Wow, what a field!
50 entries for the 1 Motor Open Race. It’s been years since anyone can remember a field in a single Group 7 race like this, and with such a strong local group of racers the competition was very very tough. It may have been lacking a few star names, but I promise you it was a world class field.
With the same format as 1 Motor Open at the USRA Nats this year it was a chance to see the format in action and see if everything worked out. Running the A,B,C main race format meant that qualifying was worth something, as racers were seeded into mains according to their qualifying position. Also with only 30 seconds to qualify on race power, and the fact that you did not get to work on your car after qualifying meant there were a number of interesting strategies that you could use for the race. A number of racers decided not to qualify, so they filled firstly the G main (yes the G main), with the rest of them in the F main. I did qualify and qualified 35th, making it into the E main, with a lap on 8 feet of choke to make sure I did not hurt my motor, turning a 1.98. Top qualifier was Benes from the Czech Republic with a 1.66, a pretty fast lap on race power in a one motor race.
The racing was close and fast all through the mains. Running early on in the F main after not qualifying were Forest Watchers and Carlos Aloise. Both were hoping that the track conditions early on would be better than in later heats. Both of them set a very fast pace right from the start of their main, and after 4 heats if this had of been a full on Group 7 race they would have been on a 1220 plus pace, pretty impressive for a 1 Motor race! Forest kept the pace up right to the end, finishing with 974, while Carlos was unable to match that after losing his motor. So Forest had set the bar high, very high, and it was now a case of go for it or go home.
I was up in the E main, and ran around the whole race mainly in the 2.0 second range, with a number of 1.9 second laps, and of course some 2.1 second laps as well. Unfortunately only a few laps into the first heat I was hit in the finger and broke an axle. My pit man for the heat Tim Tyler did a great job to change the axle/gear and tires to get me back on the track with a minimum of laps lost. I thought that might be the end of the trouble, but in the very next heat, the second heat of the race the exact thing happened again, in the same place. This sent Tim to the pits with my car yet again for another axle change. This was the end of my axle problems and the car ran pretty well for the rest of the race, without any other major problems. Going into the last heat I was chasing Frank Sarkella from Slot Car Raceway in Rhonert Park (The home of the 2008 USRA Scale Nats and bidder for the 2008 USRA Wing Car Nats). A little way into the heat I turned the choke down a little and tried to chase him down. unfortunately it was not to be, and with less than 30 seconds to go int he race my car ground to a halt with a lack of power. I suspect the com had got out of round, and it was just not going to go anywhere fast. So in the end I was credited with a 28th place finish with 804 laps. Not a fantastic total, but a lot better than many others who blew up way before the end.
Overall I was happy to almost get tot he end, and I went out trying to pass Frank, and had nothing left. You can’t ask for more than that, especially with the field being as big and as competitive as it was.
Tim Tyler was up next in the D main, qualifying with a 1.86. Tim ran strongly throughout his race, having a few problems like bent wheels etc, but he did manage to stay out of trouble pretty well and ended up with a spectacular 9th place overall. With IOC points on the line for the top 8 we had joked earlier in the day that he probably would end up 9th, and so it was.
As the C,B and than A mains ran it was clear that Forest had made a clever strategy call in not qualifying and running in a lower heat as contender after contender ran fast enough, but blew up, leaving Forest as last man standing at the end of the day. This being Forests first World Championship the assembled masses decided he needed to celebrate, so he was doused with Gatorade and anything else racers could find to add to the fun. A great end to a great days racing, with a fantastic future class.