The Need for Speed
Behind the scenes at Associated’s “Guinness Book” speed record attempt


timer 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.


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Above: Cliff’s L30 Insane Speed Run Car sits on the track waiting for the all-systems-go signal.

Right: No, this is not a real car! It’s The A-Team’s TC3 Insane Speed Run Sedan. Don’t let the Dodge grill fool you; the body is actually a Protoform Chevy Monte Carlo superspeedway body.

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• Transmitter Airtronics Caliber 3PS
• Receiver LRP Phazer
• ESC LRP V7.1
• Batteries Reedy Zappers 2400mAh (14 cells)
• Motor Saiko Racing machined motor can with neo magnets and Reedy 12-turn double armature, brushes and endbell
• Servo Futaba S9102


Cliff’s Insane Speed Run Sedan is basically an off-the-shelf Factory Team TC3. The only differences are that it has been modified to hold 14 cells and it has been outfitted with a NASCAR-style body and wing. The object with this car was to break the existing 59.5mph record that had been set by the Audi Sports team with a production-based vehicle. During the event, Cliff’s TC3 made multiple passes at speeds in the high 80s and low 90s. That was until veteran motor builder Mike Reedy pulled out all the stops and built a motor that sent the TC3 flying past the radar gun at 96.4mph!

I was amazed at how fast and stable the TC3 looked as it sailed down the backstretch at nearly 100mph. Cliff explained that the 4WD TC3 had more traction than his
2WD L3O, and that made the TC3 much easier to launch off the line and easier to drive. Ironically, Team Associated tested a 2WD TC3 speed-run car, but there wasn’t any noticeable speed advantage even with the savings in rotating weight.


chassy_tc3.jpg - 11927 Bytes MODIFICATIONS

• A total of 5 cells were installed on the right side of the chassis in front of the motor; to accommodate the cells, three extra battery slots were milled out on the chassis’ right side where the receiver and ESC are normally installed.

• To allow room on the chassis for another cell, A Futaba S9102 servo was used because of its unusually short case configuration.

• A graphite battery strap/plate was fabricated to secure the 3 additional cells in the new location and to make room for 2 more cells on top. A hand-machined plastic battery strap secures the 2 cells on top of the graphite battery strap/brace.

• On the chassis’ left side, all seven slots are filled with batteries, and another graphite battery strap/plate houses two more cells on top. The LRP 7.1 ESC is also mounted on the battery strap/plate.

• A heavier, more rigid IRS-aluminum center shaft helps to reduce the side-load flexing that’s caused by the incredible rpm of the inline-mounted motor.

• A Saiko Racing machined motor can with super-strong neodymium magnets and a Reedy 10-turn double armature produce the rpm needed to propel the TC3 to near-buck speeds.

• The receiver is neatly housed under the giant, custom-made foam bumper. Not only does the large bumper provide crash protection, but it also supports the front of the Protoform high-speed Monte Carlo body.

• A large buggy wing was installed on the rear of the body to provide more downforce and stability. As a final aerodynamic mod, the rear bumper was bent down to help reduce wind resistance.

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With the front bumper removed, the LRP Phazer receiver is revealed. Cliff wanted to keep the receiver as far from the motor and batteries as possible.

The LRP V7.1 ESC has been outfitted with 12 gauge wires, but is otherwise unmodified. Note the receiver pack alongside the motor; every inch of this TC3 is filled with batteries!









no. 3

no. 2


Associated White 40 lb.

Associated Purple 30 lb.

—upper shock position

Middle hole on tower

Middle hole on tower

Camber-rod positions

Lower inside

Lower inside










Drive train

—pinion/spur 44/88
—final drive ratio 4.5:1

Tires and wheels

—Yokomo G belted slick tires
—Shimuzu hard molded inserts
—Pro-Line Inch Up Velocity wheels (24mm)

Weight 72.5 oz. (2,060g)

*Cliff installed a front arm mount backward—in place of the rear arm mount—to take away toe-in.

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Above Left: Mike Reedy and Cliff Lett examine an armature that blew up during an 86mph run.

Above Right: 40, 60, 85, 96mph—this TC3 is gone! Look at the how the rear wing is pushed down by the massive airflow.

Right: Cliff Lett balances a tire while Duane Silva works on Cliff’s L3O chassis. Mike Reedy supervises in the background.

