A.M.S. 7.0

June 27, 2016

This past weekend I took the semi-short flight down south to Cullman, Alabama to attend AMS 7.0. This year was the biggest edition yet with 620 entires spread across 3 days of practice and racing. For me I ran my primary 3 classes of Nitro Buggy and Truggy as well as electric 1/8th buggy. Tekno had a strong presence at the event and overall we had a good time and some great results.

It all started on Thursday with semi controlled practice of 5 minute sessions on and off. Tires were the big difference this year as the track was super packed in and the grip level seemed higher than it has been in years past. Whereas it used to be Super soft was the ticket throughout the weekend, we were now using things like clay compound, Soft long wear, and I even heard someone mention medium. Temperatures were hot in the mid 90’s and humidity was as you would expect which is super muggy.

AMS 7.0 Track

AMS 7.0 Track

After the day of practice I felt I had settled on Soft or Soft Long Wear for truggy and Clay for Buggies. But as the first qualifiers went off in buggy I felt a little loose when I would hit some of the dust with the clay tires. So I went from super hooked up on the groove to loose to hooked up and it just didn’t feel consistent. So I would end up going to soft and then soft long wear throughout the rest of the weekend in all classes.

My qualifiers were a mixed bag with truggy being my best. In the first qualifier it was random sort and traffic was a challenge to get through. There was 17 vehicles on the track on a 26 second a lap track. The general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 car per 2 seconds of track. So we had 4 extra vehicles on the track which made it a challenge to get around at times. Overall though I would finish 2nd in the first two qualifiers in truck and then put it together to take the TQ in the 3rd round. Phend would be the overall TQ though in the class.

My Tekno NT48.3

My Tekno NT48.3

In buggies I had decent round 1’s taking 2nd in Ebuggy and 3rd in Nitro buggy. In round 2 I struggled a bit more in e-buggy but had a solid 2nd in Nitro buggy. Rd 3 wasn’t so great for the buggies as I tried impacts and they were to edgy causing me to traction roll off the track during the run. So my tire choice was set for the mains with Soft Long Wear zips being the choice.

First up was A1 of E-buggy. This was one of the worst races of my life. Something just felt off with my car and it was determined after the run that I had a slight issue with my servo saver not staying centered. If taking any kind of hit it could repositions left or right about 5*. So every couple jumps or something my steering would be way off and I was frantically trying to fix it in the radio to drive straight. This led to many many mistakes and a poor 13th finish. In A2 though we got the issue sorted out and my e-buggy was good. Starting from the 6th position I quickly moved up in the pack as mistakes were made by those ahead of me. I soon found myself behind Joe and because he had nothing to loose by letting me by, he did so and I went on to win by a few seconds. Overall though with a 13th in A1 I would finish 6th. Joe though did awesome and took the TQ and victory for Tekno!

Truggy was next and this was the class I knew I had the best chance in this weekend. My soft long wear impacts felt great. During warmup though my car just felt softer than it had all weekend. So at the start Phend got away a little bit leading up to the first pit stop. I was working to make adjustments to my driving to compensate for the softer feel and I began to find a groove. Soon Phend would make a mistake and seemed to get rattled and just before the first pit I assumed the lead and didn’t look back. I put it in fast cruise control just making sure I was hitting my lines as some parts of the jump faces launched lower and it was faster when hitting them there. So my goal was to put my truck where it needed to be and in the end I came out victorious! Another victory for my Tekno NT48.3!

Pro Truggy Victory!

Pro Truggy Victory!

Nitro buggy was the last race of the day and boy was it eventful! Right from the get go we were waiting on a driver in warmup who went to change their radio tray. So we were getting some extended practice when the TQ also had an issue and I believe also was going to change their radio tray. So after about 8 minutes or so of off and on practice laps as the program was being held up for these drivers my car stops on the track too! I run down and notice I was out of fuel. So I filled it up and got it re-fired and we still had about another 3 minutes of waiting until the main finally got under way with all the original drivers.

