How to Build an RC Dragster: Useful Tips

The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of RC drag racing: on-road and off-road. In drag racing, tracks don’t go in circles and there are no turns. You need a fast burst of speed and lots of horsepower.

On-road dragsters are designed to go fast in a straight line, while off-road ones are used in dirt drag, which means going down a straight dirt track as fast as possible. Knowing this, you need to decide which type of RC dragster you want to build and also whether you want an electric or a nitro vehicle. Once you’ve made up your mind, it all depends on your budget.

Off-road dragsters

These vehicles are equipped with big tires on the back. All-wheel-drive RC cars have them in front as well. They need high torque motors, electric or nitro engines that give them a lot of power and speed. With dirt dragsters, aerodynamics isn’t a problem, so people use monster trucks, buggies or rally cars to start off. All you need to do is add some speed and traction to them.

On-road dragsters

These traditional dragsters need to belong and lean. They have high torque motors and big tires in the back, but they don’t have a treaded surface. This is why they’re called drag slicks. Traction on paved tracks is obtained by adding a glue-like compound to the tires. In some cases, the drag strip is coated too.

The engine

With an electric RC car, choose a brushless setup. It will be able to handle high voltage. If you decide to go with nitro, you need a big block style engine and high nitro content fuel (20-30%). Don’t forget that bigger engines put more stress on the drivetrain.

The drivetrain

This is a very important part of a dragster because this helps you get to the end before the other competitors. When tuning your RC dragster, you need both speed and enough power to take off. In mastering these skills, gear ratios are very important. Upgrading your drive axles and replacing plastic gears with metal ones will help a lot.


Dragsters run at very high speeds, so it’s very important to have a good suspension. Otherwise, your car might crash because of all the bumps in the road.


This is an important chapter in on-road drag racing because it helps you get more speed. RC dragsters have wings and low-mounted bodies. This way, the air won’t slow you down.

The tires

In order to get better results with both on and off-road dragsters, you need very good traction. For on-road dragsters, choose good quality foam or rubber tires. Foam tires have better traction than the ones made from rubber. As for off-road tires, you need a very good tread pattern, like paddle tires, used for loose dirt or sand.

The chassis

In order to obtain more speed, you need your RC car to be light. Extra weight drags you down so your chassis needs to be made out of carbon fiber or light-weight metal tubing.

Modifications for extra speed

If your engine doesn’t mount up, build your own brackets and make it fit. Nitro engines can be improved by porting and polishing. This is a risky business, though. You might end up breaking the pocketbook and needing a new engine. When modding their electric motors, people usually take them apart and redo the windings and add stronger and better magnets.

While there are many details left for you to figure out, as you go along, these are the most important things you need to consider when building an RC dragster.


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