202 MPH R/C Car Sets Land Speed Record

Nic Case fires a Bullet.

by on Nov.03, 2014

Nic Case with his 202 mph R/C Bullet. Photo courtesy of RCcaraction.com.

Every summer, a procession of mechanics and tinkerers head to the Bonneville Salt Flats to take their shot at grabbing a new land speed record. Nic Case was a little late, and chose to make his big run on asphalt – but he’s achieved something few others accomplish and is likely to soon up the record he already holds in the Guinness Book.

But unlike other speed record wannabes, Case didn’t need to strap on a helmet, and he couldn’t have squeezed into his aerodynamically slick Bullet car even if he wanted to. In fact, he can easily pick it up and carry it around in his arms.

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A one-time motorcycle racer, the 51-year-old Case decided to try something just as daring – but a fair bit safer – to support his need for speed, focusing his attention on high-speed radio-controlled cars. His latest, dubbed the R/C Bullet, has become the first to ever blast through the 200 mph barrier.

While the crew from Guinness World Records has yet to officially sanction the run, Case has been given the nod by the Radio Operated Scale Speed Association, or ROSSA, which says Bullet hit a projectile-like top speed of 202.02 mph last month.

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Case had won both ROSSA and Guinness recognition for the previous record of 134.4 mph, and a later run that nipped 171 mph.

A video capturing the record run shows R/C Bullet sitting in the trunk of Nic Case's car.

Case is cagey when pressed for details. Today’s battery-powered R/C cars can be stunningly fast off the line thanks to their torque little electric motors. But even nipping 100 mph is a challenge, never mind going more than twice that fast.

He provides a few hints with the long list of credits that take up nearly half the length of a homemade video Case and his team put together to promote their success. He apparently uses some off-the-shelf components from Futaba, a Japanese firm that makes many conventional R/C cars.

In fact, Case gave away a few more details than normal as part of a profile in Popular Science magazine that ran in 2009, shortly after achieving his first, 134 mph world record.

That model, which looked like a pint-sized interpretation of some of the Bonneville Salt Flats rocket cars, was dubbed Schumacher, an apparent reference to F1 legend Michael Schumacher. It was powered by an 11-horsepower electric motor drawing current from a 12-volt battery pack normally used for R/C airplanes.

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The challenge of making a radio-controlled supercar involves some of the same challenges that folks going for records on the Salt Flats face, among them maximizing aerodynamics. That requires a balance between reduced wind resistance and increased downforce to keep vehicles – large or small – glued to the ground.

Case also confirmed using a lightweight carbon fiber body for his earlier record-setting cars, something he is likely to have done again this time.

The earlier car had no brakes. That approach may also have carried over, the electric motors actually serving to scrub off speed when power is cut.

One of the more important design elements in 2009 was, again, almost certainly carried over to R/C Bullet, a gyro system like the ones used in today’s drones and R/C helicopters to keep them stable. At 200 mph, even on the smoothest pavement, it only takes a misplaced pebble to otherwise send a small model crashing out of control.

According to the 2009 article, an R/C car like Schumacher would cost a hobbyist about $4,000 – and four months of effort – to produce. How much more it took Case to reach the 202 mph record is anyone’s guess.

But so is the question of what comes next, observers debating whether Case or a competitor might now shoot for a goal of 250, perhaps even 300 mph.

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4 Responses to “202 MPH R/C Car Sets Land Speed Record”

  1. But does it have a transmission?

    J. Larry Bloodworth
    Certified Transmissions
    Draper, Utah

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      We simply do not know, Larry.

  2. Jorge says:

    It could have a variable ratio sheave. But of course I’m not in the transmission business…

  3. Gene says:

    How long was the record-setting run?

    I’d like to learn some more technical details about this electric rocket…

    Congrats, Nic! Well done!