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ruf
2005.11.16, 04:44 PM
10/28/05 - Well we're off. It's a packed house on the plane. It's a weekend flight from Houston to LA so I guess that's to be expected. We're a little bit nervous, but confident. There's a time for modesty and a time for aggression and this is the latter. The guys setting up the track described it as 2-3 tiles wide with a section 4 wide to allow for a lot of passing spots. This is looking pretty good for us, seeing as how THRC probably runs the largest track layouts in the country on a weekly basis. We're used to sweeping wide-open layouts and the high-corner speeds and line judgement it requires. Larger tracks may be easier to circulate, but they are harder to go fast on. They are typically more demanding on setup as well. Last weekend we had specifically set up an "ugly" track with no flow and tight corners to prepare for the type of layout we were expecting. If this was all for naught, we'll be very pleasantly surprised. Can't wait to land, check in, unpack and top off the tanks before tomorrow morning!


10/29/05 - The competition is insane. I had seen videos of club races from the other regions, and I thought that would be indicative of the guys we'd be driving against. I didn't really expect this level of skill and car preparation. Their mod cars are sooo hooked up. The track is brand new and started out a little bit dusty. As the day progresses, the traction is coming up BIG time (this proved to be one of our downfalls in mod. More on that later.) The layout is very similar to what we run in Houston so Cristian and I are instantly comfortable on the wide, sweeping turns. I'm fast in F1, but there are a few guys out here that are quick. I tried out the hand-cut 23-degree F1 grooved front tires I had made, but I didn't want to wear them out so I saved them as my ace-in-the-hole in case I need a touch more steering. My mod car is just stupid. No traction whatsoever. I don't know how these guy are hooking up this power out of the corners. I call it a lost cause and focus on F1.

The first qualifier, I dominate the board. I'm feeling very confident and composed. David Bello is in my qualifying heat, and he's quick but I can pull a gap on him. Chad Nelson and Brian Daugherty are in the other heat, and they look quick but my qual time is still a lot faster. I let David drive my car after a heat and he's surprised at the amount of rear traction I have. I tell him to change to 20 degree rear tires, the same advice I got from Aaron Nelson a few months ago. The rubber is stiffer and prevents the carcass from folding over and losing traction. I offered him a pair of mine, but he found some at the makeshift shop that PN/Kenon set up. With a wink, I told him "just don't beat me!" Honestly, I was happy to help him get faster. We had travelled a long way to race against the best, and I didn't want it to boil down to a tire war. This friendly camaraderie began to define the F1 class. Every qualifying heat was followed by handshakes, pats on the back, and compliments all around. Sure we had our game faces on, but we were having so much fun battling it out cleanly, we couldn't help but smile. By the second qualifier everyone is getting faster and closing the gap to my laptimes. My corner speed is better, but they are getting me in the tight corner before the loop. I'm tempted to change my setup to get a little more steering out of the hairpin, but I decide to just drive around it. I didn't want to sacrifice the advantage I had on the rest of the track. I ended the day with the TQ, but 2-4 are a lot closer than they were after round 1.

Cristian has had an equally up-and-down day. I was pretty wrapped up in my own F1 race, but I had gotten some time here and there to check in on him. In Stock, his Enzo was getting eaten alive by a field of Mclarens. I gave him a set of Intellect batteries to run, and he reported that they had a lot more punch. I picked up a couple more sets from the shop for him to run in stock, hoping that they'd respond well to multiple cycles. The AAA batteries don't seem to need initial cycling to "wake up" like their larger counterparts do. Even with the extra power, he struggled to hold the Stock TQ. The Mclarens seem to change directions and carry corner speed more easily. He really has to push the car the whole run, and like my experience in F1, the competition is only getting faster. In Mod, his car was equally awful as mine. The rear end would just let loose mid corner when he tried to get on the power. Most of the guys that look strapped are running the new PN roll shock setup. We have NO development time with this rear suspension layout. His chassis was also chipped at the h-plate mount, so I decided to rebuild Cristian's mod car with this setup for tomorrow's final qual and the mains. When we get back to the hotel, it takes me about 3 hours to build a completely new car including a new FET stack on a new board since his steering was centering erraticly. We didn't have the oil shock that everyone else was running so we opted for the stock "shock". Completely drained, I passed out while Cristian did the final setup on the top shock.


