No-prep racing has become one of the most popular forms of drag racing in recent years, and that interest has translated over to scale remote-controlled (RC) cars. While RC drag racing isn’t new by any means, the no-prep variant is, and there are tons of people who enjoy it. These RC cars make it possible to have a no-prep racing experience on a very reasonable (relative to a real car and racing operation) budget.
The RC cars that you can no-prep race with are a 1/10 scale representation of a full-size vehicle. The races are held on either a scale 1/4-mile of 132 feet, or a scale 1/8-mile of 66 feet. When no-prep RC racing first started, people were converting off-road RC cars into drag cars so they could be raced on slick surfaces. Now, you can purchase a purpose-built no prep RC drag car that’s ready to go, all the way to a custom carbon-fiber chassis that needs fully assembled.
Most no-prep RC racing groups follow the No Prep RC Drag Racing League (NPRC) rules. These rules outline the guidelines for the Street Outlaw, Street Eliminator, 17.5 Super Stock, 13.5 Super Stock, and Bracket Racing classes. The NPRC gives groups guidance on how to have “cash days” and “top 10 list” style races within its rules. If you’re interested in starting a local no prep RC group you can check out the rules here.
We traveled to a couple of local no-prep RC racing hot spots around Ohio to learn a bit more about what goes into these races. The first location we went to was The Ohio RC Factory, also known as “The Factory” in Jeffersonville, Ohio. This massive RC racing facility has both indoor and outdoor RC offroad racing, along with a 66-foot indoor RC drag strip. During the summer months, The Factory races the 13.5 class since the Street Outlaw cars mostly like to race outside. When the weather turns cold, The Factory will race any class as long as enough people show up to participate.
The cool thing about The Factory is that it mimics a real dragstrip, thanks to its very own timing system. Curt Schlichter, the owner of The Factory, talks about the timing system and what it’s like to race no-prep RC cars indoors.
“We have an actual timing system from Track Mate like you’d find at a regular dragstrip. This system provides reaction time, elapsed time, and MPH for each pass. I can screw all the bulbs into the tree to run a full or pro tree if needed. This surface isn’t prepared at all and changes from race to race, even round to round. You have to know to handle power management, chassis adjustments, and have good tire prep. We run 66 feet here. The record for the 13.5 class is 1.37 seconds at 46 mph, and the outlaw record is 1.08 and 70 mph.”
Now, if you’re looking for a real “street” experience with your no-prep RC car there are plenty of groups across the country that can make that happen. That’s one of the coolest things about no-prep RC racing: you just need an open stretch of pavement and a few friends to have a good time.
In the central Ohio region, the 614 RC No Prep group holds races every Wednesday night at a local Floor & Décor, with their permission of course. Oscar Van Scheetz is one of the 614 RC No Prep group race masters and he explains how they do things and what it’s like to race no-prep RC cars outside.
“We use a flashlight start with a camera at the top end to see who wins, and a camera on the starting line to see if someone jumps. We run the Street Eliminator class and use the No Prep RC national rules. If someone comes out with another car that fits another class, we’ll try to run them as long as at least one other person shows up. We’ve had people run in the 1.70-1.80 range when the conditions are right. Most of the time, racers are running in the 1.9 to 2.00 zone. It’s very competitive racing because the surface will change as the race goes on. It might start out hot, but they change a lot when the sun goes down, just like real racing.”
No-prep RC racing shares so much with full-size drag racing. A racer has to not only compete against the person in the other lane, but they also have to race the surface of the track to go as fast as they can. No-prep RC racing is a great way to scratch your heads-up drag racing itch on a smaller scale with your friends and not break the bank.