September 15, 2016
This past weekend I flew out west to join up with the Tekno team in what would be a good final test for the IFMAR Worlds. The location was the Pro-Line test facility in Banning, CA. The reason it should be a good test for worlds is that they watered for most of the runs and the track got some character to it by the end. i.e. ruts, holes, and bumps! This is my favorite style of track surface and it’s always great when Levi Jackson designs and builds a track! I would run my standard 3 classes at this event with primary focus being on the hotly contested Pro Nitro buggy class where 9 of the top 25 drivers in the world were in attendance.
I also enjoy the format of this race as it’s completely unique and only a 2 day event. You get 2 practice tickets to use up first things Saturday morning per vehicle. For me because of 3 cars I could have practiced 6 times but ran out of time only running each vehicle 1 time. Then it’s right into qualifying where there would be three 6 minute rounds with all 3 counting. But they were also gate start and qual point type format but only based on where you finished in your exact race. Out of the gate things looked great as I would Win all 3 of my heats in round 1. Now both buggy classes had 2 heats in our class while truggy had just 1. So there was the potential for ties and that is what would end up happening. In Q2 they did a resort and put fastest time from Q1 in heat one then 2nd fastest in heat 2, then 3rd fastest back in heat one and so on. This split up the top drivers a bit more and made the heats more even. Q2 would continue to go my way as I would take the Win in all of my heats again.
So heading into Q3 things were looking great. But with this format it would only take one issue and you could be down and out. And with gate starts you never knew what was going to happen on those starts. Well Q3 started out great with another victory in Ebuggy which set me up with a tie with teammate Joe Bornhorst. The tiebreaker was combined laps and times of all 3 rounds in which I would take the overall TQ. In truggy I would take another win in Q3 to secure the overall TQ in the class. Nitro buggy was the last race of the day and at the first corner things looked rough as I found myself at the back. But within 2 laps I got into 1st until I crossed the line and did my line just fine but the guy in 2nd jumped the track, hit the pipe, and ended up taking me out. This set up a chain reaction of things as the ensuing pack was rabid and I found myself in dead last again. By the end of the race I only managed back to 4th so that put me as 3rd qualifier overall for the class.
All 3 classes had triple A-mains but the Nitro’s were unique. You could consider it still a 45 minute main but split into 3 x 15min sessions. This gave you a chance to change something if you wanted to come back if something went wrong. Each 15 minutes session was split with a 5 minute break in-between which I primarily used to change tires and air filter. A1 of E-buggy was up first and for the class it was a standard triple A-main with 10 minute mains. I got out to a good start and took a commanding victory in A1. As A2 rolled around the track was getting a bit rougher and my set-up wasn’t quite conducive for the conditions. I tried my best and ran as clean as I could but would settle for 2nd place. In A3 at the end of the night we did a lot of set-up changes and the car was totally different. It was better in sections but I just wasn’t comfortable and after having just run Nitro buggy I just didn’t have my electric finger. I settled for 3rd which put me into a tie once again with Joe! Again, combined laps and times from all 3 mains counted and I would take the overall victory by about 6 seconds.
The Truggy triple A-mains were pretty straight forward for me. My starts in A1 and A2 were not the greatest as I would get swallowed up in those first corners. But in each one I would fight back and regain the lead a few laps in a pull away from the field for some commanding victories. This pretty much secured that I just needed to finish A3 reasonably well. At the start I again was caught in the fray but again worked my way up to 2nd behind Joe. Joe had found his Mo-Joe though and was cookin in this one. I tailed along and made a pretty good race of it. In the final minutes I was about 3 seconds back and by the second to last lap I threw down the fastest lap of the weekend with a 34.9! This put me right on Joe’s bumper but I made a mistake on the last lap and took 2nd. Still this was enough for the overall victory and gave me a shot at the $1,000 bonus if I could also win Nitro buggy!
So I was pretty excited to get Nitro buggy underway as my Tekno was feeling great and I thought I had a good shot at things. At the start though things were rough and 2 laps in I was amazed at what I noticed. The guys who qualified 1st, 2nd, and 3rd were running 10th, 11th, and 12th! That’s how crazy the gate start can make things! I just couldn’t catch a break for the first 7 minutes or so of the race and was wallowing back in the pack. Finally after first pit stop I began to work my way through the field and found myself in 4th on the last lap with an outside chance at 3rd. But the guy in front of me was having some type of issue and it messed him up over a jump which collected me and sent me to my lid. This knocked me down to 6th for A1 and things weren’t looking to good. The buzz on the stand was also pretty tense as during that 5 minute break there was some jawboning and tempers flaring for sure. I kept my composure and put my focus down for a better A2.