10/30/05 - Here it is. The big dance. The LCQ (last chance qualifier) and the main event. One last chance to defend my TQ and then fight for the win in the mains. With triple A-mains, there was actually more driving today than yesterday, but I got the chance to meet a lot more fellow drivers. Preoccupied and distracted with getting set up on the first day, everyone seemed to relax and mingle a little more. Tim from Kyosho was back out there with the MA010. With some fresh tires, it definitely showed potential. With a LOT of drivers travelling from Mexico, Spain, and Portugal, there is a huge Latin contingent here. Luckily Cristian is from Guatemala, and everyone is friendly to us. Having pitted across from us, the racers from TRP in Mexico are staunch supporters, rooting for Cristian in every run. I always enjoy watching other people drive, and I try to learn something from different styles and techniques. The rear end on Rudy Rodriguez's mod car looks like it's on a pendulum, swaying smoothly side-to-side through the chicanes. Exceptionally control for something that looks so loose. On the other end of the spectrum is Uri Valde. If you ever get a chance to watch this guy drive, you're in for a treat. Full punch. With a completely open gear diff, he gets his mod car so deep into a corner, pivots it, and fires it out. I don't know how he's getting the power down THAT well. It literally EXPLODES from the corner! I could almost swear he was burning ruts into the RCP! He's very fast and even more fun to watch.

Steve Pond from Kyosho and Steven Bess from Xtreme R/C Cars magazine also showed up today. It's great to get industry support and coverage for an event like this. Steven Bess and I were in the same year at the same college, although we didn't meet each other until later through our mutual interest in R/C. He used to race and review cars at our track, and it was great to have a familiar face rooting for us. Cristian told me later that Steve Pond from Kyosho was cheering for me in F1 as well, and I definitely appreciated the encouragement. Travel races are always tough with a small crew, because you always feel like the visitors. Even your teammates can be too busy with their own races to cheer you on. While it didn't exactly give us the home-field advantage, having these guys rooting for us did make us feel more at home.

ruf
2005.11.16, 04:46 PM
Ok, down to business. The last qualifying round for F1 was much more indicative of the field. The heats had been resorted, and I got to run in the same heat against the other fast guys to really get a gauge on their pace. I barely held onto my TQ by a few seconds. Chad was hot on my heels and Brian was right there with him. David had fallen off the pace a little, but I knew that he could always be a threat. Come time for the F1 A1 main, I was psyched up and ready to battle it out. The pole position was actually on the outside of the grid and the 2nd spot was to the inside. Chad and I both got a good start, but his inside position meant that he had the easy holeshot. Against a slower driver, I would have tried to break them with an early lead and just build on it, but I knew that he was too fast for me drive away from. I chose to camp out behind him and planned to make a pass with about 1-2 minutes left, limiting the time for a counterattack. That wasn't to be the case as an early bobble put me into the lead. Unfortunately I got tangled up with lapped traffic right in front of the drivers stand and got turned upside down, and the rest of the field ended up in a huge pile-up right behind us. I was back on my wheels, but I couldn't see around the marshall who was attending to the pile-up to get back underway. Eventually I made it around him, when I saw that Chad had lost his battery cover and his batteries! I really wanted to race against him so I waited a little, hoping that he could get repaired and underway. The rest of the field was already back on the track and I saw that Brian already back on the straightaway so I decided to abandon Chad and give chase. I started picking off the cars inbetween us and closing the gap to Brian. I heard people rooting for me and encouraging me but I knew I had the pace to close and cover. I didn't want to take any risks trying to catch him quickly and get the car stuck under the wall (very easy to do with an F1). I paced myself and in the last couple of minutes I found myself right on his tail. I made the pass on the straightaway and motored away for the win! Brian finished second and Chad fought his way back to third. After that first main, it was as if a load had been lifted off of everyones' shoulders. The bond between the F1 drivers had been cemented, and we were all grins and congratulations. Even though parts of the race had gone "wrong" for a lot of us, the "race faces" were gone, and we were all laughing and joking with one another as friends instead of competitors. Class acts, each and every one of them.

