Best ESC for Drag Racing: Get Off the Line Faster!

You RC geeks know too much about ESCs. So we’ll get to the point right away today.

Drag racing with your RC vehicles is fun. And an electronic speed controller makes it more fun. If you’ve experienced an RC vehicle drag race with ESCs installed, you probably thought that you needed that.

So which ESC do you get for your very own RC vehicle? If you’re suffering from this dilemma, we’re here to help you out.

We’ve gone through over thirty different ESCs thus far and picked the top ones. 

You can pick the best ESC for drag racing after you’ve read this. So you can probably guess that this one’s going to be feature-packed. 

Without any further ado, let’s move on to the discussion.

Types of ESC for Drag Racing

So now that you know why ESCs are necessary, which type should you aim for? Well, it’s not really up for debate.

Fortunately for us, there are only two types now. You can either opt for the brushed versions or the brushless versions.

Here’s a summary regarding which one you should choose. Go through this if you don’t have time to go through all the details-

Brushed ESCBrushless ESC
When to BuyWhen you have a brushed motor installed on your RC vehicle.When you have a brushless motor installed on your RC vehicle.
Recommended Choice Hobbywing QUICRUN WP 1080 Castle Creations Sidewinder 4

Why You Should Opt for Brushed ESCs

Here’s the thing. The ESCs developed to work with your brushed motors won’t work with their brushless counterparts.

So you can only use them with brushed motors. That’s why we’re only going to suggest the specific types of ESCs for you. Check out the top five brushed one’s in the next section if that’s what you’re looking for.

Why You Should Opt for Brushless ESCs

It’s the other way around for brushless ESCs. You can only use these types of ESCs with brushless motors. 

The name makes the entire mechanism pretty self-explanatory, right? This thing controls the speed electronically. Brushless motors use a small amount of voltage and determine how fast or slow to spin.

For drag racing, the ESC needs to direct the motor to run at a fast pace initially. That’s called “flooring it” in the people-sized drag racing terms.

Top 5 Best Brushed ESC for Drag Racing

Firstly, we’ll talk about the top choices for brushed ESCs. We’ll start with a short comparison upfront-

That was the short comparison. But I think you can get a more visually appealing result below- 

Hobbywing QUICRUN WP 1080: More About the Product

First up, we have Hobbywing’s QUICRUN WP 1080. And this one took the cake by the slightest of margins if you ask me. 

While it’s far from being the cheapest brushed ESC on the list, I’d still call this affordable.

Now, I know you can get brushed motors for far less. But give this one a chance. I don’t think your 1/10 scale RC vehicle will dislike this ESC.

I’ll start with the build quality. And although this one’s completely plastic like most of them, it’s solid. You probably don’t have to worry about the build quality if you cover this up with a solid RC vehicle outer shell. 

So how do you get this into the outer shell? Yes, the installation is simple. It took us around three minutes to fully install this and get the outer shell back on.

This is a testament to how easy Hobbywing made it for consumers. It’s safe to say that this one took the shortest time to install among the five ESCs.

We took this out on the track to test next. And guess what, the initial throttle force seemed decent. You get a slight boost at the beginning. So in the head start’s POV, this one takes the cake.

I’d say that the turbo timing of this one and the next Quicrun model is comparable. Maybe I’d even go as far as to say that the difference in the turbo timing is not noticeable.

None of the brushed models have fans on the ESCs. So they do tend to heat up a bit more than the brushless models.

But the heatsink of this particular model keeps it decently cool. It’s also easy to tune, and you can do it as a rookie. 

Things That Need Improvement

  • This tends to heat up over longer running periods. If this bothers you, you can check out an ESC with a wider heatsink
  • It might be on the noisier side if you don’t tone down the PWM. If this seems concerning, you can pick out a smoother ESC

Hobbywing QUICRUN WP 1060: More About the Product

Unlike 1080, the WP1060 from Hobbywing will cost you half as much. And I think you get almost 90% of the performance if you pick this one out. Let’s talk.

If you want a simple answer, yes, this one’s better than the ones that come after this. But it does lag behind the newer 1080 from the same brand.

We were able to install this with the help of some electrical tape. Nothing beats that good stuff. 

There is literally not much to say about this other than it being a slightly toned-down version of the previous one.

So if you’re not willing to pay as much as the first one for your first ESC, pick out this one.

You might see it falling behind in the off-the-line performance, but this ESC catches up well. I don’t know what sorcery they use, but the initial boost is decent.

Things That Need Improvement

  • The boost tuning is not the best on this one. You should pick the first one if this bothers you.
  • If the off-the-line performance is something you don’t like, pick out an ESC that’s faster off the line

FullFunRC Brushed ESC: More About the Product

In third place, we have this brushed ESC from FullFunRC. What surprised me was that they charged the same price as the previous one.

But the performance might seem way out of line if you put this one up against the first two.

Where this one suffers is in the turbo tuning department. The whole aspect seems like a nightmare. 

