As the snow starts to fly here in Ohio I want to look back at my 2019 season and do a quick little recap of how it all went down. The year started with me making a big change and going to a relatively unproven brand at least here in the United States. My Change to Agama was pretty big news and my goal was to put them on the map here in the states. I also would be driving under the Nemo Racing USA umbrella and changed to the Bullitt B-223 engine and the Beta shock oils. I also was going to try something new out regarding fuel and help to develop a new blend and brand for RC Pro Fuels.
The first order of business was a trip to Dallas Texas to meet up with Billy Tylaska of Nemo Racing USA and begin our working relationship together and get me sorted with the new equipment. We started out at Indy RC World and put in a couple 16+ hour days of running, testing, and developing to get me up to speed. The cars felt really good right off the bat and I knew the year had a good potential to be one of my best! I also decided I was going to start really pushing my YouTube channel this year and work to create more video's for it. With Billy being great with the camera I knew we could create some good footage!
My first race test of the year was at the Southern Indoor Championships. The track conditions were very tough and I had adversity to fight throughout the mains. I was able to take my first victory with Agama with a come from behind win in the Nitro truggy class. I also showed great pace in Nitro buggy but ran out of gas and got a podium 3rd in electric buggy.
Next we headed down to Flowood for the January-ish Jam. I was able to take a trifecta of victories on this one and really begin to gain some confidence in my program in this new year.
The first big test came next at the Dirt Nitro Challenge. The conditions and circumstances alone making this a tough event but I worked my butt off to make the most of it. I was able to bump into the A in truggy and was up to 6th until my steering spindle broke because we dremeled it to get a bit more steering throw. Then in Nitro buggy my buggy was awesome and I was running 5th and making a charge until a set-screw came loose in my center drive-line. Overall it was very disappointing and I know the errors were self inflicted and that the results should have been better. I knew I had something to prove.
Next we went down to Thornhill to get some extra practice for Nationals later in the year and also just to race on perhaps the best track in the Nation. I was able to get a trifecta here and regain some confidence that this was going to be a great year.
In March I got to do my first overseas race with Agama going to the home of the '17 IFMAR 1/10th Worlds to race my 1/8th buggies. I had great pace all weekend but the rains on main day threw me for a loop. At the time my buggies ran different gearing and not remembering that and swapping clips due to circumstances with mud and such I once again sabotage myself in my end results. I still managed to get 2nd in both classes to go along with my TQ's and absolutely had the pace for the victories. Just needed to stop being my own worst enemy.
Next was a race I am pretty well known for the Psycho Nitro Blast. I ran 4 classes this year and my pace was really good. They had a fun option joker lane that made for some interesting decisions come main time and I thought I had a great strategy going into it. In qualifying I TQ'd both Nitro classes and also Etruggy. In the Truggy A-main I used my 3 joker laps my first 3 laps to just take my starting position and extend that lead. I held the lead the entire race and took a 16 second victory! In Nitro buggy my strategy was different after making a mistake on the 1st lap. I took the joker with the leaders on that first lap but I held the other 2 in my pocket seeing a good gap behind me where I would be able to run in clean track. Everyone was watching the battle for the lead but they had all taken all their joker laps, I still had two and was only 12-14 seconds back and the jokers were worth 14-16 seconds. So in my mind I was in the lead. Unfortunately it all ended when I ran out of gas coming in for my 2nd stop just before the line. I still was able to come back from that and finish 3rd. I also took 2nd in Ebuggy. My cars were the ones to beat all weekend and I just needed to get rid of this running out of gas gremlin that has plagued me for over a year.
As we got into spring I jumped across the pond to England to meet with the Nemo Racing team and attend the DXR Dirt Kings event. This was a Nitro buggy only event and my Agama A319 proto was on point. I would be finishing most runs in 2nd behind world champion Ongaro. In the main I opted for a longer lasting tire while he went for the qualifying tire and a great battle ensued for the last 35 minutes of the race. I was able to come away with one of my best an most exciting wins of my career beating the World Champ and finally taking a win at Harper Adams!
