Saito2

Vintage 4wd racing

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For those of you that lived it back in the day, could you give a description of 4wd racing back in the day? Where and how did the Hot Shot, original Yokomo Dogfighter, original rear motor Opitmas perform. If you care to further the discussion with tales of the introduction of the second wave of 4wds like the CAT, Optima Mids and even the Avante feel free. 4WD competition was scarce around me as a kid, so I'd like to get a feel for what was run and how they performed back in the day. Thanks.:)

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I started in the mid 80's with a frog, which was not very competative against the likes of the RC10.

I moved to an Optima Mid in the late 80's, when the more energy efficient belt drives ruled. Although you had less things adjustable on the car itself, it was more about the tallest gear and lowest turn motor you could get away with AND finish the race, I ran either a Sanyo 1700mah SCE or a 1800mah - Magnum SCR. The shaft drives of the hotshot / hotshot 2 etc didn't really appeal tbh, I ran a super sabre for one club event bit couldn't run the quicker motor i'd run in the mid, as the battery dumped before the finish.

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From everything I've read, the Opitima Mid series seems to be the happy medium between the Yokomos, CATS and Avantes of that era. I gather Yokomo C4 was durable, but low slung. The CAT sounded finicky or perhaps hard to dial-in, but when it was locked in, it went like wild fire. The Avante we all know had many shortcomings. The Mid however seems to be the best all around even if a dialed-in CAT was hard to catch. 

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21 hours ago, Saito2 said:

From everything I've read, the Opitima Mid series seems to be the happy medium between the Yokomos, CATS and Avantes of that era

I didn't run anything else other than kyosho at the time, with an Ultima in 2wd. Didn't see too many dogfighters, and the Avante was really expensive just to take a chance on , so, it was mostly Cats and Mids, but do remember a PB mini mustang , and it's 2 speed gearbox!  

Depending on the surface, there wasn't much in it, I couldn't afford ball diffs, but I think the CAT came with them as standard (Cecil Schumacher was the guy to bring a ball diff to RC racing after all) ,so on anything slippy, the Cats were away.

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Optima, Hotshot and Samurai for me. 

Samurai had a superb drive train design - maybe better than the Optima - but hardly ever completed a race ... Looked superb though. 

Hotshot was a great all rounder - amazing rear suspension, reliable shaft drive, punchy 540 motor options ... just an irritating tendency to understeer, which made for longer lines / fewer wins against top flight alternatives.

The original Optima was pretty much the best you could get until RC10s ground everything into homogeneous tweaking ... followed similarly by CATs.

I drove (but never owned) an early Dogfighter - which was ok but needed at least £125 in old money in hop ups to make it competitive out of the box ... making it expensive / poor value vs others.

I’d drifted outside the hobby by the time Avantes were released but my sense is they were over engineered - likely fragile - looking at them now ?

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So I started with the hotshot them Schumacher Cat v1 and then the PB mini mustang. my recal is hazy but I remember a few bits...

I started racing the hotshot at my local club, it was 100% stock and was a revolution coming from 2wd cars. As such I immediately started getting good results. The failing was always the front suspension and so very early on that was replaced by hand made front suspension mounts allowing me to put two yellow CVA shocks up front. The next iteration was to put a handmade FRP chassis frame in, this was easy given the mounting points already on the front and  rear gearboxes. This stiffened and lightened the car making it even better. I was now doing some regional racing and it performed pretty well probably held back as much by batteries, motors and skill as the actual capability of the car. I was also racing in the Tamiya Cup as a modified Tamiya. Tamiya cup was far easier than the regional stuff.

one of the older club mates ran a model shop around St Albans and said he was getting some new Schumacher cars called Cat. I took one! It was such a step up from the handmade hotshot and I struggled. The set up was so complicated and I remember tweaking and tweaking to get the thing to perform. Enter another club mate with a pb mini mustang and we decided to effectively swap cars. at that time the cat was actually working pretty well for the club tracks my main memory was being able to throw it at the track and it just sticking to the ground any way the pb was a breath of fresh air for me, much easier to understand and performed pretty well.

in summary the HS was OK but only at club level, the CAT was amazing but you needed to understand the set up very well, the PB was in between them both, much better performer than the HS but not quite as good as the CAT. The CAT and PB both ran belts and the diffs where limited slip. The tyres where so much better than stock Tamiyas and the shocks worked like the old rC10 shocks. Good clearance and much more set up options - beyond just Toe and ride height.