Here's when the day started to go all wrong. Chad had not realized that he was immediately up next in the Mod A1 main. He was the only driver to qualify for the A main in ALL THREE CLASSES! I offered to help him out in any way I could, but there are only so many hands that can work on a car this small... :) Cristian's day wasn't going much better. Even after rebuilding his mod car last night, it still sucked, so I gave him my car which was drivable. Cristian went up to radio impound to get my radio since we didn't have time to change the settings on his. He was already on the drivers stand when he called me over asking "where the heck is the model on this thing?" I looked at the radio, scanned through the model memory and realized that it WASN'T MINE! Impound had given him Chad's radio on accident (we both use Helios)! Chad was rushing to make his 3rd A-main race in a row, and I gave him his radio and got mine from impound just in time. In all the hub bub, none of us had checked the model setting on Chad's radio! I can only imagine how hard a mod car is to drive with the wrong settings! It took us a little while to piece everything together, but I felt awful once we realized what had happened.

Things didn't get much better for us. Up next was the Stock A1 main, and Cristian wasn't having a good time. He hung a brush on his handout motor which had been slow all weekend resulting in a DNF for Stock A1. Last place. He was clearly frustrated when he came back to his pit. I didn't have much time to dwell on it. The F1 A2 main was up, and I REALLY wanted to clinch it in 2 so that I could sit out in the third A-main. By this time, the race director had begun to grid the cars closer to the centerline in order give the holeshot advantage to the pole position instead of P2. I got the holeshot and began motoring away. I really put my head down and built up a gap lap after lap. Chad had gotten caught up early on and was about half a lap behind me with about 5 minutes left to go. The announcer was calling out that I was "all by myself", and I could TASTE the championship. I thought I had a comfortable gap, and I began to relax into race management mode. I loosened up my line to avoid any silly accidents and intentially began to shrink the gap to second place, expecting to still have a small margin of victory at the end of the race. Boy was I wrong. 5 minutes is a LONG time, especially when you have a driver like Chad on the track with you. While I was relaxing, Chad was peeling off blistering lap after lap. Soon he was only a straightaway behind me! I picked up my pace to match, and that's when I made my mistake. I posted the car right under the chicane at the timing loop, getting stuck for 2 seconds. The marshalls were right on top of me, and I was back on the track chasing down Chad, trying to close on his 1.5 second lead with two minutes left to go. I was shaving tenths per lap away from the gap, clicking off the fastest F1 laptime of the weekend (11.45s). The combination of Intellect batteries, Motor Hooch, MZR bearings, and shaving the motor mount plates to get the gear mesh just right had made my car the fastest on the straightaway all weekend. I definitely needed it now more than ever. The Atomic disk damper gave me the highest corner speed through the flowing sectors, but it was a liability in the tight turns before the straightaway. I was really pushing the car as hard as I could, but two minutes and two mistakes later, the race was over. Chad won and had forced the championship into a third and final decisive round.

The same smiles and handshakes were all around. I shook Chad's hand and congratulated him on an AWESOME race. He deserved it. I was embarassed that I got outraced. I'm not the best driver in the world, but I pride myself on my race strategy and management. Chad did to me exactly how I usually like to handle others. He stalked me the whole race and passed me late not giving me enough time to break back for a counterattack. Ultimately, I choked when it counted. He came out of nowhere, and I began to worry, "is he really faster than me?" I checked the times and I was a few tenths faster than him. I had just run too conservatively. Again, I didn't have much time to stew about it after marshalling the Mod A2 main since Cristian was up again in Stock, and I had just as much riding on that.

