My location: United States
Sep 11, 2008

Last weekend saw America\'s top 1:8 driver compete for the honours of becoming the 2008 ROAR US National Champion and there with his with Serpent 960 was team DJ Apolaro who sent us this report from the big race -

Well this past weekend were the 1:8 scale Nationals held at the 301 Raceway in Maryland. I had been practicing with 1:8 scale now for a couple of months and felt good going into the race. The weather was looking iffy and everyone knew that we would only get one day of qualifying. The ROAR officials did a great job of predicting the weather and we were still able to get 4 rounds of qualifiers.

I arrived to the track on Wednesday morning to join Paolo and Ronnie at the track. I started practicing with motors & clutches and had issues most of the day. My car was good and needed little work. On Thursday I worked with 2 other motors and made sure to make run time and find a good balance of clutch and pipe/header. By the end of Thursday my package was ok, but not as fast as the really fast guys. I was about 2 tenths off the pace and needed to see how things would play out. At the end of Thursday we ran a practice round to see how everyone was doing. I ran a top 5 pace and did 17 laps with a bobble that cost me about 3 seconds. I felt good and knew I could go a little faster.

Friday morning was here and it was time to qualify. In my first qualifier I just took it easy, as we are running qual points and need to finish. I wanted to make sure to get in a run. I did a fast 16 lapper, but ended the round in 7th. This was not going to help me and I needed to go faster. In the next round I was hurt by slower cars and could not get in a good run. For the last 2 rounds they re-sorted the heats and this helped put people were they belonged on skill level. I was now racing with the fast guys and felt I could improve. In the third round I had steering servo problems and did all I could just to keep the car going on the track. For the fourth and last round I had a good run and finished 5th and also finished with the 5th fastest time of the event. However due to qual points I sitting 11th overall and would have to run in the semi odd final.

Saturday came and the weather was really bad as Tropical storm Hana was passing through Maryland. Everyone just relaxed for the day and slept in. We worked on our car to get them ready for the finals. Since my car was really good in the last round I just went though the car and prepared it for the main. My Semi had some fast guys, but I was confident that I could bump up to the final. I was second on the grid and knew to just take it easy, as they are taking two car. At the start of the race I was able to pass the first car at the first turn and start to pull a lead. It was myself and one other leaving the rest of the pack. I put it into cruise control after about 6 minutes and made sure not to take any risk. I won the Semi and was now in the main.

For the Main I knew it was important to have a good strategy and have no mistakes in the race. The top 5 guys were really fast and had been driving well all weekend. I opted to not make a tire change and ran 40\'s (yes 40\'s in 1/8 scale). I knew I would be a little slower, but would save some time, as the pitting is timely on this track. At the start of the race I was able to make some positions and got up to 6th. Then all of a sudden a steering linkage popped off and the car was without steering. I nursed it back to the pit and got it fixed. After that the car started acting real funny and would not steer going to the right. I was trying to see why and would bring it in the pits a few more times. Not knowing what the problems was I ended up being out of the race for about 50 laps. By the time we figured it out I went back into the race and just finished how I could. Not really what I had hoped for. My final was everything, but what I had planned. Instead of no troubles it was nothing but trouble. Well I guess that is racing and I have to take the learning\'s with me for the next one. There were some things I could have done better and some things I felt I did very well.

I would like to thank all of the 301 crew and ROAR officials. They did a great job and worked really hard. Everything was run smooth and they dealt with the weather perfectly. Special thanks to Kevin Hutchinson for the pit work all weekend.

Thanks to all my sponsors that allow me to run the fine products it takes to race at the highest level. My Serpent 960 08 combined with the 359 Novarossi was really fast and easy to drive. My Maxy\'s Fuel made the 5 minutes and was really crisp. The Twister Tires had great tire wear and performed flawless. Thanks again Serpent, Novarossi, Maxy\'s Fuel and Twister Tires USA.

Till next race!!!!!

DJ Apolaro