HPI Mini-Trophy Truck: Exclusive Interview With The Designer

HPI Mini-Trophy Truck: Exclusive Interview With The Designer

You can appreciate how scale the HPI Mini-Trophy Truck is when you see it parked in front of the real deal.


By Matt Higgins

The HPI Mini-Trophy Truck was designed by HPI Racing USA’s Hidekazu “Ito” Nishine. Ito has designed the legendary Savage monster truck as well as the popular Wheely King and Crawler King. We recently asked Ito our top five questions about the Mini-Trophy Truck. Check out what he had to say. 

RC Car Action: Does the full-size truck the Mini-Trophy Truck is patterned after also use 4WD and 4-wheel independent suspension?

Ito: Yes, the full-size truck makes use of both 4WD and independent suspension. It’s the same concept we used for the Mini-Trophy Truck.


RC Car Action: How does the angle (narrow at the front) of the front lower hinge pins impact handling?

Ito: It makes for easy driving, and the balanced handling is due to equal geometry front and rear.


RC Car Action: Do you have any tips to make maintenance easier?

Ito: This chassis is very scale realistic looking and while it looks complicated it is designed with little to no maintenance needed. One thing that can be added for more scale realism and protection is to put Lexan sheet on the front lower portion of the roll cage as this helps keep dust and dirt out of the inner chassis. You will see sheet metal of the full size trucks as these are the inner walls between the drivers and the outside of the vehicle as the bodywork can be damaged or lost during a race.


RC Car Action: I see the differentials aren’t sealed. Do you think silicone fluid is needed, and do you think a thick enough fluid will stay in the diffs?

Ito: The diffs are not a sealed type design and cannot use silicone oil.


RC Car Action: Why 1/12 scale instead of 1/10 scale?

Ito: It distinguishes itself from short course trucks such as the Blitz. The Mini-Trophy Truck is not meant to be a 4WD track vehicle.

More on the Mini-Trophy Truck from HPI:

To create the Mini-Trophy Truck, HPI Racing teamed up with TSA Motorsports’ Dallas Luttrell and Bill “Wild Bill” Billington. Dallas and Bill are the creative minds behind TSA Motorsports. Their approach to desert racing is a reflection of that creativity, very calculated, yet executed plain and simple. TSA’s newly developed truck is different than most, breaking the proverbial mold! Dallas and Bill are not just grasping at shooting stars; they have been studying and watching desert off-road racing and most interestingly, the global off-road scene with events such as the Dakar Rally. They have studied how the Dakar Rally type vehicles differ when compared to the US‘s Trophy Trucks and how these vehicles handle the various terrain. They also studied the race strategies of different teams for these different types of terrain. For side-notes, they have studied the history books with a nod to Ivan Stewart for inspiration as well. Why all of these studies? Because TSA intends to learn their way to the top of the sport, to be a part of those few individuals who try things differently. There are those who just want to go big and fast and follow the same “big trucks rule in the desert” theme. And there are those whose perseverance and dreams will fuel the passion for racing for a long time to come. TSA is here to stay!

The last couple of years, Dallas and Wild Bill have been whooping it across the desert in the SNORE Series in what some people call a “Pre-Runner” or even a desert capable street truck. For the sideline enthusiast, they saw what could be achieved with off-the-shelf retail parts in a 2008 Toyota Tacoma. TSA’s efforts landed them four Top-5 finishes in the 7200-class of the 2009 SNORE Off-Road Series. While the TSA team did not break any records or secure any major championships, for TSA, it had a lot more to do with mentality: the mental game and the approach with equipment.

Enter 2010 and lots of things happening in the background. The TSA Motorsports camp has been very secretive, quiet and very busy! Luttrell and Billington took the time while racing the Toyota Tacoma in 2009 to build an experimental chassis. With numerous test-design sessions, early 2010 they built another Chassis and tested more and finished up the creative design concept all while conspiring with HPI RACING.

With TSA and HPI working on parallel Mini-Trophy desert projects, the highlight is TSA utilizing an independent suspension design base for their new full-size desert truck. Ito was thinking independent suspension as well and while normal for RC, independent suspension is not so normal in the full-size off-road race vehicles, especially with trucks. TSA is building this new truck to race in the 7200-class, basically a scaled down version of a trophy truck, more like a mini-truck that was once a 4-cylinder pick-up truck. Most “mini-trucks” these days are not so “mini” and come with 6-cylinders, but compared to a 6,000+ lbs / 800 horsepower Trophy Truck, the 7200-Class is simply a “Mini-Trophy.” TSA is using an in-line Jeep 6-cylinder HESCO built engine. HPI also likes the “Mini-Trophy” moniker and named this new [1:12 scale] 4WD desert truck accordingly.

Dallas Luttrell holds the Mini-Trophy Truck while Bill “Wild Bill” Billington looks on.

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Updated: January 10, 2011 — 7:53 PM
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