April 19, 2017
So just a day after returning from one of the most grueling events of the season, the Psycho Nitro Blast, I was off across the pond to the UK for the Neobuggy event. This year Ilias decided to be brave and be our driver on the other sided of the road and car and I must say he did a fine job! Only one curb was hit which is pretty good on the narrow hedge lined roads. The track this year was challenging with lots of elevation changes and action everywhere. The surface got a little bumpy and their was tons of lefts and rights and a crossover to boot. The layout was fun but it wasn’t fully planed out I don’t think. There was no where for marshals to be in the middle of the track. And as always the crossover turned out to be dangerous with a few people getting hit, some worse than others. A balance between fun and safety needs to be thought out for sure. What this all meant was there was potential that you could loose half a lap if you crashed in the wrong place at the wrong time so that became paramount to avoid such situations.
The classes at the Neo are just Nitro buggy and Electric buggy. Every year they seem to allow a few more entries making more heats of racing but also making the days longer and the racing less. I remember a few years ago we were doing 10 minute qualifiers and done by 7pm. Now we are down to 5 minute qualifiers and done by 8pm and starting earlier at 7:45am to boot. I do love the time schedule though as you know exactly what time you will be up and it just makes the event feel bigger with the proper rules in place.
I went with basically my Psycho Nitro blast set-ups (which were my silver state set-ups) on the car in hopes that they would continue to work at Neo. But Neo always seems to present unique challenges and cars just feel different on this surface. There were a couple of big jumps with some sharp landings if you didn’t downside just right. The track was also bumpy to an extent and had an uneven stair steps to navigate as well. My shock package wasn’t quite right at the start and it took me until probably the 3rd qualifier to nail it down and start to feel comfortable. I actually opted to go back to the stock pistons of 4×1.9 which gave a good balance of the big jump landings and also the bump and uneven surface handling.
Through qualifying I really worked hard on set-up changes looking to make my car easier to drive as it was a bit nervous and twitch on this track. Here is a list of some of the things I did:
-Moved the front hubs forward
-Front spring all the way up to green instead of my usual Black
-Front diff up to 8K instead of 7K
-Zero bump with about 2* of static toe out in front to try to make less twitchy
-Raised rear camber link on tower to middle outside instead of down and outside. (Stayed middle on hub)
-Lower center diff down to 4K instead of coming in with 7K to give more front wheel drive.
-Heavier front sway bar to 2.4 for the main instead of the 2.3 I had been running.
These changes all helped to make my buggy easier to drive and I was pretty pleased with it by the time the 4th qualifier came around. My first 3 qualifiers were a bit of a struggle though I did manage a 10th and 9th in Q1 and Q3 which I attribute to my growing maturity as a driver. In E-buggy I got a 3rd in Q1 which was my best finish and after that I struggled a bit with my timing and trying to do the quad instead of triple single.
After day one of qualifying the top 15 currently got to do the 10 minute dash for cash in inverted order. Because I was currently 12th I would start 4th on the grid. Within 2 laps all those ahead of me had made mistakes and I inherited the race lead. I was a bit concerned as Tebo, and Maifield who were going fast in qualifying had already made it up to 2nd and 3rd but they and Tessman started making it the bash for cash and just making mistakes all over. I used that advantage to take off into the sunset and win the Dash which was the turning point of my weekend.
The next day first round of Nitro buggy I was able to prove that the Dash wasn’t a fluke and I went out and put in a great run in the B heat to take TQ. No one in the A heat was able to beat my time so that gave me the TQ for the round and coupled with my 9th and 10th put me solidly up into the Semi-finals. It’s a good thing to because in Q5 I would do my warmup laps and then lost all brakes. My throttle servo went out on me before the start and i’m assuming all the 60ft jump landings at PNB didn’t have anything to do with it. haha. At least I was in the Semi’s and it happened before the Semi is all I can say! In ebuggy I struggled a bit still with my timing but was still able to manage to qualify 10th overall after qualifying.
