For 2019 DNC, Joe Bornhorst and I would both head out west a little early … planning to get some practice driving 1/8 outdoor. California weather has been crazy, with lots of rain, so we were not really sure what was going to happen and where we would be driving. We flew into LAX Saturday around noon, then headed to Revelation Raceway, as that’s where our hotel was located for the next few days. They were doing a club race, and Ryan Cavalieri was racing, so I busted out my car and threw it down for the main, with Joe pitting me. It was pretty fun, not getting any laps on that track layout, starting last in the main, I had a couple chances to battle Cav for the win, but I made some mistakes and finished 2nd.
The next day we would drive 1.5 hours east to practice at Palm Desert RC. They just built a fresh layout and it was really awesome and a super fun day. When we rolled up to the track, there were hundreds of cars and people parked all over the place … we weren’t really sure what was going on. Turned out that right behind the track was a super cool and crazy popular hiking trail system. I started my track day with a 3.5 mile hike. The day started super nice and sunny, but then some crazy clouds rolled in after lunch and rain threatened for a while. Joe and I got a lot of practice, driving both our Tekno NB48 and EB48.4 and had a blast practicing together. Ty Tessmann, Adam Drake, and JQ were out there also, so it was fun. We drove for a while as the storm was rolling in, with a little drizzle, but around 4pm we had to call it a day.
Monday most of the drivers that came out early for DNC all went out to Revelation Raceway. Myself, Joe Bornhorst, David Ronnefalk, Cole Ogden, Elliott Boots, Ty Tessmann, Dakota Phend, Tanner Denney, Alex Zanchettin and some more Tekno drivers. With all the rain, the track conditions were really good all day. Again, we had a great day with a lot of track time and had fun battling with friends and competitors.
Tuesday would be the setup day in Perris, CA at the new venue for the 20th anniversary of The Dirt Nitro Challenge. Most of our pit setup was already done, so we used it as a rebuild day. My Tekno rides all had quite a bit of running the past couple days, so they were needing some TLC. The Dirt crew were all working super hard all day finishing up the track and all the different spaces. With all the rain during the past week, they had a heck of time getting everything built, but they managed to do it. This years DNC was going to be exciting, with top drivers switching teams, and the biggest international field the race has ever had … 21 of the Top 25 1/8 Nitro Buggy drivers in attendance.
Finally, it was practice day for DNC 2019 … and we would be scheduled for two 7 minute practice sessions with each class. I was racing my normal Pro Nitro Buggy, Pro Nitro Truggy, and Pro Electric Buggy. The track layout was fairly basic with the short amount of time and super wet conditions the crew had to build in, but it still seemed like it would be fun to drive. Truggy was up first and the track was like a freeway, super fast, super smooth and deep in the trigger. It was really fun and my Tekno NT48.3 was on rails, so was Joe’s as he set the fastest time in P1 and I was 5th, half a second back on the 3 lap seed time. Next would be Electric Buggy, with Nitro Buggy last. As more cars ran on the track, the track was already breaking up some and Joe Bornhorst said it might create “character” pretty quick. He was correct and the track was changing a lot and starting to take shape with bumps and ruts in some turns and jump takeoffs. Rain started coming down towards the end of P2 and unfortunately some heats were ran during decent rain and there were some muddy cars. The Pro Nitro Buggy session was cancelled and we would only get our P1. I seeded 5th in Pro Nitro Truggy, 7th in Pro Electric Buggy, and 8th in Pro Nitro Buggy.
When practice was cancelled the rain really started coming down and it rained really hard all night. Thursday would be qualifying for Nitro Truggy and Electric Buggy, but we were not really sure how the day would go and when we would start.
The crew did a great job and got us started about 3.5 hours late, and shortened the qualifiers from 6 minutes to 5 minutes.
