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RC Pro East Division – Round 1, from Lake Park in Tampa

dsc_3958_800x531Event: R/C Pro Series – east round 1

Location: Lake Park – Lutz, Florida

Date: June 21-22, 2009

Classes: 1/8th Nitro

Race Reporter: Jason Ruona

It is non stop here at JConcepts during the week and during the weekend.  We take our racing and product very seriously and work and play hard to prove it.  Paul and I were barely recovered from the previous weekend and we were packed once again and we were off to Lake Park for round 1 of the eastern division of the R/C Pro Series.  Hurricane R/C, Kenny Holmes and crew were set and ready to tackle some of the best the southeast has to offer.  The track layout was familiar and has been in for about a month or so.  With the inconsistent weather the track has been taking a beating from rain but it was primed and ready as usual for Saturday morning and everyone seemed pretty jazzed about the racing ahead.

Once Paul and I were setup we spent some time getting the new RC8b up to speed on the starter box and everything broke in quite nicely.  After running a couple of tanks in the pits we spent some time on the track as we began to lean out the new beast.   Everything starts out with great intentions but after a few laps on the track it is nice to start jumping a few of the jumps so we leaned it a little early.   New buggy was running great and our tire selection for practice was good as we were running on Double Dee’s in blue compound.  These in particular were mounted on yellow – JConcepts Max-ups wheels but everyone knows I prefer white.  White is 2 tenths quicker the last time I checked.

Paul and I packed it up and hit the Holiday Inn express about 9:00pm to check out our room.  It is awesome getting a room in the summer as they break out all the deals during this time of the year.  $75.00 for the suite!  Ceilings were huge in this room and it had an actual shower.  I think we could have invited the whole crew from the Transformers movie with the ceiling height in this room.  Perhaps around 22′ around the highest point? I did not have a tape measure otherwise I would have been more specific.  My apologies to Tim Davis and Megan Fox.

Being a touch lazy we took the easy way out for food and hit the Boston’s right across the street.  Pretty decent food and interesting bar drinks, we could have done better but we were in a bit of time crunch.  We were set to meet up with Matt, Brandy and Sherwin later on at Green Iguana so we wanted to get started early.  By the time we arrived at Green Iguana they had the hot summer selection of music playing Flo-rida, Boom Boom POW…..etc.  I think I even heard some classics like Usher / LiL Jon – Yea, Yea and Baby got back.  Everything seemed pretty good at Green Iguana except for the drinks.  Their Cranberry was more of a fruit punch combination and I just like straight Cranberry.  Oh well I just switched to Coke and called it a night.  We made it through the night without caving to any of the drink girls sales pitches so we called it a good night and got some sleep.

7:00am came early so we hit the track and made a stop off at Walmart to get some water, G2 and ice.  We had the friendliest sales associate and even walked us to the area where the bottle water is kept and actual starting giving us selection advice.  We were told in a taste test the Sams water always receives the most votes as the favorite.  I was skeptical with this being Walmart which also owns Sams, something just didn’t seem right.  Against the wishes of the clerk I went with the tiny Zephyrhills water.  She completely agreed with the red and orange G2 selection and we were off to the track.

We needed to get the generator started early because once the heat hits the trailer it tough to keep it cool.  Generator running, water and G2 on ice, things were looking good.  We fired up the RC8b and everything seemed good as we readied for the 1st qualifier.   1st round I felt a bit rusty as I didn’t get on track for a practice and while I spent a little time in the lead it just felt like I could not hold on to it very long.  Looking at the times after the race I placed 5th for the round I believe.  Our tire selection for the first round was blue compound Crowbars front and rear mounted on white wheels.  Everything worked pretty well but I was having a timing issue on the jumps which was throwing me off.  When the track is 90% jumps I prefer to have maximum control

For the 2nd round the buzz of the morning and no practice wore off and I was feeling a good run coming on.  Little did I know but Jon was thinking yellow wheels for the 2nd round.  Big mistake as the lap times really suffered as a result and a less than stellar driving display by me had our whole trailer scratching our heads.  We either needed to pull off the yellow wheels or we had to change drivers.  After some fighting amongst our pit crew and an R/C Pro rules check we determined we needed to go back to white wheels because we were unable to switch drivers midway through the day.