Another bad part about this one is the heating management. I know the brushed ones don’t heat up as much as the brushless ones. But this one probably could have used an active cooling fan.

Otherwise, I think the off-the-line performance of this is on par with the second one on the list. 

Even the installation of this one is as easy as the second one. We didn’t need to fiddle too much with the mechanisms. You can stick it in some place of your RC vehicle and let it sit there.

I won’t pick this over the first one. But if you’re short on budget, this would give some quick competition to the WP 1060 from Hobbywing.

Things That Need Improvement

  • This lacks a bit in the turbo timing department. If this seems concerning, you can opt for an ESC with improved timing
  • The ESC tends to heat up too much. This might bother you. In that case, go for the previous one. 

Traxxas 3025 XL-5: More About Product

Why I don’t recommend it, this is the price. That’s it, that’s the review.

Alright, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. But as you can see, you can get the others on the list for far cheaper. So why’s this so expensive?

Is it because the 3025 XL-5 comes from Traxxas? Yes, that’s probably it.

Well, there’s a lot of good things about this one. And it beats some of the others in different departments. But I’d still put this in this position because of the price. 

Since you have to pay more than thrice the price of the last one, this should be three times better, right? Well, not even close.

We can say that this just performs on par with 1060 from Hobbywing in second place. And that’s just on the initial throttle response and the off-the-line performance.

Since Traxxas made this, we were expecting top-class hardware. So I don’t think you need to replace this anytime soon. Unless it catches fire, that is.

I mean, our unit survived the grueling tests. But some of the units weren’t so lucky. So I can’t really say how your mileage will be.

Things That Need Improvement

Hobbypower RC ESC: More About the Product

Well, Hobbypower’s take on ESC’s is a bit different. You have to see it to believe it.

This RC ESC from Hobbypower makes the others look like overpriced gambles. But I don’t think you should just lean towards this because of the price. Although this costs so little, it doesn’t come without flaws.

But the fact that it keeps up with the top guns in terms of heating issues, I think it deserved the shout. 

I mean, none of them have fans to cool the mainboard. So it all comes down to the width and density of the heatsink. 

It’s decent, and I don’t think it’ll catch fire, considering that you’ll use it carefully.

Now, listen, this is far from the best on the list. It’s practically the worst one you can buy out of the five. But I think that was obvious if you were following the ranking. 

If we compare it to the other four, it will start the slowest off the line. So that’s not a good sign at all. 

The boost tuning also felt very subpar, if you ask me. 

As for the ease of installation, this one was okay. You don’t need to fiddle with the wires too much. So that’s a good sign, I guess.

As far as tuning is concerned, you can get into it. But it might not seem as easy as the others. The ease of tuning of the first three ESCs on the list is slightly better.

Things That Need Improvement

Top 5 Best Brushless ESC for Drag Racing

Up next, we’ll dive into the world of brushless ESCs. These are the newer members of the RC world. If you’re in search of brushless ESCs, check out the five down below.

This was a rather short comparison. And if you’re not impressed, check this visual guide out. this should give you a better idea-

Castle Creations Sidewinder 4: More About the Product

The one that topped the charts on the brushless side was the Sidewinder 4 from Castle Creations. Although this isn’t the cheapest pick out there, we’ll talk about how this one beats the others.

If you didn’t know, brushless ESCs would need a lot more active cooling than brushed ones. So the use of additional fans on top of the mainboard is a given. 

Among other ridiculous claims, they say that it’s waterproof. I still hope you won’t be drag racing with this one in the rain. We didn’t see anything blowing up or catching fire, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

This gets hot. We kept this running without the fan, and boy did it get hot! I’d say this generates the most heat out of all five. But the fan minimizes the heating issue to a good extent. 

I still wouldn’t ask you to test out the cooling to the full extent. There’s no telling when the fan would deem useless. Especially on a bright sunny day. 

Things That Need Improvement

  • The turbo tuning on this one isn’t fantastic. But there are limited options in this segment so the industry needs an overall improvement.
  • This has heating issues regardless of the large fan on top. If this bothers you, you can check out the more expensive option

Traxxas 3355R Velineon VXL-3s ESC: More About the Product

Traxxas’s 3355R is better at heat management than the last one from Castle Creations.

They were even bold enough not to include an active cooling fan and still charge more money for it. I wasn’t being sarcastic if that’s how it sounded.

Listen up, this is one of the two ESCs that don’t use active cooling fans on the list. Both this and the Sidewinder 3 up next keep up in good shape with the heating issues.

But then again, it could easily be that the Sidewinder 4 uses much more power. That might cause it to heat up much quicker. 

In terms of ease of installation, I’d say this one is the hardest to get around. So getting this onto your vehicle is the real challenge. 

This one lags behind the Sidewinder 4 up top in terms of off-the-line performance. It takes a few more milliseconds to get off the mark compared to the first one. 

Apart from that, I’d say this goes toe to toe with the first one. If this was priced similarly, I think it even had a chance to finish on top.

