Sanford and Son RC headed out to SDRC Raceway in San Diego, CA on March 1st for Round 5 of the JConcepts Top Notch Winter Series.
My main competition for this event would include Barry Baker from AbsoluteHobbyz, Team Associated’s Tyler Hicks, TLR’s David Jenson, Tekno RC’s Jimmy Wright and Pres Ilog, Hobby Pro USA’s Andrew Smolnik, Kyosho teammates Jayson Pang and Kevin King, and a number of very fast local racers. There would be two rounds of 5 minute qualifiers, followed by 5 minute A Mains. There were approximately 175 entries this round.
Open 2wd Truck
Kyosho drivers Jayson Pang and Kevin King were entered in this race, so there would be 3 RT6 trucks. In the first qualifier, I ran a very good race with no mistakes, and was able to set the TQ by about 7 seconds. By the time the 2nd qualifier rolled around, the track was dry and a little slippery. I was not able to better the TQ time, but again ran a mistake-free race to take the heat win. In the A Main, I got a little bit loose on the first two turns, but everyone behind me kept it clean, and I was able to keep the lead. For the first few laps, it was a Kyosho RT6 freight train, with King and Pang really putting the pressure on me. I cannot be sure, because I was focused on my racing, but I think there was a crash in the triple-single in front of the driver’s stand, giving me a little bit of breathing room. My truck was really hooked up, and I made no mistakes, allowing me to cross the finish line for the win. My RT6 with the Tekin RSX and Redline Gen 2 6.5 motor was fantastic the entire night.
Open 2wd Truck finishing order:
1. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
2. Jayson Pang (Kyosho)
3. Daniel Brown
1/8 Scale eBuggy
SDRC Raceway has a large layout, but there were a number of tight turns, so I elected to stay with the Tekin T8i (Indoor) motor that has served me well for the last few rounds of this series. As before, the weight savings made my Kyosho MP9e TKI more nimble thru the turns. 1/8 scale eBuggy was the first race, and the track was lightly watered beforehand, so the traction would be good. In the first qualifier, I bolted up some super-soft AKA handlebars. The car was very consistent, and my lap times were .3 or .4 seconds faster than the competition. I ran a near-perfect race, and found myself on the final lap with a 3-4 second lead. The finish line was midway thru a 180 degree turn at the end of a long straight, and I cut the final turn too close, clipping the corner dot and flipping my car literally two feet from the loop. I had to wait for the marshall, who got to me quickly, but I lost the TQ by .002 to Wright. In the second qualifier, I got out to a great start, and was well ahead of the TQ time going into lap 10. However, approaching the quad jump in front of the driver’s stand, a lapper elected to check up right in front of me, opting for a double-double.
I barely clipped his rear wing while launching off the quad jump, and tumbled end over end on the landing. Fortunately, I landed on my wheels and didn’t require a marshall. With chances of reclaiming the TQ slipping away, I tightened up my lines and turned my fastest 5 laps of the heat. I captured the TQ by half a second. I would start on the pole for the A Main, with Wright and Ilog to follow. I got a great start in the A Main, and held the lead for the first four laps, with Wright and Ilog close behind. I got in a groove and started to slowly stretch my lead when disaster struck.
Going thru a short straight just before the wagon wheel section, a lapper decided he would come to a dead stop … right in front of me. I was stuck behind him while Wright and Ilog went around us. By the time the marshall freed me from the lapper’s car, I was almost a half lap behind the new leaders Wright and Ilog. I knew the lapper’s car had no technical issues, because he continued to race. He was soon called off the track by the announcer, because he was doing donuts with his car during the race.
I had to make up almost a half-lap deficit with only 3-1/2 minutes left in the race. I put the hammer down and tightened up my lines. I passed Ilog for second, but I only had a minute left in the race. I continued to pull on the leader Wright, but ran out of time, losing the race by 3.8 seconds. My car was consistently fast the entire night, and I have never raced better. My Kyosho MP9e TKI with the T8i motor and RX8 Gen 2 ESC was on rails the entire night!
