June 26, 2017
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*!!
June 12, 2017
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.
The first time on the track I chose AKA SS chainlinks and they were decent and easy to drive overall. For my second run I decided to try out clay compound which had worked well in practice the year before. Sure enough they were a second a lap faster than the SS and more stable as they didn’t balloon at all. So clay it was to be until further notice so I proceeded to run the rest of my practice on the clay chainlinks in buggy. In truck I tried primarily impacts as the track was very smooth and had a groove of sorts with dust outside the line. The groove would gain more traction as the week went on and it was always a choice of running SS LW or Soft or Soft Long Wear each run. One cool thing about this track was that even though it’s ‘indoor’ and 1/10th scale esk in nature, it seemed like there was no clear cut best tire or tread or compound for the surface. People were running SS, Soft, Clay, Soft long wear, M4, M3, X3, yada yada, basically every compound out there and for the most part everything and ever tread was reasonably competitive on the surface.
This race is usually one I struggle with a little bit for some reason. I’m not a great indoor groove with outside dust racer as I run more erratic lines you could say. haha. The race this year had 5 top 25 drivers in attendance and 6 in the top 28 as well as a crop of fast guys from the South East and Midwest region. There were 475 entires in total and we got underway with the first qualifier on Friday afternoon around 4:30pm. My qualifying efforts were middling for me and I just never felt like I was able to put in a great run. I would basically finish 2nd – 5th in pretty much every qualifier. Nothing great but still showing the consistency that I have developed this year of always being in the picture. At the end of qualifying I would see myself starting 3rd in the Nitro classes for the 30 minutes A-mains and 5th in E-buggy for the triple 10 minute A’s.
E-buggy A1 would start us off at around 4pm on Saturday (Saturday is main day at AMS). Starting 5th I just wanted to be sure I stayed with the lead pack and not make any mistakes to put me back in to the fray. I was able to accomplish this and slowly worked up position by position as those in front of me made mistakes. I soon found myself in 3rd behind Rivkin and I pressured him for a few laps until he also made a mistake. I was now in 2nd about 3 second behind teammate and E-buggy TQ Joe. So as we were running Tekno 1-2 I felt good about that and just wanted to finishing out the remaining 4 minutes clean. With a minute to go however Joe got caught in some backmarkers over the back left doubled and had to be marshaled. This allowed me to slither through the carnage of wrecked cars and into the lead and to come home with the A1 win and Joe 2nd for Tekno 1-2.
Next was the 30 minute Nitro Truggy final and I was feeling pretty good about it. I was going to be on Soft Long Wear Impacts as the traction had really come up and it’s the same thing I ran last year. At the start I tailed behind Joe and Spencer until they collided coming onto the front straight. This allowed me into 2nd behind Spencer and I stayed close for a few laps until he crashed and I got into the lead. I then went to work on staying clean and trying to find a couple faster 1/10th’s here and there on the track. Laptimes were just 20 seconds and so the pace was fast and furious. I would extend out to a couple second lead only to see it slip away and he to be back on my bumper again. With about 11 minutes to go I made a mistake allowing Spencer to get racy and over the double triple he landed on my inside momentarily taking the lead but I cut back under him and we went over the table top where he tagged my wing and we both got tangled but he got the worst of it letting me get out to a second or two lead again.
45 seconds later I made a mistake landing on the pipe and did a cartwheel after the back right hip jump. This put us in a drag race coming down the straight away for the lead with just over 10 minutes to go:
Spencer had the run and beat me down the straight and through turn one. But he left me a truck width on the top left drop down and I snuck under him to regain the lead again!
Just a couple corners later though after that double triple he landed inside me and pushed me out into the dust as he regained the lead:
He though got up on the pipe and jumped the table poorly which sent him out into the dust on the next corner and I threw it in hard and drifted into the line underneath him as we set up for the top right hip:
As we went over the table I gunned it and whipped it tight and over the pipe and landed perfectly on the other side of it and thus regained the lead:
I highly suggest watching the liverc video of this race here from the 11 minutes to go mark. The announcer was going nuts and the action was intense. After that action though I was able to stay out front and hold on for the hard fought victory!
Next was A2 of Ebuggy and I was looking to do the same thing as I did in A1. Things were going well overall and I again found myself moving up position by position and soon was in 3rd behind Joe and Tebo. Joe was taking off as the 2-4 drivers were in a battle with some mistakes in front of each other causing us all to slow a bit and let Joe sail into the sunset. It was a tight 3 way battle between Rivkin, Tebo, and I and with 30 seconds to go Tebo who was in 2nd crashed after the right hip allowing Rivkin and I past and I thus would take a 3rd for the round.