A2 started much better as I tucked in behind everyone on the first corner and creeped around the first corners on the inside while everyone else blasted outside and into each other. I came out of things in about 3rd and quickly moved up into the lead and turned on the blasters. I wasn’t going to let this one get away from me and I just continued to pull out to a greater lead as the field fought for 2nd. I would come home with the victory in this one and now with 7 points I still had an outside chance at taking the overall victory!
In A3 my goal was a repeat of A2 and the start was very similar. I tucked under the field and held tight to the pipe around the first corners and again found myself in 3rd. It took a couple laps but the guys in front of me made mistakes through the left rhythm section and I took the lead and again didn’t look back. I pulled from the field and soon found Joe to be in Tow running in 2nd. We went on to finish Tekno 1-2 in A3. With how people finished in A3 my 8 points were enough to take the overall victory by 2 points and thus win the $1K bonus for winning both Nitro classes! Pretty pumped about that with the strong field in the class! My AKA Super Soft Gridirons were dialed all weekend and were able to keep me out front throughout!
Next up i’m heading out in a couple hours to Kansas City for the Byron’s Challenge. Still have this and my event the LutzRC Hometown Shootout next week before I head off to the Worlds!
August 30, 2016
Now you might be asking yourself why I was at a Pro-Line spec tire event when I have been with AKA Tires for their entire existence. Truly the reason is simple in that it was a Tekno deal made with the Thornhill facility early this year for Joe and I to attend 3 events at the facility. This was only my 3rd ever spec tire 1/8th event, and in a way it is kind of nice. No need to worry about which tire to run, and you can focus more on car set-up. We also arrived a day early and put on a driving clinic which was a good success I believe. It was the first one we (Joe, Matt, and I) had done and overall I think it went well. The morning consisted of us fielding questions and covering many talking points regarding set-up and driving style ext. Then after a pizza lunch we had some on track tutelage. We drove other peoples cars to be sure the radio’s were set-up properly and nothing was hindering performance that we could tell. Then we also set up cones to tighten up some lines and did some drills. I think it was a good success!
On to the racing and it was Nitro buggy and truggy as well as E-buggy that I would be running. In qualifying Joe got started out hot taking the TQ in all 3 Q1’s as I settled in behind him. Nitro buggy I had the TQ for most of the race before colliding with another driver over the back triple. In Q2 Joe again was still on point taking the buggy TQ’s, but I was able to run a solid run in truggy to take the TQ of Q2. In Q3 the only class left contested for TQ was truggy and we battled back and forth for the entire race. In the end I edged Joe out by about 0.15 seconds. So I would qualify 2nd in the buggies and TQ in truggy.
E-buggy had triple A-mains in store and in A1 I got out to a good start right behind Joe and he seemed nervous and was missing the first couple corners. He then turned in to tight and got into a pipe giving me the lead which I would hold on to the entire race and just cruise to an A1 victory. In A2 Joe got out to the track late and had to run someone else’s buggy for the run. So he wasn’t comfortable at the start and was missing all his marks. I had to keep checking up as to not run into him and it cost me as I then turned into a pipe knocking me back in the field and only being able to recover to 3rd by the end. In A3 the battle was on. Joe and I were battling strong at the start for a couple laps until I made a mistake and Glancy got by and I fell down to 3rd. I charged back and Glancy made a mistake and I got back to 2nd and got up to within a second of Joe. But he fought me off hard as we stayed within 2 seconds of one another the last 5 minutes of the race and he would win and I took 2nd.
Nitro truggy main was a great one at the start. For the first 10 minutes or so Joe and I were nose to tail freight training around the track as he looked for a way to get around me. I was taking it easy as I was wanting to be sure I had tires at the end and he got by me in the bowl turns and I assumed the position he was in just tailing right behind his rear bumper. After my 3rd pitstop though I could feel something not feeling right in my clutch and a couple minutes later my car came to a dead halt. My front clutch bearing disintegrated and that was the end of my run with about 6 minutes left in the race.
Next was the Nitro buggy main for 45 minutes. This one was a challenge knowing that the tires we were running were to soft for the conditions and we knew they would be bald by the end of the race. My strategy was just to stay clean and towards the front and conserve tires as long as I could. For the first few minutes I stayed right behind Joe and just cruised with no intent on pushing it. He made a mistake which allowed me to get by and into a couple second lead. He pushed hard though to catch back up and again we freight trained around. He made a pass through the bowl turn again and I just let him go sticking to my strategy. About halfway into the race Joe started to make a few mistakes and I stayed clean and quickly built a 15 second + lead on the field and I knew if I just stayed mistake free I would be able to bring it home. With about 3 minutes to go I got some bad luck hitting a crashed car that was on the face of the left triple, but luckily my car held together although my shock moved all the way back on the upper shock perch. They announced Joe as now just 5 seconds back and he was pushing hard as he could. But soon after they announced that he made a couple more mistakes and I was able to cruise home to victory.