Q1 Truggy : My Tekno NT48.3 was feeling awesome with my MX engine/fuel combo, and AKA tires … I started out great and was leading the heat, driving in a good flow and going fast. Just after halfway, I had a couple second lead and was feeling confident, but then disaster struck. They had been yelling at a track worker to get off the track in a certain section for a few laps, but I wasn’t really sure where that person was. I jumped too far to the left on the fast triple on the right side, landed in the infield with tons of hay … the hay was added for the mud that was there. I was on the throttle trying to get out and ran into the back of the track worker they had been yelling at over the PA. He wasn’t happy I guess that I ran into his foot, not going fast at all, so he picked up my truck, waved it around some, wouldn’t put it back on the track, then just tossed it at the track after holding it for 6-7 seconds. I was sooooooooooooooooooooooo mad and just couldn’t even believe what had just happened. I crashed after that, then got tangled with someone and crashed more … my qualifier was completely ruined, and I ended up 26th.
Q1 Electric Buggy : I had a pretty decent qualifier, and after truggy, all I wanted was a solid run. My Tekno EB48.4 was feeling good with my new Maclan ESC/Motor/Battery combo and AKA tires, taking 4th for the round.
Q2 Truggy : Ready to put Q1 behind me, I started strong again and was fighting with Ty Tessmann for the TQ, with us swapping positions a few times. Just about the same time as in Q1, my run hit a disaster again … as my front camber link screw came loose and I wasn’t able to finish. I felt like a total beginner and wasn’t happy with myself … I consider myself an excellent mechanic, and this was just a stupid mistake.
Q2 Electric Buggy : The conditions were challenging all day with the cold temps, but it was INSANE for this qualifier. It was raining lightly, crazy cold, and blowing a strong wind straight at the drivers stand. The fast triple was just about impossible to jump and driving with numb hands and rain in your face was not fun. I had a great run for the conditions and ended up 2nd for the round.
Q3 Truggy : I made a little shock change on my NT48 as the track was really starting to change and get rough, but the changes were not that good. I finally had a full run though, and got 6th for the round. Unfortunately with my poor Q1 and Q2, I ended up 20th overall and would be starting 8th in the B main.
Q3 Electric Buggy : This run was challenging for me and I made a lot of mistakes. I had my worst run with 11th, but I would qualify 3rd overall with my Q1 and Q2 points.
Friday is all Nitro Buggy. The track is pretty rough now, with a lot of holes, ruts, and jump faces getting messed up.
Q1 Nitro Buggy : My pace was decent, not the fastest, and my comfort was great on the challenging track. I had a decent run, but made mistakes and got 8th.
Q2 Nitro Buggy : I made some changes to my Tekno NB48 and it was better, getting a 5th for the round. The track was really getting rough and challenging, driving smooth and getting into a rhythm is key.
Q3 Nitro Buggy : No changes from Q2, but I didn’t have a very good run, too many different mistakes, scoring my worst point with a 9th. The points were all really tight, and the competition was INSANE, I was 9th overall after qualifying finished.
Saturday is main day for Electric Buggy and Truggy. Joe and I would get to the track early and get our cars prepared for the mains. Just after lunch would be the A-Main warm ups, so I would get to drive my Electric Buggy and get a feel for the track before my Pro Nitro Truggy B-Main. Practice went decent, I made a shock change from qualifying and it felt better in the rough conditions. Switching from my own piston creation, to the infamous Jared Wiggins pistons.
Nitro Truggy B-Main : With the crazy competition, even the B-Main was staked, Boots, Ronnefalk, Batlle, Lutz, Truhe, Jelin, Savoya, Denney, Berton, Ogden, and Canas all in it. I started 8th and got a great start, passing a couple people on the first lap. My truck felt great and I knew I would have great pace, I just needed to get in the flow, drive smooth, and let the race come to me, I had 30 minutes. I took the lead only after 5 laps and had a great race, keeping the lead, taking the win and a bump into the A-Main.
