RC Dirt Oval Car Setup

RC Dirt Oval Car Setup & Tuning Guide [5 Key Steps]

Setting up your RC for dirt oval racing can be tricky. You don’t know if you’re it’s a bit too much, or too little. Either way, it’s hard to get a satisfactory result.

What would be included in a trustworthy RC oval dirt setup guide?

In short, use foam tires of around 2.65-2.75” in diameter. The camber should be positive on the left front wheel. However, it should be negative on the right front wheel. Minimize total load transfer for racing comfort. Tweak your shocks and wheel spacing for suitable corner entry and exit.

These pieces of information can be a bit too complicated to understand. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, why not look into the details? We have it ready for you-

Ultimate Setup And Tuning Guide: 5 Steps

Your dirt oval RC is a little different from RC cars that are made for snow. But it’s almost the same as a regular RC.  

So, you can set up the basic structure the same as any RC car. But for racing, you need to keep note of a few things. Let’s start with tuning the important parts.

Follow the steps to tune your RC to be race-ready.

Step 1: Setup And Tuning The Tires

Most regular RC cars use rubber tires. However, for dirt oval RC cars, foam tires are the norm. 

You can use rubber tires on very specific tracks and seasons. They are not too suitable for racing and oval dirt cars. However, you can choose to use them. 

As for the foam tires, you can either customize them or buy ready-made tires. We recommend tires of around 2.65-2.75” in diameter. Usually, going for 6 grooves per tire is ideal. Crosscuts are up to you and the track you’ll be racing on. For instance, RC tires for loose dirt will be different from those for paved roads.

Make sure to keep your tires soft with wheel fluids. 

Step 2: Balancing Your RC

Balancing your RC is vital for racing. There are a few matters to note to ensure proper balancing.

The first one would be the ride height of the RC dirt oval car. To set up an RC dirt oval car, you need to measure the ride height on all corners. For that, you’ll need a ride height scale. On that note, here are some ride height scales we recommend:

You need to measure your ride height with your battery on the RC car. It’s usually around 12mm on all four corners of the car. You can opt to have the front a bit lower than the rear. However, make sure the front is absolutely leveled. 

One of the most important matters in dirt oval racing is the camber. Especially, the front wheels’ camber of your car is crucial for turning. 

The camber for your left front wheel should be positive. Meaning it will lean towards the opposite direction of the car’s center. The camber for your right wheel should be negative. That is, it will lean towards the car’s center. In simple terms, both wheels should lean towards the left.

As to how much the camber should be, it could be around 1.5-3°. You can add or cut a few degrees from there. However, less than 1.5° is not recommended.

Step 3: Tuning The Shocks

Dirt oval RC cars have shocks on all four wheels. They play a vital role in cornering and turning during a race. We recommend using shorter shocks on the front wheel than on the rear wheels.

When driving into the corner, your RC might go loose in. In that case, you should use stiffer front right shocks. In contrast, if your RC is going tight in, you should use softer ones.

Similarly, when you’re driving out of the corner your RC might be coming out loose. In this case, go for stiffer shocks on your left rear wheel. And use softer shocks on the right rear. If it’s coming out tight, do the opposite. Try stiffer right rear shocks with softer left rear shocks.

You’ll have to tweak a little with your shocks and collars to get the output you want. There’s no real guide to it. It varies from brands and types of shocks to the tracks. So, keep adjusting until you’re satisfied.

Step 4: Reducing Lateral Load Transfer

The load transfer is important for racing. While tuning your RC, you might end up with a lot of load transfer. To avoid it you have to keep note of a few things.

The total load transfer is directly proportional to the center of gravity. So, the lower your center of gravity the better. This will give you the edge in racing.

Another aspect directly proportional to load transfer is obviously the weight. The total weight of your RC does make a difference in racing. So, make sure you don’t make your RC unnecessarily bulky. Dirt ovals RCs are usually around 14.5 to 17.5 scale. Even if you want the best parts and motor for your 17.5 RC, opt for a lighter one.

What’s indirectly proportional to load transfer is the track length. Keep your track length wider to minimize the total load transfer.

Step 5: Optimizing Wheel Spacing

The front and rear wheel spacing can affect turning in and out of the corner. If you have it misplaced, your dirt oval RC will not have a smooth turn. 

If you want a tight corner entry, you should place your front wheels towards the right. That is, the front right wheel spacing should be more. The right wheel should be further from the car body, while the left one is closer. 

For a looser corner entry, try the opposite combination. Space your left front wheel further from the center of the car. And keep the right front wheel close to the car’s body.

While front wheels affect corner entry, rear wheels play a role in corner exit. If you want a freer corner exit, place your rear wheels to the right. That is, keep the right rear wheel further and left one closer to the car’s body. 

In contrast, for a tighter corner exit, go for the opposite combination. A further left rear wheel and a closer right rear wheel.

This way, you can tweak your dirt oval RC to a refined level. If you can pull it off well enough, you’ll be able to ace any race!


Question: Can I use a custom chassis for dirt oval RCs?

Answer: Yes, you can. Although there are ready-to-run dirt oval RCs like Traxxas street stock, you can always customize them. Try to keep the chassis light.

Question: Why use foam over rubber tires for dirt oval racing?

Answer: Foam tires are lighter and have a more constant contact patch. These give you lighter unsprung weight and consistent traction. Foam tires have more compounds to work with.

Questions: Does foam tire price vary over compounds?

Answer: Yes. Foam tires come in several compounds. Some come in dual compounds. They have different effects and are suitable for different tracks. Their prices also vary because of that.


We hope this RC dirt oval setup guide was of help to you. Hopefully, by now you know enough about tuning your RC to perfection for a race.

Don’t overdo your tweaking. Or you might end up damaging the initial setup. 

Until next time, have a great time racing!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top