Rock Racing – King of the Hammers – Poison Spyder

Photos: Poison Spyder, Rodney Wills, Randall Davis

There is no doubt that the crawler segment of the RC hobby will continue to grow, the question is, which direction will it go, and why? We have seen a tremendous shift from the competition style of crawling toward the scale side of crawling in the last year. No, this does not mean that competition crawling is dead or dying, but instead that the segment is branching out and attracting a lot of new people that are entering the hobby to enjoy the scale vehicles. There is another branch that is really on the rise as well, the rock racer, or rock buggy. These are likely to be considered scale rigs, though their capabilities are closer to that of competition rigs. All of us who enjoy the RC hobby share an appreciation for the vehicles these rigs are modeled after. I find that most people who are into scale crawling have also dabbled into full size off-roading assuming they are of age to do so. I live on the west coast of the states, a virtual hot bed of off-road areas. One of these areas, the Johnson Valley OHV area hosts one of the most grueling off-road races in the world, The “King of the Hammers”. We packed up the jeep and headed out to see what this event was all about.

Let me first admit that I am no stranger to off-road racing, whether it be the Baja 1000, the Dakar Rally or the World Rally Championship, I have pretty much seen it all. That is what I thought going into this event, and boy was I wrong, these guys are nuts! The King of the Hammers event is an all-out desert race through the toughest trails in Johnson Valley. This means the competitors not only fly across the desert floor at speeds of almost 100 mph, but they must also tackle some of the harshest rock trails on earth, all while racing each other and the clock. The vehicles used for competing in this event range from lightly modified Jeeps to full on purpose built tube chassis rock racing monsters. The race itself consists of two laps around 80 miles each. These competitors smash and slam their rigs through trails in mere minutes that take the average crawling enthusiast a full day to do. This appears to be the way of the future, attracting off-road greats like Robby Gordon, Shannon Campbell and Larry McRae. This could also very well be the future of scale RC rock crawling/racing. Imagine racing your scale rock buggy through whoops, then up and through knarly rock passes littered with vehicle sized boulders, sounds like fun to me!

While out at the King of the Hammers (KOH) event, we hooked up with Larry McRae from Poison Spyder. These guys are off-road fanatics and enjoy off-road vehicles in all scales! They were at the event debuting their new “Venom One” purpose built rock racer. This vehicle was made specifically for the KOH event and to compete in Ultra4 events going forward. They competed in the “Every man’s Challenge” event and took home top honors in the modified class. This was an amazing feat for a first time outing with a race vehicle, especially in this environment. They are very involved with scale crawling as well, as most of you know, the Poison Spyder name can be found on the Axial Wraith. When these guys aren’t racing, they are out on the trail enjoying the great outdoors with their family and their RCs. One of the Poison Spyder fans created a custom scale crawler for them to match their full size rock racer. This rig looks really cool!!

These guys did extremely well with their new Venom One Chassis winning their class in the Every Man’s Challenge

We also spent a few minutes with Larry McRae and Shad Kennedy who told us about their efforts at the KOH event and their new “Venom One” Race Rig, check it out!

Thanks to our friends At Aerial PhotoWorx!

Here are some other highlights from the event …..

This type of racing event is sure to continue to build steam, which leads me to believe this segment of RC will also continue to gain popularity. I think it is really cool that Axial stays on top of the full size trends offering the RC enthusiast access to their full size dreams with scale vehicles. When you have some extra time go over to YouTube and punch “King of the Hammers” in the search box, you will see what it is all about. I am really looking forward to the day when I can enter a rock race and race my buddies over some extreme terrain!

Wraith Kit Build – Scale Details

Over the holidays I found some time to start adding scale details to the step by step Wraith kit build. I still have a little more work to do, but I wanted to update the blog with what I have done so far. Most of my time was spent detailing the rear “cargo” area of the Wraith. My intent with the scale details was to give this Wraith the look that it was out for a day long trail run. So, there are no tents, kayaks, firewood, etc., just what you would see loaded up for a day trip. I also added a driver figure to the cab. After some extensive searching for a normal looking guy, that actually fit the scale of the Wraith, I ended up going with the Sam Fisher action figure from the popular “Splinter Cell” line of video games. So, when the wife asked what I wanted for X-mas, I told her Sam Fisher!! She didn’t seem all that impressed, but like the wonderful wife she is, she searched it out and bought it for me. Thanks babe!

On to the details…….a few shots of the rear cargo area. I added a couple Pro-line scale accessories like the Hi-lift jack, axe, cooler and gas can.


