After NEO it was looking like I wasn’t going to make it for PNB, Psycho Nitro Blast. I had no airfare booked, no rental car reserved, no hotel room booked, no tires ordered, and no pit guy to go with me….and the race was less than a week away. I really wanted to go, so we made it happen. My buddy Patrick said he would like to go, not an avid RC racer anymore, but a pretty handy dude. We decided we would just drive there, it’s only 11 hours each way. Next I had to see if I could get tires and get a room booked. Emailed Proline….boom, they were on it. Called the race organizer….boom, he was on it. Looks like after all, I am going to PNB.
The trip started Thursday morning, we loaded up my truck to drive about 10 miles to the Enterprise Car Rental, then we filled up our Hyundai and got on the road. The trip took us through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and then into Tennessee. The drive was pretty solid and that darn car got AMAZING fuel mileage, we only stopped twice, and it cost $20 each time.
We rolled into the track around 8:30pm and checked it all out. Got our pit area sorted, and got the info for our hotel. PNB is known for a crazy track and lack of sleep. We wanted to get some rest before the 24 hour, 6am Friday to 6am Saturday, practice got started.
I had some work that needed to be done and I knew I wanted to wait a little to get on the track. We showed up around 8am and I had my cars ready and hit the track around noon. The track layout was MUCH different from my only other PNB experience in 2015. That track was watered and got super rough. This track was more clay ish, was smooth, and rock hard. The layout was pretty basic as well, super fast, and HUGE, with a few pretty large jumps. Practice went pretty good, traffic is just crazy at this race and with the really fast track design, it was hard to get good practice laps in. There would be no seeding, so qualifying would be wild to say the least. I decided to call it quits around 8pm and stop my practice. Some people stopped earlier and then were planning on returning very early in the AM to get some final practice. I kept it more like a normal race schedule.
They tweaked the schedule also at this event, running all the Pro classes first in the round, then running the Open and Sportsman classes later. I would be in heat 8 with Electric Buggy, 11 for Nitro Truggy, and 16 for Nitro Buggy, and they had 45 total heats with 18-20 vehicles in every heat.
Qualifying: All 3 rounds of qualifying would be running on Saturday, and the day would be SUPER long, starting at 7am and finishing around 4am Sunday morning. Thankfully my last round was that late, as my last race was race 16 of 45. Q1 went pretty good. In Electric Buggy I was really fast and lead for most of the heat. I was catching Cavalieri on track and got right behind him before I made a terrible driving error. I just turned in too early at the end of the straight, hit the pipe and flew off the track. I finished 3rd. Truggy was also good. My heat had 20 trucks in it, so traffic was a total nightmare. I had a pretty clean run and my truck was working really good, I finished 2nd. Nitro Buggy was about the same. I had good speed was wasn’t the fastest and got a 3rd. Through the rest of qualifying I would battle traffic. I would be on good runs and then just get caught up with slower cars, there were so many cars in each race. With a very easy design track, the crazy fast speeds, it made the traffic even worse. My cars were pretty good, but the track was going through quite a few changes in grip level. So far, Proline M4 was the compound choice, but the tire wear was coming up fast, so the end of qualifying, I was trying M3.
Electric Buggy: 3rd
Nitro Truggy: 4th
Nitro Buggy: 6th
Mains: The mains would start early, 7am on Sunday, but my A Mains were not until the night. Electric Buggy was up first. With the track changing and no A Main practice in the schedule, I wasn’t sure what tires to run. I decided to run Proline M3 Blockade. I started 3rd and got a good start, moving into 2nd on lap 1 when Cavalieri crashed. Lap 2 Lutz would crash and I would take the lead. My car was feeling pretty good, but I don’t think the large pin tire choice was very good. I had the track position, but my speed wasn’t amazing. Rivkin was in 2nd and he was faster, but I just needed to drive smooth and smart. I lead all the way to the 7 minute mark, but then it all went wrong. Doing down the back straight, there is a switch back into a large off camber, when I hit the brakes, my front end hit a bump and it sent my buggy over the front end and off the track. It was a costly mistake as I went from 1st to 4th. I didn’t really have the pace to run them back down, so I was hoping for big mistakes from the leaders. I reeled back in Lutz for 3rd, and he crashed on the last lap, so I finished 3rd. I was happy to have led, but really bummed with the mistake and dropping back.
Truggy: I started 4th in this main, and the Nitro mains were dropped down to 30 minutes, not the normal 45 minutes, which I was happy to hear. I got a good start and my truck was feeling good. I decided to take a risk and run Proline M3 Holeshots, and that was a great choice. My truck had great speed, but I battled with Bornhorst and Lutz too much early. Maifield and Cavalieri were pulling away a little, then after about 5 minutes I was settled into 3rd. I drove most of the main about 5 seconds back of Maifield and 3 seconds back of Cavalieri, but then Maifield made a mistake with just a few minutes to go. Right around the same time, I caught up in traffic and crashed by lap cars two different times. My shot at the win was gone, and I came home in 3rd. I was happy I had a fast pace, but bummed with the traffic issues at the end, but that is just part of racing.
Buggy: The final race of the 2016 PNB was here, I wanted a win, and I felt like I had a shot. Learning from the E Buggy and Truggy mains, I made my tire choice and setup changes that I thought would give me the best chance. I went with Proline M3 Holeshots. I started 6th and got a clean start, I think moving into 5th early. Early on it was clear that I didn’t have the speed to beat Maifield or Lutz, who were just checking out, but a good battle with me, Cavalieri, and Ogden was going for 3rd. We were all swapping positions and swapping mistakes. Just before my second pit stop, I landed a big jump and my front shock came off the shock tower. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I yelled down to my pit crew to get a shock nut. I came in and the old nut was still there. We went back to the pits, and the shock cap bushing had broken. I fixed the part and we got back out there, but I had lost multiple laps and was in 14th place. It was a bummer, but I was happy to get out there and finish my main, I moved up one position and finished 13th. Not a great ending to the day.
All weekend I had this awesome dude wanting to help out. At first, he helped out with turn marshalling, but on main day, Patrick had him down in the pit lane, part of the crew. Thanks Bentley!
Thanks to all my sponsors, fans, supporters, Kyosho, Mx Racing, Team Orion, KO Propo, Speed RC, JTP, Upgrade-RC, TD Paint, Lunsford, Liverc.com, my friend Patrick for the help, my family, and the Good Lord Jesus Christ. See you guys at the next race!