Category Archives: 2007 Scale Nats

My results and stories from the 2007 Scale Nats

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 9

Wednesday April 18th was the final day of the 2007 USRA Nats, the day everyone had been waiting for 24th Eurosport.

Before the 24th Euro race it was time for the C-12 Euro cars to hit the track. This became a pretty one side race with Jason Greene dominating qualifying and the race, running away from nats host Lou Cicconi by over 50 laps.

After the C-12 race there was a couple of hours of final practice for 24th Eurosport. As practice went along the track really started to rubber up, with thick berms building up on the corners. I had pretty much settled on running one of the 26g BOW armature motors in the new small Camen setups with thin magnets, but right at the end of practice the 26g motors were struggling to get through the heavy rubber build up.

Late in practice Fred Hood offered me a 22T 25G motor that he could not get into his car. I had already run plenty of low 3.4 second laps with the 26G motors, but I was down to about 3 feet of choke, so felt I really did need more horsepower. The car was handling fantastically on all lanes, so I tried Fred’s motor and immediately ran a 3.40 with 12 feet of choke, so put the car away and decided to run Fred’s motor.

I qualified 6th to secure a berth in the A main. Brian Saunders and Gugu were the only ones to go into the 2.3’s, while Greg Gilbert, Thomas Burnside, William Burnside and myself all qualified with 2.43 laps and James Grinstead was 7th with a 2.44.

Through having 25 racers the A main became a 9 man round robin, and I selected the sit out to start, so got to watch the first heat. As soon as I got on the track in the 2nd heat I knew I really had a car to contend for the win. I drove as hard as I could and on average after  my first heat was leading, and maintained that lead all the way through to the end of my 7th heat. Brian Saunders was right there with Greg Gilbert and myself for the early part of the race, but lost time when his motor came out in an accident. The final heat had me on white lane, and 2nd placed Greg Gilbert was on the very fast orange lane. I had 8 laps on Greg and thought my lead would hold up, however white was very very slippery. Brian ran on it before me and warned me how slippery it was, especially at the end of the main straight. It was so slippery the car was actually locking up and sliding into the corner. it was like someone had split something on the track, but there was nothing there. All I could do was back off, add a lot of choke and cruise around, hoping that Greg did not run me down, but with Greg flying on the Orange lane I soon knew I was in trouble. With a couple of minutes to go, Greg drew level with me, then put a lap on me, then just drove to keep ahead of me through to the end of the race.

So close, yet so far, but I have to congratulate Greg on a great race. he has been trying to win that one for a lot longer than me, hopefully my time will come in the future.

So that concluded the 2007 USRA Nats. Having the nats in a hotel was a fantastic setting, and the hosts Mark Greene and Lou Cicconi did a fantastic job in putting the race together. Everything ran smoothly throughout the week.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 8

Tuesday April 17th

32nd Formula One and 32nd Eurosport were to be raced in the one day. With the Eurosport race format kicking in, there was not going to be any more semi final madness, just qualifying and mains.

32nd Formula One Eurosport

I knew I would struggle with the old heavy F1 car in qualifying against the newer lighter cars, and that I would probably be racing form the B main, and so it was. TQ was Gugu with a 3.20, while I struggled my way to a 3.61 down in 11th place, but I was pretty confident that I would be competitive in the race.  A 14 car field meant there were to be 2 mains, 7 racers in each, and with 5 minute heats it was going to be fun. It was also fantastic to see the field of cars all looking great in original F1 liveries. before the event there was a lot of talk about having to paint the car in an original F1 livery, but as the instigator of this class I felt it was important to stay with the International rules that all of the current chassis are made to, and the was part of the package. After seeing the field, and seeing the remarkable pre painted bodies that Gugu has available, the detractors were silenced.

Being int he B main, my race was first up. As the race got under way it was clear that Greg Gilbert and myself were setting the pace, however by mid race Fred Hood put in a charge (after getting to grips with his car that had never turned a wheel before qualifying) and got to within a couple of laps of Greg and I. Greg and I ran very close throughout the race, ending up only 4 tenths of a lap apart, with me ahead. We both ran hard the whole race, as we knew that even a podium position overall could be possible.

Once the A main got underway, as expected Gugu and Brian Saunders were the class of the field, running side by side for quite a bit of time. Behind them Jonathan Forsyth was the only other driver to be near the average lap totals that Greg and I posted int he B main. In the end Brian took the win, 2 laps ahead of Gugu, who was 17 laps ahead of Jonathan Forsyth, who was  only 4 laps ahead of myself and Greg. So at the end of the day a 4th place with a 15 year old car and motor was not a bad effort, and I was happy after the first ever USRA F1 race.

