This past weekend I made the trek down south to Louisiana for the 2017 rendition of the Southern Nationals. I didn’t attend last year but the track upon arrival had that same feel to it as previous years. That is it had huge amounts of dirt and elevation changes that are not seen anywhere else. The layout this year seemed a little more tamed down but it had a great flow to it and the competition was as good as ever. I would be running my primary 3 classes and looking to put in some good results as this race had in the past always yielded subpar results for me.
Once qualifying got underway I started to get a mixed bag of results. In the classes I was running the best in during the runs I started to have the worst luck in those. In all 3 of my truggy heats I was in the lead on TQ runs when something would happen to knock me out of contention. In the buggy classes I would be close and able to put in all top 5 runs but never a real breakout qualifier. It was my first race in a long time when I wasn’t able to TQ at least one round of one of my classes. After qualifying was complete I found myself qualified 3rd in both Nitro buggy and E-buggy and 4th in Nitro Truggy.
Saturday evening they did a dash for cash pursuit type race where the top 3 in Nitro buggy sportsman, open, and pro would battle it out for 4 minutes to see who the winner would be. I just made it into the Nitro buggy dash and about 2.5 minutes in I was able to work into the lead with Maifield and Bornhorst right behind. Soon Maifield and I were battling for the lead and I clipped a pipe in the top center drop down falling a second or two back with 2 laps to go. On the final lap I started to catch up just a little and a back marker over the back jump caused Maifield to have to short it which put us in a dash down the final right straight shoot coming into the finish line over the corner wedge. I just sent it in and hit the run on the face of the center of the jump and Maifield tubed it on the inside as the announcer went wild and I somehow came away with the win. If nothing else it was super exciting for the spectators!
Sunday was main day and first up was A1 of E-buggy. Starting 3rd and moved up to 2nd on the 2nd lap and then into the lead on the 4th lap with Bloomfield and Maifield right behind. But it wasn’t meant to be as my weekend gremlins bit again and I lost a steering spindle screw pulling me out of the race. In A2 and A3 I would have decent starts in both and they were very similar races for me. I would be close for about 3 minutes at the front before making a mistake dropping me back into the 3 or 4 position which is where I would finish out. In the end taking 4th place just off the podium.
Next was the Pro Nitro Truggy A-main and boy was this one a doozie. I chose to run AKA Soft impacts and starting from the 4th position and it all tangled up around the first berm and corner. Bornhorst and Ogden got away and the rest of us played demo derby for far to long. I came across on lap one in 9th place but by lap 4 was able to get into 4th. Unfortunately another traffic incident lost me 7 seconds and 8 positions putting me to 12th on lap 5. All the while Joe and Cole were getting away and already had a good 15 second lead on me. It wasn’t looking to good but I resolved to just get into a rhythm the best I could and move my way through the pack and see where I could end up. It took me just another 5 laps to move back into 4th and by lap 16 I was up to 3rd and probably about 18-20 seconds behind the leaders. I would stagnate through the middle section of the race. My set-up not feeling perfect but perhaps it was just the tough conditions with the decently high traction but lots of dust! As we approached the lap 40 mark Bloomfield was making a charge on me and we found ourselves in our own battle for 3rd and 4th. He was driving great and for about 10 laps he got by me and I was muddling around in 4th.
I was able to regain my rhythm though and by lap 55 I was back into 3rd and started pulling away a little. Now I set my sights back on the front of the pack. There was around 12 minutes to go and I was still probably 18 seconds back but I began to put in my fastest consistent laps of the race and I kept hearing the leaders making bobbles and battling together and I knew it wasn’t over yet. By lap 65 or so I had them in my sights and I knew it was going to be a 3 horse race. We all did our final pit stop which had me come out right behind Joe for 2nd. I pressured him in the uphill S section and got the inside and he conceded the position to allow me to press forward to challenge Cole who was about 4 seconds ahead. About 7 laps later Cole made a mistake and I snuck underneath as he was correcting his car and into the lead on lap 76 where I would then lead out the final 7 laps of the race to take the overall victory! There was a lot of adversity I went through before and during that race and I was pretty happy to come away with the come from behind victory!
