Sunday, Feb 27, 2011
As the sun has set on the Nitro Pit and the Nitro Challenge event and the winners have been crowned it’s time to reflect on my mains and how it all went down on Sunday. As I have mentioned I had some bad luck in qualifying and thus was in the D-main. Overnight rains soaked the track and we got a late start to the day. (Noon instead of 9am.) This caused the shortening of the lower mains and made it harder to get to the front to bump up.
First up was the D-main. The track was still a bit muddy and tacky in spots. So driving was a bit of a challenge. You would be going over the dry spots and your car would act normal. Then you would hit a wet patch especially in a corner and just flip or the car would be out of control! Kept you on your toes to say the least. In the D-main I had an okay start, eventually plugged away some decent lap times and took over the lead and extended it to 10 seconds or so and held on for the bump in the 7 min race.
Next up was the C-main. Didn’t do any set-up changes and went out again trying to just stay smooth and make my move. I had a rough beginning and found myself at the back. I worked my way up to around 5th near the end of the 10 min race where I was struggling with those wet patches on the track. Taking many tumbles. On the last 2 laps I reeled in 3rd and 4th and on the last 2 corners was right behind when one of them made a mistake and I got around and finished 3rd just acquiring the final bump spot into the B-main.
I was pleased to make the b-main as that is where the rest of the Durango team qualified into. We all had a bit of bad luck throughout the weekend but had hi hopes for the B-main. I did 3 set-up changes and in warmup they felt like I did the right thing. I think the other guys on the team found their cars to be a bit to edgy like I did in the D and C mains as they stuck basically with what they had been running. I had a good start and moved up to around 7th, then back to 15th on the first lap. I think before the first lap was over though I had made it back up to 8th again. Many people were crashing. About 2 – 3 min into the race on the right side I either crashed or got tangled in a crashed car and got creamed again by a car coming from behind me. Again I was facing the wrong way when it happened and much like CRCRC I got nailed and broke a front shock shaft! So I raced the final 17 min or so on 3 shocks. I somehow was able to do alright all things considered and by the end of the B-main I had finished 5th place (2nd after bump-ups.)
All in all I was pleased with the buggy. The track was very challenging with the dry/wet patches and the car was handling pretty well all things considered. Our team worked very well together this weekend and it was a pleasure to have that opportunity. I look forward to many more meetings with the entire Durango team. I know none of us achieved the results that we wanted this weekend but we did learn a lot about the car and things will only continue to get better from here on out!
Next up for me is the Psycho Nitro Blast in Georgia starting March 9th.
-Lutzinator

Saturday, Feb 26, 2011
Today was main day for trucks. This meant I got to run my DESC410 one more time hear at the Nitro Pit. There were I believe 7 of us in the class and at the start I moved up to 5th and settled in. After a couple of laps I was surprised to find that I was keeping up with the pack and I was learning the car and the track and it was all coming together. Eventually I started putting in some solid laps and moved up to second place! I was gaining on the leader having put in 3 consecutive 49 second lap times including the fastest lap of the main. Then I had the mistake to end it all. I broke loose and hit the support beam for the drop-down and sheared the left front off of my car. πŸ™
I was so impressed by my Durango DESC410 and how it was handling. I had many people tell me it was jumping better than any other short course out there and I was clearing everything. Even doing double double tripple the first couple of laps! I really do think this is the SC truck to have. This was a track that wasn’t meant for short course but out of the box the truck handled amazing and was very easy to drive. I know when people get a set-up on this thing and get it all dialed in it is going to dominate the scene!
Tomorrow is buggy main day and for me it is bump up day. I spent much of Saturday going through my buggy and getting it all ready for the hopefully 4 mains I will compete in on Sunday! Lets pray I can do it!
-Lutzinator

