Randy Grubb couldn’t get it off his mind. For years he had been driving past an old logger’s place near his home in rural Oregon, and one of the long-haul trucks in the man’s yard kept catching his attention. In late 2008, Grubb finally stopped for a closer look, and the toothless, cigar-chomping trucker let him rev the engine. He was sold, but he had a big change in mind: He was going to transform it into a hot rod.
Gas-powered remote-control cars provide realistic racing fun. They burn a gasoline-like fuel called nitro (made of methanol, nitromethane and lubricant) with miniature internal combustion engines. Losi's Ten-T gets even more authentic by adding a starter that works like a diesel engine's. Nitro cars are usually hard to start: You have to pick them up, use a hand-held motor to spin the engine, and simultaneously work the remote's throttle. With the Ten-T you just hit "start" on the remote.
You've probably seen contestants on Survivor trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together or concentrating sunlight with their eyeglasses. But among preindustrial fire-starting methods, it's hard to beat the portable convenience of fire pistons, used in Southeast Asia since prehistoric times.