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I raced with the Turbo Optima, the Avante and the Optima LWB. All of them were competetive against Cats and the other 4wd`s of that era.The fastest motor I used was a Trinity Twister 15x2 and battery a 1800mah.

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My area was full of Kyoshos and a few RC10 conversions. The Cats, Avante (and latter the Egress) and Yokomos were $$$$$$ and  I only saw them in the pages of RC Car action.

I'd like to add too that the Avante's failings are greatly over exaggerated. It was expensive, but if you kept it off the roof it'd last, yes the key to better steering were narrower wheels but it isn't/wasn't the rubbish people make it out to be. 

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4 minutes ago, GTodd said:

My area was full of Kyoshos and a few RC10 conversions. The Cats, Avante (and latter the Egress) and Yokomos were $$$$$$ and  I only saw them in the pages of RC Car action.

I'd like to add too that the Avante's failings are greatly over exaggerated. It was expensive, but if you kept it off the roof it'd last, yes the key to better steering were narrower wheels but it isn't/wasn't the rubbish people make it out to be. 

It was rubbish reliability wise. I had one and had numerous things break from knuckles to arms and bent a  few things too. I recently bought an egress because of this despite me liking the avante looks wise much better. I ended up selling my avante years ago broke on ebay for a pretty penny. Cant complain considering i bought it out of rc car action without the technigold motor for $99

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1 hour ago, Rb4276 said:

Cant complain considering i bought it out of rc car action without the technigold motor for $99

Yeah, Avante prices kinda dropped like a brick after reality set in. There was such a buzz when it came out. It was so different, especially coming from Tamiya. I inquired about one in conversation with a shop owner on one of my vintage parts hunts about a year after it came out, just before the Egress hit. He pulled a customer's Avante out from under the counter that was in for work. The front upright/knuckle was shattered and the metal part of the rear trailing arm was bent. I remember him saying the customer complained it was twitchy. He also said the optional carbon graphite chassis set fixed a lot of the problems but cost almost as much as the car.

I snagged a new Vanquish on the cheap and didn't have any real issues with it. Many of the bugs were worked out and the durability problems went away with the move to less-complicated plastic suspension components.

8 hours ago, RS2RSR said:

I raced with the Turbo Optima, the Avante and the Optima LWB. All of them were competetive against Cats and the other 4wd`s of that era.The fastest motor I used was a Trinity Twister 15x2 and battery a 1800mah.

I often wonder how much of a leap was made between the rear motor Opitma and the Mids. I've been feeling out my Optima re-release and its pretty amazing to me. Its seems practically on par with my Top Force. Its a distinct step up from a stock Hot Shot series car. I'm really impressed with the re-release Optima.

 

On 5/1/2019 at 10:12 AM, hedge said:

Enter another club mate with a pb mini mustang

This is a car I never saw in person. I saw ads for it. I think Parma was somehow involved on the US side of things (importer maybe?)

Another 4wd buggy I saw in the magazines and hasn't been brought up yet is the Race Prep/AYK Radiant and Pro Radiant. Anybody see them around?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Saito2 said:

I often wonder how much of a leap was made between the rear motor Opitma and the Mids. I've been feeling out my Optima re-release and its pretty amazing to me. Its seems practically on par with my Top Force. Its a distinct step up from a stock Hot Shot series car. I'm really impressed with the re-release Optima.

Interesting observation @Saito2 - esp when the Optima re re was a tweak of the 85 original vs the first Top Force landing 6 years later :) 

For me, the original Optima was racing in its most visceral form - hard, clean, reliable, fast. And the US (Associated) then UK ( Schumacher) subsequently just listened to racer feedback - and acted on it more quickly - vs Japanese incumbents. 

