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Atomic World Cup Warm-Up Race Report

Posted 09-20-2009 at 04:24 AM by color0
Updated 03-08-2011 at 09:35 AM by color0
To be honest, I didn't have any other material to post this week, so allow me to slack a little and just write about what went down at the Atomic Warm-Up Race yesterday, Sept. 19.

Basic information: There were basically only three classes, all 2WD. Atomic Stock (Kyosho/Atomic parts only), Open Stock (any hop-ups), and Atomic Youth (Kyosho/Atomic parts only, must be 13 or under, I think). All classes used the superb Atomic USA Standard motor.

So starting last Thursday I went to Fast Pace Racing (the venue for this big race) to practice and get my MRCG1.1 dialed in. Friday I participated in a practice race there, and funnily enough, managed to ruin my steering servo, putting me out of the race and out for the upcoming, important, Atomic race. (I'm working on a cure for the servo right now, not just for me but also any other MRCG owners.) Without a spare servo on hand though, I was screwed, so TJ from FPR, out of the goodness of his heart -- or maybe he just wanted to see me race? -- lent me one of his backup MR02's and some spare batteries.

That was Friday night at 9PM, less than 12 hours before the race day was to start.

Come Saturday morning, I slap on some wheels and tires (PN 20 slicks, Kyosho 20 slicks, a safe, workable combo) and go to the track. The track layout was simple and fast: 3x long straight into switchback, and one major chicane. However, it appears that I must've overslept a bit...

The qualifiers are nearly starting! I barely finish soldering in the handout Atomic motor when my name is called to the drivers' stand for 2WD Open Stock Heat #2, and as luck would have it, someone's got my transponder and I can't find him. No track time for my borrowed, brand-new MR02 (not even TJ had run it yet!). I get the transponder finally, plug it in, and realize it's not working. Oh crap, the transponder wire plug is no longer connected to a wire. Well then, we're already behind schedule, I've had zero practice at all, don't even know if my car tracks straight -- what the heck, let's go for it! Our race announcer for the day, John, offers to count my laps personally, so I take him up on that and Qualifying Round 1 gets under way.

I'm down on power and grip, I notice that as soon as I pull out onto the straight. TJ's base chassis setup is nice and forgiving, but those PN 20's and Kyosho 20's are drift tires compared to the Kyosho 30 radials and PN 6 radials that the fastest guys were running. So drift I did, I went into all three switchbacks with the tail coming out, bringing it back in before accelerating out of the corner. Tire preservation be damned, I was keeping pace in the corners with most everyone and even won one of my qualifying heats (though, that was after Leo J., Atomic driver, pulled off).

For the record, I did get the transponder wire and transponder itself working after the first round.

Whether due to the age of the batteries or my adopted driving style though, I dumped at the end of Qualifying Round 2 and was not happy -- I had to frantically ask around for spare batteries, and JT from Inside Line Racing was kind enough to let me borrow two sets for the day.

Qualifying Round 3 highlighted the biggest thing that's holding me back from being an A-main driver at the Worlds level: accident avoidance. Maybe it's a new car, maybe it's the bright sunlight streaming in from Fast Pace Racing's expansive glass windows, but I could not get around lap traffic to save my life, and got PIT-maneuvered several times by other cars with more power. Nonetheless I just soldiered through that last qualifier the best I could and hoped for the best in the B main. 33 laps with a 9.3/9.4 fast lap (don't remember exactly, the results will probably be up soon enough) put me solidly in the middle of the B main pack.

After all the qualifying rounds were over, we had a good 25 minute break. People ate lunch, hung out, practiced, took bathroom breaks, meanwhile I was studying master TJ maintaining his insanely-dialed race MR02. Turns out that he only recently picked up the habit of lubricating the bushings in the motor, cleaning out the commutator, etc., and that it makes a huge difference on the track. This wasn't news to me per se, but it was the first time I got to see how large of a difference it truly makes -- all of the top cars had some serious horsepower. After all, I only ever raced to dial in and develop the MRCG and MRCG1.1 platforms, I didn't really care about power so long as I got around the corners faster than anyone else. But now with an MR02, I'm suddenly on even terms with everybody and not trying to develop a car, so suddenly all these little maintenance things began to make me think. Not that I want to spend the money on such splitting-hairs stuff, nor do I race often enough to really warrant it, but I would like to try extracting the full potential from one of my cars sometime just to see how much faster I could possibly go.

With the break over, it's main time! 2WD Open Stock B main was right in the middle of the mains lineup, so I had a fresh set of batteries ready and waiting, and this time (for once) I actually got a few practice laps on the track without encountering traffic. Satisfied, I pull over, Peter D. (FPR owner) grids up the cars for us (I'm 5th), and the countdown commences...

Tone sounds, and we're off! ... all except Steve, who must've been asleep or something because I nearly ran right into his car. Avoided it, thankfully, but I was about an inch away from giving both of us a lot of trouble. Couple seconds after the initial holeshot there's a pileup in front of me, and because all the cars had *finished* colliding, I managed to weave through all of that stuff and actually ended up in 2nd place somehow, right behind eventual B main winner Ryan S. That was pretty encouraging to me so I pushed the car hard, trying to run away from Art B. who was chasing me down with gobsmacks of power. I manage to stay ahead of his pace for a couple laps, but I noticed that my rear tires are starting to fade already! My Lexus was becoming overly sensitive to steering input -- eventually it hooked and spun right after the straight, giving the 2nd place position to Art.

At this point in time though I was still 3rd, which is nothing to be ashamed of, so I continued to drive, although I babied it a bit more entering the switchbacks now. What else could I do? The lack of stability cost me though, as eventually I got caught up in lap traffic incident after incident, and would get seriously unsettled whenever someone so much as tapped my rear bumper. Like the last qualifier, I ended up just soldiering through the last half of the main as my battery power also wore down. I kept pace fairly well though, as long as I didn't go to wildly into a corner I still cut some very close lines and passed many other cars that went wide. And in the end I maintained my 5th position on the grid, so at least I didn't get worse. All in all, a good day's worth of racing and a good experience for this writer. Needless to say, the 2WD Open Stock A Main was a joy to watch, what with TJ and Leo and other very fast cars and drivers tearing it up freight-train style on the track.

Final thoughts: Well, what can a guy do, stuff happens when you don't show up to a race prepared to begin with. I did the best I could given what I had though, and it was most certainly worth the anxiety. Hopefully it wasn't too troublesome for my benefactors: I owe many, many thanks to TJ and JT for lending me a car and batteries to make it through the day -- you guys rock! And of course a big thanks to Peter and FPR and RC-Atomic for making this happen, if I'm in the area again for this race next year I'll be sure to make it!

That concludes tonight's race report; hope you guys and gals found it a good read. Stay tuned for the next installment of color0's column, while I try to figure out what I'd like to write about next.
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