RC Racing – RC Boat and Car Racing

What is RC racing?

Radio Control – RC racing is a fun filled, adrenaline pumping hobby that can burn a day away very quickly. RC racing exists for each type of RC vehicle. This includes RC planes, cars and boats. For each type of RC vehicle there are a bunch of different RC racing classes that you can get involved in. This will depend on what your interests are and we will talk about most of the RC classes and what RC vehicle performs well in that category including which specifications help. In this guide, we will mostly be talking about the different types of RC Car racing as well as RC boat racing. Racing often takes a considerable amount of time learning the track and also learning your RC car. In racing, its not uncommon for a good driver with a weak performing RC car win a race against a bad driver with a very good performing car. This applies to all classes of RC racing.

What makes up a good RC vehicle for RC racing?

There are two specific characteristics of RC vehicles that is vital to RC racing. These two characteristics unsurprising are achieving an acceptable top speed and maintaining the best handling. The top speed of your vehicle is of course the fundamental part of racing, however being able to handle well is very important. A well handling RC vehicle is on that will allow a high top speed even while in an aggressive turn. This applies for RC planes, cars and boats. In order to have good handling, your RC vehicle must be responsive to control input, have good balance and be able to do this at high speeds often pushing the limits of the RC vehicle, That’s what RC racing is all about.

What to expect for an RC racing day

You will first arrive to your RC race location and begin the unpacking step. Once unpacked you will setup up your station so that you have everything ready that you will need. This includes setting up your startion so that you can recharge your packs after you have raced. Hopefully the night before you have completed all the charging for the first run per pack.  In some cases people will be either in the water or on the track practicing before the day starts. Once the day starts no practicing is completely restricted.

The RC car or boat that you have brought will fit in to a specific class that contains boats or cars similar in specifications as yours. Your class will be called up and this is where you get your final preparation complete, plug your battery in and head toward the starting area. At this point your pit buddy will place your boat or car and the race will take the appropriate starting procedure. During an RC car race there are race marshals that are responsible for grabbing your RC car if it flips over during a race. They will only do so when it is safe. During RC boat racing, if you flip, you are considered a dead boat. A dead boat means you will not complete the race. Any over turned boats will be collected by the retrieval boat at the end of the race.

In RC car racing, an electronic system may be keeping all your lap times etc depending on the club. For RC boat racing this may vary depending on your club.

After a race in your class, it is time to inspect your car or boat and begin recharging your batteries or topping up with fuel. At this point you are prepping to get ready for heat 2 which usually takes at least an hour or so depending on the size of your club and how they structure the classes.

At the end of the day some may stick around to socialize where others may stick around to practice some more. This is a good opportunity if the track allows to get a few more laps in for practice.

General RC racing tips

  • When you are putting together your first RC racing machine, it is best practice to set it up in a box stock configuration using the manual provided by the manufacture. Any tuning should follow after a day at the track and not before ever going to the track. The manuals instructions for setup is what will provide the best average “tune.”
  • Slow and Steady wins the race. You may have heard this saying before but guess what, it’s SO true! When you are first trying to get the best lap times, your immediate focus should be on being consistent, staying on a solid racing line the entire length of the track.Trying to push the car to hard will result in loss of control and you don’t get bonus points for style while your RC car is sitting upside down waiting to be over turned by one of the race marshals.
  • When racing, consider using smooth control input to move your RC in the desired direction. If you don’t use smooth control it often ends in over correcting which in turns slows down your lap times.
  • All other types of RC racing can be determined by visiting your local track and seeing exactly what they run. Every location has different classes depending on the amount of racers in that class. If you want to start racing, be certain the RC car that you are planning on purchasing is supported at your local track. There must be enough cars in the class, as racing yourself is not much of a race!!!
  • Practice – Practice indeed makes perfect or at least close enough. It’s important to learn the track and to learn you RC vehicle. You must know the track inside out in order to get the most effective racing line. For RC boat racing, it’s often a good idea to practice either before or after a racing event. For RC car racing it’s often better to practice after an event to use the same track prep that was used during the day.
  • Preparation is key. Make sure before your track day that you fulfill your requirements list. Batteries are charged, items are packed, spare parts are ready, screws on the RC vehicle are all tight etc. You do not want to be fumbling around at the track for the last minute concerns.
  • Passing. When passing be a friendly racer. Don’t make contact and don’t be super try hard about it. If you plan your passes, they are more likely to be successful. In racing, passing on the inside is usually a good option while going around corners. It’s more common for racers to overshoot the racing line and take a corner wider then they should. This is a perfect time to capitalize on the mistake.
  • Borrow a friend or co-racer to help you throughout the day. Having a pit buddy is an excellent amount of help in RC car and boat racing.
  • As always have fun, that’s what this is all about!!


We will first talk about RC Car Racing, the different classes and what you performance specifications to look out for in order to have the best RC vehicle for RC racing.

