RCU Review: HPI Racing Hellfire

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: April 2006 | Views: 186640 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    HPI Hellfire RTR

    HPI Racing

    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA

    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098

    See the Hellfire in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Assembly Ease

    Highly Adjustible
    Excellent Shock Components
    Tons of Low-End Grunt
    Mean Looking Body

    Some Will Miss the Roto-Start
    Steering Servo
    "No stop signs, speed limit
    Nobody's gonna slow me down"

    HPI dove heavily into the off-road scene with the release of the MT2 and the Savage. The vehicles were loads of fun in their own right, but they were targeted specifically at the backyard bashing crowd. Sure there were some guys who would try to take a Savage and run it in the local monster truck classes with some aftermarket suspension parts, but that was really more than HPI intended the platforms for. They were simply to be trucks that were fun to drive.

    Enter the Hellfire. This 1/8 scale stadium truck racer is built for the racer, even though many bashers may seek it out as well. HPI has been looking as if they are stepping up their racing game and getting even more serious with some of the on-road releases recently. The Hellfire is poised to do the same for the off-road segment of the hobby. With one of the biggest ranges of adjustable features to date, the Hellfire looks like it has the goods to make the competition a little hot under the collar.

    There's a lot of ground to cover, so I'm anxious to get started. For those who thought this would be nothing more than a clone of the Hot Bodies Lightning, you're wrong. While I'm sure HPI did their homework and researched some of the best advantages other trucks in the class have, the Hellfire is a unique truck in its own right. According to HPI, the Hellfire was designed for "maximum performance in all conditions!" If that is any indication of what to expect, the competition better go ahead and call the Exorcist as one is going to be needed!

    Model Name: HPI Racing Hellfire RTR
    Part Number: 10500
    Price: $600 (Average Retail)
    Type: 1/8 Scale Four Wheel Drive Nitro Monster Truck
    Length: 20.2" (513mm)
    Width: 16.3" (415mm)
    Wheelbase: 13.7" (348mm)
    Height: 6.8" (173mm)
    Weight: 9.2 lbs. (4.2 kg)
    Clutch Bell/Pinion: 13-Tooth
    Spur Gear: 52-Tooth (Hardened Steel)
    Wheels: Dish-Style 2.2x3.2" (56x82mm)
    Tires: Aggressor 2.6x5.5" (66x140mm)
    Suspension: Independant
    Shocks: Aluminum with Plastic Preload Spacers
    Center Drivetrain: CVD-Style
    Axles: CVD-Style
    Chassis: 3mm Hard Anodized Aluminum
    Engine: Nitro Star K4.6HO (.28ci)
    Brakes: Vented Stainless Steel Disc With Stainless Calipers/Fiber Pads
    Fuel Tank: 150cc

    Additionally Required Items
    8 AA Batteries
    Fuel Bottle
    Glow Igniter
    Air Filter Oil
    After-Run Oil
    Flathead Screwdriver

    There's no mistaking the Hellfire for another truck. The bright red body, with the name "Hellfire" emblazoned in large letters on the side let's everyone know what it is. HPI has already taken care of getting the body prepped and ready. The decals are already applied, and the necessary cutouts are in place. The rear of the body has a nice rugged looking spoiler that appears to be made to withstand some serious abuse. We'll see how it fares for sure later on during the driving phase.

    HPI does an excellent job of providing plenty of documentation for the user. Separate sheets cover the radio and warranty policies, while a large manual covers the truck in extreme detail. An extra sheet of decals is thrown in for good measure as well.

    The manual will be an invaluable resource for most owners, as it contains assembly diagrams, exploded views, and general operational procedures. In addition, the manual provides a walkthrough of the various suspension settings that are available to you with the Hellfire. Take my word for it; there are a whole lot of those!

    If you wanted a huge bag of accessories, you came to the right place! HPI has crammed the Hellfire's box full of little odds and ends to help you out while running the truck or searching for the perfect setup. Some of these items such as the preload spacers, additional servo mounting hardware, and wrenches, you'd expect to be included with a model of this caliber. However there are some things that aren't always included in a RTR (Ready to Run) as well. These include a 5-cell flat receiver pack, wall charger, and carburetor inserts. There is also a variety of miscellaneous tuning parts included as well, allowing you to tweak the suspension of the Hellfire to your liking, straight out of the box!

    Left Side
    Right Side

    The Hellfire comes equipped with a TF-3 radio, made by Futaba for HPI. It is a two channel, 27MHz AM radio. The radio is a no frills unit, offering basic analog trim adjustments, but does allow HPI to keep the cost for the truck at a competitive point. The radio should serve most novice hobbyists well, although more serious owners will likely look to upgrade this soon after they purchase their truck.

