This past weekend the big bird in the sky took me to America’s Heartland to attend the ROAR 1/8th electric and 4×4 SC Nationals. The venue was the Hobbytown HobbyPlex in Omaha, Nebraska. A basically indoor facility saw us running clay tires with lots of liquid wrench throughout the weekend to maximize the traction levels. Joe and myself were running all 3 offered classes which only a handful of drivers were attempting. With the once again disappointingly low turnout there ended up being 7 heats and we were thus involved in 6 of them either racing or marshaling. On top of this they added 2 extra qualifiers giving us 6 total, but making for some extremely hectic days of trying to compete in all the classes. 

(-Quick need to rant-)

Now I try to be as positive as I can for the most part but it’s hard to not want to see change and consistency in our National level events. For instance we had booked our flights about 2 months in advance as we usually do and were told just weeks before the event they were shortening it. (This is something they should do with this Nationals anyways and make it a 3 day event). But it just made it so we were there for a full day early. Next because of the low turnout it was decided to run more qualifiers. Sounds good in theory but we already do to much qualifying and not enough racing. Now this weekend for instance it turned out to be a blessing for me as I struggled mightily early on and needed those last qualifiers. But that not withstanding we need to figure out how to race more. Another issue was that they changed the voltage meter from day to day. Thus when everything was ok on day 1 suddenly to start day 2 I got DQ for being at 16.81v. And to that point why do we have rules that would only effect stock racing at a mod event? Who cares if the voltage is .01 or .05 over. Who cares if the batteries are warmer than ambient temperature. These cars can be grossly overpowered as it is, we aren’t at a stock race!

(-End rant-)

Now to the racing where things didn’t start out to hot for me. In Etruggy I was doing all I could to make my AKA SLW Grids hook up on this clay track but they were just no match for the clay and purpose indoor tires other companies currently offer. So in Q1 and 2 I struggled mightily. Then with the DQ in Q3 I needed to put in 3 good runs just to secure and A main start. Fortunately my sponsor allowed me to run another brand tire for the rest of the weekend to allow me to be competitive and it immediately paid dividends. I was able to finish 3-4-3 in the final qualifiers to seed 4th in truggy. 

In Short course it was a 4 way battle in most of the heats and I was able to put my SCT410.3 with AKA Clay Chainlinks into the TQ position in rounds 3 and 4. The final round would decide the overall TQ and Joe was able to edge me out for the overall and thus I settled for 2nd. 

Ebuggy was a struggle early on as I worked to find a good setup and the right tire choice. On day one of quals I was running AKA clay Typos and while they were fast I just didn’t feel I was able to be consistent enough with them. So for day 2 I switched to some Chainlinks and they were easier to drive. I had a steady progression through the 6 quals with the first two being just outside the top 10 but finishing off with a 6 and a 2 in the final rounds to seed me 6th overall with momentum heading in the right direction. 

2nd place Ebuggy Concourse. Thanks Diggity Paints!

So Sunday brought us main day and we would be racing in the final 9 races of the day to compete the triple A mains. In A1 of etruggy it was an up and down race. I had been to 3rd and fell back to 6th. Then as 4th and 5th fought in front of me and tangled over the back single I launched over them and back into 4th where I would finish. In Short Course Joe and I would break away from the pack and he would pull away then make a mistake over the first triple. As I jumped it I got tangled and he got out ahead of me again and a cat and mouse game ensued but he held on for the close win. In Ebuggy it was a pretty straightforward race. I made up one position on the 2nd lap into 5th but everyone stayed pretty clean after that and that’s where I finished. 

Truggy Concourse Victory! Thanks Diggity Paints!