That night we did the Semi-final for E-buggy and boy was it an ugly race for me. I was super nice at the start and if someone behind me pressed the issue I let them go as I just wanted to spread out and stay with the pack. But I got tagged and sent to last and it was a battle from there. People were driving nuts and crashing everywhere and I just put my head down and tried to stay as clean as possible. I picked off a few drivers here and there but I couldn’t understand the announcer and had no clue what position I was in. I just fought back until the end and somehow took the 7th position and seeded last into the A-main final in 15th. At least I made it! 🙂
Monday morning started us off with the E-buggy A-main final. Now starting dead last on the grid isn’t as terrible of a thing as one might think. It may take me out of contention for the win but at least there is no where to go but up! haha. Anyways I got by a few cars in the first few corners to just get hit one more time and be dead last again in the top left. But after that I was able to chisel my way through the pack which pileups and crashes happening everywhere. About halfway in I was up to 6th or so and then a contender had an issue and I got up 5th. Then I had a battle with 4th for a couple laps near the end as we swapped position 2 or 3 times before he made a mistake and I got into and finished in 4th! Not bad all things considered and I was pretty pleased with that.
Next was the Nitro buggy Semi-final and I was starting 4th on the grid in the Odd semi having qualified 7th overall. Things started off well as I was running in my 4th position with the leaders for the first 3 laps and my car felt great. Then I decided to take the quad instead of triple single and I hit the low spot and shorted it and was upside down in the jump. This knocked me back to last as the marshal had to let everyone by. I wasn’t to concerned as my buggy felt great and I knew I could make up time. I quickly moved back past a couple of crashed vehicles and pileups and worked my way though the field. For the most part I was doing the quad well but I shorted it about 3 more times throughout the run whenever I would hit that low spot in the jump face and just didn’t get the lift. I should have just triple singled it but I was stubborn for that run. I still managed to work up through the pack and into 5th and an automatic transfer spot into the A final. After the second Semi I found out I would be starting 9th on the grid for the A.
The A final was the last race of the day and I was pretty excited by my prospects. My car felt great and I knew I had a shot if I could have a good start. But as mentioned before it is hard to run with others on this track and especially a pack of 5 or more guys at once. I got tangled and sent to the back to start my main in the top left and ended up in the chair! Well it was catchup time now and I put my focus into clean laps and staying out of trouble. I worked through the field and stayed on the lead lap as more and more people fell back with crashes or whatnot. I don’t quite know where I was early mid race but by about the 30 minute mark I had caught up to Maifield for the battle for 4th /5th. But at around the same time I started to make some mistakes as my front tires were starting to go bald. So when I got out in the dust I would push hard and loose time. I also found out after the race that my universal pin that goes in the outdrive had come halfway out was cutting into the arm and bulkhead and that was what was causing my erratic handling for the last 5 minutes or so. I kind of just though I forgot out how drive for a few minutes there! haha. Overall though I had built a big lead over 6th and thus came home in 5th place which was a good result for me!
This race is considered an “indoor Worlds” as most all the top drivers in the World attend. This was also an event that was part of the top25 rankings for R/C and my result helped to promote me to #5 in the world. Just 0.7 tenths out of 3rd! I can’t believe that but it just goes to show that I am getting more consistent and my results have been solid.
I now have about a month before my next travel race. That time will be used to spend some quality time with family and catch up on all my to-do’s. Also some local club racing hopefully as well as the weather is finally getting nicer!
April 10, 2017
The long awaited, long anticipated, and long day’ed PNB 2017 is in the books. My head is pounding, and just 6 hours after I went to sleep at 3am, I’m up and ready for my 8 hour drive home to prepare to leave for NeoBuggy on Wednesday. I can still hear the sounds of announcers and Nitro vehicles in the silence of the hotel room. Fortunately the event is full of good memories for me and some great results. Let’s get to the action.
I packed up the rental GMC Yukon XL with my race equipment and a good part of my LutzRC business and headed south to pick up Joe and head to White Pine Tennessee. The plan was again to by Psycho and run 5 classes while Joe ran 4 and we filled that Yukon nose to tail. Practice would start at 5am on Friday morning and continue with a couple breaks until 5am Saturday morning. We arrived for practice at just after 5 am and put in some laps to learn the track before it got to busy around noon. We then worked on our cars to prepare them for we early morning practice. The Tekno team also built a EB48.4 kit for a customer getting pretty much a rolling chassis done in 1.25 hours. He ended up running the car over the weekend and last report was he loved it over his previous ride.
