I race Tamiya Mini 4WD cars.

I find the high speed movement and sound of each car careening around a circular track to be highly therapeutic, very much like a moving meditation. Each 1/32-scale car is an intricate machine with many parts, the ultimate science experiment. Each track is like a puzzle waiting to be solved. You compete against others to see who can finish the race first, but your ultimate goal is to always try to build the best car that day. Young or old, male or female, anyone can enjoy this sport. Go fast. Don't crash! That's Mini 4WD.

TYPE-3 and ZERO Chasses

TYPE-3 and ZERO chassis cars (introduced in 1989 and 1990, respectively) have seen a resurgence of interest lately with the reissue of the Dash-1 Emperor, Super Emperor, Dash-0 Horizon, and Great Emperor kits and the three Classic Tune-Up Parts Sets. TYPE-3 chasses are upgrades over TYPE-1 and TYPE-2 chasses (introduced in 1986 and 1988, respectively) and improved on acceleration ability. There were also TYPE-4 and TYPE-5 chasses (introduced in 1990 and 1992). TYPE-4 still had mediocre features. TYPE-5 improved on cornering ability. Most modern Mini 4WD racers will likely never attempt to seriously race one of these cars believing that it is simply not possible to transform these cars into formidable racing machines, but I have seen a carefully designed ZERO chassis car win a podium spot in a tuned class race. In my own experiments, I've made a tuned class ZERO chassis car beat its box stock 10-lap time on a Japan Cup Oval Circuit by more than 10 seconds. Never discount the classics! Just be careful about racing these cars long term. Their weak chasses will likely be badly damaged after their first crash. Note the very simple design with lack of rear roller stay. You need to purchase the rear roller stay as a tune-up part.

Super TZ and TZ-X Chasses

Super TZ chassis cars (introduced in 1996) are very good at cornering but are mediocre in all other areas. These cars can be considered "your grandparent's Mini 4WD cars" because they came out over 25 years ago. There are many opinions about the raceworthiness of Super TZ and TZ-X cars, but they're all just opinions. If you know how to design your TZ or TZ-X, you will find yourself with a very formidable racer. It might not last very long after you crash it up a few times, but it can give the newer chassis cars a run for their money if you take advantage of its feather lightness.

I first encountered Tamiya Mini 4WD race cars in 1997 when I bought my first two kits from an Asian bazaar in Seattle: a Thunder Boomerang W10 and a Black Stalker (both Super TZ chasses). Although these were marketed as 1/32 scale cars, I read that they were actually 1/30 scale. I built the Thunder Boomerang, installed a Hyper Dash motor in it, played with it a few times, noticed how fast it was, and then stored it in its box until 2021, almost 24 years later. The batteries were still in the car. Not surprisingly, it didn't turn on. I changed the batteries, the car moved a couple of feet and then stopped. What was going on? I changed the motor and it did the same thing, moving a couple of feet and then stopping. Picking up the car, the wheels spun fast and made a high-pitched sound. It sounded normal to me, but I didn't have much to compare.

Little did I know, the little cog-like part at the end of the motor axle - the pinion - was the problem. Notice the crack in the gear that shows up when I enlarge the photo? The actual size of the pinion is less than 5mm. The motor was spinning, but the pinion didn't turn much because it wasn't gripping the axle!

Replacing the pinion was easy and inexpensive. I bought a pack of carbon reinforced 8T pinion gears. The car now runs fine, although a bit slow, even with a Hyper-Dash motor. There's nothing wrong with the motor because I installed it in an Aero Avante and there are no issues with speed. My Thunder Boomerang wasn't very sturdy as parts would fly off upon impact. I learned that I could replace the chassis with a new version of it, the Super TZ-X. Many Mini 4WD racers love this classic design and seek out these antique cars. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to upgrade these classic chasses as the body or parts may need to be cut or modified to work with current parts. My practice run with it yielded unfortunate results. The car blew up on the track. Instead of retiring it a life on a bookshelf, I upgraded everything on it and now it is one of the most raceworthy cars in my collection.

Some of the things you learn racing Mini 4WD cars parallels what you learn in life. When you drive real cars, you know that the fastest car doesn't always win races. Oftentimes, the car that wins is not the fastest, but one that can stay grounded around corners. The first two iterations of my Thunder Boomerang were the basic box stock build followed by a conservative set of add-ons for tuned class.

I added 17mm rollers with rubber rings and purple stabilizers up front and 19mm rollers with plastic rings and ball-race rollers in the rear. Adjustable mass damper weights were also added, two up front and four in the rear. I changed the gear from 4:1 to 3.7:1 and swapped the gear shaft for a fluorine coated gear shaft. The car is capable of handling a Light Dash motor, but a well-tuned Atomic Tuned motor can be faster than a Light Dash motor. Anything more would be too powerful for its specs. Aluminum wheels added some needed weigh to the rear of the vehicle. I crafted a new piece of tech - The "Dragon Tail" - and installed it in the rear of the car. The end result is Thor.

Super X and XX Chasses

Super X chassis cars (introduced in 1997) are classic racers your grandparents had. Every feature is pretty good, but its one potentially unforgiveable weakness is its cornering ability. This was the first chassis to use 72mm wheel shafts. The wide stance of the car means great stability, but that comes at the expense of cornering abiity. Think about how great a BMW or MINI is at cornering versus a typical wide American car. The ability to corner well is one of the keys to success in most Mini 4WD races.

Super XX chassis cars (introduced in 2009) is the successor to the Super X and provides a stronger nose guard to cover the bumper up front, stronger body and side guards, and additional mounting points on the side guards. Its greatest strength is the abiity to swap out motors quickly. It's a heavy but stable chassis because of the additional armor. Like the Super X, every feature is pretty good, except its cornering ability.

The Phantom Blade Black Special stays on any track like it's on rails, but it's not going to be winning any races soon because it's slow as molasses right out of the box compared to other box stock cars. Still, it's an intriguing design worth checking out and a little more competitive as a tuned class car.

Super II Chassis

Super II chassis cars (introduced in 2010) are beasts in cornering and acceleration, but have weak chasses and are known to be less stable than other chasses. If you are building a Super II car, replace any standard chassis with a polycarbonate ABS one. Add an EX Side Stay so you can mount side mass dampers. Sandwich the front bumper with a front roller stay and underguard plate to strengthen it. With a little ingenuity, you can have a front roller angle greater than 5 degrees. Replace the flimsy rear roller stay with carbon or FRP plates for strength, stability, and a myriad of expansion options. Copy the NEO-VQS Advanced Pack rear sandwich and you will have an excellent back end, but do use 19mm aluminum rollers for best performance. A well-tun ed Super II chassis car might be your next tuned class winning car. Lots of interesting animal racers are either VS or Super II chassis cars. Racing an animal racer is the easiest way to make your opponents lower their guard. Little do they know what's in store for them!

The Shining Scorpion Premium and Kumamon Racer are speedy cars with the Shining Scorpion winning close battles due to its light weight (minus the side stay) and faster gear. Trust the Black Bear in highly technical courses and use heavier, longer-running rechargeables to keep the car hugging the track. To get a less rickety cowl, I reversed the tail.

The Kopen Future Limited XMZ looks like a MINI Cooper Convertible. It's wicked fast on technical tracks with its 4:1 gear and heavier body. Removing the cargo door in rear reduces the weight by 0.5 gram in the rear. The Neo Tri-Dagger ZMC Carbon Special has carbon everything, but it's a little disappointing in real-world speed tests.

The Astro Boomerang is a lightweight car that has a tendency to flip over easily, so I first transformed it into a cute little tuned class car to weigh it down properly and then upgraded it to an open class car with a more aggressive stance. Loki is the result. 4.2:1 gear ratio with a HyperDash motor giving 33km/hr monster speed with a ton of torque.

AR Chassis

AR chassis cars (introduced in 2012) are great all-around racers and some of the sleekest-looking cars have appeared in AR chassis form. Only the MA chassis cars have better overall performance, but the AR is a tough chassis to beat. For box stock technical tracks, the AR is hard to beat. An included POM skid bar attachment acts as an underguard for the rear of the vehicle, helping it negotiate slopes better. AR chassis strength is pretty good and I would generally recommend an AR chassis to novice racers seeking durable, but fast and agile single-shaft motor cars. The AR Speed Spec Kit featuring the Aero Avante is an excellent first or second purchase. Some say that you can swap body shells between TZ or TZ-X chassis cars and AR chassis cars, but this is not always the case. The greatest strength and weakness of this chassis is the one-piece design, which requires cutting to reduce weight, but it can be argued that the chassis is already very well-designed, so why mess with something that's already good?

The Aero Avante is a cool-looking car that looks faster than it actually is. Its body is literally covered with stickers. It was especially challenging to line up all the stickers as many of them are adjacent to one another. I upgraded my Avante with the AR Basic Tune-Up Parts Set (green parts above). I also built an AR Speed Spec version of the Aero Avante (blue parts above). I used the AR Speed Spec version in the Tuned Class races on June 12, 2021. It's not that fast, but it stayed on the track.

The Flame Astute Red Metallic is not the be-all end-all box stock racer, but it sure is fast. Initial tests clocked in at 27 km/hr, but with the motor properly broken in after several races, it now tips the scales at 28 km/hr. Many of my tuned class cars are not as fast as this.

1g lighter than the Flame Astute Metallic, its top speed is not as high as Phoenix, but it can make waves with Phoenix's engine. This car kit is ten years old and still has the potential to be a box stock killer.

MA and MS Chasses

MA chassis cars (introduced in 2013) are great all-around racers. For box stock technical tracks, the MA is hard to beat. An included POM skid bar attachment acts as an underguard for the rear of the vehicle, helping it negotiate slopes better. MA chassis strength is pretty good, although your mileage may vary as I've had a polycarbonate chassis crack on me. The use of six rollers right out of the box makes this chassis a cornering monster and one of the most stable and raceworthy among all the chasses. I feel that MA cars are the best bang for the buck for novice racers, but just like other Mini 4WD cars, they must be built with great care and consideration to produce their optimum potential. The greatest strength and weakness of this chassis is the one-piece design, which requires cutting to reduce weight, but it can be argued that the chassis is already very well-designed, so why mess with something that's already good? The motor cover is relatively easy to attach and remove once you get used to it. A handful of people have attempted to make suspension systems for this chassis, but with no notable success.

MS chassis cars (introduced in 2005) are very good all-around cars, with MA cars typically being better right out of the box and because MA chassis technology is eight years newer, but MS chassis cars have a strong, stable following in the Mini 4WD community. Because the MS chassis has been around for so long, there are a lot of parts for it and there is a lot of experience modifying and optimizing the chassis by incorporating a suspension system into the removable front and rear units. Although there are attachments for a side mass damper plate, most people designing an open class car will opt for a body damper and use the attachment points for their suspension system. In the open class realm, the MS chassis is king of all monsters. Typically, MS chassis cars can be seen at the podium at every open class race and it is not uncommon to see all three spots won by MS chassis cars. Perhaps the only cars that have any chance of coming close to the performance of MS suspension cars are well-built VZ chassis cars, but VZ cars often lose time after a jump.

Both the MA and MS chasses are on the heavier side, so you will need to factor this in when designing your next MA or MS car. Both use double-shaft Pro motors that contain additional torque over single-shaft motors. Personally, I feel MS chassis cars are terrible box stock racers, but very good open class racers.

The Festa Jaune (MA chassis) is a hot-looking yellow sportscar. It's one of my box-stock cars. I did a motor break-in to try to coax a little more speed from the stock motor. As a result, my Festa Jaune is faster than my son's Festa Jaune Black Special and he actually has better tires!

The Exflowly (MS chassis) is another hot-looking car with a clear polycarbonate shell and a doube-shaft motor. You can see all of the innards of the car through its unpainted body. It's a terrible box stock car as it always flies off the track. It sure looks great on a bookshelf, though.