If I remember correctly I shorted the right step up a little on the first lap and got caught in the freight train and knocked back to 6th or so from starting 2nd. This is where I would stay for much of the first 10 minutes or so. I was struggling a bit with set-up as my car was dumping a bit in the rear around corners and I was working hard on getting smoother and getting my consistency up. So I was mired back in 5th or 6th when crazy things started happening. Front runner after front runner started having failures and soon Joe was in the lead and I was in 2nd 10 seconds back. It was a great scenario with Tekno 1-2 and I had about 12 minutes or so to try to whittle down the gap. I had a renewed sense of confidence and I was clicking off some good laps. But with around 7 minutes to go disaster struck for me as well. I missed my pit in lap because I didn’t hear my pit guys and I ran out on the next lap. This caused me to settle for 5th in the end of the main.

At the end though I gave Joe a high five for his first bigger race buggy victory! (Congrats Joe!)  I did what I could and at least came away with a victory in A2 E-buggy and the Truggy title!. Also Tekno won all 3 pro classes with Joe taking both buggies!

Next up for me is the Novarossi Challenge in New York in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to heading back to that event and eating some of the best chicken i’ve ever had! 🙂

-Lutzinator

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ROAR Nitro Nationals

June 13, 2016

This past week we headed deep down south to Austin, Texas. The rains of the past weeks had subsided and we received no rain while there. Although that’s a mute point considering the amazing covered facility that Thornhill Racing Circuit has become. The layout was put in by the “Dirt’s”, Joey Christiansan and it was fast, flowing, and a lot of fun. The event itself was 5 days long counting the track coordinated practice on Wednesday. Tekno had a good presence at the event with Joe, Billy, and I attending, as well as some young hotshots from this midwest and east coast. The racing was super close and competitive and on a personal level I feel I was able to really do quite well this weekend, even through my miscalculations.

On Thursday we ran one open practice followed by two rounds of seeding practice taking the fastest 3 consecutive laps. In Truggy I came out of the gate strong with the fastest 3 laps of the field by 0.9 tenths of a second over 2nd.  In buggy my P1 I wasn’t able to put together 3 good laps as I would get into traffic every 3rd lap it seemed. In the P2 in truggy the track was a little slicker and slower and so I opted to have some fun as I did a full drift session backing my truck into some of the turns and just driving full noodle. It was a lot of fun and I hope those that got to watch enjoyed it! Overall I would seed 1st in truggy and 14th in buggy after the seeded practice.

Photo Credit LiveRC.com

Photo Credit LiveRC.com

Friday was the first day of qualifications with two rounds on tap. Truck was ok in the first round but I chose the wrong tire which was a little to hard for the conditions and I was a bit loose. I did the best I could to come in 4th. In Q2 I drove a bit better having a better tire compound choice under me but I made a lengthy crash and took 2nd. In buggy I drove a very conservative Q1 as I knew I was close on fuel mileage. This was a good strategy for me though as I kept a clean race and got a 5th. In Q2 I was able to do the same but pick up the pace just a bit and got a 3rd. So after the first day I was solidly into the A and semi and ready to try some things on Saturday.

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

In between rounds on Friday we also got to do the pit lane challenge. Joe and I decided to pit for a Tekno hotshoe Seth Van Dalen and we ended up winning the challenge ahead of  the other 7 teams entered. Maybe Joe and I have a career after we are done driving! 😉

Saturday saw two more qualifiers to fill out the mains. Truggy Q3 was a bit disappointing as my truck was on point and I was on a TQ run by 1.2 seconds on lap 6 when a traffic incident happened sending me off the track and relegating me to 4th. In Q4 it was more bad luck as I was again as I had a 1.3 second lead for TQ on lap 8 when my throttle servo started to go out on me and I had to pull it in. So I wasn’t able to help my cause in truggy and thus qualified 5th overall. In buggy Q3 had some wrong direction set-up changes and I would finish 8th. In Q4 I ran a very solid run and took 4th overall just 3 seconds back. So overall in buggy I would qualify a solid 4th!

