2020 CRCRC Winter Midwest Electric Championships
Wait... Isn't this a 1/10th scale race? Yes, yes it is and it was my first bigger race in electric since the IFMAR Worlds in China in 2017 where I ran just 4wd. With a primary sponsor of mine Nemo Racing USA now distributing the PR Racing vehicles throughout the USA I decided to take the opportunity to see how I could do with the 'baby buggies' once again. Things have certainly changed a bit in a couple years with slicks becoming more and more common on these indoor clay tracks. To make it a possibility at the Ohio R/C factory required blowers on the track to be used between each heat to keep the surface as free of dust as possible. This was my first time trying to run slicks and I can surmise the experience in that I learned a lot, and have a lot to learn.
Wednesday and Thursday offered practice with a seeding round Thursday evening. I came with some 30% tread AKA scribbles as my presumed go to. But upon arrival all anyone was talking about is that we were going to be on slicks so may as well start on them right away. So I took my tires that I thought were ready and instead ground them down some more and turned them into slicks. The grip level with slicks and the feel is a bit different. They are more direct magnifying your inputs and making it all less forgiving to errors or missing the line. It's quite possible to miss the line by a couple inches and get out into the dust that starts to develop and quickly do a donut. On top of the new to me tire tread usage I was also running new to me buggies. The PR Racing PRSB401 type R 4wd buggy and the PRS1V3 V3R Evo 2wd buggy. As many know who have been in such a situation when you run a vehicle that is newer to the market it can be harder to get the set-up all dialed in. I had a number of guys offering suggestions here and there or answering my questions best they could. But especially in 2wd competing against guys who run the class week in and week out with cars refined for decades it can really bring on the challenges. Also not having anyone at the race who was yet running the cars to bounce feedback off of left the onus on me.
Throughout qualifying I was still trying to just find ways to make the cars more comfortable on this surface for my driving. In 4wd I had a decent first 3 runs with 3 top 16 runs with my best being a 12th. In 2wd I was just making so many mistakes. I was caught between feeling like I had to much steering and then working the set-up to take it out and then having a slight push. And once you are in qualifying if you don't already have a solid base to work off of it is really hard to still be educated guessing once qualifying starts because it's magnified in the results. It was in Q4 where I finally felt I hit the base set-ups I wish I could have started the weekend on for both cars. I didn't have great runs in either class in Q4 but the cars did feel more comfortable and I knew I finally had a baseline set from which to work from albeit a bit late for this event. So after qualifying I was qualified 17th or 7th in the B main for 4wd and 30th or 10th in the C main for 2wd.
First up on Sunday was our 2wd C main. I had a great start and with the car feeling much more comfortable I was maneuvering through traffic as they made mistakes. Within 3 laps I was up to 2nd place with the leader in view! I actually got nervous being competitive in for the first time all weekend and made a bobble on the right double into the spine dropping me to 3rd. I was able to follow for a few laps and make a move back into 2nd briefly before jumping with others over the triple and shorting it myself and falling way back being stuck on my lid with many cars coming over the triple. I finished out the race and got 5th so a 25th position overall but with promise that I have a base to work from on my next clay slicks track.
We then had the 4wd B main. These guys were much cleaner and I held my own but wasn't really able to make any moves forward. I ran a decent race and overall the car felt good but I just didn't have the pace to do any more than I did. I would end up 7th after making a position swap on the last corner making it exciting for a moment there so 17th overall in 4wd.
So what all did I learn that could have been done better? Well I learned on high grip slicks conditions that we would have been better off on AKA Typo front and Crosslink rears (as slicks). This is due to the carcass on those tires being a bit thicker. Those who had them available said they were easier to drive and offered more corner speed and consistency throughout the run. One good driver saying he was half a second faster with said combo compared to the scribbles as slicks. I guess you can tell if the slicks are to thin or worn when they do the slapping noise under acceleration or cornering. Perhaps when you hear that you should consider either a tire with thicker carcass or a fresh set.
My takeaway from the weekend is that 1/10th is tough. It's a class that many can run multiple times a week if they are blessed with a close enough track location. There is also so many different surfaces and variables of surfaces to contend with and it all takes some getting used to and practice on. I wasn't able to produce any miracles on my end result wise this weekend but it was a good humbling learning experience and I feel in the end I got on the right track to make my next attended event be more of a success.