Meanwhile at the top of the standings Billy Easton and JR Mitch put in some spectacular runs as they looked to be battling it out for another TQ.  The 3rd round needed to be our break through effort as quick time had been set by Billy Easton with 11 laps 5:18 and the second fastest time had been set by JR Mitch with 11 laps 5:22.  Those guys were flying!  As I mentioned before we went back to white wheels but this time we mounted blue compound Sevens and Jon threw me down for round 3.  The buggy felt magical and I was actually a little giddy about the potential but still having timing problems on the jumps I felt a little nervous.   To make a long story short with 2 or 3 crashes I had my best run of the weekend with 11 laps 5:23.  At this particular time this was the 4th fastest run at the event thus far so as a group we were pretty happy.

Between rounds 3 and 4 we replaced my throttle and steering servos to try and eliminate some problems and hopefully get a handle on the timing issue I was having.  We barely got this done as we put the buggy out once again with the same blue compound Sevens from the previous run.  The buggy felt even better on scuffed tires and after about 2 minutes Kenny called me on an 11 lap 5:15 pace.  The buggy felt really good and the Sevens just seemed to be the proper tire for my car on this day.  I made a mistake in the twin V-jump area and lost the TQ type pace and started going a little more conservative. Taking the conservative approach in the whoops was killer as I had to be marshaled at least another 2 or 3 times killing my pace all the way down to  11 laps 5:28.  This was still good enough for 3rd for the round but I was disappointed with a shot at quick time.   Allison made a quick stop by the track during rounds 3 and 4 so maybe she was look luck as those were my best runs.

Looking over the rest of the standings JR Mitch dominated qualifying in the truggy class by taking TQ in 3 out of the 4 rounds with the blue compound Cross Hairs.  Barry Petitt driving his MBX6-T qualified 3rd utilizing the blue compound Double Dee’s.  The cross Hairs are good tires. Has that been mentioned yet?  I’m impressed!  Josh Talmadge was looking great once again in the sportsman buggy and truck classes and looked to be a favorite heading into Sunday’s main events.  Josh is a dirt bike rider and it seems he has taken to R/C in a way that is additive.  After only about a years worth of racing Josh has become a major factor at most of the events within Florida in the sportsman type classes and is right on the heels of bumping into the Expert class.  I’m sure the sportsman’s drivers will be sad to see him go.

The top 3 qualifying positions in the 1/8th buggy Pro class were Billy Easton, Barry Petitt and JR Mitch.  Mitch dropped to 3rd partially because Barry ran extremely well in round 4 finishing 2nd and JR missed the last round for a little early Father’s Day festivities.  BTW – Happy Fathers day to Ken Mitch, my Dad and all the others out there.  Congratulations.  I ended up a slightly disappointing 6th because of some ties on points and the poor first 2 rounds.  I think I was capable of 3rd or 4th all things considered.

We packed it up and headed to a local restaurant with some of the Orlando crew.  Good dinner for everyone but I think Tony Pattishall had the biggest or most complete selection with a Margarita, Shrimp Cocktail……etc…..etc.  That Margarita was about the size of 2 or 3 truggy tires……unreal big!  I don’t think Shrimp Cocktail is even on the menu but Tony apparently knew someone or worked some of his magic.   Tony “Magic” Pattishall? Maybe a new nickname is in the works?  That would put us at 2 Magic’s in Orlando though, if Joel Johnson visited us than that would be 3 and that might just put us over the top.  The Jury is still out on the nickname debate.   Since we had a late night previously it was time to get to bed early and by 8:00pm we were out.