Friday, Feb 25, 2011
Today I have two words to explain. Fortune and Luck. One I consider I have very good and the other I have very bad. Can you guess which? I feel I have very good fortune. I have a beautiful family, great support both in the R/C industry and at home, and my health. I however feel like I have very bad luck as well, and that leads me into my Friday at the Nitro Challenge. Let me preface this by saying that I have always struggled having to talk about a poor race day or race weekend after the fact. I would prefer forget about it asap and be done with it. However now with this blog i’ve complicated matters further for myself by having to recount details of my bad days! Oh well, hopefully, eventually, my luck will change and I can write about some happier times.
I was so excited for this day. Not having nearly enough track time, I was ready to race and lay it down. However luck was not on my side. First round came about and while I was struggling I was still on a top 10 run at the time. With about 2 laps to go all of a sudden my car stopped turning to the left. It would still turn full right and back to center but wouldn’t go left. We brought it back to our pit and everything worked fine! So I’m chopping it up to a rock. (or bad luck gremlins)
Second round I put a new engine in for it. I borrowed it from another teammate as I haven’t had time to break any in over the past couple months of travel and racing. Unfortunately it wasn’t fully broken in either and the tune wasn’t consistent and I struggled timing the jumps. It was frustrating. My car was handling very well but I just couldn’t time the jumps for the life of me. I was able to finish but 24th is not what is expected of me.
Third round happened around 9pm. The sun had set and the moisture came up and the track was in prime condition. I got out there on my SS Gridirons and my car felt dialed! Best it has ever felt. I was so excited to finally put in a good run. I had a good first lap, bobbled on the second and on the third lap I crashed in the double double triple section. Unfortunately there were two cars behind me and my car sat upside down front facing oncoming traffic and the second car down-sided the double perfectly and punted my car at full bore resulting in a broken arm. πŸ™ My car was so good and it was just so frustrating.
Let me add what I am trying to construe as good news. I will probably be in the D or E main which hopefully will mean some bumping up! My car feels great, my engine is nearly broke in and should be very good by Sunday, and the thing I need more than anything is track time. So hopefully I will get it with those bump-ups and give me a shot at a good run in the A by the end of the day Sunday!
-Lutzinator

Thurs, Feb 24, 2011
Today was my day ‘off’ at the Dirt Nitro Challenge. Running only my Short-course truck it made for a very relaxing day at the track. I spent some of my time volunteer marshaling, working on my Buggy for Friday, and learning a bit more about the DESC410. Unfortunately today I had a crown gear go out on me. (I learned later that I shimmed it wrong). However we don’t have any spare parts for the truck at the moment so I wasn’t able to run my last two qualifiers. It does use the same diff as the DEX410 so on Saturday Billy Fisher will bring me a replacement so that I may run the A-main at least. What I did run it I was very impressed. This is a huge track and for sure not meant for SC trucks. However the Durango handled it pretty well and I know with some time on the truck it would be completely dialed! (I just can’t believe the number of holes you have to cut in these SC bodies to keep the trucks from floating! haha
Friday is Buggy qualifying and the day I have been waiting for. I’m really excited to run my DNX408 and looking to do very well! I have hi expectations this weekend and I hope to live up to them.
-Lutzinator

Wed, Feb 23, 2011
Well today was day number one and the first and only day of practice at the Nitro Challenge. I am running my Durango DESC410 and DNX408. This was my first time ever getting my short course truck on the track. Unfortunately I am having to use a body from another manufacturer as mine is at the painter and thus it doesn’t quite fit perfectly. Anyways on the track it feels amazing regardless. I can’t believe how well it is driving. I’m really excited for tomorrow to see what kind of laps I can put in with it.
As for my DNX408 its a new week! It feels Awesome and I really do feel like this is going to be a good week for me. It is awesome to have the American team together at this event. We are working great together and this being one of Billy’s home tracks he gave us a set-up to start with and it is really really good! I’m so excited for Buggy Qualifying and can’t wait to redeem myself from the last two events. The car is coming together and this team is a blast to work with! Good things are and will be coming out of the Durango camp for years to come! πŸ˜€
Check back tomorrow to see how I fare with my SC truck! Also watch live on www.liverc.com
-Lutzinator

