The gospel of short-course racing is spreading like the plague and it is quickly becoming a part of all the major RC races around the world. It's for good reason too, since the category is one of the most compelling in the industry, dotted with vehicles that easily count as among the most exciting.
1. Traxxas Slash
The most popular short course truck in the market, the Slash is available in both 2WD and 4WD versions. Able to clear 40-mph out of the box with intense durability, generous tuning options and sublime handling to boot, it's easy to see why it continues to win praise among fans, racers and award-giving bodies alike. Beginner-friendly, it's arguably one of the best bashing RC models ever made. While it can race on stock electronics and motor (my first one hung in there with nitro buggies on an impromptu dare with nothing but a 2s LiPo extra), a few hop-ups should be necessary if you want to absolutely destroy competition - and you will.
2. Associated RC10
Maintenance can be a pain in the ass, but you can't fault the RC10 for its durability and performance. It may be a step down in ruggedness compared to either the Slash or the Blitz (sadly, it's true), but add the right upgrades and it can offer noticeably better performance. Very, very noticeably heightened performance. The construction is topnotch too, although some stock parts are quite flimsy to begin with. One thing to note is that it's geared for racing as much as it for bashing - a quality that you'll appreciate if you're getting a short course racer specifically for the purposes of competing.
3. Kyosho Ultima SC
Based on the RT5, the Ultima SC is one of the newer short course racers to hit the scene and it's doing so in all the right ways. Designed for race performance and strict compliance with ROAR regulations, it's literally ready to race the moment you hit the pavement. It doesn't mean you'll beat my Traxxas, of course, but the stock G20 Turn HP Electric Motor should do a good job all on its own. As a side bonus, you don't see many drivers take this to the races too, so you'll have something unique to let loose on the unsuspecting masses.
4. HPI Blitz
Widely recognized for its impressive strength and durability, the Blitz isn't too shabby a performer either. In fact, it strikes a good balance between those qualities. Arguably the toughest short course racer around, we've seen it take beatings that no RC deserves - yet still manage to keep running. It will likely require a bit more aftermarket parts to be truly competitive on tracks, but it's one vehicle that will literally last you for the long haul.
5. Losi Strike
While it doesn't come with the most flattering looks, the Losi Strike does offer good off-road performance with decent durability. It's far from the most popular short course truck around not because it's a poor model. Mostly, it's simply for the sheer fact that the top dogs of the category are too damn good and it has a lot of catching up to do. Regardless, it offers excellent toughness during races, with all-metal gears and that heavyset frame. Do note that the added size might make it ineligible for some of your local SCT races, so better make sure before buying.