    The layout of the Hellfire has that characteristic buggy-like feel to it that is common throughout the truggy genre of the hobby. However, at the same time, keep in mind that the Hellfire isn't a true modified version of a buggy as many truggies are. It was designed to be a racing truck from the ground up. Likewise, those people who were expecting the Hellfire to be a clone of the Hot Bodies truck will be surprised as well. Just because HPI and Hot Bodies are under the same roof now doesn't mean HPI can't come up with their own version of a racing truck. This truck is clearly an HPI product, and a well thought out truck at that.

    As with other truggies the Hellfire utilizes a typical buggy-like drivetrain. The differentials are mounted above the single flat chassis plate, and a total of three differentials are used to deliver the power from the motor to the wheels. The motor sits as close to the centerline of the chassis as possible, while the tuned pipe hangs off of the side. An exhaust hanger pokes out of a hole in the side of the chassis, adding a real nice factory touch to the exhaust system. Alongside the motor and fuel tank, you'll find a 2.5mm thick upper plate that spans the entire length of the truck's chassis. This serves as a mounting point for several of the truck's components, but also has the task of preventing any chassis flex as well.

    Front Kickup
    Flywheel Access

    If you thought the impressive features of the Hellfire stopped at the upper side of the chassis, you're dead wrong. The underside is equally as impressive. Countersunk hardware is used throughout the underside of the truck, with the exception of the motor mount screws that are recessed. This keeps the bottom of the chassis smooth in case it smacks the ground off of larger jumps. The Hellfire also sports a full set of hex head hardware as well, which is a huge step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big advocate of hex head hardware. The edges of the chassis are curved upwards to help keep dirt out, while providing additional strength.

    The front of the Hellfire's chassis plate sports a 7° kick-up at the bulkhead area. Four screws keep the bulkhead properly attached to the chassis, while a pair of holes in the chassis plate properly positions the bulkhead assembly. I would like to see all of the hex head screws use fine machine threads instead of the coarse self-tapping threads for more overall clamping power, especially in the bulkhead area. However, that complaint is minor now that HPI has ditched the Phillips head screws for hex heads.

    The middle of the chassis has a access hole for the flywheel, in the event you opt to use a starter box with the truck. Beside of it you'll find another cutout that allows the center differential to sit nice and low on the chassis. The engine mount screws are also accessed from the underside of the truck. They sit in recessed slots which helps retain the truck's smooth underside characteristics while also allowing the spur gap to be adjusted when necessary.

    Shock Tower
    Front Tiebar
    Tiebar Adjustibility

    Both ends of the Hellfire offer a wide range of adjustment options, which are centered around the bulkhead areas of the truck. First on the list is the 4mm thick shock tower, which offers a total of eight positions for the upper ends of the shocks. Below that, you're provided six possible positions for the upper camber link, which affect the roll center of the truck. The shock tower is firmly secured to the bulkhead by four screws, and has the body mounts attached directly to its inner side. Both the front and rear shock towers are the same, providing you the same range of adjustments at either end of the truck.

    To further help tame the roll center of the truck, HPI equips the Hellfire with a 2mm thick sway bar and offers thick optional versions. The bar uses aluminum ball ends that pop into plastic ends attached to the suspension arms. On the outer side of the differential assembly, a pair of plastic braces keeps the sway bar in place. You'll find that a sway bar is used at both ends of the truck, keeping with HPI's theme of maximum adjustability options.

    The front tie bar is a very noteworthy part, standing out dramatically with it's purple anodized finish. Not only is it made to withstand some extreme abuse, with a thickness of 5mm, but it's also fashioned to provide a range of adjustments as well. By using different plastic cups, you can alter the amount of front inboard angle the Hellfire has with a possible range of 0-2°. These plastic cups are used on the front inner pin brace as well, giving you the ability to alter the vehicle's total front kickup from 21-25°. Depending upon how much of an adjustment you need, from the captured suspension pins, you simply replace or reverse the plastic inserts as needed. HPI has thrown in several extra sets of these as well, just to make sure you have enough to get the Hellfire working with a setup that suits you and the conditions you'll be driving in.

    Front Suspension
    Suspension Arms
    Suspension Components

    To give the Hellfire its wide stance, HPI uses a set of long plastic suspension arms to position the wheels. Arms this long will undoubtedly encounter a great deal of stress. However, HPI engineers knew this, and made the suspension arms 10mm thick. They also considered stress in regards to the design, utilizing angled webbing sections for strength.