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Sunday February 20th, 2011

Well racing at Motorama has commenced and while it was a fun race with a cool atmosphere it was a bit of a disappointment for me. I hate making excuses so i’m just going to say I didn’t live up to my expectations this weekend. I had minor issues and bad set-up choices and it all cumulated in a less than desirable outcome. Something that I was happy with was the durability of my Durango. I beat the snot out of it with my poor driving in the main and it just kept going. It is awesome having a platform that I know is going to hold together for entire mains.
It was a very long 3 days with the early up and late to bed and only one class of running. Now I need to get up at 2:30 am to go drive 2 hours to Baltimore to go home for 1/2 a day before heading out for the Nitro Challenge. I’m beat at the moment but that is the great thing about racing R/C cars. You can have a terrible day or week of racing but there is always next time. And for me that next time is in 2 days with the start of the Nitro Challenge. I know starting tomorrow i’ll begin to feel better and be ready to lay it down again. This will be the first race with most of the US Durango team in attendance so that will be fun. I’ll be looking to redeem myself and put in a good performance.
I realize this was a different kind of post but maybe it can also give some insight into my mind and how the ‘life of an r/c racer goes.’ Check back all next week for updates from the Nitro Challenge where I’ll be running my DNX408 and should also be running the new DESC410 for the first time! Should be fun.
Take care,
-Lutzinator

Sunday Early A.M. February 20th, 2011

Yesterday was another long day. Waking up at 6:30 and heading to the track only to be there until midnight to run 3 qualifiers in just one class. It’s tiring to say the least but today is main day and even with some difficulties in qualifying I was able to put’er in the show and qualify 9th overall. My first qualifier was pretty good all things considered as I ran a fairly clean race which on this blown out track makes for a decent round. It put me 5th in the round which was a good feeling knowing I only had to finish one more decently to make the A.
That one other finish was not going to happen in the second round as I had a DNS due to a electronic failure. So now the pressure was on to make a decent third run. It was a very long day to only run one class while all the other top drivers were running two classes. I just never felt I had the tracktime I needed. However I spent the entire beginning of the 3rd round before I was up rebuilding my car and going through it to make sure there wasn’t something wrong because my car felt uncharacteristically loose. I found it near the end when I got to the rear suspension bushings. My mechanic had put them in wrong, having never built the car by himself yet it was a simple user error that could have happened to anyone. Basically the RR bushings were put in both the RF and RR applications. So I probably ended up with something like 4-5* of anti-squat and maybe 4-5* of rear toe, plus the suspension was put in a bit of a bind to get it to that point. So now the issues I’d been having all weekend thusfar made sense. Only thing was we had been trying to compensate for it with set-up and we had done a few key changes before that third round and weren’t so sure they were going to be the best with the suspension bushings now being correct.
So third round came about and the track was the roughest yet. I tried to stay clean but made a few mistakes early. The car felt more in control but the changes we did to the suspension ended up making it a bit too soft and it hurt on the jumps. Either way I stayed as clean as I could knowing I really only needed to finish decently to make the A. I took 8th overall for the round putting me 9th on the Grid for the A-main.
At this point I feel a bit behind having not had the tracktime and only now having a car that is working properly but I’m going to make a hail mary pass at a set-up for the main and I hope to nail it to have a good shot at doing very well. I know the car can handle this track so it’s up to me to lay it down and do the best I can! Check out Live R/C and watch the action live! I’ll be giving it all I have to put my Durango DNX408 in the winners circle! πŸ™‚
-Lutzinator

Saturday February 19th, 2011

Well it’s bright and early here in PA and it’s qualification day. Yesterday was three rounds of controlled practice with the last two rounds taking your best three consecutive laps to seat you for todays qualifications. It was a long day and the practice took us until Midnight to complete those three rounds. This is a HUGE event. There is over 400 entries in the Nitro / 1/8th area and over 400 entries in the Electric area! Absolutely huge! Plus they have motocross, midgets, tuner show, quads, and more to go watch throughout the day. There is also supposed to be around 40,000 people passing through in the next 2 days. This is an event not to miss and i’m glad I was able to make it this year. I’m looking forward to todays three qualification rounds and hopefully will be able to lay it down with my Durango DNX408 buggy. I also have my new Durango DESC410R on display for people to see. Most seem very impressed! πŸ™‚ Check back to see how qualification shakes out.
-Lutzinator

