(For more from the 2012 Silver State Nitro Challenge, click here.)
This year’s Silver State had quite a different feel to it for a few reasons. The LVNR crew trucked in 100 yards of a new dirt in an effort to hold the notoriously bumpy track together. As the AMainHobbies team arrived we were a bit surprised to see that the freshly prepared track appeared just as it did in years passed. After walking on the track, however, it became clear there was an obvious difference in the track surface so I was a bit unsure of where to start with my car setup. I decided to leave my cars set up for a smooth track and change setup as the track got run in.
The other clear difference was the lack of international drivers. In years past the Silver State has always drawn a number of well-known Europeans; perhaps the NEO race ending just days before the start of this year’s Silver State was what kept them from attending.
The format was simple and straight forward: two practice rounds in each class, with the best three consecutive laps in the second practice seeding all drivers into their respective qualifiers. This was followed by three 7-minute rounds of qualifying to set the mains. Qual-points were used and the highest of the three scores was dropped, using each drivers best two scores to set the main events.
Very little room for error is allowed in such a format. The drivers who nail their initial setups go to the top of the boards and those who have it wrong get a big fat large number along side their name.
My practices went OK, but not great; I was in the B heat in buggy and the C heat in truck. Both cars felt good but I was not happy with the clutch in my Losi truck. I changed shoes, springs, and gearing to suit the track better but it still didn’t feel right. It became obvious drastic measures were needed. I went to a clutch that always seems to work everywhere I go. Out came the parts, tools, multiple washers, spacers, and some heavy machinery to get a Kyosho clutch on my Losi truggy. After reinventing the wheel and getting the clutch to fit )while being teased by our PR Director) I was really hoping it would be worth the effort. When I hit the track for my third truck run I was immediately rewarded. The clutch was just the thing I needed all along and my truck felt great. At least until the Vegas heat and my lean needle setting got the best of me resulting in a lean bog for the final 4 minutes of my much needed round 3.
In buggy, my Kyosho MP9 was good but just never felt completely connected to the track. I tried a few things in an attempt to remedy the problem but nothing seemed to fix the unsettled and slightly loose feel my buggy had. After consulting the rest of the A Main Hobbies team I discovered my blunder: I was running the rear suspension mount bushings upside down resulting in a high roll center that was surely the reason for the instability I was experiencing. Unluckily for me I discovered my mistake too late and ended up in the C main.
After three days of self-inflicted frustration I was optimistic about my changes. I richened my engines to endure the hot conditions and glued up some fresh Pro-Line tires for my mains as the race director was forced to run the lower mains on Saturday.
In truck I started mid-pack and by the pit stop half way through the 15 minute race I had worked my way into the transfer spot. A few mistakes by the drivers behind me gave me a gap and I relaxed and tried to preserve my position assuming everyone had to make a fuel stop at one point. Fellow A Main Hobbies driver Curtis Door was right behind me moving to the front. We worked together and tried our best to run clean. After the pit stops cycled through I was surprised by a driver that did not pit. He was able to pass both Curtis and I as we entered the notoriously long and time consuming pit lane at the Boulder City track. I was forced to suddenly switch from cruising to protect my lead to trying to catch the final transfer who sneakily had me covered on fuel mileage. A few too many mistakes kept me from advancing.
In buggy I again started mid pack and knew I needed a good start. I decided to go wide in the first turn and was rewarded by a large pile up that I was able to drive around. By the time I hit the loop to complete the first lap I was leading. The changes to my MP9 made a huge difference and really improved traction and how it handled the bumps and pot holes. I ran really consistently and began to put a gap on the field. Obviously learning nothing from my truck main I started making mistakes and allowed the field to catch me. The track became very one-lined as there were holes and ruts in every turn. Passing became difficult. Adding my crashes to the one-lined track made my chances of a transfer look slim and that ended up being the case as I missed the transfer in buggy as well.
Racing can really seem to be filled with hours of tedious work and heartbreak. And honestly it seems to go that way a lot but that is what makes it so appealing. Nothing comes easy in RC racing. Everything is earned. You really have to fight and claw for every position, use lessons learned to avoid repeating mistakes, and maintain a positive attitude regardless of results.
I am a small part of the best team of drivers assembled this year and I enjoy every minute of it. I honestly enjoy the comradery within our team, the triumphs of my teammates, and the growth of our younger drivers.
Competitive RC racing is not easy, in fact it’s very hard, but that is what pushes all of us to improve. Improvement is the fuel that keeps the fire burning.