I read an article once where Billy Easton was asked about racing and getting to the top. He claimed it was a lot like the song by AC/DC. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll. It’s so true, it’s a very long path and some never get there.
You start off wanting to have some fun, you hear of R/C maybe through a neighbor or a friend. You get involved by visiting a hobby shop and getting pointed in the right direction. If you are lucky you have some support of your parents. They see a benefit in having a harmless hobby. “It’s for the kids right”
You pick a vehicle that appeals to you and your budget and probably more specfically, your parents budget. You take it home and have your dad or parents help build the vehicle. You have some issues along the way but your dad “has the ultimate set of tools” he can fix it. You fix it with Tie-wraps, duct tape, super glue, wood, scotch tape, aluminum, welding rods, Vaseline and WD40 (water displacement 40th revision).
Your experience requires some dedication. You bring vehicles back to the hobby shop if they don’t work and look for a quick fix. You beg the parents for a better vehicle and start all over again. This time you are a little better at it and recognize the errors you are making before they happen. You start fixing the cars with the proper parts. You convince your friends to get something “so you can race”. You start doing all the work yourself because your parents are busy and paying the bills. You can’t get enough.
You build a track in your backyard based on a vision in your head of what a bad azz track should look like. Figure 8 track it is!! You build some jumps and use some trees as the corners. You charge a few batteries and run the track, in between your favorite monster truck videos.
You quickly gain the reputation of the guy that has a track in your backyard. Your cousin and your neighbor are your toughest competition but somehow you always have enough races where you end up winning. Once you master the track it’s time for photos and video of the action to show your parents and others what you are doing. Interviews, changeable bodies, you have thought of everything to make these videos legit. ESPN 2 ready!!
The hobby shop mentions a race track nearby the store….what!!?? There is actual racing and a track somewhere? Yes, it’s real and you should check it out. Your parents drive you to the track and before you can get out of the car, you are in love. This is the real deal! After pulling some strings you get a real race car. You have the best of what the hobby store recommends for the local track. Your first practice day is a blast and you are looking for your cousin and neighbor to attend but they don’t. It’s just you, your parents and your race car. Sliding around, drifting and jumping on the “real” track is fun.
Next weekend you signup for the race and don’t know anything. Transponder? Lap-times? A-main? B-main? Your parents are just as lost. You are up, kid! Just go when the horn goes off. You got this! Sliding around, drifting and jumping on the “real” track is fun. Race over.
Hey kid, have you raced before? No, it’s my first time….BS, you must have raced before, you are fast out there. How do you know I’m fast? I looked at your lap-times and they are quicker than other veteran racers here. Oh, so you mean I can drive good? Yes, I can’t believe it.
You meet your first friend, then your next friend. Everyone has a ton in common. You are there every week moving up the ranks. Someone says are you running the “big one” in February? What is the “big one”? It’s only the biggest race in the U.S.A. and it’s just 2 short hours away. Yeah, I’m in.
Arrive to the “big one” to find huge tents and people everywhere. Woah, there is Cliff Lett… He’s in the magazine. This is the coolest thing ever. There is a line for practice? Start here and wait your turn for a 4 minute run. You are almost shaking, so nervous to be around so many people. Do you belong? Qualifying starts and it’s just you and the track. You find a way to make it happen and pull off decent finishes. You don’t know what you are doing. Woah, it’s Jay Halsey….he’s the coolest.
Pretty soon it’s state champs, regionals, nationals and unique paint schemes. You can’t get enough, grass is growing on the old backyard track. Your schedule revolves around practice, racing and the track. You win your first race! Things are moving at a fast pace. You see improvement in yourself, it’s exciting and rewarding.
One day you arrive to the track and there is a buzz in the air. Someone tells you there is a sponsored driver racing at your local track. Oh no! What is sponsored? Basically he gets everything for free and thinks he’s the best. Not on my home track he’s not….you get your azz kicked anyway. Man, I need to be sponsored.!.! That’s how he’s so fast.
You find out where they are from and want to race them all the time. If I beat them, I have to be the best. All I need is more track time and a sponsor. You fall for any sponsor you can get and it’s temporary happiness. I still can’t beat these guys…man, they are really good. I need to talk to them. How are they good? What is their setup? Do I need a different sponsor? Follow them around like a puppy dog.
