Saturday 06/16/2007 saw the SoCal USRA Scale racing division visiting Scott Salzburgs Pacific Coast Hobbies for the first time in a few years. Since we last raced there PCH has moved and is now in Oxnard California, about a 45 mile drive for me.
Since this was the first time since I have been racing in SoCal that we visited PCH the track was all new for me, and what a track!. It is a Kingleman, but no ordinary Kingleman. At 155ft it is the biggest and fastest Kingleman I have raced on, and in fact is pretty similar in length and driving style to Buena Parks Hillclimb, but without the kink before the donut. Scott and Bob Maxwell did a fantastic job preparing the track, and even had master track builder Gary Gerding stop by after the recent Wing Worlds to re-braid the track, and of course the raceway was overflowing with inventory at the home of "The Wall of Parts".
I drove up to PCH on Friday and got in some running to learn the track and to test the various combinations of motors, chassis and bodies for the three classes I was going to race on Saturday, 4" Stockcar, LMP and GT 12. The track was a little slippery to start with as Bob was putting the finishing touches to a new race directors booth, but with a little running ti cleaned up and was fast and smooth.
A good nights sleep in a local motel overnight and we were ready to go on Saturday. With the raceway opening at 7am, and the track turned off at 9am there was two hours of testing time, and as usual with so many combinations it was difficult to decide what to run. For 4" Stockcar I settled on a Parma Flexi 5 with a Parma Taurus body and for LMP a .025" JK Cheetah 7 with a JK Audi body. With Greg Gilbert, Jonathan Forsyth and Jerry Johnson all lining up for the 4" Stockcar race it was going to be a tough race. Looking a the practice times there didn’t seem to be much between the 4 of us, with 4.5-4.6 second laps being about where the pace was going to be.
First race was 4" Stockcar, and as expected we were all very close. I led the first heat and managed to put a lap on Jonathan and two on Jerry and Greg. Jerry and I traded high heat totals, but we were locked together racing within 1 lap all the way through the race, although we did manage to pull away form Jonathan and Greg. In the 5th heat Jerry ran the high heat of the race, on black lane, 38 laps, and took the lead from me, and then he took almost another lap form me in the 6th heat, to put me about 1 1/2 laps down in 2nd. In the last 2 heats I managed to match his pace, but it was too late, Jerry took the win, his first ever win in a SoCal USRA Expert race, something he has been trying to get for a few years.
The second race was LMP race for flexi cars with contender motors and LMP bodies. This time I had decided to run a JK Cheetah 7 with a JK Audi body. in testing I had run plenty of 4.0 laps, which was very fast. There had been some 3.9 laps run on the track earlier, but on the day 4.0 was as fast as anyone had run. When the power went on at the start of the racemy car was immediately fast, adn even going into the first corner I was leading by about 4 feet. The track had become a little loose since the 4" Stockcar race as they had been racing the 4.5" Stockcars which had changed the traction pattern on the track, so everyone was sliding around more than they would have liked. I concentrated on keeping the car as straight as I could and easing off the corners, and it paid off, running 7 heats of 40 or 41 laps, and one of 39, more consistent than anyone else. Jerry Johnson pushed hard towards the end of the race and tried to run me down, but in the end I ran out the winner by 5 laps over Jerry, with Greg Gilbert 7 laps behind Jerry.
Once again in practice I managed to find a great GT 12 car, running the same BSP chassis I ran at the USRA Nats this year, and with some great Best O The West horsepower I would be competitive. The first heat saw myself, Jerry Johnson and Greg Gilbert all running 44 laps. I then put a lap on Jerry and Greg in the second heat, and then stretched it out to a 5 laps lead by the end of heat 4. Unfortunately after that I started to struggle a little, the car became a little loose on the second set of tires, and I just could not push as hard as I had. By the 7th heat Jerry was one lap behind me, and going into the last heat with me on red and jerry on black I knew I was in trouble. Red was just no match for Black lane and Jerry took his lap back, and then proceeded to put a lap on me, so at the end it was another race that I was 1 Lap Short, and Jerry had his 2nd ever Expert win. Greg had also picked up the pace in the last few heats and drew to within 1 lap of me by the end, making it a very close race.
Overall it was a great day, the track was fast and smooth, and the racing was very close. There was one incident that was quite unusual. During the GT12 race James Grinsteads GT12 car launched in the bank and lodged itself into the wall of the building, and was actually left hanging on the wall, and has to be pryed out of the wall, pretty amazing and the first time I have ever seen anything like that. It will be great to go back to PCH again and run on the fastest Kingleman I have ever been on.