This year for the 2015 Silver State, we decided that the whole family would attend, and we would head out to Las Vegas a few days early.
We all took turns getting a little sleep on the flight, and before we knew it, we were in Vegas. All the luggage would prove to be a bit of a mess at the larger airport. I got the rental car, we got it all loaded up, and we were off to the casino hotel. We landed in the evening, so we just got to the hotel and got settled in. I think both Megan and I had a similar thought as to when we first brought our first child Rosalynn home from the airport; oh crap….what did we do? There was no turning around now.
Our first full day out there was Monday. I had plans to ride MTB with Richard Saxton this day, and Megan was gonna take both kiddos and meet up with Chris Tocco’s wife at a park.
We rode 30 miles, and just over 3 hours, I hadn’t done a ride that long in a while, so my body was feeling it. The ride was awesome though, super fun trail, and great to ride with Richard. The family had a good time at the park, but we were all pooped, and headed back to the hotel.
Next day we started out the day by going to a really cool Discovery Kids Museum. It was really cool for Rosalynn. They had all sorts of things for her to play with and learn about. Kids love to make-believe, especially Roz, and they had these areas set up to make-believe you worked certain jobs. They had a bank, a restaurant, a vet office, a grocery store, an auto repair, and an airport.
Next thing was going to the pool at the hotel. This would be Coles first pool experience. He loves bath time, but this water would be a little colder, but he loved it. He liked watching his sis play and all the other kids.
The next day, Wednesday, would be our last family day. We started out our day with a trip to the Shelby Shop. I love Shelby Cobra’s, so I was excited to see some in person. Rosalynn was excited to see cool cars too, she’s totally a Daddy’s girl!
After the cars, it was shark time. We went to the Mandalay Bay where they had the shark aquarium. It was actually really neat, they had tons of tanks with lots of different fish and sharks for the kids to see.
We grabbed lunch and headed back to the hotel. We were staying at the South Point Casino and there was a bowling alley. Roz had never been bowling before, so that was something she wanted to do. We made it up there just in time, before their leagues started.
After that, the vacation portion of the trip was over. Vacation is actually the wrong word…the family portion…vacation is relaxing. Haha. With all four of us out there, not at home, outside of our comfort zone, it was pretty darn tough. Megan was doing a great job with all the kiddos stuff though….and we hadn’t strangled each other yet, so I would call the family portion a success. Thursday was the first work day.
The morning started out super rough though. The family was going to head out to the track after me, so I went with Joe and two Kyosho drivers from Japan. While walking out to the Kyosho van, I was telling Joe he should park in the parking garage because our first day here, we were parked outside, and a car close to ours had gotten broken into. We got to the van…..and the back window was shattered. Two OGIO bags were gone, but other bags were still inside. Unfortunately the two bags gone were the Japanese drivers bags, each with their MP9 in them.
After some delay….speaking with security and getting the van cleaned up some, we headed to the track. Thankfully Cody King had a practice car with him, so he gave it to them to share, so at least they could still race. Thursday was two runs with each car, the final run being seeding for qualifying. The track was a pretty basic layout, with lots of flowing turns, but no real difficult sections. The track was fast and smooth, so everyone was really close in lap times. My cars felt ok, but I wasn’t really going that fast. I seeded 3rd in ebuggy, 11th in truggy, and 11th in nitro buggy.
Friday would be the first day of qualifying, having two runs of qualifiers. My Dad decided to come out and watch and see the family, so that was really special too. Up first was ebuggy.
The track was still smooth, so everybody was really tight. I had a small mistake early, but I was a little faster, and made my way up to 2nd, only 3 tenths out of the lead at the end. Happy to start out qualifying with a 2nd. Next was Truggy. My truck felt good but was lacking a little steering. I had a clean run, and the times were real close. I ended up 6th, only 4 tenths out of 3rd.
