Sanford and Son RC headed out to Heritage RC Park in Chula Vista, CA on Saturday, October 4th for Round 5 of the Mugen Seiki Grand Prix Series. The temperature topped the 100 degree mark, but we cranked up the fans, so it was a nice day at the track. The track was watered every other heat.
The competition for this round would include Mugen drivers Jaques Ballow, Tim Long and Felipe Martinez, X-Ray’s Mason Elliot, and TLR’s Don Vinkemulder and Travis Brock.
1/8 Scale Expert Buggy
The same track layout was carried over from the recent Nitro Explosion race. The track was pretty rutted out in some places, but we had a productive practice session the previous Thursday evening. After some piston and shock oil changes to the front of the car, everything was sorted out. We would have a dry track for Round 1 of qualifying, and I bolted up a fresh set of AKA Soft Impacts. I made a small setup change to the rear of my Kyosho MP9 TKI3 to get better rotation, and it was fantastic. I ran a very good first heat, requiring no marshall, and got the first round TQ. We had the wet track for the second qualifier, and I bolted up a set of AKA Soft GridIrons. These tires had worked great on my EBuggy on a wet track, so I wanted to try them on the nitro car. The tires actually had too much traction, and I traction rolled a number of times. Mason Elliot would take the second round win, but my first round TQ held up so I would start on the pole for the A-Main.
I only had a little over two gallons of fuel thru my motor, but had trouble tuning it recently because of an air leak in the front bearing. I had replaced the front bearing the night before this race, and the motor ran fine during the first round of qualifying. During the second round however, the idle was erratic, but I finished the heat. I almost decided to throw in my backup motor for the 30-minute A-Main, but we bench tuned the motor in the pits, getting it up to 210 degrees, and it idled and ran fine after a few adjustments. I decided to stay with this motor.
For the 30-minute A-Main, I bolted up a fresh set of AKA Soft Impacts. During practice laps for the A-Main, the motor flamed out twice. I had my pit man lean the bottom a couple of hours and adjust the idle, and my pit man gave me the thumbs up. The A-Main started, and I got in an early groove. I lapped the field, but I could feel the motor was running rich on bottom and top. I had a comfortable lead, so I pitted about a minute early and had my pit man lean the bottom and top during my first pit stop. The car was much better, and I was close to lapping the field again when I came in for my second pit stop.
Six minutes into my second tank of fuel, I rounded the sweeper at the end of the straight, and the motor inexplicably flamed out. My pit man retrieved my car, raised the idle, and quickly got me restarted, and I left the pits in second place, right on Vinkemulder’s bumper. A lap later, I was able to power past Vinkemulder down the straightaway, and passed him on the inside going thru the sweeper. However, a lap later, in the exact same spot on the track, the motor flamed out again.
My pit man got me restarted quickly, but I lost a lot of time to Vinkemulder, who now had about a half lap lead. I pushed the car hard, and pulled to within about 5 seconds of Vinkemulder, but my pit man was calling me in for a splash. There was only a minute and a half left in the race, and I decided to stay out on the track. I had to drive hard to catch Vinkemulder, and ran out of gas on my final lap. My pit man got me restarted before the race ended, and I was able to complete my final lap, landing second on the podium. We were informed by the race director that Vinkemulder, since he worked at the track, is not eligible for points, and that the finishing order would be Sanford, Filipe Martinez and Jaques Ballow.
Despite how poorly my engine was running, my MP9 TKI3 performed so well that I was able to finish on the podium. Every setup change I made on the car translated to real gains on the track. I want to thank my pit man Larry Sanford for the long hours of practice helping me prepare my car for this race. I cannot be happier with how my MP9 TKI3 has performed these past few months.
1/8 Scale E Buggy
There were only three entries in the E Buggy class, but I had fun, and the extra track time never hurts. I had a mistake free run on a wet track with AKA Soft GridIrons, and would set the TQ. I got the win in round 2 on a dry track on AKA Soft Impacts, and would start the 10 minute A-Main on the pole.
I got a great start in the Main, and my Kyosho MP9e TKI, with the Tekin RX8 Gen2 and Redline T8 Gen2 1900 motor stretched out a comfortable lead. Half way into the race, I scraped the pipe on the takeoff of a jump and crash-landed, pulling my left turnbuckle out of the plastic. It took about 3 minutes, but my pit crew located a camber link wrench and got me back out on the track to finish the race. Miguel Perez would take the win, with Travis Brock finishing second.