By Mike Garrison
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
One of the most talked about new classes in off-road racing is 1/10-scale 4wd truggy. While they are not the first to do so, Tekno RC's release of the ET410 has been the driving force behind the recent growth of the class. In a nutshell the ET410 truggy is the EB410 buggy with longer arms, taller shock towers, taller shocks, stadium truck wheels/tires, and a truggy style body. Since the release of the ET410, a number of conversion kits for the B64 and TLR 22-4 have hit the market, allowing AE and TLR fans to join the class as well.
I experienced the 1/10-scale 4wd truggy class for the first time in person, and had the opportunity to drive one at the recent 2019 Off-Road JAM event. The class was a full A-Main worth of drivers, however, there were only two different trucks competing; the Tekno RC EB410 and the Velocity VT64 (B64 conversion kit). For this week's Talk It Up Tuesday, we sit down with Tekno RC's Eric Fletcher and Velocity's Chris Baumgartner to discuss the class, the different trucks, and more.
LiveRC: This past weekend was the first time ever that Fastlane Raceway, not to mention the Off-Road JAM event, offered a 1/10-scale 4wd Truggy class. To my surprise the class had a considerable amount of interest despite the last-minute announcement of adding it to the roster. What do you feel draws racers the most into this class?
Chris: When people drive a truggy for the first time, they smile, they have fun. I’ve heard multiple people say, “This is the most fun I’ve had driving an R/C car in a long time.”
Eric: It’s FUN. Plain and simple. The truggies are much easier to control than the mod buggies and that allows for less stress while on the track.
LiveRC: I also noticed that spectators gathered just as much for the 1/10-scale 4wd Truggy class races as they did the “premiere” buggy class races. What do you feel is the reason this class is such a hit with the spectators?
Chris: New classes always generate some good interest at the track. I think the thing the sets 1/10 Truggy apart from other past ‘new’ classes is how easy it is to drive these trucks. The drivers are having fun, and are genuinely enjoying driving and racing in the class. Not to mention, backflips are fun.
Eric: I feel that part of this is because it’s the “new” class, and people are trying to see what all the talk is about. What keeps people trackside is the fact that the races are close, and competitive, yet they also see how the drivers are having fun and laughing.
LiveRC: With no real ground rules set for the class yet, there are a lot of “grey areas”. Some tracks allow stadium truck and/or short course wheels and tires, some allow stadium truck bodies whereas some require it be a truggy body with wing, and some have motor limits while others do not (clearly we did not as every truck out there had more power than all the mod buggies combined LOL). A guideline needs to be set for the rules, what do you think the basic rules across the board should be?
Chris: It’s tough to say as it’s so early on for the class. I think Tekno has done a great job with their truck all around. It’s great out of the box, very durable, and uses many of the parts from their 4wd buggy. For the class to have a shot, I believe the rules will need to be formed around manufactures being able to use multiple parts from their 4wd platform. I think we’ll know a lot more next fall, after people get a chance to run them at some outdoor races as well.
Eric: In my opinion, it should be left as an open class for now and let it evolve. Personally I feel the racers will make the class standards, such as truggy bodies with wings and stadium truck wheels/tires.
(Eric Fletcher's Tekno RC ET410)
LiveRC: The Tekno RC ET410 release is what spurred the recently popularity in the class, however, it is not the first 1/10-scale 4wd truggy ever to be released. Eric why do you feel that Tekno’s release as opposed to previous releases from other brands has had such an impact on the class?
Eric: I feel that we brought a truck to market that was based it on our proven EB410 platform. This allowed racers to have two vehicles that are very similar so parts/setups are easy to compare back and forth. It’s very similar to the 8th platforms of having buggies and truggies, so it was very natural for racers that had an EB to compliment it with an ET.
(Chris Baumgartner's Velocity RC VT64)
LiveRC: The Velocity RC VT64 is based off the Team Associated B64 4wd buggy, and is an excellent option for those who own the 4wd buggy to convert and enter the truggy class. Creating a conversion kit takes a lot of time, effort, and work. Chris, what made you decide that creating a VT64 conversion was going to be worth your time and effort?
Chris: One of our local racers bought a Tekno truggy, and asked me to drive it on a practice night. I was smiling the whole time. The class has a ton of potential to be raced both indoor and outdoor. Having a vehicle that you can run all year is something many of us haven’t had from a class in a long time unless you’re lucky enough to have an indoor track big enough for E-buggy in the winter or live in an area where 1/10 electric is popular in the summer. The durability and drivability of these trucks would make them a ton of fun to race on a ⅛ scale style layout.
LiveRC: For those who have never driven a 1/10-scale 4wd truggy, how would you describe the handling and overall feel of driving one compared to stadium truck, short course, and/or 4wd buggy?
Chris: It’s a bigger, easier to drive, 4wd buggy that has more grip, lands better, and soaks up more mistakes.
