The 2019 Dirt Nitro challenge this year was set to receive a new home in Perris, California. The Perris County Fairgrounds, was excited to hold the event, and was even more excited to have it as a staple in their yearly events moving into the future. With Joey and his Dirt Crew they basically had to build the drivers stand, bring in the dirt, pipes, stakes, as well as all the shipping containers to provide the event. That’s a pretty tall order, but, they were up for the challenge. The event itself was attended by some of the biggest names racing RC cars as well as just about every single manufacturer was in attendance to take on the track and reign victorious.
Zero Day: As we arrived at the event on Tuesday the track was still being built in the alternate location. The original area they were going to use for the track was completely flooded and un workable for a track. The alternate area was a bit smaller, but worked out as it was still large enough to put in a nice layout. Tuesday was basically a setup day for the teams, tents and pit areas. Our southern California team driver James Rodriguez was able to secure us a pit area, and setup some nice tents for us to pit under. He hung our banners, and even a nice large sized American Flag, have to respect that. Big thanks to James for making that effort.
Day 1: We arrived at the track early Wednesday morning, to prepare for the full day of practice. They were finishing up the pipes on the track as well as taking last minute entries for the event. If I remember correctly, they had 688 entries. The breakdown was something like: 209 nitro and electric truggies, 151 Electric buggies and 328 nitro buggies. Clearly nitro buggy was the premiere class at this event, big numbers there. Today you would see the track a total of 2 times with each entry/car you signed up in. The heats were shorter, but they would be used to seed you in the qualification. This year I signed up in over 40 e-buggy, e buggy pro and nitro buggy pro.
40 + E buggy:
Run 1: It was my first time on the track, I would start with the same setup I used at my last Force Race in Florida. I figured it would be a good starting point to at least learn the track and then decide what was needed. The track had a couple big triple jumps, but thankfully was no issue for the amazing power e-buggies have. The layout was fairly easy and the car overall felt pretty good. I ended up running Proline M3 hole shots, which I thought actually gripped the track quite well. The car I felt was pretty good as an opening setup and opted to make no changes.
Run 2: I would opt for standing up the rear shocks to look for some more stability in the big jump areas and run lighter oil to try and tame the bumps. I am not sure this change was really any better, as my lap times remained the same. However, the track was starting to deteriorate.
Run 1: e buggy pro run, it was much easier to find the lines, push harder and really try to figure out what my car was doing good and or bad. I stuck with the same tires as in over 40, so that would be easy. As the track became more run in, I started to notice the rear end was stepping out a little and I would like to get some more grip.
Run 2: I would switch from the #1 Ackerman to the 0, I thought this made the car a lot easier to drive on the bumpy track. It also was ok, as the track was actually quite high speed and there were no tight 180 degree turns, most turns were actually quite open.
Run 1: The track was now more grooved in, less loose dirt and you could now see a driving line. This time around though there were a lot of holes forming all over the track. It started to remind me a lot of the first PNB I went to. The problem I noticed with my car this time was, it was way too damp, and seemed to me the track was really, really rough. My initial thought was we have to go lighter on the shocks if we plan to survive this track. I actually thought, the feeling of the car was workable, but the track was changing and I would need to keep up on that.
Run:2 The second round of nitro buggy was actually cancelled due to rain
Day 2: Today was qualifying for Truggy and E buggy. Since I was running both e buggy classes, I would not lose out on any practice, and would get to see the track 4 times, same as most other drivers.
Round 1 Over 40 e buggy: This run would not go to plan at all, the wind was atrocious and having a huge effect on the cars jumping the triple leading away from you on the right side. I think I crashed there just about every single lap, it was terrible. Aside from feeling like a rookie, I needed to reduce rear downforce to prevent blow overs. Sadly, I only netted a 3rd for this round.
Round 1 E buggy pro: This run was a lot better, I drilled some holes in my wing to reduce downforce, and it actually helped over the big triple. I could actually jump it now without flipping and crashing out. I didn’t change anything other than the wing this run, and was able to net myself a 11th for the round, and a lot more was even possible.
Round 2 Over 40 e buggy: This round was my round, now with the wing fixed, and going down 25 cst on the rear shocks, my car was money. I ran a really great qualifier, and took the tq of this round by a large margin.
