My location: United States
Apr 12, 2010

The 2010 Neo Invitational marks 5 years of successful indoor Nitro racing, brought to by one of the latest Media Icon’s Phil Mortstedt. He is famously known for his web site, his information and insight help path the way for many newcomers.
Harper Adams Agricultural College is in a small country side town of Newport. , this will mark the site for such an event held in one of their Steel agricultural sheds. They then transform this flat soil surface into a Dirt racing extravaganza. The jumps are fierce, the surface grooves immensely and the nitro fumes will fill the air.

The competitive field in 2010 consisted of over 200 Nitro enthusiasts. In attendance were some of the very best in the world, which included Yannick Aigoin, Jerome Aigoin , Ryan Maifield, Mike Truhe, Adam Drake, Atsushi Hara, and the list goes on and on. No doubt this would end up a Mini World class level warm up race.

We showed up at the event on Thursday ready to hit the freshly built track. The track consisted of various jumps, bumps and turns. The main straight was very short, but fairly standard for indoor racing. The track had some very challenging jumps that would prove to be very demanding on the car.
The track during the 3 rounds of practice actually did not groove up that well and proved to be a bit slippery. I tested many different tire combos, but felt that the Proline M4 hole shots with Blue closed cell foam proved to be the hot setup on my car.

After running the 811 I felt that the front end was working overall pretty well, the rear of the car needed adjusted to hit the long jumps and was a little to locked in through the center of the corner. I opted for a different spring, shock combination as well as a different rear camber link. The changes seemed to be exactly what the car needed in order to run the pace of the other contending drivers during the practice rounds.
During the final practice we had to run 3 consecutive lap times, which would then place you in a qualifying heat. During that run, I did just that and posted some really good times, which would prove positive and placed me in the A heat of drivers.
The qualifying at the Neo consisted of 6 total qualifiers and then 4 of them counted. So you can throw out your worst 2 finishes. During the earlier runs of qualifying, my car proved to have the absolute speed it needed to qualify at the top of the pile. However, a little bit of bad driving and some bad luck on my part didn’t exactly score me anything respectable. I was a little frustrated with myself by not putting in good runs when my car was truly a performer. In any event, I worked hard to make my car easier to drive so I wouldn’t have to work as hard, in turn maybe I would make less mistakes and go faster in the end. The 811 has such good cornering speed, but also great rear side traction, its difficult sometimes to pin point how to go faster. In this particular situation I focused on being able to jump and land the jumps better. It seemed to be an area where I was struggling the most. I made a couple adjustments to the shock oil and also the position on the rear Suspension arm. It was a bit of a shot gun approach at the time, but proved to be the right thing to do. We also went to a thinner rear sway bar, which also helped the car through the rougher section of the track. Although I did not get to test this in the final qualifier, I was able to test it in the ¼ final only to find out we had made a lot of good decisions. The car was fast, consistent, easy to drive and A main event contender. After winning the ¼ final it was now time to go take on the Semi final and see what sort of result we could post.
As the Semi final took place I found my car to be a lot better than most of the other drivers and it was very easy to work my way to the front, even though I had to make one extra pit stop due to lack of engine knowledge. Either way, the Semi went well, and we transferred into the final in the 9th position. This was a really great result for us, considering this was our first time at the event, and also the first time at the event with a new car. So, with only 2 cars at the event, we had one of them in the final.
The final was set to go, and we had a cast of many great drivers. The warm up went well as the 811 was impressive and capable of contending as I easily passed many drivers during warm up. I was excited and ready for it all to begin. I sat on the starting line, flag went down, horn sounded and away we went. I made some really great passes on the first lap or two and shot straight to the front of the pack. I passed a car here and there and then, I was in second, contending for the lead. I got a little overly excited and hit a tube or two and dropped back in the pack to about 5th. Started to charge forward again as the packed started to spread out. The car was running really good until the throttle servo started to act funny. I was loosing full control of the throttle; it was coming in and out. Well, eventually it quit working. Turns out, inside the servo there are gears that are pressed together. Basically a brass and aluminum gear that get pressed together, the fit just let go, and the two gears were spinning frantically inside. With the throttle gears failing, it put me out of the race. It was unfortunate, but I experienced enough excitement to last a life time.

Although the race was a disappointment in regards to how I finished, overall it was a very positive and exciting event. We did thought finish in the top 15 and that is respectable. It really felt good to be in the company of so many great drivers. The track was very challenging, and was a great learning experience for me and im sure many others. I would definitely say that next year I would be interested in going back. It was a lot of fun, for sure.

Thanks to the entire crew there at the Neo for an excellent event, and thanks Michael for coming out to also experience off-road racing at its best.


Billy Easton
Team Serpent Offroad