After a motorcycle crash, Nic Case found a safer, but still thrilling, hobby: building radio-controlled cars. At 161 mph, his latest just smashed the world record.
The 46-year-old eked out extra mph any way he could, including adding an 11-horsepower R/C motor and a 12-cell battery pack normally used in hobby airplanes. He made sure his handcrafted carbon-fiber chassis would generate enough aerodynamic downforce to keep the vehicle on the track, and he designed an all-wheel-drive system to further increase traction. He also used a high-frequency receiver to ensure that he never loses control of the car.
So far, Case has raced it only twice, and he thinks he has a good shot at his ultimate goal: 200 mph. "The car's got more," he says. "I left a lot on the table."
Time: 6 months
Handling: The car has no brakes, so Case dials back the power to the motors to decelerate. To prevent flipping, he added a gyroscope-based steering-correction system normally used in remote-control helicopters.
Tires: Case designed oversized tires to improve the airflow beneath the vehicle. Instead of relying on glue, he had the rubber vulcanized to the aluminum rims, "It's one less thing to fail," he says.
The H2Whoa Credo: DIY Can Be Dangerous
We review all our projects before publishing them, but ultimately your safety is your responsibility. Always wear protective gear, take proper safety precautions, and follow all laws and regulations.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.