We’ve given you three straight days of Team Associated’s RC8B3 on RC Driver’s Vehicle Week feature where we’ve talked about the buggy’s build, features and performance. Now we’re going to switch things up and give you a little behind-the-scenes information. We grabbed our buddy, Team Associated Pro Driver Alex Kosciuszek, (who’s paint scheme we used on our test car) and threw a five-question interview at him to see what drivers think about the new RC8B3 competition buggy. Then we snagged a 5-Q&A interview with the lead designer for the RC8B3 Bob Stellflue of Team Associated. Get in the know…
5 Questions with Team Associated Driver: Alex Kosciuszek
RC Driver: What do you feel is the greatest performance improvement over the RC8B3’s predecessor?
Alex K: Team Associated did an amazing job developing the car and I feel its 100% better than the previous generation buggy. The RC8B3 steers, jumps better, lands better; it’s just a total improvement. I feel it’s really elevated to such a level to be the best car out there.
RCD: Do you have any building tips you’d like to pass along to future RC8B3 owners?
AK: Spend the time when building the car; I build my cars at home ahead of taking them to the track so they are prepared. I sometimes ask for input from fellow racers just to check and make sure there isn’t something I missed. But again, take your time when building the buggy, make certain there is no binding in the arms or shocks. Make sure the universals and driveline spin smooth and do yourself a favor and use threadlocking compound on the screws that go into metal so they don’t fall out in a race. The kit is fun to build, so most importantly have fun when you’re building.
RCD: What is the Team’s vibe about the car? Do you think they hit the mark on what you need as a driver to put the buggy on podiums?
AK: From what I’ve seen everyone on the team really enjoys driving the new buggy and that holds true on a variety of tracks. One memory that sticks out in my mind was at the Nats, Ryan Cavalieri came off the stand and had a huge smile on his face, you could really tell he had a great time driving the RC8B3. I really think anyone who drives the new buggy will really like it and what Team Associated has done with it. It’s just so easy to drive and very consistent.
RCD: What tuning advice can you pass along for drivers who experience different types of track surfaces?
AK: The things I’ve been focusing on, on my car is getting my shock oils and springs right for the track; getting the buggy stiff enough so it doesn’t lean over going through the corners while having it go through the bumpy sections well. Focus on shock oils so the buggy feels planted on the track. Also I’ve been playing with diff oils, its been a big factor for me. I’ve been trying thicker diff oils on smoother tracks and this has been helpful for me to get the buggy to steer well through the better and the results have been faster lap times.
RCD: What parts specifically do you keep on hand for maintenance so drivers know what to have in their bag when they go racing?
AK: I haven’t really broken anything since I’ve started to run the buggy, but if I have to guess, I would say grab some extra upper and lower front arms, rear arms, rear hubs, shock ends, shock cups and ball ends. But that’s just a guess, this buggy has been bullet-proof for me.
5 Questions with Team Associated RC8B3 Designer: Bob Stellflue
RC Driver: The hype around this car is incredible, being considered one of the most anticipated 1:8 scale nitro buggies to be released. How big was this project for Team Associated? How many people were involved in the design/testing process?
Bob S.: The RC8B3 was by far one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on in my 11 year career at Team Associated. It involved more people than any project I’d been on, and we put maximum effort in at all corners to ensure its potential. In order to make this happen it was necessary to have guys like Kody Numedahl and Richard Saxton heavily involved to make sure we would have the best for maintenance and drivers. Others like Cliff Lett, Brent Thielke and Curtis Husting were also key to make sure things would be affordable, timely and accepted well by the market.
RCD: The choice was made to make the RC8B3 a new, ground-up platform. What was the deciding factor to go that route instead of simply updating the current nitro buggy?
BS: The RC8 had lived its lifecycle and unfortunately, with the rapid progression of the 1:8 off-road racing scene, it had too many fundamental flaws to keep moving forward with it. In the end the choice was simple to make, and quite honestly very freeing as I knew the constraints would be minimized.
RCD: For a new project like this, I can imagine it takes quite a bit of testing and research prior to release. How long was the design process? Were there multiple renditions of the RC8B3 before this final version (and can we see them!)?
BS:The RC8B3 was turned around in just over a year from deciding it as a project to kit in a box. This was a tremendous feat when you consider that there were over 250 new components to be designed, prototyped, tested, confirmed and produced. We spent about three months solid working just with fundamental testing, working each of the components out one piece at a time. During the course of it we ended up with at least three different versions of prototype chassis’, all with mostly hand-made parts. When we found what we thought we would move forward with for production, we made multiples so racers could confirm our direction. These were the cars that went to the worlds, one of which Ryan Cavalieri piloted to a podium finish as Vice World Champion!
The unfortunate end of it is that none of the prototype cars have survived. As you know 1:8 racing is brutal, and each car will have a life expectancy as wear is very high. We did what we could to keep the prototypes going in our racers’ hands, but they’ve all gone out to pasture now so there are none to see 🙂
So all of this is of course just considering the “prototype” stages of the design. During prototyping we had to consider time and cost, so cars are made with a “Frankenstein” sort of an approach to keep things moving forward quickly. When I moved forward to production all constraints were removed. So once again several versions had to be made until we were finally happy with the entire package. If we get lucky we’ll put together one of the original mock-ups for all to see like we did with the B5M project.
RCD: The front end seems to be the biggest change from the old car. Can you touch on why you decided to go with the pillow ball front end instead of the typical caster block setup?
BS: This, in my mind, is one of the only things that differentiates the competitive cars on the market today … whether it has a caster block or pillow ball front end. As I mentioned before, we spent several months testing the fundamental aspects of all parts, and of course the front end layout got particular attention. Through all the testing it was relatively easy to see that the pillow ball front end was more consistent through changing track conditions and required little to no setup adjustments as the track conditions changed. In the beginning of the RC8B3 project we laid out several goals based on where we were and where we wanted to be. And one of the items that came up over and over was how often we needed to change the setup on the RC8 in order to make it work with the track. So it was easy to side for the pillow ball front end as it achieved that goal directly.
RCD: So the team obviously likes it, the public is pretty psyched and Greg can’t get the transmitter back from me; are you ready to start doing some 1:8 scale racing?
BS: Ha! You know me too well for that question Tony 🙂 You can take the guy out of on-road, but you can’t take the on-road out of the guy! Seriously though, I’m happy everybody is accepting the car well and excited about it.
We’d like to thank Bob and Alex for taking the time to answer our questions for our readers!