Well after we took off around 5pm for a nice dinner we tried to force our bodies to sleep around 8pm as we were to wake back up at 1:30am to head back to the track in hopes of some more good open practice. It was a little busy at first but by 4am the drivers stand was very minimal wait and we were getting some quality runs in. Then in the last session we took the Tekno MT410 monster truck and did a little exhibition doing backflips and sending it high off the big wall! Hopefully a video will come in the future out of that fun!
So it was finally time to start qualifying and the grouped all the classes together. Meaning even though there was 54 heats we ran all the pro heats within 10 races basically. So you would have plenty of preparation time then it was mass rushing to do all the racing, pitting, and marshaling in a very seemingly short timeframe. They kept the program moving very quickly with just one lap of warmup and marshalls doing a good job to get off the drivers stand and on to the track fast.
First round of qualifiers saw me taking a lot of 2nds coming up just short for one reason or another. I got 2nd in Ebuggy, nitro truggy, and Nitro buggy. My etruggy I made a mistake and didn’t have a transponder in my car so I didn’t count, and I took TQ for 4wd SC. The 2nd and 3rd rounds resulted in continued decent rounds. I would take TQ in Q2 and 3 of Nitro Truggy to take the overall TQ. I would also TQ rd 2 of 4wd SC to take the overall and allow me to leave around 1am instead of having to run my last round at around 4am Sunday morning! With nearly 900 entires the days were nothing short of very long. We spend 24 hours at the track from arriving at 1:30am to practice on Saturday morning until we left just after 1am on Sunday morning after our 3rd qualifiers. I would also manage to qualify 2nd in E-buggy and E-truggy behind Joe and a little bit disappointing 5th qualifier in Nitro buggy but Joe got TQ which gave Tekno a clean sweep of the TQ positions in the classes we raced!
E-buggy A-main – This was the first main that we had and it was up just after 6pm. At the start I followed Joe around for a lap and he made a mistake I think after the triple going wide letting me get by and into the lead. I would then lead out ahead of he and Cavalieri. They would both close the gap but then make mistakes and I would get out to a 4 second cushion on Joe for much of the second half of the race. But on the last lap I didn’t line up properly on the slick concrete section and I missed inside and landed off track. I tried to get over the pipe but got hung up for a second. Joe was coming in fast and by the time I got loose he was right on my bumper with just a few obstacles and corners to go. I held him off until the back double where I knew he would try something to get by. Well I pulled a little to much trigger and tried to get to fancy and pushed out a little wide on the top right corner and he slid underneath and we were side by side but he had the inside line. Halfway down the short shoot before the final corner we touched tires and my car went cartwheeling off the track and Joe went on to win the race. I was pretty upset with myself for giving up such a lead on the last lap. It was entirely my fault but I still was happy for Joe for being there and for the Tekno 1-2 finish!
4wd SCT A-main – Starting on pole I just focused on staying clean and out front. No one had attempted the big 60ft triple that I know of in Short Course yet so we were all doing double single through that section. I really wanted to jump it though and that was in my mind throughout the race. I started to find a groove about halfway through the 10 minute final and worked up to an upper teen’s lead and on the last lap I decided I was going to go for the triple to see if I could do it. I didn’t feel like I was going to have the speed but I was on a victory lap so I just gave it a go. I came around the corner hot and held full throttle. I hit the jump in the place that launched the car the best and held throttle for the first 10 feet to keep the nose up and noticed it was flying beautifully. I watched in awe at the beauty of the truck flying perfectly through the air and finishing the jump on the perfect downside. It was a thing of beauty and I was able to come away with the victory as well! (Feel free to check it out on the last lap on the liveRC video of the race.)
