FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Kyosho's time in truck racing
Friday, Aug 21, 2015 06:22pm
By Aaron Waldron
Everybody knows that Friday is meant for reminiscing old times. Each week we take you back in time as we flashback to some of R/C racing's greatest moments, products, drivers, and more!
Kyosho dives into truck racing in the U.S.
On Wednesday, Kyosho announced a new RTR version of the race-winning SC6 short course truck platform - the first vehicle to include Team Orion’s new dDrive motor and ESC combo unit. Not only was it the Red Army’s first RTR short course truck in over five years, it completed a full loop of the Japanese brand’s involvement in a very American class.
After winning the 2WD IFMAR World Championship in 1987, Kyosho’s involvement in the competitive electric off-road market waxed and waned for well over a decade. Team drivers in Japan campaigned the rare Ultima RB Type-R with success, but they were rarely found outside of the company’s home soil.
The stadium truck version, the Ultima ST, was until that point Kyosho's most serious stadium truck racer - and it was even more rare, since trucks don’t really exist outside of the U.S. and yet Kyosho's stateside retail presence (not to mention the exchange rate) wasn't spectacular.
The company kickstarted its re-entry into the segment in 2005 with the ZX-5 four-wheeler and began testing the first prototypes of the RB5 buggy. That was also the year that Kyosho America was founded. Now with an official presence in the only place on earth where truck class racing is a big deal, the company got to see first-hand just how important stadium truck racing was to the U.S. market.
When Kyosho released their RT5 stadium truck in 2009, it was the first all-new platform in the class in five years.
However, the electric off-road scene had changed dramatically in 2008 when short course trucks burst into the scene - reviving a stale racing climate across the industry. Both Traxxas and Team Associated had begun exploring cross-promotional marketing opportunities with full-size short course racing, leading Traxxas to transform the Stampede into the Slash Ready-to-Run, and Team Associated countered quickly afterward with the T4-based SC10 kit (that was also offered RTR shortly afterward). The immediate boom sent nearly every major manufacturer scrambling to create a short course truck of their own.
The following year, HPI Racing turned to its E-Firestorm stadium truck basher on which to base its Blitz platform, spawning first a basic RTR and later a special kit using a whitish plastic composite. Losi joined with the Strike, based on the Stampede-like High Roller, with a high center of gravity and mid-motor mounted three-gear transmission - that didn’t work. Losi struck the Strike from its product lineup and built a second short course truck on the venerable XXX-T platform in late 2010.
Armed with a very competitive stadium truck kit as everyone else was pumping out ready-to-run 2WD short course trucks, Kyosho first showed off its new RT5-based Ultima SC RTR at the Tokyo Hobby Show in October 2009.
The truck went on sale in February 2010, packaged with bare-bones electronics including a brushed motor and 27MHz radio, and the body looked - well, different.
I got to drive an Ultima SC in Kyosho’s official promo video!
Despite its cartoonish appearance, the Ultima SC’s soft-compound tires (by RTR standards) the truck performed well in stock form against its competition, with good tires and near-top-of-the-class power. In full-race trim, it proved absolutely deadly. With race promoters adding SC classes and organizing SC-centric events across the country Kyosho team drivers kicked off 2010 by dominating the first three races of the year - including Jared Tebo’s near two-lap trouncing of the field at the inaugural Short Course Showdown at Trackside Hobbies.
The truck became a racer favorite overnight and, even as an RTR, racer demand for the Ultima SC skyrocketed - far beyond what Kyosho had prepared for.
In April 2010, Kyosho announced a full-option Ultima SC kit called the SC-R, and it went on sale in June.
At the end of 2010, Jared Tebo issued a statement that he would be focusing on the short course truck division as his third class of choice in electric off-road, leaving the stadium truck class entirely.
Tebo started off 2011 by winning the CRCRC Midwest Winter Champs.
<br/ >Originally, Tebo topped his Ultima SC with the stock RTR body modified only with some additional stickers.
By the time the 2011 Nationals rolled around, however, Tebo had begun running custom-painted shells on his truck.
Rocking his own colors, Tebo won the 2011 Hot Rod Hobbies Shootout.
By the end of 2011, Kyosho had already begun working on the upcoming RB6 buggy - which, of course, was a radical departure from every iteration of the RB5 that came before it. The new platform significantly changed the Kyosho team’s game plan.
Less than a year after bowing out of the stadium truck division, Tebo showed up to the 2011 Reedy Truck Race of Champions with a version of the RT5 sporting new parts.
And, of course, his trusty Ultima SC.
He won both Short Course and Stadium Truck classes.
In November 2011, Kyosho announced a second Ultimate SC-R kit, the SP2. The updated truck featured bigger bore shocks and other various updates that the Kyosho team had built while developing the RB6 buggy.
At the 2012 CRCRC Midwest Winter Championships, Tebo again raced both Stadium Truck and Short Course.
He won again with the Ultima SC-R SP2.
The Ultima SC didn’t win another race for over a year. Then-Team Associated teammates Ryan Maifield and Ryan Cavalieri won the rest of the major races in 2012.
In January 2013, Kyosho announced the new RT6 stadium truck.
With the Ultima SC growing long in the tooth, Tebo returned to the stadium truck class. He drove the prototype RT6 to the ROAR National title, and the kit went on sale in October.
At the Reedy Truck Race in 2013, then-Kyosho driver and local pro Cody Turner won with the RT6, and Tebo gave the Ultima SC its final win.
Kyosho announced the SC6 in February 2014, and it went on sale in April 2014. It joined the Team Losi Racing 22SCT as the only mainstream short course trucks that could be built in mid-motor configuration.
Jared Tebo drove the SC6 to the win at the Hot Rod Shootout.
Cody Turner won the Reedy Truck Race with it as well.
Tebo won both truck classes at the CRCRC Midwest Winter Championships this year.
And finally, almost six years after releasing the original Ultima SC (during which time every other short course truck manufacturer introduced some sort of serious update to its 2WD SC platform, or a new kit entirely), Kyosho announced just its second-ever ready-to-run Short Course Truck - which makes its own bit of history.
Not bad for a company based in a country where truck racing is almost completely non-existent!