Last race of the day was the Nitro buggy A-main and I chose to run AKA Soft Enduro on front and Impacts on the rear. Starting 3rd on the grid again, I again got absolutely ran over on the start in the berm corner. I yelled out a big WOW as I couldn’t believe it. Coming across on that first lap I was in 8th and Maifield was already getting away. People were making mistakes all over though and by lap 4 I would be back into 3rd and even on lap 13 momentarily take 2nd position but with a really bad lap I would fall back to 3rd again. I kept making little mistakes throughout the run. The ones that stuck with me the most were stuffing the pipe on the top left step-up a couple times which just absolutely sucked the momentum out of me. Midway through the race I was 25 seconds or so behind the leader and probably around 10 seconds behind Bloomfield in 2nd. The final quarter of the race I tried to do what I did in truggy. I started to mount a charge and Maifield had to come in to do a tire change as he had a blow out. This put Bloomfield and Maifield into a battle for the lead and I was about 12 seconds back at that point. I whittled away at it and with about 5 minutes to go they were one lane above me. I really felt like I was going to do it again! I had the momentum and they were battling. I even got into 2nd for one lap on lap 67 on my pit in lap but 4 laps later on lap 71 I made 3 second crash which just put them slightly out of reach. My last 7 laps of the race were excellent but it was just to little to late and I was about 7 seconds out of the lead at the end of the race.
Overall it was a challenging weekend for me. Lots of little gremlins and feeling sick as well on Saturday and Sunday really slowed me down a bit physically. To come away with a Win, 3rd, and 4th after all of that was a success in my book. It’s a race i’ve really never done good at and so I felt pretty good about how it all finished up all considering. I even was able to move up to 4th overall in the Top 25 RC Ranking after this event and i’m only 1 point out of first. Next qualifying race I believe for me is Nitro Challenge which last year I finished 9th. So with a good finish there I amazingly actually have a shot at the top.
Next up Joe and I are heading to LCRC for the East Coast Race against Cancer this weekend. Hoping to feel better and be able to be there to support a great cause!
This past weekend the Tekno team descended upon Gainesville, GA just an hour outside of Atlanta for the Wicked Weekend. For Joe and I we were finally able to fly to a race with no layover which was a nice change of pace. The format for this years event was also unique as you had the option to practice all day on Thursday OR you could run for 3 hours Thursday night and then 5 hours Friday morning. We opted to fly in on Thursday to arrive at the track around 6pm on Thursday. We practiced our e-buggy for 3 hours and then went to bed to get back to the track by 7am for our 5 hours of Friday morning practice. At around 1pm on Friday we went thorough the first qualifier to complete Friday. This was an awesome format in my eyes as it made it a lot more relaxed and not quite as long of days for the 600+ entries!
I chose to run my regular 3 classes at this event. The competition was strong with most of the South East’s finest as well as Joe and I descending down from Ohio. On Friday evening after the first round of qualifiers I started off a little slow. I had some mistakes in my runs and I don’t think I had a grasp yet on the tires I wanted to run. I also got attacked by bugs in my Nitro buggy qualifier and I lost my cool as I had one on my face, hand, and neck at nearly all the same time. I made some mistakes as that was happening but still managed a 3rd for the round. In truggy I took a 2nd and E-buggy a disappointing 4th.
Saturday was comprised of two more qualifiers, the first being another 5 minute run and the latter being a 7 minute run. The day started off much better as I was able to take TQ in truggy and also in E-buggy before settling for another 3rd in Nitro buggy. The final 7 minute qualifier gave me a chance to have a solid qualifying result. In Truggy I ran a near flawless run and got the extra lap and earned the overall TQ! In e-buggy it was between Joe and I. He had a clean run and I made a 3 second crash on the 2nd lap. But I was a little faster and I was able to whittle down the gap to just a couple tenths by the final lap. Joe would put in his fastest lap of the with a 32.2, but I was able to do the same with my own 31.8 and thus I TQ’d by .2 tenths and took the overall TQ. Nitro buggy was the final race of the evening and I had a great run going and was on a TQ run. But Cole simply had a little more speed than I did and he got around me on the clock and I settled for 2nd for the round.