Next, I fabbed up some panels out of styrene and painted them black to box the rear lower portion of the cage in. I attached the panels to the extra holes in the rear shock tower, and added our scale battery from the EXO kit. It is sitting on a shelf for now, but I will be making a battery strap for the top, and I plan to add wires going to the terminals as well. Another thing you will see is I added aluminum panels to the rear of the cage. These are the inserts from the wings of the Honcho bumper, Part # AX30530. I held the aluminum inserts from the bumper in place on the cage, then scribed the hole location using the hole in the cage gusset as a guide. I used a punch to mark the center of the hole, then drill it out to .100 diameter. I tapped the holes for M3 screws, and attached them to the cage with M3 flathead screws. Last thing you will see is I added our Lexan gas tank from the Honcho, Part # AX80046. I cut just the gas tank portion out of the Lexan flatbed, and attached it to the shock tower/chassis brace.





Moving on to the back of the cargo area. You can see I added the radiator from our EXO kit as well. If you remove the rear lights from the bottom of the cage, you will see the hole spacing is perfectly matched to the radiator. I used our long M3 set screws to attach the bottom of the radiator. I did drill the cage and radiator mounting holes for M3 screws though, so you may need to open them up slightly before the set screws will thread in. To cap the top of the radiator off I cut a section of Honcho cage, Part # AX80046. The piece I used butts up against the back of the Honcho cab, it is the bottom bar. You will notice the hole spacing is perfectly matched to the radiator as well. I used a couple M3 self tapping screws to tie the tube to the top of the radiator. Then bent the ends of the tube in to try and match the profile of the existing Wraith cage. One last detail on the radiator is the radiator hose. I used an 1/8″ drill bit to drill a shallow hole in the top right corner of the radiator. Then, bent a small piece of 1/8″ solder at 90 degrees and pressed it into the hole. Last thing needed was some black nitro fuel line, which slides over the solder perfectly. Next, I added some scale mesh to the rear tailgate area of the cage. That mesh started life as a business card holder, the scale is perfect for this application. I made a cardboard template to fit the rear first, then used that to cut the mesh to size. A little Shoe Goo is all that is needed to hold it in place. Of course, I added one of my old Colorado vanity plates to the mesh as a final touch.



A few shots of Sam himself. In order to get him in the drivers seat without his head hitting the cage, I had to remove the lower portion of the Wraith seat. Sam is basically sitting on the Lexan floor pan of the Wraith. I drilled and tapped the back of the seat, used a little Shoe Goo, and attached it to the Lexan floor pan too. Some flat black shoe laces we used for his lap belt. Last thing needed was to lengthen the steering column. I just cut the steering column in half and found some rubber hose that fit over the OD of the steering column. I cut the hose to the length needed, and re-attached the steering wheel.




Next thing I wanted to address was the hood on the Wraith. Those that have seen this build-up know I moved the battery to the front. But, it can be a pain to change batteries when using the stock screws to hold the hood on. I have seen a few guys use the cable tie downs as hood latches, then install a couple body posts, and use standard body clips to hold the hood down. I like that idea, but wanted a more scale look. After checking out few set-ups, I got a chance to see Scott Hughes dad’s set-up. He used magnets to attach the hood to the chassis. Bingo, perfect! Thanks for the idea Don. After a quick trip to Ace hardware I was on my way back home with some 3/4″ round magnets and 1/4″ cable tie downs. After debating for a few, I decided to hinge the hood backwards so the hood isn’t in my way when making battery changes. I had to trim the lower part of the grill so it would clear the tube chassis when it was opened. Once I installed the hinges, I looked around for the best place to mount the magnets. After some measuring I found a spot for them right beside the stock hood mounts. I had to use an X-acto to trim the plastic tubing away a little so the magnets would sit properly for this application. Once I could press them in between the tube work, I need something underneath the magnets to hold them from pushing down and eventually out of the tube work. I ended up using our 2/3A cell carbon fiber battery mounts for the AX10 axles. I drilled the existing hood mount holes all the way through the tube. Using a couple flathead self tapping screws I attach the battery mounts from the bottom of the cage. For added security I used Shoe Goo again to hold the magnets in place. Next, I dropped the 2nd set of magnets in place on top of the set that is now tied to the chassis. This set will also be held in place by Shoe Goo. Once I had the hood marked where the magnets need to be, I secured them to the hood with a couple more dabs of Goo. Make sure the polarity of the magnets is correct before securing them with Shoe Goo, otherwise it’ll be tough to close the hood.



A few action shots……..




I am even adding scale rock rash to my diff covers.




That covers this round of detailing, stay tuned for more.