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RADICAL ATV AERIALS!

WPS
34486

R/C CAR MARCH 2006

MARCH 2006

VIVA BAJA!

www.rc-car.com

We Drive HPIs
Huge Baja 5B in
Mexico

$4.50 CANADA $5.50

Attn. retailer:
Please display until Feb. 23

Volume 9 No. 3

03 >

ROCK
CRAWLERS
INVADE
WAL-MART

ISSN 1097-0711

03_06_rc_cover 1

O.S. GOES BIG!


Ultimate Monster Power

Factory Team TC4


& Kyosho Lazer ZX-5
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HPI

B
5
A
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IN

HPI Racing redefines the 1/5-scale gasoline-powered R/C with its Baja 5B,
which it introduced to the press in rugged Baja California, Mexico.
44

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Page 3

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MARCH 2006 R/C CAR

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Wide Open Baja Off-Road Adventures has 30 cars, weekly


tours and the Horsepower Ranch as its base of operations.

WIDE OPEN
BAJA OFF-ROAD
ADVENTURES
odd Clement has been racing
Baja since 1984, and hes done a
great job of making the Baja experience available to the masses. For the
2005 Baja 1000, the WOB crew had
16 cars rented and 200 people running the chase vehicles, manning the
checks, and maintaining the Class 10
Mad Mikes Carrera Cantina is the watering hole for the HP
BC buggies. Also, Bill Weber flew
Ranch, and its loaded with Baja 1000 memorabilia. Yes,
overhead the entire race, providing
thats James Garner under nine-time champ Johnny Campbell.
radio communications in the mountainous terrain. But the tours are a lot
when it gets too hot for comfort inland.
more laid-back and fun. Four-day packages start
Accommodations and food are first-rate, but this is
at $3500, and Wide Open runs two tours per
Baja, Mexico. Once the generators go out at the
week on average.
HP Ranch or at Mikes, any more nightlife is by
Tours cover either the northern section of Baja,
candle or flashlight power.
where the SCORE races start and finish two years
Should something happen to the cars, there
out of every three. On the third year, the 1000 is a
are chase vehicles and staff to change your flat
point-to-point course stretching the entire peninsutires, and theyre partnered with Helicopters of San
la from Ensenada to La Paz. Baja Sud tours either
Diego, should anyone get hurt. Also, theres insurWith Walker Evans, Ironman start or end in La Paz and cover terrain to central
ance available for damage to the cars, which youll
Ivan Stewart and Larry
Baja on the Pacific side. Wide Open has around 30
definitely want to get. Right, Mike V from Extreme
Roeseler on the wall, the HP
buggies in operation in Baja with several guides
R/C Car-wheelers?
Ranch exudes Baja history.
with tons of Baja experience.
The Horsepower Ranch is the hub for Baja
C O N TA C T
Norte operations, and Wide Open is looking into
Wide Open Baja Off-road Adventures
buying land around Cabos San Lucas for a south29716 Avenida de los Banderas
ern base. Weather can get quite hot in the sumRanch Santa Margarita, CA 92688
mer, so the Cabos tours are winter-only, and tours
(949) 635-2292, fax (949) 635-2298
are run from Ensenada down the Pacific coast
www.wideopenbaja.com

WIDE OPEN
OFF-ROAD ADVENTURES
Since 1996, Wide Open Baja Off-Road
Adventures has been providing the world
the ultimate driving experience with guided
tours of the whole Baja Peninsula. Todd
Clement and his staff offer clients the
chance to drive real Baja buggies on fourday and week-long adventures starting
from Ensenada, traditional starting point
for the SCORE Tecate 1000, or Cabo San
Lucas, which is near La Paz, the finish of
every third Baja 1000. The SCORE Baja
1000 is considered the toughest one-day
off-road race in the world, and teams
come from around the world and across all
racing disciplines to test their machines,
skills and luck. Wide Open provided bug 46