Don’t count this out, though. If you want a Traxxas ESC without the additional cooling features, you can get this. 

Things That Need Improvement

  • This might seem a bit harder to install. You can opt for an easier-to-install ESC if this seems concerning. 
  • The Turbo timing isn’t the best on this one. If the slight lack of details bothers you, you can opt for the first one.

Castle Creations Sidewinder 3: More About the Product

We have the Sidewinder 3 from Castle Creations coming in third place. And you can say that this is the toned-down version of the Sidewinder 4 that made it to the top spot. So is it much worse than the new-gen? Let’s find out.

It’s the first budget option on the list of brushless ESCs. And it definitely earned the third spot. 

I’ll start with why this didn’t make it further up the list.

It’s due to the turbo timing. I’d say that the turbo timing on this one is even worse than the following product on the list. That’s saying something!

And this one also heated up a lot. The fact that it does not have an active cooling fan made it obvious. I think they should’ve included a little fan for the price they’re charging. 

In terms of installation, this was relatively easy to install. We didn’t need to struggle with the wiring. And the ESC combined with the motor decently. That’s all you want, right?

Things That Need Improvement

  • This does not have the best turbo timing. If this bothers you, you can pick out the top product on the list.
  • The lack of active cooling affects the cooling of this system. If you want a more controlled cooling system, try out a better cooled ESC

Hobbywing EZRun MAX6 ESC: More About the Product

While Traxxas took the expensive slot in the brushed SC segment, Hobbywing took this one. And the EZRun MAX6 is one of the most expensive brushless options you can get.

This is in no way praise. If anything, we’ll be nitpicking even more due to the price. Wrong move, Hobbywing.

But here’s a slight justification. This is built to take on 1/6 scale RC vehicles. Those vehicles are much bigger and heavier than the 1/10 scale ones. So you can probably get more power out of this one.

With that said, if you’re planning to use this on your smaller drag racing car, this will work.

What didn’t surprise me was the build quality. It’s solid in short. Although it was covered in a polycarbonate shell, the materials seemed decent. You can expect longevity from the fan, too, I presume.

One thing is for sure, this falls behind the Sidewinder 4 when it comes to initial throttle force. 

But you’d need a camera that records slow-motion videos to pick up the difference. 

I’d say the off-the-line performance is in line with the top picks. Thus you might disagree with the ranking. I think the others were just offering better value overall for those of you.

Things That Need Improvement

  • This is way too expensive if you’re just starting out. A more budget-friendly choice would be your go-to ESC. 
  • Plugging the fan on this one is a bit tricky. Pick out the Sidewinder 4 on top if you want an easier installation.

Hobbywing Quicrun 10BL120 ESC: More About the Product

Finally, we have Hobbywing’s 10BL120 from the Quicrun series. And this did just enough to make it into the top five.

Don’t get us wrong. I think this one shines in the pricing department. If you’re just trying to get a cheap brushless ESC for your brushless motor, this is it.

As for its strong suit, it comes with an active cooling fan. So it won’t heat up as much as the second or third options on the list.

Well, I won’t let this one off the hook easily. this lacks in multiple departments if you compare it to the rest four.

I’d say the initial throttle boost stutters most of the time. So you won’t know when this will affect your chances at a podium finish when you’re drag racing.

It’s also worse off the line when you pit it against the other four. So it will always end up starting milliseconds slower.

We also struggled a bit with the boost tuning on this one. It’s not the same with all the others. But this will take a bit more of your time. And that’s not good when you’re pitting it up against the big guns.

So why should you even consider it? Well, I wouldn’t.

But if I needed a budget-friendly brushless ESC to go with my brushless motor, this would pop up in my mind. And that’s precisely the reason as to why you should consider this. 

Things That Need Improvement

  • The initial throttle boost is poor. If you have the money to spend, get an ESC with a superior throttle boost
  • This might seem a bit slow off the line. If that concerns you, you can opt for the top pick.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a brushless ESC with a brushed motor?

The short answer is no. As for the explanation, if you go for a brushless ESC, it will require a triple-phase power, which is AC. But on the other side, a brushed motor will only accept DC current.

So the entirety of the mechanism will not work.

Is brushed better than brushless?

It’s actually the other way around. All the brushless units are considered modern. You don’t need to worry about maintaining the brushes in these ones. So yes, the brushless motors are better, by a slight margin. 

Can I replace a brushed ESC with a brushless one?

The easier way is to stay with what you have. If you are looking for a replacement, you’ll have to replace the motor along with it too. So that’s a bummer. 

Wrapping Things Up

And that’s a wrap!

Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you out with this one. I know that the decision might still be confusing. 

But I think this whole comparative analysis can actually help you out. After careful evaluation, we’ve picked the top ESCs and listed them here.

So pick any brushed or brushless compatible ESCs from the list. Still, confused? Check out the graphical comparisons to pick out the best ESC for drag racing.

Good luck on the track!