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IFMAR Worlds Day 5 – Official Practice

Pit RowWe headed out the door early today so we could make the first heat at 9am. Ty, Maifield and others were locked and loaded for great opening official practice. A little back and forth put Ty up front with his 3 best placing him well and Maifield just behind. The first 5 races have the fastest drivers from open practice so right out the gate you can see all the heros. Ronnefalk, Batlle, Lee Martin and others all ran very well too with Robert Batlle taking the first round with a great 3-lap time.

The 2nd round saw David Ronnefalk come out of the gate with his first 3 laps killing it. He busted out quick time of practice and took proverbial “TQ of practice.” It was amazing to watch and was nice to see the competitive response to Ty’s driving the day before. Between the 2, it’s a toss up on who can bring more thunder run to run. Lee Martin once again ran strong with his best time of practice and Elliott Boots finally put 3 laps together at his pace. I think Lee will put in great runs in qualifying for 10 minutes. The guy is legit in my opinion.

Robert Batlle slammed through another run and I’m impressed. I thought he might be pushing a touch extra but in the end he’s a proven World Champ driver and who am I to doubt the push? Dakotah got his last 3 laps to count during round 1 today and Drew Moller busted out of a mini slump and got his runs together to get into the elite.

Jared Tebo, remember him? The Neobuggy race killer, current 2wd World Champion and the media king of the 2010 Thailand worlds… He ran well today and bumped ahead of a few including Maifield. There are so many guys with 1 minute 52 seconds in 3 laps. The elite is 1 lap 50 and 1 lap 51.

Where is the 2008 champ Hara? I don’t know. He says he’s still sleeping until the Semi… Don’t sleep to long good friend.

Where is the 2010 champ Cody King? His cars look awesome but he just hasn’t gotten those magical 3 to go down. In 2012 Cody struggled and then bumped into the final to be amazingly quick. He’ll be there in the end and I think they will call on that tomorrow.

After about race 6 it’s a little tough to watch but hey, that’s where I would be too. I’m one of those guys that people don’t want to watch anymore at this kind of level…..great. It’s lonely in the back half of the tournament. Your pit guys don’t even watch you and might even be reading RedRC on their phone while you are racing.

It’s amazing how the fast guys have difficulty believing the slower drivers on setup, tire selection or really anything. At races like this everyone thinks the fast guys are geniuses and the slow guys are squirrels on and off the track. It’s hard to get that respect from the upper echelon unless you can put it down on the race track. You can know everything in the world about aerodynamics, suspension dynamics and engineering but if you can’t hit a lick on the track the fast guys won’t believe you. When you are fast you can tell people you feel 2gms of weight on the track and they believe you. When you are slow nobody believes you can feel anything.

Speed is everything. When you can drive, you are funnier, better looking, down to earth, everyone’s buddy, setup god, aerodynamic genius and part time engineer and life of the party. When you speak people listen, when you are having a party everyone attends and when you go to eat everyone wants to be at your table. “You are the man” You roll with a deep entourage and plenty of people trying to snag a piece of your success. This is what you see at the worlds and everyone rides these guys coat tails until they no longer have the magic. Enjoy the short ride.

After Practice Party

It’s ok to be slow. It’s ok to be ugly, not funny or eating alone at the restrauant. As long as you are having a good time, that’s what it’s all about. You don’t need to search out the support of the heros. Do your own thing, learn things for yourself, find a good group to hang with and get better. When the heros decide you know what you are talking about, you are improving. Congrats! Enjoy this as the longer ride.

R/C is strange, we really have very little technical track data at an event like this and all we can go on is driver feel, lap times and what they say. We have multiple sets of eyes on the vehicles and sometimes guys like me trying to get a grasp on the situation. It’s been my experience that drivers gravitate toward the product / setups they have their best runs with not necessarily what functioned better. They believe in luck, confidence and what keeps their heads from falling off or what prevents them from the ill fated…blow out run.

I’m here to tell you that the fast guys don’t know everything. They have practical experience, a massive load of driving talent and at some point or another conquered the mental game. Once you have those things, you are a fast guy and what you says matters. The next level is building a support structure around you that you can trust or rely on. Parents, spouse, mechanics, minions, sugar daddy’s and cheerleaders. Once you sell them on your ability and confidence, you have your support team.

More than anything, this is a sport that challenges you mentally. The mentally strong get the job done on a continued basis. To be the best or even decent you need to conquer the mental game first. Before the car settings, before the tires and before the engine you need to be able to log consistency from yourself. Mental power….

But does 3 laps make you the best? Does 10 minutes make you the best? Does 30 minutes make you the best? Does 60 minutes make you the best? I saw some guys today trying their hardest to fit in with the 3 lap heros. I saw pit guys so energized over hanging on for 3 laps that it was actually fun to watch. I saw guys at the bottom of scoring shoot to the top because they pulled off the 3 laps on their last 3 laps. Zero to hero! It was exciting to watch from the pits as crew and drivers hit high-fives afterwards to celebrate. But, there is really no pressure here right?

Are they the real deal or are they impostors? What will separate the men from the boys? More time required.


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