The roller coaster ride of a year continued as we went to Vegas in May for Silver State. The track got rough and the conditions were a big challenge for me. The venue is amazing though, they just need to figure out a way to keep the dust down. Results wise I struggled a bit. Not having anyone to bounce set-ups off of made it harder for me that some other teams I think. The conditions changed a lot and were just really difficult. I had finishes of 8th (truggy), 9th (Nitro buggy), and 4th (Ebuggy). I tried hard at it and did all I could and at least everything was holding together so there was positives there!
Next was back to Thornhill for my 3rd time of the year for the LoneStar Challenge / Nationals Warmup. Quals went awesome and I was able to TQ both Nitro classes. In the mains I had to many mistakes in truggy and got 2nd. In buggy I had another self sabotage with a screw in my spindle coming loose. I was fastest on the track but just cost myself another result. Oh just looking at the results of the year and what they could have been if I didn't make the mistakes that I did. But onwards an upwards.
As we entered the summer swing we headed to Alabama for AMS 10.0. This race provided me another great event to showcase the Agama vehicles. I was able to take another great win in Nitro Buggy over a pretty stacked field! I also battled for the win in truggy but took 2nd on the last lap. Overall was pretty excited heading into the ROAR Nationals season.
It was back to Thornhill for the ROAR Nationals and wow did we put a lot of work into tires during this event. Being a covered track it was really 90% about tires and that is where our time was spent. I was super (to much so) confident after my buggy semi-final win and after making a early mistake and then taking it too easy the first 10 minutes of the A-main found myself in nearly a lap hole. So I fought back and got within half a lap and another ROAR podium in 3rd place which was solid but oh what could have been. In truggy with the deck stacked against me running impacts on an indoor surface I was able to hang tough and make some moves at the end for another 3rd place podium, my 7th year on the box in a row*.
Next was a drive to Adrenaline R/C for the E-scale Nats. Track was a bit small for the 1/8th classes we were running but it made for some super tight exciting racing. Had a good time but no podiums this go around.
Next I made a short drive west to Stateline RC for their final King of Kings event. It was an emotion filled weekend as the family of the facility said their goodbyes to the race and you could just see how much it meant to them. On the racing side of things it was a great weekend for me taking the TQ in nitro truggy and then taking the victory in both buggy classes showing the capabilities of the Agama rides!
As summer heated up we went to the Wicked Weekend event and my stuff was really good! In truggy I took a 20 second victory. In Nitro buggy I had a nice lead but due to a set-up change I had made with my front sweep before the main it allowed my dogbone to come out on a landing ending my chances. Another self sabotage of a great result for me! (I've learned a lot to look out for this year! haha). In Ebuggy it was a 2nd place to my buddy Joe for another solid weekend of racing.
As we entered September I attended my 3rd international trip of the year. Big thanks to Ben Sterling for having me down. Their Nationals is so quick paced with so much track time it was a challenge to keep up! My equipment was solid though and I took TQ and Win in Truggy but in Buggy I again ran out of gas while in the lead. I started to catch back up though but on my last stop ran out again and thus had to settle for 3rd. Fortunately we beat the monsoon of rain by literally a minute!
Next was a race that I love to attend the Southern nationals. But quite often it is a race that kicks my butt. This year was no exception. My qualifying was ok result wise starting top 3 in all classes. But come the mains the wheels fell off and it was a weekend to forget. Some bad luck just happened every time I hit the track and sights were now set on the next one.
That next one was the much anticipated USA round of RCGP at Thunder Alley. I had high expectation going in and had even gone for a day two weeks before to get some practice in. At the event though the gate start kind of kicked my butt and I could only muster one heat win and a 5th in the 3 finals for 5th overall on both days. It was ok, but in my practicing afterwards I found my shock package was my biggest hindrance. More learning to build on for next year!
Next was my final international trip of the year to Italy for the Winter Cup at Padova. My qualifying was really good but didn't bring enough of the right tires for the conditions that presented them self on main day and thus was off pace in the main. In ebuggy my mistakes cost me a podium as well. But my pace was super good on a track where the locals just dominate and I was able to make a viral video that is so awesome to watch! Overally just learned more to carry forward to the next years.
My final race of the year was back where my year began at Indy RC World for the 25th Annual Lonestar classic. It was a good weekend for me racing the Texas's finest and I was able to take the double TQ and win in the buggy classes. Also got to continue my video editing skills with another GoPro onboard video of my Agama A215. Really looking to show more people about the awesome R/C Cars we race!