Wow, I’m getting better. I’m getting closer. This is a lot harder than I thought, though. When I was in novice I was told I was good? The “big one” is back in town again. Damn, I made the B-main and raced with Gil Losi JR and Rick Hohwart. I don’t even know what I’m doing. Your parents call for more sponsorships and get them. B-main was good at the “big one” I guess. You win your first state championship. Someone pours water on your head. Cue the Karate Kid music, “you’re the best…around”
You are on fire locally, people ask you for advice. Your wall is full of trophies. You get more vehicles, you have more success. More sponsors on-board. You get a few haters a long the way. He’s got everything, he’s not that good, he’s lucky. More winning. Respected people take you under their wing. You qualify for the Worlds. You are on the Worlds team! A trip to the Worlds! Your old backyard track is completely grass. Submerged in the new life, trying to make a name for yourself. You’ve made it to the Worlds. You get on the drivers stand and the nerves kick in. You are back to square one, you are back at your first “big one” all over again. It’s intense, cut throat, secretive, and political. You resort back to your parents and friends for comfort. Everyone looks at you like a threat. “This is my house”
You succeed while being incredibly nervous while feeling out of place. You are making a name for yourself. You fly home and race right away with new confidence and comfort. You are a local big shot and have the look of a hired gun. You travel anywhere to take people down on their home track. Your first question when you arrive to a new track. “What’s the track record”
2 years goes by and you attend another World Championship. Only this time you aren’t afraid or intimated. You are the one setting the pace, the setup and trends. You compete, you do well, but not the champion. The guy wins standing next to you on the drivers stand. You can’t stand it but congratulate anyways. You want to skip the banquet, you want to throw away your trophy, you don’t care about free food. You are a poor sport! Your old backyard track has 7 years of grass on it with a little bit of clay peaking out. The old tree turn is still there but now it’s more a tree and less a turn. Man, it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.
Tomorrow, at the 2014 IFMAR World Championships. 24 drivers who’ve all had similar experiences to mine will sit in the Semi-Final. 2 absolute winners sit at the top of their respective Semis. They have impressed the field, done things nobody else can do. Who wins? Who loses? Do they even make the show? Is the winner at least standing next to you? Who carries the trophy home? Who wants to throw theirs away? Who has the most grass growing on their old backyard track?
Our super star photographer Riccardo Acciari set up his lights and camera in the lounge area of the Naxos World track and captured some interesting people, faces and gestures for some fun results. Check out the fun shots below and feel free to share them.
The penultimate day of the 15th running of the 1:8 Offroad World Championships in Sicily was made up of the lower finals and the last chance for eight drivers to make up the 56 drivers who get to race in the big day of this extended event. Running up to & including the 1/16 Finals, the concluding two races of Day 9 would see success for Portuguese drivers, Xray’s Bruno Coelho and Serpent’s Carlos Duraes. In the first of the 20-minute encounters, the Top 4 progressing to tomorrow morning’s 1/8th A Final, newly crowned Portuguese National Champion Coelho took victory by 5-seconds from France’s Jo Bacro followed by Italian Alessandro Stocco and German driver Hannes Kaufler. Having bumped up after winning the 1/32 A Final, top Austrian offroad racer Hupo Honigl looked set to take his Team C through to the final day. Running ‘an easy second’, as the race entered the final 5-minutes he would crash at the chicane breaking his car, putting him out on the spot.
In the 1/16 B encounter, the race was much closer with just 8/10ths separating the Top 2 at the flag. Having lead 2/3 of the race with his all LRP buggy & engine combination, former European Championship finalist Marcel Guske would lose the lead to Duraes in the final 5-minutes. Behind, Italian Kyosho/Novarossi driver Federico Ruggeri claimed third ahead of the battling Jorge Soler Diaz and Lorenzo Crolla. On the final lap a move by Crolla saw the Frenchman spin out the Spaniard to take fourth but Crolla, who set the fastest lap of the race, was penalised for the move giving Soler Diaz back the final bump up spot. The race would see the demise of some big names including 2006 World Champion Mark Pavidis. Having won his 1/32 Final, the TLR driver would tangle with another car down the main straight on lap 2 resulting in both drivers ending up against the pitlane wall. Ending up being a 50-second lap for the AKA front man the incident ended any hopes of a bump up with his race ultimately ending with a flame out in the final minute. Also ending their event in the race were 2012 Semi Finalist Barry Pettit, the Mugen driver missing the cut by 4-seconds in fifth, and fellow American Travis Amezcua.
After dominating early qualifying, Ty Tessmann finally got to claim the overall TQ at the 1:8 Offroad World Championships in Sicily. Topping the opening three qualifiers but suffering in rain effected Rounds 4 & 5, the HB driver posted the fourth fastest time in the final qualifier to top the final classification over Ryan Maifield, Lee Martin and Jared Tebo. Having been the only one to challenge Tessmann before rain turned the form on its head, Maifield finally got to put his TLR top of the time sheets taking Q6 by 2.1-seconds over Martin with Elliott Boots third, a result which puts the 2012 Top Qualifier 6th overall. Retiring from the final qualifier with a broken radio receiver, defending champion Robert Batlle will start his title defence from 6th on the grid in his Semi having qualified a lower than expected 11th. Joining him in the same Semi final having just made the cut will be European Champion David Ronnefalk, the Swede having struggled to translate his practice pace into good qualifying runs.