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Saturday February 12, 2011

On Saturday headed down to Antioch, CA for the Delta R/C Winter Series Rd #5. I went down with my mechanic Dennis and my brother-in-law Eric. The turnout was average, about 70 entries. There was about 17 expert buggies there and a pretty stacked field. Hometown hero Tyler Vik with Kyosho was there, fast as always. Also in attendance was Philip Atondo with Losi, a couple other fast young guns in Austin Blair with Kyosho and Curtis Door with the new JQ Products Car, and a slew of other fast locals. I myself was of course rockin my Durango DNX408. It was decided to race 7 minute qualifiers this week instead of 5 so I thought that may help to come back from a mistake and still have a good run.
In the first qualifier I had a few to many crashes but my car felt pretty good. They had changed the layout sense the last time I had been there and it was much more technical and tight. Fast Lap-times went from 17.5 on the old layout to 20.4 on this layout. So after the first round I was 2nd overall behind Vik. In round two I tried my ‘cheater’ tires which were AKA Super Soft Wishbones. I was able to bring my fast lap times down and I took TQ by over 3 seconds over Vik with a 20 laps in 7:01. We all then took a vote if we wanted to run a third qualifier or not. The majority voted for 3 so my TQ was then on the line. In the third qualifier both Vik and I ran very clean runs. Both of our slowest lap times were a 21.4 and our fast was both around a 20.4. So 20 laps within a second. I was able to eek out a TQ posting a 20 laps in 7:00 to Vik’s 20 laps in 7:01. So it was some very close qualifying and the main was shaping up to be very interesting!
Come main time the temps had cooled off about 15 degrees from the days hi but the temperature in the room was getting hot! At the tone Vik got under me in the first corner as the 2 spot was just as good of a starting position as the 1 spot and he had a great jump. We paced each other until the first pit stop, swapping the lead a couple times when either of us made a bobble. Pit lane is my mortal enemy on this track as where I stand on the drivers stand it is impossible to see the entrance so it’s completely blind. Every week I seem to loose a lot of my time in the pit lane here. Anyways got the first pit stop out of the way and began my pursuit to catch Tyler. He now had about a 4 second lead which I whittled away at until we were again nose to tail. I made a bobble and was about 3 second back when it was time for our second pit stop. This time Pit lane bit me hard as I fell over the edge. Someone in pit lane graciously jumped over to retrieve my car, but with pit lane only being the width of a truggy and the anxiousness of myself, when he set me back on it wasn’t quite straight and I fell off again! πŸ™ . He quickly got me and I got fueled up and took off, now with an 8 second deficit and about 6 minutes to go. Tyler found his groove and didn’t make another mistake. I was able to whittle down the lead to about 6 seconds by the end but it wasn’t enough and I took a hard fought 2nd place. I don’t mind loosing to Tyler at Delta because he is just so good there. I know one day when I get my pit lane gremlins worked out we will battle for the entire main and it will be a great show! πŸ™‚
As far as my DNX408, I tried a new lighter diff set-up (8-8-3) and it felt very good on this track. Reason I went so much lighter compared to what I had been running at Delta was because with the new layout being much tighter it just helped with all the transitions and turns because most were off power while the old layout was much more on power. I was very happy with my set-up and felt it was very easy to drive. It is posted in my set-up sheet area! πŸ™‚
Well that’s all for this time. I’m happy I was able to give Vik a run for his money this week and felt I had the car to really battle him with. I was happy to take TQ and next time look forward to making it an even better race for the win. Up next I’m off to Pennsylvania to Motorama, followed by a one day turn around and off to the Nitro Challenge in Arizona! Stay tuned for much more race recaps and hopefully big wins at those events!
-Lutzinator

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Wednesday February 9, 2011

Well i’ve hired some new help πŸ˜‰ (Thanks Jerry and Dennis) and have made some solid headway on the track today! We expanded the track quite a bit on the left side, changed up the jump section up front, and did a couple of jump tests to make sure they all worked. I’m not sold on our front section which is now a roller table roller. We will see if it stays or gets revised further. As always here is the photos of our current revision, now 4 photos as the track is bigger! πŸ˜‰

   