Sunday was mains day and we had triple A-mains on tap for E-buggy and 30 minute affairs for the Nitro classes. First up was A1 of E-buggy and I was running Soft Long Wear Impacts. The conditions were pretty tough as the track had lots of grip in the line but there was also a lot of dust especially if you missed the line at all. Also a couple of the roller jumps were starting to get rough and sending cars in weird ways. Anyways I made a mistake on lap 4 after leading out and fell to 3rd. Then Joe and Cole were battling for the lead as I inched closer as they fought over position. Cole made a mistake promoting me to 2nd where I would tail 2 seconds or less behind Joe for the remainder of the race until the last lap. I shorted a jump in the center and crashed in no mans land and sat upside down for 9 seconds. This allowed Cole past and me to finish 3rd.
Next was the Truggy main and I was starting on pole. I did what I always try to do in truggy when on pole and that’s to keep the start clean and just work on pulling away. The start for me was good and Cole and I had a breakaway from the pack and worked up a large lead. About halfway through the race with a few second lead over Cole he would run out of gas on the second stop giving me over a lap lead on the field. I would continue to cruise around the track. I ran Soft long wear Impacts on the front and Gridirons on the rear (aptly named GridPacts). My Tekno NT48.3 was on point as it often is and I was able to come away with a 1.5 lap win. What was crazy is that out of 16 cars to start the final, only 8 crossed the line and only 6 didn’t have a major issue. Only maybe 3 had no issues at all! The attrition was real which was wild to notice.
Next was E-buggy A2 and wow oh wow was it a rough one for me. I went wide in one of the first corners allowing Joe to get by. Then he tubed it and I got collected and got the worst of it as he set off again in the lead. I was caught in the fray and got absolutely beat up for the next couple laps. My front body clip even got knocked off and I ran with a semi-alligator for a good 8 minutes. It was simply a brutal race from start to finish and I could only muster a 4th. If theres a takeaway from that one it’s to mention to all the up coming racers that they need to calm down on the first couple laps and try to drive clean and stay with the lead pack. By blowing everyone up around you for one position you ruin your chances at being close at the end.
It was now time for Nitro buggy and I opted for a unique tire combination for this one. The track was tricky condition wise as mentioned before so I wanted to take some twitchiness out of the front end. So I went with Soft Long Wear Zips in the front and Soft Long Wear Impacts in the rear. The Tekno buggy seems to like impacts in the rear as they catch a bit less than say the gridiron does. At the start I was in 3rd but quickly moved into 2nd when Joe got off track. Now it was time to track down Ogden. He was off to a fast start however and I soon found myself about 5 seconds back. During the 2nd pit stop things got a bit crazy as multiple cars were in pit lane and I got tangled up and fuel got spilled a little and my engine went really rich and I lost brakes for a few corners. Also upon pit exit I got crashed upside down and lost more time. So now I found myself about 12 seconds back but still in a solid 2nd position. I put my head down and started to click off some clean consistent laps but in the back of my head knowing my fuel mileage was going to be close due to it going a bit rich after that last stop and this high speed track.
During the next 7 minutes I was able to whittle down the lead to 5 seconds and then upon a mistake by Ogden less than 1 second. I was coming around and it wasn’t my in lap yet but I felt my engine going lean and so I opted to make a pit stop one lap early. This would require me to run slightly longer on the last stop so I adjusted my driving a little to compensate. It was to no avail though. I worked up to about a 2-3 second lead and felt comfortable but with a couple of laps to go I ran out of gas in the middle of the track. It was right in between a big jump and it took a minute for my pit guy to retrieve the car. By the time I got back on the track I was down to 3rd and put in an effort to catch up to 2nd who was just about a second ahead of me on the last lap. In the end I would salvage the podium position in 3rd.
Last race of the evening was the E-Buggy A3. I wanted a little retribution for the way A1 and A2 went and I chose the same tire combo as Nitro buggy. I would pull away from the very start and not look back. I drove hard and really pushed my car. I had fun really seeing how hard I could push and utilizing a lot of inputs on the throttle and brake side of things. Along with my 2 warmup laps I even dumped my battery at the end of the run with a lap to go and had to take it super easy. Came away with the A3 win though and thus 2nd overall for a Tekno 1-2.
Overall I was hoping for just a little bit better but another three podiums with a 1-2-3 and two TQ’s isn’t to bad for a weekends work. My podium consistency has been amazing this year and even with adversity i’m still able to generally get some decent results.
Next up this weekend I have my LutzRC Hometown shootout. I’ve been out there helping to build the track and looking forward to making it a fun event!
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!