Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cliff Lett's 111 mph RC10L3O (1-13-2001)

Video here

From RC CarAction:

The “Guinness Book of World Records” credits Finland’s Audi Sports with the official RC car world speed record of 59.09mph (95.1kph). Although some may consider 59mph to be a respectable record, just about any RC vehicle that’s powered by a 3.5cc nitro engine could challenge the world record without even leaning out the engine’s high-speed needle valve! Our sister publication, Radio Control Nitro, featured Steve Pond’s 101mph HPI Super Nitro RS4 (see the March 2001 issue). Prior to that, Cliff Lett’s 24-cell Associated L3O Insane Speed Run car was clocked at 94mph at the Dominguez Hills Bicycle Velodrome in California. And let’s not forget IEDA Champion, Chris Collins; his 18-cell Top fuel dragster was clocked at 112.7mph at Northstar Dragway in Minnesota. These top speed achievements, however, were never staged for the officials from the “Guinness Book of World Records,” which is why the Audi Sports record has remained intact—until now. Thanks to the efforts of the R&D crew at Team Associated, Dan Moynihan from Dan’s Promotions and Doug Stokes, who is the director of communications at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, CA, a formal speed challenge was held on January 13, 2001 to break Guinness’s published record and post a speed more befitting of an official world record title. The result? Legendary RC racer and Team Associated chief designer Cliff Lett spooled up his Factory Team TC3 to over 95mph and touched 111mph with an RC10 L30! How did he do it? To answer that question, we have an exclusive, inside look at Cliff’s record-breaking machines.


Cliff’s Insane Speed Run car is a heavily modified Associated L3O that’s outfitted with 24 cells and a specially fabricated chassis and body. If the car looks familiar to you, it’s because it has been featured in RC Car Action a few times in various forms. This car has raced dozens of times at speeds approaching 100mph. It’s amazing that the car—and body—have held up so well over the years. Then again, Cliff is an expert driver.

Team Associated’s objectives with this car were to break through the 100mph barrier and to possibly set a new overall RC world speed record. As expected, the Team met its objectives by putting in back-to-back 100mph-plus runs. It wasn’t until the car blazed past the radar at 111mph and wiped out on the large, banked corner that they decided to call it a day. After the run, Cliff reported that the motor still had plenty of revs left and could have gone even faster if space had allowed.


Cliff’s L3O features a custom-fabricated, graphite chassis that’s designed to accommodate 24 cells.

• Lexan side plates were installed on the chassis and hook-and-loop fastener secures them to the body’s side panels.

• A graphite bar installed on the rear pod with molded ball cups (mounted standing up) prevents the body from rubbing against the rear tires at high speeds.

• The body is a narrowed Protoform Nissan P35 that was modified for superior aerodynamics. The entire molded-in driver cockpit was removed and a Lexan plate was installed in its place. A small plastic cockpit, actually from a small, static model airplane, was added to give the car some realism; otherwise, the body would be nothing more than a wedge.

• The body was reinforced with Lexan strips in all the crucial places, and Teflon tape was stuck on the body above the tires to prevent friction in case the tires rubbed against the body. The body’s rear portion was completely opened up to allow air to pass through the chassis more efficiently, and enlarged side wings provide better high-speed stability.

• A large buggy wing helps increase rear downforce and adds stability on the straights.

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