Nitro Truggy A-main – The Nitro truggy A-main was our next race and it was to be a 30 minute race. I started on pole again for this one and led out from the start. I quickly worked a few second gap on the field but made a mistake a few laps in doing a pirouette and shrinking my lead to a second or two. But I regained my composure and my line and got back into about a 5 second lead. That’s pretty much where the lead would stand for the next 15 or so minutes until the final fuel stop. Cavalieri was in pursuit but sometime around his last stop he broke his shock and began to fall off pace. This gave me a huge cushion by the end of the run by over 20 seconds and the victory in Pro Truggy!
E-Truggy A-main – The E-truggy A was just another battle between Joe and I. Or at least that is what I was hoping it would be. Instead in the first couple laps he worked out to a 4 second lead which is pretty much where it stayed for the rest of the race. Joe would come away with the victory as I took another 2nd. When we were done though we did a backflip over the kicker jump and then tried to rail grind the top of the wall. On my second try I went over but it landed it and I drove it back to the pit lane. We had a good time and that class is a lot of fun with the trucks being so powerful!
Nitro Buggy A-main – The Nitro buggy A-main was the final race of the day and it started just after Midnight. I was starting 5th and at the tone just wanted to keep the car clean to start to feel my groove and see how things would shake out. Dakota put in a pass and I conceded the position and we soon got by someone who crashed. Then over the next couple laps another and another would crash and I was soon in 3rd and then into 2nd behind Joe who was leading! I caught up to Joe and over the center kicker I took it slightly harder than he did and mid air we touched and sent us both crashing. We got out with the lead still and I trailed behind him for another couple laps. Then I put in a good run on him around the huge sweeper and misjudged my distance as our cars turned to come towards us and I tapped the rear of his car and sent him tumbling. I was so mad at myself for making contact. I waited for the marshal to get him but it put us in a 5 or 6 way battle for the lead. Everyone else came in to pit that next lap and it seemed most of them had some sort of trouble. I stayed out an extra lap with my Blok fuel mileage and had a clean pit lane. Matt and Red were super quick and got me out and I came out right in front of Dakota suddenly in the lead! Soon thereafter he wrecked and I was alone out front with an 8 second lead!
The fortunes changed so fast in this one and about halfway into the race with the lead intact I decided to start to double single the huge triple to save my equipment. I kept my lines tight and as the rest of the field battled behind I just kept clicking off clean consistent laps and in the end came around with another big victory! Wow it was such a great day of racing for me and I was very happy with the result. Everything is really coming together and working well right now!
Just completed my 8 hour drive home and now have a day and a half to regroup, repack, and head to England for the Neo race! Looking forward to another great competitive week of racing!
I want to thank Matt, Mike, Jamie, Joe, Red, and Jeremy for all the help with various things throughout the weekend. Congratulation to Joe and Tekno for a complete sweep of the PNB with Joe and I taking TQ and Victory x 5 classes! Awesome to be a part of!
Tekno Teammate Challenge: (Joe started to play catch up during qualifying with his 3 x TQ’s to my 1 x TQ in classes we both raced. But my final results of 1, 1, 2, 2 gained me points over his 1, 1, 4, 13.) So we came in with me at +18 points and now after PNB I am at +31 pts!
March 22, 2017
This past weekend the Tekno team descended upon Las Vegas once again for the Silver State Nitro Challenge. Coming in from Ohio where we were having snow so it was nice to enjoy a weekend of high 80’s dessert warmth and sunshine. The track would be ran like at the Worlds with water for most runs. About 80% of the layout was new with the other 20% remaining from the Worlds. The event would have a standard format of 3 qualifiers and ABC mains.
For most of the weekend the track was on the lower grip side of the equation. Meaningful bumps didn’t start to materialize until around the middle of qualifying. For this event we went in with a bit of a different strategy. We wanted to start with a rough track setup and just leave the settings as much as possible and just get comfortable with the cars. No big changes or even little ones were to be made going into the mains.