1/8 Scale eBuggy finishing order:
1. Jimmy Wright (Tekno RC)
2. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
3. Pres Ilog (Tekno RC)
2wd Mod Buggy
I had spent two nights at the track trying to get my cars dialed in for this race. All my cars had been set up for the previous round at ADRC Raceway. The RT6 and MP9e required only minimal changes, but I was completely lost on the setup for my RB6. No matter what tires I tried or what setup changes I made, I could find no traction. Fortunately, Kyosho teammate and setup guru Jayson Pang was at the track the night before the race, and offered his help. He had me make four or five changes to the car, and as usual, his advice was gold. I finished my setup changes right at closing time and was able to turn about 3 laps before the track closed for the night. My RB6 was a completely different car, thanks to the setup changes. Thank you Jayson Pang!
In the first qualifier, I raced a perfect race, and got the TQ, but I got slowed down by lap traffic on three different occasions. I was pretty sure my TQ was not going to hold up in round 2 … not against the stiff competition I was facing. In round 2, my car was just as good, but my driving wasn’t. Coming around a 120 degree turn at the base of the big table top, my line was so tight that my right rear tire was on the painted concrete (i.e., slick) corner dot. When I hit the throttle, my car immediately shot over the right hand pipe. I required a marshall, so my hopes of holding onto the TQ were gone. Smolnik ran a perfect race, and took the TQ by 2 seconds. I would start 2nd on the grid for the A Main.
The A Main would prove to be the most exciting 2wd buggy race I have ever been in. Smolnik and I got out to an early lead. I stayed on his bumper for the first few laps when Smolnik made a mistake on the same table top that had gotten me earlier. He went off the right side of the table top, but got a great marshall, and was thrown down right behind me. I was ever so gradually increasing my lead when I made my first and only mistake of the race. There was a 120 degree left hand turn, right after the table top lander. As I made the left hand turn, my left front wheel got caught on a jagged piece of pipe, allowing Smolnik to get by. He had about a 2 second lead, but my car was on rails, and I was very quickly back up on his bumper. I was literally inches off of his rear bumper for the final 3 minutes of the race. Smolnik teased me a few times by cracking the door open on a few of the turns, but a pass would have been risky, possibly ruining the race for both of us. So I backed off, at least 3 times.
As we raced to the finish line, I knew my only chance was to get to the inside at the end of the straight, and hope I could carry my speed around the corner to the finish line. Smolnik went a little wide at the end of the straight, and I blasted to the inside. I hit the corner dot and launched about 3 feet in the air. I landed on top of the finish line, and the announcer immediately called Smolnik the winner “by a small margin”. I left the driver’s stand happy, knowing I had raced my best. However, as I was marshalling the next race, two different spectators told my pit man that I had won the race on the clock. They were looking at the monitor when the race ended, and said that I had won the race by .001 of a second. My pit man approached the announcer to ask what had happened, and was informed that the win was given to Smolnik because of an “illegal pass” at the finish line. The announcer told my pit man that I had “jumped the pipe”. Nothing was announced about an “illegal pass” or “jumping the pipe” when the race ended. Smolnik and I had a great race! My RB6, equipped with AKA clay Typos and Tekin RSX with the Redline Gen 2 7.5 motor was amazing.
2wd Mod Buggy finishing order:
1. Andrew Smolnik (Hobby Pro USA)
2. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
3. Casey Besica
I want to thank Jayson Pang again for the setup help, and also Kevin King for the idler gear for my RT6.
I would especially like to thank all of my sponsors for making it happen: Sanford and Son RC, Kyosho, AKA, DE Racing, Tekin, TTN Racing and Upgrade RC. Thanks also to JConcepts and DE Racing for sponsoring this series, and SDRC Raceway owner Scott Bergen and the SDRC track crew.