Hours of Operation:
9:00 - 5:00 EST
15370 CR 565A, Ste C
Groveland, FL 34736
Date of the Event: 08.25.20082008 Electric Nats and the J82 Challenge
Event: 2008 ROAR 1/10th off-road nationals
Location: Saugus, CA
Dates: August 15-17,2008
Class: Electric off-road
Videos: Electric Off-Road Nats Video
JConcepts J82 Challenge Video
Allison graciously dropped Andrew and I off at the OIA airport to begin our trip to the ROAR Modified Nationals. J82 challenge time folks! I normally don’t use the word folks but hey I’m on the airplane and bored.
To rewind back slightly, arriving at the airport, the curbside woman glanced at our baggage and was a bit vauge in response to our request to check in our baggage. She recommended to go to the “counter” inside where they could better assist us. 30 minutes later we learn our flight was not on schedule and they were either bumping us to a flight tomorrow or offering a direct flight to LAX. We are going direct to LA folks! Maybe I’ll pick up a nifty LA Dodgers hat at the airport.
Security was a breeze this time around except taking the shoes on and off. Why haven’t the Velcro shoes come back into style? They are easier to fasten right? Easier sells right? I wanted those so bad when I was younger. I always thought the sole of the shoe should have been Velcro also. You could hang them anywhere as long as the other side of the velcro was nearby. JConcepts velcro shoes would be dialed! Maybe this idea is for an older generation?
We also got bumped up to economy plus which means more leg room. Personally I’m holding out for economy plus plus which would be extra elbow room.
We travel big at JConcepts carrying parts and accessories to support our loyal team and customers. 2 JConcepts big racing bags weighing in at 49.4 and 49.6 pounds respectively. Roughly the weight of a small child. Maybe we can put the bags on our laps and save money on the extra bag charges?
In tow we are bringing our latest black groove tires, the truck Bar Codes and 2wd and 4wd front Bar Codes, to go along with our already released Bar Codes rear buggy tire. We are planning on releasing the complete line of Bar Codes in late September ~ early October. We have a multitude of compounds available to suit the different conditions. Blue compound for blue groove type conditions and White and Orange compound for black groove. We will also offer a gold compound for indoor racing. Gold is pretty trick folks! Look for those for in the winter racing months.
Landing in LA was a pretty smooth transition, I'll give full credit to the pilot. I didn't have much control of the landing from economy plus but maybe a few extra bucks the next time I book a flight and I can get a shot at it. Our nifty, Thrifty rental vehicle was a Jeep Liberty. If you have never been inside a Jeep Liberty "all you gotta do is" visualize a Smart Car but with a Jeep body. After sorting things out I was able to find a place for my cell phone and rental paperwork on the 3" deep dash board. If you like to use your dash board as a filing cabinet then I wouldn't recommend the liberty.
Driving from LA to Saugus is a little tricky for a Florida driver considering it feels almost all downhill and 70mph feels like 90 in the Liberty. After a few miles I aclimated to the handling of the Liberty and we were on rails. An hour later we were pulling up at the In and Out Burger next to our hotel. Seconds after pulling out of the drive thru we were greeted by Brent Thielke and Jared Tebo as they pretended to ram us with their rental van. Welcome racers!
Thursday morning as we headed to the track it got me thinking about my first ROAR Nationals in 1991, the race was in Savannah, Georgia. I had never been to the Savannah track before that race and I was really intimated of the track and the drivers that were in attendance. Looking around the pits I saw Cliff Lett, Gil Losi Jr, Mark Pavidis, Brian Kinwald, Matt Francis..etc. At that time those drivers were king and drew the most attention. Cliff Lett's team Moo paint job was all the rage and he was just coming off winning the World Championship in 4wd in Detriot just a few months earlier. Refer to Moo paint photo.
Available classes at the 1991 ROAR Nationals:
Back in 1991 we had open practice at these events and the track surface was so dry and dusty for practice I don't know how we learned anything but the track layout. Just driving your car at that point was exciting, nobody seemed to care about the surface. Personally I had only been racing about 6 months to a year and I was signed up for the modified class. I can't imagine now how loose my RC10 must have been, 2wd modified on a dry and dusty clay practice track running Losi 4 row's in HT compound, that baby was loose. :)
Walking into the Hot Rod Hobbies facility Wednesday morning to setup our tent and pits for the 2008 ROAR off-road nationals things were a little different. Practice was strictly limited, traction was easy to come by and multiple classes were available to compete in. The teams in attendance were similar to the ones back in 1991 with the addition of a few new ones. Available classes seem to be the focus now so everyone can participate in their class of specialty. In the future I would like to see ROAR dictate which class an individual should run based on skill level. I feel the stock level classes should be reserved for inexperienced or non factory supported drivers.
The JConcepts pit area was quite possibly the most comforable I had ever been at a race. A newly designed JConcepts logo'ed popup tent, big pit table and comfortable chairs. As a nice touch, the crew at Hot Rod Hobbies also layed carpet on top of the on-road track to make the footing in the pit area plush.
