A Guide To Short Course RC Racing

By Josh •  Updated: 04/10/21 •  7 min read

If you are an RC car enthusiast, then you must have heard of short course racing. When I was new to the RC world I always wondered what short course racing is.

Short course RC racing is an RC racing event in which all the racers attempt to get the most number of laps in a set time. This winner of the race is not the one who reaches the finishing line first but the racer that completes the most laps in the given time.  

If you’re getting ready to get on track, it’s best to go in with the right information. So, here’s a rundown of everything you can expect from a short course racing event. 

What is Short Course Racing?

Amidst all the different events that take place in RC racing, short-course races are perhaps the most popular. It is also an event that is best for beginners in the RC racing scene. 

It usually involves large groups of people and a mostly informal environment. You won’t have to feel out of place and are guaranteed to make a friend or two. 

But, what exactly is it? Well, it is similar to the short course racing that happens with regular cars. It involves a load of RC cars in a predetermined short course where they try to get as many laps in the specified time as possible. 

As you can imagine, these races tend to get pretty heated and competitive. Since it isn’t a game of crossing the line first, there are more participants and obstacles in the path. 

Think of off-roading or buggy racing put into a shorter course that is more competitive that is short course racing. 

Short course racing has become a huge phenomenon in the RC car racing world. There are specific trucks, games, and events held for the races. 

You’ll even find that the tracks are a little different from what you see in regular off-roading or buggy racing tracks. 

Tips For Driving Short Course

If you’re new to the RC car racing world or generally new to short course racing, then you’re probably worried about your first race. We’ve got you covered with a few tips that’ll help you feel more comfortable on the track and have a great time. Remember, as fun as it is to win, it is more about the experience of racing itself. 


We’re not talking about a boring lecture, rather the three different courses offered for the short course racing. You could have a Spec race, 2WD, and 4WD. 

Each of these differs in the experience you’ll have and your eligibility for that particular short course race. 

Spec races are different for each track. Check the rules of the track you’re attending or the local racing unit to see what they run by. 

Spec races are generally limiting the kind of RC car you can race, but there’s guaranteed to be on for your particular model. 

The 2WD class is restrictive in terms of its motor and battery. Eligibility to enter such as race involves several restrictions on the make of the car. 

The car is limited to 17 brushless motors and a 7.4V LiPo. The national sanctioning body – ROAR, has set these rules. Any general track you attend will probably follow these rules. 

The 4WD is similar to the 2WD class. You’ll find that the rules dictate that you can use any brushless motor, but the battery is limited to a 7.4V. However, some tracks don’t have limitations of the battery either. 


Don’t get us wrong, speed is very important in a race. However, when you’re in a short course race, traction is more important than speed. There’s a necessity for grip and traction on a course with a lot of twists, turns, and obstacles.

When you’re driving at such high speeds and trying to turn corners, traction is what will save you time. By saving time, you’re likely to do more laps. 

A lot of courses make it mandatory to have short course tires as well! Remember that it isn’t necessary to have the same compound or tread pattern for the front and rear wheels. 


Electric seems like the ideal option when it comes to short course racing; however, nitro isn’t too bad either. A lot of companies like Traxxas have great options for nitro short course trucks. 

While most cars in short course races are electric, there are many nitro trucks present at the full-size TORC events.  


While it isn’t as full-contact as bashing or a demolition derby, short course tracks have their moments of contact. 

There’s no telling what hill you might jump a little too high or boundary wall you might hit too hard. So, it makes sense to buy a durable RC car. 

The short course trucks especially made for short course tracks are generally more durable than normal. They can take a lot of wear and tear with ease. 

Even with these accommodations, make sure you carry some spare parts. A few items you’ll need spares for or need to reinforce are: 


The tires you use in the competition are incredibly important. They need to have the right kind of traction, durability, tread, and compound. 

Most importantly, they need to be the right size. Short course tires are available regularly, but if you’re looking to reconfirm what size you’ll need for competitions, then the standard size is generally 2.2″ in out diameter and 3″ in inner diameter. 

How to Choose A Short Course Racing Car

Choosing the right Short Course racing car can make or break your race. You want a car that you’re comfortable with and has the necessary performance to help you win. When looking for the right RC car, ask yourself these three questions. 

What material are you racing on?

The material you’re planning on racing on determines the kind of RC car you’ll need to get. Short course races happen on any kind of terrain, be it grass, pavement, sand, or dirt. The different terrains have different pros and cons. 

For example, grass impedes the movement of an RC car and creates a lot of friction. Dirt or gravel terrains are generally not meant for rally cars so, you’ll have to keep that in mind when choosing a car to race. 

Do your research before picking a truck, otherwise, you’ll be left in the dust. 

What type of motor?

Well, this isn’t exactly dependent on you. A lot of short-course races like the 2WD events tend to have specifications on what kind of motors you can use. You have the choice between brushed and brushless motors. 

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, if your race does not allow brushed motors, then don’t buy one. 

What brand?

The RC car racing community is not by any means small and lacking in options. There are several great options for buying a short-course race truck. By far the best company you could buy from is Traxxas. 

They have some incredible short-course race trucks that are durable, perform well, and will make you proud. 

Apart from Traxxas, Losi and Team Associated are great companies that make RC cars and trucks specifically with racing in mind. 

They are well-known brands, much like Traxxas, in the RC car racing world and have built solid reputations for themselves. You can’t go wrong with a car from one of these companies. 

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, short course racing and any other type of racing is about having fun. Winning and losing are not of much consequence. However, it is a lot more fun to participate in these events when you know what is happening. That being said, it’s time for you to get racing! 

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