    Since the front suspension handles the steering duties, HPI needed to allow the carriers to pivot. To facilitate this, HPI equips the Hellfire with hub carriers that support the axle carriers. The steering hub is supported by a pair of screws that pass through metal inserts. The hub carriers provide two holes to allow for a quick adjustment to the camber link. However, that's not the only adjustment you'll find here. The installed hub carriers provide 15° of caster, while HPI includes a set of 13° carriers as well. This is in addition to the 7° offered by the chassis kick-up, and any setting you apply to the suspension pin's angle.

    The camber link is a turnbuckle with large beefy rod ends for strength. The left-hand threaded side of the link is marked, making it easy to know which way you need to turn the assembly to increase or decrease the camber angle. A screw and a locknut secure the camber link at either end, and the link is fully captured inside the hub's ears at its outer end.

    The suspension arm provides the lower end of the shock a total of three points for it to mount. When combined with the shock tower, this gives you a wide range of adjustability. The suspension arm uses a 4mm stainless steel pin at the chassis, and a 3mm pin at the hub carrier. The 8mm axle stub passes through a pair of 8x16x5mm bearings. The 4.5mm axle is a CVD-style unit, and connects the differential to the wheels.

    The hex adapter setup is borrowed from the 1/8 scale buggy world. The axle stub is hollow, and a grub screw runs down inside of it to hold the 3mm axle pin secure. The pin holds the 17mm hex adapter in place, and a 17mm nut holds the wheel onto the axle. This is a tried and true setup, and is standard fare in the 1/8 scale buggy and truggy world.

    Hellfire Adjustment List
    Ackerman AngleThree Positions
    Brake BiasSplit
    Camber Link6 Inner/2 Outer
    Camber (Front)Fully Adjustible
    Camber (Rear)Fully Adjustible
    Caster Blocks13 or 15°
    ClutchOptional Springs
    Differential ActionDiff Oils
    Inboard Angle0-2°
    Ride HeightPreload Spacers
    Shock DampeningPistons/Oils
    Shock Positioning8 Upper/3 Lower
    Shock SpringsOptional Springs
    Suspension DroopSet Screws
    Sway BarDiameter/Tension
    Toe (Front)Fully Adjustible
    Toe (Rear)2-4°
    Captured Suspension Pin
    Rear Tiebar
    Rear Suspension

    If you looked closely you may have noticed that the outer suspension pin has no grooves for e-clips. That's because HPI has developed a captured outer pin approach for the Hellfire. A pair of screws, one on each side of the suspension arm, thread down next to the suspension pin. The heads of these screws hold the pins in place. This approach is very easy to work with, and avoids those pesky e-clips that are always getting lost!

    The rear bulkhead area of the truck provides just as much diversity as the front when it comes to settings. Just as with the front, the suspension pins are held in place by a pair of 5mm tie bars with plastic inserts. On the rear suspension though, these parts provide a different set of adjustments from the front. The rearmost piece provides you the ability to adjust the toe angle from 2-4°, while the inner rear bar allows you to alter the anti-squat from 1.5-3.5°. As with the front, setting the angles is merely a matter of choosing the proper inserts and orienting them in the correct manner.

    The shocks are provided the same range of adjustments as they are on the front. However, the rear arms are designed in slightly different manner to accommodate the rear bearing carriers. These carriers can be moved forwards or backwards, giving you the ability to make a small change to the truck's wheelbase. Just as with the front, you'll find grub screws in the suspension arms, close to the bulkhead area. These allow you to adjust the droop angle of the suspension arms. You should be getting the picture by now, as adjustment options are a big central theme for the Hellfire. The HPI engineers wanted a truck that could adopt to any terrain, and they came through with flying colors.

    Steering Servo
    Steering Draglink
    Differential Access

    HPI didn't play around when they made the upper chassis brace for the Hellfire. It's a 2.5mm thick aluminum plate that's anodized in black, and stretches from one end of the chassis to the other. The end result is a super-strong chassis that prevents flexing. Underneath the front part of the brace, you'll find an HPI SF-2 servo to control the truck's steering. It's the same servo that the Savage uses, and it offers 70 oz-in of torque at 6.0 volts.

    A 3mm aluminum steering link ties the two halves of the steering bellcrank together. It's easy to spot with its purple anodizing. The link provides adjustable Ackerman angle, allowing you to increase or decrease the aggressiveness of the steering action. The right half of the bellcrank provides a thumbwheel that allows you to adjust the tension of the built in servo saver. Unlike many vehicles of this nature, the adjustable thumbwheel can be reached easily if changes are necessary.

    Potential Hellfire owners will be glad to know that the differential is easily removed for oil changes or maintenance. Both the front and rear differential assemblies are accessed in the same manner, and you'll find that simply removing six screws allows you to remove them. This setup absolutely rules for quick and easy access!