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

Saturday also saw the concourse competition where I entered my buggy and won the buggy class with my Diggity Paints painted body!

Sunday Sunday Sunday – It was main day and the preparations were in full force. On tap was 10 minute practice runs for both classes. Then a 45 minute Truggy A final, followed by a 30 minute buggy semi and an hour long buggy A-final. Lots of standing, lots of focus, and some sore eyes, but i’m very please with how my on track performance went.

Truggy Amain – I was a little discouraged starting 5th as I knew if those last two qualifiers had gone my way I could have been starting 1st or 2nd. The track was reasonable easy and it was hard to pass. So at the start I felt I had a better pace than Jared but I had to keep checking up as to not get into him. We began to loose a little distance to the lead back and I ended up making a small bobble dropping to 7th for a couple laps. But my truck was so dialed and I quickly reassumed 5th. Next, my goal being right behind Jared again was that we were on a different pit strategy. So my goal was get in a really fast stop as I was coming in earlier than he, and then make sure my out laps were clean and make the ‘pass’ in pit lane. It worked out great and I moved into 4th on lap 16. Then a few laps later I was able to get into 3rd on lap 21. There is where I would stay overall until lap 68. At the time I was in lockstep with the leaders and just about 18 seconds back. Then Rivkin had an issue and I inherited 2nd place and would finish out in 2nd about 14 seconds behind Maifield. I had a few little issues in the main including my truck loosing all electrical power on lap 32 for 3 seconds. I also opted to do an extra pit stop than the others so I could drive my truck as punched as I desired. All in all I was pretty happy with where I finished. In the past 3 years prior I had finished 2nd, 3rd, and 2nd in truggy so this would have been my 4th podium finish in 4 years in the truggy class. But it was all taken away shortly after the mains were completed. My truck that had passed tech all week long was found to be under weight. Upon examination it was determined that I lost 48g of tire tread weight during the main! I honestly had no idea a tire could loose that much weight. My truck started the main at 4,033g (4,000 being the legal limit) and I ended up 15g under. For sure it was a learning experience and one i’ve never had to deal with before. It was my mistake to not know these numbers as I thought I would be safe running a heavier tire in the main than I did throughout qualifying. I was wrong and I got a DQ which just made me feel like I waisted 45 minutes of my life. At least I can look back and know in my mind I was competitive for a 4th consecutive year in the class. Also based on a gram a minute I figure I was only illegal for about the last 12 minutes. HAHA.

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

The Buggy Semi-final was next and it was a 30 minute affair. I felt pretty fast at the start on my AKA Soft Long Wear Zipps, and I made a pass for the lead on lap 7 after starting 2nd in the odd Semi. I would hold the lead for most of the laps until lap 22 where I made a mistake and would soon fall back to 3rd. My engine was a bit hard to drive in this one as I was having to drive in the 80-100% trigger range to really get it to keep the power I needed. So I had to adjust for a bit and was able to pick my pace up again and moved back into 2nd on lap 47 where I would finish out the Semi in 2nd. Overall it was the 3rd fastest time in either Semi and thus with Maifield getting in on TQ I would start 4th for the A-final.

