‘Anything goes’: Participating in an Outrageous Mini 4WD Race With My Customized Machine!
On March 26, 2017, an unofficial Mini 4WD race; Mad Max Cup 4-Extremely Fury Road- was held in Game Station located in Honatsugi, Kanagawa.
This race, named after the violent action film Mad Max, is different from ordinary ‘official races’ which strictly follow regulations. The only rule we have to stick to is ‘never melt courses’. So, basically, ‘anything goes’ in this lawless race.
This article will deliver the battles among Mini 4WD outlaws who only want to be the fastest of all.
Written by Shion Yuuki, Edited by Tadashi Niimi, Photographed by Hirohisa Yamashita
’Mini 4WD’ series was first released in 1982 by Tamiya, a long-established plastic model company. ‘Mini 4WD’ is an AA battery powered plastic model car. It can be used in race competitions held on its special race courses and /or can be customized with parts that are sold separately.
In the late 80s and mid 90s when Mini 4WD was selling tremendously well (the first and second boom), a national Mini 4WD race tournament ‘the Japan Cup’ was held annually. During those times, manga series like Dash! Yonkuro and Bakuso Kyodai Let’s & Go! became popular and led the Mini 4WD boom. They resulted in a media franchise including manga, anime and movies.
Especially during the second boom, the demand was so high that people used to say that’ 10% of AA batteries are used to operate Mini 4WD’.
The classic ‘Cyclone Magnum’ from the second boom in the 90s / Photo courtesy of Tamiya Inc. Official Website
‘Isn’t Mini 4WD just a toy? ‘ Yes, I hear this all the time…but this is very wrong. Mini 4WD is nothing like a toy but ‘motorsport’.
I’ll tell you why. In the official races, there are varied regulations in details including restrictions on vehicle height and weight, tire diameter sizes, the number of rollers and so on. Even schoolchildren need to follow all those regulations in order to participate in the race.
Just like life-size vehicles, ’car inspection’ is held to eliminate any violation. Such regulations cause Mini 4WD to be dubbed the world’s smallest motorsport.
Although most participants are schoolchildren in official competitions, the operating staff call everyone ‘racing drivers’ rather than ‘you children’. This is because each one of them is acting not only as a race engineer or a pit crew member, but also a racing driver. / Photo courtesy of Tamiya Inc. Official Website
Strict regulations as above are there to set a ‘boundary’ between Mini 4WD and ordinary toys. However, it seems to me that they were also contributing to the several Mini 4WD booms.
’Regulations’ certainly make ‘sports’ exciting. The Mini 4WD drivers concentrate and learn the race course to attempt the fastest lap record while juggling their allowance. These guys, who constantly have greasy fingers, are just so crazy about ‘challenges against regulations’.
In reality, these racing drivers who went through the second 4WD boom are already in their late 20s now. They must face so many ‘regulations’ in their everyday life. The rules and regulations in society are not the same as those in Mini 4WD racing. They could be unreasonably unfair and illogical sometimes.
So, just forget about all those restrictions and mount a jet engine on your 4WD and burn up the track!
This is where ’Mad Max Cup’ comes in. It’s for those who once were Mini 4WD drivers and now are tired of being tossed and rubbed in harsh society. ‘Mad Max Cup’ will let their dreams come true.
Let’s make your Mini 4WD the fastest.
As mentioned before, ‘Mad Max Cup’ that I’m participating this time has no rules and ‘anything goes’. So, I decided to ignore all the regulations and restrictions, and went ahead with a tune-up. Here is my racing car for ‘Mad Max Cup’.
This is modified into a double-motored machine with octuple voltage. I thought I was dreaming to become a prince of cornering…but what I did here is not any different from what infamous drivers would do.
The original body is my favorite from my childhood, ‘Sonic Saber’. I attached the genuine and the fastest ‘Plasma Dash Motor’ onto its front and back wheels, one on each, so there are two motors in total. It carries two different but connected chassis to maintain the double-motored feature. (Rear: S1 Chassis, Front: SFM Chassis)
You can of course attach the body part. This reminds me of Akira…
On top of this, the machine has two ‘12V batteries’ in series that hold the powerful high voltage. Normally, Mini 4WD uses AA batteries (1.5V), and so this machine is 8 times more powerful with octuple voltage. Surely, some tough drivers will get their asses kicked.
Let ‘Mad Max Cup’ begin!
Unlike RC cars (radio-controlled cars), we can’t control Mini 4WD cars once the race begins. All you can do is to pray.
So, anyway, ‘Mad Max Cup 4-Extremely Fury Road-’ took place in drizzling Honatsugi on March 26. The participants don’t begin the race all at once. This is a time attack race, so the drivers compete for the best lap time within their limit of 30 minutes.
Game Station Honatsugi Shop staff Kitamura is busy rewriting the fastest lap records that get broken one after another. According to Kitamura, his desire of ‘seeing crazy machines that are never seen in official races’ made ‘Mad Max Cup’ happen.