Pro Electric Buggy A-Main : I started 3rd, with Ronnefalk 1st and Tessmann 2nd. Tessmann would jump too long on the first roller in the back on the very first lap, he would crash, but I had to make a quick decision. After the rollers, there was a 180 and then a pretty long double, and the run up to it was extremely challenging. You could go super tight, but the preferred line was going wide and jumping on the right side of the jump. I was afraid I would get tangled with Tessmann if I went wide, so I went super tight, missed all the holes, but still cased the double and flipped. I think I landed on my wheels, but I was not moving and got slammed into and then went crashing. That was a very costly mistake that pushed me to the back. My car felt good, the most comfortable I had been with it all week, and I put in a great charge to get into 6th and pretty close to the huge battle for 3rd. I crashed again and dropped back to 10th and couldn’t really move up, finishing 10th. I was really bummed with that main, I started 3rd, finished 10th, that was not great.
Pro Nitro Truggy A-Main : Starting 13th, the key was going to be the start for me, and try to run 45 minutes as clean as possible. I had a pretty decent start, moved into the top 10 and had good pace. The plan was to run with a 9 minute pit strategy, but it was going to be pretty tight on the fuel. I made it to the first pit stop and it was looking good, but we had a little issue while pitting, so we decided to not risk it and switch to 7:30 stops for the rest of the race. I battled for most of the race in 5th and 6th, but dropped back some towards the end and finished in 7th. Not the best result, but we fought a lot of adversity in Truggy all weekend for some reason, we never gave up, worked great as a team, and that’s where we ended.
My teammate Joe Bornhorst had a great day though, finishing 2nd in Pro Electric Buggy and 3rd in Pro Nitro Truggy. Great job Joe!
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. I was ready for the Pro Nitro Buggy main and we worked crazy hard all day getting ready. Started early in the morning going through everything on the car, looking everything over. The track was super gnarly now, and it was the warmest day by about 20 degrees, so it was totally different. The practice went ok, but the traction was way up and my car was feeling pretty hard to drive and pretty unpredictable. The main was staked, pretty much like a Final at the IFMAR Worlds. We made a bunch of changes to my car, I was ready to fight. Starting 9th, I had a great start and moved into 5th after lap 1. My NB48 was feeling good, the best it had felt all weekend, and I was in the fight, getting up into 3rd by lap 3 and fighting in the battle of 3rd – 6th pretty much the entire race. The track was crazy challenging and the pace was extremely fast, it was a really fun race. I battled a lot with Phend and Batlle, which was really fun … we all respected each other, raced super hard, but clean. I was in 6th and catching Batlle who held 5th at the end of the race, and I even ran my second fastest lap of the race on lap 82 of 84 laps. That was the lap after I had passed Batlle to move int 5th. Disaster struck again on my last lap. There was a massive battle for 2nd on the final lap, and I was just behind it on the track. I hit a rut going up the face of the back double, went into the infield and cashed. Nobody saw me for a really long time, and then I got put in the wrong lane on the track, losing 15 seconds and a position. I was really bummed I made that mistake and missed out on a top 5 finish.
Congrats to Ryan Maifield on winning both Pro Nitro Truggy and Pro Nitro Buggy, that was some amazing driving, great preparation, and impressive results. Congrats also to David Ronnefalk for winning Pro Electric Buggy. As for me, not the DNC I wanted, or expected, but that is racing. I never gave up, we all worked really hard, that’s all we can really ask for. I’m ready to race again, that’s for sure.
Thanks to all my friends, my family, all my fans, and of course my sponsors.
Tekno, MX, Maclan, AKA, KO Propo, GS Hobby, Ultimate Racing, JTP, TD Paint, StickIt1, Lunsford and Fastlane Raceway.
Thanks to the Good Lord Jesus Christ, I’m crazy blessed with my racing career, my family, my friends, and the support I have. Thank you for reading, love you all, God Bless, and see you at the race track!