    Differential Assembly
    Ring and Pinion
    Inside the Differential

    Once you remove the differential from the truck, you can get a good luck at exactly what HPI has equipped the Hellfire with. The differential housing is plastic, and marked to indicate which side should be up when placed into the truck. This helps to eliminate the common mistake of placing one differential in upside down and forcing you to remove it again. Three small screws hold the upper and lower halves of the differential housing together as it protects the inner gears.

    Once you open the housing, you get a good glimpse of the zerol (slight spiral cut) gears that put the power of the Hellfire to the ground. Sharp eyes may notice that the ring and pinion differ slightly from what you'd see on many 1/8 scale truggy-style trucks, as they are more of a standard size. This is because HPI uses the differentials to reduce the gearing ratio, which allowing the use of standard-size spur gears. This is an uncommon trait with this style of truck, as most use a larger-sized spur that can sometime limit your gearing selection, or be hard to find. The end result for the Hellfire is a small change, that has a big benefit for the truck overall.

    The differential and pinion are each supported by a pair of 8x16x5mm ball bearings, which provide minimal rolling resistance as the drivetrain spins. The differential cup is sealed, and filled from the factory with 7,000 weight differential oil. My front and rear differentials were about half full, but the center differential was pretty dry. So I'd recommend checking all of the differentials before running. Inside the oil-filled chamber resides a six-gear setup, allowing for precise transfer of power from wheel to wheel as the Hellfire stomps over the terrain of your choosing.

    Center Differential
    Throttle Servo

    If you thought access to the front and rear differentials were easy, you'll like the fact that the center differential can be accessed easily as well. The upper cap ends of the differential mount can be pulled straight off the differential mount, even with the brace attached if you wish. Each mount is home to a pair of stainless steel brake calipers and fiber pads, while it holds the center differential and it's bearings in place. Inside the differential, you'll once again find a full six-gear setup to transfer the power from one end of the truck to the other.

    The brake calipers I just mentioned clamp down on a pair of stainless steel brake disks which are vented to help them stay cool when the brakes are applied. Plastic guides at the lower end of the differential mount keep the disk from wobbling while the driveshafts are spinning.

    Above the differential mount, a 2mm aluminum brace ties the upper caps together. This brace also serves the purpose of supporting the braking linkages as well. The braking linkages utilize knurled aluminum knobs on threaded rods, which allow for precise adjustments to the linkage. Front and rear braking can be controlled independently, to tailor the braking power to your liking. A fuel filter sits on top of the brace, held in place by a plastic clamp, while off to the side an HPI SF-1 servo controls the throttle and braking duties.

    Front Brace
    Rear Brace
    Engine Mount

    The front and rear chassis braces are one area that have provoked a little concern from me in this otherwise solidly built truck. Even thought they are made of plastic, I'd still expect them to be fairly strong thanks to their vertical-like design. Any problems with them being plastic though, would surface while running a long main, or being used in a bashing scenario. However, since HPI has optional aluminum versions available, a simple swap will cure any flexing issues that may arise. So any problems some people may experience will be a non-issue with a simple upgrade.

    A good example of foresight, on the part of HPI, can be found in the motor mounting area. Specifically the plastic L-shaped exhaust rest that is mounted onto the hard anodized chassis plate. This part prevents the exhaust from bouncing up and down against the chassis as the vehicle is jumped and driven. Even though the exhaust system is secure at the front of the tuned pipe, the header can move some as it's attached using a wrap-around spring. The inclusion of this part keeps the header properly positioned and avoids any harm from being done to it.

    The motor mount is a multi-layered design. A purple anodized aluminum lower half serves as the mounting point for the vertical mounts that the motor actually attaches to. This assembly allows you to alter the gap between the spur and clutch bell when needed. In addition, you can remove the motor, or the motor and the whole mounting assembly, without affecting the spacing between the clutch bell and spur at all. This makes motor maintenance easy, while below the motor mount the chassis is cut out to allow the crankcase of the motor to sit as long as possible on the chassis.

    Shock Components
    Stock Tires

    The HPI Hellfire comes equipped with some serious shocks. The bodies are hard-anodized aluminum, and the shafts are 3.5mm titanium-nitrate coated shock shafts. So it's obvious HPI didn't pull any punches when it came to providing a smooth and free operating shock. HPI even provided a flat section on the lower end of the shaft, making it easy to hold the shaft when threading on the rod end. The stock shock oil is 20 weight, and to help you tune the dampening HPI provides alternative piston heads with tapered holes. The tapered hole versions of the piston heads allow you to have slightly different dampening settings for the up and down stroke of the shock.

