Associated Electrics

Associated Electrics

Associated Electrics, Incorporated of Lake Forest, California is one of the world's leading manufacturers of radio controlled cars, trucks and accessories.Also known as Team Associated.

Early history

The company was founded in 1964 by Roger Curtis and Lee Yurada, aircraft workers at the Douglas Aircraft plant in nearby Long Beach. Slot cars were at the height of their popularity in Southern California at the time, so Curtis and Yurada decided to open a slot car track as a side business. Their experience in fabricating aircraft parts soon led them into producing slot car parts and accessories. So successful was the venture that it turned into a full-time business which they named Associated Electrics. The new company specialized in the manufacturing of a full line of slot car parts, chassis and accessories.

The business had grown by 1969 and was located in a small building in Paramount. Personal issues arose between Curtis and Yurada, leading Curtis to approach early RC racer Gene Husting in hopes that Husting would buy Yurada's share of Associated. The popularity of slot cars was on the wane, but Husting was certain that radio control would flourish as the technology grew. Almost as if in anticipation of the fact, Associated had just introduced a 1:8-scale gas-powered racer, the RC1. Designed by Mike Morrisey, it soon became the most successful car on the circuit. Husting agreed to the buyout in 1970. Still very much a small business, Associated had a grand total of only six employees: Husting, Curtis, Husting's wife Midge, and three others.

Radio control takes off

In 1971, Associated moved to Santa Ana, California where they began production of the Husting-designed RC100. The first IFMAR race at Pomona's Thorp Raceway (later to become the Ranch Pit Stop, temporary home of Team Losi) saw the first five places swept by the RC100. The prestige of sweeping such a prestigious race was not overlooked by the world's top RC drivers. Before long, the RC100 was winning races all over the world.

Associated would double in size thanks to Roger's next design, the 1:12-scale RC12 electric onroad racer. Simpler and far less expensive than the RC100, the RC12 is credited for much of the hobby's growth as a sport. The next generation RC12i would, like the RC100 before it, win an IFMAR first, namely the first ever IFMAR 1:12 Electric World Championship.

The growth of electric racing

As electric racing continued to grow, 1980 would see one of Associated's most important partnerships come to fruition when electrical engineer and avid R/C racer Mike Reedy joined Associated. Reedy's development of Yokomo-based motors and carefully matched battery packs led Associated's dominance of electric racing. Reedy-powered cars are credited with 23 IFMAR World Championships to date, the most of any R/C motor manufacturer.

The RC10

Roger Curtis's 1984 design of a serious 1:10-scale electric offroad car not only led to explosive growth within the company, but within the world of RC racing as well. This new vehicle was the now-famous RC10 buggy. Built on a 6061 aircraft alloy chassis, the new car was, unlike its Japanese counterparts of the time, a serious offroad racing machine. Another 1-2-3 IFMAR sweep would follow in 1985 at the first ever 1:10 Offroad IFMAR World Championships. The RC10, possibly more than any RC vehicle before or since, is credited with making the single biggest impact on radio control racing. The success of the RC10 forced Associated to move to their current facility in Costa Mesa in 1987.

That same year, professional racer Cliff Lett joined Associated to head the research and development department. This department, comprised of Lett, Roger Curtis and Husting's son, Curtis, were responsible for the RC10 cars that won the IFMAR World Championships in 1989 in Australia, and in 1991 in Detroit. The success of the RC10 coupled with other cars of the time, namely the RC12LW, the RC10L, RC10LSS and the RC10T kept production going for five years and prompted the necessity of a second building in Costa Mesa.

Gene Husting helped develop cars for Associated until 2000, when he retired. He is responsible for the lineup up to the RC10B3, RC10T3, TC3 and GT RTRs. Five years after his retirement, the company introduced an entirely new line of offroad racers with the introduction the 1:18 scale electric RC18T and RC18MT miniature trucks. In 2006, with 20 IFMAR victories in all, Team Associated is the world's "winningest" RC car manufacturer. Reedy motors, a division of Associated, has powered 23 IFMAR World Champions.

R&D manager and world-class driver Cliff Lett holds the RC land speed record of more than 111 mph (179 km/h) with a heavily modified Associated RC10L3 touring car at Irwindale Speedway on January 13, 2001.

A modified RC10 with an off-the-shelf Parma International 1963 Chevrolet Corvette body was used in the famous chase scene in the 1988 motion picture, "The Dead Pool". In it, Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry is being pursued through the streets of San Francisco, California by a highly explosive bomb disguised as an RC car. The "bomb" was actually driven by IFMAR world-champion race driver Jay Halsey. The car was in fact an electric; the sounds of a nitro-powered engine were added in post-production.

New Ownership

In 2005, an announcement was made that Associated Electrics would be purchased by Thunder Tiger, a Taiwanese RC model manufacturer. [] Thunder Tiger expressed hope that the buyout of Associated would make it the fourth largest RC model merchant in the world, following the big three (in order) Tamiya, Kyosho, and Futaba/OS. []

Off shoots & Conversions

Team Associated cars have inspired various conversion from small companies. Several offroad buggies have been developed from the TC3 chassis, most notably the TC3 'o', the Durango range, and recently (and most successfully) JConcepts with their BJ4 and Worlds-winning BJ4 'Worlds'.

All these cars are based around the TC3's solid transmission, which uses two bevel-geared differentials (or "diffs"), with a prop shaft connecting them. On the BJ4, JConcepts used AE diff cases and diffs, and modified the shaft to include a slipper unit. Since then, JConcepts have updated the BJ4 to the Worlds-winning 'Worlds' edition. In Summer 2006, JConcepts "turned the drawings over to Team Associated, which took over and fine-tuned the design for fit and finish" (RC Driver magazine, Dec. 2007). The Associated B44 debuted at the 2007 EP Off-Road World Championships, where it not only top qualified, but took all three podium positions.

Also, Durango has produced multiple cars based on Associated buggies, the latest debuting at the 2006 Euros.

X-Factory, creators of the X-5 4WD Team Losi conversion, released the X-6 conversion kit which converts the B4 Buggy into a mid-motor 4x2 cell configuration chassis.

In the onroad scene, the Associated RC12 series of cars have long been a base for other manufacturers. The unique front suspension from the RC12L3 (and updated on the RC12L4) has become industry standard and is now featured on the majority of competitive 1:12-scale racing chassis.


External links

* [ Team Associated's Website]

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