that was also the year that former Team Losi driver Greg Hodapp won the ROAR Nationals driving the X-Factory X-5 - a single-belt conversion kit for the XX-4.
Later in 2005, a handful of Team Losi drivers competed at the IFMAR Worlds Warm-Up in Italy with a prototype buggy built upon the JRX-S touring car, informally named the JRX-4. It never went into production.
22-4 - Released in 2013
Ten years after the XXX-4 Graphite Plus was released, the brand - which by then had officially adopted the full name Team Losi Racing - released the 22-4 buggy. The concept of the 22-4 was to combine the basic suspension design of the popular XX-4 buggy with a more efficient drivetrain. The TLR squad debuted the car with little track time at the IFMAR Worlds, where Dakotah Phend finished eighth - and he was the ROAR Nationals runner-up in 2014 and 2015.
Back in March, to celebrate the release of the 22 4.0, I dove back into the history of Team Losi Racing 2WD buggies - you can read that here: https://www.liverc.com/news/special_features/14202-FLASHBACK_FRIDAY%3A_Timeline_of_Team_Losi_Racing_2WD_buggies/
RPS Yokomo Dogfighter photo courtesy of Seikamon - www.sekaimon.com
XX-4, XXX-4 body-on and 22-4 photos courtesy of Team Losi Racing - www.tlracing.com
Heavy Metal and Rally Weapon photos courtesy of RCTech - www.rctech.net
Street Weapon photo courtesy of Modellisimo - www.modellisimo.com
XX-4 box art, Street Weapon IWC and XXX-4 G+ body-off photos courtesy of RC Scrapyard - www.rcscrapyard.net
JRX-4 photos courtesy of oOple - www.oople.com