Intro to Nitro Vehicle Basics

While electric vehicles may cost less and be easier to run, "nitro"-powered RC cars and trucks have the edge when it comes to realism and performance!

It's important to note that these models are NOT powered by the same gasoline that goes into full-size cars — they use a special "glow fuel" or "nitro." They do capture the sights and sounds of real, full-size racing like no electric can.

The engines roar powerfully…exhaust vapors trail your machine…and the speeds are unbelievable! You have a huge variety to choose from: trucks, buggies, sedans, stock cars, truggies, and more. Many come in "sport" or "competition" versions. First-timers might prefer the sport models to save money. If you're interested in racing, however, you may want competition features like adjustable suspension components, realistic tuning ability, carbon fiber pieces, ultra-light titanium parts, and state-of-the-art engineering!

When you choose a car, make sure you understand what it does and does not include. Some kits already come with an engine. Competition-level cars provide the basic chassis, but you often need to purchase an engine and body separately.

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Radio & Accessories

Nitro RC vehicle are controlled by the same 2- or 3-channel radio systems used for electrics. One difference: You'll also need batteries to power the receiver that operates your steering and throttle servos, since there's no motor battery that can also supply receiver power.

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Engine & Accessories

Most nitro-powered RC models are powered by small, 2-cycle, internal combustion "glow" engines. They burn a nitromethane-based fuel that includes special lubricants.

Full-size auto engines use spark plugs to ignite fuel. Glow engines use a "glow plug" that, once heated with a battery-powered "glow starter," hold that heat to continue igniting the fuel as you race.

Your engine may or may not come with a glow plug. Regardless, you'll need additional plugs because they do need to be replaced — it's always a good idea to take several spares with you to the track. The glow starter, too, must be purchased separately.

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Fuel & Accessories

Fuel accessories are available that make it easier to operate a nitro-powered car. To get the fuel from its container into your model's tank, you can use a Fuel Pump (powered and hand-crank options are available), suction-type Fuel Bulb, or a small Fuel Bottle with angled neck. We also offer fuel filters, installed in the fuel lines, will trap impurities before they can reach and possibly damage your model's engine.

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What else do I need?

Tools & Building Supplies

If you purchased a kit rather than an RTR (Ready-to-Run) model, you'll probably need a few tools and building supplies: Paint Brush, Paint, Body Scissors, Masking Tape, Cyanoacrylate Glue, Modeling Knife, Motor Leads with Connector, 4-Way Wrench, Threadlocking Compound, and Latex Foam Rubber (to protect your receiver from engine-induced vibration). Refer to the Accessories Required links for the model you choose.

Track Equipment

You'll need the following pieces of track equipment to transform your assembled nitro model into one that springs into action at your command. The vast majority of these are one-time purchases.

  • 12V 5 Amp Field Battery — To power all of your electric track equipment.
  • 12V Charger — To recharge the field battery.
  • Glow Starter or Glow Plug Clip — These provide your glow plug with the initial heat it needs to burn fuel. A Glow Starter carries its own battery, while a Glow Plug Clip is powered by your field battery.
  • Starter Box or 12V Starter with Car Adapter — If your engine is not equipped with its own recoil starter, you'll need one of these to start it.
  • Field Bags: A Field Bag gives you a handy way to transport your model and equipment to and from the track. Follow your model's Accessories Required links to see a list of the items you'll need.
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