Slingshot is a best-in-class Shooting Proud Star Clear Blue Special (MA chassis). It's rock solid and fast due to its larger wheels and tires. CandyCane is another car similar to Slingshot with its huge tires and 4:1 gear ratio.

Midnight is the TRF-Racer Black Special. Sadly, due to its narrow width and small wheels, the car has issues staying on a track, so it might be relegated to my shelf display.

Tarantula is my first MA open class car. I built it to challenge myself to think outside the box and not rely on the usual chasses I'm already familiar with.

Scooby Doo was built completely from scratch using an MS Pro flex suspension chassis. A polycarbonate body sits on top of a back-to-front lantern body damper of my own design. The rear AT bumper is my custom Flexi-Plate design. Rounding out the specs are a 3.7:1 gear, HyperDash motor, carbon wheels, and custom sponge low-frix and superhard tires. Firefly sports the same great features as Scooby Doo but with the addition of a sliding front damper and front weights. It has a Flexi-Plate rear AT bumper, a 3.7:1 gear, a HyperDash motor, carbon wheels, and custom sponge low-frix and superhard tires. Originally, I was going to use a front-to-back lantern body damper, but it didn't work as well as the back-to-front design.

Wasp is an MS Pro flex suspension car given to me as a gift by a fellow racer. I added matching rollers to the front and rear.

My son Matthew's Midnight tuned class car is based on his favorite chassis, MA. Although heavy, it's still a very fast car and rock solid due to the sliding damper up front. My son Brandon's Gazoo car is quick due to its lightweight polycarbonate body.

FM-A Chassis

FM-A chassis cars (introduced in 2017) are a favorite among Mini 4WD racers who prefer having the heavier motor weight up front to better negotiate jumps. An included POM skid bar attachment acts as an underguard for the front or rear of the vehicle, helping it negotiate slopes better. Wide-height rear rollers are also a nice upgrade to the typical crappy box stock rollers. Some racers switch them to the front depending on the track. FM-A cars are acceleration monsters, so take care when selecting gears. FM-A chassis strength is pretty good, although your mileage may vary as I've had a chassis crack on me. For this reason, I would say chassis strength depends largely on the kit you buy. The Mach Frame has a very light, slender body with very litle protection for the chassis whereas a Copperfang has ample full-coverage protection for the chassis. Typically, I would see Mach Frames at the podium in every box stock race.


Medusa K4 has my standard single roller front/double-roller rear setup with mushroom car front heads and tapered ball-race rollers on the bottom rear. MadTang custom wheels with a combination low friction/super hard tires allow for less bounce on jumps and better cornering. Version 1 uses Tamiya tape to hold the cab together. I may rethink this for version 2. The Geo Glider Black Special is one of the fastest cars in box stock due to its carbon six-spoke wheels and low-frix arched tires. Unfortunately, the polycarbonate-reinforced chassis is its greatest asset and Achilles heel. I switched the chassis to a fluorescent one rendering it unusable for box stock.

Ganesha mimics the Bale-era Batmobile with its rugged armor and bold panache. Next to the Avantes, the Razorback has the best sticker set around. I transformed it into an BMAX beast.

Beast has the merit of being the very first FM-A chassis car. It sports a beautiful metallic blue Ford Mustang-like body. Its bulky weight adds to its stability and vibration control. Lighter cars beware! Scorpion also has a bulky body and is a favorite among FM-A racers who want to race something more robust than a Mach Frame.

You can't say enough about the Mach Frame, everybody's favorite box stock car. In one box stock race, nine out of 45 cars were Mach Frames. That should tell you how reliable and consistent the car is across tracks. The Mach Frame Black Special takes everything up a notch with its polycarbonate-reinforced chassis, but I personally feel it's a piece of crap because the front roller mounts can easily crack. The stiffer chassis ekes out another km/hr, but at the cost of being more fragile, even though the reinforced chassis is supposedly stronger. Weighed down in BMAX class, the Mach Frame is a monster. Don't push it too fast, though, as the car has a tendency to course out with motors above 34k.

Dove is a very special car that weighs more than a typical box stock Mach Frame. Watch this video to learn how to turn your Mach Frame into a hulk! Some racing events might ban Dove even though it follows an acceptable interpretation of the Box Stock rules. In response to that, I offer this video to show you how to create the Spider-Man Mach Frame.

VS and VZ Chasses

VS chassis cars (introduced in 1999) is perhaps the most adored and also the most hated of all the chasses. Just like TZ and TZ-X chassis cars, the technology in these chasses is antiquated, but there is a wealth of knowledge available for upgrading it. VS chassis cars make terrible box stock racers, which is ironic considering that their major market nowadays is children purchasing their first Mini 4WD car, which is typically a VS chassis animal racer. Its primary advantage is feather lightness, so take advantage of this in your design builds. You can win many races if your car is lighter and faster than everyone else's. VS chassis cars are renowned for their cornering and acceleration. Swap in a 3.5:1 gear in an animal racer and you have one formidable machine that will make you smile every time you beat a $600 podium car. Alas, the Achilles' heels of the VS chassis are its weak chassis and stability. Stay away from box stock races with this car. Turn these cars into tuned or open class monsters. Here's a tip: the downthrust angle of a VS chassis is 6.5 degrees versus everyone else's 5 degrees. Use that to your advantage.

VZ chassis cars (introduced in 2019) are successors to VS chassis cars and are improvements in every area except for the weakness of the chassis. There are several reports of broken front bumper stays, but these are easily replaceable. Both the front and rear bumper stays are removable so you can have a bumperless setup without the need for cutting or other such destructive modifications. The use of six rollers right out of the box makes this chassis a cornering monster. It is also hella fast on straightaways and curves. The VZ chassis is lighter than the VS chassis, so use that critical information when designing your next podium car. Every VZ chassis comes with POM plastic bearings and an 8T carbon pinion gear, but lacks a skid bar. Like the VS chassis cars, skip the box stock races and go for tuned or open class races. Add front and rear brake stays mounted with sponge brakes to your car to give it the ability to negotiate slopes.

Although the VS chassis is an antiquated design, many racers feel this is an excellent chassis for competition as it has a narrow wheelbase for tight cornering.

Many animal racers were introduced with VS chasses. Unfortunately, as box stock racers, these animal racers leave a lot to be desired. Use them as a basis for your tuned or open class cars.

The VZ chassis (Neon Vicky, left) has several improvements over its older sibling, the VS chassis. The VS chassis (Firefly, right) can still compete favorably with the best of the modern chassis cars.

You can do no wrong with a VZ chassis. I built a VZ car made of all junk parts and it ended up being my fastest car at an unheard of 47 km/hr. The Dual Ridge is a very fast car that allows for quick modifications to its weight. Remove the tailfin and front faux springs to make it lighter and more solid. Reverse the front and rear rollers and you now have a battering ram up front.

The Dual Ridge is already pretty fast on its own, but with the lighter polycarbonate body of the Japan Cup 2021 version, this car wil fly around the track. Swap the front and rear rollers and you will have a very formidable vehicle that will cause plenty of vibrations behind it. The Super Avante Jr. gives you several configuration options with a removable engine cover, cowl, and tail to allow you to adjust the weight to a more front- or rear-heavy car.

Thunder Dragon is an ode to yesteryear and will spark plenty of conjecture and conversation with its controversial mid-roller mounting. The car is certainly shorter overall for more dramatic turns and its 4.2:1 gear ratio will certainly give other cars a run for their money on technical tracks, but its leaping ability is suspect. The POM 12-13mm rollers and spike tires are classic racer fan favorites. vv

With a carbon plate up front and a triple carbon plate sandwich on the rear, Pango has solid aluminum rollers, 3.7:1 gear ratio, and 24mm tires and wheels to ensure good top speed and cornering speed. Front and rear sponge brakes enable this racer to negotiate inclines and lane changers safely.

Mini 4WD Race Journal

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - May 8, 2021 - I entered Neon Vicky in my very first Open Class race. It had trouble staying on the track on its second 90 degree angle turn. Neon Vicky was faster than every other car in the field, but it flew off the track on that right angle turn. The racemaster looked at my car and said I should pitch the wheels inward. He also said I could add more weight to the front of my car. Changing the batteries from NiMH to alkalines helped keep the car down somewhat, but it still flew off the track. I changed the front plate to carbon and replaced the 12-13mm aluminum rollers with 19mm aluminum rollers with plastic rings. I added two weights up front with a shorter shaft to keep the weight towards the ground. I reattached the rear underguard, realizing that it was needed to keep the screws from catching against the top edges of the track. A drop test revealed a good balance. I replaced Neon Vicky's switch terminal cover with an NVAP switch terminal cover for better strength, since the NVJC one kept lifting up after impact. Under the body shell, I changed the blue sponge pad on the passenger side to pink to match the driver side sponge pad. I shaved the two humps at the front of the carbon plate to keep the car within spec. I moved shortened the body damper in order to move the side weights closer to the front wheels like the NVAP. I also added lightweight weights to the front of the car for better balance. It should be able to handle jumps better with the body damper and additional weight. I added MadTang custom wheels with a combination low friction/super hard tires mounted on carbon Y-spoke wheels and 72mm hollow propeller shafts for better cornering. I attached two mushroom ball heads on the front roller shafts to deal with cornering. I attached a ball head under the main screw of the cowl so there won't be any accidental sticking after a jump. Surprisingly, the cars weighs the same as before.

Neon Vicky, May 2021

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Drag Racing - May 8, 2021 - Pengo - Drag Racing is a new class in Hobbytown Tom's River. I initially just wanted to be a spectator, but I ended up competing in it and won. We were allowed to use tuned class racers. My entry was a fully optimized box stock Penguin Racer. My Fujitsu batteries were charged at close to 100%. I recharged my batteries after every heat.

Tuned class motors (RT, AT, TT) are not the most powerful motors. You could go with RT, a speed demon with low torque, or TT, a torque monster with low speed, or AT, a balanced lower-powered combination of both that is just one step above BX, a basic box stock motor. My racer had huge wheels, which are traditionally used for speed cars. I felt that TT was the best choice for my car. In fact, I think the TT is probably the most powerful motor of the three. It really packs a punch so long as you keep your car's weight real low. Just before my first drag race, I made some quick decisions on reducing my car's weight:

  • Swapped the battery clip (2.1g with penguin) with a standard VZ chassis battery clip (.58g with no penguin) to reduce the load by 1.52g.
  • Swapped the VZ back latch (.53g on a NEO-VQS versus .42g on a Thunder Boomerang) to reduce the load by .11g. The Thunder Boomerang back latch is one of the lightest I've come across. It is .01g lighter than the animal VS chassis racers.
  • Changed the gear from 5:1 to 3.7:1.
  • The overall weight of my Penguin racer was 80g without and 115g with batteries.

With a TT motor, 5:1 gears yield 19 Km/h whereas 3.7:1 gears yield 29 Km/h.

Several people wanted to buy the Penguin racer after they saw me win. In the final race, I won by a roller length, so there's room for improvement. I improved Pengo with the following upgrades:

  • Changed the gear from 3.7:1 to to 3.5:1.
  • Changed the gear to include ball bearing and fluorine coated gear shaft.
  • Remove the spoiler to reduce the load by 1.7g.
  • Swap the Thunder Boomerang back latch with a rubber body catch (part 95393) to reduce the load by .35g (.42g versus .08g)
  • Pengo now weighs 78g.

With a TT motor, 3.5:1 gear, and pink Fujitsus charged to 1.51V, the car can go 31 Km/h. Adding a bearing spacer to my gear actually reduces speed, so I omitted it.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - June 12, 2021 - As weird as it sounds, I think Tuned Class is more difficult to win than Open Class. Maybe it's because there is greater competition and less ego involved. Everyone has to build their cars within spec without cutting or shaping parts and every car is limited to one of three low-powered motors: TT, RT, or AT. Most cars seem to use AT motors. I was surprised to see many cars with plastic rollers. Neo Victor kept flying off the track so I had to switch to heavier batteries and wait for a lower charge. I also switched its TT motor to an AT motor and changed the gear to 3.7:1. I raced the Blue Beetle and came in second in every race. Other cars were flying off the track and getting disqualified. In the races for the finals, I switched to Neo Victor so I could be competitive against the faster racers, but wasn't successful as my car was still flying off the track even with the lower battery voltage.

