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2008 Buggy Nats in Cali

Event: 2008 ROAR 1/8th off-road buggy nationals
Location: Beaumont, CA
Dates: June 6-8,2008
Class: Nitro off-road
Report by: Tim Davis, JConcepts Blogger

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My how RC racing has changed….I can still remember the first time I took my RC10CE to my local track….The summer of 1991, Masami had just won the Worlds in Detroit, well he won in many months beforehand, but it was just now coming out in RC Car Action. I was going out to the track and to get fast like Masami. I studied the setup in Car Action, had my rear camber links in that cool new location…cut down X-Patterns…”the setup”

The only thing that this years ROAR 1/8th Buggy Nationals had in common with that Worlds in ’91 is that Rick Hohwart, Gil Losi Jr, and Ron Rossetti were racing.
Jason picked me up at the airport Friday night, and we drove the 40 minutes out to Beaumont from Ontario Int’l airport. We arrived at the hotel about 10, to findCavalieri, Drake, Rhonda, Maifield, Jake, Scott Brown, an and assortment of other regulars hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, they were have a very technicaldiscussion about rear roll centers and there effects on mid-corner to exit steering balance. After the long flight, I mentioned I was quite thirsty, so J-Ro,Brown, Jake and I decided that we would move our discussion to the local Chili’s. Unfortunately, I suffered a high ankle sprain leaving Chili’s after steppinginto a hole in the sidewalk – according to everyone’s account of the situation, I blacked out during the car ride home from the sheer pain.

The next morning, as Jason and I pulled into the track I was blown away – this was a full on production, tents, banners, huge flags flying with the company logos plastered on them. I attended the Nationals last year in St. Louis, and I was very impressed, but this was taking it to a new level. It may have been justbecause these nationals were held in California; close the headquarters of many of the major players in the RC industry, but it seems as if the variousmanufacturers pulled out all the stops to make this event the best. I hopped out of the Jeep Liberty rental ride, and limped my way around the pits to say hello to everyone and check out the facilities. This is one of the nicest facilities I have ever been to. Beginning with the park that the track is located in, the pitting accommodations, the track itself, the driver’s stand, pit lane amenities, etc.

When I get to a race I’m competing in, the first thing I generally do is head up to the driver’s stand and take a look at the layout. Even though I was just there as an observer, I still had to check the layout. Wow. I wanted to drive a car pretty bad at that point; not race, just take 50 laps or so…haha… The track was beautiful, well maintained with massive changes in elevation, with a nice balance of technical and flowing sections. I watched Ryan Maifield take a few laps of practice, and I could instantly see that this layout was much tougher than it looked. About 30 minutes after I arrived, the 3rd round of qualifying began.
For some reason, there was no resort, so as a spectator, there was generally someone fast in any random heat race you watched.

This is good and bad, but it is generally better to have that “A Qualifier” that features the “big five” of people who have the greatest potential of winning the race. Jared Tebo TQ’ed the3rd round, locking up the overall TQ, and he absolutely ran a clinic on how to drive that track. I’ve been to many races, and it seems like at every race, oneor two guys just figure out the layout better than the others…at this race, it was Tebo, Maifield, and Truhe.

Ryan Maifield’s RC8 looked great going around the track with the JConcepts CrossHairs and Max-ups wheels…Rick Hohwart, Jesse Robbers, and others also chose to run that tire in qualifying. Ryan and Drake were in the same qualifier, and some of the most intense racing action of the weekend was found in that qualifier. It was very awesome to watch. Drake was able to just barely squeeze out the full ten minutes in the qualifier, while Maifield was playing it just a tad safer by coming in for asplash of fuel at the 6 to 7 minute mark. A classic battle…. Ryan pulling a lead, coming in and letting Drake past, then reeling him back in over the remaining minutes of each qualifier. At the close of qualifying, the final order was Tebo, Truhe, Cavalieri, Drake and Maifield…the usual suspects in the front half of the main.