‘Harder than I wanted it to be but got it done’, was how Tessmann summed up his first World Championship TQ. Needing a good final run, with 4 of 6 to count, the US National Champion said the run started good but exiting from his pit stop he had trouble with a back marker. Recovering from that to put in two clean laps he said on the next one he ‘screwed up on (his) own’. Making two separate mistakes he then finished the lap by running off onto the grass after the double before the loop, his engineer Torrance Deguzman calculating all the incidents cost 10-seconds. Setting the fastest lap of the round, he said while his Pro-Line equipped D812 was pretty good the track was a little harder to drive as the grip came up a lot after the rain. With a full day off from driving, the lower finals making up tomorrow’s schedule, he said they have ‘ideas to fix it’ for the Semi but will keep an eye on the track to see how it is nearer to the time of the Semi practice. Asked who he sees as his big threat for the finals he said it was hard to say adding that based on previous years the Main ends up being very different to qualifying in terms of the drivers who are in contention.
Happy to cap off his World Championship debut with TLR with a TQ run, Maifield said the beginning of the run was a little weird due to the track conditions with some areas looser than before and others being the most grippy they have been for the entire event. Taking a few laps to figure out his braking and having to be patient with traffic he declared it overall ‘a good run’. Asked if he was happy with his second overall, which will put him on pole for his Semi, he said he wasn’t reading into it, preferring to just focus on doing his own thing. With the ‘consistency nice’ and the ‘speed good’ he added he his feeling confident with his JConcepts shod 8ight going into the Semi.
Having a ‘rough start’ to his final qualifier as he got delayed by a driver waiting for the start horn, Martin was content with 3rd overall. The 2WD Buggy World Championship runner-up also had a roll over at the end of the straight which lost him a couple of seconds but said he was happy with his Mugen MBX7R. Running tyres with Semi in mind he said they know where they are at now in terms of having a race car. Set to start directly behind Tessmann in the final the British driver sees this as being very beneficial with him planning to try to stick with the Top Qualifier and learn.
Running his Orion powered Kyosho the same as he ran in Q3, Tebo said his car was ‘amazing’. Posting the sixth fastest time he said it was good enough for a TQ run but arguing with team-manager Joe Pillars about when to pit he said it broke his concentration leading to a crash that would cost him 8-seconds. With ‘no super fast runs’, the 2010 Top Qualifier feels he has been under the radar a little in qualifying and going into the Semi he is ‘really excited’ as he feels the ‘best run is yet to come’.
Having topped the penultimate qualifier, Kyosho’s Kyle McBride secured 5th overall with the 7th fastest time in the final round. Qualifying 8th in Argentina but going on to have a disastrous Semi, the Australian said he hoped that starting third in the Semi would work out better this year. Making his name taking 4th in Pattaya having qualified 28th on his Worlds debut, he ran Pro-Line’s Fugitive tyre in the last qualifier as a test for the finals and said they worked well. Confident he has a good package for the finals the 18-year old said the aim is to get a good start and just stay out of trouble.
Turning around what was a difficult start to proceedings in Italy, with him down to 30th at one point in the ranking lists, Boots was happy & somewhat relieved to be able to turn things around today to claim 6th overall. Second fastest in Q5, the Kyosho driver backed that up with a 3rd in the final round. With his Reds Racing powered MP9 ‘a bit edgy’ he said he just tried to make sure he played safe and made no mistakes. Feeling he finally found his way in terms of his approach to driving the track, the British driver said he now has the consistency and once they can improve the set-up a bit he is looking forward to having a strong race. Unfortunately in Argentina the then Top Qualifier didn’t make the main after suffering a steering servo failure in the Semis.
Taking Team Associated’s new prototype RC8 to 7th overall, Ryan Cavalieri said he is looking forward to going racing. Struggling with a minor brake issue in Q6, the multiple 1:10 World Champion said he would liked to have ended with a better round but overall the pace of the car was the best it has felt over the event. Confident they can figure out the braking in the Semi practice he said they should be good for the race. Neil Cragg also managed to get Associated’s new car into the all important Top 16 ending up 12th which will see him race in the same Semi as old team-mate Ryan Maifield will lead away.
‘Happy enough’ was Ryan Lutz reaction to putting his Team Durango 8th in the ranking ahead of fellow Americans Adam Drake and Carson Wernimont. Describing it as being ‘in or around’ his goal for qualifying, he said he hoped to be able to make his Alpha powered DNX8 easier to driver now that the grip is back up.
Batlle said he ‘thought (his) set-up was super shit’ for the last qualifier but when his Mugen started to do things on its own he knew it was a radio issue and he retired it. With his two bad rain rounds and then the problems of Q6 he said while its not the best starting position he was happy to have ended up in the Semis. Describing the 30-minute Semis as being almost as long as a European final he said there is time to make up ground and the aim is to get a top 5 starting position for the 1-hour main.
One of the pre-event favourites, back to back reigning European Champion Ronnefalk said while he has the speed and his Kyosho felt good every run it was his driving that let him down. Feeling he got too hooked up in thinking about how he was driving he said it led him to make too many ‘driver errors’. Prefering longer races saying he has always been better at racing others rather than racing the clock the 17-year-old said the laps time are there and he just needs to bring the consistency to be in the mix.
View the complete ranking after 6 rounds here (PDF).