I purchased two copies of the NEO-VQS Japan Cup 2020, one for collecting and one for racing. I purchased an additional NEO-VQS Advanced Pack for spare parts and at least $100 worth of additional spare parts with the goal of creating a competitive racing car. In the following analysis, NEO-VQS Advanced Pack parts will be referred to as NVAP and NEO-VQS Japan Cup 2020 parts will be referred to as NVJC. Other parts not in either set will be identified by Tamiya part number.

  • The NVJC opaque yellow plastic molded parts are lighter than the NVAP translucent yellow plastic molded parts. I did not replace any chassis parts with NVAP parts.
  • The NVJC wheels are carbon reinforced wheels (Y-spoke). These should be stronger than standard wheels. They also add an understated beauty to the car.
  • Like my NVAP car, I removed the A4 front bumper for a savings of 2.12g and a faster burst of acceleration in the first lap.
  • I removed one of the FRP rear plates for a savings of 1.93g. I double-stacked one set of the brakes to make up for the lost plate.
  • I shaved off the sides of the chassis for negligible weight savings, but it looks cooler and more streamlined.
  • I replaced the 60mm hex shafts with 60mm hollow stainless steel shafts (part number 15440). According to Tamiya, "this shaft weighs 2/3 of the normal shaft and has the same strength." I cleaned the hollow shafts with rubbing alcohol to remove metal dust. This improves the overall efficiency of the shafts so the wheels can rotate faster.
  • I replaced the POM keylets with hex hole ball bearings (part number 15287) and bearing roller spacers (part number 94768) between the chassis and the wheel. I cleaned the ball bearings with lighter fluid for 4 hours, shaking the solution every hour, to remove oil residue. I cleaned the ball bearings with rubbing alcohol to remove lighter fluid residue. The POM keylets do a very good job as stock keylets, but the ball bearings reduce the lap times by .03 seconds. I discovered I did not need washers in between the spacers and wheels. The act of removing and inserting the wheels on the shafts multiple times decreased the gap between the wheels and the chassis.
  • I replaced the front rollers with 12-13mm double aluminum rollers (part number 95581).
  • I replaced the rear rollers with 19mm alumonum ball-race rollers (part number 95582).
  • I replaced stock propeller shaft (beige pinions) with NVAP hollow propeller shaft (green pinions). I cleaned the hollow shafts with rubbing alcohol to remove metal dust and saved .36g.
  • I kept the 3.5:1 gears from NVJC. These gears are faster than the 3.7:1 gears frin NVAP.
  • I replaced the switch terminal cover with the NVAP one for better durability. The NVJC switch terminal cover kept popping off on impact after course outs. This led to a weight gain of .04g.
  • I chose the 950mAh Fujitsu batteries that weigh 36g over the 1300mAh Energizer batteries that weigh 43g for a savings of 7g.
  • The overall weight of my NVJC is 105g, a savings of 10g over my NVAP.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Drag Racing - June 12, 2021 - Pengo v2 - I entered the drag race at Hobbytown again and won easily. My car has become something of a curiosity for other racers who are used to racing circuits. One racer asked to see my motor because he couldn't believe my car could be so fast with a tuned motor. I think he expected to see a more powerful motor in my car so he could prove I cheated, but he was surprised to see a TT motor in my car. Most people who probably pick an RT motor because RT emphasizes top speed, but, from my tests, a TT motor is faster than an RT motor. Plus, it seems that a car with a TT motor appears to go faster and faster the longer it's on a straightaway. "Don't change a thing on that car," the racemaster said, "because, right now, that's the car to beat." Of course, I tuned it again, because that's what I do.

I updated Pengo with an Avante polycarbonate body and a rubber body catch. Pengo now weighs 108g with batteries and 72g without. It should have been a little faster now with the lighter body, but the Tamiya speed checker says that both versions have the same top speed. The speed checker never tells the whole story, though. I lost in the July drag race finals. The other racer had a car with an Atomic Tuned motor. That was an eye-opening experience to see his Atomic Tuned car beat my Torque Tuned car on a straightaway.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - June 12, 2021 - I entered Neon Vicky in my second Open Class race. MadTang's custom wheels/tires helped my car stayed on the track better than with my regular wheels/tires. i didn’t win anything in the race, but i feel my car is a few tweaks away from succeeding. The amazing thing is the car is so fast even without a ball bearing and fluorine coated gear shaft in its gear! I wonder how my car would fair with a slower motor and 3.7:1 gear.

I reinforced the switch terminal cover with small pieces of sponge to prevent it from popping out upon impact.

Neon Vicky, June 2021

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - July 10, 2021 - I won Open Class Bronze with Neon Vicky! My prize was a new motor for my son’s car. For this race, I replaced the Sprint Dash motor with a Hyper Dash motor and added wheel stabilizers in place of the mushroom caps.

Neon Vicky, July 2021

July 14, 2021 - I removed one set of rear rollers on Pengo and replaced the steel wheel shafts with hollow shafts.

Penguin racer, 3.5:1 gears (blue/yellow), fluorine coated gear shaft with 520 ball bearing (no spacer), carbon reinforced crown gears, standard propeller shaft (mustard), blue POM 620s, 60mm hollow stainless steel wheel shafts, TT motor, Avante poly shell, rubber body catch, one set of rollers front and rear.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - September 11, 2021 - I won Tuned Class Silver with Thor! Because I wanted this car to run in Tuned Class, I installed an Atomic Tuned motor in it. I found the purple stabilizers to be pretty useless for the Hobbytown tracks, so I replaced them with 16mm plastic rollers. I may have to rethink this as one of my plastic rollers and one of my tapered ball-race rollers got pretty wrecked on the track. I moved the rear mass damper weights towards the middle for better stabilization. Everyone raced beautiful cars. Mine was held together with a lot of tape as it endured many crashes in practice. I replaced and repaired parts after each run. I lovingly call it my Frankenstein car. After the race, I replaced the bad plastic roller with a good one and replaced the wheels with aluminum ones to get the center of gravity lower. These wheels are supposed to be specially designed for STZX chasses. I reduced the mass damper weights in the rear. I also replaced the crappy battery latch with a better one of my own design, a modified VZ chassis battery latch.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - November 13, 2021 - I won Box Stock Bronze with Voltron. Against a $600 "podium car" and the racemaster's car, I won Open Class Silver with Neon Vicky, but the heats that led up to it were absymal. The wheel stabilizers slowed my car down to a crawl even with a Sprint Dash motor installed. I decided to go back to basics, removing the wheel stabilizers and using Rayovacs to weigh the car down. Those simple changes enabled my car to be highly competitive, negotiating turns without the slowdowns the wheel stabilizers gave me. One of my long screws is slightly bent. Had I used the stronger, more expensive carbon reinforced screws, I would've faired better. This month's track roughed up the rollers on all my cars.

December 19, 2021 - Thor's aluminum wheels now have a 60mm reinforced shaft between them. These rear rollers are now higher and held with carbon reinforced posts.

Neon Vicky, January 2022

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - February 13, 2022 - I won Open Class Silver with Thunder Shot. It was my first MS suspension car and faired pretty well against a much more powerful MS suspension car, so I was pretty happy with my results.

Thunder Shot, February 2022

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - March 12, 2022 - I won Open Class Silver with Wolfie. It competed well against a suspension car, so I was pretty happy with my results. I made a number of modifications to the previous version, including front stabilizers, a carbon front plate, new front mass dampers, new front underguards made of carbon pieces, new rear aluminum tapered ball-race rollers, new location for the rear mass dampers, a new rear underguard, and new tire/wheel set with low-friction/sponge front tires and super hard/sponge rear tires. The body damper is my own design made with body catcher material. This month's racetrack had an incline curve, two dragonbacks, and four digital curves, so I needed to slowed down my speed cars. I replaced my Power Dash motor in Wolfie with an Atomic Tuned motor, which was still pretty speedy. I was going to race Neon Vicky with a Light Dash motor, but it just wasn't as stable as Wolfie.

Wolfie, March 2022

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - June 5, 2022 - I won Box Stock Silver with Voltron! I removed the brake and battery cover from my car to reduce the weight down to 80g. I also swapped the front and rear rollers for better grip on turns. I won the first qualifying position, ahead of everyone else. In the final race, the car that beat me won by a hair. I didn't have the best release on the drop, but gained on the lead car and even surpassed it in the middle of the final lap, but the other car eked out a victory in the end. My son entered his new Shadow Shark Italia and was supposed to be the second qualifying position, but was beaten by a slightly faster car. He got to the third semi-final, but couldn't win in the end. I won a number of prizes, including a Mini 4WD car kit, an oil pen, Tamiya tape, and a gift certificate. I also entered Kogo in Tuned Class and won a number of heats, but coursed out in all three semi-final races on the last lap. The sad thing is Kogo was faster than every other car there. In all instances that Kogo started from behind other cars, it was able to eventually overtake them. It was just a case of bad luck. My son entered my car, Thor, and he did quite well, but also lost in the third semi-final race in the end.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - June 11, 2022 - No victories in any of the races. My cars coursed out in the semi-finals or finals. Especially disheartening was the Open Class finals race where my car made its jump properly on the first turn of the first lap and a car next to me coursed out and hit my car, sending it flying off the track. There's something to be said about releasing your car after everyone else releases theirs.

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - July 3, 2022 - No victories in any of the races. Voltron wasn't as proficient on this slower, more technical track that had a loop, a jump, and inclined curves. My son's Shadowshark fared a little better. Sadly, my son's car didn't get into the finals, because I dropped his car late while posing for a picture opportunity. Pango wasn't the fastest car, but was pretty competitive and fared better than my son's Midnight. Voltron and Pango both coursed out in the semi-finals. I had faster cars I could've raced, but they wouldn't stay on the track. I'm not concerned about my recent losses because I took a very conservative approach to car configuration.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - July 9, 2022 - I won Open Class Silver with the newest member of my fleet, Firefly.

Firefly, June 2022

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - August 7, 2022 - I won Box Stock Bronze with Phoenix. I would've won Gold, but my car flew off the track on its final lap. My prizes were a JR case for Mini 4WD car box and a red plastic spacer set. I entered Kogo in the tuned class race and, racing for the final spot of the race, my car was well ahead of my competitor, but it flew out on the curve just before the finish line. I removed the rear block weight on Kogo, which made it super fast, perhaps too fast for its own good.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - August 13, 2022 - I won Box Stock Gold with Phoenix and Open Class Silver with Firefly. Firefly's refinements include a white bell HyperDash, round carbon underguards, and black matte dampers. My prizes included the Roborace 2.0 and Eleglitter car kits. My son won gold place with his new DCR-02 car in the Kids Box Stock finals.

Dxn Provisions Mini 4WD Fast Fridays - August 26, 2022 - When I arrived at Dxn for Fast Fridays, the Tuned Class races had already started, so I didn’t have a chance to test my cars, however, they were able to fit me in as one of the final competitors. Little did I know, this was not a three strikes and you’re out affair. It was a one and done! Both of my cars flew off the track. My Open Class cars fared a little better, but were too slow compared to my competition. I had to figure out what to do to reduce their weight and make them run faster.