Nitro buggy was the last class run. My MP9 felt really good, and I led most of the heat. I had a 2 second lead with a few laps left and just needed to cruise around. I caught a ton of traffic, made it through pretty clean, and then bobbled all on my own with two laps left. I finished 2nd by 4 tenths. I was happy to be fast, but not happy with giving up a TQ run.
Q2 would be a frustrating round. Ebuggy was first. I was fast again, the times being crazy close, I was running up in the top 3 for a lot of the run. Late in the run, I would have one crash, followed by another crash and drop to 9th. Truggy I had another super clean run, just a touch off on speed though, finishing 5th. Nitro buggy would be rough. Just like ebuggy, I was battling up towards the front, the top was really close in times, and then I crashed. It got worse on the last lap. I was one of the last cars to start my qualifier, so I would be last still on the clock. I crashed on the last lap, and the marshals thought the race was over, so I was upside down for a while. I was trying to stay calm, and take a breath, so I stayed off the throttle, as I got marshaled, my engine died. I didn’t finish and got 31st for the round. That was not the ending I wanted for Q2.
Saturday would be the final round of qualifying, and then they would start the lower mains. I was feeling some stress as I needed a good run in all three classes to get good starting positions, and a good run in nitro buggy to secure a spot in the A-main.
Tyler Vik could even sense my tension from his pit, so he came over to help the situation. Ebuggy was up first. I made some setup changes as the track was changing a little. It was getting bumpy, but not as bad as everyone was thinking it would get. They were watering for every race, but with the sun beating on the track, the track would start out almost muddy, and be dry and dusty after the seven minute qualifier. Traction was on the low side. My MP9e felt good, and I did what I needed to, I had a pretty clean run and finished 2nd, securing second on the grid for the 10 minute main on Sunday.
I made some changes to my Truggy as well. Q3 for Truggy would be my best qualifier in that class, my speed was better and I battled for the lead the whole race, ending up 2nd. A 2nd and a 5th would secure 5th starting spot for the 45 minute main. Last up was nitro buggy. I double checked my engine tune and made sure my idle wasn’t too low…the cause of my flame out in Q2….and we were ready. My car felt good, but I wouldn’t drive as well as I would have liked, making multiple small mistakes. I finished 5th, and just like Truggy, I would have a 2nd and 5th, and start 5th for the 45 minute main on Sunday.
Sunday was race day. I headed to the track early to get all 3 cars ready for the mains. The family took the vacation route and spent the early afternoon at the pool. A-main warm ups for both nitro cars felt good, and after them, I picked up the family and grabbed some late lunch. My cars were ready, and mentally I felt ready too.
The first main up would be Truggy. They were still putting water down before the starts, but the track would dry out. In the warm up, I tried soft compound tires on my Truggy, but I didn’t feel my traction was that good. For the main I ran super soft. Starting 5th, I had a good start and just tried running clean laps and staying close to the lead pack. By halfway, I actually made my way all the way up to the lead. Maifield and I had a great battle for the lead and raced for 10 or 15 minutes really close to each other. Ryan Lutz was in the fight as well. All 3 of us were bumper to wing, with me leading. With about 15 minutes to go, I would go a little wide, giving Maifield the lead, with Lutz right on me. That same lap, Lutz would hit the back of my truck in the pitcher’s mound turn, and I would drop to 3rd and lose some time. I got a little frustrated and dropped back a little more. The last 10 minutes, my choice of super soft tires would bite me as most my tread would be gone, and I would bring it home in 3rd.
Ebuggy I would make some last-minute setup changes and I was ready. Hungry for a win, I was excited to get it started. I started 2nd, and just wanted to stay close at the beginning and not get myself in a bad situation. I had another great start and my MP9e felt amazing. I was all over Robert Battlle for the lead, and I was feeling confident. About a third into the 10 minute main, Robert crashed and I took the lead. Lutz was in 2nd, about two seconds back. I kept that gap the same up until two laps to go. I got wide in a 180 turn and then Lutz was right on me. He was pushing hard and went for a couple last lap passes, but I held my own and took the win by 6 tenths of s second. That win felt awesome, as soon as I crossed the line, a weight felt like it was lifted off my back. I’ve had tons of good races in 2015, but the wins have just eluded me so far. Racing is such a difficult thing, especially as a job. I have won tons of races in my career, one of the best careers in RC history. When you don’t have a win for a while, you start to wonder if that win is going to come again. It’s a really weird feeling, and I’m addicted to winning, so it felt great!!! I had a setup now for my nitro buggy, and my confidence was high.