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

Photo Credit: LiveRC.com

For the one hour long main I readjusted my throttle endpoint and got it retuned and the power felt much better. I again was doing a shorter pit window than some others though there was about 5 of us on the same window. My buggy felt really good overall and I was able to push pretty hard. I held my 4th for the first couple laps and on lap 4 got to 3rd and on lap 5 found myself in 2nd. I was a bit nervous for the moment as I didn’t expect to be in that position so soon but I finally settled in until lap 9 when in the top right corner my car just lifted off and flew off the back of the track. I fell back to 4th and fought on for a while cycling between 5th – 6th depending on pit schedules. I lost some composure mid race as my car was a little lean and keeping the nose down on the front jumps was a chore. Also I was having a bit of an issue flat landing and bouncing. I had to do some mid race driving adjustments like getting a little easier on the throttle and landing full lit to help pack up on landings. Around mid race I was being lapped by Rivkin in 1st but I was able to just hold him off until his pit stop. I really began to find my groove then and started to claw my way closer to the lead foursome. I began to push really hard at the end and I made up some ground but with the extra pit stops and mid race fade I came up a little short. I would finish 5th about 20 seconds out of the lead and 10 seconds out of the battle for third. Overall I did the best I could. I feel I drove my heart out and I think it was a really good showing for Tekno.

Speaking of, Tekno had 3 cars in both A-mains at the Nationals this year and they have never had more than 1 at the Nationals. So a huge accomplishment for team Tekno! I had a great time with the team and seeing some of the team drivers from around the country all coming together to compete for the Nationals Title. I hope notions can be put in place to fix the Truggy weight limit that has been around since Monster trucks ruled the truggy class. All trucks come in well under the current limit so instead of trying to save weight places (in buggy) we are always having to add weight places.

Next up is the OEOSS series at my local track in Medina, Ohio. Then the following week to AMS 7.0 in Bama!

-Lutzinator

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This is such an awesome event and it’s a shame the weather made it a challenge this year. Put on at a family’s home in a beautiful part of Indiana at Stateline R/C Raceway. The setting is awesome, the track is challenging and fun, and the people are the nicest anywhere. They put out a full buffet lunch on Saturday afternoon and have a corn hole tournament on Saturday night.

I arrived Friday afternoon and upon arrival practice had been going on for a bit. A couple of jump faces were a bit tough and with having both of my Nitro cars basically ready for Nationals I didn’t want to ‘ruin’ them so I just did a few packs of practice with my E-buggy. Saturday morning they had a bit more practice and the jump faces were fixed so I opted to run one tank on each nitro car. For the racing I chose to just race the two nitro classes.

In the first qualifier I made a few mistakes in the 6 pack with both cars. It was a challenging section with options to single, double, triple or double, double, double. I watched some of the other faster guys doing the first option but I just couldn’t get it down and made mistakes. So mid race switched to the latter option and got more consistent over it and put down some fast laps. In the end I would TQ both classes in the first round.

Then the rains came. The track got soaked and the rain delay began. They did all they could laying peat moss and working the track and decided to run another qualifier that night starting at 10pm. I opted out as I had my family with me and I didn’t want to be up to 4 am qualifying with Nationals right around the corner. (You can see where my primary focus is)

Come back on Sunday hoping to get some mains in. I would retain the overall TQ in both classes as no one in that late night second round was able to overtake my times. They got the first few mains in but then some pop up storms came by around noon and re-flooded the track. It was decision time and I decided to drive home instead of waiting it out to be sure I was ready for Nats.

So unfortunately I didn’t run the mains but I am glad they were able to get the program done on Sunday. Kudos to the track crew for their hard work. I look forward to returning soon for the E-nats and i’m greatly looking forward to the Nitro Nationals this upcoming weekend!

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Medina County Lifestyle Magazine

Medina County Lifestyle Magazine

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Gas Champs 2016

May 3, 2016

This past weekend I headed west for the Pro-Line Gas Champs held at the Pro-Line test track in Banning, CA. Joe and I arrived a day early and headed out with the Tekno brass to do some practice and testing at Thunder Alley which is just 10 minutes down the road from the Pro-Line facility. We put in some good laps at T.A. and were ready to tackle the weekend at Gas Champs. Upon arrival at 6:30am on Saturday we were greeted with a wet track as some rain had fallen that night. There was 2 hours of practice slated and by the end of the practice the track was in primo condition. The weather was odd for So-cal with it being cloudy, drizzly, and windy but we bundled up and the racing was fierce!