Dxn Provisions Mini 4WD Summer Cup Round 3 - August 27, 2022 - Saturday's races were part of the Summer Cup series, a five-week contest where the person with the highest scores wins the Summer Cup title. Everyone fervently worked on their cars. Some brought multiple pitboxes of varying colors and raced multiple cars, no doubt a testament to their love for and longtime experience in Mini 4WD racing. It was cool that many of the people there already knew of my reputation as a YouTuber. One guy recognized me and showed me his version of the rear-to-front roller VZ car he made. He learned how to make one through one of my videos. He mentioned a technique he discovered to dampen the new rear roller by untightening the screws. Even the Minnesota man who travelled here every other week for the cup races knew who I was. They seemed impressed that I flew all the way to the West Coast just to race my cars. My best race was Box Stock. I was supposed to win my heat, but my car slowed down in the final lap. My Tuned Class and Open Class cars fared very well in practice against other racers, but coursed out in the actual races. Firefly was definitely competitive, but I was a bit overzealous tuning it for Open Class. I kept looking at it again and again before my race. I just wanted to win one heat while I was here. I decided to amp my motor and lube my rollers, so I borrowed a friend’s Voodoo oil for my motor and Dxn oil for my rollers. Powering it on, Firefly sounded like a new car, but now it was too fast for its own good. It was at peak speed and its batteries were not even at full strength! “Your car is too fast,” a colleague advised after reviewing the racing video. The moral of the story: When we get too greedy, we can die. It was remarkable to see so many passionate Mini 4WD racers. Many different nationalities of all ages were represented, both men and women. I was especially amazed at the skills of a young Asian female who had some formidable cars. Everyone was very encouraging and not ego-driven. When everyone saw someone doing well, they cheered him or her on. People seemed more interested in seeing the best car win rather than care who was racing. I feel happy and honored to have raced at the mecca of Mini 4WD racing on the West Coast.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - September 10, 2022 - I won Open Class Bronze place with Firefly. I had to dumb down my car by using a Light Dash motor for this month's very technical track that caused many racers' cars to course out. My prizes were a tube of Tamiya bearing lubricant and a keychain. Firefly used 1.54V Rayovacs in the finals.

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - September 11, 2022 - I won Box Stock Gold with Phoenix. My prizes were a Mini 4WD pro racer's box and a gift certificate. Phoenix was several lengths ahead of the others and I was lucky to make the lane changer every time except for one time in practice. I won Tuned Class Gold with Pango. My prizes were a Tamiya shoulder bag and a gift certificate. Pango lost in the first round, so I changed the motor from Torque Tuned to Atomic Tuned and it became the car to beat in the second round in this month's speed track. Pango was only 26 to 27km/hr, so its top speed wasn't that fast, but the synergy of everything it was equipped with helped make it a much faster car than it was. Phoenix used 1.56V Rayovacs in the finals. Pango used 1.51V Neo Champs in the finals.

The Liberty Cup, Round 1 - September 18, 2022 - I won Box Stock Gold with Voltron. My son Matthew won Tuned Class Gold with The Midnight. Co-host Evan and I designed a very technical track with two loops and three jumps that forced everyone to consider battery strength and car speed. We had 6 cars in Box Stock and 7 in Tuned Class with 6 racers in attendance and one proxy. Prizes included a Rowdy Bull FM-A kit, a Lord Spirit VZ kit, and many Mini 4WD parts. I wanted to create a legitimate, competitive Mini 4WD event that would attract the best racers from our area to compete for prizes just like in the hobby shops. I'm so happy to say that I did just that!

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Awards Ceremony - October 2, 2022 - I won a bronze medal for the 2022 racing season (May to September) in the Box Stock category. There were 94 racers this season, so this was no small feat. After the ceremony, a good number of us stayed behind to race each other on the in-store track.

The Liberty Cup, Round 2 - October 16, 2022 - Neil won Box Stock Gold. Ken won Box Stock Silver. I won Box Stock Bronze with Voltron. J.P. won Tuned Class Gold. Doug and Bob won Silver and Bronze, respectively. Unfortunately, my new Vulture Mach Frame didn't make the finals, but it still did very well considering it didn't have any damper weights and I built it the day before without cleaning the bearings. It was the second fastest car in Time Attack. Co-host Evan was out sick, so it was a challenge setting designing and setting up the track by myself, but thankfully my friend Ken was there to assist with the track assembly and disassembly. I designed a very technical track that some say outdid last month's track. An elevated tabletop with four jumps, a loop, and hairpin turns made this a dynamic and devious challenge for every racer. We had 10 cars in Box Stock and 15 in Tuned Class with 10 racers in attendance and one proxy. Prizes included a Chevalier MA kit, a Big Bang Ghost VS kit, many Mini 4WD parts, pull-back racing cars, and comic books.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Open Class Race - November 12, 2022 - My son and I were late on arrival and could only enter Tuned Class and Open Class. No victories in any of the races. My cars coursed out in the semi-finals or finals.

The Liberty Cup, Round 3 - November 20, 2022 - I won Box Stock Gold with Venom FM-A (brake BS, IH, FM, rear rollers inside). William and Andre won Silver and Bronze, respectively. I also won Tuned Class Gold place with Green Goblin. Bob and William won Silver and Bronze, respectively. We originally laid out an ambitious track on the rooftop, but the 25mph winds destroyed it several times, so we had to move our event indoors. We raced on a smaller, but equally fun track. The major components were all there: my new rainbow lane changer, hairpin turns, a little tabletop, and washboard hazards. I initially thought the washboards were useless, but they did affect some of the cars. Unfortunately, my Vulture Mach Frame suffered a head-on collision with another racer's car that flipped over and headed backwards towards me. Co-host Evan was out sick, so it was a challenge setting designing and setting up the track by myself, but thankfully my friend Ken and the racers were there to assist with the track assembly and disassembly. We had 11 cars in Box Stock and 11 in Tuned Class with 5 racers in attendance and one proxy. Prizes included a Night Hunter FM-A kit, Avante Nero MS kit, many Mini 4WD parts, toy figures and models, and comic books.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Open Class Race - December 10, 2022 - I wasn't able to secure any victories in Box Stock or Tuned Class as my cars either coursed out or made it to the semi-finals and then coursed out. My cars were very fast, perhaps too fast and too light for this month's speed track with two inclines and three tabletops. Many racers were trying their luck with Mach Frames and other FM-A cars. I should've entered more than one car in Box Stock as many folks entered two or more cars. Voltron made it to the semi-final rounds three times, but coursed out in each of them. The second semi-final spelled doom for Voltron as its front roller mount was visibly cracked. The roller tore right off of it, so that is the end of Voltron. Thankfully, I was able to substitute Venom FM-A in the final chance for lane 5, but, sadly, it coursed out, too, even though it was noticeably faster than other cars. I entered two cars in Tuned Class - Vulture and Pango - but they coursed out, too, in the quarter-finals or semi-finals. Strangely, my cars were seldom the first car off the line, but they all managed to climb their way to first over the course of the race. The final race in Open Class had me racing against four of a competitor's cars. His cars had easily bested a field of 13 cars, including mine, in a few semi-finals races. I found myself in a David and Goliath situation with my junky, jalopy car versus some highly-tuned, award-winning cars. However, there is one thing that my cars have that nobody else yet has: my unique innovations. I don't see many racers truly crafting their own unique gimmicks. Many just copy a successful design and compete with it. The most rewarding thing about any hobby is the amount of creativity you can bring to it. What knowledge can you share with others in your hobby to make your hobby better for everyone? That is the spirit of inclusivity. Using my own ingenuity, I've crafted a number of successful gimmicks for Mini 4WD cars, some of which were copied and used by other racers. One of these inventions is my Flexi-Plate. I think it's awesome, but my critics like to tell me about the flaws of its design and yet, when it comes time to race, my Flexi-Plate cars still compete very well. I'm not sure that the situations that give my car "negative camber" ever really come about in the course of racing, especially with all the other parts of my car compensating for it. Consider its 19mm rollers in the front and rear, its shaved tires that are half low-frix/half reston up front and half super-hard/half reston in the rear mounted on carbon wheels, its minimalist design allowing it to weigh just 112 grams, a low-voltage set of batteries under 1.44V each, and one of the finest MS suspension chasses on the market. My car was in the mix in the final race and steadily moved towards the front. One by one, each of my competitor's cars slowed down or even stopped at various points of the track while my car smoothly progressed. Only at one point did it ride on the rails of a corner track, but it rode back in. In the final seconds of the race, my heavier car edged out the presumed leader by inches, laying the foundation for a dramatic tale that will be talked about for years to come. My prizes included a Tamiya Phillipines Trairong FM-A kit, an acrylic setting board, and a keychain. One racer noted that this was perhaps Hobbytown's largest track to date. This is likely why my car prevailed. In a field full of cars with rechargeable batteries, it's my alkaline car that supplied consistent voltage to its motor to finish the race.

I spoke to my colleague, Latif, whom I consider to be the undisputed King of Mach Frames, and we've both observed that the newer Mach Frame chasses produced in recent years don't appear to be as stable as the ones produced prior to 2019. I've been experimenting with configuring the various parts of the Mach Frame in unorthodox ways, especially the brake and rear plate. The fruits of my labor will appear in the next Liberty Cup.

The Liberty Cup, Round 4 - December 18, 2022 - Two different tsunamis and a tabletop twister are the highlights of this month's Liberty Cup track. I had the option of creating a second twister in place of the second tsunami, but I wanted this to be a speed track so I kept the track with more straights than turns. That right turn out of the lane changer and into the tsunami was a challenge for many cars. The track is even good for Open Class cars! I won Box Stock Gold with Cooper, a Kopen Future Included kit that looks like a MINI convertible. It's 4:1 gear ratio allowed it to take corners like a champ and it was just fast enough on straightaways to compete against the 3.5:1 speed demons. Bob and William won Silver and Bronze, respectively. My Tuned Class cars, Vulture (now renamed to Eagle) and Pango, were beaten by superior cars this month. To be completely fair, I promised everyone that racemasters will be allowed no more than one hour of playtesting prior to any event. Fellow racers Ken, Bob, and Andre won Gold, Silver, and Bronze, respectively, this month in Tuned Class. We had 6 cars in Box Stock and 12 in Tuned Class with 6 racers in attendance. Prizes included a Panda Racer S2 pre-built car and NEO-VQS Polycarbonate Special VS kit, many Mini 4WD parts, collectibles, and comic books. It was a good day as everyone did very well.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - January 14, 2023 - I won Gold in the Box Stock and Open Class categories. My new Mach Frame, Optimus, won handily against my competition in Box Stock. I won the races for lane 1, the pole position, and had a lot of time afterwards to relax and walk around the store as the other racers duked it out for the other lanes in the final. In the finals race, the other racers were far behind me after the first couple of turns, even though my car had a late start! My battery charge was no more than 1.3V each alkaline. I didn’t run my car with any brakes. I’m surprised Latif and his family weren’t there, because I felt that only he could’ve beaten me with his Mach Frame. Racemaster Eric took a closer look at Optimus to see if there was any funny business with my car, but there wasn't. It was just faster than everyone else's cars.

Tuned Class was a situation that was not meant to be. I handily won with my newest Tuned Class car, Voltron MAX, against all the other racers for lane 1. My second car, Eagle, collided with a car that flipped over in another lane and ran backwards towards me. After that hit, Eagle didn’t fare as well. It was the second time Eagle suffered a bone-shattering hit, so I may have to change the motor yet again. Eagle didn’t make the finals. In the finals, Voltron MAX coursed out at an unlikely moment, probably due to track vibrations caused by the other cars around me. That’s the risk of running a lighter car in Tuned Class. You’re usually running up against tanks.

In the finals of Open Class, my lone car, Firefly, went up against four cars from the same racer as last month. I’m not sure what compelled me to accidentally drop my second Open Class car, Scooby Doo, in reverse, forcing it to be disqualified in the semi-finals for lane 5, but that one turning point led to the same David and Goliath situation that I experienced last month, a dramatic ending for the second month in a row. At this point, you might think that only one other racer and I were racing in Open Class, but that wasn't true. There were several racers in Open Class and we raced so many cars in that and the other classes that the entire racing event didn’t end until almost 8pm, almost three hours past the typical ending time.

