Race Reporter: JD Crow
They say drag races are shorter than Race Reports. Well thats even more so when the race is the home of the “RCDRL” Radio Controlled Drag Racing League US Super Nationals. So, fill up your gallon jug and enjoy the Speed Shop recap from last weekends action.
How can people realistically refer to a form of RC as a niche, when a gathering over 3 Days, held at the Texas Motor Speedway near Dallas/Ft Worth Texas, draws 230 competitors from across the US, Puerto Rico, and even nearby Queensland Australia? When ones efforts could vanish in a single 2-3 Second Pass down the track. It appears RC Drag Racers and the Team at JConcepts doesn’t believe its Niche either.
The JConcepts Inc crew of Fred Reep and Rich Muller drove the Support Team Van 20 hours from the Headquarters in Groveland Florida to join in. Not only the travel by van, but after an all-nighter or two, finishing up a wicked little Fox Body, StarTec Drag Wheels and Hotties Drag Tires for the Street Eliminator Concept.
Since the Game Changing 2017 Release of the Short Course Based 66 Chevy II Street Eliminator Concept, the Innovation/Vision/Performance brain trust, led by Jason Ruona, have not stopped working. They even pulled one on me with a change from the 1991 Mustang Hatch to a Notchback. Just what the doctor ordered as I recovered from Surgery the day before. To say it inspired me to find a few more tenths in the chassis is an understatement. I just needed to not rip any stitches and miss the race.
FRIDAY – RCDRL US SUPERNATIONALS – TEST N TUNE DAY
Friday arrived for a full day of testing under race conditions. I had received the 91 Mustang on Wednesday, and pulled an all-nighter myself fitting and painting. So I was ready to make a few passes to shake things down. After a cautious pass to get a feel for the body, it was ready for a full hit, and she didn’t disappoint. Out of the box, the 91 Mustang was a full 2 tenth’s quicker than our first test hit in 2017 with the 66 Chevy II. I could immediately tell the steering is very responsive mid track to finish. I think she is going to be a great addition. I just needed more time to tweak the balance of the car and we will pick up the speed quickly.
Fred and Rich arrived mid-morning and we had more work to do. I had been running the 3D printed prototype StarTec wheels, which were available off the JConcepts Shapeways store in 2017. Late spring 2018, a production sample of the StarTec Wheel matched with the prototype Hotties Drag Tires had been mounted on my Nova. The Gold compound had been put thru 2018 track conditions from cold spring, to now blistering 160 Degree Texas June conditions. I wasn’t easy on them either. Long, Hot, smoke filled burnouts, hard hits off the line, and making the car go as fast as possible. After 6 Home of the “RCDRL” Radio Controlled Drag Racing League 2018 Events, we have experience No Failures and No Traction issues
As the tires/wheels arrived I mounted Hotties for the first time in the beloved JConcepts Green Compound. The Super Soft Compound was really good on the Asphalt Drag Strip. But we learned very fast, we were beyond the temp range on a 160 degree track temp. Longevity wasn’t going to be the Green Compounds friend in these extreme hot conditions. Our choice was clear, Hot Hot Track Forecast, and we committed to the Gold Compound for the weekend.
The remaining part of Friday, Fred and Rich were busy showing off the New Hotties Tires and StarTec Wheels, answering lots of “I WANT’s” online and in person about the Mustang, and providing Tires/Wheels for racers and guests who desired a set.
SATURDAY – RCDRL US SUPERNATIONALS – 2 QUALIFICATION ROUNDS and ROUND 1 ELIMINATIONS
I entered the 66 Chevy-II in two classes, the All Run Bracket (Dial in Bracket Class for any type of RC – just has to run faster than 9.99 seconds in 132 Feet – Field is set by Reaction Time), and the very competitive Street Eliminator Class (2wd Short Course Based platforms running 2s power – Dial in class with Field Set by Elapsed Time). I tend to use the All Run Bracket runs to keep up with track conditions, collect performance data, and try new things as preparation for the Street Eliminator Runs. When a pass in only 2.4 – 2.6 seconds, every additional pass you can get is valuable.
Our Car ran well during the morning test n tune. It ran consistent 2.43 to 2.47 E/Ts in both lanes. After a few passes, I parked the car until Go Time.
QUALIFICATION ROUND 1
22 Cars would stage up for a shot at the Street Eliminator Grid. Our first attempt went off without incident. Stephen Burden made a great pass just ahead of me with a nice Run of 2.488 to take the Preliminary #1 Spot. I followed Stephen in the Right Lane with a Solid 2.504 for a lock on #2 Position to end Q1.
Feeling confident in the car, and knowing the left lane had been faster for us all morning, I made a small slipper and esc adjustment for Round 2. This Time, having Stephen behind me in Qualification, I staged up and ran post a 2.437 to move into the #1 Spot. Now the pressure was on Stephen. He took a great shot, but only managed to improve his Round 1 time to a 2.474. I always want to perform well, but having Fred and Rich watching, would have been a personal disappointment to not obtain that #1 Qualifier Spot. A Great Testimonial to the Car/Tire/Wheel Package the JConcepts Team had developed.