Before my F1 A2 main, I had made a really tough call. Seeing Cristian struggling against the Mclarens with his Enzo, I checked the PN/Kenon store for a Mclaren body. To give you a little background, one of my favorite bodies is the Gulf Mclaren. I used to be able to BARELY keep up with Cristian's Enzo with it in stock at our local club races. Cristian was a firm believer of "wider is better", and with him being inherently faster than me, I converted over to the Enzo as well. With the only Mclaren body we owned being thousands of miles away, I bought the LAST and ONLY Mclaren body the PN/Kenon store had brought with them to the race venue. It was puke orange. It turns out that Cristian had wanted that exact body in that exact awful color when he first got into Mini-Z's and before his Enzo fetish. I plunked the boxed autoscale in front of Cristian who was still pouting after his miserable first round. "Look what I got you." He looked at the box dumbfounded and confused. Maybe he thought it was a pick-me-up present. I really have no idea what was going through his head at that moment. "Mount up some tires, let's get going." Realizing that I intended for him to run it, he argued, "what about the setup?" I replied, "you're a good enough driver to drive around any setup. You just DNF'ed round one. You've got NOTHING TO LOSE."

So there sat his ugly little Mclaren on the second row, amidst of a sea of other Mclarens. I didn't watch the start. I couldn't. I was upset from my F1 A2 loss, and I was too nervous about F1 A3 to compound that with worrying about the call I had made for him about the Mclaren. If he sucked, it would be MY FAULT. I guess it was a good way to take the pressure off of him, but it wasn't doing my nerves any good. I finally made my way over to the track around the 2-minute mark. He was in the lead. By a lot. Holy crap. He's going to lap the field. A few minutes later, he did. Cristian, who didn't have a chance in hell a few minutes ago, had just LAPPED THE ENTIRE FIELD HALFWAY THROUGH THE RACE! The Mclaren body had levelled the playing field, and he was using the newfound agility to slice through the infield with ease. He looked slow and smooth, which usually means he's VERY VERY fast. He had also requested a new handout motor, and it was paying off in spades. The race announcer had begun talking about the race for second place, and that's what I was used to when Cristian was racing. Toward the end of the race, it dawned on me that if he could win this race and the next race, he would win the championship! It was a simple observation, but after how tough our weekend had been up to that point, it came as an incomprehensible surprise. Cristian won the race, cruising slowly across the finish line, pumping his fist as he left the drivers stand.

ruf
2005.11.16, 04:47 PM
The hub-bub ensued. Who was this guy, and where was he all weekend? Sure he had TQ'ed, but not by a lap! He had come out of nowhere and made everyone else look like backmarkers. These "backmarkers" were names like Rudy Rodriguez, Roland Shao and Alan Mok - i.e. the fast guys. This prompted Alan to buy a new stock handout motor, and ask how we broke ours in. The answer was simple. "We run it." No break in. Just make sure a brush doesn't hang initially and drive the snot out of it. Anyways, Cristian had his confidence back, and his performance had inspired me with a new race strategy for F1 A3. PASS EVERYONE. It didn't matter who it was, what place they were in, or how far ahead they were. I was going to catch and pass whichever car in front of me for 10 minutes straight. Balls out all the way, no letting up. I'm not an aggressive guy, and this new mentality was stressing me out. Luckily, I had qualified for the B main in Mod (I don't know how I would have coped with driving triple-A Mod mains), so I took Cristian's booty mod car out for a spin. Literally. The car was still tweaked, so I ran it for run and ended up trying to dirt-track it around every right hand corner. It was good stress relief, and it helped put a smile on my face to get me ready for F1 A3. Upon post-race inspection, it turns out that the Kyosho ball diff was the culprit. The rings were slipping against the diff halves, causing the diff to slip and grab intermittently. That's one of the reasons I prefer to build our Reflex Racing diffs based on the PN ball diff which has a larger face on the diff halves to prevent the rings from slipping as easily. On top of that, the Enzo bodies on both of our mod cars were dragging in the back. We mount them a little lower than usual by gluing the side lock plates in a little higher than stock. That was a crucial mistake. The traction came up so much throughout the weekend that our cars were rolling more than usual, and the rear bumper was dragging when we got on the throttle mid-corner. It was a beginner's mistake that we overlooked in our search for a more complicated answer.