Nitro buggy was up next with a 30 minute A-main. I had good hopes as I was running AKA Soft long Wear Zips for my kicks for the race. At the start I got into a groove behind Rivkin and Tebo but they were absolutely on it and I started to loose touch. Then throughout the race I seemed to be magnetized to every back marker crash I could find. Nearly all my major mistakes were getting tangled with and running into crashed cars and it cost me dearly on this 20 second lap track. I would basically just cruise around in 3rd the entire race, never really a threat and I feel I was driving a little to hard for the track as well. Overall though I would come home in 3rd with another solid podium finish.
E-buggy A3 would be the final race of the night as we neared midnight. For me it would be over quickly as I accidentally tagged Phend early on and it just ruined my mindset and I made some mistakes and caught caught up with other and on this quick track soon found myself way out of the running. I would need a 2nd or better to improve my position and it wasn’t going to happen being a lap down so soon so I pulled it off as to not affect anyone else. I would still come home with 2nd overall with my 1st and 3rd place finishes and Joe would run a stellar A3 to take the win for a Tekno 1-2 finish in Pro E-buggy.
Overall Tekno had another great showing at the A.M.S. 8.0. I was able to finish 1-2-3 in Truggy, E-buggy, and Nitro buggy. Joe was able to finish TQ,1-TQ,4-4 in E-buggy, Truggy, and Nitro Buggy. For the event at the Teammate Challenge, even though it was looking good for Joe with the two TQ’s he would finish the event with 7 points and I would finish with 6 for +1 for me. So overall on the season I am now +40 points and Joe has some work to do. But I think he still has the potential to really turn it on at any point now so i’m still building up my points while I can!
Next up is the ROAR Nitro Nationals at Stateline R/C next week!
Tekno NB48.4, EB48.4, NT48.4
Tires for mains: AKA Soft Long Wear Double Downs for buggies, AKA Soft long wear Impacts for truck.
Electronics: Tekin RX8 Gen 3 with Tekin Redline Gen 2 1900 motor.
Servos: Futaba S9373SV in all applications
Battery: ProTek 2600 rx pack, ProTek 6500 4s LiHV for E-buggy
Fuel: Byrons 25/8 Worlds Blend
June 6, 2017
Another cross country trip sent me this time to Northern California to one of the nicest facilities in the World. This was the inaugural AMain Manufactuers Cup that should grow to be one of the premier events on the calendar every year. The format for the Pro’s was Reedy format with 4 heads up rounds in each class with 3 out of 4 counting for the final result. In the coming years hopefully the demand to attend the race will grow and the pro class can be an Invite class with all the top drivers in the World attending this exciting race. Look for big things to come next year when this event rolls around. As for this year it was a great time and some awesome close heads up racing battles.
The Tekno team was once again well represented at the event, and 7 of the top 25 drivers were in attendance making this also a Top 25 RC qualifying event. I ran my standard 3 classes at this event. There ended up being one full heat of Truggy and two full heats of Pro E Buggy and Nitro buggy. The order and heats were shuffled for each of the 4 rounds making things as even as possible in that regard. The grid was staggered into 4 rows of 3 cars in each row and it was made to give everyone at least one front and one rear grid start during their 4 runs. On some races there was some extreme carnage on the straight but most often it happened on the hairpin 180 after a double at the end of the straight and dogleg. After that things generally started to separate and you worked from there. Starts were pretty important and it was possible they could make or break your race. The electric heats were 9 minutes and the nitro’s were 14 to force a pitstop.
Some of my best battles came in Round 2 of truggy where I got out to the early lead with Maifield and Tessmann in tow. They stayed between 1 – 3 seconds behind me for much of the entirety of the 15 minutes and I was able to stay clean and fend them off. It was a great accomplishment for me as Maifield was ballistic this past weekend as was Tessman. I had some mental successes in that one! I believe it was also Round 2 of Nitro buggy where I had another good start and stayed out ahead of Maifield for a little over half the race. He was chomping on my tail and i’ll be the first to admit he was faster than me this past weekend. But we battled hard for a number of laps before he got by. However with two laps to go he ran out of gas. Probable cause was us coming into pits one after the other and his pit guys rushing to try to beat me out of the pits. But Danny and Matt were ballistic for us in the pits all weekend and at the time kept me out front and filled my tank to allow me to finish in 1st in that one.
Overall I did way better than I thought possible coming into Saturday. I was able to take 1-2-3 finishes in truggy to take the overall Victory! In E-buggy I had a 3-2-2 to take 5th overall. In Nitro buggy I had a 1-2-2 to take 3rd overall on the Podium. In the end it was some more great results for me in this heavy competition with 4 of the top 5 ranked drivers in attendance and 7 of the top 25. I moved a little closer in points up the list and am just tenths out of 4th at this time as I reside in 5th. I still have much to improve upon and just hope to continue learning, improving, and consistently finishing as the year progresses on!
Next I head to AMS tomorrow to attend AMS 8.0. Short turn around, but looking forward to the event as always and some awesome competition.
May 22, 2017