Sanford and Son RC headed out to Heritage RC Park in Chula Vista, CA on September 6-7 for the 11th Annual Sidewinder Nitro Explosion. There were three rounds of qualifying on Saturday, with A-Main events on Sunday. The track was watered every third heat for the qualifiers, and before every main event on Sunday.
My competition for this event would be Team Associated driver Ryan Cavalieri, TLR drivers Ryan Maifield, Cody Smith, Don Vinkemulder and Mark Pavidis (AKA), JQ Products driver Chris Marrale, Mike Moralez from XRay, Kyosho teammates Cody King, Sean Gaffney, Mikey Bustamante and Colin Herzig, Greg Degani and a number of very fast local racers.
1/8 Scale eBuggy
I had been using AKA Soft GridIrons at this track, but I liked how the AKA Soft Impacts had been working for my nitro buggy, so I decided to try the Impacts on the eBuggy. The first eBuggy qualifier on Saturday was in the morning, and the car felt OK, but I made a few mistakes and would wind up 3rd overall behind Cavalieri and Bustamante. I finished 2nd in qualifier two behind Cavalieri, but the car was bouncing everywhere pretty badly. I decided that the shock oil was too light, and the temperature during the second qualifier had just made it worse. I bumped up the shock oil all the way around for the final qualifier. The car was drastically better everywhere, but a mistake in the last 100 feet of the final lap would result in me finishing in third. My combined points would qualify me third overall for Sunday’s A-Mains.
Unlike the nitro mains, the eBuggy class would consist of two A-Mains (10 minutes each), with both counting for the final results. Everyone got a good, clean start in the first A-main, and I was on Bustamante’s rear bumper when he caught the pipe on a slow-speed turn and flipped. I was too close to avoid him, and got caught up. I didn’t want to lose two or three places by waiting for a turn marshall, so I hit the throttle and was able to get thru without flipping over. I would settle into second place for most of the race. With about a minute left, I rounded a left-hand turn when a lapped car crossed thru my lane. I hit the car and flipped over. Bustamante got by me into 2nd place as I waited for the marshall. I closed a little on Bustamante, but I ran out of time and finished in third place.
The second A-Main would be different, and I was able to get by a couple of mishaps in front of me and settle into second place. I was still in second when the leader, Cavalieri, traction-rolled at the end of the straight. I was able to get by for the lead. I continued to lead the race for the next 2+ laps with Cavalieri right on my rear bumper. I kept my line for quite a while, preventing Cavalieri from getting by. Late in the race, however, on a 120-degree turn in the back corner, I got loose and Cavalieri pulled right alongside me. A big drop-off into an immediate double jump was in front of us. As I tried to get to the corner first, I flat-landed on the takeoff of the double jump. Cavalieri and I collided, with both of us crashing. We both landed on our wheels without any breakage, but Cavalieri would regain the lead. I was flawless for the remainder of the race and would finish in second place. My combined points for the two A-Mains would land me in second place on the podium.
1/8 Scale Expert Buggy
My tire of choice for all three qualifiers would be AKA Soft Impacts. My Kyosho MP9 TKI III was fantastic, and the new layout was more fun and flowing than the previous. There were two full heats of expert buggy, and the track was watered every three races. I would draw the wet track for my first qualifier, and even though I finished in second place, less than a second behind Gaffney, four racers in the next heat would better Gaffney’s TQ. In the second qualifier, I got the dry track, and my lap times increased by almost a full second. I would take the TQ in my heat, and would improve my position to 6th overall. My final qualifier went even better, and I took the win again, improving my overall position to fifth for Sunday’s 45-minute A-Main.
The start of the A-Main was one of the cleanest starts I have ever experienced, especially considering the fact that there were 14 cars in the Main! I got a great start, and maintained my position for the first couple of laps, but I went a little wide coming onto the straight, and Gaffney made a clean pass on the inside. A few seconds later in the big uphill bump in the back left, Gaffney went wide at the top of the hill. I had the inside line and tried to make the pass, but at the same time, Gaffney drifted back to the inside, sending us both tumbling down the hill. I didn’t require a marshall, but Moralez got by me, pushing me down to 7th place. I settled into a groove, and soon worked my way back up to 5th place. Halfway into my second tank of fuel, I cased a double-jump and flamed out. By the time my pit man retrieved my car and got me restarted, I lost more than a minute, and slipped to eighth place.
I pushed very hard the remainder of the race, with no major mistakes, and managed to work my way back up to seventh place. With only one lap left, I managed to close the gap with Kyosho teammate Gaffney. With the clock expired and a half a lap to go, Gaffney clipped the pipe on the downhill “S” curve, and I got by on the inside. Gaffney tucked in behind me for the final few turns. On the final double jump immediately before the finish line, we both punched the throttle and got together about 10 feet short of the finish line. We both landed on our lids, and waited for help from the turn marshalls. As we were both turned over onto our wheels, Gaffney had an unfortunate flame-out, and I crossed the line in 6th place.
My Kyosho MP9 TKI III on AKA Soft Impacts could not have performed better, and despite the flameout, I was very happy to finish 6th in such a strong field.