This past weekend I took a couple short flights to St. Louis to attend the OS/Futaba Nitro Challenge. I arrived to a very wet track with no pipe laid down yet on Thursday afternoon. There was due to be practice Thursday afternoon into the evening, but it had to be scratched due to the rain. We did have a quick seminar though put on by Hobbico where I talked a bit about My Futaba equipment. Adam Drake then talked about OS engines and we fielded any questions people had. I think it was a good experience for all and hopefully it helped some people’s programs.
Friday morning we arrived to see a still wet track and pipe would get laid until the late morning. There was due to be one qualifier on Friday night but due to the lack of practice a decision was made to just do all 3 quals on Saturday and do a seeding practice on Friday evening. The weather for the rest of the weekend was set to be absolutely perfect for St. Louis at the end of July. Temps in the mid 80s and relatively low humidity. It was an awesome treat.
Come Saturday the track was already starting to take a slight groove. This track grooves faster than any track I have ever been to. (Must be the 20 feet of water that floods it seemingly every year to the top of the drivers stand.)
We also get to utilize tires at this race that I don’t get to run very often. Even though the traction isn’t very high here a harder tire works better. So while starting qualifiers on AKA Soft and soft long wear, I progressed to Medium by the end. My tread patterns of choice were impacts for truck and impacts, ibeams, and enduros in buggy. The track held up really well on Saturday and wasn’t blowing out as much as usual due to the early rains.
Qualifiers started out great with me sweeping Q1s with TQ in all three classes I was running. I would continue to TQ Q2 and Q3 in Pro Nitro Truggy and Ebuggy. In Nitro buggy Q2 my eyes decided to burn and water profusely making me wish I wore my Goggles and giving me a 3rd. In Q3 it was around 11 at night and I did my best with my old man eyes but made a couple mistakes on the track that had gotten twitchier that night. I ended up missing TQ by 0.8 tenths behind Ogden.
Sunday saw the track start to flake apart a little and the groove to also deepen. Mid day under the sun conditions were slick in some spots. We had double A mains on tap with finishing position not to really matter. It was all down to combined laps and times from the two runs in each class.
Ebuggy A1 was up first and I was on Medium I beams. I found in my A main warmup that I preferred the enduros but only had two sets so reserved those for my Nitro buggy. My Ebuggy was a bit loose in the midday sun but I was able to battle out front with Ogden for the first 7 minutes until he took the lead only to strip a spur that next corner onto the straight. This gave me a big lead over 2nd and I came home with a 13 second or so win.
Nitro Truggy A1 was next and my truck was dialed. I ran my only set of Medium Impacts and they were absolutely the right choice. I held the lead at the start and allowed the battle behind me to ensue. Knowing it was all about laps and times I was digging for every second I could achieve. I came away with a 19 second victory in the 20 minute race.
Nitro Buggy A1 cane next and the track was at its most difficult. There were more bumps and dust and loose sections making it a real challenge. I got into my best robot mode and held off some hard charging fellows behind me. I seemed to have a much earlier slow down point on the front straight but used it to get me through the following 180 quicker. I got into the lead early and throughout the race used my consistency to plug away laps and build another 19 second victory.
A2 would bring some challenges and I feel allowed me to exercise my experience to persevere. Truggy A2 was first and the challenge started early. They were doing driver intros while we did some warmup laps and I felt an issue with my driveline. I babied it into pit lane and ran down the stand to my car. Yanked off the body to see the rear pinion bearings had failed. I sprinted with my bodiless truck to my pit across the track and began to remove the rear end. I took the rear clip off and then the rear diff out where I saw the metal shavings and bearing balls inside my diff case. I didn’t have a new diff but I quickly replaced the bearings and reinstalled the ring and pinion. I heard them calling for a few more marshalls and a track fix. I’m sure they also were gracious in giving me a few extra moments on top of it. I got it all back together, and as I heard them say they were getting ready to start, dead sprinted back to the track and handed off my truck to my pit guy who reinstalled the body, fired it back up, and took it to the line to start the main.