    The stock shock springs are 5.5lb. for the front, and 10lb. for the rear. The shocks appear to be on the mushy side when pushing the truck down after pulling it out of the box, so I don't expect to see much dampening action. However, I'll hold my final thought for when I actually drive the Hellfire. To adjust the shock's preload setting, HPI supplies a large amount of plastic clip-on preload spacers.

    The stock tires for the Hellfire are a unique block-like design that HPI dubs Aggressors. However, that wasn't the first thing I noticed about them. The first thing would have to be the smell, as it reminded me of a box of mothballs that had just been opened. It's a little overwhelming at first but disappears over time.

    The tires seem to be more oriented towards the needs of a basher than a racer. This will provide a good lifespan, although a racer will likely look elsewhere as they'll want more traction. The tires are pre-glued onto a set of black dish wheels. The blocky design will likely give the bashing crowd plenty of traction for their needs though, and the racers can swap the tires with what works best on their track.

    Nubz Tires
    Receiver Box
    Inside the Receiver Box

    HPI must have known that it was likely the Hellfire would end up at the track at some point during my testing. So to accommodate this, I also received a set of their Nubz tires that are better suited to racing than the stock tires are. These tires are more optimized to what the racing crowd would desire, although they won't last as long as the stock tires would. It's a small trade off for the additional performance they'll offer in the dirt.

    The receiver box for the Hellfire is one sweet deign. The box drops down into a hole in the upper chassis plate. At the back of the box, you'll find a switch with a silicone cover to protect it from the dirt and dust. A single small body clip holds the lid to the box shut.

    Opening the box can prove a little difficult at first, as you may assume the box's lid is hinged. It's not hinged though, and uses a tab at the front that holds it into place. So to open the box you'll lift the back of the lid slightly, and then pull it backwards. The end result is a super tight seal that does an incredible job of keeping dirt and dust away from the electronics.

    Once the box is open, you're greeted with a large amount of room. The 27MHz AM receiver is secured to the underside of the lid, while the factory-installed receiver pack is already placed inside the lower half of the box. A piece of foam keeps the 5-cell receiver pack properly positioned.

    Engine and Pipe

    The Hellfire is powered by the Nitro Star K4.6 HO. This is the same motor design that sits in the Savage SS 4.6, although it has been reworked to increase the power and torque for the Hellfire. I absolutely love the dark gray theme used with the motor, as well as the darker finish used on the hard-anodized pipe. The bright colors often found on motors have been used way too frequently, so this new color direction for the Hellfire really looks sharp.

    To handle the incoming air and keep it clean, HPI relies on an 1/8 scale style filter with an outer foam element. This will do an excellent job of cleaning the motor's oxygen, ensuring it's free of containments. The exhaust duties are handled by a matching header and pipe, connected by a silicone exhaust coupler. HPI has selected these components to compliment the power band, and torque, of the motor. Alongside the motor's exhaust port you'll find a pullstart. A purple silicone handle extension keeps the handle where I can be easily reached, making starting the truck with the body on much easier. It also helps keep your fingers away from the header, should you be restarting a warm motor. I'm a little surprised that HPI didn't just adapt the Roto-Start to the truck, although the rear suspension assembly my have made access a little tough. I imagine most serious Hellfire owners will end up going the starter box route eventually anyway.

    Up front, a three-shoe composite clutch transfers the engine's power to the 13-tooth clutch bell. Keep in mind that due to the reduced gearing we discussed earlier at the differentials, that the clutch bell and spur are not oversized as they often are in many trucks of this nature. The clutch bell is vented which helps to prevent heat buildup, and is held onto the engine's crankshaft by a screw and purple anodized recessed washer.

    Slide Assembly
    Piston and Sleeve

    Since the Hellfire offers such a huge range of adjustment from the standpoint of the chassis, one would expect no less from the motor. So you'll be pleased to know that it delivers in this regard as well. An aluminum carburetor serves as a home for the low and high speed needles, as well as a mixture adjustment. On top of that, there's the idle adjustment as well. The large smooth bore of the carburetor will easily provide the motor with all of the air it needs, and the supplied spacers can restrict the motor's output if needed due to traction or fuel consumption concerns. A purple silicone boot covers the carburetor's slide, and protects it from the elements. So the K4.6 HO is fully featured, and equipped to tackle any tuning need at all.

    The internals of the Hellfire's engine utilize true ABC construction, providing the powerplant with an excellent amount of compression and longevity. The porting inside the engine's block matches the sleeve very well for a RTR motor, helping to maximize the truck's power output. The cooling fins on the motor's block assist the anodized head in keeping the motor cool while its running, providing efficient and safe operating temperatures.