Sunday morning we again raced to the track to start the generator early.  We had to be at the track at 7:30am because we were not up for another 8 hours.  When you break it down to 8 hours of waiting and 45 minutes of racing, maybe the mains should be longer? I remember stating the mains should be 15 minutes at the drivers meeting. I guess I had a premonition of my potential result?  I think where you sit on the race length issue is directly related to your starting position, previous night’s adventure and driving distance home.  Regardless, I have found when you are actually on the driving stand racing and in the lead I want the race to be over and when I’m sitting in last I want the race to be longer.  Basically, it sounds like most racers are looking for the perfect race length that expires just as they pull into the lead or the highest advancement possible of the weekend.  I don’t disagree with this logic!

The first pro main that was up was the 1/8th truck A-main.  Sitting on the pole position JR Mitch appeared to be in good shape.  The truck looked good in warm-up and the blue compound Cross Hairs were the ticket.  Barry Petitt was in 3rd on the same tires and it looked like these guys were going to go 1st and 2nd.  JR pulled a great start and was driving somewhat aggressive by jumping the whoops early.  Barry stayed close as JR made a few mistakes but never completely gave up the lead.  Throughout the first 2 pit stops JR was still leading with Barry in second but not that far behind.  Around the 20-30 minute mark JR was looking to stretch the lead and put together a solid 4-5 minutes distancing himself from 2nd place.   Just when it looked like he was checking out he crashed hard on the triple jump and broke.  Barry quickly took the lead and was checking out on 3rd.  Paul and I took a break and got another G2 and figured the race was over.  Walking back out to the track I looked for the Mugen truck in the lead but it could not be found.  Would this be another broken vehicle?  Barry was out and they were tightening the clutch nut in the pits and feverishly trying to get back onto the track.  Once you take the engine out of the vehicle you know it is going to be 8 or 10 laps worth of work.  Tough luck for JR and Barry. Ryan Eckert however did not seem to mind the trouble the front 2 drivers were having as he moved to the front and was never challenged.  Good run Ryan!

As I walked up to the track the upcoming Florida Ace Josh Talmadge was running away with victory in the sportsman (expert) truggy class.  There were quite a few drop-outs during this race but Josh’s truck was on point from the start and he ran away with it.  However, the sportsman (expert) buggy main would not be as easy as Josh had his hands full with an experienced but young group surrounding him.  Josh’s buggy seems to be his new passion and the yellow Crowbars were the hot setup as the track started to get hot and really groove in for this main.  Paul and I took many photos while blistering in the sun but the action was so intense we didn’t want to miss anything.  When it was all said and done Josh made a clean swept of both sportsman (expert) classes and finishing up the weekend on a high note.  Josh chose the Cross Hairs on truggy and the Crowbars on buggy to dominate the competition all weekend.

After Leon stole my spot on the drivers that I have been saving since 1994 I was forced down a few guys to unfamiliar territory.  Luckily I’m racing in the pro division and by definition a pro driver so that should not really affect my results.   Or would it?  Back in the pits after waiting for 8 hours we rushed to judgment and put on yellow compound Sevens.  It was my call and I liked the drivability of the Sevens and I thought the surface had come around enough for the medium compound to hookup the whole race.  I felt like a genius in the warm-up when the sun came out and the track was hot as the car felt unreal.  I was fired up for this main!

All heck broke loose on the first lap in the whoop section as I believe Barry got into Billy and it was a free for all to see who would come out in the lead.  Coming in front of the drivers stand Barry was in the lead and I found myself in second and with a great start.  Must be the driver’s stand position!  Ryan Lopez was just behind me and looked to pass early.  Not really wanting to force anything this early I gave way and settled for the good start and 3rd.  After many laps Billy Easton worked his way back into the lead group and took the lead when Barry ran out of fuel which put him down a lap early.  Too bad for Barry as he was probably going to top 3 for sure.