This class really is a fantastic one, a real drivers class. you cna easily over horsepower the car, so motors are not an issue, and being 68mm wide you can run side by side, and pass without hitting each other (unless you slide out a lot). Despite what a lot of people thought before the races, this class was one of the highlights of the event, especially the breathtaking heat where Gugu and Brian were running side by side on adjacent lanes for almost the whole heat.

32nd Scale Eurosport

This was one of those races that just did not go well. I was way behind getting the car ready, and had problems getting the race body mounted right before the race, so had to revert to the old practice body, which really was not mounted in the right position. My car was good, smooth and fast, but I just did not cut a good lap in qualifying, leaving me in the B main, and then it seemed I was just always in trouble, and that of course led to a stripped gear in the middle of one heat, and a slow change with some trouble getting the new gear in, just cost me more time than I would have liked, leaving my in 6th overall, more than 100 laps behind overall winner Greg Gilbert from the A main.

The one high point form this race is that the new BOW Eurosport arm ran another full race distance in the 32nd car, without any problems. Encouraging for the future.

After the 32nd race it was time to finally get my 24th car onto the track, well finish building it then get it onto the track. Brian Saunders had finished building the chassis the day before, but with 2 classes in one day I had not had a chance to assemble the car. I did that, cut and mounted a new JK Audi and finally got onto the track after it had been cleaned and sprayed ahead of the 24th Euro race next day.

I cycled through a few of the motors we had prepared before the event, including a couple of 26 guage motors with BOW armatures. All were smooth and fast, it was just going to be a case of select the most driveable one and go with it.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 7

Monday April 16th. Wow, time flies, day 7 already, and I realised that I had missed seeing the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix over the weekend, and believe me I NEVER miss a Grand Prix, but with no Speed Tv at the Hotel it just slipped by almost unnoticed.

Looking out the window of the hotel the weather was terrible, cold and there actually was some snow out there. Later in the day it turned into rain, and suddenly parts of Philadelphia were flooded and the city was plunged into chaos. For us in the hotel we really knew nothing. With no windows in the ballroom C where we were racing unless we came outside for something we didn’t see anything, and thanks to a local pizza joint that had a pretty extensive menu, and deliveree, we really never needed to leave the hotel. It was pretty funny walking around the hotel, many of us were wearing shorts, while outside it was no hotter than 40 degrees (F not C), so we got some pretty funny looks form people who had just come into the hotel form the freezing weather outside.

Inside the ballroom it was GT12 day. I was looking forward to this race as I felt I had a really good car. The BSP chassis really suited the track, with our only problem being negotiating the D shaped donut. You needed to hit it right every time, as if you went too slow you would pop up, and if you went too fast you would risk tipping out. Brian and I worked on this problem, and after some body re-mounting found a reasonable compromise, and we were both fast.

The semi final draw was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. it was random, but you could never stack a heat better if you tried. if you look at the semi results you’ll see what I mean:

B Semi
1. Jason Burnside 298
2. William Burnside 295
3. Greg Gilbert 295
4. Brian Saunders 294
5. Chris Radisich 288
6. Fred Hood 283
7. Gugu 279
8. Jerry Herbert 254

A Semi
1. Jonathan Forsyth 283
2. Zac Grinstead 275
3. Herman James 274
4. Jay Kisling 265
5. Jim Stinnett 258
6. Dave Demott 257
7. James Grinstead 151

In my semi I drove as hard as I could, and I was more than competitive, but it was one of those races where I just could not stay out of trouble, losing a few laps that I just could not get back. The whole semi/mains system can be brutal at times, and this was one of the worst I have ever seen. You’ll see in the results that I finished with 5 laps more than the winner of the A semi, and even Gugu, 7th in Semi B would have been 2nd in Semi A, with 4 laps to spare.

So after the low of LMP, the high of 4" Stockcar and the high high of GTP, here I was again at a low, marshalling another main. I did keep myself busy helping out Zac Grinstead through the main.

After the Amateur GT 12 race was finished it was time to clean the track for the 1/32 F1 and 1/32 Eurosport races next day. I spent the rest of the day testing my 32nd Euro car, and ran my F1 car for the first time. With time running out before the nats I was unable to get a new F1 chassis, so I pulled my old early 90’s Dave Harvey 101 car (form England) out of mothballs. I knew it would not be anywhere near as fast as the new cars, but I knew it would be consistent and just run around and around.

