Category Archives: THECar Advice

Preparing vs. Wrenching At a Race


One thing that I have noticed that I do differently to many others, is that I don’t over think and over work at races. I prepare my equipment, and at races I never strip the car down completely. I think the risk of something going wrong grows if you strip the car down at a race. Don’t get me wrong, I check it, rebuild diffs and shocks, check hingepins and other parts for damage, but I don’t open any loctited screws or nuts. Keep it simple! No need to strip it down completely.

WE LV Setups

IMG_3782Don’t forget to check out THIS PAGE for all the latest setups. Even includes an astroturf setup now for all you crazy people.

Consistent & Balanced Always


With the Worlds being in Vegas, on a track that will be watered, it will most likely make the track surface inconsistent. The track will go from wet to damp to dry during a heat if the weather is good. Different sections of the track will also be different levels of wet, and it will all make for rather inconsistent track conditions throughout the event. Once the mains come around the track will definitely dry up completely during the run.

This is why I have focused on making my car handle well with the same setup in all conditions. I want to be balanced and stable no matter what the track is like. From wet, to damp, to dry, to super loose blue groove, I want the overall balance and nature of the car to be the same. I don’t want something weird to happen once the track changes a certain way.

I have also driven a lot in all conditions, because I want to be really familiar with the car, and how it handles. With the setup I found a few weeks ago, apart from trying a few setup changes just to confirm my findings, I have been driving a lot with the same setup, in order to become comfortable with the car. The changes I have tried,  I have done so I have a few setup changes available to me that I know well, so I don’t need to guess at the Worlds. This way, no matter what happens, I should be confident with my car at the Worlds.

Keeping Up With Maintenance


One thing I hate about 1:8th scale is the maintenance. There comes a point when everything is old and worn out enough to where the car just doesn’t feel right, and I can’t find my groove. I can’t reach that level required where you are in the zone, feeling the flow. It just doesn’t happen. When the engine is worn out, doesn’t idle right, powerband sucks, car is all worn out, you aren’t really going to make any progress!

Time to get a fresh engine, rebuild the car, and get back to work! 5 gallons in the last 3 weeks leaves it’s mark. This is one of the “work” parts of my job. I can think of a lot more fun things to do than wrenching past midnight.

Invisible Speed


If you have been reading this blog, you will know that this year I was finally at the point where I felt THECar was good enough to win any race, the company was at the point where I could take some more time to focus on my driving, and that my goal was to fine tune the car, and learn to drive better. Improving my driving is the only way I can ever achieve my ultimate goal of one day winning something with my own car.

What I want to write about today is what I like to call invisible speed. You do everything the same, but you are slow, or you are fast, and you can’t figure out why. If you lose a 10th of a second or even less in the critical accelerations on a track, you can easily notice a 1 second loss per lap. How to gain time here?

Spinning the tyres tends to be slower, the more you spin the tyres, the slower you accelerate, but if you don’t spin them at all, you are going too slow. It’s a balancing act. This is possible to test on a slippery track. Approach a jump out of a corner and smash the throttle, then take the same line and smoothly apply throttle, you will jump much further.

It is one thing to work on this with your driving, and that’s a thing I have been focusing on lately, but another way to approach this issue, is to work on your engine tune as I wrote about here, and your clutch. The power delivery can do the work for you, and when you combine a better mechanical power delivery with a better in tune driver, you will go faster!

Fullspeed RC have such an awesome track to test on here right by the Helsinki Airport!

Fullspeed RC have such an awesome track to test on here right by the Helsinki Airport!

David Ronnefalk won the Euros at Reims in France. That track is the slipperiest damn surface ever invented. I tried his car after the race and noted how strange his engine felt, super slow and smooth pickup of power, and to me the clutch felt broken. At the time I thought this is how he likes it. Fast forward to a higher grip track, I again tried his car and this time the engine and clutch were snappy and powerful. Put 2 & 2 together, fine tuned engine powerband and clutch to the conditions = Go faster, win Euros.