What was amazing about my victories today was I won them with an injured thumb. I didn’t have the full mobility of my thumb as I slashed it badly earlier in the day from a sharp edge of the polycarbonate body shell on Scooby Doo. That caused a gash across my thumb so bad there was blood running down my arm. My prizes included a Trairong FM-A kit, A Big Bang Ghost Premium, a roll of 20mm Tamiya tape, a spare parts box, and two Hobbytown ribbons for first place in Box Stock and Open Class. Last month's track was long, but today's track was even longer with its myriad of twists and turns. The biggest obstacle for most cars was the double hump. Most cars just coursed out from that. You needed a front-heavy car to be able to navigate it safely. I did my best example of impromptu, on-the-fly adjustment today by adding weight to the front of Firefly so it could negotiate the double hump better.

The Liberty Cup, Round 5 - January 15, 2023 - A hard right goes into a lane changer followed by a crazy almost-360 degree twist to a tabletop with washboard hazards, a hairpin turn, a 360 degree twist down and up a sharp incline (some cars will go BANG!!! after the dip) and back down to hairpin turns finally concluding with a mini tsunami that'll likely cause havoc on long jumpers. This is the longest Liberty Cup track to date at 66 meters. We had some really exciting races today. Newcomer April won Box Stock Gold with her superfast Mach Frame. I won Box Stock Silver and Bronze with my Dual Ridge Jr (Lily) and Mach Frame (Purple Rain). That was surprising considering Purple Rain is much faster than Lily, but Purple Rain coursed out in the finals and took third. Ken won Tuned Class Gold and Bob won both Tuned Class Silver and Bronze. My tuned class cars were wicked fast, as they took the top two spots in Time Attack, but speed doesn't always translate to wins. Sometimes speed kills around turns or off jumps. I tabulated all the scores and we had a medal ceremony afterwards to celebrate the winners of all 5 rounds. I won the Gold medal, Bob won Silver, and Ken won Bronze. It was a close race for third as fourth place was only five points behind. Prizes included a DCR-02 MA kit, a Roborace MA kit, Mini 4WD parts, collectibles, and comic books. A couple of generous benefactors donated prizes for this and future Liberty Cup races. Everyone had fun in their first Liberty Cup tournament. The fun continues with the Liberty Cup 2 races beginning in February.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - February 11, 2023 - I won Silver in the Open Class category. Out of 15 entries, I had two cars in the finals in lanes three and five. No easy feat considering we four more experienced racers showed up this month, including one who raced regularly at DxN and another who returned after a hiatus. Scooby Doo won Silver and Voltron MAX, a BMAX car, finished fourth. Putting this into perspective, a BMAX car beat 10 other superior Open Class cars to make it the finals! It was similar to the time a 500hp Mini Cooper beat a 666hp McLaren. I didn't have any luck in Box Stock; Optimus and Lily coursed out at inopportune times. It was as if none of my Box Stock cars could successfully negotiate today's track at all. I entered three cars in Tuned Class, two of mine - Eagle and Pango - and one of my son's, but only Eagle made it to the finals, but then coursed out in the race, a shame because it had what it takes to win. I modified Eagle on-the-fly after each race until I got to a point where it could negotiate the track very well. My son's car sustained heavy damage and, as a result, his car wasn't able to stay on the track. There were 21 cars in Tuned Class, so just getting into the finals was a challenge. I really wanted Kogo to win, because Kogo has never won anything before. In Open Class, the track was altered to conform to a certain style of car. Thankfully, Scooby Doo was up to the task. It's not the fastest car, but it's stable and an all-around speed and technical combo car. The races ended at 8:30pm today due to a late start. Today was a special event for newbie racers; over 30 children participated in this morning's Kids Races category so that took close to three hours to complete. My prizes were a Mini 4WD Motor Case and a Block Weight Mass Damper Set. I liked my prizes more than the first place winner's prize of a Jadow-A kit, but the prizes are just tokens at this point. If the track layout remained the same as Box Stock and Tuned Class, I am confident I would've won Gold.

Liberty Cup 2, Round 1 - February 19, 2023 - A hard right goes into a lane changer followed by a crazy almost-360 degree twist to a tabletop that enters an inclined rainbow lane changer with the other two lanes sporting washboard hazards followed by a hairpin turn ending with a mini tsunami that winds 270 degrees back to the start. This Liberty Cup track is longer than the previous one! We had some challenging competition and super-close races today! 17 cars in each category. In the Box Stock, Rob won Gold, Ken won Silver, and my son Matthew won Bronze. In Tuned Class, my son Matthew won Gold, André won Silver, and Rob won Bronze. Prizes included a Proto Saber Premium AR kit, an Avante Nero MS kit, a TriAirong FM-A kit, Mini 4WD parts, a Mini 4WD style guide, collectibles, and comic books. We introduced a new "free wager" game where everyone could bet on who would win Tuned Class finals. The winners of the bets received points. We also had Time Attack where Rob handily won the competition for fastest car. Both of my sons participated in the races, so it was good to see them experience the races. My son Brandon raced a really fast car that he chose, the Toyota TS050 Hybrid. It probably would've won Box Stock had it not coursed out in the final qualifying race. I raced Purple Rain, Black Bear, Voltron MAX, and Ganesha.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - March 11, 2023 - I won Silver in the Tuned Class category. The track was a deadly, winding maze of courseouts for everyone this month. There were ample opportunities for cars to fling themselves off the track due to the sharp turns and bumpy hills. There was some stellar competition this month with 24 cars in Tuned Class, including some from new experienced racers I had never seen before. I felt I should've won something in Box Stock and Open Class, but, alas, it wasn't meant to be this month. One of my newest Box Stock cars, Dove, collided head-on with another racer's car going backwards, causing permanent damage. Dove's rollers were askew after that. The jarring nature of the track caused permanent damage to my Flexi-Plate on Scooby Doo. Scooby Doo is one of my best handling cars, but I couldn't race it because of the damage. Still, Silver in Tuned Class is a worthy victory considering that I feel that Tuned Class is the most difficult category for me. I raced Eagle, Voltron MAX, and Pango in Tuned Class this month. I should've just entered Eagle, but I really wanted to see what Voltron MAX and Pango could do. In my heart, I will always want animal racers to win, but I know the reality is they probably won't very often, not with all the Tuned Class Mach Frames out there. Unfortunately, my head wasn't where it should be this month as I had the regional yogasana championship looming over me. Perhaps next month I'll return back to my quiet yet merciless Mini 4WD form. The prizes weren't that great this month and there were no ribbons. Usually, everyone on the podium gets multiple prizes. This time, Gold received a kit, Silver received a high-end part, and Bronze received a low-end part. Thankfully, we got to choose our kit or part. I chose a set of 12-13mm double aluminum rollers, always a useful item.

Liberty Cup 2, Round 2 - March 19, 2023 - A hairpin turn ends with squiggle and a hard sharp left followed by another hard sharp left, a squiggle, two more hard sharp lefts, an incline across a tabletop, a hard sharp left, another hard sharp left, a lane changer, a hard sharp left, another hard sharp left, across a straightaway to a tsunami with a 30 degree angled decline around a hairpin turn back to the start. Many cars were flying off the lane changer or the decline. We had some exceptional competition and hard-fought victories today. There were 18 cars in Box Stock, 19 cars in Tuned Class, and 14 racers total. In the Box Stock category, Kip won Gold, Andre won Silver, and William won Bronze. In Tuned Class category, Andre won Gold, my son Matthew won Silver, and Neal won Bronze. Prizes included a Mach Frame FM-A kit, Blast Arrow MA kit, Big Bang Ghost S2 kit, Mini 4WD parts, a Mini 4WD style guide, Deadpool, Sharknado, Megaman, and Poison Ivy collectibles, Heroclix action figures, and comic books. Oddly enough, my car, Voltron MAX, had the top 2 scores in Time Attack, but could not win a podium spot. My scores were mediocre in the first round, but I climbed back into the top 3 with this month's scores using Scorpion, Mako, Voltron MAX, and Ganesha. My son, Matthew, has been winning with my car, Eagle, even though it's not the fastest car in my fleet.

Quaker Cup Race 1 - March 26, 2023 - I won Gold in the Tuned Class category. My car, Eagle, wasn't the fastest car going into the finals, but it was rock solid and stable due to its heavy weight and smooth bearing rollers. My prize was a Mach Frame FM-A kit. Ironically, one of the racemasters won my racing event last week and I won his this week. I also entered Ganesha, which was just as fast as Eagle, but was designed for a completely different course layout. I had to race both of my cars in one of the heats, otherwise both would've ended up in the finals. Unfortunately, I didn't fare as well in Box Stock as Optimus coursed out at the most inopportune moments.

Not-HobbyTown Mini 4WD Races - April 8, 2023 - I drove all the way to Hobbytown to discover that the race had been postponed until next weekend. Instead of feeling the day was wasted, I stopped by a Mercedes dealership along the way to test drive my dream car, the AMG CLA35. Can a car look better in real life than in pictures? This one did! I cried while driving it because I was so happy. It's a phenomenal car. When I got home, I conducted my own racing event that I called "Not-Hobbytown" with three classes: Box Stock, Tuned Class, and Open Class. Had we raced today at Hobbytown, I would've put a serious dent at the podium in all three categories. At Not-Hobbytown, I introduced a possible preview of the next Liberty Cup track. Purple Rain, Scorpion, and Spider-Man made it to the finals in Box Stock with surprise winner Purple Rain prevailing. BlueJay, Pango, and HyperSupreme made it to the finals in Tuned Class with BlueJay prevailing. Firefly and Firefly II made it to the finals in Open Class with Firefly II prevailing. There were many excellent races all around.

Liberty Cup 2, Round 3 - April 16, 2023 - A hairpin turn with squiggles goes up an incline onto the length of my couch to a lane changer and back down to a devious tabletop mini-oval with a wave and decline. Another hairpin turn introduces a second lane changer to another giant squiggle that goes back to the start. Many cars with flying off the track along the path into and out of the second lane changer as well as the descent into the mini-oval. This is our longest track to date as I find ways to innovate with the limited indoor space that I have. Next month, we will hopefully resume our rooftop racing! We had some exceptional competition today. There were 14 cars in Box Stock, 16 cars in Tuned Class, and 8 racers total. In the Box Stock category, Neal won Gold, Matthew won Silver, and April won Bronze. In Tuned Class category, Neal won Gold and my son Matthew won Silver and Bronze. Prizes included a Liberty Emperor VS kit, Lord Spirit VZ kit, Mini 4WD parts, Hulk, and Miku collectibles, Heroclix action figures, and comic books. My scores were mediocre today with Spider-Man and Black Bear in Box Stock and Kogo and Ganesha in Tuned Class, but my son, Matthew, secured his spots on the podium with Optimus and two of his own cars, the brand new BlueJay, based on my Eagle design, and the classic HyperSupreme that won last year's very first Liberty Cup Tuned Class race. Nobody could catch Neal in Tuned Class, though, as his car was in a class of its own. Neal's double Gold wins were well-deserved.

Quaker Cup Race 2 - April 23, 2023 - I won Silver in both Box Stock and Tuned Class categories. In Box Stock, I raced Koreana, my new Fighting Korea Mach Frame and Spider-Man. Spider-Man entered the finals as Koreana was just too fast and coursed out. Unfortunately, it wasn't the fastest Mach Frame of all as Rob's excellent Fighting Korea Mach Frame easily secured a first place victory with Spider-Man and Logan's Mach Frame running pretty much side by side for second and third. In Tuned Class, I wanted to race different cars than last time, so I raced my new version of Pango, redone on a VZ chassis, and Voltron MAX. Unfortunately, the rules were changed during the race where only one car could move on to the finals. Had I known that prior to the race, I would've just entered one car in each category. No matter. I chose Pango over the much faster Voltron MAX because I wanted an animal racer to win. Pango made its debut at this race and was never tested on a track, so it did pretty well, all things considered. The biggest issue was the nose wasn't heavy enough, so jumps off of slopes would leave Pango in an awkward position as the nose tipped up too high. As soon as Pango landed, there was a ba-dump! sound as it tried to regain its composure. As this is a game of split seconds, Pango's design flaw enabled Ryder's car to zip past me and secure Gold.