With this being the first F1 race at the USRA Nats, and being on such a short track, the search was on Monday night for everyone to find enough chokes to tame their F1 cars. 40 to 60 feet quickly became the norm as everyone struggled to get horsepower out of their cars. With my car running an old .459 45T 28G I was in reasonable condition, only needing 20 feet, plus the 12 feet on the controller I was using. For it’s age my car circulated smoothly, not fast, but smooth.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 6

Sunday April 15th. 4.5" Stockcar

I had decided not to race 4.5" Stockcar before the nats, so this was to be my day to get my cars built and tested for my favorite part of the nats, the faster cars on the flat track. After the late night before I took the opportunity to sleep in a little, and only got into the raceway at 9am. A late start compared to the 7am every other day.

Brian Saunders had built my GT12 chassis earlier in the week, but I had not had time to assemble it so this was this first job on sunday. He finished off my 32nd Euro chassis on saturday, so that needed assembling as well, while my 24th Euro chassis was still to be built, but I would have that built by Brian by the end of sunday. It was interesting to watch Brian building the chassis. I have done a lot of building of all kinds of chassis over the years, including scratchbuilt and Euro chassis, but Brian knows his chassis so well he is just amazingly quick at putting them together.

With only 7 entries in the Expert 4.5" race it was no surprise to see Duran Trujillo slither his way to a repeat of his 2006 win, congratulations Duaran!

I got my 12 put together and hit the track with it. Being the first time I had run the 2006 BSP chassis I was delighted how well it handled and stuck to the track. I ran through a number of motors, looking for a smooth one, rather than the usual struggle to find horsepower. Brian and I tested various combinations of bodies and chassis setups, and finally agreed that we had some pretty awesome cars for the next days racing.

My 32nd Eurosport also hit the track for the first time in the afternoon, and it too was smooth and handled well. I tested a few motors before settling on racing a motor that Monty Ohren (of Best O The West) and I have been experimenting with. It is a 38 of 27 wound by Monty. It was very smooth and fast, and the same one I had run at the last Euro race I went to at Rhonert Park a few weeks earlier.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 5

Saturday was Stockcar day!

Back onto the road course for my final race on that track (I had decided before the nats that I would not be racing 4.5" Stockcar this year) it was time to break out some of the fantastic new Best O The West big diameter armature horsepower. In the past for the Stockcar races I have bought many many motors to the Nats for this class, but this year I only had 5 motors to test, and every one of them was fast. The new arms are so consistent and smooth, and unlike previous arms, they seem to run well on almost any track.

Brian Saunders decided that he was not going to race this class, so I gained myself a dedicated pit man for this class. In last minute practice the track showed signs of being inconsistent and loose again, so this time we were prepared (at least for the semi). Out went the treated tires, and we set the Flexi 5 up for maximum bite and to be as consistent as we could.

The field was a little bigger than the fields had been up until that point as the Port Jeff guys arrived from New York, just for this race. I’m not sure that Erkle, Chubby and Jonathan Sohl were all comfortable on the road course driving Stockcars, but they were all there, and all drove well despite a complete lack of practice and setup time.

Into the Semi finals, and I really cruised along, driving consistently, watching carefully to make sure I remained in a move up position in the 11 man round robin semi, while Brian worked his magic in between heats in the pit. By the end of the semi I was tied with Willam Burnside for the semi win, 5 laps clear of 5th placed John Martin.

Going into the main, Brian and I were confident that I would be competitive, and we though we knew what to do if the track went slippery once again, but unfortunately we were wrong! Starting out i the main things were ok, I was running in the top 4. The pace was fast, and once again mike Bressett opened up a lead and held it. As we got further into the race we could not keep my car hooked up, and I slipped back, finally settling in 6th place at the end of the race. Not the result I was hoping for, but at the same time at least I didn’t have to marshall the main!

With no racing for Brian or I on Sunday, we decided to go out somewhere, so we convinced Fred Hood to come with us and the three of us headed into the old part of Philadelphia to check out some of the nightlife. This time we got the phone number of the taxi that took us, and he agreed to come and pick us up once we were ready to go home. It was an interesting night, seeing some of the old parts of town, cobblestone roads and all was cool. We finally ended up in a part of town  that was party central, and we sampled a number of the local bars, which were all full to overflowing. once closing time arrived at 2am we called our taxi driver, and surprisingly it was only a 10 minute wait until he came and collected us, and delivered us back to the hotel.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 4

Friday the 13th!

I’m not all that superstitious, but still, Friday the 13th is Friday the 13th.

Expert GTP was first up for the day, so again it was total chaos as we re-tested everything in final practice, tried to avoid wrecking our cars, ground tires (and more tires, and more tires) and got our race cars ready. I knew from practice we had good cars and would be strong in the race if track conditions remained constant. Jay Kisling had been running some crazy times in practice, and with this being a track he races on regularly I was expecting to be following him around.

