This past week I took to the skies to head south to Florida for the ROAR 1/8th Nitro Offroad Nationals. Now you may think why would they have a prestigious National level race in Florida during the season when it rains every day. Well you would have a valid point! But I must say the crew of Southside RC Raceway did as they promised and had everything in place to make this event a success. This included the best tarp system for an R/C track that i’ve yet to see. Just two tarps to cover the entire surface minimizing water that could seep through gaps and cracks in the tarps. I believe they were utilized 3 times during the racing to keep the track as consistent as possible and it was a complete success in my book. So a huge kudos to the track crew for doing as promised and putting on a great event. Also the jumbo-tron scoring screen in the back right corner was icing on the cake. It was great for everyone around the track to be able to look up and see lap times and positioning and such.
This week for me was very much a tale of two vehicles. My Tekno NT48.3 was on point from the very beginning and even with the continuously changing track conditions I primarily stuck with the same set-up, only varying the shock oil a little for the temperatures. My Tekno NB48.4 felt at it’s best during the 2nd seeding practice when the track was probably at it’s most difficult. It was breaking up at the time and getting extra dusty and during that run I felt the most comfortable. After that before qualifying the next day they put calcium down on the track which absolutely kept the track together better and lessened the dust and caused the grip to come up pretty high along with tire wear. The rest of the weekend was a bit of a struggle for me in Nitro buggy as we tried to come to grips with the evolving surface and the high traction yet bumpy terrain.
Truggy qualifying was solid throughout. I had finishes of 3,5,3,3 during the four rounds which would end up seeing me 4th overall for the A-main final. The layout was pretty easy overall which, especially in truggy led to some very very close racing. During many qualifying rounds 2nd – 10th were less than 2 or 3 seconds apart. This set us up for a very competitive A-main final!
Nitro buggy was as mentioned a bit of a struggle. It was difficult to choose just the right tire for the conditions. The track was constantly changing moisture levels and depending on how hard the sun was baking on it or if it was cloudy all affected the choice. My 3 best rounds were all about 10th overall for the round which in the end qualified me 15th overall and 7th into the even Semi-final. It did seem that the even semi final was the ‘stacked’ final, primarily due to experience levels of the drivers in them. This would end up being a true assumption as you will see shortly.
First up we had the 30 minute Nitro truggy final. (All the mains were shortened due to rain / threat of rain). I felt confident at the get go and put the pressure on Rivkin in 3rd. This I had way more steering than he had and was able to stick my nose under him multiple times but wasn’t able to make the pass. This lasted for a number of laps and suddenly I started to loose pace. I fell back and allowed 5-6 to catch up to me as I fell away from the leaders. After Tebo nipped at my heels a couple times including us momentarily tangling, I was able to find a good flow again and started to move up and catch back up to Rivkin. On lap 16 I was able to put the pass on him and move into 3rd and I set my sights on Cavalieri in 2nd. For about 20 laps I stalked him making up a couple tenths here and there and finally around lap 36 I put the pressure on and at the end of the front straight dog leg he went wide in the dust and I just snuck underneath and into 2nd. Tessman was about 6 seconds ahead at this point as he had just had a pit lane debacle and I thought I may have a chance to make a move. But it was time for my 3rd stop and it wasn’t pretty either. Thus I lost touch with Ty and now I was fighting to fend off a very hard charging Maifield. He would get close a couple times but would make a mistake. As the race wound down Tebo was making a move and it was now a 3 horse race for 2-4. I was fortunate to stay clean and just ahead of them as we crossed the finish line for my 5th, 2nd place finish in Nitro Truggy at the ROAR Nationals. My AKA Soft Long Wear Impacts had the most tread left of any of the vehicles in the main. To bad it could have remained a 45 minute race! Things may have been different. 🙂
Next we had the Nitro buggy Semi Finals. They were taking the top 5 from each Semi plus the fastest 6th place finisher. Because I felt our semi would be faster I was really just trying to stay clean and in the top 6. Starting 7th it took me to lap 3 to be up to 5th but I made a mistake of my own dropping to 8th. This gave me some motivation to clean it up some more and I was able to do so and while I didn’t feel completely fast my car was the best it had been and I moved up to 5th on the 19th lap and after that I just followed behind Joe for the remainder of the run as we finished 4-5 and into the A-final. As suspected our semi was much faster than the next one and thus I would start 6th in the A-final which was pretty amazing to me after seeing how things had been going!
The final race for the day was the 45 minute Nitro Buggy A-main final. We made just a couple small tweaks to the car before the main but perhaps we could have done more. The sun decided to shine extra bright and the conditions were as hot as they had been all weekend. I think everyone felt their cars get a little soft in the final. I had a slow start making a mistake as to not run into Joe in the first corner and got shuffled to the back. My car was pretty safe on set-up but wasn’t necessarily fast because of that. I started to keep pace at least and found a groove and Joe and I were progressing together through the back of the pack but we both ended up running out of fuel within 10 seconds of each other on our in laps of the second pit stops. Seems mileage went south during the main as other drivers I heard also changed their strategy when they noticed us running out. For me this cost me a lap and 3 seconds. For Joe it was a lap and 12 seconds. Putting my time back into my run it could have put me in a battle with Ogden for 6th. But instead I had to settle for 9th overall. Not exactly what I would have hoped for but on the challenging surface for us I feel we made the best of it we could do. In the main I ran AKA Soft Long Wear Zips.