    Charge Receiver Pack
    Install Antenna Tube

    Between pre-gluing the tires and prepping the lexan body, HPI Racing has done an excellent job of getting the Hellfire ready to go when you pull it out of the box. However, just like with any RTR, there are a few minor details you need to address before firing your truck up and breaking it in. The most time consuming of these will be charging the receiver pack. So I suggest starting this process soon after you pull the vehicle out of the box. The stock wall charger will fully charge the pack in around 6-7 hours. So later on, you may find yourself wanting to invest in a second receiver pack or a peak charger for the pack. That way you'll have more runtime, or the capability to charge the pack much quicker. To charge the receiver pack with the supplied charger, simply plug the two together and then plug the charger into the wall.

    To ready the receiver for operation, you'll first need to extend the antenna. Uncoil it from its resting spot under the receiver box's lid, and then stretch it out. Run it between your finger and thumb to straighten it, and then slide it through the supplied antenna tube. If you find it difficult to get the wire through the tube, try sprinkling a little baby powder on the wire, or place a few drops of bearing oil in the tube. Once the wire is in place, push the tube into its spot on the receiver box lid. Then use the supplied rubber cap to secure the wire at the top of the tube.

    Connect Receiver Pack
    Secure Lid
    Tank Handle

    When the receiver pack is charged, drop it into place in the receiver box. Then connect the pack into the wiring for the switch, ensuring the switch is off. You can turn it on later when you need to. I used some of the extra foam tape to help further pad the receiver pack into place in the box, just to further eliminate chances of any of the electronics from becoming damaged. Finallly I closed the receiver box up, securing the lid with the supplied body clip.

    I'm always one for making things easier on me, especially when refueling. So to help this aspect out, I chose to install a handle on the fuel tank's lid to facilitate easy refueling with the body installed. The handle is easily made using a ziptie and a short section of fuel tubing. It only takes a few seconds to accomplish, however its benefits in the field are invaluable!

    Radio Batteries
    Dubro Klip Retainers
    Installed Body

    We took care of the onboard electronics a little bit ago, but the radio will need to be powered as well. You'll need to use a set of eight AA batteries for this. Make sure you pick up a quality name-brand set. Cheap AA batteries won't last as long, and will also affect your overall range.

    Another trick I like to utilize is the Dubro Klip retainers. For the Hellfire, I opted to use red (Dubro #2248) for the front and black (Dubro #2245) for the rear. It just seemed to flow with the body's colors better. The Klip retainers not only help prevent losing the body clips, but also come in handy when the body is off the truck. With the clips attached to the body, they're easy to find when you're ready to reinstall it onto the chassis. Once the body is installed, you're ready to break-in your truck!

    With the Hellfire prepped and ready to go, I needed to break-in the motor. Since I was headed to the track that day, I decided to go ahead and do my break-in there, so I could run it as well as another vehicle of my own I planed on practicing with. So, once arriving at Monkey Bottom Raceway, I pulled out the Hellfire and jumped right into heat-cycling the motor. While the break-in method in the manual will work well enough for the novice, I prefer to use a break-in method that gives the motor a little workout during the break-in process.

    While in the pits, preparing the truck for its first run, I noticed the steering servo was not centered very well. The trim adjustment on the radio was maxxed out in one direction, but the servo was still not centered well at all. So I removed the servo horn, and then adjusted the trim knob to the center while the radio and receiver were on. I then replaced the servo horn, and used the trim adjustment to fine tune the center point. At that point, I was ready to go.

    The first thing that I noticed as I started the truck was how easily it fired up for the first time. There was a lot of compression acting against the pullstart, but the 30% fuel and the igniter did their job within a few pulls. I walked through the first couple runs of the break-in process, but ran into a snag halfway through the third run. As I headed the truck away from me the truck took off across the field. Being set slightly rich, and running through high grass kept it from tearing away at a high rate of speed, and it came to rest in a pile of brush. I ran over to it as quickly as possible and shut it down. I turned around and glanced through the parking lot, noticing one person who had headed towards the track with a vehicle that had not previously been out.

    After finding out this guy was new, and had missed the fact he should check the frequency board, the problem was solved. I had a spare set of crystals on hand for his radio, and he was soon off my channel. This should serve as a stark reminder for all involved. Always check the frequency board. This could have had a much worse ending than it actually did, and you certainly don't want to be responsible for damage to another vehicle.

