TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Scott Cramer on the new Team Orion Vortex Ultimate stock motors
Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016 09:36pm
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
Scott Cramer has enjoyed a wide array of RC experience, working at two the largest distribution companies in North America, running his own successful graphics company, and racing alongside his son, Max, at tracks around the Midwest. When Team Orion introduced the Vortex Ultimate stock motors, Cramer - Surface Brand Manager for Horizon Hobby - told me about how he and a team of U.S.-based racers helped to develop what they believe will be a spec-class game-changer, so I dug more information out of him for this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday.
Aaron Waldron: Why did Team Orion feel it was important to develop a new brushless motor for spec classes that are rather specific to the U.S.?
Scott Cramer: Honestly, it was a no-brainer. The U.S. is one of the largest markets for Team Orion and the stock classes are some of the biggest in the country - especially 13.5 4WD Buggy, which is extremely popular and gaining momentum here in the Midwest and on the East coast. Orion offered stock motors that were strong, but not quite strong enough to compete with all of the “hand-tuned” motors on the market. We also knew that we could produce a stronger, faster and more efficient motor for the masses that would allow the average racer to afford to be competitive in the stock class.
AW: Who all was involved in the Vortex Ultimate project, both in the office and on the racetrack?
SC: There’s a reason the word “Team” is in their name - because this truly was a team effort. It all started with Team Orion’s legendary motor builder, Oscar Jansen, and Horizon Hobby’s Lee Morrison taking all of their knowledge and not being afraid to think outside the box. From there, we established a key group of stock drivers here in the Midwest - where stock is extremely popular - and also on the West coast to perform all the testing. And testing is what they did! I don’t think our drivers ever put that many laps on a track in one day before. Once we evaluated all the data, changes were made and the testing process started all over again until a final design was in place.
AW: Did you test the Vortex Ultimate against any other motors that currently available to establish a baseline?
SC: Absolutely. We first began our test getting a baseline with motors from Fantom, Motiv and SchuurSpeed. Each of our drivers tested these motors in various cars with their lap times, temps, gearing, etc. all recorded. We were as thorough as possible - we didn’t want to give ourselves a false sense of security.
AW: How difficult was it to keep development of this new motor a secret?
SC: Easier than you might think. We have a great group of loyal drivers and track owners that we work with. Also, a motor is a lot easier to “hide” what’s going on since all the good stuff is inside the can. One of the funniest quotes from testing the 13.5 in a 4WD buggy came at the end of a test day when local drivers were showing up for a race that evening. The racer was watching our driver run and said “Man, I love watching Modified 4WD buggy.” We just smiled and said so do we!
AW: When did the idea for a new stock motor first come up in discussion?
SC: Basically, once I joined Horizon Hobby and we got to run the TLR vehicles, it completely rejuvenated the racing bug in us! My son and I have always run the 17.5 and 13.5 classes so we dropped in the Orion VST2 motors and away we went. It was apparent that they were lacking a little power so I noted this in my race report. Because Team Orion values its customers and wants to have the best products on the market, they immediately jumped on board and said let’s do whatever it takes to create the ultimate stock motor and we went from there. Horizon also saw that we they were leaving a big piece of the pie on the table by not having a competitive stock motor. Personally I was amazed at how quickly Team Orion and Horizon Hobby got the process started - both companies are extremely dedicated.
AW: How much does the Vortex Ultimate share with previous Team Orion brushless motors?
SC: Besides the incredible attention to detail that Orion is known for, everything is new on this motor. They truly started with the proverbial blank sheet of paper.
AW: What unique demands does spec class racing put on motors?
SC: In my opinion, the biggest demand or problem a stock motor faces is HEAT! Stock racers are notorious for gearing / timing their cars to moon to create the power they need and that creates heat. It’s not uncommon to see stock racers running fans on their motors and ESC’s. During our testing we deliberately did not run fans to get a more accurate reading as the two biggest goals of the new motors were to create more horsepower than the competition as well as run cooler - which is exactly what we did.
AW: Did you find anything that looked good on a dyno chart, but didn’t translate well to the racetrack?
SC: LOL - yes, there were a couple of motors that pulled incredible numbers on the dyno, but once on the track in a racing scenario produced way to much heat. At the end of the day, the track is the most accurate dyno in itself. Once we found something we liked, we used the dyno to fine-tune around a known “sweet “spot to improve upon it and allow more accurate repetitive motor setups.
AW: How many different designs were tried before settling on the final blueprints?
SC: Great question. I’m not sure how many there were, but let’s just say a lot! It seemed like hundreds by the end of the day.
AW: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
SC: I have always found it funny that the “stock” class is where we tell all the “newbies” to start racing, yet it is one of the most expensive forms of racing out there. Team Orion took notice and created a stock motor that creates more power, speed and efficiency then the “certified” motors that cost twice as much. Hopefully these motors help more drivers move to the front of the pack without breaking their bank. Then, they can use that extra money to buy the most important part of all - track time!