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Several RC magazines around the world have asked us to write a monthly column. With the kind permission we will re-publish the column at our web site too so all of the XRAY fans can read the latest news and behind the scenes information. Enjoy.

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Part I
The summer season is over, the indoor season has started running, and we are waiting for the last World Championship of the season - the Off-road Worlds in Thailand. With a bit of free time in our time schedule I have finally found the time to tell you about XRAY’s all-new ride. You have probably already seen the RX8 intro on the Internet. After the launch of the promotion, we have been bombarded with an unbelievable amount of e-mails, phone calls, questions, and close attention from the public.

The RX8 is my new 1/8 on-road nitro baby that I have been working since 2009. To jump forward to the part that everyone has been waiting for – our plan is to release the RX8 at the Nürnberg show and be ready for the upcoming 2011 World Championship. It has been a very long way to come to get to this point.

Now that I have been now thinking about all those days, there is a lot of nostalgia for me. To give you a bit of the inside scoop behind the entire RX8 background and my love for 1/8 on-road cars, I need to go back many years.

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This journey started for me back in 1974 when I started with model cars and at those times it was slot cars. As a teenager I designed my own slot cars at home, and I produced around 100 different slot cars. Soon I reached the limits and needed a new challenge… something more complex, something with more technology. My passion for F1 cars drove me to automotive studies and an engineering degree, and with all my passion I became fascinated with 1/8 nitro on-road cars.

Slovakia (at that time Czechoslovakia) was a communist country where it was illegal to make a business and there was no chance to get any products from western countries… also it was not permitted to travel outside of the Eastern Communist Block. Because we could not get any products from outside, in 1977 I started to make my own 1/8 on-road cars. To get an engine I had to buy airplane engines (which were produced in our country) and completely modify them, produce the head, carburetor (because airplane engines used a rotary carburetor) and of course manually make a muffler as well. I had no machinery except for hand tools, so I had to manually produce almost everything. Foam tires were unavailable and as such I arranged for material which was used to produce shoes; I cut it into slices and glued it on my own wheels to create my own tires.

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Since I had no opportunity to produce composite parts, everything was made from nylon as a replacement of plastic parts. The fuel tank was made from zinc-coated sheet and soldered into one piece. I still remember my first chassis which I manually filed with a hand wire-saw ; to produce 1 chassis I broke 40 replacement wires.

The bodies were the real problem, there was nothing like Lexan® material at all and as such the body was made from stiff paper, then used laminate and epoxy from inside of the body to create a skeleton. For the next bodies I first made a mould from balsa wood reinforced with special epoxy. Making this mould I could then produce lighter bodies from very simple laminate with epoxy, and I could also make a small mass-production to trade the bodies for other stuff. But the real hassle was the electronics. It was impossible to buy anything officially but the underground market offered some limited products but for incredible prices… for a radio I had to spend several months’ salary! As such, a good friend of mine – who was an electronics specialist – made all the electronics for me which I exchanged for other products. That was a typical barter trade at those times: service-for-service and product-for-product.

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My first ever 1/8 on-road car had a very simple aluminum chassis and front suspension with simple dampening… a design very similar to current 1/12 pan cars. The rear axle featured a solid axle with a differential and the brake was a grip which pushed on the clutchbell. Even the fuel had to be home made. I bought methyl-alcohol and mixed it with racing oil, synthetic oil, and nitromethane. To have fun and excitement with an RC car you needed to spend months and months of hard work to produce and build everything yourselves. And then there was no real-purpose RC track so all the racing was done in parking lots.

To be able to continue this fantastic hobby I needed to make more cars (not only for myself but for others too) so I could trade and exchange for better electronics, better tires, better engines. As such I started to produce a few dozen cars every year, of course everything done by hand at home. Year by year I improved the designs and incorporated many technological improvements. First the rear suspension had simple absorbers… later on real shocks, anti-roll bars, rear drivetrain with differential and disk brake… later on a 2-speed gear system. In 1984 I redesigned the complete car and I was one of the very first in the world to make a real and complete 4WD drivetrain with fully independent front & rear suspension. I was motivated from full-size rally cars that had 4WD drivetrain systems, and I gave myself a new challenge to incorporate this system into my cars. Of course I did not have access to specialized belts and as such my 4WD system was based on central drive shafts.

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This system worked great on dusty parking lot tracks where my car was nearly indestructible. Year by year I worked on new steel materials, so my times were well-spent at university where I was specifically focused on steel materials. With big industry companies in and around our city, it was easy to find few people who would produce for me special compounds of steels of which I created the mixture myself. Year by year these new materials continued to improve the reliability and lifespan of the drivetrain parts. It took me almost 15 years to get to the point where I created the best possible steel compound. Later on when I wanted to market this very special and unique steel, I used the name which my suppliers put on the delivery letter (“Spring Steel for Hudy”) … from that point on it became “HUDY Spring Steel™.”

