Sanford and Son RC headed out to IERC Raceway in San Bernardino, CA on December 7th for Round 1 of the JConcepts Top Notch Winter Series. The Top Notch Series (TNS) is an 8-race points based series, run at various tracks throughout Southern California. Last season, TNS averaged 230 entries per round and features race announcer “Notch” Johnson. Over $10,000 in prizes and cash payouts were given out last season. IERC Raceway is one of Southern California’s largest indoor RC tracks.
My competition for this event would include TLR’s Brian Sullivan, Shawn Blackwell and Ronda Drake, Tekno RC’s Rudy Rico and Chad Panek, Hobby Pro’s Andrew Smolnik, Tamiya’s Jimmy Wright, Mugen’s Scott Wolf, Kyosho teammate Cody Turner, and a number of very fast local racers. There would be two rounds of 5 minute qualifiers, followed by 5 minute A Mains. Announcing would be handled by Notch Johnson and Aaron Wilming. There were approximately 240 entries.
1/8 Scale eBuggy
There were approximately 20 racers in this class, so we were split into two heats. I would be in the first heat. TLR’s Brian Sullivan would be in the second heat. The first round of qualifying went well, as I took the TQ over Sullivan, making only one mistake. In the second qualifier, I made no mistakes, and managed to better my TQ time from the first round. Sullivan ran a near-perfect race in his heat, but my TQ held up. I knew Sullivan would challenge me in the A Main, as this was his home track. My thinking proved correct, as Sullivan was right on my rear bumper for the first half of the race. Sullivan tried an inside pass thru the S-section, but hit a corner-dot and flipped. This allowed me to extend my lead, and I would go on to win the A-Main by 5 seconds. My MP9e TKI was consistently fast the entire day, needing only a rear camber link change.
1/8 Scale eBuggy finishing order:
1. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
2. Brian Sullivan (TLR)
3. Rudy Rico (Tekno)
Open 2wd Truck
I brought both my RT6 truck and my Lazer ZX-5 FS2 SP. I would be running three classes, so I had to decide whether I was going to run my truck or my 4wd buggy. Even though the Open Truck class had only four entries, I had never run my truck in competition, so I decided to run the RT6. In the first qualifier, I made a few mistakes, and finished second behind Tamiya’s Jimmy Wright. For the second round, I changed to stiffer front springs to make the truck more stable, and went on to make a perfect run, taking the overall TQ by 11 seconds. In the A Main, I quickly got out to a commanding lead. I made only one mistake in the race, and almost lapped the field when time ran out. After the front shock spring change, my RT6 handled well, and drove like it was on rails.
Open 2wd Truck finishing order:
1. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
2. Jimmy Wright (Tamiya)
3. Matthew Pages (Associated)
2wd Mod Buggy
This class also had two heats per round. I made a few mistakes in the first round, but finished second to Cody Turner in my race. However, I would qualify in 5th place overall for the round. After a couple of setup changes, I would fare much better in Round 2. I made a mistake early in the race, but recovered and went on to finish second in my heat. My time qualified me second, right behind teammate Cody Turner. In the A Main, I stayed behind Cody for the first few laps, until Cody, myself and Shawn Blackwell all made a mistake over the big triple, landing on our lids. I got marshalled third, and was now trailing both Cody and Shawn. I caught up to within 2 seconds of Cody when time ran out, and finished on the third podium spot. My RB6 worked well, and allowed me to capture a spot on the podium.
2wd Mod Buggy finishing order:
1. Shawn Blackwell (TLR)
2. Cody Turner (Kyosho)
3. Lucas Sanford (Kyosho)
I want to take this opportunity to thank Kyosho teammate Cody Turner for the setup help and the great competition he provided.
I would 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 to IERC owners Debbie and Larry, the IERC track crew, and race announcers Notch and Aaron for putting on this Top Notch event. I am looking forward to round 2 of the TNS Winter Series at Coyote Hobbies on December 28.