In F1, I met up with Chad and Brian, and we made a gentleman's agreement not to run new motors. After watching Cristian's turnaround, I was tempted (like many others) to buy a new handout motor. In the spirit of sportsmanship, we decided to just go out in lucky Round #13 (F1 A3 was the 13th race of the day) and have a great time. I got psyched up for my new race strategy and took to the drivers stand. Again, I got the benefit of the holeshot and started putting down some fast laps. I found out later that there had been a big tangle behind me, and only David had made it through unscathed. I was too busy to notice as I kept clicking off fast laps pushing myself to catch and pass the next car. My heart just about stopped when I flipped my car on it's lid, but the marshalls were again right on the scene, and I still had a commanding lead. I tried my best to lap the field but David was too fast for me to catch. The race announcer was calling that I was "all by myself" again, but this time I ignored him as I turned 11.44s on my last lap. It was over. I had won the F1 World Championship. In Mini-Z. :p Relieved and happy that I had won, I let out a hearty laugh as I crossed the finish line. Handshakes and smiles all around as usual. I can't express how much fun it was to race with such a talented and classy group of guys.

After dragging his Enzo body through the last Mod main, Cristian took the drivers stand for Stock A3. Roland, Rudy or Cristian: whoever won this final A-main of the day would win the Stock class championship. I told Cristian, "Just do it one more time. Sunday drive. Just like the last race." Usually, racers get faster each round, especially after being beaten badly. I expected great drivers and competitors like Rudy, Roland and Alan to do just that, but I knew that they couldn't get 2 laps faster. Cristian had this in the bag, so long as he drove his race. And he did. Lapping the entire field for a SECOND time, Cristian won the Stock A3 main and the Stock Mini-Z World Championship in convincing fashion. To me, it was anti-climatic because he was so much faster than everyone else. It was like watching him dominate another local club race, though I knew that the stakes had been much higher this time around. His overall race times for Stock A2 and Stock A3 were almost A LAP FASTER THAN THE FASTEST WINNING MOD TIME, meaning that he could have gone out with a stock motor and almost lapped the Mod field! Keep in mind that Cristian usually turns 2-3 more laps in Mod class than in Stock class at our regular club races, and you can understand why we are still kicking ourselves to this day about our Mod cars... :(

Congratulations go out to Rudy Rodriguez for winning the Mod Mini-Z World Championship. The F1 class was the most fun class of the weekend. Everyone was rooting for each other and courteous even when there were pileups. I was lucky not to get involved in any big tangles, but a bit of luck is necessary for a win like this. Nick, Bennett, Willy, Brian, Chad, Aaron, David and I were all helping each other with setups and discussing who was faster where. Lacking the "race face" guile usually involved in competition, it was truly a gentleman's race. The best part was the podium shot when Chad was taller than me from the second step! He's over a foot taller than me as it is, and that little step wasn't going to make up for it! hahaha! :) Up until the point when Cristian opened a can of whoopass on everyone, Stock was the most competitive class of the day. Oddly enough, it was run as the last class of the day, a spot usually reserved for the premier class - which I thought should be Mod. Maybe they were running the classes alphabetically, but it seemed odd that they were billing the Stock class as the premier class all weekend long, but then changed the emphasis to the Mod class during the award ceremony. It certainly proved to be the most exciting class of the weekend, providing close racing and plenty of drama.