Available classes at the 2008 ROAR Nationals:
Super Stock Truck
Super Stock Buggy
Super Stock 4wd
The most fun part of the weekend for us was watching the J82 Challenge. Something a bit different and available to only unsponsored or sportsman type drivers, the J82 challenge looked fun and equal. For added drama an American Express gift card was awarded to the winner of the class, courtesy of JConcepts. Based on practice it looked tough pick a favorite going into qualifying.
Practice was great, although minimal runs, I got my 4wd and 2wd buggy onto the track and things felt great. I have to admit I wasn't running a hard shell Lipo pack in my 4wd in practice, does that matter? My power combination in 4wd was great a 7.5 motor with Lipo batteries. My tire combination was white compound Bar Codes front and rear. Bar Codes felt really good especially considering the especially hot track surface. My 2wd was the exact same power and tire setup so both vehicles felt really balanced. I felt pretty confident with my vehicles and setups going into qualifying, with my only concern being switching to NIMH batteries in 4wd to comply with ROAR rules.
Qualifying was rough for me personally, running NIMH batteries in 4wd was not ideal. Pulling the throttle on my first warmup lap during round 1 of qualifying was rough. No power to be found! Later I found out that the NIMH battery pack had dropped a cell and I was qualifying on 5 cells. 5 Cells and a 7.5 motor would probably have been great for Super Stock but not modified. Oh well, I'm sure I'll be at the nationals next year. Redeem Team?
2wd qualifying only went slightly better for me, I ran a mediocre run in round 1 and broke a servo in round 2. I don't think I've ever broken a servo in a 2wd buggy. I believe the servo was new in 2003, I thought it would last longer than that? (just kidding). 5 years is pretty good service from a steering servo especially when the nice guys at Airtronics replaced the broken parts at the event and I was right back out on the track. Thanks Airtronics! Even with a freshly rebuilt servo I was not able to put together enough magic for a top 10 run in any class. Kind of disapointing but without more practice a top 10 run is very difficult in the modified class.
The drivers that didn't seem to need any excuses: Ryan Cavalieri, Ryan Maifield and Jared Tebo. Have I mentioned before that these guys are really fast? Ok maybe we have mentioned it few times. :) Although not looking as dominant as he has in the past Ryan Cavalieri still managed to TQ all 3 classes. Ryan Maifield looked poised to TQ truck but things just didn't come together in rounds 2 through 4. I got the feeling heading into the mains that the modified classes were going to be a dog fight.
In the J82 Class Brent Calvert looked smooth and steady putting himself into the TQ position. Brent was using the J82 as intended using the same T4 in the stock truck class as well as J82. Brent appeared perfectly prepared for each race and highly competitve in both classes showing the flexibily of the J82 concept. Going into the A-main the question remained, were all drivers ready for the 10 minute main? An American Express gift card awaited the winner.
In the first 2 modified truck A-mains Cavalieri did his thing and locked up the win before A3. 4wd modified and 2wd modified were slightly different. In the A2 of 4wd Cavalieri had a battle on his hands. Ryan Maifield's buggy looked a little better under pressure and was able to out battle Cavalieri to record wins in A2 and A3 in 4wd modified. With this win Maifield earned his first electric ROAR National title and 3rd ROAR National title overall.
The 2wd modified mains were tight, Cavalieri didn't have the cushion he normally has in these races and it was a fight to the end. Ryan Maifield took advantage of a crash from Cavalieri in A2 and took a win setting up a grudge match for A3. Before the start of A3 Jared Tebo encountered a problem and had 2 minutes for a repair. The clock ticked down and with no Tebo in sight they looked to start the main. Less than 5....both Frank Root and Steven Hartson jump started to delay the start. This obviously worked in Tebo's favor and Tebo's car took the grid at that moment and made the start of A3. Hurried and rushed Jared was a little out of sync and cased the table top on lap 1. The accident worked slightly in Cavalieri's favor putting Maifield into 2nd but quite a few seconds behind the leader.
Maifield appeared to be the quickest on the track catching Cavalieri on numerous occations but could not completely catch the 2-time World Champion. Pudge rolled onto victory and another ROAR National title.
If Brent Calvert was nervous he certainly didn't show it in the J82 main. Brent appeared faster and smoother than he had been in qualifying and pulled away from all competition. Brent's driving style fit in perfectly with the J82 and it appeared he would have been a factor in any Super Stock A-main driving the way he was. Brent had things completely in control by the 5 minute mark of the race and the final 5 minutes were merely a formality. Another note, the Double Dee's tires and Groovy fronts on the J82 provided great traction and stability. After 10 minutes of racing on the black groove track Brent's tires appeared in great condition and provided consistent traction for the entire race. Congratulations on a great performance Brent!
ROAR has really stepped it up, the electric nationals were a huge success. ROAR is starting to embrace the past as well as the future which brings more sense of accomplishment to the competitors. Brushless and lipo technology has pushed the envelope and technical inspection is becoming very critical. Technical inspection was thorough and provided a level playing field for all competitors. A huge thanks go out to ROAR, Hot Rod Hobbies and sponsors for making this an eventto remember and most importantly an event to build on for the future.