This past weekend I headed south to Flowood, Mississippi to attend the Bring the Heat event at FRC. This is an awesome indoor facility with upper viewing deck and of course covered. Thus rain or shine we were racing and having a good time. I took my standard 3 Tekno vehicles to the event and overall had a successful weekend.

In practice for buggy I ended up trying some AKA Clay Typo tires after having middling success with Soft Long wear Grids and Zips. The Typos were hooked up for sure but the problem was I only had brung a total of 2 sets. I ended up running that first set probably about 30 minutes on practice day between my Electric and Nitro buggies.

Come qualifying I decided to stay on that same set of Clay Typo’s the entire day. I swapped that set from Ebuggy to Nitro buggy each qualifier so in total ran them 6 races or about 45 more minutes. They were pretty bald by the end of qualifying but as long as I stayed in the groove they felt great. Usually the track blows out a little in a few sections but this year it stayed together really well which allowed me to stay on those tires. In E-buggy I would TQ Q2 and Q3 to take the overall TQ over my teammate Joe. In Nitro buggy I was hooked up. I TQ’d all 3 rounds by about 8 seconds plus on each one as my Tekno was just on rails. In Nitro truggy I TQ’d Q2 and had a comeback in Q3 to take 2nd in that one. Based on usual tie-breakers of combined laps and times of the two runs that counted I thought I had the tie-breaker. But for some reason their computer was set-up for single fast run and thus I missed out on the trifecta and ended up 2nd qualifier in truggy behind Joe.

Truggy A-main was up first on Sunday morning which felt really weird. It was a 35 minute race and it took me some time to get going. I started out battling with Joe and Ogden for a few minutes until I began to find my groove and I pulled out to a 12 second or so lead by the 3rd pit stop. I felt confident that it was my race to win at that point. However after that 3rd stop I went hot into the double after the pit lane and crashed off the track. The marshal grabbed me from the sides and stalled my truck. This put me about 20 seconds behind once I got fired back up . I fought hard though and with 5 minutes to go I had moved back into 2nd and was just 2 seconds behind the leader. Suddenly though I started feeling like I was having steering issues and sure enough a lap later I locked up my front left. My driveshaft had spun in the outdrive and that was that. Ended up 7th. So a bit disappointing with the final result knowing the win was within grasp!

Nitro buggy main was an earlier main this weekend too and it went a bit better. The start I was a little off pace as I had my new set of clay typo’s on but I had to run black foam in them as I was out of red. They took a few minutes to start to come in and thus I fell back to 3rd early. I then got into 2nd but was about 7 seconds behind Ogden. However he had a tire issue and had to come in for a tire swap which gave me the lead and at that point I would not look back. I ran a clean remainder of the race pulling away from the field as I found my groove and won by over a lap and a half.

E-buggy ran triple A-mains and it was a close battle. In A1 I ran my super worn out Typo’s but kept it in the groove for the most part and would take the victory. In A2 Joe and I battled for the first half. I would struggle a bit though with the dust in spots but was in the lead until I had a failure (can’t remember at the moment what it was) but that knocked me out of the race. So it was all down to A3. Joe and I each had a win and the battle was on. For the first 5 minutes I kept him just in toe and he made a mistake giving me a 4 second cushion. But the track was a bit dustier and he was making up time on me. I then had a weird crash on the back step-up jump and he got by and up to a 4 second or so lead. By the last lap I had got within 2 seconds but it would take a mistake. He took the corner before the front triple and got caught in a crashed car that he couldn’t see because it was behind the pole. Fortune was on my side this time as I drove around that and into the lead and took the overall victory.

So overall 2 more TQ’s and 2 more victories to continue a great season of racing.

Next up is Wicked Weekend in 2 weeks. In the meantime some Worlds preparations! 🙂

-Lutzinator

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This past week I attended the ROAR 1/8th Electric and 4x4SC Off-road Nationals at Stateline R/C in Fremont, Indiana. This years attendance was so-so for a 1/8th E-nats with around 160 entires. The facility and welcoming was once again near the top of what I ever encounter. They go out of their way to make you feel welcome and provided everyone with a buffett style lunch and a pancake breakfast during the week.

The week was interrupted a couple of times by some heavy downpours and thunderstorms which ended up altering the schedule a little. However thanks to the hard work of the track crew and the supplied nearly full track sized tarp they laid out across the track, we were able to get in more racing than would have otherwise been possible.

Pit spot with drivers stand view!

Pit spot with drivers stand view!

The event was comprised of 2 days of practice, 4 qualifiers, and the mains. For me qualifying was pretty solid but I didn’t have any real stand out runs. In 4×4 SC our goal was to navigate a couple of the tough doubles that were tough to keep the nose up. Even buggies were getting kicked over them and it made it even tougher for SC. In 3 of the 4 rounds I would come away with a 2nd place finish and thus qualify 2nd overall. In Etruggy I had a mediocre start until I got things figured out a bit. First two runs were top 5 runs but in Q3 I was running 2nd until my transponder didn’t count on the last lap and thus they dropped me to 3rd for the run. Then in Q4 I was on a TQ run with just a minute or so to go when I had a servo let go. So that would qualify me 5th overall for the mains.

Mains Ready!

Mains Ready!

In buggy it was a similar story to truggy. My first runs being just mediocre as I was working with my set-up. In Q3 though I coupled my driving with my set-up and drove cleaner. I was on TQ run through the middle of the run before making a mistake on the left side of the track actually ending up off the track briefly. This had me settle for 2nd for that round. Then in Q4 Rivkin and I battled the entirety of the run. I was able to lead just a couple of the laps midway through but we were close on the track and on the clock the whole run. I would take another 2nd and thus qualify 3rd overall for the A final.

