Old 03-27-2017, 01:31 AM
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Default 2017 ECC Race Report

To my mind, the 2017 Emerald City Classic was the ideal onroad trophy race. One long day to test our management of physical, emotional, and mental resources and answer the simple question: who is the best? At 100 entries and 16 full heats, each class was stocked with enough talent to properly ladder up a qualifying order and yield heats of drivers with similar abilities. When that happens, everyone from bottom to top has good runs. Our grey ozite track was in beautiful shape, with gradually increasing grip through the day that was enough to bite if pushed too hard, but not so sticky as to send drivers to their glue bottles.

Another feature of this race that has become part of its tradition is the mid-day lunch break. I feel itís very important at a race to shut things down for half an hour and make everyone eat. Iíve been to too many races where guys eat too little and too poorly during the day, and come the afternoon their mood turns sour as the hungry grumps take over. Not so at the ECC. The track is shut down, food is served, we all sit together in the bleachers and talk a little and fill up, and then itís a short practice and back to qualifying. But the break and the fuel carry us through the day and we put in good runs and the camaraderie remains high, even as the competition heats up.

I have been extolling the virtue of the Scale Spec class this season because it is a proven way for ambitious new racers and cagey veterans to enjoy quality racing on a budget, and it mixes skill levels without compromising either end of the experience spectrum. At its best, it is high skill racing at moderate speed, and we had two of the Northwestís best battle for the top spot. Ryan Brownlee and Devin Patterson from the Willamette country came up for the race. Ryan is a known quantity in Scale Spec, having raced with us many times before and posted track records at both the community center and Hangar 30. Devin, while no stranger to the club and a perennial fast guy in the spec touring classes, was a first-timer in Scale Spec. Devin went to work in qualifying and posted the fastest run in each round, taking the TQ and setting a new track record. On the grid, it was a good bet for Devin to win, but Ryan was on hand to upset the odds-makers. Devin and Ryan quickly gapped the field and were in a race of their own. I had given Ryan some grief for running what I considered a top-heavy BMW body, which while admirably scale and even sported side mirrors, couldnít hang with the trim Cadillac Devin was running, a lid which has supplanted the ZL1 as first choice among Scale Speccers. But yíknow, the Bimmer came good. Ryan set up and executed what has to be one of the finest clean passes I have seen, and to manage it against Devin only adds luster to the moment. Ryan defended from there, and even pulled slightly away toward the end, convincing us for now that he is indeed the top Scale Spec racer in the region.

The Stock 1/12th story is short and sweet, but I will not stint on praise for its protagonist. Brian Bodine is a stalwart of the club who works in front and behind the scenes to keep our program strong. In the eastern tribes he would be called a Pine Tree Chief, someone who is respected and given an ear around the council fire. Brian has been nearly impossible to beat this season, as his gear, his setup, and his drive are in harmony, resulting in consistent excellent results. The ECC simply capped the seasonís effort, as he raced to a TQ and a main victory. I do what I can, but I have to concede that this year belonged to the Slapmaster. Well done, Brian!

Our Novice effort continues to shine, as throughout the season we have put new drivers on the track, and they have graduated to the standard classes. By its nature, it is an inconsistent field, but we had a nice group going for trophies at this yearís event. Tim Cook looked to be in charge of qualifying until the third and final round, when young McKenna Lence, who also worked the tech table, found the go button on her 1/12th scale and cracked off a TQ run. In the main, it seemed she might sprint off to glory, but an unforced error sent her to the pits where her crew chief and father made a quick repair. She returned to the race, but she had surrendered the lead. Travis, Alex, and Collin all had a turn at the front before Alex took over for good. Alex sports a sharp Seahawks paint scheme that earns him concourse every time he shows up.