I was out of breath and had a truck I had no clue how long the rear diff would last having already skipped and damaged the gears. I took a deep breath and on the tone we were off. I tried to take it a little easy at the start but coming around the first lap under breaking I heard that dreaded crunch. I quickly dialed out probably 8-10 points of Brake EPA and adjusted my lines on the track. I avoided hitting the brakes on all but the most critical points. I slowed down more when needed or would steer harder to slow down the truck and rotate as to not use the brakes. I also did what I could to land off power. I knew I had a 19 second cushion from A1. The start was going amazing too. My competition was crashing behind me and I actually worked up a few second lead. But soon Ogden was on me and He put in an inside move and I conceded the position. My goal simply being truck and 19 second preservation. I was able to stay within 5 seconds for the next 10 minutes and also retain 2nd place. In the last 5 minutes I started to tighten up my lines and push a little harder gaining a little confidence it could hold together. I caught up and on his mistake actually took the lead and the win and overall victory!
Ebuggy A2 was immediately to follow. I had to run back to my pits to grab my buggy. By this time I’m getting a little tired but it’s what we signed up for. At the start I’m going pretty well but get into a battle after a mistake with Ogden and Tollard. I again knew I had my cushion and Ogden was out of this one because of the first run so I just tried to remain clean. After they made some mistakes I again would be able to use my consistency to take the win and overall victory.
Finally the third race in a row Nitro buggy was up next. The track had actually gotten easier with the sun setting. It was a little less catchy in sections and we were going fast. Again I was starting with a 19 second cushion over Ogden. At the start I was driving my 90% cruise consistent line and Ogden was slowly stretching out a lead. A couple minutes in he had a 3 second lead. I felt I was doing good lines but if you watched him at Nationals you know he’s capable of just checking out and that’s the mode he was in. I was starting to worry and made a mistake and suddenly found myself in a battle with Drake. We fought back and forth for a couple laps and suddenly Ogden was hobby 13 seconds before the first pit stop. I decided I had to go for it and dialed it up to 100% driving harder than I have in a long time. Every couple minutes they would call out the gap. I was driving what I felt were awesome laps and now I was holding the gap at 13-14 seconds. After the last pit stop I crashed off the track in the back and thought it was over. I was down by 16 seconds and my cushion was down to 3 seconds for the overall. I continued to push and suddenly he was making mistakes. He said his car got soft and in those last minutes I was actually able to catch back up to within 7 seconds for A2 and thus I was able to win the overall!
I want to give a huge thank you to a lot of people who helped me this weekend. The Fletcher’s for the food and marshaling and just being awesome. To Tony Burton for all the last minute pit help and great pit stops. To Jared Wiggins for allowing me to pit in his trailer with him. And to everyone else who helped with marshaling or filling up my car throughout the weekend.
Next up for me is Wicked Weekend middle of August. Time for a bit of family time! 🙂
The ROAR 1/8th Electric and 4×4 SC Nationals were just completed this past weekend. The event was held in Chico, CA at the pretty awesome A Main Silver Dollar Raceway. For me the results were a good example in limiting expectations. I am not terribly pleased with my results as I look at the placement. But I know I gave it my all, and I can’t be to disappointed in that. There were a number of circumstances and factors that went into this past weekend, that made it a little more of a challenge for me.
The track itself wasn’t changed to much from the Manufacturers Cup a month earlier. A couple of sections were changed up but a good portion of the track remained the same. This track is known to have big jumps and big air, but generally over shorter distances. The jumps are ‘hang time’ jumps and many are on angles which add to the degree of precision necessary. I am not great at timing jumps and especially with electric as I feel I have much more of a nitro finger. So one of my biggest struggles on this track is down siding jumps. So each time I miss a little short or a little long I am losing valuable tenths to the guys who just don’t miss!
There are also those tracks where some treads or compounds are just simply a bit faster than others. I felt this was the case this weekend on this track as well. Especially during the wetter runs and earlier in the week. As a ever so slight groove began to form later in the weekend things started to even up a bit, but it’s just something we deal with on the R/C tour. Some weekends you have the advantatge, and some your at a disadvantage. Others it seems like all treads and compounds are equally competitive.