It was a scramble making some last-minute setup changes and trying to decide on tires. The temp was cooling down, and more water was staying in the track.
In the little warm up before the start of the race, my car felt awesome, engine felt good, I was ready. I was starting 5th…we were on the grid, Joe just topped me off, we were all revving, just about to go down and quite….Joe jumped up and got in the middle of the track, waving my car in the air. I hit the throttle, engine was running…I didn’t know what he was doing. He handed my car to Chris Tocco, my other pit guy, and sprinted back to my pit. I sprinted off the drivers stand to see what was up. In my last-minute setup changes, I forgot to tighten my front shock pin. Joe noticed it was hanging out further than normal when he was about to set my car down. HOW CRAZY!!! I knew Joe was a great pit man…but I didn’t know he was that GOOD!!!! He totally saved my race.
My heart rate was a little high and now I had all these thoughts in my head….did I tighten everything else, what else did I forget? The tone went off and I had a good first lap. On lap two, I would clip some curbing in the section before the table top. I dropped back a few spots, and was in with the sharks. It was pure craziness being in the mid to back of the pack. People were bouncing off each other like pin balls. A few laps later I would hit Josh Wheeler and we would get stuck and drop way back. It was my mistake and it cost me. I was half a lap down from Cavalieri in the lead, and the race was only 3 minutes in. I thought if I could come out with 3rd, I would be happy. Chris yelled up, “just one car at a time, you can do this”. That’s exactly what I started to do. My MP9 was really fast and comfortable to drive, so I just started to slice my way past cars and getting closer to the front. I was pitting at 9 minutes and had tons of extra fuel, so I had no worries, just needed to drive. After the first stop, I was up to 4th. After the next pit stop, I was in 2nd and brought the lead down to 9 seconds. I was pitting one lap after Cav, and during the third stop, I lead for one lap, and that showed Cav I was getting closer. I was now only 4 seconds back after we both pitted. With about 15 minutes to go, I got right behind Cav for the lead and chased him for a few laps before he crashed. I took the lead…..I really couldn’t believe I was leading after being so far back in the early stage of the race. I was excited and nervous and drove a little tight when I first got into the lead. With about three minutes to go, Ryan was still only two seconds behind me, but I was feeling good, just trying to drive my own laps. The track was gnarly rough, and I was enjoying it out there. With two minutes to go, Cav would crash again, and I would just cruise it home and take the win!!!!!
That win felt even better than ebuggy.
All in all, what a great week. The whole family was there, that was a nightmare and a total blessing all in one. Megan is such a great wife and mom, she handled the kiddos and did a great job to make sure I got sleep at night and could focus on racing. Awesome seeing my dad and watching him and the kids be together. Really happy for Chris and RC Tracks of Las Vegas. Their first really big event went super smooth, and I won at Chris’ track, with him down in pit lane picking up my car for fuel.
Thanks to Kyosho, Mx, Team Orion, AKA, Ko Propo, Amain.com, JTP, Upgrade-RC, TD Paint, Lunsford, MIP, LiveRC.com, Bike Source, Specialized, Rock Brook Church, RC Tracks of Las Vegas, Joe Pillars for all the hard work and perfect pit stops, Chris Tocco for all the help, my amazing family for their love and support, and mostly to the good Lord Jesus Christ. I have been blessed with an amazing racing career.
Sunday night and Monday morning were really tough. Cleaning up my cars, packing everything up, then packing all the kids stuff up. Sunday night going to bed completely exhausted at 1am, then getting up at 2:30am to make sure we could get everything and everyone to the airport for our 6am flight.