Sunday, April 21, 2024

An Introduction and Overview of RC Rock Racing

Not Your Daddy’s Racing
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s September 2015 issue.
By Nate Myers

RC rock racing, Southern Rock Racing, or Ultra 4 racing has been around for about four years, regardless of what you call it; the popularity of the sport continues to grow. The courses make the toughest short course tracks look like a Sunday drive with grandma. The driver white knuckles their way around the track, trying to keep the shiny side up and avoid a catastrophic failure. While Axial led the revolution with the Wraith, there are plenty of options on the market.


While there are several classes for racers, the commonality between them all is that the rock racers must be capable of four-wheel drive, motors on axles and stadium trucks excluded.

1.9 Trail: 1.9-inch wheel diameter, solid axles only, and scale body
1.9 Competitor: 1.9-inch wheel diameter, IFS or solid axle, and scale appearance
1.9 Trophy: 1.9-inch wheel diameter, IFS or solid axle, metal cage only, scale appearance, scale driver with helmet
2.2 Competitor Limited: 2.2-inch wheel diameter, solid axle only, scale appearance
2.2 Competitor Open: 2.2-inch wheel diameter, solid axle, IFS and/or IRS, southern rock bouncer, scale rock racer appearance
Trophy 2.2: 2.2-inch wheel diameter, IFS or solid axle, metal cage only, scale appearance, scale driver with helmet


The courses resemble full scale courses with a combination of high speed flats, steep hills, technical rock crawling, jumps, etc. The tracks are living and change from lap to lap. Ensure you walk the track and make mental notes of obstacles you need to avoid to gain time and not destroy your vehicle.


As you can guess at this point, the ideal vehicle is nimble yet quick. The driver will need good torque and control at lower speeds and stable, high-speed performance on the flats. The components need to be stout to take the abuse of the track and changing track conditions. During the race, just finishing with a functioning rig may be the most challenging aspect of the entire event.


  • The vehicle will need to be set up so that it has plenty of torque for technical sections and ample speed for the straights.
  • Upgrade weak parts that are subject to abuse, i.e., pay attention to steering components.
  • Keep an eye on changing track conditions and practice using different lines.
  • Remember the obstacles you are trying to conquer are the same obstacles the turn marshals must endure, try to keep your rig the right side up.


Rock racing is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for a new challenge, it is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. You can enjoy the action of the King of the Hammers races without having your own racing team  and you can be a part of the rock racing culture at its most fundamental level.

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