15-years ago one of the icons of our sport claimed a race win that to this day he describes as the ‘highlight’ of his illustrious racing career. That driver was Atsushi Hara and the race in question was the 2008 IFMAR 1:8 Offroad World Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina. As anyone who races nitro well knows, it is very much a team sport. Today here in Japan, on the penultimate day of the 1:8 Onroad Worlds, that World title conquering combo of Hara, legendary race mechanic Masayuki Miura and the winning Hot Bodies D8 buggy were reunited for the first time in a decade and a half. As Red RC was in its infancy and didn’t cover its first 1:8 Offroad World Championship until 2-years later in Thailand, it was an opportunity to recreate the winning team photo of 2008 with our good friends Hara and Miura and do a ‘Retro Chassis Focus’ on the historic buggy.
The story of today’s reunion actually started back in September after Hara’s winning buggy, still complete with its red coloured Charlotte dirt, was discovered for sale on eBay by former US racer Tyler Vik. Following its win of the biggest prize in the sport in 2008, the buggy went on display at the Hot Bodies Headquarters but when the company ceased trading it disappeared. As we already reported, thanks to the generosity of the RC community who supported a crowd funding campaign to buy the car back, it was then sent across the Globe in bit of a Olympic Flame relay style journey that involved many big name racers helping to get it be delivered back personally to Hara – something the Japanese driver is truly grateful for. Today was the final piece of the reunion as Miura, who due to heading up the organisation of the Onroad World Championship here at Infinity International RC Speedway, only got to see the car for the first time today since its win in the USA. After getting the winning team photo it was a special moment to see Hara remove the D8’s bodyshell and hand it to Miura to start a trip down memory lane for the iconic offroad and onroad duo. Having had some time to study the car, the first thing Hara pointed out was how lucky he was to win that day having discovered the front CVD pin was working its way loose. Something he said, ‘5-minutes more and it would have been done’.
With the car attracting plenty of attention, one of the questions asked was what was the foil tape over the servo horns for to which Hara explained Muira’s idea behind it, ‘if the screw came loose the tape would stop it from falling out then it wouldn’t come off’. With everything original on the car as it came off the track that day, Hara said the only thing to change was the stickers on the bodyshell which have faded. Hara said even after all these years the car’s O.S engine and its bearings still feel perfect. Turning the engine’s flywheel by hand, onroad engine tuner Bertram Kessler acknowledged with a nod of his head that the engine did feel good 15-years on.
Unable to divulge the information back when they won, Hara shared an interesting story about the engine in the buggy. He said, ‘I was a factory O.S driver and they gave me plenty of engines but at the time French engine brand JP Racing had a special edition of the engine and Miura wanted to try it. So in the US we went to a hobby shop and bought one and that was what we used in the final. The only difference on the outside was the JP had a marking on the (cooling) head so we just switched that.’
Hara also explained how the race helped form his ‘very strong relationship’ with radio manufacturer Futaba. He explained, ‘Radios with built in 2.4Ghz were only new and the 4PX was the first radio from Futaba. Many Futaba sponsored drivers didn’t want to use the new radio at the Worlds because they were afraid it might give trouble. I was the only one to use it in the final, Futaba was super happy’.
The tyres on the buggy are the same set that he finished the 1-hour final on, he was able to verify this as they were an unmarked ‘prototype tyre’ from Pro-Line that would become the Revolver. He said, ‘after running bowfighter, Bowtie on the front and Crimefighter on the rear, he said because there was very little data on the new tyre all the other drivers stuck with that. When I switched to the new tyre I was 2-seconds a lap quicker in the final. It was an all Pro-Line podium but I was the only one with this tyre’.
Genuinely grateful to everyone who helped get the buggy back to him, explaining the reason it was hand delivered was that the guys involved in getting it back explained if the shipping company lost it then it would be gone for good, he said the win in the US was very special. ‘I was 28 at the time and it was the peak of my career. Everyone expected an American driver to win. Europe didn’t really have good drivers then and nobody thought I could win’. Asked about his plans for the buggy, he said, ‘after here it will go to my house to stay and I will get a glass cover for it’.
Chassis: Hot Bodies D8 Engine: O.S Speed VZB V Spec Exhaust: O.S T2060SC Radio: Futaba PK4 Servos (Steering/Throttle): Futaba BLS 353 / S9351 Body: Hot Bodies Tyres : Pro-Line Prototype (would later go into production as the Revolver)