Associated Electrics, Incorporated of Costa Mesa, California is one of the world's leading manufacturers of radio controlled cars, trucks and accessories.
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, California. Personal issues arose between Curtis and Yurada, leading Curtis to approach early R/C 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 florish 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. Husting agreed to the buyout. 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 offEdit
In 1971, Associated moved to Santa Ana, California where they began production of the Husting-designed RC100. The first IFMAR race at Pomona, California's Thorp Raceway (now Ranch Pit Stop, home of Team Losi) saw the first five places swept by the RC100. The cachet of sweeping such a prestigious race was not overlooked by the world's top R/C drivers. Before long, the RC100 was winning races all over the world.
Associated would double in size thanks to Husting'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 racingEdit
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.
Husting's 1984 design of a serious 1/10-scale electric off road car not only led to explosive growth within the company, but within the world of R/C racing as well. This new vehicle was the now-famous RC10. Built on a 4140 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 R/C 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, Curtis and Husting's son, Curtis, were responsible for the upgraded RC10 which won the IFMAR Worlds in 1989 in Australia and again in Detroit in 1991. The success of the RC10 coupled with other cars of the time, namely the RC12LW, the RC10L, RC10LSS and the RC10T kept kits back ordered for five years and prompted the necessity of a second building in Costa Mesa.
Today, Gene Husting continues to develop cars for Associated. He is responsible for the current lineup which includes the RC10B4, RC10T4, TC3 and Nitro TC3. The company has branched off into an entirely new line of offroad racers with the introduction the 1/18-scale electric RC18T and RC18MT miniature monster trucks. With 23 IFMAR victories in all, Team Associated is the world's winningest R/C manufacturer. R&D manager and world-class driver Lett holds the R/C 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 a 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" Callahan is being pursued through the streets of San Francisco, California by a highly explosive bomb disgused as an R/C car. The "bomb" was actually driven by 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.