    The rest of the break-in process went by without a hitch. However as I was fueling the truck up to take it to the track, I noticed the servos twitching and turning. The motor was off, thankfully, although the radio and receiver were on. So, again I made the rounds and found yet another newcomer to the track who failed to check the frequency board. At this point, knowing that the beginning of the season would be attracting many who had no established track etiquette, I opted to remove the stock radio and install a spare Spektrum receiver I had on hand, which would eliminate any more radio conflicts. I simply did not want to take any chances and walk away without something to bring to this table for the review. I know the radio to be a good basic RTR radio from my experiences with the similar radio found in the HPI Savage. So the radio swap would afford me some peace of mind without affecting the outcome of this review.

    With the radio situation squared away, I hit the track. I was finally ready for some action. The power provided by the Nitro Star engine was readily apparent from the first time I gave the truck the nod to go forward. All four tires spun wildly clamoring at the ground for traction. It was like watching a four-wheel drive drifting session, and I had yet to even approach the first turn! The low-end power was definitely living up to the evil looks of this truck!

    I started making a few laps around the track with the Hellfire, but I had to be careful. The track surface was pretty dry, and the stock tires were pushed to their limits by the K4.6 HO. Throttle control was essential, and at no point did I feel like I could use all of the power the truck had in reserve. It was hard to do anything more than single the jumps, as it pushed the truck to the limits of control. So I quickly decided to pull the Hellfire back in, and install the Nubz tires that HPI had supplied me with.

    Back on the pit table, I also decided to make some changes to the steering linkage as well. I gave all the wheels about 1° of negative camber, and then also added around 1° of toe out to the front tires as well. Knowing the track was dry; I figured that when using the Nubz I could stand to have a little better toe setting on the truck to maintain good straight-line stability. With my first round of changes made, I hit the track again looking to up the ante from my first run.

    The Nubz made a significant difference, and I could tell that almost immediately. The truck was still going to be a handful, thanks to the power HPI's 4.6 provided, but at least I could start winding the motor out and hitting some jumps more predictably now. In fact, the truck was really starting to show it's capabilities after a few laps, as I started doubling some of the jumps where before it had just been next to impossible.

    The handling was impressive, although I knew some more tweaking would improve the truck even further. However, I could see the potential the truck had, and the Hellfire easily showcased itself as the most race-capable truck HPI has developed. The low center of gravity allowed the truck to feel well balanced while reducing body roll. The low stance allowed the truck to stab forward in a burst of speed whenever the throttle trigger was squeezed.

    After a few laps I built up a fairly comfortable rhythm, and was able to make more predictable laps around the tracks. The opening double after the straightaway was one of the more fun sections of the track, as I made my way around it. The Hellfire would dispatch the two large jumps a healthy dose of fire and brimstone, launching off of the first one and then landing beyond the second effortlessly. As I began to speed up through the corner before the double I would quickly find me slinging the truck sideways upon landing to glance off of the backboard of the corner behind the double as I had ate up all of my available real estate in the air. This truck simply wants to fly, which is one buggy-like characteristic this class of truck has as an advantage.

    While watching the Hellfire tackle the double was fun, and easy, it was more of a challenge to hit the triple soon afterwards. It's not that the truck lacked any power, not in the least, but rather that a good controlled powerful launch was needed to get the Hellfire successfully over all three jumps. If the track had been under race day conditions, and the traction been improved, it would have been easier. However, it was still possible with the dry dusty conditions, and made for a nice challenge in learning to keep the truck under control. The truck's stock motor simply has an abundance of torque, and that power comes on hard in the low-end range. A little more experimentation with the gearing may help, as I'd trade some of the low-end power for a little more speed. The Hellfire seemed to hit its 38 MPH peak a little too quickly on the straightaway.

    Rounding the corners, the truck did exhibit an off-power push at first. Some tweaking with the suspension settings could remove much of that if it would be desired. However I chose to set the rear brakes to provide a little drag in neutral, which would allow me to slide and pivot the Hellfire through the corners. Combine this with the fact the truck oversteered a little coming out of the turn when it was accelerating, and you could cut the corners close and fast if that is your preferred driving style.

    Coming through the rhythm section did seem to upset the chassis of the truck to an extent, and I had figured this might be the case after watching it land some of the bigger jumps. The Hellfire seemed to be a little off on the spring weight to me, and the 20 weight shock oil seemed to have little effect on the dampening of the shocks. Obviously this is a subjective observation, and how well this setup works will differ from location to location. I would have opted for some spring experimentation along with some thicker oil. Given the huge spring selection for the Hellfire, anyone should easily be able to find something that suits their needs. However, I wanted to keep my testing focused solely with the stock springs, although I did allow myself to alter the shock oil. So I stepped up to some 30 weight shock oil, and used some of the optional tapered piston heads in a configuration which gave me more dampening on the shock's rebound stroke.

