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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

Tennessee State Championships @ the ROCCK

This past weekend I took a journey to Knoxville, TN to race for my first time at the ROCCK. Located next to the Knoxville Zoo this facility is pretty unique and cool. Lot's of pavilions to pit under and a fun 3D track to race on! I brought my two WRC buggies to compete with and enjoy this 3 day weekend.

Friday was practice and to start it was about figuring out the tire I wanted to run. I tried AKA Clay Typo and Chainlink as well as ultra soft Chainlink. Overall I felt the Clay Chainlink was the best for me on this track. It cut through the dust a bit more than they typo did and the clay compound just gave a little more forward drive and had less tire expansion than the ultra soft did on this track.

Saturday was qualifying and out of the gate I would take a 5 second TQ in Nitro buggy and my WRC SBX felt good. Some changes I had made in practice over previous set-up was to run more droop front and rear to land more plush on the step on step off. I also went a little more negative on front camber to get a bit more front roll and allow me to land on the front right in a couple of corners and absorb those landings better. Before Q1 I felt I lacked a little steering initially and had too much on exit. So I moved the front upper arm forward (less caster) and added 1/2 turn toe out to the front and this helped give more more initial and a bit less exit and felt more balanced.

I was able to TQ Q2 as well and I ran my GoPro in that qualifier and ended up besting my Q1 time and winning by 9 seconds. Sometimes I think the GoPro makes me faster on some tracks. For Q3 It was later in the evening and the track was pretty dry and it was cold so I decided to try Ultra Soft Chainlinks again. The expansion of the tires led to my car squatting more than it had been and it took me a while to adjust and I made some early mistakes. I would get sorted and play catch up to take 2nd in the run but overall would retain the TQ.

In ebuggy in preparation for Q1 I felt I lacked a little steering and knew I still had the 2.4 front bar on. So I swapped it out for a 2.3 and also moved the caster full forward and overall felt pretty good. I had a couple crashes mid run but otherwise was doing ok but would come up short and get 2nd for the round. In Q2 I went out on the first lap hit a nail in the pipe on the top right and just didn't feel right after that. I was flying off the track here there and everywhere and eventually just called it a race and pulled in for that one. So I needed a good Q3 and it was going to be in the late evening when I sometimes struggle. Fortunately my car seemed a little better suited for the cooler temps when the shocks felt a bit thicker and I had a good run and would take the TQ with the fastest run of the day and that would give me the tiebreaker to take the overall TQ in Ebuggy as well.

On main day we had double A-mains on tap for Ebuggy, but before that I along with about 23 others participated in the Hooligan race. They placed obstacles all around the track including pick axe, cases of fuel, soda cans, pool noodles, cinder blocks, and more. We not only had to avoid it and not crash (no marshals), they were constantly changing the position of the items and we had to stand somewhere besides the drivers stand. So lots of blind spots and just a real challenge. I heard so many saying they were going to wait back to not get in a maylay at the start so I decided to gun it. Got a great start and went from 20th or so to 3rd by the first corner. Then just went about trying to turn laps, have some fun and so some dodging and make it fun for the crowd. I got in 10 laps before I crashed on the front over a boulder or something with about 2 minutes to go. The last guy running was a good 3 laps down and I knew I would have the most laps. So in the end I took home the bacon and did it with the GoPro onboard for your enjoyment!

Ebuggy A1 was up shortly thereafter and I started on pole. However on the corner before the step on step off I got on it too hard and jumped off track to the inside and fell back to 9th on the first lap and lost 5 seconds to the leader. I would climb back to 2nd by lap 14 and got within about 2 seconds of the lead but made a mistake on lap 20 loosing another 3 seconds. I drove a clean last 8 laps including the fastest lap of the weekend of a 20.557 on the last lap but came up 2.8 seconds short and took 2nd.

The Nitro buggy 30 minute final was up next and it was a little more straight forward for me. I had a solid start and held the lead for the first 17 laps but Austin and Brad were nipping at my heels. I ended up rolling it over on lap 18 loosing 5 seconds and they both went by and we had a 3 way freight train going around. 2 laps later as we came onto the front stretch they tangled into each other and I dodged them going down the straight and regained the lead and wouldn't relinquish again. I would pilot my Alpha Dragon IV Edition 2 powered WRC SBX to a 1 lap victory at the end of the 30 minute final.

To cap off the weekend we had A2 of Ebuggy and I need to not only win but to do it in a faster time than Brad did in A1 and he had put in a good run. I took a risk and went to the clay Typo tires and fortunately they felt excellent. I had a great start while the pack gobbled each other up and I just checked out. I had one crash on lap 10 setting me back 3 seconds but I had a big lead and just kept chugging. In the end I finished with the win 19 seconds up on 2nd and 6 seconds faster than Brad's A1 finish and thus I took the overall victory in my Tekin RX8 Gen 3, 1900 motor powered WRC SBXE.

Overall a long but fun weekend of racing. The facility is awesome and the track is a lot of fun. I hope to be able to come back for some more in the future!

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