The semi finals were pretty un-eventful for both Brian and I, both of us making the main, with Brian, I and Jay all working together in our semi to amke sure we made it through. Although there was 14 plus volts in the track, it appeared to be pretty easy on motors. The motor I ran in the semi was a BOW Magshifter motor with a BOW Super 16C Arm. it was smooth and fast, but I had my 2nd motor (BOW Super 16C Arm in a Kelly setup) sitting in the box, still fresh, and just as fast and smooth so I decided to put that in for the main, keeping the semi motor as a spare.

I started on black lane, with Jay Kisling starting right next to me on Purple. Jay and I did not discuss the start before the race, but I knew I had to beat him into the first corner, otherwise he might get away form me. I am known for my good starts, and known for not backing off at the start, so I was going to go as hard and as fast as I could. I know everyone says the race cannot be won at the first corner, but after losing a number of races by just inches, these days I have adopted the philosophy that if the power is on I will go at 100%, and I will never lay back at the start. This philosophy also comes from many many years of racing back in New Zealand where we used to run (and they still do) mostly 10 lap races. In those if you give up time at the start, you just never get it back.

So it was a fantastic start and I beat Jay into the first corner and then just went as hard and as fast as I could, leading the race form lap one through to the end of heat 7. Going into the last heat I had a few laps on Jay. i was on purple lane, while Jay was down on the other end of the track. For whatever reason purple lane was quite slow, so the last heat turned into a real cliffhanger, with me running around as fast as I could, but making sure I stayed on, while Jay was at the other end of the track going hell for leather, trying to run me down. With 20 seconds to go Jay had closed onto the same lap as me, and I knew if I fell off I was done, so it was a case of stay on and still try to run fast, and by the time the power went off Jay was only 1/2 a lap behind me. Way too close for comfort, but it was my first ever USRA Nats win. This too would have been Jay’s first win, so I felt for him a little as he has been trying for so long, but of course I was absolutely elated to win my first race.

As for what I ran in the main, it was:
Parma Flexi 5
Parma Lola Body
Bow/Kelly setup (BOW Magshifter in the Semi)
Bow Super 16C Armature
BSP (Brian Saunders) Tires
GT1 72P gears 8/43

After the race it took quite some time to calm down, but again I moved on to helping with the Amateur race, then also had to get my final testing done for the Stockcar race next day on the road course.

Brian decided that we should go and celebrate the win, so we decided to go out at 11pm to a local bar, which was ok, but by 2am we were ready to go back to the hotel and called a taxi, but it never arrived, and after several more calls to the taxi company that also ended up with no taxi arriving to pick up up, we were stranded. Finally at 3:30am one of the bouncers at the bar took pity on us and drove us back to the hotel in their company tricked out Hummer, not a bad way to arrive home!

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 3

Day 3 for me was Thursday April 12th. Finally the race day had arrived. It was time for LMP.

During the test days the Kelly guys form Florida, Danny Zona and Mike Bressett were setting the pace on the road course, with some blistering times. I knew I had nothing for them, but I was confident I would be competitive with everyone else. The interesting thing was that the track had been very fast on tuesday, but had slowly got slower and slipperier as the days went by. In final practice before tech closed several lanes were quite loose, so it was a scramble to find tires that would hook up, and a setup to cope with the constantly changling lanes.

Monty had arrived late wednesday night, so by thursday morning I finally had all of my boxes and other equipment, making life a lot easier than working out of the small boxes and limited equipment I bought with me earlier in the week.

With the Expert racers up first in almost every class it was early morning thrash and race each day, and the first class was no exception. I got my Parma Flexi 5 into it’s final race configuration and into tech, and wasn’t last for one.

The semi finals were randomly assigned as usual and looking at mine I thought I had a reasonable chance of making the main, however during the race it got so slippery it was almost impossible to drive the car. Orange lane was just impossible for me, it was like the track was cleaned and left wet, with the car fishtailing all the way down the straight and wildly fishtailing through the bank. I changed tires to the widest, stickiest, smallest hub tires I had (which are very sticky!) and it made a little difference, but by then it was too late, I was too far out of the move up positions, so had booked a marshalling spot for the main.

Brian Saunders on the other hand was more on the ball than me. He used choke, and an SMQ magnet motor to squeeze through into the main, where again the conditions were terrible.  Rolling the car between heats on a glue board became mandatory, as did finding the softest and stickiest tires you could find. I thought Brian drove a fantastic race, staying on and managing the slippery conditions well in the main to finish second to Mike Bressett. Mike was in a different race to everyone else in the main, as he managed to hook his car up. His experience on this track, and his experience running in his local series where this happens often just allowed him to run away for a very strong win.