www.rc-car.com

gies for 16 teams in the 2005 Baja 1000, at


a cost of $70,000 a car, and 13 teams finished the grueling event. So, you know
Wide Open Bajas buggies are as tough as
they are fast.
Each Class 10 buggy is assembled in
Ensenada and maintained at the Wide
Open Horsepower Ranch, a 160-acre
resort rancho outside of Ensenada. These
buggies are powered by 160-horse, aircooled, flat-four engines, and the fuelinjected motors are what youd get if you
bought a Porsche 911. But the WOB buggies get a tougher frame than your typical
Baja 1000 racer, since theyre only torn
down to the frame once a year. Theyre
two-seaters that are fitted with two-way
radios for constant communication with

the guides and other adventurers; if you


lose touch out in the Baja wilderness, you
might never make it out alive. If the weather and desert terrain dont get you, the rattlesnakes, mountain lions and banditos
will. Ive been on a lot of press introductions over the last 20 years, but this was
the most challenging and the best four
days of work Ive ever had.
We left San Diego International Airport
by bus, made a run for the border, and had
lunch on the Pacific Ocean before hitting
the Horsepower Ranch. Guides Bill Weber
and James DeGain, who ran Kawasakis
off-road racing team (during the Larry
Roeseler/Danny Hamel domination) for
nine years, introduced the HPI expedition
to the Class 10 buggies. Then we hit the

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HPI

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hay early before spending the next three


days behind the wheel of the best e-ticket ride on the planet. We drove the
SCORE course through Ojos Negros to
San Felipe then back to Mikes Sky
Ranch on day two. The third day was the
best of all, as we tackled the rolling terrain (get it, Mike Valez?) to Valle de la
Trinidad and the pine forests of Laguna
Hansen.

THE BAJA 5B vs.


WOBS BUGGY

Kent Clausen pilots the baja 5B from the seat of


a Wide Open Class 10 buggy. The 5B was faster
out of the hole but lost drag races on top.

While Wide Opens buggy is powered


by a 2.6-liter four-stroke, the HPI Baja 5B
is powered by a 23cc Fuelie two-stroke
gasoline engine that burns 25:1 premix
and puts out 2.4 horsepower. However,
the two-stroke engine doesnt have a
high-pitched whine of a nitro-burning R/C
engine, so it sounds more like a full-scale
buggy. Kent Clausen and Lumpy were
teamed up in the full-scale buggy, and
Kent got ours up to 85 mph on El Diablo

dry lake. The Baja 5B was clocked by


GPS at 38 mph on the soft-sand dunes of
San Felipe, but itll do over 40 mph on
hardpack. Thats 200 scale mph!
Power gets to the ground via a fourspeed manual transmission on the fullscale buggy, and the forward gears are
beefed up to take the shocks of jumping
and hitting whoops at 60 mph, but
reverse is reserved for gingerly backing
out of trouble. The Baja 5B has a centrifugal clutch more like an R/C, and the spur
gear drives a hardened spider-gear differential via a jackshaft, and the overall
reduction ratio is 8.382:1. The 5B has no
reverse at all. Both have CVD drives with
rubber boots to keep sand, dust and
water out of the moving parts.
Baja buggies are all about suspension
travel, and HPI senior designer Akira
Kogawa, whos developed the Kyosho
Scorpion, Burns and Ultima in his 25
years of R/C engineering, looked long
and hard at full-scale Baja trucks and
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HPI

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Akira shows off the 5Bs plastic rear skidplate and sleek 4mm aluminum undercarraige.
buggies as he designed the Baja 5B. Wide
Opens buggies use four Bilstein tunable
shocks and four coil-over shocks with
Eibach springs to deliver 20 inches of
wheel travel via double-wishbone suspension arms front and rear. The 5B sports
double wishbone suspension, too, but it
uses four ultra-long shocks with tricks of
their own. Each hard-anodized aluminum
shock has a threaded preload collar for
fast tuning, plus it has dual-rate springs.
Akira wanted to avoid spring binding or
deflection that really long springs have, so
he went with two shorter ones per shock.
Also, a dual-piston setup allows tuning
without disassembly; bottom the shaft, and