Qualifying started off really well taking 5th in Ebuggy, 2nd in truggy, and 4th in Nitro buggy. The track was still pretty easy going into Q2 and now the field really started to tighten up. Especially in truggy which just laid waste to the small bumps in the road. I was on a TQ run with a 1.5 second cushion with two laps to go and they said behind Ronnefalk. I was following him in the track so I figured if I paced him I would have TQ. But there were no more announcements until the race was over and suddenly Tessman leapfrogged me on the last lap to take the win by tenths. So I settled for another 2nd, which I also got in Ebuggy. Nitro buggy I made a mistake and got a 7.
For Q3 I still had a shot at TQ in truggy and I led for a few laps to start the race. But I got wide at the end of the straight and shorted the big jump landing in my lid with a 4 second crash. I fought back up to 4th about 3 behind the leader but it was not enough. I would start 3rd in the main. There was no improvement in Ebuggy so I would qualify 3rd there as well. Nitro buggy was a decent run with a top 5 seeding me 6th into the Amain.
Come main day Ebuggy was up first with a single 10 minute main. Starting from third I stayed in line through the start until Phend crashed promoting me to 2nd. I had a couple good laps and was right on Maifield until I made some small bobbles falling a little bit back. Then I crashed falling to 5th where I would have a 3 way battle with Ronnefalk and Tebo for the remainder of the main. We battled and swapped positions as we navigated the increasingly bumpy track. At the tone I would come home in 4th just off the podium.
Nitro truggy was up next and I was feeling pretty confident. At the start over the big jump on the left, Tessman jumped a little short as I went long landing on the side of him and overtaking the position into 2nd. The next 2 laps I was nipping at the heels of Maifield and felt racy. But I shorted the right double going away and fell back to 3rd. A short bit later I made another mistake falling back to 6th and soon over 10 seconds behind the leaders.
I had a momentary feeling of dismay as I thought my shot was over but thought my car is just too good. So I put my head down and fought back into a battle for 3rd with Tebo. For two stops we swapped positions during pit stops and I found myself 13 seconds behind the leaders 14 minutes in. As everything started to heat up my truck kept getting better. I was also starting to feel the flow of the track better and everything began to mesh. I gained full control of 3rd and set my sights on the leaders. I saw I was catching them on the track and Jimmy confirmed on the mic. I soon found myself about 5 seconds behind second when another round of pit stops was coming up. Maifield was first in and he flamed out loosing 15 or so seconds. This put me up to 2nd and everything kept feeling better. After my stop I was about 5 seconds behind Tessman and just started to real him in. Some laps I was a second faster still throwing down mid 31’s.
Soon I was within 2 seconds when Ty crashed and I got by. I would not relinquish as I got a couple second gap. I had a bobble lap letting Ty get back to my bumper but I cleaned it up and put in some of my best laps of the event. I started to pull out into the Vegas sunset as my lead grew to just under 10 seconds by the end of the main. I crossed the line with my first big victory in a while. This was my second Truggy title at Silver State but was possibly my biggest win ever as the competition was the highest this year.
Nitro buggy was the final race of the day and I was hoping to put in another good run. From the start I jumped up to 5th from my 6th starting position. There is where I would run for the first 7 laps before making a mistake and falling back to 7th. I would then begin to battle with quite a few others as we jockeyed for position. The lead 3 were gone and soon it was again a battle between Ronnefalk, Tebo, and I for 4th-6th. We all battled off and on for a good portion of the race. As we neared the last stops the leader had a part breakage promoting our battle to a battle for the podium spot. With 5 or so minutes to go it was me trailing behind Ronnefalk trying to chase him down but coming up around 3 seconds short as the race concluded. Thus another 4th place finish.
Overall I am very pleased with my results from the weekend. A win and two 4ths against a very talented crop of racers. I moved up to 7th overall on the TOP25RC Rankings and I’m feeling really good about the rest of the season!
In the Teammate Challenge I am starting to leave Joe in the dust this weekend. Taking a 17pt victory from Silver State and thus an 18pt lead in the season series. Anything can happen with many races to go but Joes already saying he thinks I will beat him by 30pts by the end. We shall see!
Next up is another back to back set of PNB followed by NeoBuggy In England. I know what I’ll be doing on that flight to England! 😉
March 8, 2017