2019 started with a new race for me, the Southern Indoor Championships put on by the Racetime Entertainment crew. SIC would also be my first race with Team Tekno. I met up with one of my new traveling partners, Matt Wolter, in Atlanta and we then flew into Montgomery, Alabama. We flew in Thursday evening as practice would start Friday morning, and the track looked great.
To me, the track looked and kinda felt like the 2018 Silver State Track. The track was packed in pretty tight, but it had a sandy feel to the dirt. The plan was for me to only race the two Pro Nitro classes, Buggy and Truggy, so no Electric Buggy until DNC.
I’ve driven my new Tekno NB48 quite a bit and I’m comfortable and have a pretty good starting base setup. Practice would be the first time I got to drive my Tekno NT48.3 Truggy on a Track. Practice went pretty good, I wanted to get as many runs as I could to get used to my cars on a new track, and get used to the dirt. I started out on AKA Super Soft compound tires, Gridiron’s, but as the day went on I transitioned to Long Wear Super Soft. For my Truggy, I started with a Joe Bornhorst setup, and it felt decent. I was more concerned with the Buggy and focused more on it. The track was pretty loose, so we were making a few changes. Went down on the diffs a little, then went to a heavier rear sway bar, and also added a little more rear toe. My base setup was pretty darn close and my buggy felt awesome. I ran the new AKA P-One tire in Long Wear Super Soft and was really happy with the feeling and the traction. My MX Engines were also running really really good. The drive of my Tekno cars are really impressive, so I actually run a smaller Venturi with my new cars, 5.5 on Buggy and 6.5 on Truggy.
Saturday would be all qualifying, 3 rounds of 5 minute qualifiers. With 555 entries, it would be a long day 😁 The track started to dry out some by the end of practice and the track was already starting to develop some bumps and ruts. For qualifying they watered very heavy and the weather was also wet outside, so the track was much different and very wet, softening up the track some.
Truggy would be my first class, and I had a decent run. I had a bobble on my own and lost a few seconds. I was the first heat and set the TQ pace, but I would barely be bettered by .5 of a second and .4 of a second, giving me 3rd for the round. In Buggy I had a clean run and a good pace, getting the TQ by a few seconds.
For Q2 I would change from trailing to inline on my NT48.3 steering. I was really uncomfortable with the feeling, but managed a decent run, again just barely getting beat for the TQ. I took 2nd again just by .5 of a second. I also made a small change to my NB48 Buggy going 50CST lighter in my front shock oil. The car felt ok, the softer oil kinda making the front end feel too numb, but I didn’t have a good run at all, getting tangled a few times with some other crashed or crashing cars. I finished with 3rd for the round, so that guaranteed me a top 3 starting position.
Q3 the track was starting to finally dry up and the traction seemed to be getting higher. I switched my NT48.3 back to trailing, went from my front arms being down/down in the A/B to max kick up, and then to a short front camber link. The truck felt much more comfortable to me, but I crashed early in the qualifier. I got in an awesome rhythm and was catching the leader, but got tangled in traffic some and finished 2nd, giving me 2nd overall. The track was really dry for Buggy and the traction was pretty high compared to Q1 and Q2. I went back up in the oil for my front shocks and went from 18 caster to 15 caster. The TQ fight was pretty much between Cole Ogden and myself, and you could tell we both wanted it. We were right together on the track, as I started the race first, with Cole right behind me. I clipped the big ruts coming onto the front straight starting our second lap and crashed. It was a costly crash, as I lost a lot of time. I didn’t give up and my NB48 was feeling really good and fast. My pace was super fast and I started catching back up, then Cole caught some traffic and I was right behind him. With a couple laps to go, I was able to get around Cole on track, he got slowed up in traffic, and it would be a battle on the final lap. I put in a fast lap and beat him by less than .1 of a second! I was really pumped up and happy to get the heat win, the round TQ, and the overall TQ. I ran AKA Long Wear Super Soft Gridiron’s in Truggy and AKA Long Wear Super Soft P-Ones in Buggy all through qualifying.
The weather was gonna be really cold during the night, so I think the track crew was worried the track would freeze if they watered it. Sunday morning the track was looking pretty rutted, bumpy, and dry. The track even started to get a blue ish groove in a few spots, but there was the dust still in a lot of spots.
The Pro Nitro Buggy main would be up fairly early in the race program and would be my first race. With the higher traction and the longer race time, A-Mains being 30 minutes, I decided on AKA Long Wear Super Soft DoubleDowns for Buggy. I made no setup changes and was ready for the main. I started first and got a good start, battling some with Cole Ogden early, but he bobbled and dropped back. I had a good size lead before the first pit, but that was a disaster. The dust was pretty bad coming into pit lane, and I couldn’t see that well with wheelchair extension, but I struggled with pit entrance a ton. I slammed the pipe on pit lane, and actually flipped off the pit lane and into the straight. Thankfully Billy, Ryan Lutz pit guy went around and put me back on the pit lane, but most of my lead was gone. The track was really challenging and I focused on getting back into my groove. Ryan Lutz was in the battle as well, we would all have mistakes and then would gain on each other when they would bobble. Around halfway, Lutz ran out of fuel and the fight was just between Cole and I. I pulled a 5 or so second lead again and then made a few bad decisions in traffic. I tried the outside line on the back left sweeper, and I crashed a few times, lost my lead and dropped back. To top that off, my tank pull broke during my last pit, but thankfully Matt was on it and managed to still get the tank opened and full of fuel. That last 7 minute stint, I was about 7 seconds behind Ogden and I put my head down, running .5 to 1 second faster per lap and was really catching him. The conditions were crazy, and when I got within a couple seconds, he crashed and I took the lead. Ogden had a super tough lap and I pulled over 5 seconds with 5 minutes left in the race. The traction was high, but then it was really loose where dust was on the line, kinda like dusty concrete. Then you had a lot of big holes that were all sharp edged and would really upset the cars. I drove really well to finish the race and took the win by around 15 seconds. My new Tekno NB48 was awesome in the challenging conditions and I couldn’t be happier to get a TQ and win in Pro Nitro Buggy.
A couple hours later we would have our 30 minute Pro Nitro Truggy main and I would start 2nd. The grip was still high, so I ran AKA Long Wear Soft Impacts. First lap in the back left sweeper, Ryan Lutz would crash and hand me the lead. My Tekno NT48.3 was feeling really good and fast, so I drove pretty aggressive to get a lead established. Around 10 minutes into the main, I had a big lead, about 15 – 18 seconds, but I started to feel my diffs overheat. I look like I have a smooth driving style, which I do, but I accelerate early in the corners and it seems to make me overheat my diffs easily. I need to take better note of that, and always go up for the mains. I had a small crash, but no marshals looking and lost over half my lead. Ryan Lutz was going faster and catching me, and I crashed a couple more times. Ryan caught me and I tried my best to hold him off, but I couldn’t. I just had to accept 2nd, which was a total bummer.
All in all … the weekend was a COMPLETE SUCCESS!!! First big race with Tekno, nothing but positives. Huge thanks to Matt Wolter for all the help, David Scott (Red) for the amazing hospitality and great pit help, Daniel Lewis for this opportunity, my amazing family for their love and support, all the Tekno customers and my new teammates, and the Good Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks to my sponsors : TEKNO, MX RACING, AKA, KO PROPO, GS HOBBY, MACLAN, ULTIMATE RACING, JTP, TD PAINT, STICKIT1RACING, LUNSFORD, FASTLANE RACEWAY