Monday February 7, 2011

Took Sunday off to spend the day with the family and watch the Super Bowl eating homemade Nacho’s, Yumm!
Monday came around and it was back to the salt mines. It’s down to the point where it’s time to build jumps and figure out what on earth I’m going to do for piping. It’s hard building jumps without a roller. It’s dump the dirt, rake it into shape, and smack it as hard as possible a million times with a flat shovel! My hands feel it!! The meaty parts of my palms are tenderized I think!
Anyways progress was made and there are 4 jumps more or less complete and another one raked and ready to pack. The next challenge after the jumps is leveling out all the holes we made and all the hills just behind the track which are full of rock. That in itself is going to take a good amount of time. Anyways here is the progress below! It’s coming along. Took a couple test jumps with my Durango DEX410 today and the double was makable and smooth both ways, the kicker wasn’t quite done at the time. My brother in law brought out his Durango DNX408 and I can’t believe how small an 1/8th scale makes the track look. I tried to make all the lanes around 12ft but once a 1/8th gets on there it looks small. So if we can make the track smooth enough somehow hopefully it will be a decent test track for both 1/8th and 1/10th


Saturday February 5, 2011

Two more days of labor in the books and things are beginning to take shape. We haven’t put as much time into the track the last two days and what has been done isn’t as noticeable as the first two days. However I painted a layout on the ground today and we laid the dirt for our first two jumps. Also spent considerable time on the banked corner. It looked like a lost cause yesterday with the rocks and big clumps of wet dirt but today with a bunch of shovel packing and a little finesse it came together pretty well.
Keep checking back. Hope to have all the jumps built by middle next week. Don’t know what we are going to do for piping or barriers. May have to be on the ‘honor’ system for a while! πŸ™‚


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yesterday was a groundbreaking day. Literally! πŸ™‚ Not only was it Groundhogs day (where Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow signaling an early spring), I have also broke ground on my new 1/8th Nitro practice track. Now I love winter, but only if there’s snow. Seeing as though there is no snow and i’m in the racing mood I’m ready for an early spring. Fortunately for us, unlike over 1/2 of the U.S., here in Northern California the last 2 days have been gorgeous, around 60* and Sunny. With a special thanks to my friend Carlos Macias for allowing me to borrow his tractor things have been much easier than when we were starting our electric track by hand! I was very excited to get started but things have gotten off to kind of a rocky start. By that I mean there are rocks…Everywhere! πŸ™ Unfortunately the one area of land on our property that is open enough for a track is also where rocks have been dumped for quite some time it seems. It’s something we will have to deal with but we will do our best and hopefully it will all come together as good as it can! Below are some photos of what we started with and where we stand after 2 days of work. My brother in law Eric and I are putting about 5 – 6 hours a day in on the track and hope to have something resembling a track by next week! πŸ™‚ Check back to keep updated on our progress and I promise some videos when it’s all done!

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Testing in Taiwan

January 30, 2011

January 31, 2011

Just getting home from my trip to Taiwan after visiting the Alpha Plus factory along with a day trip to Kingstar. I spent 5 days in Taiwan, mostly practicing and wrenching on my Durango. I think I spent at least 8 hours of actual on the track practice time which equated to a LOT of abuse! When I arrived the first day and we headed to the track, I still had my set-up from CRCRC. This track couldn’t be any more different! It was a challenge with many ruts and holes in the jumps. It was common to hit a jump and go cartwheeling if you hit a hole. My set-up was very stiff from CRCRC and my car was just a handful. Many locals showed up every day that I was there to run with me. That first day they were definitely showing me the way around the track! I was crashing everywhere and had some pretty spectacular tumbles. We went back to the Alpha factory that evening and I did an overhaul on my set-up. Changing to larger hole pistons, shorter camber links, different shock positions, and a lot more droop! We also prepared some engines for testing that second day.

Day two went a lot better as far as me getting around the track! My set-up changes, while no where near dialed in were much better and I was able to complete laps without crashing all the time! I was now able to at least run with the locals. (There are some very fast local drivers!) A representative from Team Durango / Kingstar showed up and I got to see his car all decked out with some prototype bling that we should hopefully be seeing in the near future once testing is finalized! As for me, I played with a few different engines and carb restrictors among other engine tuning things to try and get maximum fuel mileage while maintaining the awesome power of the Alpha Plus engines. This track was a very fast track with basically a 200 ft front straight away with a left turn at the end and full throttle all the way around to the back straight which was about 100 ft in itself. So basically it was about 350ft of full throttle all the way around the front, right, and back of the track only letting off a smidgen to get around the corner. Fuel mileage wasn’t the best for anyone at this track so making any kind of progress when running this flat out I’m sure is going to pay bigger dividends on a more ‘standard’ type of track.