Today I grabbed a carbon shoe off a JQ RTR 🙂 and ran one carbon shoe, and 2 alu shoes, all with 1.1 springs (JQ springs run softer). Went out, car felt slow, did a good time anyway, with 8L 5:05. Leaned out the low end a bit, went faster. Then just drove and got used to it, did a run that honestly felt slow, I noted that the car was easier to control in the corners, I could apply throttle and the car would maintain its line and just increase it’s speed slightly in the corners, but overall I still felt slow. Crossed the line with a new track record, 9L 5:36. I didn’t learn to drive better in the last 2 days, I didn’t drive any differently, I found the right engine tune and clutch setting for the conditions. And maybe for my driving style too at this track.


Tuning Engines & Setting Camber


Today I went to the track with Teemu Leino, who is running onroad for Infinity, and offroad with whatever he wants, which right now is Kyosho. Teemu is usually the fastest, or one of the fastest based on laptimes regardless of what class he is racing. In the last few years he has had the best results in nitro on road, TQing the worlds amongst other things, sometimes lapping unreasonably faster than others. So it’s always good to go testing with Teemu, specially now since he is wheeling the magic Japanese car.

Engine Tuning

Engine tuning is SUPER critical in on road, you have to get the maximum out of your engine, or you won’t win, it’s as simple as that. Today we decided to do something different, so Teemu tuned my engine how he tends to tune his. It’s possible to tune nitro engines so they “work right” in different ways. I tend to tune my engines in a way where the top end is leaner, and the low end is richer. Teemu doesn’t like this because it causes a non liner power delivery, powerful yet smooth low end, and mid to top a peak of power as the motor clears out. So he ended up richening the top end an hour or so, and leaned the low end two hours, as well as lowering the idle as much as needed.

It wasn’t a huge difference, but I did notice that the powerband was smoother, and in the slick conditions I had more forward bite without having to think about it. The power delivery gave me more grip. It was a good experiment, and something to keep in mind, and test more! The harder the track is to drive the better this way of tuning is, that’s my feeling.


Setting Camber

I have written about camber before somewhere, long story short, on a good car, camber makes a big difference. It seriously can make a nervous or loose car dialed, buy just small adjustments. On the old Yellow Edition camber didn’t make a big difference, this was because the car geometry was so far off, that the tyres were such a short amount of time at the “right angles”. On a good car, such as the Kyosho or the JQ WE, and specially the LV, the reason for camber making such a big difference, is that on one lap, the tyres will spend most of the time at the “right angles”, so this means that any change you make to that angle will make a noticeable difference.

Since it is such a precise setting to get right on a good car, the best way to find the right setting is to drive and make adjustments on the fly, so Teemu drove, and I set his camber. We ended up adding a bit to the rear, which made the car corner more smoothly, with more steering also,  and have smoother rear grip. On the front, at least c-hub cars tend to have one setting which is twitchy, and then add or remove camber from there will make the car smoother to drive, just with a different feel. Less will make it better at low speed, and more will make it better at high speed, roughly speaking. Teemu preferred adding camber from the twitchy point, which is no surprise as his driving style is so aggressive.

At the end of the day Teemu got the best lap by a 10th with 37.1, but I got the faster 5 minute time, for now at least with a 8L 5:01.5.

And then the rain came...

And then the rain came…

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Get Rid Of Slop

One feature on THECar that you don’t find on others, is the elongated holes for the hex pin in the driveshaft axle, and the crush washer between the bearings. With this setup it’s possible to remove the slop from the wheel bearings as slop begins to appear. If you have added shims along with the crush spacer simply remove a shim. If you only have the crush spacer between the bearings, you can do this!

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The Art of Testing


One thing I get a lot is “you don’t listen”, you just do your own thing. Well, yes and no. I do listen to everyone, but I do also always make my own decisions. When it comes to car development, one thing I have learned is that some feedback is valuable while other is as pointless as a helicopter with an ejection seat.

