Just got through with the AMS 9.0 event in Cullman, Alabama. Upon seeing the layout on facebook the track looked like it was going to be a blast to drive on and at the same time a bear to marshal. Upon arriving and deciding to run in the first practice session those thoughts became realities. The layout was so much fun to drive on. The front straight launching into a fast sweeping right handed berm, then needing to set up wide to avoid some bumps and take a big left handed berm. There was also a really fun step up into a sharp 90* with a couple drop down steps. Some other features like the crossover and the aptly named “QuadNasty” were awesome when you hit them right, but downright dangerous and a Hobby Shop boon when you got them wrong. Public service announcement here: if anyone is selling a “one race used car” right now be weary. Make sure that one race wasn’t AMS 9.0! So many cars got wadded up and sent marshals ducking for cover as they careened off line. While it’s fun to see big air and it’s fun to drive on, we have to remember we have marshals to look out for and many of them are kids and we need to consider safety as a priority as well. To an extent we are racing and the action should really be in the racing action. Some of these obstacles are better left for the recreational market. Just my humble opinion.
As far as the racing, the competition was heavy this weekend with 491 entries. Many top drivers were in attendance as well as the top crop of South East drivers. The track started out with me being able to run AKA SSLW Grids but as we passed noon on that first practice day I began to try out the Clay Chainlinks and they became the ticket throughout the rest of practice for me. Stuff was feeling pretty good throughout the practice and I was ready for when qualifying would start on Friday at 2pm. By the time the first qualifier rolled around the traction came up a ton. In truggy everyone seemed to be doing alight. For me I felt like my steering end points weren’t set fully or my servo saver was a bit loose and I just lacked in some of the high speed steering sections. I would end up 4th. As we came out to run our buggies you could see the struggle of many with the surface. Many going out on to soft of a tire and just struggling with the increased grip. I was one of them and it really set the tone for the struggle I would be experiencing throughout the weekend. My best runs in buggy would be in Q2 for e-buggy in which I finished 6th and Q3 in nitro buggy in which I finished 6th as well. My last run in nitro buggy I had made a couple changes and chose SLW Zips and I was pretty happy with my car. I had a bad crash but otherwise had a top 2 or 3 run so I gained some confidence heading into the finals. My qualifying positions weren’t the greatest though being 5th in truggy, 8th in e-buggy, and 9th in nitro buggy.
They decided again to put the nitro mains earlier in the program on Sunday to hopefully have some more people be able to be there to watch. I think this is a good idea but perhaps we were a little too early in the program this year. The truggy A-main was up first at around 8:30AM! I opted for SLW Impacts for the 30 minute race and I think it was the right decision for me for the conditions. My truck had a bit to much steering actually and was a little fishy on the rear end which made me a little less consistent than I would have like to have been. I was able to stay in the lead pack of 5 cars though and even found a groove and got up to 2nd for a bit. But I couldn’t hang on and Cav pressured me and I made a mistake over the back set-up and lost a good number of seconds having to go back down it get marshaled. This knocked me back to 4th but Cav had a failure getting me to 3rd. I would get within 2 second of Tebo in second for a while but I just didn’t have the consistency to hang tight and I had to settle for 3rd. Congratulations though to my teammate Joe for taking with win giving us a Tekno 1-3 in the the Truggy class!
Next up was the nitro buggy final just an hour later. Starting in the mid/back I just wanted to stay clean at the start and not loose total touch with the leaders. I was able to do pretty well and I was able to pick off a driver here and there as the race unfolded. Soon I would work my way up to 5th and be pretty happy with where I was sitting. I continued to fight and run some clean laps and was soon with in eyesight of Tebo and Rivkin in 3 and 4. Things were looking promising and then I went down the straight the lap before I was supposed to pit and felt it running out of gas, so I told my pit guy on our headsets and he was ready to grab the car at pit lane exit basically. But upon fueling it up it died out of fuel and it took a bit to get the box and everything ready and I lost a lap. This knocked me back to 8th position which is where I would finish. Another unfortunate finish for me in Nitro buggy this year. Looking to right the ship here at the next one.
The Double E-buggy A-main would be wheat would close out this event for us. In A1 I had a really good start. I ran SLW Zips on the front and Double Downs on the rear. The car did feel a bit soft in the heat of the day and something just felt off in the throttle. When I would land the car would stop momentarily and it just didn’t feel like the power was smooth. I somehow worked my way though traffic early and up to 2nd briefly but just couldn’t hang on to it all considering. I fell back after shorting the quad nasty a few times and tumbled to 6th which is where I would end up finishing. I thought perhaps the sensor wire was bad so I changed that for the second final but it wasn’t the problem. I believe it was the motor in hindsight from all those terrible landings on the quad and I wasn’t even able to start A2. So overall I would settle for 8th.
So in a nutshell it was a disappointing weekend results wise for me. The conditions were challenging and the track was tough and I just didn’t shine. I gave it my all and am pleased to come away with a podium finish in truggy. I also had a lot of fun around the pits hanging out and playing some cornhole and practicing my ninja skills climbing the Ibeams of the building.