Eric: Let's be honest, its a mod 4wd buggy but wider and with twice the tire. They handle just like a buggy, just not a twitchy and nervous. Oh, and bigger tires means you don’t get stuck on the pipes!
LiveRC: How do setups compare between a 4wd truggy and 4wd buggy?
Chris: They are surprisingly similar. Generally we run slightly thicker front and rear fluids in the diffs that a 4wd buggy, but the rest is very similar.
Eric: Obviously with the truck having slightly different geometry, my setups are slightly different, but as a whole the truck has just heavier fluids in it. Also adjustments I make to the buggy, can be replicated to the truck for the same feeling.
LiveRC: What do you feel needs to happen for this class to become mainstream at more events around the country?
Chris: If you want to race this class at a track that hasn’t ever had the class before. Buy a truck, and show up with it. If you let other people drive it, they’ll buy them too. That’s really all it takes, is to actually drive one. We had a few showing up at our track, I’d watch for a minute or two and go back to what I was doing, but when I drove one and was hooked. If people continue to buy these trucks, other manufactures will jump in too, once that happens, we’ll see it at the larger events.
Eric: I constantly hear people state, “I wish our track had enough of these to run, I would buy one then.” My reply is always, “Buy one!” There always seems be guys waiting to see what the next class is. Waiting for others to buy one. Well if everyone is standing on the sidelines waiting, then nobody is playing. You might be the only one showing up for a week or two, but people will see you running it, then they’ll get one and that’s how the class starts.
LiveRC: Eric you chose to race the 1/10-scale 4wd Truggy class (in addition to the buggy class) at the Off-Road JAM rather than 4wd Short Course. Why the truggy over the short course?
Eric: Well, I’ve been running 4wd SCT for a LONG time, and have been having just as much fun if not more in the truggy class. 4wd SCT has a “rough and tumble” feel to it, and Truggy is just as fun, but gives you the “cleaner” racing of buggies. It really wasn’t a truggy over 4wd SCT for me, more than I was wanting to focus on two classes instead of three.
LiveRC: Chris you have been racing for a long-time and have seen personal success at a National level racing buggies and trucks. What does 4wd truggy bring to the table that stadium trucks and short course trucks do not?
Chris: Several things, drivability being the biggest. We just got back from the BOOM R/C January Jam in Kansas City and the grip was amazing. Usually when grip comes up at a race like that short course trucks and 2wd stadium trucks get very hard to drive and require a driver to be very smooth with their throttle and steering inputs to keep from losing time or even traction rolling. The truggies had no issues with this and were still fun to drive.
(Chris (1st) and Eric (3rd) shared the podium after an exciting A-Main final.)
LiveRC: What is your next scheduled race, besides club racing, that you two plan to battle it out again in 1/10-scale 4wd Truggy?
Chris: The JConcepts Indoor Winter Nationals at Velocity RC Raceway (formally SmacTrac) in St. Louis. I’m looking forward to battling it out there with everyone and hot lapping Eric this time. He got me in KC, of course he needed those hot laps in third! haha
Eric: The JConcepts Indoor Winter Nationals at Velocity RC Raceway in St. Louis MO will be the next scheduled race for me to be battling Chris and the Velocity RC VT64. He may have one this time, but I did hotlap him in the main! (the small victories are what matters sometimes….#dirtytires)
LiveRC: The question everyone wants to know…who has the better truck, and why? [Laughs]
Chris: I know this will sound strange, but the Tekno is an awesome truck and is so hard to beat. It’s tough to go against the truck that was so fun to drive you had to make one yourself ya know! They’ve done a great job with the class and we honestly use a few of their parts on our truck to complete the conversion. As with so much in R/C I think it really comes down to the driver and her/his preferences.
Eric: Honestly the trucks are very very competitive to each other. My opinion will be seen as biased, so I’ll state that right now it comes down to drivers skill and a luck more than truck.
LiveRC: Thank you guys for joining us today and thank you for putting on quite a show at the 2019 Off-Road JAM by introducing the 1/10-scale 4wd Truggy Class. I’m sold, and want one! Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Chris: Thanks Mike for having us and putting on the Jam every January! We’ll for sure be back next year. I’d also like to say thanks to JConcepts and all the racers at Velocity RC Raceway who make it such a great place to race. Finally, with starting Velocity, I needed to leave my long time sponsor, TLR. I’d like to give a big shout out to Frank Root and all the guys at TLR for their support over the better part of the last decade.
Eric: I would like to thank Tekno RC, AKA Tires, PTRC Fluids, Team Scream Motors, and Velocity RC Raceway. Thank you to BoomRC and Fastlane Raceway for hosting the Off-Road Jam and letting us add the truggy class in there last minute. I would also like to thank Chris and Rod Rippee for their work at Velocity RC Raceway! Finally I want to remind everyone, that this sport/hobby of ours is based around competition and having fun! Lets all laugh a little more at the track and have a little more fun.