Battle with the rain!

Battle with the rain!

They decided to run A1’s on Saturday night after qualifiers were complete as the forecast for Sunday wasn’t looking all that great. Buggy final was up first and it was a pretty intense race. At the start Rivkin made a mistake on lap one allowing me into 2nd behind Maifield. I made a bobble on lap 7 allowing Cavalieri by for 2 laps before regaining 2nd place. Then on lap 14 Maifield made a mistake on the top left double and I got by and into the lead! I led for 3 laps before traction rolling coming into the S section! By the time I got marshaled I was back in 3rd just ahead of Joe. On lap 22 Joe would get by me and I would work on staying right with him. On the last lap in the front left hip jump he landed tight and I was mid air. When I came down my tire landed on his wing. It was a racing incident as far as I could tell and the ROAR official agreed and it allowed me into 3rd overall.

3rd Place E-buggy

3rd Place E-buggy

In 4x4SC it was a goal to stay with Maifield as he was in one of his dominant forms this weekend. I feel like I held my own staying within 2-3 seconds of him the entire run. I ran a clean race with every lap being within 0.7 tenths. However it was only enough to take 2nd place about 3 seconds behind Maifield in the end.

2nd Place 4x4SC

2nd Place 4x4SC

In the E-truggy class I just never really got anything going. I struggled from the get go starting in the 5 slot. I stayed with the front pack but never was able to mount anything. I briefly got by Joe a couple times when he made mistakes but he would get back by and I would settle into 5th, hoping I would be able to go make some changes and come back stronger in A2.

Crazy cloud formations!

Crazy cloud formations!

However come Sunday morning the skies were ominous. The tarp was on and the feeling was that rain would hit any moment. There was a window that they probably could have ran and got the A2’s in but the fear of rain kept it from happening. Finally the tarp was removed and they ran a quick 2 minute practice run for all the remaining mains to get the track ready. They were able to start and run the first main and as it finished up and we were standing in line to run our first A2 the skies started to open and they decided to pull the tarp. That’s the last we would see of the track as the rains came down hard and the event was eventually called.

So in the end I got another 3 top 5 ROAR Nats finishes including two podiums. Next up I head down South to Mississippi for the Bring the Heat event at Flowood!

-Lutzinator

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This year with having moved to the midwest I decided to take the 7 hour drive over to NY to race the Big Apple Novarossi Challenge. Last year the results were perfect with 3 TQ’s and 3 Wins and I was looking for a repeat performance. This year there was some serious threats of rain and while it did rain us out of practice early on Friday we were able to get 3 quals in on Saturday before the rains came again that night. Sunday opened with a slight delay but we got a fourth qualifier in and all the mains for some great racing action.

In qualifying my cars were pretty dialed into the track. I ran my standard Nitro buggy, Nitro Truggy, and E-buggy which kept me plenty busy whilst also helping others dial in their Alpha engines! I’ve never seen so many Alpha plus engines at an event so that was absolutely great to see. In E-buggy I would go on to TQ the first 3 rounds of qualifying giving me the overall TQ. I ran SS Grids when the track was wet and transitioned to Soft Impacts in front and Grids in Rear for the dryer qualifiers. Truggy I felt pretty dominant in but it’s the one class I didn’t TQ two of the rounds. In Q2 I had some traffic troubles and in Q4 I had an old glow plug go out on me. But my two TQ rounds were by a large margin and I was able to overall TQ. My Nitro buggy was pretty dialed and through qualifying the track got rougher and rougher. It seemed as though the harder the track got the more I would win my qualifiers by and I TQ’d all 4 qualifiers in Nitro buggy!

After that morning delay on Sunday morning from the overnight rains we were racing and first up for me was E-buggy A1. At the start I made a mistake pushing wide and hitting a blown out portion of the little double double and falling back to 4th. But I fought back and into the top 3 where we swapped positions for the first few minutes. One front runner bowed out with an electronic issue and I started to find my groove and pulled away to an A1 victory.

Truggy 30min final was next and I led out for the first few laps until I tagged a stalled car allowing Drake to get by. He would then lead out for a couple laps until he made a mistake and that was all she wrote. I set sail getting into my groove and going on to lap the field in the 30 minute final. The biggest story was the battle for 2nd as my Teammate Kyle Rhodes battled the Drake for the last portion of the race to take a deserved 2nd for a Tekno-Alpha 1-2 finish in the truggy class! I was running Soft Impacts on front and Soft Gridirons on the rear.

TQ and Victory!

TQ and Victory!

E-buggy A2 was next and it was slightly more straight forward as I made sure to stay clean at the start and stay out front. Drake gave me some heavy pressure at the start but I would eventually work on my lead and extend out to a nice victory in A2 and thus the overall win.

TQ and Victory!

TQ and Victory!

So now I was 5/6ths of the way to the repeat trifecta and was feeling good as my Nitro buggy was running awesome. First we would have to navigate a semi-final to qualify in the A-main. At the start I got out clean beginning and immediately started to pull away from the pack. I got about 5 laps in and already had a 5 second lead and my car was dialed. But then I heard the dreaded sound of gear crunching. Turned out both rear diff pinion bearings blew out on me. I swapped them out quick as I could but missed 5 minutes of the 20 minute final and by the time I got back on the track I was 8 laps out of a transfer spot. I drove hard as I could that last portion of the race but only was able to get within 4 laps of the transfer spot. And so that ended my weekend a bit early. I chose to run Soft Zipps and my car was so dialed. I really think the A-main would have been mine to loose but alas that’s racing.

Next up is the ROAR E-Nats at Stateline followed by Bring the Heat at Flowood, MS!

-Lutzinator

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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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