In A2 of Etruck I totally blew the start and launched across the lane into the opposite triple nearly ruining the front runners. I got corrected though and came across the first lap in 7th. I ran consistently the remainder of the run and worked my way into 4th. In Short Course I had to beat Joe and yet I decided to crash on lap 1 and fell back. I was able to make up the pace though and regain up to the leaders only to again get caught in the tragic after the first triple and get the raw end of the deal again. I continued to fight but just got back to 2nd and Joe was able to take a well deserved 1st and his first National title. In buggy I had a great start and on lap 2 briefly was in 2nd place. But I made a mistake again and fell back to 6th and just tried to keep pace with the leaders. On the last corner all kinds of chaos ensued as Maifield took out Rivkin which allowed Tebo into the picture. As Maifield waited for Rivkin to get corrected all 3 converged sending Rivkin on the wrong side of the track and he thus didn’t cross the line while Tebo was out of shape and Maifield beat him across the loop. It was crazy scenario as the top 7 drivers were within 3 seconds across the line. I would come away with 5th in that one. 

In A3 of etruggy I had my opportunity. I was running 3rd behind Rivkin and pressuring him hard and finally made a pass and into 2nd. This was dialed as if I could hold on I would be 3rd in the podium.  But with one minute to go and caught the pipe before the loop and flipped over falling back to 4th. Blowing my opportunity and thus finishing 4th overall. In Short Course getting to start from the start I put on clinic including back to back 21.3 lap times and a final time within one second of the ebuggy A2 winning time! Thus finishing 2nd overall for my 11th ROAR National 2nd place finish. Finally the last ebuggy main was one to forget as I had a marshal fall down on my car and it was just a mess overall including the front body clip coming off. So overall I had to settle for 7th in the class. 

Super fast A3 in 4×4 SC

In the end it was a trying week. But the track was a blast and the facility is still a really awesome one that I enjoy going to. I hope this small wave of momentum of media talking about the change that needs to come can make some waves going forward as things can for sure be made better for the community at large. 

My 11th ROAR Nationals 2nd place finish!

Next up is my LutzRC hometown Shootout at my home track Medina RC Raceway August 11th. 

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AMS 9.0

July 2, 2018

Just got through with the AMS 9.0 event in Cullman, Alabama. Upon seeing the layout on facebook the track looked like it was going to be a blast to drive on and at the same time a bear to marshal. Upon arriving and deciding to run in the first practice session those thoughts became realities. The layout was so much fun to drive on. The front straight launching into a fast sweeping right handed berm, then needing to set up wide to avoid some bumps and take a big left handed berm. There was also a really fun step up into a sharp 90* with a couple drop down steps. Some other features like the crossover and the aptly named “QuadNasty” were awesome when you hit them right, but downright dangerous and a Hobby Shop boon when you got them wrong. Public service announcement here: if anyone is selling a “one race used car” right now be weary. Make sure that one race wasn’t AMS 9.0! So many cars got wadded up and sent marshals ducking for cover as they careened off line. While it’s fun to see big air and it’s fun to drive on, we have to remember we have marshals to look out for and many of them are kids and we need to consider safety as a priority as well. To an extent we are racing and the action should really be in the racing action. Some of these obstacles are better left for the recreational market. Just my humble opinion. 

As far as the racing, the competition was heavy this weekend with 491 entries. Many top drivers were in attendance as well as the top crop of South East drivers. The track started out with me being able to run AKA SSLW Grids but as we passed noon on that first practice day I began to try out the Clay Chainlinks and they became the ticket throughout the rest of practice for me. Stuff was feeling pretty good throughout the practice and I was ready for when qualifying would start on Friday at 2pm. By the time the first qualifier rolled around the traction came up a ton. In truggy everyone seemed to be doing alight. For me I felt like my steering end points weren’t set fully or my servo saver was a bit loose and I just lacked in some of the high speed steering sections. I would end up 4th. As we came out to run our buggies you could see the struggle of many with the surface. Many going out on to soft of a tire and just struggling with the increased grip. I was one of them and it really set the tone for the struggle I would be experiencing throughout the weekend. My best runs in buggy would be in Q2 for e-buggy in which I finished 6th and Q3 in nitro buggy in which I finished 6th as well. My last run in nitro buggy I had made a couple changes and chose SLW Zips and I was pretty happy with my car. I had a bad crash but otherwise had a top 2 or 3 run so I gained some confidence heading into the finals. My qualifying positions weren’t the greatest though being 5th in truggy, 8th in e-buggy, and 9th in nitro buggy. 

