It’s time again for the 2016 edition of the famous Reedy Off-road Race of Champions. This race is one of the few races that I haven’t won yet, finished 2nd and 3rd a few times, I’m hunting for the win this year. I flew out Wednesday and got to OCRC to get my tires mounted and ready for Thursday practice. This race is a spec tire race, JC tires for 2wd and PL tires for 4wd. The Reedy race is a unique format with an Invitational class, taking the best 30 drivers around the world. We have six heads up races with 2wd and six more heads up races with 4wd, getting one through out with each car. Add up the finish scores, lowest score wins!
Thursday, we got three practice runs with both cars. With the spec tires, there is not sanding down your tires, only natural tire wear on the track is allowed. We use tire additive, but that is controlled as well, provided by the track. With the JC 2wd tires, they take a long time to break in, so my plan was to use the same set of tires for the three practice runs and the six races. The PL 4wd tires are softer and break in much faster, I mounted three sets and ran a new set in each practice to have them all broke in for the races. OCRC is a unique track, so I wasn’t too comfortable right away. The track and tires start out very loose, so it’s difficult to really tell where you stack up. The track layout was awesome, with some technical sections and two tough triples, especially with 2wd. My 4wd felt pretty good right off the start, so I didn’t change much on the setup, just drove the track. 2wd was a little different, I was fighting something… the track, the tires, the car…it was hard to tell. After six practice runs, I had the track down, so I was excited for racing.
Friday would be the start of racing, and Invite would have four races with 2wd. 2WD R1 I would be in the first heat and started 1st, inside front row, with Ryan Cavalieri right next to me. The inside wasn’t as good as the outside on the start, so I couldn’t get the jump to get the lead. I also crashed on lap 1 over the triple, so I had to fight back from deep in the field to finish 3rd. 2WD R2 I would start 4th, but the two cars on the front row would hit in first turn, and I was collected. First lap I was 9th, but I clawed back and battled hard to finish 3rd, less than a second behind 2nd. 2WD R3 I would be 10th on the grid, but I would get my best start. There were crashes all over the place on the first lap, and I worked up to 3rd by the start of lap two. A couple laps later, I passed into 2nd and went after the leader, Ryan Maifield. I started 3 seconds back and got it to 1.5 seconds, but then I crashed at the end of the straight. I settled back in, and took 2nd. 2WD R4 I would start 1st again, and I needed a win to end day 1. I got a good jump and would lead lap one, then I made a costly mistake on lap two, crashing off a double and dropping to 4th. A few corners later I would pass back to 2nd and then get clipped, flipped, and be 10th starting lap three. I charged hard through the pack, my car was awesome, and I would get into 2nd and reel in the leader. I wasn’t able to get close enough though, and I would have to settle for 2nd.
Saturday was here, and we had the final two runs of 2wd, a 4wd practice, and two 4wd races. 2WD R5 I would start 3rd on the grid. I got a good start and kept my position on the first lap, my car was feeling awesome, I just wanted to be clean and not get dropped back. The patience worked and by lap 3 I was in the lead, and I never looked back, taking my first race win of the 2016 Reedy Race. 2WD R6 was the final race for 2WD and I needed another win. I would start 6th on the grid in the final race. I got another good start and started to make my way through the pack. After just a few laps I was into the lead and feeling really good, getting about a 2.5 second lead over the field. My car was feeling good and I was driving confident, but with 1 minute to go, I rolled over by the finish and lost a big portion of my lead. I was still ok, and leading, but that next lap, I got too far inside over the big triple, I got loose up the take off, and jumped off the track, handing over the lead. I would finish 2nd, but that was a very costly race to just give away like that. You can’t do that at the Reedy Race with so many great drivers.
Next up was a 4WD practice, and then two 4WD races. Practice went good and I was feeling comfortable and running some of the fastest laps, I was ready to race. 4WD R1 I would line up on the back row and start 9th. There were no real big crashes on the first lap, so it took a while to get through the pack. Around halfway, I was in 4th, and catching the battle in front of me, when 2nd and 3rd got together, I almost made it through into 2nd, but Ryan Maifield shot across the front end of my car from the outside over a small double, spinning me around and dropping me back to 4th. I worked my way into 2nd, but the win was gone. 4WD R2 I started 10th on the grid. I wouldn’t get a good start as I got stuck with another car in the second turn. I would be 9th or 10th on lap 1 and slowly work my way up, and by the end I would end up 3rd. Not a great race, but not a terrible race either. I was still in the hunt for the championship, but I needed to start scoring some wins, 2nd’s and 3rd’s just aren’t good enough.
After racing was done, we headed to Anaheim Stadium to watch some Supercross racing. The schedule worked out perfect and the stadium was just close enough where we got to watch all the racing. It was nice to get away from the RC track, and have a little fun to recharge for the final day.
Sunday was here, and with that, the final day of racing. I needed to get a little speed and consistency with my 4WD, and I MUST win more races. My dad and Scott Speed would come out on the final day to cheer me on, which was really cool!
4WD R3 I would start 4th on the grid. I had a good start, but just wasn’t fast, making some mistakes. I felt like my car was too loose and too difficult to drive. I would finish 3rd again, which is not helping me in the overall points. I would make some setup changes going into the next race. 4WD R4 I would start 8th, and the start would be very difficult, I would get caught up with a couple cars and not get through the pack like I needed to. After the first lap, I would start to work my way up, then the battle for the lead got heated and they all tangled. I found myself in 4th, but right in the hunt for the win. I would get into 3rd with a couple minutes left in the race, with Maifield and Tessman right in front of me. Tessman would crash and Maifield and I would both go by, but I couldn’t get up to Maifield to battle for the win, so I would take another 2nd. 4WD R5 I would start 7th. This race I would finally have a great first lap and make up some spots. My car was feeling good and I was driving good, I would make some good passes and find myself in 2nd starting lap three. Kyle Mcbride was out leading, but just a few lap later he would crash over the triple and hand me the lead. I just cruised and never looked back, taking my first 4wd heat win, and my second heat win of the weekend. Going into the final round, I had a very outside chance of winning the overall, but winning my heat would guarantee me a podium finish. My heat was staked….Maifield, Cavalieri, Rivkin, Numendahl, there were 5 drivers out of the top 7 in the points. 4WD R6 I would start 6th on the grid. I would get a good start and the first couple laps were crazy. Lap 3 it was Cavalieri, Rivkin, Maifield, and me, but then the battle got more heated. Rivkin went inside of Cav, and Maifield got through too, but then Maifield got into the back of Rivkin. Lap 4 I would still be in 4th, but we were all really close, when Cav would bounce off the wall, get clipped by Rivkin, and I would hit Cav full speed. Our cars just smashed, but we both somehow drove away, my car clicking pretty bad and my body completely caved in on both sides. Lap 5 it was Maifield, now with a big lead, Rivkin 2nd, and I was 3rd. My car was very difficult to drive, as something was wrong, it had serious drag in the drive train after that HUGE hit. Rivkin would crash and I would get into 2nd and stay there. Finishing another 2nd, I would have the most consistent points of any driver, but not enough wins, I would finish 4th overall.
Thanks to all my supporters and great sponsors…. Kyosho, MX, Team Orion, Proline, KO Propo, SpeedRC.com, JTP, Upgrade-RC, TD paint, Lunsford, LiveRC.com, my family for all the support, Joe Pillars for always helping me, and the good Lord Jesus Christ for blessing me with my racing career! See you guys at the next race….#RACETOWIN