Well the event got underway on Wednesday with open practice during the day until 7pm. On Thursday we had a quick open practice in the morning followed by two seeding practice sessions taking fastest 3 laps to seed for qualifying. On Friday and Saturday there were two qualifiers each day along with a quick 3 minute sprint practice first thing in the morning. The days were done before 5pm which was nice, but there was only 11 heats in total. The entry count hovering around or just below 100. I really would like to see this event held somewhere in the north east or south east where electric 1/8th racing has a much larger following. But at the same time if my options were to attend the ROAR E-Nats or maybe 2 large regional races or club race all summer, I for sure wouldn’t choose the former. There isn’t enough value added at this time in my opinion.
Well throughout qualifying I would put in a couple of clean early runs but simply was off pace on a lap time basis. I would take a 7th and 5th in E-buggy runs to qualify me 9th overall into the A-main. In Short course I had a 3rd and a 5th to qualify me 5th overall, and in Truggy I had a 6th and 7th to qualify 9th overall. So I was at least able to make the A-main in all 3 classes and give myself a shot at improving.
This year they did bump ups for electric. This put all of the A-mains at the end of the event. So Triple A-mains were ran and they quickly went through A1’s and then had a 1 hour break for battery charging and to allow cars to cool off as it was plus 100* F outside. Same was done for A2’s and what followed was another 1 hour break and then finally A3’s to finish the event up. I had pretty great starts in all of my mains. Each one I moved up a position or a few for at least the first lap. Then it came down to if or where I would make a mistake. In some of the mains there was some epic battles. In A1 of E-buggy I was in 6th I believe and right behind Phend. I was tailing him for a number of laps with Tebo right behind me. Phend ended up getting out of shape in the crooked rhythm and spun sidewise and I hit him sending me backwards facing. Then Tebo hit me as I tried to turn myself around and again I found myself backwards. Finally getting going again but now in 7th which is where I finished A1 a little bummed on missing out on a possible 5th.
In E-truggy I had a great battle through much of A1 until my front center drive coupler came loose ending my run. We think it was just so hot out that loctite may have possibly been compromised. In any event that ended my run as I was in 6th or so. In my A2 of E-buggy I had another clean run going overall and was running in the pack of 7th-13th as we were all together on the track. I worked my way through them and made a pass on the last lap into 7th. But then we just barely tangled on the angled hip jump in the back center of the track and the whole field went by as I fell to 13th in that one crash.
Those were my best races I had going. In one of my SC runs, I believe it was A2 I was able to come away with a 3rd I think after giving Joe a side pass on the last corner. Overall my results were a 5th in Short Course, 7th in Etruggy, and 11th in Ebuggy after a mistake ridden A3. So my streak of excellent results ended this week but it’s been such a phenomenal season thus far and I know just a couple short years back I was happy when I could continue my making the A-main streak. So I was able to continue that streak to a couple years now I believe so that is pretty cool!
Next up is I am heading to St. Louis for the OS/Futaba Nitro Challenge at Dirtburners this weekend.
Well the 2017 edition of the ROAR 1/8th Nitro Offroad National Championships are in the books. Things we knew coming in were that the track had a penchant for blowing out including the jump faces. Also we knew it was the midwest and weather would be unpredictable! Both ‘truisms’ came true, but it all ended beautifully. Joe and I would make the drive one state over from Ohio to arrive mid afternoon on Tuesday to Stateline R/C Raceway on the Indiana and Michigan boarder. The track looked fun with a couple of unique sections and one I had never seen before. It was a small crescent shaped berm in the middle of the corner followed by a diagonal mole hill running from the crescent all the way to the pipe. As the week got underway the section was easy with multiple ways through it. As the mains came around it became one of the hardest sections of all and was a true differentiator.
Wednesday was open track controlled practice which allowed us to try out some different tires and set-ups. However the track was blowing out quick and getting very dusty so they decided to water between all the runs. Thus it was pretty well known the tires we were choosing to run wouldn’t be the same as what we would run come qualifying when they could no longer water. On Thursday we had another day of ROAR controlled practice with the 2nd two rounds being seeding rounds where top 3 consecutive laps would seat you for the qualifiers. We got all the way through the first round but with about 2 heats of buggies to go in the second round the skies opened. There was a massive amount of storms to the north and south of us and we were very fortunate to actually escape what could have been much more rain. Either way it stopped our day and seeding for Q1 would be based on just the times from the first seeding practice.