HobbyTown Tom's River Mini 4WD Races - May 13, 2023 - I won Silver in the Tuned Class category with Pango, my panda bear racer. The track was a slow grinder where every car that had any respectable speed was coursing out. I arrived late and didn't participate in Box Stock. My other Tuned Class car was my new Iron Man, an innovative design I've been working on. It incorporates a new rear AT system that I learned from a pro racer. The motor in that car is not yet fully realized, so we haven't seen its full potential yet. In Open Class, the only car that I felt was usable on this track was Wolfie, my lupine animal racer. Armed with a 4:1 gear ratio and Power Dash motor, this car screamed around the track with a fresh set of batteries. Unfortunately, the jarring nature of the track caused permanent damage to my front FRP plate on Firefly during practice. My sons each raced a Mach Frame in Tuned Class. They won some heats, but coursed out at times. It wasn't a good day for Mach Frames. The prizes were awesome this month with a car kit and parts for each of the podium winners. I won the Lord Knight, an oil pen, and 19mm plastic rollers.

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - May 14, 2023 - My two sons accompanied me during the first AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD race of the season. A number of us volunteered to help out with the races, which meant a lot less time for my sons and I to tune our cars in between heats. Sadly, our Box Stock and Tuned Class cars were a little too fast and ended up coursing out at the final sharp right turn after the lane changer, so no podium finishes for us. In practice, our cars were among the fastest in the field.

AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD Races - June 4, 2023 - In AAA Hobbies second Mini 4WD race of the season, I prevailed and won Gold and my son Matthew won Bronze in Box Stock with our Mach Frames. It was my first victory for Koreana, my Korean Mach Frame, so I was quite happy about that. We didn't fare as well in Tuned Class. My car was not as fast as some of the speed demons in the race and my son's car kept coursing out. I tried my new open class car, Venom, on the track in practice and it stayed on the track pretty well. A fellow Mcbyte racer and I discussed some of my unorthodox designs, including Venom that didn't even need a body damper. We agreed that the only way to progress in this hobby is to keep experimenting with new approaches to car design, not rehash the same old ideas again.

Mini 4WD Engine Horsepower

You can measure net horsepower of your Mini 4WD motors by attaching it to a GE-Force Mini Break-In system set at 3.0V using AC adapter power and measuring your motor's RPM using the Giri app on your iPhone or Android. Some people may say that 3.0V is too much voltage, so any such results are artificially inflated, but if you test all of your motors the same way, you will be able to compare any motor to any other motor in this set. Giri outputs your motor's speed in RPM.

You can measure power at the wheels by placing your car's front tires on the bottom rollers of a Tamiya Mini 4WD Speed Checker. Some people may say that any such results using this method are artificially inflated, but if you test all of your cars the same way, you will be able to compare any car's speed to any other car's speed in this set. The Speed Checker outputs your car's speed in km/hr.

Your motor's RPM and car's km/hr speed is roughly 1,000 to 1, so a 27,000RPM motor should give you roughly 27km/hr in your car as measured on the Speed Checker. There should be very little parasitic drag from the motor to the wheels if your car parts are new(er) and you build your car properly. The actual speed of your car will depend on not just the motor and the wheels, but tire compound, rollers, dampers, weight, stability, drag, humidity, and track conditions. The latter is perhaps the most unpredictable element of all.

Reviving a Dead Motor

Hard impacts in rapid succession may affect the functionality of the motor inside a Mini 4WD car. The motor may slow down or come to a complete stop. Remove the motor from the car.

Attach the motor to a G-Force Break-In system at 1.5V via AC adapter. Do you see smoke coming out of the motor? Stop the process immediately. Detach the motor from the G-Force. Place the motor in the freezer for one hour. Remove the motor from the freezer and let it warm to room temperature.

Spray electronics cleaner into top and bottom openings of the motor (endbell and pinion side). Wrap motor in paper towel and shake to remove debris.

Water Bath

Attach the motor to a 3V battery pack and submerge the motor in a double shot glass full of water. Power on the battery pack and let it run for 1 minute, stop and rest for 1 minute, replace the water, power on the battery pack again for 1 minute, stop and rest for 1 minute, replace the water, add Ganapati liquid bearing oil to the openings of the motor, power on the battery pack again for 1 minute, stop and rest for 1 minute, replace the water, add Ganapati liquid bearing oil to the openings of the motor, power on the battery pack again for 2 minutes. Remove the motor from the water. Shake and tap the motor on a paper towel to dislodge liquid debris inside. It is normal for the water to get cloudy when the motor is submerged and running in the water.


Attach the motor to G-Force at 1.5V via AC adapter. If there's still smoke, your motor is probably toast. If not, stop the process and set G-Force to 3V via AC adapter.

Let G-Force run for 1 minute forward. Add drops of oil to the slots on the colored end bell. Blow at the endbell and use a little compressed air in the slot holes. Let G-Force run for 1 minute reverse. Repeat two more times. Check Giri for currrent speed versus known speed of this motor. Remove the leads and turn motor over 180 degrees, tap it against a paper towel to remove liquid debris. Wipe excess oil off motor. Rest for one hour.

Test Motor

Insert the motor into a junk chassis. Let it run for 2 minutes on a track and 2 minutes holding it in your hand on junk batteries (1.3 to 1.4V each). Check the speed. Rest for one hour. Repeat two more times.

Insert the motor into a car. Check Tamiya Mini 4WD Speed Checker. Let it run on a track.

The Sound

The sound of an optimized motor will be a high-pitched metallic ringing sound. It's a musical pitch rather than a generic motor sound, music to your ears. You'll know it when you hear it. For HyperDash motors, do not run a motor for more than 1 minute on a G-Force Break-In system at 3V via AC adapter. You will prematurely burn out the motor. Races are typically less than 1 minute duration.

Sometimes there is no way to revive a dead or burnt out motor. At best, a burnt out motor will end up being a box stock motor. At worst, it goes to motor heaven. At that point, open it up and remove the white motor spacer inside. Use the spacer for your open class cars. However, bear in mind that it takes a lot to kill one of these little motors. Try to revive it again or use it as a slow motor in a test car.

Mini 4WD Science

Weight: An average sportscar weighs around 3,000 pounds. Shrink that down to 1/32 to equal 93.75g, which is considered a very light Mini 4WD car. Most box stock cars are around this weight. I always try to target my Mini 4WD cars as close to that ideal weight as possible, but there are many instances where greater weight is needed to stay on a complex track with lots of hills, inclines, drops, curves, turns, and lane changers. Every gram is equal to about 32 pounds. A car battery typically weighs around 40 pounds, so think of every gram you can remove from your Mini 4WD vehicle as shaving off the weight of a car battery. A lighter car is a faster car, but you will need to take into account the nuances of the track you are racing on to see if you can keep it that light or make it heavier to remain on the track.

Height: The lower the height of the car, the more it will hug the ground. Taller cars have a tendency to roll over easily. A car can also be too low and flip over onto its back in tight turns.

Length: The longer the car, in relation to its width, the longer the car can glide after jumping off a hill.

Wheels: Most wheels are made of cheap PP plastic. ABS is stronger. Carbon reinforced wheels are the strongest and most recommended. If the wheels haven't been used a lot, 60mm shafts are fine. If the wheels have been used a lot, pierce the wheels and use 72mm carbon reinforced shafts. You can save more than a gram of weight by using a hollow propeller shaft and hollow shafts for your wheels, but they are not as sturdy as the carbon reinforced shafts.

Tires: The harder the tire, the higher the car will bounce up after it lands from a jump. Sponge tires absorb impact best, but will not allow your car to reach its potential top speed like hard tires. Soft, grippy tires are sometimes good on tracks that have many consecutive hairpin turns, but they are also notorious for sliding off wheels easily, so secure them with Tamiya tape between the tire and the wheel. Select tires based on the track you are racing on.

Motors: Tune and oil your motors for optimal results. A day before every race, run and test every motor you will use to ensure expected performance. Label each motor with its km/hr number.

Rollers: Small rollers up front with wide rear rollers for a combination of speed and grip around corners. Wide front and rear for technical tracks. Rubber O-ring rollers to slow a car down around corners. Plastic O-ring rollers for a good combination of grip and speed. Stabilizers above rollers to decrease the chance of course outs. Lubricate the ball bearings of all rollers for maximum speed. You don't always need maximum speed, so lubricate less when you don't need it.

Weights: Front, rear, and side weights comprise the mass damper trilogy. Some tuned class cars don't need side weights depending on the track. More weight equals slower car. Less weight equals greater chance of course outs on a sharp turn or jump. More front weight to dip the nose down and negotiate jumps better. More rear weight to reduce the jump distance. Distribute weight so car lands flat or bounces minimally. In box stock, something so minimal as a screw can be a weight, too.

Bodies: If you customized your car to run well without a body, then use a polycarbonate body to minimize the weight, otherwise your design must consider the weight of the body shell. The additional weight from all the interconnecting parts in or around the body must also be considered. There are times when you will use or omit a tail fin, cowl, or one or more pieces of a multi-piece body depending on the track.

Track Vibration: Running your car solo on a track only tells you half the story. Running your car alongside others forces you to consider track vibration. Don't expect a track to be perfectly taped each time. If a car survives an imperfect track, it is a lot more versatile than a car that can only run well on a perfectly taped track.

Balance: Drop test your cars using a variety of methods: the front and rear drop test, the height drop test, and the angled drop test. Some tracks have more left turns than right turns so you can adjust your rollers and weights accordingly.

Brake: Using a lighter or mini flame torch, lightly melt the long edge of the brake that comes into contact with the track first. Before it cools, press the brake against an aluminum setting board to evenly flatten the edge of the brake.

Oil and Grease: Do not use the grease in the little blue toothpaste tube that comes with the kit. That is inferior to the F grease you can buy separately (picture on the right). Do not use either kind of grease on your wheel shafts. Use an oil pen or Ganapati oil instead.

Attachments: Before you drive a screw in place, apply oil to the screw thread to allow a smoother transition. Use a slow but steady three forward turn, one backward turn drive to ensure no premature stripping of the screw thread. Use superglue to enforce a joint if the thread is weak or broken.

Genericism: I have seen racers copy their favorite designs from others and the end result is these racers end up with a generic car. I would rather make my own mistakes and learn from them than copy someone else's designs.

Replacing Parts: When racing Box Stock, if you feel any of your parts are defective out of a brand new kit, you may substitute the exact same part from another kit you own. You are not allowed to upgrade any part or use parts that are a different color.

Reproducible Elements: Just like any science experiment, the goal is to create reproducible results. There will always be random elements that will affect the outcome of a race, but there are things you can do to mitigate uncertainty. Observe and record the outcome of any changes you make to your cars. Study slow-motion videos of your cars as they traverse various obstacles. Learn what each specific part does and how it affects your car's performance.

On-the-Fly Tuning: Learning to tune your car after every heat is an art form and a mystery to many people, but once you develop these skills, you will be a very formidable racer. I have seen cars that course out in every heat until the last race when it counts. In that last race, the skilled tuner can tweak his or her car to give it a podium finish.

Note: These are only guidelines. Don't let these be rules that prevent you from having fun creating your own unique designs!

Geekgirl Clare's Mini 4WD Inventions

DragonTail - June 2021 - a variable brake that handles different inclines better than a rectangular linear brake
Flexi-Plate - June 2022 - an AT pivot bumper that pivots vertically rather than horizontally with independent left/right pivots
Roller-Guards - July 2022 - underguard protection for cars that use standard rollers as bottom rollers
POM Sandwich - January 2023 - POM bearing sandwiched in between two washers, used as high-speed rollers
Chandelier Pivot - June 2023 - A pivot suspended on a plate that does not require a mushroom cap and guillotine plate

I also have numerous design innovations with regard to underguards and body dampers and I coined the term "low-frix" for low-friction tires.


