ROAR Nationals, Warm-up, LCRC
This years ROAR nationals will take us into the mountainous area of Pennsylvania. The track is actually kind of in a valley in the mountains. The track is mostly made up of white powdery dirt a lot like that of the Nationals in Colorado a couple years back. The only difference is, this track see’s more sunshine and the dirt can go from low traction to super traction in a matter of a few hours of hot sunshine. The track itself stays together and really doesn’t break up all that much. It can get a bit dusty, but with the right moisture, the track condition will make for some great racing.
The warmup layout was quite interesting to say the least. There are almost two straight aways on the track. You have a long front straight, followed by a diagonal straight into a banked oval turn. This is LCRC’s trademark in the track layout and they try to retain it from lay out to layout. Other than that, it only had a couple more tricky sections. The 6 pack, or double,double,double was easy, up until the point it was dusty and some of the jump faces started to deteriorate. The other hard section on the track, or more so hard on the car was the 5 foot step down, or drop off. This proved really challenging on the cars suspension and ability to absorb.
When we showed up the weather was really cold in the 40’s and had over cast. It had rained the previous days, leaving the track a bit moist. The condition was a bit slippery, at this time and began to formulate dust. With no sun on the track the condition was loose to most. I have to admit though and as many would confirm, the Serpent S811 in this condition was really off the chain. I was able to post quite a bit faster lap times than the other competitors. I was having difficulty with the softer tires and had to opt for harder m3’s on my car. It helped calm the car down in this situation, but gave the me the proper amount of steering and traction. I was able to TQ, the 4 rounds of qualifying, but, this was really just the beginning of the wild ride.
Saturday(qualifying) we saw no rain and, the sun was out a good portion of the day. The track crew had begun to blow the track and remove a lot of the dust. The condition was improving each and every round. As the track was improving, so was the grip, as well as the other competitors unfortunately. My car really didn’t improve much; it was actually becoming more difficult to drive. As the grip was increasing, the feeling of my car became more and more edgy.. I managed to hang on for Saturday, but what Sunday would bring was an entirely different track condition all together. We were expecting a lot of rain on Saturday night, but, it never came. Sunday started off with a prepared track and a lot of sunshine. The track race to race was getting faster and faster. By the time the truggy final had come around, the track was 2 seconds a lap faster than qualifying. You could say, the track was really hooked up.
During my semifinal run, my car was very difficult to drive, and I struggled to race with the other drivers. I was at that time trying to run my same setup from Qualifying. I managed to edge out the semi and tq the event.
I knew that my car was not good enough to win the final, so I had to make some setup choices to hopefully put me in a better position. The first thing, I chose, was a stiffer front roll bar, (2.3 to 2.5) then I heavied up the front and rear oils( fr 525 to 550),(rr 350 to 375). I then laid down the front shocks from #4 to #3. These changes always seem to help our car in higher grip scenarios. I also chose a different pattern tire, that is typically a little safer in higher grip. I went from the holeshot in qualifying to the Blockade for the long final.
The improvements I made to the car did help, but, it still needed to be better.
The beginning of the race was a real bar banger between me and 3 of 4 other drivers. We swapped the lead back and forth the first 10 minutes or so, then I was able to start pulling away. I had lapped up to about 3rd or 4th I think around the 20-25 minute mark, when all of a sudden I had a phantom flame out. I had to be brough back into the pits, fortunately, my lead was big enough, that when I returned to the track I was still on the lead lap, but now sitting in the 8th position. It was going to be a really long race at this point, but I was not totally out of it. I battled back for the remaining 25 minutes or so, and with only 3 laps to go, I came up on the lead car who had been leading for a while.. He had run out of tires, while I still had a little left. I was able to pass him and pull away in a short time. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t. In this case, something that is true to the words..”Victories are earned not given” rang through my mind.
I want to say thanks to my sponsors, Serpent, Airtronics, Byrons fuel,Proline, Lunsford,Hitec,A main hobbies,PT Racing,Protec, and LRP.
Wins are wins, and they all add up the experience.