Come Friday morning pictures were surfacing of lakes that had formed around the track in the pits and such from the overnight dousing of rain. But the skies cleared long enough to remove the tarp and for the track crew to get to work preparing the track and getting it ready to run. Peat moss was applied and by 2pm we were doing a quick 2 minute practice run through the heats to help break in the track and give everyone a chance to get used to this new condition. We were able to get a full qualifier in and it was ok for me. In truggy I wasn’t quite feeling comfortable yet and I took a 7th but in buggy I had a great run and got a 3rd.
The track also put on an awesome buffet dinner with desert for us on Friday which is a staple thing they do at their big events. They fed everyone with a smorgasbord and it was delicious! We then ran through Q2 of buggy that night with the races ending around 11pm. The track was extremely hard to see with the black pipes. I felt like I was driving by brail out there and the air was still so the smoke was just hovering as a haze over the track surface. We did some good changes to the buggy though and even with my aging eyes I was able to get 2nd for the round.
Saturday was next and that morning the track provided a pancake breakfast with sausage and coffee for all! We also had to get through 2.5 rounds of qualifying and lower mains, so a busy day was on tap. It started off with finishing up Q2 of truggy and I found some improvement this round with the track beginning to deteriorate in sections. I would come away with a 3rd for the round, still not feeling totally comfortable but pleased with the progress. So after two rounds I was already into the A in truggy and the top of the semi’s in buggy so now it afforded me the ability to try some more new things and see what I could figure out.
As we progressed into Q3 and 4 the track just kept getting rougher. A groove also started to develop in some sections and our tire selections went from SS grids on Friday to now AKA Soft grids. In buggy my 3rd and 4th rounds wouldn’t improve my standing as both included early crashes that I had to recover from. Buggy I got a 6th and 4th in the final two rounds which still showed I was up in the running and just needed to put it all together. In truck I was able to improve in Q3 a little more yet taking a 2nd for the round and starting to find a groove. In Q4 I tried a stiffer shock oil and while it helped in some sections it hurt in others and so for the main I decided I was going to stick with the slightly lighter set-up. Overall I would qualify 3rd in truggy and 4th in buggy which would start me 2nd in the 1/2 odd semi-final.
Truggy Final – Sunday was main day and the track conditions were getting gnarly. At noon we got a 10 minute A-main and Semi practice run to allow us to make some last minute adjustments and get ready for the the epic test this track was going to dish out on us. About an hour after the warmups was going to be the truggy A-main. Starting 3rd on the grid I was having memories of Silver State where it was the same 3 in the top 3 and I would be able to come home with the victory. At the start I still just wasn’t feeling the most comfortable with my truck. I don’t know what it was this weekend be it the track or what but I never quite got that feeling of being completely dialed in truggy. I fell back a bit and battled with Rivkin for the 3-4 positions for much of the first 10 minutes of the race. I was able to start finding a groove but was a good 10 seconds behind the leaders. This track was brutal though and anything could happen. Soon I was able to move into a lonely 3rd where I just tried to hit my marks and make some kind of progress on the leaders. It seemed suddenly with about 10 minutes to go that Maifield was just 3 second ahead of me and I was in my groove and caught him and made a pass on the front double table double section. He was doing double double single and had been the whole race. But once I passed him there he copied my line. I was out ahead of him by about 2 seconds when I got a little crossed up in the whoops and into the dust and badly missed the dragon back section. He got back by me and I just couldn’t muster another comeback. So I settle for 3rd and another podium in truggy. I think this is my 5th year in a row or so making the podium in truggy with last year being an asterisk.
Semi-Final – Next was the buggy semi-final. I chose to go out on AKA soft long wear enduro’s based on my semi-warmup findings. I was starting 2nd on the grid and just looking to get a top 5 to make the show straight away. Well this was a race to forget overall. I was struggling mainly with my brakes being a bit to aggressive and just messing with my throttle curve and trim on the fly to get the right feel I was looking for. This track required putting your car in the exact position you wanted it and I just wasn’t able to do it very well. The rear was also a bit dumpy around the corners and I was just hanging on for dear life in the last 5 minutes or so. But the car held up to the abuse of the 30 minute semi and while it wasn’t pretty it did the job and I seeded 9th into the A-final.