The Venom-Tuned series are Mini 4WD box stock cars that have undergone all the latest break-in processes that I invented or learned. Like the AMG, M, or John Cooper Works series of Mercedes, BMW, and MINI cars, Venom-Tuned cars bring the excitement of street-legal racing to Mini 4WD box stock cars. Each car starts with a high-performance Venom-tuned engine that's over 33% faster than straight-out-of-the-box (SOOTB) box stock motors*. Stage 1 Venom Tuning begins with a 24k water-tuned engine with 1.99 spec wheel shafts, Ganapati-lubricated roller mounts and joints, optimally lubricated gears and pinions, optimally adjusted rollers, propeller shaft, tires, and wheels, and even optimal sticker placement. The goal is to achieve a fast, balanced car before I badge the Venom label on it. Stage 2 Venom Tuning contains all of Stage 1 plus an upgraded 26k Venom-tuned motor (44% faster than SOOTB motors). The Venom-tuned motor is an unmodified SOOTB motor that is broken in with various techniques that requires about 3 hours to complete. Stage 3 Venom Tuning contains all of Stage 1 plus a >=28k Venom-tuned motor (55% faster than SOOTB motors) cherrypicked from the very best Stage 2 motors. Microadjustments are made to joint and roller lubrication to accommodate the higher powered Stage 2 and 3 motors.

Phoenix is the first example of a Venom-tuned car prior to the incorporation of the Venom-tuned label. It was created as a prototype that uses all the techniques of Venom-tuning.

* SOOTB motors typically generate 18k RPM via GForce Motor Break-In @ 3V

Current Max Speeds (as of January 2023)

Box Stock
Box Stock 29k
Box Stock Pro 25k

Tuned Class
Atomic Tuned 33k
Rev Tuned 31k
Torque Tuned 33k

Atomic Tuned Pro 28k
Rev Tuned Pro 26k
Torque Tuned Pro 28k

Open Class
Light Dash 30k
Hyper Dash 43k
Sprint Dash 45k
Power Dash 46k

Light Dash Pro TBD
Hyper Dash Pro TBD
Mach Dash Pro 42k

Venom Tuning Testimonials

"I followed your break-in process and it works. Currently, I have one of the fastest box stocks here in our country" -I.Y.
"This is really a beast, almost like a Hyper Dash," -A.E.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is harder: Box Stock, Tuned Class, or Open Class races?
Each class of race offers different challenges. Box Stock and Tuned Class force you to work within a system. Open Class allows you to unleash your creativity so that you can invent new parts and introduce new concepts. Your ability to fare well in a particular class depends a lot on your creativity, personality, experience, and budget. The beauty of Mini 4WD racing is anyone can race and anyone can win: young or old, male or female, novice or pro. Never underestimate anyone and always race humble.

Which is harder: 3-lane or 5-lane races?
It really depends on the track design. The Japan Cup focuses on 5-lane races, but most of the serious racers who come out of the Phillipines and Japan race on 3-lane tracks. Both offer different challenges, but the 3-lane tracks often have tighter turns and flex more easily due to their narrower width. The lane changer on 3-lane tracks is much more difficult to traverse than the rainbow lane changer on 5 lane tracks. 5-lane tracks may have angled or even near-vertical inclines that may pose challenges to some cars. The most challenging tracks combine both 3-lane and 5-lane racing.

What if the track I'm racing on isn't perfect?
Nothing in Mini 4WD racing is ever perfect. Build raceworthy cars that can handle all kinds of conditions, not just perfect conditions. I seldom complain about track conditions. If a racemaster's track is a certain way, it's probably meant to be that way for a reason and if everyone else is racing on that track without issues, then complaining about it and getting it "fixed" will not allow you to gain the valuable experience you could have gained with a less than perfect track. A track changes in subtle ways after every race. Tracks flex as cars move along them and vibrations can shake track parts and dislodge them. It's all part of the game and fun of Mini 4WD racing. Once you can accept this, then building a car that can handle any situation will be so much easier and more rewarding.

How do you keep a car's weight down?
Pare down a car to its barest essentials. Apply spray paint instead of stickers. Find and use the lightest components that support your design. Design your car around what batteries you will use. If you use NiMH batteries, your car may need to be heavier or you may need to cut the chassis to drop the batteries lower. A popular YouTuber described his Open Class cars as being 120 grams. I had wondered why my cars were always 150+ grams. For months, I studied and devised ways to cut down the weight of all my Open Class cars using materials like car catcher plastic. I later learned that his cars did not include battery weight. When I weighed my cars without batteries, they weighed around 105 to 112 grams, well under his Open Class cars. The moral of the story is if I didn't work on reducing my cars' weight because of my misconception, I would've remained complacent and just copy other people's designs and be like everyone else.

Is adding weight to your Box Stock car against the rules?
It depends on how you interpret the rules. My video, Mach Frame Steroids, includes a clever way of adding weight to a Mach Frame or any car you feel needs more weight to clear jumps or the lane changer. We are allowed to reduce the weight by not using all the parts in the kit. We are allowed to add weight as there are rules about applying decals and painting, both of which add weight. The rule "Modifications, cutting or drilling of the body is not allowed" can be read to mean that all three items are things that are not allowed. Or, an equally valid interpretation could be "Modifications, such as cutting or drilling of the body is not allowed," with the comma signifying the explanations of which modifications are not allowed. It can be argued that cutting the plastic tree parts is cutting the "body" since these parts become part of the body, but plastic can be bent back and forth and snapped off so that no cutting is needed. Lastly, the decal sheet weighs 2.25 grams. A clever person can attach the decals and the backing paper to his or her car to make it weigh 2.25 grams more. There is nothing in the rules to prohibit this. Remember that we are supposed to be allowed to use whatever resources are available in the kit itself (the rules say we "must only use parts included in the kits"). If gluing parts onto the body is not allowed, then painting the body and gluing, to reinforce joints, should not be allowed, either. Some may feel that adding weight alters the performance of the car, however, what most people do to get their Box Stock cars ready alters the performance of their car significantly. Breaking in motors, lubricating rollers and shaft bearings with "secret" high-grade lubricants and oils, applying decals and paint, adding sponges behind battery contacts, and many other techniques can alter the performance of a car. There is also a rule stating that if a kid can't do your modification, then your modification is not allowed. Any kid with half a brain can come up with my Mach Frame Steroids idea. There is also another restrictive rule that people point to: "Machines must be assembled as per the kits instructions, and must only use parts included in the kits." Read textually (remember that I am studying Constitutional Law), this means that any fancy or creative paint schemes are not allowed because your car won't resemble the one in the instructions. If racemasters choose to be restrictive with one thing, they should be restrictive with everything to ensure fairness and not give preference to their favorite racers to win.

Why should you concern yourself with top speed?
Some racers believe that top speed doesn't matter and the focus should be on stability. That's true for tuned and open class cars. For box stock, you have to concern yourself with top speed. Build the fastest car you can. Make sure all of the parts are lubricated and running smoothly. If it flies off the track, find ways to pare down the speed. You can weigh it down. You can remove lubrication. You can add dust to the tires. It's easier to achieve a successful box stock car this way than the other way around, which is building for stability and then trying to find speed. Some cars are simply not that fast so nothing you do will make them any faster. A seemingly slow tuned or open class car will find speed with the right rollers and weight distribution. There is also the oftentimes ignored consideration of how fast a car recovers its speed after landing from a jump or even a forcible bump. The more you fine-tune a car's transmission, the faster it will recover after such effects.

Racer (Clare) Kit Chassis Class Weight (gms) Box (Km/h) Tuned (Km/h) Open (Km/h) Speed Notes
Awards Bronze Medal, AAA Hobbies Mini 4WD 2022 Season (May to September 2022)
Gold Medal, The Liberty Cup (September 2022 to January 2023)
Blue Aero
3.5:1 gear, Avante poly body, rear mass damper
Aero Avante AR tuned 97 17BX

30AT Rayovac 8/24/22

3.5:1 gear, slick tores

Aero Avante AR box 85 26BX
26BX 3/7/23
24k water-tuned motor from Phoenix
1.40 Neo beats Mach Frame
3.5:1 gear, slick tires
Flame Astute Red Metallic AR box 86 28BX
27BX 7/25/22
28BX 9/5/22
26BX 1.57V 11/9/22
24k water-tuned motor
AAA Box Stock Bronze (8/22)
HT Box Stock Gold (8/22)
AAA Box Stock Gold (9/22)
downgraded motor
3.5:1 gear
Rowdy Bull FM-A box 91 23BX       Voltron motor
LC Box Stock Gold (2/23)
3.5:1 gear, 4g payload
Mach Frame FM-A box 88 25BX       24k BX retuned from 20k, was old Optimus
3.5:1 gear, 24mm tires
Mach Frame FM-A BMAX 140   30AT 29HDw

32AT 12/25/22
30AT 4/2/23

28AT @ 1.53V Rayo 6/5/23

32k AT, 1.56V
34k HDw, 1.57V
41k HDw, 1.6V (too fast)
head-on collision 1/23 at Hobbytown
LC Tuned Class Gold (2/23)
HT Tuned Class Silver (3/23)
LC Tuned Class Silver (3/23)
QC Tuned Class Gold (3/23)

3.5:1 gear, 620 bearing
Razorback FM-A BMAX 135   28AT     32k AT
Iron Man
3.5:1 gear

Mach Frame Black Special FM-A box 133 26BX 29AT   29AT RayF 5/3/23 28k AT
LC Box Stock Gold (11/22)
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame
Fighting Korea
FM-A box 86 26BX     26BX 4/19/23 26k motor, 1.62V
AAA Box Stock Gold (6/23)
3.5:1 gear, 19mm front/rear, trimmed propeller pinions, skid bar front, 2.5g x 2 side mass dampers, 7.5g x 2 rear mass dampers, cab damper with 6.6g x 2 block weights
K4 Gambol FM-A open 142
  34HD   Rayo, 14g more if car includes Medusa
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame FM-A box 84 26BX  
26BX 12/22/22
25k motor
HT Box Stock Gold (1/23)
head-on collision 3/23 at Hobbytown
LC Box Stock Silver (4/23)
Purple Rain
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame FM-A box 84 27BX     27BX Rayo 5/4/23 23k motor (re-tuned)
LC Box Stock Bronze (1/23)
3.5:1 gear
Brocken Gigant Premium FM-A box 85 24BX     24BX Rayo 4/21/23 24k water-tuned motor
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame FM-A box 86 24BX     24BX Rayo 4/21/23 cowl, keep under 1.5V, was old Optimus
QC Box Stock Silver (4/23)
3.5:1 gear
homemade FM-A open 118/124   26AT 37HD  

tested with AT, HD 1.48 Fuji, 1.48 RayoF
44k HD run @ 32HD
1.35 Neo 43k HD run @ 34HD
1.50 Neo 43k HD run @ 36HD
124g with gold double burger

Voltron MAX
3.5:1 gear

Mach Frame FM-A BMAX 127   30AT   30AT 1/9/23 32k AT, 1.45V (race at 26AT)
DCR-01 MA box 93 23BX        
Shooting Proud Star Clear Blue Special MA box 105 26BX       Neo, oiled motor
AAA Box Stock Bronze
3.5:1 gear
homemade MA open 123
    40MDP 38MDP Rayo 5/28/23 1.48 Fuji, 1.55 RayoF, 1.61 Rayo
133g with pancakes up front
Firefly II
MS Pro Flex suspension, 3.7:1 gear, AT front on rear, reverse catcher lantern, super hard tires
homemade MS open 121   24ATP 23LDP
33HDP Rayo 2/23/23  
3.5:1 gear
TRF-Racer Black Special MS box 84 24BX     24BX Rayo 5/4/23  
Saeko homemade ProTuners MS open 122     38HDP 38HDP Rayo 5/28/23  
Scooby Doo
(formerly Thundershot)
MS Pro Flex suspension, 3.7:1 gear, AT front on rear, reverse catcher lantern, super hard tires
homemade MS open 118   24ATP

