Sorry for the delay, I needed a few days off after returning home.
Just one day after getting home from Vegas, I was back at the airport headed to England. Stop one, Atlanta, stop two, Amsterdam, then to Birmingham. Flights were good, I was up all night rebuilding my MP9, so I spent most my flight time sleeping.
We managed to get it all in, if we had one more bag, we would have had to get real creative with our packing. PK was driving and our main goal was making sure we were on the correct side of the road. Haha, it feels weird at first.
About an hour or so of driving and we arrived at Harper Adams. I was pretty excited to get in and check out the track, but in NEO fashion, they had it all shut down to build the excitement. Within a few hours of waiting the doors were open!
The track looked cool, a little different style than the past couple years. No really crazy jumps, lots of obstacles, a huge off camber, track looked very technical. I enjoy technical tracks, so I was excited to get out there and see how it felt.
That night I got both cars all ready for practice. I had the cars close, but needed to do the shocks and then mounted up some fresh new TD Paint bodies. Got them all shoe goo’d and they were ready to go.
Friday was practice and my cars were all ready. I was pretty excited to hit the track, as my confidence was high after the double win in Vegas. We got three 6 minute practice sessions with both cars. This race is only 1/8 buggy, both nitro and electric. The first practice is not timed, and the last two practices are timed for seeding, taking your fasted 3 consecutive laps. I started with both cars setup very similar to how I ran them in the mains at Vegas. Unfortunately practice didn’t really go as I had planned. I struggled in all the practices with my speed and feeling comfortable. The final nitro practice was a little better, but still nowhere close to what I was wanting. I seeded 5th in nitro and 14th in electric.
Saturday and Sunday were qualifying days, three on Saturday, and two on Sunday. I was hoping that my cars would be a little faster once qualifying started. Q1 of nitro was ok, my car didn’t have much traction, but I was driving really clean and smooth. I ran 2nd for most of the heat, but then had a little traffic and finished 7th for the round. Electric wouldn’t go as well as nitro and I would finish outside the top 10. Qualifying was a struggle. I was driving well, but I just had no speed, as my cars had no traction. I was changing setups each time I hit the track and different tires, with no real changes. Nitro was going a little better than electric, but I was getting frustrated to say the least. There was quite a bit of tire talk during qualifying. What compound to use, people using tire additive. This race has been known to be a no tire additive race, but it was quite clear some people were using something. In qualifying I would feel soooooo slow and just had to move over a let drivers pass me. Then for Q5 of nitro I tried a clay compound AKA tire. My car finally had some speed, but now my setup felt weird. I lead most of the heat, but had a big crash towards the end. That was the first time I was leading a race all week, so that was a good sign. I didn’t bring or order any clay tires, but thankfully two local KYOSHO drivers were kind enough to give me 3 sets. They were just some really old tires that they just bring with them just in case. Little did they know, they would completely change my weekend and save my butt!
Qualifying was all over and I was 10th in nitro and 18th in electric. Sunday night would be the electric Semi. I would start 9th in the B Semi. I had one set of clay compound that needed to last the electric semi, and the electric main, both being 10 minutes. That would leave me with one set of used clay tires for the nitro semi, and a new set that I would use in semi practice, and hopefully the nitro main.
The electric semi started and I had a terrible start, getting caught up in a crash in the second turn. I was 15th on the first lap, but I made a ton of passes and was in 7th or so on lap two. I then crashed on my own and would drop way back again. My car felt much faster than it had all week, I started to pick guys off one at a time. By the 6 or 7 minute mark I was in 4th, and I would stay there to the end. I finished 4th in my semi, but with my terrible start, my overall race time was slow, so I would start 8th in the final main.
Monday was here and I was happier and feeling confident again. Monday would prove to be one of the weirdest and wildest days at an RC event in recent years.
The electric main was up first in the morning. I was starting 8th, but I felt a podium finish was very possible. Just like the semi, I would get another terrible start and find myself buried in the back of the pack. I wouldn’t really find my groove at all and it was like a war in the back of the pack, so I finished 9th. I quickly shrugged it off and put my focus on nitro.
Indoor racing generates a tire additive war in RC. The main problem is what is an additive? Washing your tires with simple green, spraying motor spray on the outside of the tire, spraying motor spray on the inside, using some of the recent “tire cleaners”, spraying WD40 on the outside, or using specific RC tire additives? It’s kinda a mess, and it is not possible to control. There were all these rumors flying around on Monday, so I went straight to Phil “mister neo” and asked. To my surprise, he said tire additive is not wanted, but it is legal. That news spread like a LA wild fire and tire additives were all over the place. I found a local that had WD40 and started to coat my tires for the nitro semi and nitro main. My semi tires I only got to coat them one time.