ROAR RC racing

You may find that if you are researching RC racing, you will very frequently run in to this abbreviation or name. As a means for describing exactly what this actually means we will take a few sentences to make this clear. First ROAR in the past has stood for Radio Operated Auto racing however this has been updated to Remotely Operated Auto Racers. ROAR is the sanctioning body of the most competitive RC racing in north america. This includes Canada and USA. So what does this all mean? This essentially means that the organization ROAR is responsible for creating and documenting the rules for RC racing. As a baseline for any club, ROAR rules simplifies the racing process. When looking for certain RC car parts, for example a motor, you may see ROAR approved in the description making it clear that it can qualify in a specific racing class.

Short Course RC racing

Short course RC racing is just as the name implies. It is a type of RC racing that consists of off road vehicles on a relatively short course. Most indoor short course tracks are composed of compacted clay where outdoor short course tracks may be composed of compacted dirt or clay. This entirely depends on the location. The race may last several minutes and lap times are approximately 20 seconds depending on the size of the course. Indoor courses tend to be smaller in length by nature. Short course racing have tracks that include smaller jumps. A well timed jump determined by your entrance speed before the jump can make the landing flawless.

Short Course vehicles have the appearance of a heavily modified pickup truck.

If you wish to race in the short course classes, a good tip will be to purchase a wide short course truck as this will increase the handling capability. Consider upgrading the stock tires on your truck as traction will be the only way you will be pushing the trucks limits.

A good beginner short course RC racing truck is the Traxxas Slash 2WD. This is a brushed 2WD vehicle that will teach the skills neccessary to guide a truck around an RC race track.

On Road RC racingRC On Road racing

On Road RC racing is a type of racing that is for all out speed. If your main goal is to achieve a high top speed this is by far the way to go. On road RC racing cars can achieve a speed approaching the 100km/h mark on a relatively long straight away. Most of the on road cars can be geared to have a top speed higher then this point. Acceleration of these cars are excellent, allowing for the car to be sling shot out of corners. It takes a lot of practice to get the timing perfect in order to get the perfect lap times around a specific RC race track. As with all types of RC car racing, tires are the most important part of the car to consider. Without the proper amount of traction on a course, it is impossible to get around a corner or even accelerate out of one without spinning out. You will find many on Road racing cars to use foam slicks. Foam slicks are excellent for prepped tracks, however you will rip the crap out of them if run on the streets. There is a GT 1/8th scale class that run street tires rather then foam. They don’t provide nearly the same amount of traction as the foam tires but they provide that awesome scale look and even screech around corners on a prepped track much like a full scale tires would.

RC Drag racing

RC drag racing operates exactly as you would see it at your local full scale drag racing track. The drag race has a predetermined length and consists of two lanes. The racing cars are placed at the starting line and the lights on a tree count down until you see green. When the green light hits, you jam the throttle and hold on for a few seconds until you cross the finish line. Your time is reported for the start to finish length of the track. The type of car used is one very specific to drag racing. Why you ask? Well, this type of racing unlike the others takes a much different sense of handling in the vehicle, The type of handling demanded for drag racing is a car that can handle a sudden surge of power while staying straight. This takes a good suspension setup in the rear to not fold up at the torque levels that the car is exposed to. The car does not need to turn, usually the turning radius is heavily reduced by the nature of the RC car. If you haven’t seen a scaled down version of this type of racing class, you better take a peek. It’s quite wild to watch the intense amount of straight line power.

RC Boat racingmill lap - RC racing

The most common type of RC boat racing is oval racing. Oval racing consists of a bunch of buoys placed around in an oval pattern. Generally 4 buoys are responsible for the 4 turns to make up the oval. An oval race typically begins by mill start. The mill start is one where once your boat starts the mill laps, it must stay on plane. A counter starts at 30 seconds and all boats must be placed in to the water and running before this time expires. Then a second counter starts at 30 seconds and counts downward. Once the counter hits 0 the race starts. If you happen to cross the start line of the final mill lap prior to the counter counting to 0 you must finish that lap and your first race lap will start once you return to the starting line. The RC boat racing mill start requires you to precisely time your laps so that you cross the line just after the counter hits 0. A perfect timing can have your boat screaming across the starting line which is very beneficial. An improperly timed mill lap can leave your boat at a very slow speed or very far away from the start line as the counter hits 0. The rest of the racing may be counted in terms of either laps or timed. In either case you want to stay ahead of the pack and at top speed. It’s not uncommon for an RC boat to remain at 100% throttle for the duration of the race. This of course takes a very well setup hull that can handle full throttle in the turns.

For a 1/3 mile course you must complete 6 laps. For a 1/4 mile course, 8 laps are to be completed and for a 1/5 mile course 10 laps are required to be completed for all classes of RC boat racing.

RC Boat SAW racing

On this site you may have seen “SAW” setup, only for experienced boaters. This is a type of racing that represents straight away record speed. This is where you must complete 2 passes averaging the highest possible speed. These setups are very commonly done in such a way that does not allow the boat to operate for much more time then it takes to do the 2 passes. These boats are at their limits and only run for 10-30 seconds max. It takes a lot of experience to get the setups correct but the rewards are very promising. Speeds of over 140km/h or 80mph can be expected from these boats in full race trim.


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