RACE COVERAGE: 2012 Psycho Nitro Blast
Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 12:00am
By Eric Swanson
Unadilla, Georgia -- For those that aren't familiar with the Psycho Nitro Blast (I'll admit, I was one of them before not too long ago), let me tell you that it is every bit as "insane" as advertised. Never before has a theme been carried out so completely throughout all aspects of a host facility. Granted, not all races have themes, but this one does and it's unmistakable from the moment you look at any piece of material related to the race.
There is good reason for this.
Dave Leikam and Oliver Aspinwall are the men behind the concept of the Psycho Nitro Blast (PNB). They also happen to own one of Georgia's biggest haunted houses. So when Dave and Oliver decided that they wanted to combine all of their favorite aspects of other major events -- such as: long qualifiers, all-night practice, and non-stop racing -- the natural additive to their already potent mixture of over-the-top racing was clearly- horror. Not horror in a bad way, but horror in a good way...if that makes sense.
Strobe lights, video projectors, and an LED light show that would make most NHL stadiums jealous greet you as you walk through the main entrance to Southeastern Arena in Unadilla, Georgia -- host facility to the PNB. The arena, which is used mainly for horses and equestrian-type events, is comprised of two main arena areas. The largest part of the arena hosts the track -- which is probably the biggest indoor nitro track you will find anywhere. Historically, one-minute lap times have not been uncommon.
The track surface is very unusual for most racers. The arena dirt appears sandy, but is actually a fine powder that compacts surprisingly well. While it still appears it will blow out, it doesn't look like it will be the type of "blown-out" that you usually see after ten thousand laps of 1:8 nitro cars. Since the dirt is soft, the ruts and holes that have appeared after one day of practice are void of hard edges that grab cars and make racing impossibly difficult. I heard many drivers -- even pros -- proclaim their satisfaction with the dirt surface, mainly because of it's uniqueness.
Also in the main area is the PNB coffee shop -- which sells numerous home-made brews, the "Wildwest Cafe" (it is more of a down-home restaurant than a cafe), and a gargantuan, monolith-esque driver's stand rising out of pit lane that has enough metal in it to build a walkway over a modest size river.
On the opposite wall of the main arena is a room filled with animal stalls that have temporarily been transformed into racer pit areas. While many people are pitted in this room, their numbers are much fewer than the legion of nitro racing "vacationers" who have brought motorhomes and race trailers, grills, entertainment centers, pit bikes, hammocks, and yes -- kitchen sinks. It's not until you see this sea of activity that you are truly able to grasp the popularity and uniqueness of this event. With over 500 entries, it is safe to say there are plenty of proud psychopaths who want to race all day and practice all night. Needless to say, we know a thing or two about staying at the track into the wee-hours of the night -- which makes LiveRC the perfect addition to the Psycho Nitro Blast! So tune in day or night! Chances are- somebody will be on the track.
Race/Full Broadcast Schedule
4pm-? First round of qualifying
8am-? Final two rounds of qualifying
*This race will have All Access Pass-style coverage provided to Bonus Lap members for free!
Thursday Photo Essay:
Considering the average racer's diet, the numerous horses still present within the pit area, and the fact that we are at an indoor nitro race, the track will be smelling a lot of things this weekend.
If the track were an NBA player, it would be described as "long and athletic."
A PNB staple: perfectly shaped wooden jumps. These provide amazingly stable and consistant lift.
It wouldn't be very psychotic without a wall-ride.
The facility has its own restaurant. Are you kidding me? The food was amazing, by the way.
LRC Announcer Jeremy Felles inspects the pit cages. If you forget to marshall, you get locked in for four hours.
Motorhome City is where the real parties are.
Reno Savoya travelled all the way from France and rented a motorhome just to partake in the madness.
This little guy -- whose name we are unsure of -- is the PNB mascot. You can find him everywhere.
...In the winner's circle
...Creeping through the back hallways
...Terrifying children who wander about.
