The 29th Annual April Fools race was once again hosted by the IRCR crew out in Utah. One of my favorite annual races, Iíve managed to miss the past few years due to trade shows or other events conflicting. Lucky for me this year cleared up and I was able to attend. Murf and the entire IRCR crew did a phenomenal job with the track surface and layout, as well as the facility itself. Itís a huge improvement over the previous one if you are old enough like me to remember it.
The past few months Iíve taken a bit of time off from the track outside of testing. As some you may know I had owned the local track and had recently sold it. So the time off was welcome and much needed. Iíve also recently been appointed as the Yokomo/Protek US team manager via Amain. Iíve had a long relationship with the guys over at Amain and this was the first event I attended with the additional work load. The event had over 370+ entries and was 60 deep in a few classes such a 2wd 17.5 buggy.
The local tire magic wasnít working for me to be honest. The liquid wrench treatment made my cars feel super inconsistent and greasy. Once I chose to change back to my regular method along with a few car changes I felt better right away. In seeding practice I was able to make the A sorts which I felt pretty good about. My cars were fast but not locked in how I prefer them. 4 rounds of qualifying were spit over 2 days. With 370+ entries that would mean roughly 6 hours per round. Not bad with Jimmy Babcock at the helm and on the mic. Rounds 1 and 2 didnít go spectacular for me as I was a little too reluctant to make changes to my cars feeling it was my tires still needing to break into the the track. I would realize later this wasnít the right call. I ran 2wd 17.5 and 2wd 13.5 buggy with my Yokomo Yz2 Caís equipped with my Tekin RS Gen2 and Tekin RSX Escís running the Redline Gen3 motors both in RPM variants. I prefer the yellow tuning rotor personally since I like a bit more bottom end over top end. Iíd have mediocre runs putting me into the B sort in one class, and C sort in the next after the resort. My 17.5 Racing truck however was a bit more predictable and itís always been one of my best classes race truck wise. I was sitting comfortably in a top 3 spot and in the A sort for day 2.
Day 2 was an early one with a horribly comfortable pillow (why does this happen now a days?!). With a few hours sleep I was at track at doors open 7am. I immediately began wrenching on my Yokomos making some drastic changes, something a little different on each. I figured I had very little to lose and plenty to gain. I made shock oil changes on both cars but chose a stiffer rear spring on the rear of the 13.5 car, and a softer front spring on the 17.5 car. I figured the stock car was a little slower in the corner than my 13.5 car. Running Ifmar qualifiers I set my 17.5 car down on the track first up. I knew right away the changes were a step in the right direction. The car was planted and super easy to drive. Maybe not mega fast but Iíd take easy to drive and fast enough when I needed a good solid top 10 run. It started off as such, running quick upper mid 15 second lap times. Iíd be in traffic by lap 2 and was still able to keep up the lap times with everyone doing a great job working together on the track. I was on a new Tq pace, a 19 lap 5:09 which was pretty quick as only a few guys were hitting 19 lap runs in the 1st day. Iíd here the 30 second call and cross the line for what was likely my final lap. Iíd come over the corner table in front of the drivers stand and accelerate down through the chicane into the step down section only to have a gentle roll over and land on my tires. I thought no big deal I just lost a few tenthsÖuntil I hit the gas and the car didnít move. In the 3 years Iíve been running Yokomo cars Iíve never once popped off a stock ball cup, until today. The heartbreaking part was the finish line was one turn, and 20 feet away. The sidelines tried to fix it but time expired leaving me with a 18 lap 5:02, 12th for the round. Dang it! My 13.5 run would be better and a solid top 20 run but traffic was more of a problem in this heat slowing us all down. My fault for being in the lower sorts, nothing to complain about. My racing truck was dialed before and was dialed still. I run a pretty standard setup on it and I donít deviate from it very much regardless of tire choice. Iíd take another top 3 run in Q3.