It was now Billy, Ryan Lopez and I sitting 1st, 2nd and 3rd.   This was the running order for about 20-30 minutes as many drivers looked to challenge in the 4th, 5th and 6th position but the top 2 were unchallenged.  I made a pit stop somewhere around the 20-30 minute mark and had a complete melt-down lap.  First I crashed in the whoops coming into the pits which must have cost 6-8 seconds once turn marshalling was considered and turning around to hit the timing loop. Then once Jon and Paul fueled the car in the pits I hit who I believed was Leon’s buggy that appeared to be coming up the pit ramp backwards.  I believe this was a turn-marshal issue but none-the-less I hit Leon’s buggy just as I was about to hit full throttle on pit lane.  It was an unreal hard hit but nothing broke.  Crazy stuff!

Right around the 30 minute point Billy went flying off the track on the left side loosing what had to be 10 – 12 seconds as the marshal had to go completely around the track to get him.  Ryan Lopez made up valuable time on Billy but would have to make up a lot more if he wanted a shot at the win.  Billy regained focus and was probably driving as the vehicle was running-on as I encountered the week previously.  His lap times dropped off but not enough to cause a lot of panic.

With about 8 minutes to go it was Billy, Ryan Lopez and I sitting at the top and it was beginning to look like that was going to be the finishing order as the spread was enough to make overtaking difficult.  Just when I thought things were looking good I felt what would be a slipper loosening up on a 1/10th scale car and it became even tougher to make any of the jumps.  Maybe this has been my problem all weekend with the jumps?  It took me about 3 turns on the track to realize I wasn’t going to be finishing the race like this and quickly pulled into the pits.  Jon and Paul inspected the car and determined the clutch nut came loose and my weekend was over with only 8 minutes to go.  Struggle!  15 minute mains would have been dialed!

After much to learn and another enjoyable weekend I’m looking forward to race #8 of the FSORS back at Lake Park in July.   We might want to get the generator fired up now.  It is going to be hot!!

Things we learned this weekend –

Re-scheduling events affect’s the overall turnout

Georgia, North and South Carolina racers love the Pro Series

Billy Easton is a former world champion

My pit crew thinks I’m crazy until there is physical evidence

Whoops, X-jumps and stutter bumps are always questionable

Ego jumps are the new big thing (those you have to jump even know you are going to crash sometimes)

The R/C Pro Series has 3 break downs in buggy and truck, intermediate, expert and pro?

Getting a good start in the mains still matters regardless of the race length

Kenny Holmes can predict the race time better than anyone

30 minute main for 3 Revos and 1 E-buggy is required

June in Florida?

Text updates from Winter Haven just do not cut it

Pit lane is loose with fuel everywhere

Race take outs upset the pit crew as well

Leon got my spot on the drivers stand this time

G2 orange and red is the new summer drink

Mountain Dew is so 2000 and late

It is only possible to balance one obsession at a time

Girls that sell shots at a bar don’t know what they are selling

Dale Mabry is pretty interesting at 3:00am

We had the best room at the Holiday Inn Express

The hotel handout tooth brush could use some work

Lots of spare time on Sunday’s for those in the last race

Paul’s photography captures things unnoticeable in person

Everyone needs at least 4 people in the pits at all times

It takes 4 people to tune a 3 adjustment carburetor (does anyone touch the mid needle?)

Ron Paris knew his stuff!

Getting turn-marshaled in the Whoops was an adventure

The opposing pit crew does not marshal the competition

Not a lot of congratulation at nitro events (Lebron should run 1/8th buggy)

Pit area has now become pit trailer

There is no easy button on Cavalieri’s radio

Freddy Kruger needs no introduction

Practice makes perfect

Brand Jordan on a motorcycle just seems weird

Everything is a space-aged polymer in R/C

Larry Ward is already a good R/C car driver (this guy can ride or drive anything with wheels)

Shrimp cocktail is not on the menu

Thank you,

Jason Ruona

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