you can turn to one of five damping positions. One piston has five different-sized
holes, while the other is fixed, so you get
five damping rates by turning the shaft.
Travel is four inches, which is 20 inches of
scale travel.
Also, both the full-scale WOB and 1/5scale Baja 5B have fully tuneable geometry
for turning and handling. Wide Opens
buggies have huge turnbuckles for toe,
camber and such, and so does the new
HPI sled. Front toe is set with turnbuckles, and rear is set by switching out
wedges in the two-piece rear hubs. By
switching wedges, rear toe can be set at
2, 3 or 4 degrees, and rear roll-center

can be adjusted by shimming the upper


link. HPI also gives the 5B front camber
adjustments between 22, 25.5 and 29
degrees, and there are different aluminum
plates for adjusting squat. There are also
wheelbase adjustments via clips on the
hingepins. Wide Opens buggy has powered rack-and-pinion steering, but the Baja
5B steers as effortlessly with its huge SFL10 servo, which cranks out 25Kg/cm of

Both the full-scale WOB Class 10 and 1/5-scale HPI


buggies are built to be tough but not idiot-proof.

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Itll do 40 mph, and the 5B is


built to survive in punishing
conditions, like the fine silt of
El Diablo dry lake.

Page 7

Two plastic pieces clip the first stage of the


airfilter in place and provide dead-air space
for the intake. A third piece keeps the outer
filter (not shown) in place.

Akira Kogawa has spent a year on the Baja 5B


project and is designing all sorts of options.
torque. Also, Akira designed steering
knuckles with longer arms to provide more
steering options. On the high-bite surfaces
we drove it on, we had too much steering
and shaved off the outer rows of knobs on
the front Dirt Buster tires.
Also, the 5B has larger rear tires than
fronts, and the Dirt Buster rears are minipin type, while the DB fronts are rib-pins.
The Wide Open buggies have BF Goodrich
All-Terrain tires on American Racing aluminum rims, and all four tires and wheels
are the same size, plus there are two
spares per buggy. However, the Baja 5B
has three-piece rims with real bead-locks,
while the Wide Open buggies dont. We
wish that the WOB buggies had beadlocks, as we landed sideways and blew a
left-rear bead on the first day.

HPI already has optional pinion


gears, an anti-sway bar and shock
springs, and many more upgrades
are in the pipeline.

Another R/C magazine managed to rip the roof off of


their buggy, but repeated flips didnt faze the Baja 5B.

MORE BAJA 5B FEATURES


Dust is so bad in Baja that buggies have
huge filters in large still-air boxes with
remote inlets. The Baja 5B has an ingenious
air filter system, too. A large airfilter is
clamped to the carburetor with a toolless,
two-piece cage that clips around the carbs
intake and creates a dead-air space. A second foam filter then goes over the primary
filter, and an end plate keeps the filters in
place. Also, the filter rides over a notch in
the large fuel tank, and a plastic cover can
be slipped over the filters for wet conditions.
Body clips hold the receiver box into the
4mm tub chassis, and the box has a chargejack with a rubber cover, and theres a rubber cover for quick crystal changes. A
2000mAh six-volt battery rides inside, next
to the FM receiver.

Akira put a lot of effort into making the


Baja 5B crash-resistant and easy to work
on. To take off the top roll cage, undo the
rear shocks at the top mount, remove four
body clips and release a latch, and the
whole top of the buggy is easily accessed.
One clip holds the plastic rear skidplate in
place, too. In case of roll-overs, there are
replaceable covers for the tops of the front
shocks, and shark fins molded into the
rear shock towers protect the rear shocks.
To start the Fuelie engine, flip the
choke lever on the carburetor and push the
see-through primer button until you see
premix in there. Then yank the recoilstarter cord a few times. Theres a red killswitch for emergency stops, too. There are
one-tooth smaller and larger pinion gears
for the 5B, also.
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HPI

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Where the Wide Open


buggies have four-wheel
disc brakes, the Baja 5B
comes stock with dual
ventilated discs inboard
of the spur gear, and the
calipers have fiber backing. Brakes are strong
and linear, right out of the
box, and theres room
inside the front wheels for
optional disc brakes.
HPI added a muffler
extension tube out the back of
the 5B to cut noise, but if noise
isnt an issue, it can be removed for
more power. Also Akira has a tuned
exhaust in the works, but dont expect it

to be like the ones seen on modified GoPeds.