Sunday afternoon after all the dust had settled around 6pm, the A-Final was set. The King, Richard Saxton, and Billy Fischer were able to bump into the main, with Fischer put in some impressive runs on Sunday afternoon, and managed to win 3 mains to bump up from the 1/8th Mains to the 1/4’s, the 1/2’s, and the Main.

Some awesome racing in the lower mains, Former IFMAR World Champions in the equivalent of a B or C main means the qualifying was tight, and the field was deep.I have long felt that the classes at RC races are just too watered down – that is not the case at these nationals – One class with 300+ entries; everyone is racing everyone else.

Prior to the main I was strolling the pits and found Maifield mounting an interesting tire. Apparently he was going to try out a new JConcepts tire in the 60 minute main. The Double Cross looked to be an interesting looking larger tread design that was slotted with smaller Double Dee looking pins in between. I asked Ryan what he thought and he said it was a totally gnarly looking tire that he had actually tested before on a black groove track in Arizona. This was the first time he was going totry them in a main with a wet then dusty surface. Ryan seemed very confident in them from an earlier run that they were going to be dialed. Judging by his qualifying speed I was prepared to trust his judgment.

The race directors allowed a 30 minute break to prepare the track for the main and allow the bumping drivers to prepare their vehicles. After a busy, noisy, hectic weekend, the entire racing facility was silent – this created an incredible tension in the air, like a calm before the storm. I stood near the upper left hand section of the track, and watched Cavalieri, Maifield and Tebo spend about 10 minutes walking the track. They carefully inspected each turn jump face, braking areas, etc. At races of this level, the track deteriorates an alarming rate throughout the rounds, and driver’s have to often drastically alter their driving linesto compensate for ever changing track conditions.

This pre-main delay led to a tremendous build up of energy and excitement going into the main…it gave all of the racers and spectators ample time to get a cold drink, find a spot around the track to watch from, and start placing friendly wagers with there buddies on who would end up victorious. After driver introductions,The cars were warmed up on there starter boxes, dropped onto the track for some warmup laps, and final tuning on the needles. The announcer called for the cars to be gridded, and before you really knew it, the cars were down, and off on their way.

The TQ Jared Tebo did not quite get an good launch from his starting spot, and that gave Mike Truhe the inside line going into the first turn, Jared being a veteran driver and World Champion, gave Mike the line, realizing it is a long race, and they are rarely won in the first turn. This particular race would turnout be an exception to that rule, as Mike Truhe ended up leading every lap of the Main, and drove around for the entire 60 minutes with not one marshall. An incredible display of driving. The only real challenger to Truhe was Maifield, Ryan started in that 5th spot, and by the 5 minute mark had overtaken Tebo to get the second position. Ryan was maintaining about an 8 to 10 second gap behind Truhe, when Ryan ran out of fuel about 20 seconds before a scheduled pit stop. The racing on this level, where everything is so important, the driver’s and mechanics are stretching every drop of fuel out of these cars, tuning and gearing them to provided maximum power for exactly the amount of time they want to get from a single tank of fuel.

After the main I immediately looked for Maifields RC8. I wanted to get a look at this buggy after the 60 minutes and get a look at those Double Cross tires after a full throttle 60 minute run. I was impressed, the tires looked to be just broken in or an equivalent to a qualifier worth of normal wear. I asked Ryan how they felt he said they had major forward traction, especially on the downhill section after the straightaway and the approach to the step up and the short shoot after the step up.

One run, one discussion and I’m convinced.

At the end of the weekend, I spoke to many racers that attended from all around the nation, and the consensus was the track was incredible, the facility even better, the amenities that only Southern California can offer were spectacular. A good time was truly had by all. This was a great location to have this race, there were several things going on simultaneous to the race;The city of Beaumont was celebrating its 69th annual cherry festival nearby, and this gave many racer’s families something to go do during racing hours. A state softball tournament was also taking place during the race in the same park – and I know of more than a few racers who took in some of the games….those girls can really play some ball…I know I don’t want to take BP from some of those pitchers…wow. I’m not sure where the nationals will be held next year, but it is certainly going to be difficult to top these ’08 nationals!

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