  Rayo NiMH too light
HT Open Class Silver (2/22 ATP)
^^^ v2
3.7:1 gear
  MS open 118  
^^^ v3
3.7:1 gear, Flexi-Plate v1, low frix/superhard sponge tires
  MS open 112  
33HDP Rayo 11/7/22 LDP 1.5V Rayo, HDP 1.44V
HT Open Class Gold (12/22 HDP)
HT Open Class Silver (2/23 HDP)
Tangerine Exflowly Polycarbonate Body Special MS box 82 26BX     26BX 5/21/23 25k motor
homemade MS open 123  
27LDP 27LDP Rayo 11/7/22  


Neo Tri-Dagger ZMC Carbon Special S2 box 80
    78g without tail
downgraded from Venom S2
Black Bear
4:1 gear, strut bar

Kumamon Racer S2 box 76(82) 23BX     23BX Rayo 4/21/23 24k Venom-tuned
LADDA 2450 1.42 x 2 (4/1/23)
4:1 gear, slick tires
Kopen Future Included XMZ S2 box 81(85) 23BX     23BX Rayo 4/21/23 24k BX
LC Box Stock Gold (12/22)
LADDA 2450 1.45 x 2 (4/1/23)
4.2:1 gear (red)
Astro Boomerang Premium Black Special S2 tuned 117   22TT     LC Tuned Class Gold (11/22)
^^^ v2     open 110     33HD 33HD Neo 5/17/23  
3.7:1 gear, hollow prop, 12mm disc roller front, 19mm disc rollers rear, Ray Spear wheels
Panda Racer S2 tuned 115
    Fuji, gear box pop issue, terrible box stock racer
^^^ v2
side mass dampers, add'l rear weight
  S2 tuned 136
  28AT Rayo 8/25/22 1.54V Neo (27AT)

^^^ v3
11/13mm front rollers, 24mm tires

  S2 tuned 138
  27AT, 24TT Rayo 8/25/22 1.54V Neo, 32k AT, 33kTT
AAA Tuned Class Gold (9/22 AT)

^^^ v4
11/13mm front rollers, 24mm tires

  VZ tuned 132
  27AT, 25TT
Rayo 4/18/23
rebuiilt to VZ after fatal crash 4/23
32k AT
QC Tuned Class Silver (4/23)

Space Ghost
3.5:1 gear, strut bar

Shining Scorpion Premium S2 box 77
    27k (was 29k) Venom-tuned
73g without side stay
3.5:1 gear, red polycarbonate reinforced chassis, carbon fiber cowl, green homemade body and tail damper, Flexi-Plate v2
  VS open 114     31HDb
31HDb Rayo 7/7/22, 9/5/22
33HDw 34k Rayo 7/14/22
33HDw 33.8k RayF 5/11/23
HT Open Class Silver (7/22 HDb, 8/22 HDw)
HT Open Class Bronze (9/22 LD)
HT Open Class Gold (1/23 HDw)

aka Pango
5:1 gear

Koala Racer Pastel Special VS box   16BX       box stock is useless
4:1 gear
  VS     19BX
22TT 21LD
  good with LD and 4:1
^^^ v2
3.5:1 gear with ball bearing and fluorine coated shaft, roller spacer, hollow prop, 60mm hollow shafts, brass keylets, carbon wheels, super hard tires, 12-13mm front rollers with rubber rings, 19mm rear alum rollers and tapered rollers, Deluxe Dragon Tail 1mm blue brake
  VS tuned 106   30AT(***)
  27 AT Rayo, 25 AT Fuji
^^^ v3, v3a
hex ball bearings, 60mm carbon reinforced shaft, side mass dampers, block weight rear, pinion pusher stabilizers, purple underguards
  VS tuned 130   30AT(***)
  30AT Rayo 6/12/22, 9/9/22 27 AT Neo, v3a purple rollers, hollow shafts too delicate, 1.47V Rayo (28AT)
^^^ v4
3.5:1 gear, RT motor, 24mm super hard tires
  VS tuned 122   29RT
  29RT 4/2/23  

Blue Dragon
4.2:1 gear, spike tires

Thunder Dragon Premium VS box 73          
aka Lupo -
3.5:1 gear with ball bearing and fluorine shaft
Lupine Racer VS open 86     25HD    
^^^ v4
hi-mount tube stabilizers, homemade underguards, lantern
  VS open 117    



weights front and rear
HT Open Class Silver (3/22 AT)
HD 1.46V

^^^ v5
24mm tires purple/black
  VS open 117    


32HDb Rayo 11/14/22


^^^ v6
9/13mm front rollers, 3.5:1 gear with ball bearing, fluorine shaft, rubber tubes
  VS open 109    


38PD 1/29/23

46k PD

^^^ v7
9/13mm front rollers, 4:1, no dragon tail
  VS open 106    




3.7:1 gear, POM bearings, 8-9mm rollers front, 19mm rollers rear
homemade Frankenstein car VZ open 111     47SD   best run at 40-43SD at 1.43V-1.51V Rayo
^^^ v2
24mm tires
            39SD 39SD 1.61V Rayo  
3.5:1 gear, reverse rollers
Dual Ridge Jr. VZ box 73 26BX       25k box
LC Box Stock Silver (1/23)
Ray Spear
3.5:1 gear, reverse rollers

Ray Spear VZ box 71 23BX
      24k box
Blue Beetle
3.5:1 gear

Dual Ridge JCup 21 VZ box 69 27BX       26k Venom-tuned motor, 1.54V
3.5:1 gear
Super Avante Jr. VZ box 73 25BX       23k box, 70g w/o engine cover, cowl, tail
Racer (Matt) Kit Chassis Class Weight (gms) Box (Km/h) Tuned (Km/h) Open (Km/h) Speed Verified Notes
4,2:1 gear
Shadowshark Italia Special AR box 95          
4.2:1 gear
Copper Fang Black Special FM-A box 90 25BX     25BX Rayo 6/11/22  
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame Black Special FM-A BMAX 142   26AT   26AT 4/2/23 LC Tuned Class Silver (4/23)
Blue Wasp Shooting Proud Star Clear Blue Special MA box 105 24BX        
Festa Jaune Black Special MA open 142


    1.54V Rayo (27AT)
LC Tuned Class Gold (9/22)
Bumblebee DCR-02 MA box   25BX       HT Kids Box Stock Gold
Wasp Rise Emperor Black Special MA box 105 25BX       AAA Box Stock Gold
Owl Racer Owl Racer S2 box            
M car
Dual Ridge Japan Cup 2021 VZ open 109     32HDw
35PD Rayo 11/7/22 1.54-1.61V Rayo (32HDw), best run on 1.47V Rayo (31HDw)
LC Tuned Class Bronze (4/23)
Racer (Brandon) Kit Chassis Class Weight (gms) Box (Km/h) Tuned (Km/h) Open (Km/h) Speed Verified Notes
3.5:1 gear
TS050 Hybrid MA box           24k
Retired Cars Kit Chassis Class Weight (gms) Box (Km/h) Tuned (Km/h) Open (Km/h) Speed Verified Notes
Geometric Vector
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame Black Special FM-A box 85 24BX     24BX Rayo 11/7/22 HT Box Stock Gold

Geo Glider Black Secial FM-A box 90-92 24BX        
^^^ v2
ABS green body

  FM-A box* 88-91 24BX     24BX Rayo 6/15/22 not true box stock since chassis was replaced with lighter version
aka MachWarrior
3.5:1 gear
Mach Frame FM-A box 85 26BX       HT Box Stock Bronze (11/21)
AAA Box Stock Silver (6/22)
LC Box Stock Gold (9/22)
LC Box Stock Bronze (10/22)
Bumblebee Festa Jaune MA box 98 22BX       RETIRED
^^^ v2
Festa Jaune poly, 3.5:1 gear, 12-13mm front, 19mm rear, body damper
  MA open 113     32HD   RETIRED
Owlie Owl Racer GT MA box 97 20BX
Exflowly Exflowly MS box 82 18BX       RETIRED
Dinah Shore Dyna Storm S2 box 77 20BX       RETIRED
aka Thunder Zero
aka Frankenstein
redesigned rear, 3.7:1 gear
Thunder Boomerang W10 STZ-X tuned 106   29AT(**)
  29AT Rayo 6/12/22 AAA Tuned Class Silver (7/21 AT)
HT Tuned Class Silver (9/21 AT)
1.47V (26AT)
RETIRED 7/12/22
3.5:1 gear
Phantom Blade Black Special SXX open 80 23BX 24TT 31PD
23BX Rayo 6/11/22 mostly Rayovac tests, Neo SD, 39UD
23BX 6/11/22
^^^ v2
rollers, mass dampers
  SXX open 104     27HDb   mostly Rayovac tests, PKCell
^^^ v3
  SXX tuned 80   26TT     Leo tuned HDb

^^^ v4

  SXX tuned 124   26RT    

saves 3g off Phantom Blade body; only 1g more than poly body, 1.54V Fuji (26RT)

TT 1.46V Rayo

4.2:1 gear, laser parts
Jadow A VZ box   26BX       Rayo,
3.5:1 gear
Toyota GR Yaris VZ box 81 26BX   28HDw   22k box motor
Neon Vicky
3.5:1 gear, ball bearings,12-13mm rollers front, 19mm rollers rear, hollow prop, Energizer 1300mAh
NEO-VQS Japan Cup 2020 VZ open 105     35SD    
^^^ Energizer >>> Fuji 1.2V 950mAh (June 2021)   VZ open 105     36SD    
^^^ v3
wheel stabilizers, front weights, fluorine coated gear shaft (July 2021)
  VZ open 111     36SD
33 HDw 1.51V Fuji 9/5/21 HT Open Class Bronze (7/21 SD)
^^^ v4   VZ open 103     37SD
1.51V Fuji and 1.43V Neo HT Open Class Silver (11/21 SD)
^^^ v5
19mm rollers x 4
  VZ open 111     37SD
36SD Rayo 6/12/22
27LD Rayo 11/7/22
SD 1.32V CO
Penguin Racer VZ drag 80   26TT     retired 5/8/21
^^^ v2   VZ drag 77   31TT     retired 6/12/21
HT Drag Race Gold (5/21, 6/21, 7/21 TT)
^^^ v3
Avante poly shell
  VZ drag 72   31TT     HT Drag Race Silver (8/21 TT)
^^^ v4
hollow shafts, minus one set rear rollers
  VZ drag 70   31TT   31 TT 9/5/21  
Green Hornet
5:1 gear
Dash-4 Cannonball ZERO box 74 19BX       74g Cannonball body, 78g Horizon body
4.2:1 gear
ZERO ZERO box 74 22BX       RETIRED

Note: Weight (gms) is the weight of the car without batteries

BX = box stock, TT = Torque Tuned, RT = Rev Tuned, AT = Atomic Tuned, LD = Light Dash, HDb/w = Hyper Dash black/white, MD = Mach Dash, SD = Sprint Dash, PD = Power Dash, UD = Ultra Dash
CO = car jumped off-course

AT(**) - 7/20/21

Battery weights in pairs, heaviest to lightest:

NiMh 59g
NiMh 51g
Rayovac High Energy:
Alkaline 48g
Energizer Max
Alkaline 47g
Rayovac Fusion
Alkaline 46g
Energizer Recharge
NiMh 43g
Neo Champ
NiMH 36g
Fujitsu Pink
NiMH 36g
PKCell Green
NiMH 29g

Wheel shaft weights, heaviest to lightest:

60mm hollow ???g 60mm reinforced 1.23g 60mm steel 1.25g 72mm hollow ???g 72mm reinforced 1.49g 72mm steel 1.52g

Mini 4WD Kit Rating Index

Ganapati 1 ounce $12. Perfect for lubricating rollers and wheel shafts.
Voodoo 1 ounce $12. Increases your motor's RPM.
Both $20 plus $10 shipping to 48 states in the USA.


Guiding our future Mini 4WD generations!

Tamiya Mini 4WD How-To Videos

For those of you who are interested in learning the essentials of building Mini 4WD cars, I will hold a class at AAA Hobbies someday and will also make the class available online, both for a small fee.


All images and work herein © 2007-2023 Clare Din. No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved.