Recently we were asked who we believe is currently the fastest R/C driver on the planet. So many names and statistics came to mind, but it was so hard to choose. There are so many drivers with so much success, wins to their name, and talent. After much debate with ourselves, we decided to take a more literal approach to the question. Instead of finding out who has the most World Championship wins, or trophies in their trophy case…we went in search of the fastest R/C cars and their drivers on the planet. In turn, we found ourselves sitting down with R/C speed record holder, Tim Smith, for this edition of RCNews Word Up!
RCN: Welcome Tim to RCNews Word Up! Let’s start off introducing you to our viewers who don’t know who you are. Who is Tim Smith of Tim Smith Racing, and what are some of the ways you’re involved in R/C?
Tim: Thank you for having me Mike, I have been involved in RC since the early 1980’s back then I did a lot of oval and on-road but as time passed I think I have been involved in every style of RC from boats and Helicopters to drag racing and even crawling.
RCN: How did you get started in R/C cars?
Tim: My father was always building something from full size race cars to amateur radio transmitters so it was natural for me to fall in love with the electronics and details of RC cars. My first RC car was actually a Black “Smoky and the Bandit” trans-am I bought from Radio Shack with my paper route money when I was 11 years old, that car set me on a journey that I am still walking today.
RCN: You are most well known for your incredibly fast R/C cars. What is the fastest you’ve traveled so far?
Tim: I have been fortunate enough to have some very good success in RC speed run cars. I currently hold the 1 cell record at 92 mph and both the 2 cell 4wd and 2wd records at (110 mph, 119 mph respectively) I have been as fast as 180 mph in my “open” class car but the real goal in that class was 200 mph.
RCN: What are some of the records you have set in R/C?
Tim: I have been able to grab a few track records in oval and drag racing but generally the speed run records are the ones people remember. I first captured the 2 cell record in 2008 running 84 mph but only a year later was lucky enough to be the first to break 100 mph on 7.2 volts when I reset the my record to 101 mph. Then a year later came back and again broke my own record this time with a run of 119 mph on 2 cells. I have gone much faster than 119 mph in an RC car, but that record holds a special place for me. I am kind of an RC purest and wanted to set these speed records using normal over the counter parts to show what anyone could accomplish. That 119 mph car consisted of a GMS drag chassis, Novak 3.5 brushless motor, Novak esc and MaxAmps 4200 mah 2 cell pack. Along with the speed records I have also ventured off and set a few other records for running a car for 8 hours on a single pack and running a car for 24 hours straight.
RCN: Your main competition in world record speed runs is Nic Case. He set the world record going 202mph last October. Do you have a plan and/or intentions to beat that?
Tim: My goal in that class was to run 200 mph, I arrived late for that party when the guy you are competing against has been working toward the same goal for 8-10 years. I was able to get myself in the fight but honestly I was always playing catch up. After my last attempt I was forced to realize that the over the counter cars and parts I was using couldn’t support the level of speed and torture I was asking of it so I had to make the decision to design and build an all new car from the ground up or simply abandon the quest. The answer was I am now designing a new car but unlike my competition I do not plan to invest 100K into the quest.
RCN: Building a pre-boxed kit takes hours, how long does it take to hand craft your speed missiles?
Tim: Even though the cars I use are readily available there still is a huge amount of custom parts I make that are required just in hopes of not breaking apart at 170+ mph. As you can see I can’t use a normal lexan body, so I made a simple mold and learned how to pull my own carbon fiber bodies. The actual building of the cars is not to bad its all the learning that seems to be required to do things like make your own carbon fiber mold and body…. That one took a few months and more than a few try’s to get it right.
RCN: Unfortunately you have crashed a few over the years. How bad does it hurt knowing all of that hard work just shattered into thousands of pieces?
Tim: You know the thing with speed run racing for me is that I either set a world record and go faster than anyone in the world or I completely destroy the car, there never seems to be any in-between at these speed. I actually rent an airport runway about 6 hours from my house which is good and bad, the bad is it’s a long time to drive and think about what you need to do or what can go wrong the good side is that it’s a long drive home after destroying something you have poured your heart and soul into and gives me enough time to get over whatever bad thing happened. I bounce back pretty well now but he first few wrecks would keep me down for a few days.
RCN: Aside from setting speed records, you are also very involved in the growing rock racing scene. Tell us a little about rock racing and what XRCO (Xtreme RC Off-Road) Racing is.
Tim: My story in Rock racing started as something to do to fill in the time between speed runs. With the runway I rent so far away the time between making speed attempts can be months and honestly I love RC too much to go that amount of time without doing something with a remote control in my hand. Not being a fan of the “new style” of RC off-road (carpet, Astroturf and or sugar) I always had this idea in my mind of a more rugged style of dirt racing and once I heard about rock racing I had to try it out. The problem was the start of rock racing was based more on the crawler side of the sport and less on the competitive racing side, so not to be one to complain without a solution I opened the Xtreme RC Off-Road organization (AKA XRCO rock racing) simple rules and race tracks that more closely resemble old school off-road with some rocks and elements to make it a bit of a challenge. Tracks are beginning to pop up across the U.S. with two I am currently designing here in sunny Southern California.
RCN: What do you think it will take to continue growing this type of racing around the world?
Tim: To grow this new style of RC racing I think all it will really take is exposure. Once people see the fun and competitive racing you can have on all skill levels it’s hard to keep people away. I have designed this style of racing to allow a normal RC off-road track owner to simply add a couple of challenging elements (wood logs, rock garden) to their existing track to turn it into a XRCO rock racing track.
RCN: If we aren’t mistaken you have driven an R/C car for 24 hours straight, correct? Tell us about that.
Tim: I did drive an RC car for 24 hours, it all started as I was standing watching a rock race and thought, “Hey I wonder what it would be like to drive a car for 24 hours straight on a rock race track?” There was a part of me that is “Ringling Bros” and figured it would help get attention for this new style of racing but the larger part of me just thought it would be a blast to do. Only a few months earlier I had driven a scale trail truck of mine for over 8 hours on a single MaxAmps 2 cell pack so this was just a bigger step in the same way. The fun with the 24 hour run is that I used an Axial Poison Spider RTR. I cut the box seals, pulled out the truck and added a MaxAmps pack, 24 hours and about 5 battery changes later I had driven that RTR for 24 hours covering a little over 58 miles. I ended up breaking a few Guinness records, one for longest distance in 24 hours by a RC car and longest distance in 24 hours by a single driver. The 58 miles was not as far as I could cover using say an oval car but this was a bone stock RTR on a very rough rock race track and that was the fun of it.
RCN: Do you currently own or race any of the traditional onroad or offroad R/C vehicles (1/10 buggy, touring car, etc.)?
Tim: My current collection if that is what you call it is about 52 working vehicles, I still have some 1/12 scale on-road carpet cars and a few oval cars but most of that style of racing here in Southern California has fallen out of favor and honestly I seem to keep myself so busy with Promoting, Podcasting and building tracks I hardly have time for anything else.
RCN: What is your favorite thing about R/C cars?
Tim: That’s a heavy question, I love working on RC cars, looking at them talking about them. It has been something I have loved since that first day I bought that Smokey and the Bandit car from radio shack. That kid that fell in love with the coolness and fun of remote controlled cars is still here today. I have met incredible people on this journey and it has shaped my life in many ways and if I had it to do all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. OK, there are a few people I could have done without meeting…..
RCN: What is your least favorite thing about R/C cars?
Tim: That I love them so much at times I forget I am a husband and father.
RCN: When you aren’t breaking the speed limit or running 24-hours at a time with an R/C car, what are you most likely out doing?
Tim: Recently I started doing an RC podcast (TSR Speed Shop RC podcast) because I guess I needed more to do…. I actually really enjoy it; I have been in this industry for more than 25 years and have seen a lot of things. I feel like it’s my responsibility to help teach and guide the younger drivers. RC has been so good to me over the years, feed my family and put a roof over our head I feel like it’s my time to leave a mark as a way to thank RC for all it’s given to me.
RCN: Who would you say you look up to the most in the R/C industry, and why?
Tim: Wow there are several people in RC I look up to, guys like Joel Johnson and Cliff Lett will always be people I look up to as role models of how to handle yourself in a public way but them aside Mike Ogle and Adam Munds are two people that have had a lasting impression on me and made my life better just knowing them. I won’t go into detail but the world is a better place with them in it.
RCN: What is on the calendar for Tim Smith Racing in 2015?
Tim: It seems lots is going on this year, I plan to finish this new speed car and begin testing in the coming months if I can’t get to 200 first 225 might be a nice consolation prize. Outside of the speed thing I have my hands full with the XRCO (Xtreme RC Off-road) organization, my weekly podcast, team manager for CowRC and MaxAmps trade shows (I run the west coast trade shows for MA) I do plan to be at Axialfest (if you have never gone make this a must do in your RC world) along with any other events I can squeeze in. If you have a great event happening let me know I might show up!
RCN: Thank you so much for joining us today Tim, is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Tim: Nothing more than to thank you for taking the time to let me tell you about my view of RC, if anyone would like to keep up on what I am doing you can find me on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter by searching Tim Smith Racing or simply Google me. I am always around to answer questions or give advice. Thank you again for inviting me and have a great day!