FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Cliff Lett sets Guinness World Record for Fastest RC Car
Friday, Jul 11, 2014 07:00am
By Aaron Waldron
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!
Cliff Lett sets Guinness World Record at 111mph
On Tuesday, we shared the news of Nic Case breaking his own Guinness World Record with an astonishing 196 mph run - inching ever-so-close to the magical double century mark. Over 13 years ago, Team Associated's Cliff Lett was the first to log an official run over the 100 mph mark.
Cliff Lett (center) with Duane Silva (left) and Torrance DeGuzman
Prior to Cliff's run, the official record stood at a measly 59 mph set by Audi Sports in Finland - it wasn't that an RC car had never traveled faster than that, but no one had ever completed a successful run in front of Guinness Book of World Record officials. In fact, many cars had exceeded that speed at the annual Insane Speed Runs held in the bicycle velodrome in Dominguez Hills, CA - including cars driven by Cliff Lett himself. Steve Pond built an HPI Super Nitro RS4 for RC Nitro magazine that topped 101 mph according to the radar gun he used, and IEDA drag racing champion Chris Collins even reportedly clocked a run at 112.7 mph at the old Northstar Dragway in Minnesota. But because none of those feats had been "officially" recorded, the mark of 59 mph still stood.
A handheld radar gun and a 100 mph car - what could go wrong?
To take a serious shot at the record, which he hoped would stand for a long time, Cliff built a heavily modified RC10L3O using an Aveox sensorless brushless system built for RC airplanes fed by twenty-four 2/3A cells strapped to a custom-made chassis. To ensure that all power was devoted to the ESC for maximum power, Cliff even tucked a receiver pack into the front bumper to power the receiver and servo. Capped tires were used in hopes that they wouldn't fly apart at such high rpm.
The body began life as a Protoform P35, but was narrowed and modified to reduce aerodynamic drag. The cockpit area was removed completely and replaced with a smaller item from an RC airplane to give the car some sort of realistic appearance. The body was reinforced with Lexan strips to prevent it from deforming at speed, Teflon tape was placed in the wheel wells to reduce drag if the body came in contact with the tires, and the rear of the body was cut out completely to allow air to escape more quickly. A graphite bar with molded ballcups was even fastened to the rear pod to help hold the body up! A large 1/10-scale buggy wing mounted to the back was installed to help improve stability and increase downforce.
Cliff knew the car needed plenty of room to stretch its legs, so Team Associated teamed up with Dan Moynihan from Dan's Productions and Doug Stokes, the Director of Communications at Irwindale Speedway in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles. Standing in the bleachers for the best view possible, Cliff drove his car around the 1/2-mile oval that regularly played host to lower level NASCAR events.
The event was a total success, with Cliff completing several passes over the 100 mph mark - setting a new world record with a best of 111 mph. The feat landed worldwide publicity, garnering print coverage in Popular Mechanics and Maxim's Stuff magazine.
The record stood for five years, until RC Car Action held the first World's Fastest RC Car Challenge, when the winner set a new record at 134.4.
The driver? Nic Case.