So overall it was a good event. The Thornhill track and facility are always awesome. It was great having some “best marshal in the world” competitions with Jeremy Potter and Noah Dickerson and I think those in the races we marshaled really lucked out as we were giving it our all out there! 😉
Next up is Sikcross at the Pro-Line test track in a little over a week. All heads up Gate starts and triple A-mains! Should be a blast!
August 23, 2016
This past weekend I headed down south on a direct flight to Atlanta! (I almost always have a layover so this trip started great!;-) Then we had a hour and 15min drive north east to attend the Wicked Weekend race. This event is held in an awesome facility being an open sided horse arena. There was grandstands to watch the racing and the open sides (with great roof!) kept off the rain but provided a nice breeze to keep cool in these dog days of summer. I ran my usual 3 classes and it actually left me with plenty of time to help others as there were around 640 entries! They decided to shorten the program to two 7 minute qualifiers instead of 3, 5 minute runs.
In qualifying everything was going my way. In round 1 we started with E-buggy pretty early in the morning and the track was pretty slick still from the overnight watering. I was able to put in a clean run however the whole time bouncing around the TQ Joe had set. In the last two laps I was able to secure the deal and take the TQ by 0.8 tenths. The Nitro classes followed and the traction had come up and the track was about 1.5 seconds a lap faster than it had been in the morning. I began to dip into the 29 second range and was able to barely squeak out a 15 lap run which I also did in Nitro buggy. So in all of Q1 I never crashed and everything was running great.
The second qualifier brought much more of the same. Because there was only 2 rounds the tiebreaker would be the person with the faster qualpoint round. So I knew I needed to also win this Ebuggy round because I knew it would be quicker with the track being 1.5 seconds a lap faster. Again it was another great battle with Joe but again I was able to stay clean and out front and take the TQ! In Truggy it was a battle between Ogden and I. We were both on decent 15 lap runs and were dipping into the low 29’s. The track was fast and my Tekno truggy was on point. I would run clean and take a 3 second TQ. Nitro buggy was another battle between Ogden and I and again much like truggy my clean race propelled me to the front and to finish off the clean sweep of qualifying. The TQ trifecta was complete.
Sunday our mains didn’t come up until mid afternoon. We started off with Ebuggy A1 and I chose the wrong tire. The traction had really come up again and I went with a regular soft where a soft long wear would have suited the condition better. I also crashed on the top right whoops section multiple times. Crashing more times in that one race than I had all throughout all of qualifying in all 3 classes. So for this one I had to settle for 2nd.
In A2 Joe and I had a battle. We swapped positions multiple times throughout the race and put on a good show for those watching. Over the closing laps he put some serious pressure on me but I made my car wide and kept him behind just barely. In the end I would cross the line for the A2 win putting us in an A3 battle! A3 was the final race of the evening and on the first lap I flipped off the track in the top right corner again. This was all Joe needed as he was dialed in and I just had nothing for him once I got back into 2nd. So overall it was a Tekno 1-2 and I took 2nd in this one.
The Nitro truggy main couldn’t have gone much better. At the start halfway into the first lap p2 crashed giving me a couple second lead. Next lap same thing and I got an early 5 second lead that would just continue to grow. I ran totally clean for the first 27 minute as I had gotten a lap on the field and I made a couple mental mistakes as my back was sore and I was uncomfortable on the stand. I tried to use it as a learning experience and finished strong with just over a lap victory on the field.
Nitro buggy was up around 7pm and my choice of soft long wear Impacts was the right choice. My car was easy to drive as I also went up in front sway bar judging from the performance of my ebuggy runs. I felt I made all the right decisions and over the first 2 laps Ogden was pressuring me hard. I made a mistake and fell to 2nd and we pulled away from the field. I was totally cool running 2nd at this point just running my pace and keeping within 2 seconds of Ogden. On my pit in lap he crashed and I got into the lead as I came into the pit. He went one more lap and while he was in pit lane he flamed out and lost half a lap. I got out to a 12 second lead over Pickett and over the next stop I extended up to an 18 second lead by the time the second pit stops were through. I was driving a super clean race and suddenly I had a outer driveshaft pin break on me and the pin and barrel were gone. That ended my race with an 18 second lead on the field. So a bit of bad luck there but it was nice to know I had the pace and will come back stronger next time.
Next up is the proline shootout at Thornhill this upcoming week including a driver seminar on Thursday that Joe and I will be doing!
August 5, 2016