It’s over. One of the craziest and most tiring slot racing weekends I have ever been through.
Due to having to schedule around the Wing World Championships being held at Buena Park Raceway over the next couple of weeks, the biggest SoCal USRA Scale event for the year (The Western States) ended up being scheduled on the same weekend as the final race for the NorCal SCRA championship for the 2006/007 season.
I had a big decision to make, which races could I make and which did I have to miss. The problem was I was leading two championships in the NorCal series, and was second in another (out of three championships I have been contesting in NorCal this year), and because of the recent USRA Scale Nats I had missed the last round of the NorCal series, which was ok as they allow one points score drop per class for the season. Meanwhile in SoCal the Western States races not only count for 1 1/2 times points, but has to be counted in your championship (ie. cannot be dropped), so if I didn’t make the Western States races my SoCal championships were basically over for the year.
The Norcal race was held in Chico on saturday, while the SoCal race was being held at Buena Park on both saturday and sunday. My only option was to try to do both events, traveling to Chico for the saturday races while missing the stockcar races at Buena Park, then driving through the night to get back to Buena Park for the sunday races there. A nice plan, but quite impractical as the two venues are 500 miles apart! Up for the adventure was my NorCal travelling mate and sponsor, Monty Ohren from Best O The West. He had just traveled from California to Pennsylvania and back for the USRA Nats by car, so a short 1000 mile trip was nothing.
Friday saw us traveling up to Chico, arriving there about 8:30pm. Of the three classes I was to race each had a set of things I had to achieve to win the championship in that class. To win the 4" Stockcar Championship I only had to finish in the top 10, while in the LMP class I had a 12 point lead, and with a 15 point margin 1st to 2nd I would be guaranteed the championship if I won, or finished in front of Mike Rocha. If Mike was to win the race the Championship would be his, no matter what I did. In the GT12 class I was in second, 10 points behind Ray Chamberlin, so in that class I had no choice but to win, as Ray had been very fast and finished in the top 3 at almost every round this year.
Looking at what I had to do I decided to concentrate on the GT12 car in practice on friday night, as that was the class I had to win. I tested the 4" Stockcar first, trying a couple of motors and settling on a race setup quickly, then put that car away for the race next day. next I tested the LMP car, with the aim of finding a consistent and fast car. I tested about 8 or so motors, found a couple I thought would be raceable and then settled on running the same Parma Flexi 5 chassis that I had won the GTP race with at the USRA Nats. Next it was time to test the GT12 car. Again I tested at least 10 motors in various combinations before settling on 4 I would have available for the race. I also settled on running the BSP chassis with a Parma Ultimate body. Meanwhile Monty took his first laps on the track with his LMP car, and was actually comfortable on the Chico flat track.
About 11:30 we left the raceway for the night, had some dinner and then turned inf or the night, discussing our experiences of the tracks and cars through dinner. The raceway opened at 8am, so we were there right at 8am to make sure we got maximum practice time, as in the NorCal races, once the power is turned off at the end of practice, that is it for the day. During practice I ran the Stockcar again for a few laps on the banked track. it was fast and driveable. The LMP car remained as it was the night before, but I did test a few more tire compounds, settling on the widest stickest tires I had with me. The GT12 car also was good in practice, and I was confident I had a competitive car.
First up for the day was the 4" Stockcar class. As there really was no pressure on me in that race, apart from making a top 10 finish it turned out to be an easy race. My car was a little tight as I was running soft tires, so I had to be careful not to get the car out of line, but it was fast, and I cruised to an 8 lap win. Typical, an almost perfect race when I really didn’t need it, and I was successful in taking the season championship.
Next up was the LMP race. With the large number of entries, all of the races a big round robins, so i was sitting out for a while, watching the other guys racing, marshalling and getting nervous. Once I came in the nerves disappeared, and the race was on. Not seeing the competition can be nerve racking at times, but it was one of those races where I just tried to put in the best 8 heats I could, and hopefully the results and championship would take care of themselves. As it ended up, Herman James took the win, and I finished in front of Mike so the Championship was mine.
Onto the G12 race, the last race of the day. With Ray Chamberlain having a 10 point lead over me in the championship, it was win or bust for me, as I knew Ray would be fast, as he has been all year. Again I was sitting out for a while at the start of the race, while Ray was up pretty early on. To me watching from the sidelines, Ray put up a couple of pretty impressive heats, as did Herman James, Fred Hood and Chris Chakires, it was going to be a fight to the end. The lead in the race seesawed around between the 4 of us throughout the race, but I managed to hang on and take the win from Herman, Chris, Fred and Ray. The win was enough for me to secure the championship, three out of three for the year.
By the time the awards were given out and we were ready to leave for part 2 of the weekend it was 11:30pm. One stop for dinner/breakfast and we arrived at Buena Park at 7:04am, just as the raceway opened.
After all the flat track racing of saturday in Chico, it was kind of a disappointment to be on the flatout King track for the LMP and GT12 racing. Racing on the King means one thing, find the motor with the most horsepower, find the hardest tires you dare to run, and the lightest car you dare to run. Strap it all together, hope it lasts and hang on. I was pretty sure of the chassis/body combination I would run in LMP, as you just can’t beat a JK Cheetah 7 with a JK Lola Judd body for lightness and straight line speed on this track. I ran through as many motors as I could and found my fastest couple, and I was ready to race.
With 8 lining up for the expert race it was a straight out fight to the end. As soon as the power went on Duran Trujillo charged out into a good lead that he would never lose, but there was a fight raging for 2nd. Jonathan Forsyth, myself and Jerry Johnson form Arizona fought the whole race long, most of it on the same lap. At the end it was Duran taking 1st, followed by Jonathan with a lap over me, and Jerry no more than 6 feet behind me. A very close race.
Before GT12 there was some track time to test and get ready. I had decided to run my BSP chassis with a JK Audi body as everything else I tested was too loose, as after the LMP race the track had loosened up somewhat, in fact it had got to the point where it was downright slippery, and everyone was sent scrambling for softer tires and higher downforce bodies. I tested a number of motors, and finally settled on the 4 strongest I had, just in case I needed more than one during the race. With the track being so slippery I searched for the softest stickiest tires I could find, finally settling on a pair of Kelly White Label tires to start. These are super soft, and have a super small hub (about .250id I think) so offer great traction, but they do wear quickly. They went the two first heats, and I looked at them before the 3rd heat and decided I had enough to do another heat. At this point I was leading the race, but it wasn’t to last. Halfway through the 3rd heat I was hit while going around the donut, and the rear of my body was torn, which allowed the rear of the body to collapse at speed, so I spent the rest of the heat just trying to make laps and get to the end. I managed to rebuild the back of the body with bullet proofing and tape during the lane change, but I had lost enough laps that the win was gone, ending up in 5th place after a change back to Alpha full hub untreated tires. Pretty amazing to actually have to run soft wide tires on any car on that track, but then sometimes you just never know.
With that it was the end of our full on racing weekend, and I headed home to get some well deserved sleep. Next up it’s the Wing World Championships at Buena Park Raceway. My friend Tim Tyler from Australia is coming up to stay with me for the week and racing several classes, while I will be trying to race 1 Motor Open.