Last week I had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Worlds Warm-Up that was held by Silver Dollar R/C Raceway. This would be one of the last races before the 1:8th scale off-road world championship in December. Some of the top drivers in the U.S. were in attendance, such as Ryan Maifield, Ryan Cavalieri, Jared Tebo, Cody King, and Josh Wheeler. A few improvements to the track and facility were made since the Labor Day Shootout. The biggest one was the addition of about 90 permanent pit tables and a huge canopy over them to provide shade.
Matt “Oh My” Gosch flew out from Illinois and got to my house Tuesday. Of course, we had to meet up with Austin Blair and race go karts that night. Matt was so shocked to see a right turn on a race track (*cough* NASCAR *cough*) that he hit the wall on one of his first laps. He claims that there was something wrong with his kart, but I think my story was better! He got it figured out and started turning fast laps. The end result was Austin getting fast lap by a tenth over me, then Matt was a few hundredths of a second behind me.
Both Matt and I headed up to A Main Wednesday morning. Before going to the track, we first stopped at their warehouse to get a behind-the-scenes tour courtesy of Derrick and Jessica. I had been through the office and warehouse two times before, but never on a weekday when everyone is working. It was really cool to see part of the process and some of the things that they’re working on. The size of the whole building is unbelievable when you walk through it for the first time.
We got a few practice runs Wednesday night, then had all of Thursday to get everything figured out. Matt made me stay up with him Wednesday night till 1:30 in the morning while he was breaking in an engine because he was too scared to be outside in the dark by himself… The next morning, we had to go back to A Main’s office, which is only a couple of miles away from the track, at 7:30 to get team pictures taken. I waited to practice for a few hours once we got back since the track was still wet. I ran a lot on Thursday to get my car setup for that track. There’s so much traction there that you have to take out a lot of steering. My car started improving a lot once I got help from Jared and Cody. It was a huge relief when my dad got to the track Friday morning. I realized how much work it is to change shock and diff oils multiple times in one day without any help – it wasn’t fun!
Qualifying started Friday afternoon. There were six heats and two throw outs. The heats were ten minutes, so everyone would have to pit for fuel. The race turned out to be a major disaster for me. I only finished three heats (that’s including the one where I flamed out twice) due to breaking random parts. On the bright side, my car was very good. As luck would have it, I broke or flamed out every time I was on a run that would’ve been in the top three, and finished the two rounds that I made mistakes in. I ended up eighth in the even semi. I was in fourth and had just moved up to third when my whole right rear shock fell off. The plastic insert in the shock cap broke, and then the pin holding it in the arm fell out. It was hard to believe. I ran without a shock for a while and ended up missing the last bump spot to the final by a few seconds. I found out after the semi that I accidentally put on the wrong compound tire on my car. Oops… It didn’t help that there were two sets of tires right next to each other that were the same tread pattern but different compounds. That explained why my car was so much harder to drive in the semi than qualifying.
Even through all of the issues, it was still a fun race. Ruben Benitez ran a smooth program and the track held together for the whole race. The next big race for me is the IFMAR 1:8th Scale Off-Road World Championship in Argentina this December. Hopefully my luck will turn around in time!