The folks down in Texas have been hyping this truck for a several weeks now and as of today, May 26, 2021, we finally see what’s under the hood. Speculation was rampant as to what would underpin the C10; would it be an all new chassis built specifically for the Drag Slash? Would there be a new power system similar to what was seen in the Funny Car years ago? With a tagline of “Engineered To Win” the RC world expected a lot from this truck.
For me, seeing the truck for the first time body-off this evening was a disappointment; it felt like the truck was all fur coat and no trousers. No new chassis, no new power system, no new suspension; the Drag Slash is a parts bin special, no different than the No Prep (or Street Eliminator) Slashes that have been running at events and in parking lots for years. The black LCG chassis does have a new rear section under the transmission to allow diff access but otherwise is the same as the optional blue LCG chassis kit or the black chassis seen on the Slash VXL models. If Traxxas was going to invest in a new chassis plate anyway, why not change it up to improve performance or set the truck apart from the rest of the Slash lineup? Why not design something similar to the X-01 with its aero that extends all the way to the bodywork for less air intrusion? Add in adjustability for battery or electronics placement, maybe make room for an interior pan or possibly even incorporate a more scale layout.
Under the hood I expected a new power system that would compete with the Losi 22S Camaro and its 6500kv motor and 100a ESC, not the 60a VXL and its 3500kv mill. Traxxas relies on the fact that the VXL can run on 3s to keep the speeds high but for No Prep the motor might be a little weak for 2s use. Associated relies on the Reedy 3300kv motor to propel the DR10 and it just doesn’t feel like enough motor, especially when traction is high. The radio features, while useful, are another point of contention for me. On one hand I appreciate that the Drag Slash has driver aids that will help newcomers get the truck down the street with minimal effort. On the other hand I can assure you that sanctioning bodies are not going to be happy when people try to use TSM (not in drag mode) during an event. It would not surprise me if some race promoters require Drag Slash drivers to use aftermarket radios or at least non-TSM receivers in order to compete. I would venture a guess that someone will figure a way to hack the LED on the receiver to trick a casual inspector into thinking the truck is in Drag Mode when it is in full TSM mode for a sizeable advantage.
The 272R transmission is a welcome sight however. The aluminum motor plate has been an often requested change, even before the VXL equipped trucks came into the market. The plastic motor mount was lousy at heat dissipation and became deformed easily if the motor screws were over-tightened, which was an easy mistake to make with the relatively soft plastic that was used in the transmission case. The non-adjustable diff was also a relic of a bygone era and required hand machining to be done to add seals to its housing if you wished to tune the diff for increased performance. Now the diff is a sturdier 4-gear unit that can be tuned very easily, a feature that should have been included with the first round of VXL equipped trucks back in 2007. Anyone who has driven a Traxxas 2wd VXL knows how unstable they can get if one tire loses traction, even slightly. Kudos to Traxxas for improving the top shaft design in the transmission, finally ridding the world of the roll-pin-of-death that was a common point of failure. The only room I can see for improvement in this area would be to machine the entire top shaft and drive gear as one piece of billet steel, eliminating slop and any risk of gear slippage, but for ease of manufacturing and cost I think the current design is a great choice. I am surprised to see Traxxas still using the traditional style of driveshaft for this application. The Slash 4×4 or Jato shafts would be much stronger and are a direct drop-in for the Slash or Rustler, meaning a shorter version could be made easily. Time will tell if the smaller outdrive and u-joint balls will hold up to hard launches on slicks.
I know this sounds like I am ragging on the Drag Slash without even driving it but I feel like Traxxas’ hyped the truck up to be something it could never live up to. In the full scale world this truck reminds me of a MKIV Toyota Supra, a car that, in stock form, aimed to take on the Corvette and squarely hit the Camaro. Now the car is a legend for its tuning capability and supercar killing prowess but on the showroom floor it was a 3400lb, 276hp, $50,000 sports car that was getting outran by cars that cost half as much. Time will tell if the Drag Slash grows into the class dominating, street conquering, mini muscle truck that Traxxas advertises it to be but for now I’ll stick to building my own Drag Slash…
EDIT: In the initial press release from Traxxas and front all of the available information at the time that this was written there was no indication that the driveshafts were any different than those seen on the Bandit but it was later revealed by Traxxas Support that the driveshafts are shortened versions of the 4×4 rear driveshafts. I have personally used these on many 2wd projects and they hold up well, even when using sticky tires and big power. Time will tell if the “new” shafts seen in the Drag Slash will hold up.