    Along with the above changes, I also laid the shocks down some on the shock tower, to provide a more progressive feel to the suspension. In the end this seemed to help tame the suspension considerably. Even though I would have like to still have used some different shock springs, the truck was handling the track well using this setup as it tamed the rhythm section as well as the few moments after landing a large jump. To give you, the reader, an idea of the settings I zeroed in on while testing, you can check out the setup sheet I included along with this review. Keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach though. What works for my track may not work well for you, and even with that I intend on continuing to tweak my Hellfire further as time allows.

    Now that you've heard about my experiences while driving the truck, I imagine you'll want to hear about any further problems. I had a few minor parts-related incidents that caused an issue. The first was a result of a cart wheeled landing when clearing a double. The truck must have rotated five or six time before coming to a stop against the rear board with a thud. The result was the shock rod being pushed through the suspension arm. The mounting point on the arm, for the shock, was cracked forcing a replacement. The titanium nitrate coated shock shaft was also bent from the incident, and I wasn't surprised given the force in which the truck hit. I was actually surprised it wasn't worse, after hearing it hit.

    Another issue that caused me a few repeated headaches was the pins for the CVD driveshafts. On two separate occasions I had the grub screws that locked these pins in place back out due to lack of threadlock. Once the pins fell out, only the opposite end of the truck seemed to pull with any power. The fix was easy, as I had some suitable replacement pins on hand. After the second time this happened though, I tore the axles down and applied threadlock on each axle. This eliminated any future problems. I do feel like I shouldn't have had this problem out of the box though.

    The only other items that caused me some difficulty were the steering servo and the pullstart. The steering servo broke after a few hours of use, forcing me to dig up a replacement. A good solid metal gear servo would have been a better option out of the box for a truck like this. I also had to replace was the pullstart for the 4.6. It was easy to see that the motor had a great deal of compression early on. As the tanks continued to empty and be refilled, the pullstart's internal spring seemed like it was having a harder and harder time getting the string wound back up in the housing. Eventually it just gave up altogether. It was a simple swap to a new one and, with the motor broke-in and loosened up well, I have had no further problems with it. Most hardcore racers will eventually drop the pullstart in favor of a starter box anyway, and never even look back.

    In the end, one minor detail surprised me. That would be the body's rear spoiler. While I expected the truck to be a good performer overall, the one thing I felt would fail would be the lexan spoiler attached to the rear of the body. These spoilers typically don't hold up after the truck has been driven for very long. The Hellfire's spoiler put up with my driving, and anything I dealt its way during the course of my testing. While the optional chassis mounted spoiler will have an appeal, the stock spoiler definitely shouldn't be disregarded as an item that won't be there a few runs later.

    See the Hellfire in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Review Setup Sheets
    Blank  RCU Review Baseline

    The Hellfire is one nice 1/8 scale stadium truck racer that offers a much more capable platform than many would think at first. After all, HPI isn't the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of off-road racing. However, the Hellfire is an obvious attempt to change that line of thinking. With this release, I think HPI has exceeded any skeptical thoughts that potential Hellfire owners may have had.

    Out of the box, the truck will need some tweaking to get it set up and ready for the conditions you'll run it in. However, that's part of the fun. Line yourself up set of tires that suit your track conditions, and pick yourself up a tough metal gear steering servo and then sit back and enjoy the ride. The 1/8 scale Stadium Truck (or Unlimited/Truggy) Classes are a blast as they are quickly becoming one of the more popular genres of racing. I know I've certainly been a witness to it!

    If you're looking to jump into the truggy scene, then the Hellfire is going to be a popular option. It's a capable platform, and with the backing of HPI, the parts availability will be excellent for just about everyone. Now if you'll excuse me. I've got a Hellfire I need to tweak on some more. With all the options this truck has on hand, I just know there's an even faster way around the track than I've found to date. You better believe I'm going to find it!

    HPI Racing
    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA
    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098
    Website: www.hpiracing.com

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: (732) 635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: Glow Igniter, Klip Retainers

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-7660
    Website: www.duratrax.com
    Products used: Air Filter Oil

    JAC Racing Products, Inc.
    209 Bridle Path
    Casselberry, FL 32707 USA
    Phone: (800) 848-9411
    Fax: (407) 388-1799
    Website: www.jacracingproducts.com
    Products used: Profuel (30%)

    Trinity Products, Inc.
    36 Meridian Road
    Edison, NJ 08820 USA
    Phone: (800) 848-9411
    Fax: (732) 635-1640
    Website: www.teamtrinity.com
    Products used: After Run Oil

    Comments on RCU Review: HPI Racing Hellfire

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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