I started to drift out of the hobby when RC10s first set a standard that could only lead to homogeneous tinkering. 

And the Avante still looks like a beautiful glass cannon ... based purely on years of knowing what goes wrong / where ?

I also can’t help applaud it - if only because it tried to break monotony. 

 

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I was used to older 4wds understeering somewhat. The Optima just turned on a dime like a newer car. Granted my yard is low cut, high traction grass so in other circumstances, it might not work as well. Obviously, mid motor was the way to go.

40 minutes ago, SuperChamp82 said:

I also can’t help applaud it - if only because it tried to break monotony. 

I'm with you there. I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite between the Avante and Egress, though the Egress is the better runner. To this day, given the choice between, say, a Pro Cat, Turbo Optima Mid SE, YZ10 or Egress, I'd still take Tamiya's finest.

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3 hours ago, Saito2 said:

I was used to older 4wds understeering somewhat. The Optima just turned on a dime like a newer car. Granted my yard is low cut, high traction grass so in other circumstances, it might not work as well. Obviously, mid motor was the way to go.

I'm with you there. I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite between the Avante and Egress, though the Egress is the better runner. To this day, given the choice between, say, a Pro Cat, Turbo Optima Mid SE, YZ10 or Egress, I'd still take Tamiya's finest.

 

I only driven my egress on the street with proline blockades meant for off road but i cant believe how smooth and precise the steering is and how the hi caps soak up bumps. I was very impressed for a 30 yr old car. The true test wil be off road soon enough, my re re optima is know where near as smooth with street tires no less

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Apologies for being slightly off topic, in that I never raced. But my Hot Shot was brilliant to drive. I love that car and still have it after 30 + years.

It was a real leap ahead in technology. I remember one friend bought a non Tamiya belt drive 4 wheel drive, it was awful. The Hot Shot just blew everything else away. in my neighbourhood at least.

My previous cars were the Sand Rover, Ford Ranger ( just rolled a lot ) and various early models. The Hot Shot felt like a leap into the future or felt like it.

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First car I ever won a trophy with was a YZ10, I recall as a kid with low budget and not the best batteries always struggling to finish a race in 4wd, matter of fact that race they had dumped on the last lap and I came across the finish line like a snail but just made it for the B main win.  I never had any issues with my YZ and it was a great car.  First car I ever put on a track was a Turbo Optima Mid Se.  I really liked this car and the track I raced it on was tiny by today's standards and it was great.  I recall servicing of this car to be more complicated having to tear apart a lot more to get to various components.  All in all, battery time in 4wd was always my biggest issue then, not the car.   I raced a Topcat around this time as well and it had it's share of issues but battery time I was OK. 

Did not have experience with Tamiya back in day, looking at my current top force I can see how it would be more fragile than either of the previous mentioned buggies but also a contender.  Now on today's mega jump tracks all of them would get destroyed which I hate. 

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Around me, there weren't enough people running 4WD to make it a separate class, so they just ran in Modified against a sea of RC10s. (Too rich for my blood, I raced in Stock, with my Blackfoot or Falcon.) This would have been 1987-88. I remember a couple of Turbo Optimas, and I think one guy they let into Stock class with a Boomerang. And I seem to recall the AYK Radiant being briefly touted as the next big thing, but then the Optima Mid showed up and that was all she wrote; the Optima guys switched to Mids and from then on it was all Mids and RC10s.

From what I could tell, the secret of Kyosho's success was that the Optima series not only handled well (which I can now vouch for, having owned/driven some finally), but was built like a tank. It's part of the same reason I think the RC10 was so successful. To finish first, first you must finish, and all that...

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3 hours ago, RCvet said:

 

Did not have experience with Tamiya back in day, looking at my current top force I can see how it would be more fragile than either of the previous mentioned buggies but also a contender.  Now on today's mega jump tracks all of them would get destroyed which I hate. 

Totally this. I love the track days I go to now, but I have to tip toe across the jumps with my Thunder Dragon and Ultra G even though around the rest of the track they are really good fun to drive. More flat grass and dirt I say! 

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