I made a couple changes for the main including going from 9K to 12K in the front diff to try to mellow out the steering a bit as it was pretty grabby on this track. We also went another 25 cst higher on our PTRC Racing shock oils. And finally going to 0.1 heavier sway bars to keep the car from rolling quite as much in the corners. I knew at this point that even know the track was really rough it was more critical for me to place the car where I wanted it than necessarily worrying about bump handling.
Nitro Buggy A-main – Well the main started out great as I moved up quickly to the top 5 or 6 where I just hung out finding my groove and waiting for my Medium long wear Enduro’s to come in and oils to warm up a bit. I set my car up for the long hour race so it was easy does it for the first 5 minutes or so. I completely was driving my own race as drivers who were pushing harder were catching me and I would just let them go and soon find myself ahead of them again as they were making mistakes. Soon one of the contenders was flamed out and got mad and spiked his radio on the drivers stand which I was able to witness with my peripherals. Unfortunately not being the first time he’s done such, I just wonder when sponsors or race organizers will make bigger repercussions for such childish actions. Anyways it moved me up another spot as I just kept chugging along. My biggest struggle point still being the half moon into mole mound where I just wasn’t being patient enough to get inside that initial hole.
Coming into the first pit stop I was one of the last 3 to pit doing around a 9 minute strategy. My pit guys Billy and Danny being super fast I think we won most of the pit stops and it was up to me to lay it all out their on the track. Midway through the race with more leaders experiencing issues or blown brains (it was a mental exercise out their for sure) I suddenly found myself in a battle for 2-4th with Cav and Rivkin. I had a few struggle laps as my goggles started to fog and I had to drive for 5 minutes with my head tilted up so I could see through the bottom of them. I was driving by brail again especially in the front section and just couldn’t wait for my next pit stop. I finally got called in and threw off the goggles as my eyes adjusted to the fresh air. Cav and Rivkin were pushing harder than I, and when they would catch me I would just let them do their thing. But soon I found myself in sole position of 2nd and about 10 seconds out of the lead behind Tebo. I was in a great groove. and catching up. We were coming up on the final pit stop and I was closing in. Tebo came in one lap before me and I was able to pass him for the lead at that point for a lap. I came in a got out of the pits and was only about 4 seconds back. I really felt I had it and was going to be able to make a race of it. But a lap or two into that final segment I messed up of the dragons back and blew out the whole next lap or two. I didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong but was just suddenly hitting every bit of dust and blowing out corners terribly. I was soon 15 second back and just had about 6 minutes to go.
It was time to try to push just that little bit harder even though I knew the track was going to bite me back. I was able to start reeling him in and I got back to within 6 seconds with 3 minutes to go and still felt if I could just keep it clean I could put the pressure on. But I blew it stuffing the pipe in my worst corner of the track the top left and that was it. Back to 10 seconds and another bridesmaid performance. Still a great result on a demanding track with all the talent that was present. I think I have something like 8 second place finishes at ROAR Nationals now! A huge thank you to Danny for all the help this weekend. Also to Joe and Billy for also helping me rebuild for the A-main race. I was the only driver to podium in both classes this weekend and i’m just continuing on my consistent 2017 campaign. I seem to be improving a little every race and I am just looking forward to the next one! 😀
The Tekno Teammate Challenge has been conceded after this weekends event. Coming into the event I was +40 and added another +27 at the Nats. So with a +67 point lead Joe has decided to just pay up the $100 so we stop discussing it and he never wants to make that bet again! haha. He’s really doing great this year and he is going to just bust out so soon. He just picked the wrong year to bet me it looks like!
Next up is 3 weeks to prepare and we have E-Nats coming in Chico where hopefully it’s a little cooler than 115*!!
A quick 1.5 day turnaround sent us South this time to Cullman, Alabama for the 8th annual Alabama Manufacturers Shootout. The event under new ownership this year being run now as one of the 4 big races by RaceTime Entertainment. The track this time around was built just a week in advance of the event vs. in the past they started about a month in advance. This always leaves up the air the tire choice as it’s unknown if the track would be prepared the same, so bringing the full range of tires was a must.