Well....I've finally unpacked all my crap...what a mess. As I was sorting through my stuff...I couldn't help but think... what a great time I had! Yep! My first Nationals... has been the time of my life. The people I have met... the things I've learned...have been nothing short of gold... I like to think of the experience as "summer camp for racers". Remember back when you use to brag about stuff that went on in camps for days to your friends....? Well hope you guys don't mind... here goes...
After a long 6 hr drive, we arrived to a packed parking lot at Revelations Raceway. Mind you all...This was on a Weds. afternoon. Immediately... I sensed an intensity in the air...Apparently, most of the pros had been there for several days already. Upon unloading I spent quite a while just walking around... watching the pros for several sessions and just generally be overwhelmed by the level of competition. All of the Nation's best drivers and crew and their equipment proudly on display.
Then it hit me... I am here to race... and I've got motors to break in... 2 spanking new NS 12... Word of advice to you all... break em in before you get to the race. cuz it takes much longer than your dad's MT-12. I spent all of Thursday.. and Friday and One of mine was finally broken in after the last qualifier...on Saturday. how do I know? I knew when my car seemingly out of nowhere hit 3rd gear down the back straight. These new engine are the real deal.
Having been completely pre-occupied with engines... I could of slap myself for not putting more effort in the setup. Back at the track Sat. morning, the last day of qualifing my friends and I collectivelly decided it was time to try something else.... one was set up for steering, mine was to push and one in between. Guess what... we all got faster... Daniel (setup w/ steering) was the fastest w/18 flats but not consistent. Thelo was the most consistent but his setup (neutral) was the slowest and mine felt the best to me and yeilded consistent low 18's for the last qual. We were all at one point on 17 lap pace. But Dan DQd (something really stupid that I won't get into, but a rule is a rule I guess) ... Thelo's motor overheated and I ran out of gas on the last lap. Yes gentlemen...luck has a lot to do with it. Next time we will do better and try not to have so many rookie moments
Which brings us to the mains on Sunday... having witness two catastrophies w/ Dan and Thelo (explain later) in their mains. I decided to be conservative... I never overdrove the car, came in to pit at 4 mins... yes...I ran her rich... and drove just enough to keep pace and hopefully bump in the 2nd spot. I was delighted when guys started to drop out and I cruised to first. I decided to repeat the winning stratagy for the F main... But a tire change ruined my car... I ran 37's front and rear... the rear 37 were much softer than the one's I ran before and my car would not turn!! It was too late to change anything so I just drove it... as best and as hard as I could and managed to finish and ended in 42nd overall. I joked w/ my wife I've only missed qualifying for the Worlds by a couple of spots.
Could I have done better? possibly... am I dissappointed ... absolutely not...rememeber Dan and Thelo... they were in a couple of mains below me... Thelo fried a servo mins before his race, and Dan had somehow put the pressure plate in his clutch backwards at 4 am in the morning... it doesn't really work. So I felt extremely fortunate to just to be able to run...even with the wrong tires...
With the pressures of racing behind us, it was time to sit back and watch how the pro's do it... so many fast guys... all the way down to the D main were pro's. Then came the A main...my picks.. Hara, Tossolini, Ishitani, Burch, Cyrul, team Associated were all in the hunt, with only one surprise, team Mugen's Chad Bradly... we qualified with almost identical time at the McCoy's race...now he's in the A in the Nats!!! Maybe that's why his is a pro and I am not. Way to go Chad!! Anyhow...back to the A main...it became apparent that this was Hara's race after only a couple of pits...he had battled from the 8th spot to take the lead I think for good... This dude can flat out drive... the way his car carved up the track reminded me of the grace of an olympic ice skatet... so precise and delibrate and almost elegant. I am only half joking when I described to my racing friends how his car left the asphalt and landed like one of those triple toe loop or whatever you call it... Burch impressed me as well... his car was dialed...to say the least... the way his car screamed across the front straight and speed that he attained down the back straight and thru the sweeper reminded me a fighter jet doing fly by's.. this imagery was only heightened by the silver and black paint scheme reminicent of WWII fighter jet...and yeah he had motor...
but as traction came up...his car rolled...and along w a couple of flame outs he became out of contention... Then there was Josh... his style is straigh 1/8th scale...his car might as well been an 1/8th wiht a sedan body on it. He was the fastest in the sweeper and very bussiness like thru the infield. very consistent and clean. who else...Billy Easton hung in there and his car got better and better while everyone else's got worse as bite came up. If the race had been 30 sec's longer he would of caught Hara cuz that HPI was loose in its last laps. Pavidus left the race early jumping dots as if he was wishing they were doubles
. Ishitani drove Barry Baker's car and kicked ass with it till he bacame another casualty of the flameout. Lastly...there was the Rocket....the veteran hung tough w/ a loose car and battled till the end like a true seasoned warrior... Truly a Great job by all these guys!!!
As you can tell... it is almost a week later... and I am still buzzing about being a part of this event. I am only now starting to reflect and digest the things that I have learned... and you know what else... I know 150 other people feel the same ways as I do.