They decided again to put the nitro mains earlier in the program on Sunday to hopefully have some more people be able to be there to watch. I think this is a good idea but perhaps we were a little too early in the program this year. The truggy A-main was up first at around 8:30AM! I opted for SLW Impacts for the 30 minute race and I think it was the right decision for me for the conditions. My truck had a bit to much steering actually and was a little fishy on the rear end which made me a little less consistent than I would have like to have been. I was able to stay in the lead pack of 5 cars though and even found a groove and got up to 2nd  for a bit. But I couldn’t hang on and Cav pressured me and I made a mistake over the back set-up and lost a good number of seconds having to go back down it get marshaled. This knocked me back to 4th but Cav had a failure getting me to 3rd. I would get within 2 second of Tebo in second for a while but I just didn’t have the consistency to hang tight and I had to settle for 3rd. Congratulations though to my teammate Joe for taking with win giving us a Tekno 1-3 in the the Truggy class!

Truggy 3rd!

Next up was the nitro buggy final just an hour later. Starting in the mid/back I just wanted to stay clean at the start and not loose total touch with the leaders. I was able to do pretty well and I was able to pick off a driver here and there as the race unfolded. Soon I would work my way up to 5th and be pretty happy with where I was sitting. I continued to fight and run some clean laps and was soon with in eyesight of Tebo and Rivkin in 3 and 4. Things were looking promising and then I went down the straight the lap before I was supposed to pit and felt it running out of gas, so I told my pit guy on our headsets and he was ready to grab the car at pit lane exit basically. But upon fueling it up it died out of fuel and it took a bit to get the box and everything ready and I lost a lap. This knocked me back to 8th position which is where I would finish. Another unfortunate finish for me in Nitro buggy this year. Looking to right the ship here at the next one.

The Double E-buggy A-main would be wheat would close out this event for us. In A1 I had a really good start. I ran SLW Zips on the front and Double Downs on the rear. The car did feel a bit soft in the heat of the day and something just felt off in the throttle. When I would land the car would stop momentarily and it just didn’t feel like the power was smooth. I somehow worked my way though traffic early and up to 2nd briefly but just couldn’t hang on to it all considering. I fell back after shorting the quad nasty a few times and tumbled to 6th which is where I would end up finishing. I thought perhaps the sensor wire was bad so I changed that for the second final but it wasn’t the problem. I believe it was the motor in hindsight from all those terrible landings on the quad and I wasn’t even able to start A2. So overall I would settle for 8th.

So in a nutshell it was a disappointing weekend results wise for me. The conditions were challenging and the track was tough and I just didn’t shine. I gave it my all and am pleased to come away with a podium finish in truggy. I also had a lot of fun around the pits hanging out and playing some cornhole and practicing my ninja skills climbing the Ibeams of the building. 

Next up is the 1/8th Electric Nationals at the Hobby Town Hobby Plex in Omaha!

-Lutzinator

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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. 

Overall as mentioned this was my 5th time finishing 2nd in Nitro Truggy and my 7th podium in the class. Pretty pleased with that consistency as this is 6 years in a row of podiums.*

I would like to give a huge thanks to David Scott for the A/C trailer set-up. Also to James Calhoun and Patrick Rossiter, (And the gentleman Patrick got for the main) for the marshal help on Sunday!

Next up we have A.M.S. 9.0 in Alabama!