The day wasn’t over. Now another level of pressure begins, 5 Rounds of eliminations to award the championship. Being #1, rewarded ourselves seeded in the top half of the grid. No Round 1 bye with a field of 22 Cars. Round 1 match up verse the 22 Qualifier, event title sponsor Chad Howard. I had lane choice and decided to run the right lane. Chad dialed in a 3.35 time to my 2.40. The 2.40 was a little faster time than I had been seeing out of the car today (she has run 2.39 in competition), but a gamble for me to prevent a breakout loss on my part. Game plan was to go one Round at a time. Chad left first due to his slower time. I cut a safe light (0.116 Reaction Time) and caught Chad before the Speed Traps. Relaxed a bit and advanced to Sunday for a Round 2 bye run.
We also advanced to Sunday Round 2 in the ALL RUN BRACKET Class, after Qualifying #6 with a reaction time .018 on an E/T of 2.424. Our Round 1 win was solidified when my opponent lit up his Red Light to my .012 Reaction Time and E/T of 2.479.
SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY – RCDRL US SUPER NATIONALS – ELIMINATIONS AND FINALS DAY
A breeze is nice when it is HOT. But as they say, things are bigger in Texas, and the breeze is no exception. Todays forecast came true. 22 mph winds and gust to 30 mph. Unfortunately they were out of the South/Southeast. A Cross/Tail wind is not desirable drag racing.
Street Eliminator Round 2
I used the bye run in the left lane to see how the track was holding up, and work on my reaction time. Cut a great R/T of 0.025 and the car continued to perform with another fast 2.437 E/T. Car and tire package continuing to perform. Now on to Round 3 to face a car I built from a narrowed JConcepts 99 Ford Lightning body, now raced by another friend, Joel Shipman.
Street Eliminator – Round 3
Sometimes you need a break and the Race Gods handed me one. Winds were becoming a factor, driving a Short Course based, rubber tire Street Eliminators are challenging going fast. They are even more so, with 20-30mph cross/tailwinds. Joel is a seasoned drag racer with years of experience Slot Car racing. He routinely cuts great lights of 0.0xx, and he has a very consistent 2.76 dialed Truck. That is a tough combination for a faster car to race. Joel would leave the line first with a great light of .069 and I would have to chase him down. As both our cars reached the 100 foot mark, we both experience the wind effect. My car moved off line causing me to lift and stay in the lane, but Joel couldn’t save his and crossed over. Good thing he did, as I was too fast leaving the line with a RedLight Start -0.043. Joels crossing the center line is a safety infraction. Considered a worst offense and reverts the victory back to me. The break I needed to advance, but not preferred. I have lost a race the same way, and know how it feels.
Street Eliminator – Round 4 Semi Finals
Pace picks up during the day as final rounds approach. For me, it was another heart wrenching match up against my little buddy and fan favorite, Colt Mares. Colt and I were awaiting our match up. Colt had lane choice with his prior round Reaction Time of .085 and he chose his favorite Lane, Left. He had been having a great weekend on the light tree, and his car was very consistent. This was going to be a tough race for my car, and me. I hate seeing Colt miss a Final, Especially if I’m the one between him and that Round. But Colt told me, racing is racing. We can be friends again in 5 seconds. What a challenge. Young Colt made a heck of a run on his 2.980 Dial, running the lane in 2.982 (only .002 off is number). The 66 Chevy II/Hottie/StarTec package didn’t back down. Driver posted a .041 Reaction Time, and Car ran the right lane in 2.422, just .012 off the 2.41 Dial. As Colt and I awaited the official announcement, the race was decided by a glowing red light in Colts lane. He left early by -0.014. But it was a great bracket race between the cars.
Street Eliminator – Round 5 FINALS
To say advancing to the Finals is an achievement, advancing to the Finals in a 5 Round Bracket is even more satisfying. But to see both cars making the RCDRL US Super Nationals Street Eliminator Finals, outfitted with the JConcepts 66 Chevy II and Hotties Drag Tires was the best achievement of all. After a long three days at the Track, it was down to one more pass. Young Zach Shivers managed to work his way through his half of the bracket, and I the same through my half. Another tough bracket challenge. His 2.80 Dial VS my 2.40 Dial. Both Cars launched well. Zach left with a .047 R/T to my .069 R/T, to a small .022 advantage. My car was on form thru mid-track when it moved left and needed a couple of corrections, something hard to overcome in close bracket racing. These corrections scrubbed enough time to come up .032 short of the Victory. Never the less, a great outing and testament to the outstanding performance of the JConcepts Chevy II, StarTec Wheels, and Hotties Drag Tires.
Now its time to get the 1991 Mustang Program in the Game!
Thank you Jason Ruona, Allison Read Ruona, Fred Reep, and Rich Muller and others at the company, for your commitment developing this Concept.