There was much discussion about the track conditions and the cause of the problems. Many people were blaming the Kelly "speed" (gold label) type rubber for unhooking the track, but the interesting thing was that even people running that rubber were not hooking up. The only thing I can put it down to is the mixture of chemicals and rubber on the track. These days we have so many different types of rubber and different chemicals treating the different tires, it seems that  track conditions will change constantly.

After pitting for Brian and marshalling the main, it was time to put my USRA hat back on and help out with the Amateur LMP race, then in between and after that race it was time to do my final GTP testing.

Given a boost by his second placing in the LMP race,  Brians interest in running the GTP race had grown to the point where had had put a car together and hit the flat track to see if he could get down to some competitive times. Of course he did turn some good laps, so suddenly I had a teammate for the GTP race, and we set about re-testing my car, motors and bodies to find a good combination that we could both use. next thing I knew a couple of my Super 16C motors were pulled apart and the arms were finding a new home in a couple of Brians setups. We continued to test our Flexi 5’s getting faster and faster as we made progress on the setups. The final thing we were testing was bodies, and we had settled ont he Parma Storm as being the bodiy we both liked, however as it always goes we decided to test another couple, and included in those was a Parma Lola. We turned the same lap times as the Storm, but the cars were much better balanced, so suddenly we were looking for Lolas, painting them and mounting them.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 2

Day 2 for me was Wednesday April 11th.

This was another full day of practice, and the day I needed to get my LMP, GTP and Stockcar pretty much ready to race. After learning the tracks on Tuesday I concentrated on motor testing for all three classes, and fine tuning my cars. I am not a big believer in running practice cars, so as usual I was running around with the cars I had designated as my race cars.

By this time Brian Saunders had started to test his LMP car, so we worked together on trying to find a good setup and body choice for the LMP cars. He had decided to run LMP for fun, but really was not interested in running GTP, however as the day went along and we tested more things his interest in running GTP on the flat track increased.

2007 USRA Scale Nats Day 1

After visiting New York for a few days over Easter weekend, I caught the Amtrak train from New York to Philadelphia. This was the first "long distance" trin I have been on in this country, and the experience was great. The train was comfortable and spacious, and even arrived on time and took no longer than the 1 1/2 hours advertised on the schedule.

I had planned to take another train from the 30th street station in Philadelphia where the Amtrak train stopped, to the airport, then catch the Ramada Inn shuttle to the hotel, however catching a late train out of New York meant I arrived after the last train for the night had left, which left me with a long taxi ride from the train station to the hotel. Arriving at the hotel at almost 1am Tuesday morning, I only had time to check in and get settled into the room I was sharing for the whole event with Fred Hood. Fred had arrived earlier in the day from Fresno.

Most of the day Tuesday was spent testing and working on car setups for the first few classes, and catching up with everyone. Fred and I shared a pit table for the week, and pitted right next to us was Brian Saunders of BSP from England, which was great as I would be running Brians chassis in GT12, 32nd Eurosport and 24th Eurosport, plus helping him out with whatever he needed for the flexi car classes.

My first impressions of the tracks were that they both were impressive. It was great to have a "banked" track that was a. not a King, and b. had some more interesting corners and features than most other banked tracks we have raced on in the last few years at the nats. The track looked fast and smooth, with a recent re-surface carried out by Gary Gerding. The flat track also looked awesome. It was quite short, but looked very fast, smooth and quite flowing.

Monty Ohren form Best O The West was driving across county form Los Angeles, so I had him bring most of my slotcar gear with him, so all I had was a small box with a few cars, motors, and bodies for the first few races to test. I set about assembling my LMP and GTP cars, putting my Parma Flexi 5 cars together. I then spent most of the day just turning laps on the road course (banked track) with the LMP car and with the GTP car on the flat track, getting down to some pretty competitive times.

Once the raceway closed at midnight it was off to the bar with Fred and Brian for a quick beer, then off to speer for a few hours, waking in time to be back in the raceway by 7am. Pretty much the story of the week.

2007 USRA Nats 24th Eurosport – 1 Lap Short

The 24th Eurosport race at the 2007 USRA Nats is the race that led to the unique name of this website, 1 Lap Short. I led the race almost all the way, and appeared to be on the way to being the first racer not named Paul to win the 24th Eurosport race at the nats for a number of years, but it wasn’t to be, instead Greg Gilbert slipped past me in the final heat, leaving me 1 Lap Short of the win, in second place. Oh well, maybe next year….