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Colorado Springs, Colorado
This year, R.O.A.R. nationals were held at Colorado Fast trax, high up in the Colorado Mountains. The elevation was well over 6000 feet and proved to be a tuning challenge, in more ways than one.
The even started off on Wednesday for open practice. In my case it took about 5 hours to get my engine to run correctly, due to the elevation.
Unfortunately for the engine side of things it really cut into the tuning end of the car. The track was extremely challenging and the condition was one I have not had to experience thus far. The track had wax type chalky dirt, which would prove to play a big factor in the braking mechanism on the surface of the Fiberglass brake discs. On top of that the track was low grip when moist, high grip when dry, rough in some sections, and had some really challenging mogul section. The track also had one extremely large jump in the center of the track that would also prove to be very hard on the cars.
The first day was spent mostly learning the engine, testing the Cobra car slightly and trying my best to learn the layout. After we figured out the engine we then were able to work more on the car, but the schedule did not really allow for much true practice, unless you had already been to this venue prior to the event. I tried a lot of different setups but never really felt I had the best balance between good traction, balance and handling the rough stuff.
The second day consisted of one practice, and then immediately the first round of qualifying. So, basically on Thursday you had to have settled on a setup and be ready to race at your best. Since we spent so much time on the engine, we really did not take all the time truly needed to properly setup the car. It would ultimately hurt us in the long run of things. In my qualifying round I put in a solid time with little to no mistakes and that helped out in placing me in a good heat for the days to come. Unfortunately I was not comfortable with my car mostly on corner exit under hard acceleration. I felt that it was too loose and not stable enough for me to put the car where I needed it to go.
The third day was setup to be the 2nd and 3rd round of qualifying. I showed up and was looking for more rear end stability on corner exit and a little better rough track handling. I turned to the Neo buggy rear end. It seemed that the inside hole on the rear arm actually helped stabilize the rear of the car but gave the car a mild push. It was better than an over steer and allowed me to better my feeling of the car. Although I thought my car was ok, I watched another team driver’s car and thought that I would give his setup a try. So in the 3rd round of qualifying I would try his rear end setup out. His shocks were more upright on the tower and mounted back on the outside hole on the arm. In my qualifier it felt good, but was not as stable as the previous Neo buggy rear end.
The third and final day of the event consisted of the 4th round of qualifying and the running of lower finals. I tried some new stuff in the final round by adding more slop into the car, hoping this might play a better roll in the bumps to help my car float around. It seemed to work a little, but I do not feel that was the answer either. My final round was decent, but not the best. In turn I would have to settle for 16th total qualification for the mains.
I was in a semi final on main day and as my race started I moved to the front, but then immediately moved myself to the back of the pack. I crashed in the woops which would prove to be a very challenging part of the track for me. I made a late race charge that would get me up to the transferring position only to find myself flipping over coming out of pit lane to watch it all dwindle away again. In the end, the car actually was better, but I still made to many mistakes that would ultimately cost me the final. Had I found out more information and a better setup sooner, my chances of making the final would have been much better. Along with some better driving on my part the final was easily in reach.
Perhaps next year I will be better prepared to this situation. All these races are true learning experiences and this one showed that those experiences are priceless. You have to take what you can from each of these races and build up your knowledge base in order to better prepare yourself for the future.
Thx to Neobuggy.net for the images.