Round 2 E buggy pro: I didn’t change anything on the car for this round except the tires. I had switched from m3 holeshots to m3 buckshots. I thought the buckshots were faster lap times and actually could have been arguable easier to drive. This time around I netted myself an 8th, and again to be fair, more was possible.
Round 3 Both E buggy pro and Over 40, I would opt for leaving the car the same, and just trying to put in good runs. In E buggy pro I would net a 21st , and in Over 40 I would net another TQ.
Day3: Today would only be nitro buggy qualifying. The track was actually in pretty good shape, as there was no bad weather over night, and also the weather was to be a lot warmer today.
Round 1 Nitro buggy pro: The first round of Nitro buggy was nothing short of a disaster, the car was warming up and at some point died on the starter box. My pit man was unable to get it started right away as the battery had somehow become disconnected on the starter box. Needless to say, I missed warm up, and the engine started very cold. It ran rich the entire qualifier, and I finished a very poor 41st.
Round 2: This round would go a lot better than the first round, I made the start of the event and the engine was warmed up and ready to go. Sadly, the engine was still a little rich, but with only 1 lap warm up there was no time to tune the engine. With some questionable driving and a rich engine, I could only find a 38th.
Round 3: Finally… A round to be proud of. It was much cooler and the engine was much closer this time, as we leaned it a little before the race. I had not really had much luck in this class, so I was also not getting to tune on the car either, as I was dealing with other issues. However, this round, the car ran really well. I drove a decent race, and was able to get a 15th for the round.
Day 4: Finals E buggy over 40 and pro
Since these were single 10 minute A main, and the mains would be run last, I had all day to think about tires, check over the car and prepare.
The Over 40 E buggy pro final was first. This race I would start from pole and quickly give up the lead with a massive mistake over the right side triple. I would fall back into the pack, and quickly work my way back into the lead. I found a rhythm and quickly began to pull away. I opted to use the S4 Buckshot and to be fair, it was really, really good. It was about 4pm and was cooling off, but the track still had a nice groove on it. It was a good race and i was able to get the win.
The Pro E buggy final: This race, I would have a good started, but later get his by a car. That hit would shuffle me to the back and I would stay there fighting for the better part of the race. I opted for s4 holeshots, but to be fair, that was a mistake. The holeshot was not as fast as the Buckshot on this track. My lap times were a little slower than in over 40. Sadly, you live and learn, I was able though to finish a respectable 13th.
Day 5: Nitro Buggy Finals
Nitro buggy pro Final: Sadly, I was in the “C “main. This main would be run in the middle of the day when the sun was out and the track was at its highest grip level. At this time, we had switched over to s3 compound and to be fair, was the correct one. As my main approached I was ready to give this a go again. Car was ready driver was ready. I started up the car, waiting on the stand and was ready to race. During the warm up, something happened, and the engine stalled, and the glow igniter became lost. Needless to say, I missed the warm up as my car was on pit wall getting re started. I basically went from pit wall to starting line, with a cold engine, sadly it was off to a bad start and would stay that way. On the opening laps, I had no power to make the jumps due to a cold engine. It did eventually warm up, and ran great, never flamed out. I was fighting around 4-8 position and just never really got in to a rhythm. I ended up finishing 5th, and regardless of all the short comings, a chance to bump was possible. The driver just never really put it together when he needed to the most.
The track was a lot of fun… Yes, it was challenging, yes there were bumps, but it was a great race to be a part of. I was really happy with my cars and to be fair, I could have done better than I did. With more practice and more preparation, more is possible. Aside from that the Proline guys were great with support and it was also nice to meet Parker Malone. Parker is a great up and coming talent that races for serpent. It’s always nice to walk the pits, catch up and talk to everyone. Seeing old friends and making new ones is what I consider the most enjoyable part of rc racing. Aside from that, I witnessed some really great racing, and watched people navigate a really challenging track as well as be a part of it. I want to say thanks for Joey, The Dirt Crew, Jimmy and all others involved for their efforts to make the race happen. I would totally recommend it to anyone that enjoys the big race experiences. Hope to see you guys at the next one...:)
I also want to thank my sponsors: Serpent, Proline, Sanwa, Avid, A-main hobbies, Protek R/C,
VS racing , VP powermaster, Arrowmax, PT Racing oils, Reedy Modifieds, Live RC.
Without you guys, racing at this level would not be possible.