-Lutzinator

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This past weekend I took a couple flights way down in West Texas to attend the MDA Tri-State Championships. This annual event is put on to support the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association). All proceeds from the event from entry fees to a raffle are donated to the cause that is near and dear to the Showers family. I had an awesome time hanging out with Corbyn, Ashley, Christian, and Joey Showers at this new track location at Christian’s property (the track actually being in New Mexico while his house is in Texas on the same property). In fact there are so many awesome people who call this track home, including Tag Georges and his fiancee Bailee who were just above and beyond hospitable and a blast to hang out with. We all had some Mario Kart battles after racing was over at Corbyn’s house which was a hoot. I’ve even decided after attending this event that I am going to make my end of the year trophy and memorabilia donation this year to the MDA!

On to the racing where unfortunately the turnout was a bit light due to the end of school and some other events in the area, and above average temperatures around 105 on Saturday. That didn’t deter those who did make it from having a great time though. I ran my standard 3 classes and was able to take the TQ in all 3. The track was one of the more fun ones i’ve ever raced on as track building master Joey Christensen was in town to do his magic before the event got underway. The track flowed very well and it was another event with some old school dirt with a bit of loam that got a little rough in some sections.

Main day on Sunday we tried to start a bit early as storms were forecast later in the day. First up was the 30 minute Nitro truggy final. I was able to get out from pole and start clean and pull away from the field. Ashley and Bailee tag teamed Tag and I for our pit stops and did an awesome job. I think they could give Matt and Danny a run for their money! 😉 I was able to put in a very consistent run in truggy and took the win after 30 minutes by about 4 laps. My Tekno NT48.3 with Blok power was on point as it usually is!

Next up was the 10 minute E-buggy main. My Tekno EB48.4 has been pretty dialed lately taking some big wins at PNB and Silver State. It was no exception here as I was able to put just barely under a lap on the field while having some fun on the left side double doing some fun whips. Ever since going to the new ProTek 5600 4S battery, going inside on the front arm shock location, and moving the ackerman back, my e-buggy has just been stellar!

The final race of the day was the 30 minute Nitro buggy race. I didn’t have the cleanest race in this one making a few mistakes but I did hold the lead from the start and had a couple of laps that were some of my fastest in the class for the weekend. I ended up running some old school AKA Soft long Wear I-Beams in my buggies and they were really pretty good. In the end I would come away with a 1.5 lap victory!

Overall it was just an awesome event, lots of fun, some great prizes, and all for a very worthy cause. I truly hope to be able to make it back again for it next year!

Next up is the ROAR Nitro Nationals in the Sunshine State of Florida!

-Lutzinator

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This past weekend, Joe and I jet set across the country to fabulous Las Vegas and the South Point Hotel and Casino for the 2018 Silver State Nitro Challenge. Joey from the Dirt Racing did an awesome job reviving the event and making it happen after the closure of RC Tracks of Las Vegas. He found an awesome venue and I truly believe this now has the potential to become one of the best races on the planet in coming years if the venue will have us back. We were spoiled with convenience being able to stay at this hotel casino, and just walk to the track each day, and have ample activities and things to do, see, and eat after racing was finished. The race drew right around 500 entires and I can see this being way higher next year with the positive vibe of the event.

So Excited to be here!

The track while indoor utilized the typical Las Vegas sandy dirt that I remember from Boulder City and it got rough and made it a challenging track which I loved! We got 2 rounds of controlled practice in on Thursday and then it was into qualifying with 2 rounds on Friday and 1 on Saturday morning. This was followed by lower mains on Saturday afternoon and the show on Sunday. My cars felt pretty good in practice and with them taking the fastest 3 consecutive laps from either round I was able to top seed truggy practice and be in the top few in the buggy classes as well.

Why is everything upside down?