From south of the border, across the ocean, and coast-to-coast, everyone brought their own local flavor to the PN World Championships. The different paint schemes, languages, setup techniques, and driving styles only begin to touch on the variations that defined each team and region. Individual personalities also added to the character of the event. Roland was quiet and fast, and Bennett was the consummate professional. Willy was hilarious whether he was joking or serious and Alan was just plain crazy! David was all smiles, even when things weren't quite working out the way he liked. Hector and Victor were always ready to cheer and help out. Thanks for the celebratory drink! The CORE system took a little while to figure out at the new venue, but it worked great once everything was sorted out. Having seen it in action, this system will redefine R/C club racing with its features and its price point. Thanks go out to Michael and Stefan of CORE for providing the timing system, and John at RCP the awesome track layout. Charlie B called an excellent race and did a great job keeping the rounds on schedule, but his taste in music is a little suspect... :p The only real downside of the weekend was when someone in the hotel management decided to turn on the heater. 50 people + conference room + heater = no good! :( But that didn't last long, and we all had an awesome time at the very upscale (especially for R/C!) venue. All throughout the day, guests staying at the hotel would stop in and see what was going on. They were all very interested, surprised that something of this scale (large event, small cars) existed! It was a great promotional event for PN Racing and the hobby in general. Thanks to Philip and his crew at PN Racing for hosting such a great event. It's really tough to have an series this large and keep it fun and organized, but you guys really pulled it off well. We were definitely glad that we made the trip, and even happier that we took home some serious hardware. 2 out of 3 ain't bad! Next year we'll be shooting for the sweep!

ARN
2005.11.16, 05:40 PM
again congrats!, i will try and bring something for you next round.....

Aaron

ruf
2005.11.16, 05:49 PM
It's best that we don't talk about it. Let's leave it in the past... :p hahahahaha!

Aaron - I had a great time racing with you and everyone else. Courteous, clean, fast drivers that know how to have fun. Can't ask for more! :)

Fish
2005.11.16, 06:52 PM
Very well written report. Very enjoyable to read just like the articles on your site. Congrats on your two class wins! :)

lfisminiz
2005.11.16, 07:47 PM
Thanks for the in-depth detail...NICE!!!

ruf
2005.11.16, 07:57 PM
Thanks for taking the time to read all of that guys. Each and every one of us had a story to tell from such a great event, and that was just mine (and some of Cristian's). Again, a big thanks goes out to PN for hosting this series.

I will be posting this article on our website soon with narrative pictures and typo/grammar errors corrected.

lfisminiz - I just sent you an email regarding your WC replica pricing! :D

ARN
2005.11.16, 08:15 PM
It's best that we don't talk about it. Let's leave it in the past... :p hahahahaha!

! :)


our inside joke...haha...that I DONT CARE FOR ...haha...
however yes, it was nice to race with such a great group......
however willy or bennet (not sure who) is in big trouble with me for crashing me on the last lap of the last main allowing brian & chad to get by me for 3rd and 4th...ahhhhhhhhhh!
(it really didnt matter as final standing went if i finished 3rd or 5th that race....but it would have been nice to get a little bit more points!!!!)
all in fun!

lfisminiz
2005.11.16, 09:19 PM
Got it. You got mail.

herman
2005.11.17, 02:07 AM
whew... i'm exhausted just from reading the report (grade A+++).... :D

congrats!!! don't forget to post them pics!!!

arch2b
2005.11.17, 05:21 AM
very well written. thanks :D

ruf
2005.11.17, 10:38 AM
Thanks for the compliments guys. Here it is minus typos:

www.reflexracing.net/pnwcreport.asp

I will separate it into pages and embed narrative pics later today.

ruf
2005.11.17, 05:36 PM
TNB or anyone else that was at the event, please feel free to send me pix! I will be submitting the link to Kyosho later this weekend once it's done.