My location: United States
Sep 22, 2009

Hello racers,

This past weekend was the first round of the annual Florida State Series. It was held in the most southern part of the series at the Homestead RC Raceway. There was practice on Friday, 3 qualifiers on Saturday and one more qualifier on Sunday with the mains to follow. Having just gotten back from the Nationals 2 weeks earlier I decided to miss the Friday and Saturday and just go for Sunday.

On Sunday morning I got to the track very early. I was at the track by 06:50 am and was waiting for the gates to open. I wanted to make sure I could at least get some time on the track before they started the Qualifier and I still needed to register for the race. Unfortunately it had rained the night before so I could not even get on the track till around 9:30 am. The track crew did a great job of getting the track ready and all the racers started practicing to get a groove back in the track. I put my Serpent 733 car down with the set-up from the Nats, having made just some minor changes to account for the lower traction. I went around the track and my car was doing donuts at all the turns. I did not think is was going to be so far off, but I went back to the pits and started making a lot of changes. I did not get to go back out and would have to hope for the best for the Qualifier. My qualifier was up and my car was better, but still way off. I was now only spinning out at 2 points of the track, still a problem but I could just drive slow in those points and try to get the run in for a main position. I was running about 4th or 5th over and would have still made the final, but I ran out of fuel on the last lap. So instead of being 7th or 8th in the grid, I was 2nd on the grid in the B main.

I still had to fix the cars handling, as grip was so different from the Nats, so I was actually ok with being in the B main. It would give me a chance to try the Serpent 733 car again. If I had made the A and still had a bad handling car in the final I would not be able to make up for it like I can in the B main.

The B main started and I was already much happier with the 733 car. The changes worked really well and it was pretty close to what I was looking for. I was able to win the B final by a few laps and bumped up to the A. Now I could try to perfect the car to be even faster the A final.

In the warm up for the A I was even happier with the car. Now it was really good and I could push with it and felt like I could race with anybody. I started 9th and got a great start. I made a move on the outside when the horned sounded and was able to get in tight for the next turn. This made up about 2 spots and in the next turn a made a few more. By the end of the first lap I was in 4th and on the tails of 3rd and 2nd. Paolo was in first and was also very fast. Not wanting to crash the 3rd and 2nd place car I had to follow them for about 5 laps. This was allowing Paolo to get about a 7 second lead. I did not want to push the other cars, as they were in a heated battle and I needed to find space to pass them both at the same time (as a racer watching Paolo just get further away was hard for me to control). After a few laps I think the other cars got together and I was able to get by. Now I was in second and looking to catch Paolo. We were turning about the same time and every once in while I would notice I was gaining ground. We must have stayed in this rhythm for about 10 minutes. I had cut my gap down from 7 second to about 3. Then all of a sudden I heard Paolo complain about he was starting to have servo problems and after about 5 laps of this I caught him and 1 lap latter he was out. At this point I was able to focus on just bringing the win home. It was a 30 minute final and with about 10 minutes or so to go I just tried different lines and practice putting the car in certain places on the track. This car is still so new to me that I am not sure how far I can push it. I actually started see trends with the car and was able to improve my pace and at the same time put less stress on the car. In the end we won the final and had a great finish to what could have been a really tough day. I say we won, as without a pitman nothing is possible. (Thanks Wayne for the pitting) I know you did not bump up, just so you could help me out, hahaha.

I would like to say thanks to the Homestead Crew for a job well done. I heard they had bad rain on Saturday morning and the event was delayed about 3 hours. They still got in all 3 qualifiers for the racers and even got the traction back to a good status. Also to the Forgass officials that give their time to keeping the series going. Also to all my wife that has allowed me to be gone so much lately and to my sponsors that make all my racing possible. Serpent, Serpent America, XceedRC, Novarossi World, Twister Tires USA, ATS, Airtronics, Faskolor and Parma.

P.S. I am going to start doing to more testing locally now that I am home for a little while. I will update my findings as they change from what is already known. I will be using the Winternats track, Kissimmee track and Homestead track. Hopefully it will be good info over the next couple of months.


Till next time!!!!

DJ Apolaro