During those times of isolation I had no idea that throughout the world there were professional companies who were specialized and dedicated to designing and producing model racing cars, and only later on when some of the first RC car magazines were available in the underground market I learned there were companies like Alpha, Mantua, SG, Associated, Delta and Serpent who were doing exactly what I was doing but in a professional way. It was exciting to see that my designs were very similar to those of professional companies and even some of the ideas and designs that went into my cars were ahead of those companies.

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That was a great turning point for me. It put the thought in my head that if I – as a private person – could come up with same (or better) ideas as big companies with big development teams, that it was possible and allowable to create such a business and I could do this hobby as a full-time job. With the fall of communism in our country in 1989, my first travel was to Holland to visit Serpent whom I had read about in magazines. Without any knowledge of foreign language, armed with a dictionary in my pocket and my latest car design, I drove to Serpent and knocked on their door. With hard work (using the dictionary) I finally got to meet with the boss Mr. Pieter Bervoets. I showed him my car and he was nothing less than shocked to see that some guy from Eastern Europe was coming forward with an old car that he was able at home… a car with such quality and design as those professional companies.

I left Serpent with an order to produce some drivetrain parts for them and this was the beginning of a 15-year cooperation where I was the main supplier of all drivetrain parts for their cars. After coming home I bought my first manual lathe, hired a garage and started to produce the first parts. With my drivetrain parts, the quality and reliability of Serpent cars definitely moved to a higher level which differentiated them from the competition and those years were probably some of the most successful years for their company for winning plenty of races and increasing their market share all the time. With increasing popularity, their orders were increasing as well and I became very difficult to do everything myself. As such I needed to expand and buy some new machines, and I hired my first worker. The story is too long from that point onwards.

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The cooperation was very successful and I agreed that as a main supplier I would not produce my own cars. Later on at the end of the 1990’s the relationship with Serpent changed and I was no longer the exclusive supplier of drivetrain parts. Having responsibility for 50 workers at that point, I needed to do something and as such I returned to my roots and decided to produce my own model cars again. In 1999 I established the XRAY Model Racing Cars company, and the story from that point is probably well known by the majority of readers of my column.

After more than 10 years, our current product line features cars for the vast majority of popular categories, but it was still missing “The One“ – the king of all model racing cars, my one true love: a 1/8 on-road car. The RX8 will share my philosophy and design approach that I have used to design the NT1 1/10 nitro touring car, which over the few years has collected some of the best achievements all around the world including European, Asian, USA and now also World Champion titles.
The first work on the RX8 project started with a blank sheet back in early 2009. To create an internal code for the project we put down a statement of what we wanted to achieve: to transform my 30 years of knowledge and experience of 1/8 on-road cars into a new platform – as such the code name RX8 (Racing eXperience 1/8) was created.

More to come in Part II.

See you around the tracks. Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time.

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer

Column #1 - Behind the Scene Stories
Column #2 - Worlds Flashback
Column #3 - T2'007 Debut
Column #4 - Designing the T2'007
Column #5 - Worldcup Review and NT1 Testing
Column #6 - Developing and Designing the NT1
Column #7 - Developing and Designing the NT1 - Part 2
Column #8 - Back to the Races
Column #9 - XT8 Truggy Development
Column #10 - Touring Car Development
Column #11 - Bling-bling Mentality
Column #12 - Hot Summer Washout
Column #13 - New Electric Touring Car
Column #14 - Off-road Development
Column #15 - My micro love
Column #16 - Back in the Dirt
Column #17 - Worlds Preparations
Column #18 - 808 Tests & Stress
Column #19 - Excited for the Worlds?
Column #20 - Statistics, Expenses Sheets, Production Analysis, Calculations…
Column #21 + Column #22 - Euros + Euros + Worlds
Column #23 - The Busiest Season Ever
Column #24 - In Between the Worlds
Column #25 + Column #26 - Well Developed or Overdeveloped?
Column #27 - Back to The Future
Column #28 - 2009 Kick-off
Column #29 - Crazy what?
Column #30 - Last indoor race of the season
Column #31 - Getting into summer season
Column #32 - Heading for the Euros
Column #33 - Testing - Always last minute, always new ideas
Column #34 - European Champion - title celebration
Column #35 - Time to move on
Column #36 - National Heroes
Column #37 - 2010 ready
Column #38 - Decade of Triumph
Column #39 - 2010 Racing Calendar
Column #40 - DHI, ETS & Nürnberg Show
Column #41 - World Championship Practice
Column #42 - EC indoor, EC 1/12, Silverstate, LRP Masters, Neo
Column #43 - Nationals All Around
Column #44 - Warm Warm-ups, Challenging Challenges
Column #45 - Electric Touring Worlds 2010
Column #46 - Team XRAY - World Champion!!!
Column #47 - Summer Vacation, 30x USA Champion Title
Column #48 - T3 Saga Continues