In the time attack system, the participants can race as many times as they wish. It means that the drivers are also required to be a skilled pit crew member. I’m changing the batteries here.
Mini 4WD race is not about ‘the fastest conquer the race’. If you go too fast, your machine would fly off the course (you’d be disqualified) because of the centrifugal forces. What I’m saying is that the participants are required to prove their skills to pass the corners and jumps while the machine drives at decent speed.
Some use springs to minimize the impact of driving through corners. Others try to reduce vibrations of their machines by using movable weights. There are so many different approaches.
Using my original handmade part (green wing part), my machine safely jumped over the ramp!
Assuming that the race course of ‘Mad Max Cup’ is equivalent to several sets of JC Junior Circuit, the speed of the top group would be 35-40km/h at a rough estimate. When you think of the average speed of approx. 20km/h in the official race, the speed in this race is almost double. (it is not easy to compare these two; the official one must perform the car inspection and its course layout is more complicated.)
’Winning Bird Formula’- Two of this were seen in the race this time. Whether it’s official or unofficial, practical drivers love this car.
There were various Wild Mini 4WD there as well. Is it the ‘Mad Max’ effect? ‘Bullhead Jr.’ driving through a digital curve.
I would call this ‘almost flying’, not ‘driving’. Can you feel how crazy and fast the whole race is now?
This is not scrap. Go, Sonic Saber Double Plasma V8!
The time attack has a 30-minute limit. Within this time, every participant drives off and back to the pits for adjustments, and the fastest lap records were repeatedly broken.
Let’s hear from the winners!
Champion Migishita no N (left) and Nagashima@Oremashi, MVP Machine Award winner (right)
’Migishita no N’ won the race brilliantly and became a champion again following his victory last year. His machine is ‘Winning Bird Formula’. This machine was first released 30 years ago, and it’s still popular among experienced drivers.
Generally, fast machines are visually sophisticated, too. Champ’s ‘Winning Bird Formula’ (top left) has a shiny ‘Tamiya Official Race Entry Sticker’ that proves the machine has passed the official car inspection.
Migishita no N says, “At the beginning, I had a plan to use ‘MaBeee’ (a battery device remotely controlled by a smart phone) for a stress-free win. However, the vibration during the test drive ruined the wiring…”
”So, I had to remove Maeee and control as usual, and I ended up winning the race” There, I certainly heard the champion roar. It was vale tudo where anything could happen, but his victory was skillfully and nicely earned and I am speechless.
Nagashima@Oremashi says, “He (Migishita no N) is just so eager to learn about the machines that others own.” FYI, Migishita no N gave me a piece of advice, “I wouldn’t recommend to have the wires at the bottom to avoid damage from the impact.”
The most surprising and entertaining ‘MVP Machine Award’ was given to Nagashima@Oremashi. He linked two machines of ‘Daihatsu Kopen RMZ’ and ‘Mammoth Dump Truck’ together. I would say that this is definitely a symbol of ‘Mad Max Cup’ that ‘anything goes’.
At a glance, this may seem very weird, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you consider that as a mass damper (a structural device to absorb vibration and reduce impact) as whole. You can see Mammoth Dump Truck is holding jumping Kopen down onto the track.
This is so unique and creative. Kopen’s braking system is removed and Mammoth Dump Truck controls this from the rear. Nagashima@Oremashi constantly showed amazing pit skills to successfully adjust the machine to the courses.
The audience gave him a loud cheer when he finally passed the tricky section after several attempts.
Kensuke with ‘Aero Thunder Shot’-It has unique large mass dampers on both sides.
Kensuke’s ‘Aero Thunder Shot’ got third place. This young driver handles the remake of ‘Thunder Shot Jr’ originally launched in 1980s, and his performance assures me that driving genes are surely inherited from the birth of Mini 4WD.
By the way, my octuple voltage machine had to retire not being able to go up a not-so-steep slope, which was about 2 meter away from the start. I was focusing too much on the ‘voltage’, but the ‘current capacity’ of a 12V battery apparently measures only a small percentage of an AA battery’s current capacity. Clenching my fist didn’t have any power…
Migishita no N, who won ‘Mad Max Cup’ two years in a row, describes the appeal that is unique to this race; “There are no rules, so my imagination on ‘a dream machine’ gets stimulated and becomes lively, even though it can be technically difficult sometimes. The key is whether or not you can challenge and apply your techniques to make your imagination real.”
Oh, please keep this in mind that ’Mad Max Cup 5’ and further races are to be held in the future.
You can make others scream with never-fail tune-ups or invest all your skills and money into your 4WD. Experienced drivers from the past and Mini4WD beginners, you are all welcome to join the race…So, why don’t you drop by and teest your skills?
All the ‘Mad Max Cup 4’ participating machines