Interview on the Spyder Project with Serpent designer and toplevel racer Billy Easton, USA.

Q: Hi Billy, how are you doing ? Busy on many projects ?
A: Things are going well. I have been busy testing all the final runs of Spyder parts and a pre-production car as of lately. I stay very busy day to day as there is always something new I can be working on or an update for an existing project. There never seems to be enough time in my days to do everything I would like to do.

Q; Tell us more about your current project the Spyder 2wd 1/10 buggy; to start of why does Serpent move into this market ?
A: Right now there seems to be a transition into the electric racing scene. As with everything, this industry goes in waves. Gas was very popular for a couple years, and now I think its electrics turn. As a company, we are constantly trying to expand our product line and with anything, things take time. In the case of the Spyder project, we wanted to create a car that was competitive right out of the box. As many of you know we introduced our design in February of this year. Since that time, through countless hours of hard work/testing and refinement, the Spyder project is complete. I am very proud of the car we plan on releasing in just a couple short weeks. This is a good move for us, and it helps us expand our product line to a new fan base of potential customers, that we have never reached out to before. Hopefully with any good plan, as a company we hope that customers give our buggy a try. I think they will be very surprised in the quality and performance.

Q: What are the specific goals to achieve with the Spyder project ?
A: With any project, the idea is simple… Innovate where you can, and try to truly bring a new product to market that performs as good or better than what is out there. Of course better is always a plus. This category of cars is extremely refined and although it’s difficult to re-engineer the wheel, there are still areas where the current designs can be improved. As with anything, everyone’s view points on things are subjective, however, after all my testing of a multitude of other brands, I am very confident this product is at or near the top of the food (2wd car) chain.

Q: You have been World Champion in this class; when and where was that ?
A: I won the IFMAR World Championships in 2003 in Clearwater, Florida.. Its ironic I now live in Florida and race here not to far from where I achieved such an achievement. Its possible sub-consciously I just love Florida dirt... :)

Q: When did you start the design and what are the stages you go through ?
A: This design was started late last year. Since it was a new product and we had nothing to really go on, we needed to purchase all the current cars on the market. In some cases, over the last decade, the cars really have not evolved much. However, there were a couple of new cars on the market and it was interesting to see the directions in which they had gone. After that, we did the basic testing of the cars and then we had to formulate a game plan as to where we wanted to be when it was over.

Q: Which software do you use to design the cars ?
A: It actually depends on what part of the project I am working on. Our typical software that we use on the projects is Pro-E. However, I use Solid Works, Gear Trax, and Some Spring design software. The fun programs you use for calculating things, like Mathcad and even spread sheets like Excel are also used. It really depends on what you are trying to calculate or what part of the designing stage you are in.

Q: What is the hardest design part in this project ?
A: I would say if you had to pick an area that requires the most detail; it would probably be the transmission. Since you are working with gears, shrinkage and various adjustments, there has to be a lot of detail as to this section of the car. It would have been a lot easier, if there were only 2 gears or even 2 pulleys. The lesser parts you introduce into the design, the easier it is to get it right. With a multiple gear transmission, this can be quite tricky.

Q: When did you 1st run the proto-type car , and when is release expected ?
A: I ran the first Proto-type sometime in late February. With all the delays in this project which is bad at times, it was actually great for this project. As a company we had so much going on, that the project production was being delayed, mostly for other projects. Sometimes these things happen. It really worked out great for the customer though I must admit. I was able to test it more, develop it more, and beat on the parts more. In the end, we were able to produce a better product. The release of the car will be at the end of September and I really feel that it was worth the additional time invested.

Q; Can you briefly explain the main specs or features of the car ?
A: The main specs of the car are mostly subtle from simple to complex.
1)The front end geometry has been altered significantly compared to what’s on the market.
2) The shocks are fully capable of being emulsion or bladder and also 12mm.
3)The transmission is more adjustable in regards to the differential
4)The slipper assembly has been compacted to reduce rotating mass
5) The rear pivot system is more adjustable than cars currently on the market
The list could go on and on of the advancements in a multitude of areas in the car to be honest, these are the 5 best.

Q: Do you also plan to design a Mid motor version and a Short Course truck ? and RTR too ?
A: Yes, we have already been working on a Mid motor version and of course we will also expand the line into other categories based off of this platform. As with our other products we are constantly trying to produce RTR versions of the cars that are most popular to customers. It’s a great way to increase revenue for the company, so we can go racing..:)

Q: The 1/10 WC is coming up fast, do you have plans to attend the WC ? and any other Serpent drivers ?
A: Yes, the race is coming up very fast. I did enter the event in hopes that I will attend. As a designer and with all my projects going on, racing can sometimes be very difficult to do. I want to attend the race, but at the same time, you have to prepare for the race. I look at races a little different now. It’s not my money to spend, and if we are going to spend it to go to races, I want to make sure we are doing it in a wise way. So for me, it really depends on where I am in my work projects, and how prepared I feel I am, if I will attend or not. This is a hard transition to make, as a racer, which turned designer. I do still love to race, but more importantly, I race to make any products I design….Better. Winning a race is awesome, but sleeping at night, knowing I did a great job on a product is an even greater reward.

Thanks very much for the answers, and good luck at the Worlds !