End of day 2 and waiting for the last qualifier, race #43 last race of the day. My Tekinpowered T5m was on slicks for this run. A few local Reno boys were testing them a few races prior and reporting that they were dialed if you were in the groove. Cash Mattingley a young race prodigy of father Moose had just laid it down in the previous heat setting a 19 lap run Tq. Iíve seen this young man race before at my home track and heís super fast and his cars always look great. I knew I had to have a super clean run to take a top 2 let alone Tq. Going out on slicks with my pit crew on the wall at the ready to swap to my treads just in case I dropped my car and hit the stand. The first time I hit the corner I knew the slicks were the right choice. A few warm up laps and I waived off my help(thanks boys!). Starting 3rd in the sort I would punch it off the table across the line and into the 180 before the triple. Being the team manager has itís privileges, my truck was fast. I would reel in Ron Ried in a lap or two after he turned in too early off the sweeper. Next in front of me was previous TqCliff Nicholson. Iíve raced with both of these guys since the 90ís and knew both were on point driving. Iíd catch Cliff a few laps later and make a clean pass after he too tapped a pipe. Cliff however would follow me around for the last 2 minutes pushing me and taking some draft off the straight. It was clean no doubt and I even considered moving over knowing I had a 4 second up on the previous Tq and didnít need to take a hit even an incidental one. Iíd chosen to hold my ground knowing I was top 3 regardless of this qualifier and it was perfect practice for what was surely going to be a fun A main. I chose correctly and would take the pressure and go faster still, taking a new Tq over 4 seconds from Cash. This would put me P3 for the single Aís tomorrow.
Mains day was up and after a much needed rest and 3 iced coffees I was ready to race. I didnít have the best qualifying effort as mentioned prior so my goal was to prove my cars were now dialed, and throw down some laps and clean passes and get to the front to try and win my heat race. Starting 5th on the grid in 17.5 Buggy C main I knew Iíd have to work hard for the entire 5 minutes if I wanted to get to the front. From the tone Iíd catch P4 sleeping a bit and send my Yz2 in on the sweeper and over the quick double left turn, and get taken outÖ Iíd be the last car out of the pile up to make it rubber side down. Taking a breath, head down and racing again. Iíd throw down the fastest laps of the heat race and catch all the way back up to 6th.
13.5 2wd Buggy B main was up next. Once again lining up P5 I knew I had to go straight to work. On the tone Iíd look for the inside pass but felt it was too close and check up. The pile up would once again ensue after the double left turn. I managed to make it through the first pile up but would get throttled form behind and tangled with another car. Back to dead last again I felt the deja vu feeling. I could sworn Iíd done this before lol. Same mentality, push forward and do what I can. I made a few places but was pushing a bit too hard making silly mistakes and not making it any further than 5th place. An extra minute or two I think I could have caught the leaders. But thatís racing.
The final race of the day for me and everyone else for that matter. 17.5T racing truck was up. Starting P2 right behind Cliff Nicholson and in front on Ron Ried I knew this was going to be a fun race. Iíve raced those guys before and know theyíre clean and fun to race with. We all want to win but I knew itíd be a clean race on our part. At the tone the entire field would freight train around for the first lap. Cliff would bobble over the corner table after the chicanesection handing me the lead with a bow(thanks Cliff). I wasted no time and put my head down to try and pull a gap. I would manage just that as it appeared Ron was struggling with somewhat of an evil truck while on slicks. 2 1/2 minutes into the 5 minute Amain and I had a 4 second gap which is decent in stock truck. I clearly had one of the fastest truck on the track and the fact it was super easy to drive helped a ton. Coming off the straight and into the high speed sweeper I was able to keep power on and just send the truck into the turn full power. This however wasnít the case for the back marker I didnít see until it was too late. I had ran right into the back of a white/blue/orange truck that was battlingit out for a position and while I got the car slowed down I managed to get spun around! I could see Ron again in my view and knew he was bringing it. I made a stupid mistake over the triple section grinding it out on a pipe. Ried would go by and Iíd chase him for the next 2 laps. Iíd make another mistaking coming up shorty on the double in front of the stand. The 1 minute warning was given and Ron had about 2-3 seconds on me. On the last lap Ron would spin out at the end of the straight letting me close the distance. Iíd be less than 24?s from his rear bumper going over the double after the sweeper. A back marker car would snag my front wheel and spin me around letting Ron get away clean and as they sayÖ..it was all she wrote. Kudos to everyone in that race, it was fast and fun to drive. Iíd settle for 2nd overall once again with the fastest lap of the heat race.