By Mike Garrison
Yesterday we saw the official release of the Team Associated TC7.2; the newest model in the AE touring car family. The new car includes a long list of new features ranging from an ultra-precise aluminum rear gear diff and updated narrow chassis to ultra-lightweight front spool and one-piece inline flex motor mount system - just to name a few. A lot has changed over the years as Team Associated’s TC line of vehicles have progressed. Today, we Flashback to where it all began in 1999 with the release of the TC3.
The modern TC7.2 is a sleek carbon fiber chassis with belt drive design, however the TC3 was quite the opposite. The TC3 featured a molded plastic chassis with shaft drive design. Ball differentials were found in both the front and rear, and the kit was sold with composite MIP CVD driveshafts.
(TC3 vs. TC7.2 comparison)
Prior to its official release, the TC3 platform was rumored for quite some time. Once released, the TC3 nearly immediately saw success putting its drivers on the podium at multiple National Championship events in the USA, sweeping the BRCA World Cup podium, and even setting a world record for the fastest R/C touring car at that time.
Team Associated TC3 Press Release:
In the beginning, it was known as "Project Roswell." And although we don’t claim to have designed the new TC3 with the help of any "alien technology," we did venture into design and manufacturing techniques far beyond where we’d ever gone before.
We started with a clean slate, designing the TC3 from the ground up specifically as a touring car, not a converted 4WD buggy. An all new, computer-optimized shaft drive system proved to be the most efficient, durable, and serviceable drive train possible, and eliminated the design compromises inherent in belt-drive systems. The TC3 uses our race-proven, carbide-ball equipped Associated differentials and MIP CVD’s both front and rear for a smooth transfer of power. Pro-Line’s new spoke design, standard hex-mount wheels with their V-Rage tires enable the TC3 to hook up on most any track. Kimbrough gears are used in all kit TC3s.
- The chassis has been computer-optimized for maximum rigidity and minimal torsional flex.
- Droop screws help adjust front and rear suspension arm droop with the included droop gauge.
- Kimbrough spur gears are included in all kits.
- 2-piece aluminum motor mount features a built-in heat sink. 2-piece aluminum motor mount features a built-in heat sink.
- Pro-Line spoke-pattern wheel Pro-Line spoke-pattern wheel that mounts to industry standard hex-hub adapters. (Wheels not included in Factory Team Kit.)
- Multiple choices for tie-rod mounting positions. Multiple choices for tie-rod mounting positions.
- Front and rear chassis braces Front and rear chassis braces are 2-piece for easy, 6-bolt differential access.
- Camber, toe-in, caster, kickup (front anti-squat), and anti-squat Camber, toe-in, caster, kickup (front anti-squat), and anti-squat are all adjustable.
- Front and rear bumpers Front and rear bumpers have been designed for maximum shock absorption. In addition, a featherweight foam bumper is included in all kits.
Built for the serious sedan racer, the new RC10TC3 is simply the most technologically-advanced touring car on the market today. And yes, it is rocket science.
Team Associated recaps it’s first major race success with this report from the 1999 ROAR On-Road Nationals:
“We finally got to run our TC3s in a big race! We did much better than we expected to do for a new car. With every new car we make, it takes time to learn how to tune it for the various track conditions. We simply haven't had the time to do this yet.
However, Billy Easton, one of our best offroad drivers, found out how easy it is to drive the new TC3 touring car. Billy lead the first day's Qualifying standings, and in the final qualifying standings he had out-qualified every other type car except for one Schumacher car. Billy, of course, used Reedy motors and batteries, the new LRP v7.1 speed control, and new LRP Phaser receiver.
Billy finished third overall in the A Mains with some great racing, actually swapping places with the leader a couple times. Our congratulations to Chris Tosolini and Schumacher for their great win!
We also disproved all the rumors concerning our new car. We had no gear box problems. The drivers didn't even have to worry about working on the gear boxes, and the rest of the car proved to be very reliable, too. It was well worth the wait.”
The TC3 platform went on to win a long list of major races around the world including:
- 2000 US Indoor Championships – Billy Easton
- 2001 NORRCA On-Road Nationals – Tony Phalen
- 2001 Reedy European Touring Car Race of Champions – Craig Drescher
- 2002 BRCA 1/10 Touring Car Championship – Craig Drescher
- 2002 ROAR Paved On-Road Nationals – Barry Baker
- 2002 EFRA 1/10 ISTC Electric On-Road European Championship – Juho Levanen
- 2003 US Indoor Championships – Mike Blackstock
- 2003 Reedy Race of Asia – Barry Baker
- 2003 Reedy Touring Car Race of Champions – Barry Baker
- 2003 LRP Touring Car Masters – Juho Levanen
- 2003 Carpet Nationals – Mike Blackstock
- 2003 EFRA 1/10 ISTC Electric On-Road European Championship – Juho Levanen
- 2004 EFRA 1/10 ISTC Electric On-Road European Championship – Jonas Kaerup
(Billy Easton's TC3 shared by Team Associated via Facebook)
Over the course of 4 years, the TC3 was fine tuned with a wide variety of option parts and available in a Racer Kit, a Team Kit, and a Factory Team Edition kit. In edition an optional TC3 rally car conversion kit was released, and before long a nitro version of the TC3 for 200mm touring car racing was also released.
(TC3 Kit Version comparison)
(Rally Car Conversion Kit on the TC3)
The TC3 was even used by Gerd Strenge to modify and create the first Durango 4wd off-road buggy.
2004 would see its final days on the big stage as Team Associated gathered all that they had learned from the TC3 and introduced their new TC4 platform.
While the TC3 is truly an iconic platform that saw success around the globe, of their 28 IFMAR World Championship victories, the only 1/10-scale On-Road World Championship title to Team Associated’s name was earned by Mike Swauger in 1996 using the RC10L2 pan-car platform. A modern day touring car World Championship is one of the few that has eluded Team Associated all of these years. The progression towards winning that prestigious title all began with the TC3, and still continues today. Will we see the TC7.2, the newest successor to the AE touring car family, finally capture the ultimate prize in 1/10-scale touring car racing?