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Qualifying quickly followed the end of practice. It started out with e-buggy which I didn’t practice with. I also gave it do Daniel and Matt to work on and put any set-up they wanted on it. I would just drive it and critique the feel. In Q1 it was solid as I took the TQ for the round. Truggy was next and it was a Tekno battle in the class over the weekend with Joe, Billy, and myself vying for TQ honors. In Q1 I would take 2nd to Joe in truck, but in Buggy I bounced back, fighting back from a slow start to take the TQ in Q1.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Q2 and Q3 followed and some things like tire choice stayed the same as I continued to run SS AKA Grids all weekend in all vehicles. After the dust settled, or actually rain settled after the end of Q3 I was able to TQ overall, all 3 classes to sit on pole for main day. I would like to give a shout out to Joe Bornhorst who finally got to run in a bit of mud (He has been begging for it for months now to race in the mud). I think he’s got that out of his system now after seeing the amount of cleaning necessary! haha.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Sunday was main day and double A-mains were on tap for all classes. First up was E-buggy where my goal was to take it easy to make sure I made the 10 minutes as I was only running a 5000 and this was a large track. For the first 10 laps or so it was going great. I was running clean just putting in lap after lap holding off Joe for the lead. But then I made one mistake through the rhythm section and ended up on my lid where the proper marshal didn’t see me and another had to run from further away to get me. That was all it took to drop me down to 3rd which is where I would end up. Truggy was next and I had a good start staying in the lead but a couple laps in I made a mistake and it was a 3 car scuffle between Joe, Billy, and I. Somehow I found myself in all 3 top positions in that lap but I came across the line in first and didn’t look back again. Holding the lead for the remainder of the run to win by 25 seconds and my teammates battled it out for 2nd and 3rd. Nitro buggy was the last of the A1’s to run and it started off with me shorting the triple single and causing a bit of mayhem. I got going again and somehow managed to cross the line in 2nd that first lap still but fell back to 3rd by the next lap. I had to find my rhythm which I was able to do by about lap 5 where I moved up to 2nd and then two laps later I assumed the lead and sped off to a nearly 8 second victory over Boots.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

A2’s would finish out the day and Ebuggy was another rougher run for me. I made an early mistake allowing Ronnefalk by while I ran in 2nd for a few laps. Then Joe and I swapped positions for the rest of the race swapping 6 times back and forth. I drove a little to hard on this big layout and ended up dumping on the last lap and falling to 4th. Overall though taking both mains into account I would take 3rd place.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Truggy A2 was next and it was one of the most exciting races of the day. Out of the gate I led Joe for 1/2 a lap before hitting the pipe and doing a donut and falling in behind Joe. He would lead all the way until lap 22 as I worked hard to chip away at his advantage. We stayed within 3 seconds the whole time. It’s really hard to catch up in truggy as we are the same speed for the most part so it takes just the smallest of mistakes to either catch up or fall back. I was able to push that extra bit and on lap 22 I got on the inside through a rough section and gave him a side bump pass and sped off into the sunset. He got a little flustered I think and kind of fell off the last 10 laps or so and allowed me another 20+ second victory to take the overall Win.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Nitro buggy A2 was the last race of the day and I was aiming for that victory. I had a much better start this time around. But Boots was hot on my tail. He got by me on lap 3 but I took it back on lap 4 and he followed close for another 3 laps before he flamed during a crash. This gave me a nice lead and I just cruised from there. My car was running great and felt really comfortable on this track as I pulled out to 34 second victory over King. Overall super pleased with my cars pace and taking the overall victory in Pro Buggy.

Photo Credit: Rugspin

Photo Credit: Rugspin

I now have a month ‘off’ so to speak which is anything but, but it means no travel races for a month. I’ll be helping with the local track getting it ready for the opener on the 14th. I will be working on getting everything ready for the ‘2nd half’ of the season, and spending some good quality family time after having been away a lot over the past 3 months. Next bigger race up will be the Stateline King of Kings!

-Lutzinator

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