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• Transmitter Airtronics Caliber 3PS
• Receiver LRP Phazer
• ESC Aveox F5HV
• Batteries 1000mAh 2/3 sub-C batteries (24 cells)
• Motor Aveox 1409/2Y 2-turn brushless motor
• Servo Airtronics 94151


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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That’s a 2-turn Aveox brushless motor stuffed into the motor pod. Check out the super-high gearing. The graphite bar with the ball cups mounted standing up simply prevents the rear of the body from contacting the wheels.

An Associated VCS shock damps the front suspension, and a custom receiver pack is tucked under the bumper. The pack is good for about 5 minutes.













no. 3


Red 0.22in.

Gold 12 lb.

Gold 12lb.

Red 22lb.

















Jaco Caps Tires





Drive Train

—pinion/spur 28/69
—final drive ratio 2.46:1

Weight 74 oz. (2,100g)

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Left: That’s Cliff Lett on the three-story camera tower. This position made the most sense for driving, but the climb up was pretty hairy

Right: Team Associated (left to right): Rodger Curtis, Torrance DeGuzman, Duane Silva, Mike Reedy, Cliff Lett, Curtis Husting, Mike Ogle and team driver Tony Phalen.


As you know, this event was organized to break the existing “Guinness Book” RC world speed record and to post a speed that is a true reflection of what a modern RC car can do. The main goal, however, was to promote the hobby on network television. The staff at Team Associated would like to acknowledge that, even though they were the first to take the necessary steps to formally challenge the existing RC world speed record, Chris Collins’ posted 112.7mph speed is still the benchmark. Meanwhile, the A-Team is preparing for another record attempt; they want to push the TC3 past the 100mph barrier and the L3O past a buck and a quarter. You can bet that we’ll be there to cover the next attempt, and they hope that other RC manufacturers will want to join in on the action!


There are a two ways to establish a new RC world speed record. The first is to have a representative from the publishers of the “Guinness Book” in England witness the record-breaking event. The second possibility is to have the event aired on the U.S.-based “Guinness Book of World Records” TV show, which is actually a separate entity from the printed media production. Being aired on the TV show, however, is a shoo-in for having the world record published in the book. As you can imagine, it isn’t easy to persuade someone from the “Guinness Book” to travel all the way from England to witness an RC car speed-record attempt. Master RC promoter Dan Moynihan, however, managed to spark the interest of the producers of the TV show and was able to set a date to videotape the record-breaking attempt and, if successful, air it on the popular weekly television program. Unfortunately, the film crew had to cancel at the last minute and wasn’t able to tape the speed-record attempt at Irwindale Speedway. This didn’t stop the event from taking place, though; instead, the ABC News Team videotaped it, and the speeds were recorded with a super-accurate Stalker police radar system (similar to the unit we use here at Radio Control Car Action). The event was aired on network television in several time slots, including prime time, which meant that millions of people saw it. The videotape and radar data have also been sent to the producers of the “Guinness Book” TV show. At the present time, however, Cliff Lett’s record-breaking 111mph run still has to be verified, and the existing 59.5mph record still stands. Let’s hope that the videotape and all the exposure will entice them to publish this new speed record soon. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even see Cliff Lett set an even faster RC speed record on TV.


1185 Stanford Ct., Anaheim, CA 92805;
(714) 978-1895;

Associated Electrics
3585 Cadillac Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626; (714) 850-9342.

Aveox Electric
Flight Systems

31324 Via Colinas, #103,
Westlake Village, CA 91362;
(818) 597-8915; fax (818) 597-0617.

distributed exclusively by Great Planes Model Distributors Co., P.O. Box 9021,
Champaign, IL 61826;

HPI Racing
15321 Barranca Pky., Irvine, CA 92618;
(949) 753-1099;

Distributed by Pro-Line/Jaco

LRP Electronic
Distributed by
Associated Electrics.

P.O. Box 456, Beaumont, CA 92223; (909) 849-9781;

Protoform Inc.
Distributed by Pro-Line.

Reedy Modifieds/
Team Associated

See Associated Electrics

Yokomo USA
Airport Business Center, 17951
Skypark Cir., Ste. K, Irvine, CA 92614;
(949) 252-8663;

Source :

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