Modified Touring is formidable. The cars are heavy, powerful, sophisticated, and expensive. Our club should be proud of the field we put on track at our races. To think that we get to club race with Korey Harbke, Travis Schreven, Andrew Cartwright, Jake Danilchik, Donny Banks, and several more who are quick and capable is a marvel. The class is fiercely contested, and there is no question that any of the guys at the top can have their night and take the win, but our most consistent performer is Korey; his benchcraft and racecraft set the standard for the club. And he shows well at races around the country, so no surprise that he TQíd the class. But a glance at the sheet shows the depth of the field, as the top seven cars were all on the same lap. In modified! The counterpoint, and counterpunch, to Koreyís effort was Travis Schrevenís day. Trav is an all-world talent, but he has a mercurial brilliance. He will be fast (R1 and R3) or he will blow out (R2). With Trav, high tension is the reality. In the main, Trav challenged Korey from the tone, and got by, and then Korey had terrible luck and tumbled to the back. From there, Trav lasered in and drove without a mistake to claim the victory some 32 laps later. Korey, meanwhile, refused to give up, and while the win was out of reach, he clawed back through the field, executing clean passes all the way, and took third for a fine redemption run.

Formula One is a high skill scale class that is not for beginners. The cars can be finicky, but the real challenge is the open wheel in traffic. Drivers have to be patient and not force passes; much like the full scale version, contact is usually punished with a tumble and a spoiled race. But our field is dedicated and reliable, so they have a fixed spot in our program. For the ECC, we had a number of fresh faces joining the fray, as Jim Glasgow, Dick Reece, and Jeff Jenkins all decided to have a go. Jim would prove to be the most consistent in qualifying and would earn the TQ, just shy of the track record by 4/10ths. But the main would see Jeff make good on the threat he showed in the qualifying rounds. He got by Jim and then steadily pulled away. Dick and Jim rounded out the order.

Stock Touring with the 17.5 brushless motor has to be one of the most successful and popular onroad classes ever. This also explains why it is the subject of constant complaint and scrutiny: itís too fast, the motors are too expensive, itís a battery/motor/tire war, sponsored drivers should be banned, and blah blah blah. As time goes by, I think the complaints leveled against Stock Touring are more than anything proof of its relevance and popularity. Everyone has an opinion, which means everyone is thinking about it. Stock Touring is many things, and it is everywhere popular. If I had only one car to bring to a club I knew nothing about and wanted to race, I would bring a Stock TC. And I would get to race, I guarantee it. So, what is to be done about Stock? Nothing much, not really. Itís the same as itís always been. If 1/12th scale is a dojo where the Zen masters meditate, and Modified Touring is a speed shop where the devoted gearheads hang out, then Stock Touring is the big American high school where everyone resents and envies the jocks and the best looking girl is eternally just out of reach. Itís the standard, formative stuff, and itís where our hobbysport lives and breathes. Qualifying and the main were similarly familiar. Andrew Cartwright and Devin were the fast ones, with Andrew rising to the pinnacle with a TQ and track record. In the main, Devin pursued Andrew and kept him within a second deep into the fifth minute until a mistake bounced him back a few seconds. Andrew was cool all the way through, took the win, and disappeared upstairs with the hot girl from Spanish class (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Modified 1/12th scale is the fastest and rarest class. It is the small, strange world of island-bound butterfly collectors and breeders of ultra-hot peppers: beautiful and butt clenching. Korey is the class of our field, and the breakaway winner most nights. While Brian had a good go, the result was never really in doubt. Something in Koreyís car would have to give way for him not prevail in the end. And prevail he did, with a blazing 50-lapper that vaporized the track record. Korey is the real deal with a Mod 1/12th. He can race with Keven Hebert and any of the fastest guys in North America. So, for Brian to be within a lap is a solid result. Korey checked out of the main, leaving Brian lonesome in second, while I had a thriller with Alex for the 3rd that was not settled until the very last corner. I mention it because I believe the blinky/open motor combo is the sure ticket for 1/12th Modified to survive long term. When two competent but otherwise ordinary racers can dice cars for many laps, keep it clean, and have a great race, then there is something in it for more than the mere handful on the continent who can actually handle full boosted cars. Blinky/open motor is the way forward for Modified 1/12th. Itís still fast enough for the very best to show their stuff at the bleeding edge of possibility, but itís also a doable thing for the dedicated club racer with decent but modest talent.

The 2017 Emerald City Classic was a success in every way. Thank you on behalf of the club to all who traveled to race with us. Our indoor season is done. We will be moving outdoors for the remainder of the spring and through the summer. We will be back in the fall.

Results attached.
Attached Files
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