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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

LoneStar Challenge @ Thornhill 2023

It’s been a few years but I made it back to the world class Thornhill Racing Curcuit just outside of Austin, Texas. Joey from ‘The Dirt’ brought his LoneStar Challenge event here which ended up also being the final race of a 3 race series called the MAO Super Series which comprised Nitro buggy finishes at DNC, Silver State, and the LoneStar to crown a champion. Heading into this event of all drivers who attended the first two events I was sitting second overall. But most of those drivers didn’t attend the LoneStar which left the championship battle to be between myself and ‘lil bump’ Phi. I had a 6 point lead heading into this race so just needed to finish within 6 positions of Phi to take the championship.

As for the LoneStar event we began on a green track with a fresh build put in my Joey. Laptimes were pretty quick straight away as we were in the 28 second range which compares to the previous layout there which was in the upper 30 second range. So the track was pretty fast which kept the field tight. AKA tires were working well all weekend and I started practice with SSLW Diamantés, as a groove started to form I switched to clay typos for a couple packs/tanks and they had a nice grip to them. Then as the groove got cleaner went with Clay Scribbles.

My cars were all feeling really good and for truggy I only practiced once at the end of the day and it was absolutely dialed from the get go.

Qualifying began on Saturday and it was a beautiful day for R/C racing with temps at 80*. All 3 of my Kyosho rides felt great as the groove continued to develop. Clay Scribbles on all 3 cars. I was able to TQ Q1 and Q2 in both Nitro classes. In Ebuggy, had my switch turn off in Q1 and in Q2 took a 2nd. In Q3 with Rose already securing TQ I opted to attach the Hero 11 GoPro and get some race footage. I was actually able to lead most of the qualifier even with the camera until the last corner where pushing for the 12th lap I landed on the pipe and crashed ending me 2nd for the round and thus 3rd overall.

Main day was up and I had one fresh set of clay scribbles for buggy. I used them in A1 of ebuggy to take the lead on the second corner as both in front of me had an early mistake. I sailed off into the sunset. In pro truggy we had a 25min main and I continued to use the same set of clay scribbles I used in practice and all 3 qualifiers. My truck continued to be on point and I led out from the tone and took off taking about a 1.5 lap victory and putting in the fastest laps of any vehicle all weekend with a 25.6. Not to common on a smooth track for nitro truggy to have the fastest lap times, but my truck was just excellent!

Next was the 30 minute nitro buggy main where I used the same set of Clay Scribbles from Ebuggy A1. This was the class all focus was on as $3k was on the line for the MAO series. The grip had continued to come up and I was a little uncomfortable at the start. I went wide allowing Wiggens by on the top right and a few laps later Phi got by also. We had a 3 car freight train going and I was working to find my rhythm. A few more laps and I got back into 2nd and a few laps later and Phi was broke. I was gutted for him but that took all pressure off for the series victory for me and I set my sights on the battle for the victory in the race we were in. We had some close battles throughout the race. Will Walker had me in and out of pits super quick and helped me either gain on Jared or extend the lead after the last stop. Jared and I each had a longer crash and outside of that we had identical top 15 lap times and so it was a real dogfight. But after the last stop I had a 3 second lead and was able to basically maintain to close out the victory!

Final race of the day was Ebuggy A2. By now my clay scribbles were toast so I opted to run a set of SSLW Scribbles. In warmup pace seemed ok. They had a slight different feel with a push at times but I knew I could adjust and make the most of it. I quickly got into 2nd and set my sights on Rose. He was going good and it took a few laps to get a groove. He ended up making a mistake and I got into the lead. I got a bit of a gap on another mistake he made. Then the middle part of the race he was moving and putting in a charge. I was able to finish out strong at the end though and take the A2 victory and this secured the overall victory and trifecta of 1st place finishes on the day.

It was an excellent weekend of racing for me. There is a lot of fast guys who frequent Thornhill and it was gratifying to be the pace setter most of the weekend. Everything is clicking right now and hopefully that can continue as we move along to ROAR Nitro Nationals in just over a weeks time.

Set-up Notes: Clay and SSLW Scribbles both seemed to get the job done with similar lap times. Clay had more forward drive feel and more precise steering whereas the SSLW seemed to lack a touch of steering mid corner, but all told lap times were the same.

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