When it comes to evaluating a new part, setup, or version of the car, feedback is good, but only really in order to see if my work has been successful or not. Did it turn out as I intended, or does something need tweaking. When it comes to new ideas, or figuring out things to try, feedback is also good, because many times other people think about things in a different way, and either they come with an idea I haven’t thought of, or they say something out of the box, that in itself is ridiculous, but it leads me to think of something that could work, and that I maybe otherwise would not have thought of.

But when it comes to determining what is better, A or B, it is completely useless asking anyone’s opinion. Let me explain why.


Testing a high performance race car is not easy. If you want reliable results you can’t just do it any old way, you need to have your shit together. 99% of offroad RC racers don’t have their shit together enough to where I think any test results they come to me with are reliable. This also applies to some of the best drivers in the world. Just because you are good doesn’t mean that you know what you are doing. Maybe you are just an exceptional driver.

This is how I test, and in my opinion if you don’t do this you aren’t getting the most of your testing, and probably aren’t getting valuable results.

1. You have to be at a track that is consistent. If you are at a track that is being watered for example, forget about learning and understanding anything new. You can set up your car better, but you won’t learn anything in my opinion. Oh this worked. Why? No idea.

2. When you are at a consistent track, you need to get in your groove. Obviously you need to be a good driver, or you need to have a good driver drive your car in order to develop a high level race car. Before testing something you need to get to your own driving level, which means you are in tune with what the car is doing, it means you can put it down time after time and do the same 5 minute run. Best lap, and overall times should be consistent. You should feel what a good lap is, and what it is. It’s crazy how close you can tell what a lap time is. I remember one day at my home track when my mechanic would tell me my lap time, but I told him what I thought it was first, and I got 3 LAPS IN A ROW correct, to the TENTH of a second. That is fucking insane! Obviously that already requires some luck, but you get the point. You know how the car feels, you got the lines down, you know what a fast lap is, your times are consistent. Only then, can you tell what the true difference is. Don’t waste your time trying to learn something before you reach this point. For me, if I haven’t driven in a while, I don’t even necessarily reach this point the first day back at the track! Also some days my head just isn’t in it and I don’t get there. I know when I am in tune, and when I am not, and testing only works when I am in tune.

There are a few reasons for those points above. If you don’t drive enough to reach your level, then your result is not reliable, because just the fact that you took a break, and then went back to drive made you faster. Think about it. Are you trying to tell me that at a race, every time  we race the track gets faster, and the drivers adjust their cars the right way, as they improve on their times each round? No, they simply drive better. And it’s not just about learning the track. Your brain just needs some time to adjust I suppose. Drive a bit, take a break, drive again, your car feels better, even if you didn’t change anything. If you are trying to test while this is going on it is useless.

Another reason is, that if you aren’t familiar with the feel of the lap times, and the feel of the car, you will be prone to reaching a pre-determined conclusion. You will always have an assumption for what something will do, and when you aren’t in tune, the placebo effect is strong.

3. When you make a change, you need to isolate the thing you are testing from everything else that can affect the performance. Run back to back, don’t change anything else, don’t tune the engine, only change whatever you are testing. If point 1 and 2 are taken care of, then you will notice a difference if there is one, in time, or feel.

4. Note down the change in times, and what you felt, both are valuable. Sometimes it make sense to try a thing a few times back to back to get a real feel for it. Sometimes a change is faster, but a difference in feel is hard to determine, sometimes there is no difference in time, but the car is more comfortable to drive. Sometimes a difference is clear, sometimes it is subtle.

5. Repeat the same tests on a different day. After that, repeat them at a different track, in different conditions. This way you can understand what the change does on low grip, high grip, smooth track, bumpy track.

6. After you have all the information, you have to think about the results. You have to try to figure out why they are that way. The “why” is key, because when you figure that out, you will be able to think of an adjustment to do to improve the car further.

Doing this right is a lot of work, and it takes a lot of time and dedication. That’s why most companies don’t do it, and most drivers don’t know or understand how setup changes actually affect handling. It’s not overly complicated, but it requires you to think about what you are doing, and requires you spend a lot of quality time at the track.