Qualifying on Friday was hit and miss. The hits came in Ebuggy where I would get a 3 and a 5. In truggy I was not feeling to comfortable and in Q1 I missed my tune and we had to do a pit stop to adjust it during the 6 min qualifier. Thus I had a poor 19th overall. Round 2 was still a struggle though I stayed out there the whole time getting a 9th. So I needed Q3 to count and as I was warming my car up on the box someone mentioned I had 2 tires balooning and 2 that weren’t. DOH! Two of my tires didn’t have holes in them and that is how I had been running for both previous rounds. I got the holes added just in time and was able to TQ the round! Go figure! This would seed me 5th into the A-main. My E-buggy Q3 wasn’t an improvement but my first two rounds qualified me 3rd overall. In Nitro buggy I was off to a slow start just making a few to many mistakes and only getting a 12th in the first two rounds. I needed a good Q3 and I did some set-up changes like underdrive and a 9-5-5 diff set-up and my buggy was great and I got 3rd for the round qualifying me 9th overall into the main event.

Tekno NT48.3

As Sunday got underway we heard them announce they would only be watering the edges of the track and no longer the line. This caused me to continually be gluing up different sets of tires throughout the morning as I watched the track progress. A slight groove started to form in the line so for the first main which was truggy I opted to run SSLW Impacts but I was a bit fearful they may have been to soft. Sure enough as the race got underway I was fighting the vehicle a bit in some corners as the tires would balloon here and there and I just did the best I could. I moved into the top 3 by lap 7 and for a while from lap 24-29 I held down 2nd position. But my tires just kept heating up and the diffs got hotter and I wasn’t able to be as consistent as I would have hoped. In the end I was able to still get a podium finish in 3rd place. I found out after that Jared ran Soft Long Wear and got the victory, so I know if I would have made a better tire choice I could have put in a better battle.

Truggy 3rd place!

By seeing what he ran in truggy however I quickly mounted up a set of SLW Double Downs and Impacts. The intention was to run Double downs in front and Impacts in the rear on both of my buggies. The theory was that the track was getting aggressively grabby on the front end and so the Double Downs would help the front skip over bumps better and be less agressive and the impacts in the rear could give me a bit better dust handling and forward drive. My choice was on point and I moved up from my 3rd place grid position into 2nd on the first lap and then challenge Maifield for the first 4 laps before he made a mistake allowing me into the lead. I then set off into the sunset as he and Joe would battle for a few laps and make a few mistakes. I would come home with an over 10 second victory in the single 10 minute A-main!

Ebuggy EB48.4 Victory!

Tekno EB48.4

Nitro buggy was the final race of the day and I was feeling pretty confident in my car going into it. I had an amazing start from the 9 position moving up to 4th on the first lap and working along with the freight train to start the race. I got up to 2nd on lap 5 and was nipping at Maifields heels between lap 5 and 10. Then I had a bad lap of my own and fell back to 5th. On my second pitstop I had a jolt of good energy as I jumped into pit lane and my catcher Steve Harris caught me mid air and right down to the pin lane wall for fueling. It was an amazing stop and it was time to make up some time. I would hang within 6-10 seconds of the lead through the first half of the race but at about the 20 minutes down mark I made a comment to my pit guy that my brakes weren’t working right. I started to dial in more brakes on my radio on the fly but sometimes they would come in really hard and sometimes they would barely come in. Somehow I was still managing to keep pace and even make up a little time on the lead pack. But with about 12 mintues to go I my throttle started to be affected to and I thought I was going to have a runaway. I thought it might have been a battery so I asked my pitguy to run back for a spare. I tried to go one more lap but it ended up stopping on the track. When they got me into the pit the battery didn’t help the issue and it turned out to be my throttle servo that had failed. What a bummer as my car was amazing and I felt was only getting better and that I could have been up there to challenge for the win. Seems to be the story of my career when things are feeling good.

In the end though I am super pleased with the results. Our team worked amazing together as always. We have made great strides with the car on these conditions and it was pretty awesome to be so competitive in all the classes!

I hope they are able to bring the race back to this venue again next year and that we can do it all again! I can’t wait for the next race as I feel my program is just getting better each time out,a and I just want to prove it in Nitro buggy before it’s to late!

-Lutzinator

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