Also, there are optional shock springs, sway
bars, carbon-fiber plates and paddle and onroad tires in the works.
There are also two lugs on the front shock
tower for body mountsis there a 1/5-scale
Baja Trophy Truck in our future?

DRIVING BAJA
IN TWO SCALES
Driving the Wide Open buggy across the Baja
Peninsula and back was an absolute gas. Kent
took the first leg from Ensenada to Ojos Negros
(sometime finish to the SCORE Baja 1000), then
I took the controls and drove through some truly
hideous terrain. There were huge rolling whoops
and boulders of every shape and size. Being a
former ATV and dirt bike racer, I was gingerly
going through the rock-strewn obstacles, then
Kent starting coaching me to go faster, saying,

Weve been drooling over the Baja 5B since the iHobby


Expo. Its 32 inches long, 18.9 inches wide and ten
inches high with a ground clearance of three inches.
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At 21.3 pounds, the Baja


5B is light for a 1/5-scale
R/C, and it jumps well.
Suggested retail is
$1000, but the RTR is
already selling for $900.

The car floats across this stuff in third


gear. So I upshifted and pinned it. Then
Kent took the wheel and found the limits of
our suspension, as we had a little off-trail
excursion that blew a bead. I also got to
drive sections outside of San Felipe, the
dunes in San Felipe, the road out of Mikes
Sky Ranch and into Trinidad and the awesome rolling hills to the pine forests of
Laguna Hansen.
I was truly amazed at how much terrain
the Wide Open buggy could gobble and
how much abuse the tires would take,
compared to the pincheta-prone dirt

It has a bevel-gear diff, but theyre


bound by clips for extra friction.

bike tubes and low-pressure ATV tires.


Whoops were taken faster than I ever had
before, except for the time I got a ride in
Desert legend Dan Smiths Class 1 Bronco
(three-foot whoops at 90 mph). It was a
thrill of a lifetime, even more fun than the
two times I rode into the finish line at the

SCORE Tecate Baja 1000


(once in Ensenada, once in
Ojos Negros). The difference
was that I wanted those two
races to be over, but I wanted the
Wide Open adventure never to end
(Im still waiting for you guys to send
me the application, guys!).
Driving the HPI Baja 5B was a thrill, too.
I got to wheel it on the wet sands of the
Sea of Cortez at low tide, and the steering
and suspension were awesome. It would
pitch in predictably, just like the full-scale
buggy Id been driving, and power out with
the inside front wheel lifting like a sprint
cars. There were some miniature washouts

Check out the quick-disconnect roll


cage, which gives quick access to
the radio box and engine.
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HPI

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from the surf, and the Baja 5B soaked up


the square-edged hits like a champ. Power
and acceleration were impressive, too, and
the 5B would throw big rooster-tails out of
turns. I also got to pull trigger on the
dunes, and the 5B would float across the
fine sand and stay level over nasty chop. I
cant wait to drive the production version
(available now at your local hobby store)
with swaybars and such.

52

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WHAT DO WE
REALLY THINK?
It was great of HPI Racing to charter
the Wide Open Baja Off-road Adventures
tour, as the Class 10 buggies, guided tour
and hospitality really captured the
essence of Baja and the SCORE Tecate
Baja 1000. HPI also captured the thrill
and speed of the SCORE 1000 with the
1/5-scale Baja 5B buggy. Its sleek and

stout, just like a full-scale Class 10 buggy,


and it has great suspension, handling,
stability, brakes and durability. If you can
afford to do a Wide Open tour, I highly
recommend it. If not, you can capture a
chunk of Baja in the HPI Baja 5B. Special
thanks to Bill, James, Nick and Rob from
Wide Open Adventures and to Kent
Clausen, Shawn Ireland and Akira
Kogawa from HPI USA.