In Semi practice I felt pretty good, but now with clay tires, my car felt much different. I made some changes to my car for the Semi.
I started 5th in Semi B. All I wanted was a good start, and I was pretty darn nervous. So far each bad start hasn’t been my fault, as cars have crashed right in front of me both times. The tone sounded and we were off, we made the first turn and off the first jump, a car crashed right in front of me. In my mind, “really again….can’t you people just drive the first lap”, but I was determined. I kept the throttle on and just drove through the car and made it out. I was in 3rd and feeling strong. I made my way to 2nd and started to challenge for the lead. My car felt really good and fast for the first half of the 20 minute race. I actually was leading after the halfway mark, but then a few mistakes would drop me to 3rd. I made a pass back to 2nd in the closing laps, but would crash right after. I finished 3rd and was really frustrated. My car felt good at the beginning, but then struggled at the end. I didn’t drive good either, and I figured with all my late mistakes I would have a slow overall time and start in 6th. To my surprise, our semi was much faster and we would start 1, 2, 3 for the main.
I was still putting coats of WD40 on my main tires, and now I needed to think about why my car started off good, but then faded away. I made up my mind on setup changes, made them, did my clutch, charged my battery, WD40’d my tires one last time, and then it was race time. I used the semi to test my fuel mileage. I short pitted at 9 minutes, then ran 11 minutes to finish the race. I was going to try to pit at 11.5 minutes in the 45 minute final and have 1 less pit stop than all the other drivers. I was taking a risk, but I knew I could keep my composure and drive smooth, and I wanted every advantage I could have to try to win.
I started 3rd and got a good start. Tessman got passed me on the first lap after Neil and I came together a little. Cavalieri was leading and he was fast, pulling away on the first few laps. I was stuck behind Tessman, and just couldn’t make a pass anywhere, I could just see Cav pulling away. Finally after maybe 5 minutes I moved into 2nd. My car felt amazing and I was driving smart. Only pulling half throttle on the straight, not revving in the air over the jumps, trying to save as much fuel as possible. Cav came in at 9 minutes, and I took the lead, and didn’t pull into the pit lane until 11.5 minutes. After the stop, Joe said I was good on fuel, so the race was on. He would hold the lead after I pitted, then I would grab it back after he pitted. We kept that gap the same for quite some time. I had two crashes that cost me in the middle of the race, but after Cav’s second to last stop, I took the lead again. We battled for a while and we both had one more stop to make. My plan was working, and I had a great shot at the win. We totally checked out on the rest of the field, lapping all the other drivers, so the race was only between us two. I was leading with him right on my wing when I peeled out to make my final stop. I bobbled coming into the pit lane, then bobbled coming out. I had a pretty long pit lap and the gap was too big. I was frustrated and made a few small mistakes after that. After Cav made his final stop, he had a 6 second lead on me. I had plenty of fuel and pushed as hard as I could, turning the fastest laps of the entire week in the final 6 minutes of the 45 minute main. With 3 laps to go, I had the gap down to 4 seconds. Coming around to start my second to last lap, I went off the track a little, was on the pipe, then I went down the straight and something huge flew off my car. I had no idea what it was, but all of a sudden my car was incredibly loose in the rear end. The win was gone, so I just cruised around to finish second. When I can in after the race was over, I saw a huge chunk of tire was missing on my rear tire. The big metal clamps they use to hold down the pipes had cut my tire, then it just exploded when I went down the straight.
My emotions were mixed after the race. I was happy to finish 2nd, especially with how rough the rest of the event was, but my other side was very frustrated that I had 3 key mistakes that I made. I really wanted that win.
It was s great result for AKA, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, also great for MX finishing 1st and 2nd again. My 1/8 program is building and I’m building more and more confidence. 3rd at The Dirt, 1st at Silver State, then 2nd at Neo X.
Thanks to all my great sponsors, KYOSHO, MX, TEAM ORION, AKA, KO PROPO, AMAIN.COM, JTP, UPGRADE-RC, TD PAINT, LUNSFORD, MIP, LIVERC.COM, BIKE SOURCE, SPECIALIZED, ROCK BROOK CHURCH, thanks to all my amazing fans, Joe Pillars for all the help, my family for the never ending support, and the Good Lord Jesus Christ for my racing career.
See you all at the next race! Thanks for reading and God Bless!