The annual biggest off-road R/C race on the planet was held this past weekend in White Pine, Tennessee. This year drawing 478 individual racers running 1,010 cars! The track was as big as ever this year however some big departures from what we usually expect. The majority of the track was very technical with precision being required and proper car placement. One thing I think completely overlooked is the fact when you have a very large track but a lot of turns you have a lot of marshals on the track creating blind corners or jumps for drivers depending on where they stand on the drivers stand. I know this caused me a few mistakes this weekend and I heard the same from others. The track also didn't have any large jumps and was much more mellow in that regards. Many likened it to a huge 1/10th scale track. Lap times were long with the pro's finally reaching the mid 40 second laps by main day.
For me I ran my primary 3 classes and tried my best to utilize the 24 hours of practice to the best of my ability. With the huge turnout the line often went basically halfway around the track to get up on the stand to turn some laps. I did most of my practice between 6-8am and then again from Midnight-6am. I feel these were the best times as the line was the shortest and I was able to get my Kyosho's dialed in. Tire wise I was pretty much on AKA SS and SSLW Gridirons during practice depending on how much moisture was in the track. As the track began to get a line around it I transitioned to SSLW Double Downs. When I used SSLW I would sauce them.
Due to the large number of entries it was necessary to limit the program to two qualifiers. The first one was 5 minutes and the second one we did 7 minutes. They bunched all the pro classes together so we all ran our 3 primary classes within a 10 race period. In buggies I was able to come out of the gate strong with a 5th in Nitro buggy with my MP10 TKI2 and a 4th in Ebuggy with my MP10e. In truck I had an electrical issue that left my A-main aspirations up to Q2.
In Q2 the track began to dry a bit more and so I opted to run SSLW without saucing. I had Double Downs in the buggies and Gridirons in truggy. In the buggies I wasn't able to improve on my Rd 1 finishes and so I would take those round one qual points. In truggy though I needed a good run but was resorted into the C heat of truggy. I had a good run going but had someone wanting to battle with me which ended up causing me to crash. I got a quick marshal though and came around with a good time. I held TQ after the B heat and just 4 guys got by me in the A heat which would give me a top 5 for the round. In the end I would qualify 6th overall in all three classes, solidly in the A-mains.
The first A-main up was going to be Nitro Truggy. The PNB has a unique feature which is the 'Joker lane' which can be taken once per 10 minutes. So with a 30 minute main on tap we could use it 3 times with each time saving about 12 seconds a lap. My strategy was to use them at the end of the race unless traffic conditions warranted using them sooner. All was going well as the majority of the field was using theirs up until lap 9 when I was battling with a fellow driver and he took me out sending me upside down. For whatever reason my engine doesn't like running upside down and I flamed out ending my chances in the race. My pit guy got me fired back up and on lap 25 it would happen again. In the end I would finish second to last having missed nearly 3 laps. I was very disappointed but it's all on me as I still haven't sorted my problem from the ROAR Nats a few weeks ago. With the weather finally breaking here in Ohio I will be sure to be fully prepared for Silver State in May.
Nitro buggy was up next and due to the above mentioned issues I had opted to run the same engine from truggy in my buggy. It runs great I just have to be sure not to crash and be upside down it seems. I was planning on using the same strategy with my joker lanes and I was running very good at the start. I was still running 10th coming into the first pit stop even having all my jokers still to take. However this time the engine died while being refueled. This would happen again on the next two stop all told losing me a good 20+ seconds. A few minutes later I would again flame upside down on the track. All told if I put back the time lost on these issues I was right around that top 5 and everyone was really close. No telling where I could have ended up but alas it is all for naught. I'm really disappointed in myself because it's all on me and I need to do better. My buggy was very solid in the main and I will put in the work to make it show at Silver State coming up!
Last race for me of the night at around 10pm was E-buggy. I would be starting 6th and for this one I opted to use the joker at the start. On that first lap I got by a few guys through the whoops section and then took the joker and was in 2nd place. I made a mistake on this lap in the whoops myself and allowed Maifield to be right behind me. Over the back long jump and double we were right next to each other and collided and I got the worst of it breaking an arm. Wow, what a disappointing main day it was!
In the mains I opted to run SSLW Gridirons in truggy and in buggy I ran SSLW Zip front and Component B on the rear. I chose this combo because grip had come up a good amount so this helped to mellow out the steering. I also had gone up a little on front sway bar. In the rear I went with the component because there was still some good dust sections and I wanted to cut through the dust a bit better in those areas.
Overall it was a good event and I hope most had a good time. For as much is spoken about growing the racing part of the hobby it really seems the numbers are showing a vibrant race scene. I had someone tell me this weekend they got into 1/8th off-road from watching my onboard video's so that was pretty cool to hear. On to the next one!