Day three Alpha was generous enough to drive me to Kingstar which is the manufacturer for Durango, along with many different R/C companies. I got a private tour of the facility and while I am sworn to secrecy of what I saw and encountered I can say that Kingstar is a top notch company and they do amazing work! I got to see the assembly lines of people packing parts for kits. Also where and how the RTR kits are built in mass production. My favorite thing though had to be how bodies were made and more specifically how the screen printed bodies are made. My journey to Kingstar is one I won’t soon forget and it was an amazing opportunity to get to experience what I did.

Day four was some more testing at the track. I ran about 3 hours of actual on track time on day four and I began to really like this track. It got more fun the more I ran on it, which is rare for me but shows the level of difficulty of the track and how it was constantly challenging. We did a lot of engine testing and fuel mileage runs as well as just hanging out with the locals.

Day five was the last day at the track. Probably ran just over 2 hours of on track running. Did some more runtime tests and just had a good time. At the end of the day I pulled off my first Durango DNX408 backflips with a twist in them. Also allowed about 5 of the locals to run my car and have some fun with it. Being there in Taiwan with my ‘fans’ was such a great experience and I had a great time with them.

Now for some things I can share about the Alpha Plus factory. Before I went there I admittedly knew very little about R/C Engines, you know, how they worked basically. haha. But I now have a better understanding and also a deeper appreciation for Alpha Plus as a company. People often times bash these Taiwanese companies as not making products that are as quality as other places in the world. However after having spent a few days working with the main designers of the Alpha Plus engines and getting to know why they chose what materials they did for the engines I have come to the conclusion that they know how to make a great engine and can produce engines as good as anyone in the world. The main designer for Alpha Plus was the first person to bring the correct technologies to produce top of the line competition R/C engines in Taiwan. I was able to take some photos of before and after of the Piston, Sleeve, and Case to share. While many people may know what the before and after of engines look like I for one didn’t so this was cool to see for me.

Alpha Plus, Piston, Sleeve, and Case

I also want to explain a little on how the Alpha Plus engines are different. If you have ran an Alpha Plus engine or tuned for a buddy who has one you may find that they are very tight when new. Also they like to run a bit hotter than other engines. Some people assume this to be a bad thing however I have learned that it isn’t bad at all, only different. Alpha Plus uses different materials for their Piston and Sleeve which allow for a different expansion rate of each compared with other companies. This is why the engines take about 1.5 to 2 gallons to fully break in a get rid of the metal pinch. During the break-in time the engines will run a bit hotter and will not provide optimum performance. However once they pass their break-in time and loose the metal pinch they will cool off slightly which will allow the user to lean it out more. One very cool feature about these engines is that they can run hot and it not really affect the tune. This for one gives a wider tuning window and allows for a ‘lean mistake’. These engines also allow you to run them hot without damaging them like other brands. Mine have seen over 300*F on many occasions and they are totally fine with it. It doesn’t shorten their life or anything! They were made to handle it! πŸ™‚ So if your Alpha Plus engine is running 240 and your afraid to lean it out a bit, don’t be! Tune for performance and don’t worry so much about the engine temperature.

All in all I was extremely impressed with the level of professionalism and just outright nice people I encountered in Taiwan both in the factories and at the track. Alpha Plus can and does make engines that are of as high a quality as any other engine out there. Even the engines that cost more than twice the price. Kingstar is also a top notch company that is growing fast with some amazing ideas! There is a reason why they manufacture a lot of the best R/C cars on the market today!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to Taiwan, if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an e-mail, or if I forgot to mention anything in my blog here let me know and I will add it!

Next two weeks for me will consist of starting my 1/8th track in the backyard, (tractor arrives Wednesday!)
maybe a club race or two, and spending some good quality time with my family!

-Lutzinator

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