Did we mentioned the organizers have backgrounds in the haunted house industry?
That's it for today! RACING starts tomorrow!
Friday -- Qualifying Round One
Today we kicked off the official racing portion of the PNB. After an incomprehensible amount of open practice that ran through the night and into Friday, drivers hit the track this afternoon to begin their quest to qualify into Sunday's main events.
The track continued to settle in today with numerous potholes peppering the racing line. Other portions of the track wore away to a harder, almost blue groove-type surface under the layer of fluff that had originally covered the track. The end result of both types of wear was a blown out track that was surprisingly awesome. It isn't blown out in a frustrating way; it is blown out in a challenging way. There is a difference, and some drivers were able to exploit these conditions.
Most everyone spent much of round one searching for lines through some of the rougher sections in hopes of shaving time off their long lap times. Such line searching can pay off huge dividends, as realized by Barry Pettit during his electric truggy race. Pettit laid down a single lap during his heat that was a full second and a half faster than any other lap by any other driver during the entire day -- simply by finding a good line through the whoop section. During R1, lap times ranged from the 50-55 second range, with Pettit's hot lap being a 48.5.
The prestigious pro buggy class finished up just before 3 am Saturday morning. Yes, 3 am. Hey, it isn't called the "Sane Nitro Blast," is it? Anyway, Frenchman Reno Savoya was the man to beat in R1. Savoya searched high and low for clean lines and found plenty of usable real estate way out of what would normally be the fast line. Reno was able to find a line in the whoop section that allowed him to skip across multiple jumps that every other driver jumped through -- which netted him nearly a second a lap. It is worthy of noting that Savoya, who could only get further from his native France by traveling to the moon, may actually have somewhat of a "home-track advantage." Reason being, the Euro tracks Reno is used to running on are often blown out and require creative lines to be fast. One thing is for sure -- the rest of the field better take a few lessons out of his playbook, and they better do it fast. Otherwise, Reno will crush the field.
Friday Photo Essay:
A gathering of psychos discuss the race program
This is what more races need -- support from major companies. Here is a scene you would expect to see at a full-scale race.
The LiveRC Hospitality Tent is a popular place for racers to hang out and watch racing.
A pair of truggies fight their way through the "pit"- a corner that has, by far, the biggest potholes on the track. Avoiding these ruts are vital to going fast.
Bob Kendall shows off the new LiveRC football. This ball will get utilized plenty during pack-up Sunday night.
Fez was in rare form today. It was evident it would be a good day of broadcasting when he showed up with a freshly cut and primped mohawk. Add in 14 hours of announcing and a baker's dozen Monster energy drinks and you get quite an entertaining broadcast!
The JConcepts team takes time out of the long day to enjoy a steak dinner at the track restaurant.
We try to locate and photograph a dog at every race we go to. This fellow was hanging around by the LRC Hospitality Tent and immediately caught our eye.
Hey- it's after 3 am, and we're actually still running some races. Round two begins at 8! Insane! See you guys tomorrow! ...Or today, I guess.
Saturday -- Qualifying Round Two and Three
After 17 straight hours of racing, the final two rounds of qualifying are done. The best-two-of-three format made each 10 minute heat extremely important, so getting clean runs was the objective for a majority of the PNB entrants. However, getting clean runs was far from easy -- in fact, it was down right impossible. The stress of trying to run clean on rough track conditions made drivers' nerves beyond rattled -- which is probably a good thing for a psychotic race!
One thing that definitely didn't stress anyone out, but was still plenty psychotic, was Adam Drake's rocket car extravaganza. This activity has quickly become a PNB tradition, with Drake taking one of his TLR 8ights and attaching a rocket to the back of it that is triggered when he pulls full throttle. Let me tell you, whenever fireworks or rockets are present, people come out of the woodwork to see what will happen. Add in a nitro powered R/C car, and that intrest increases tenfold. Hourdes of people gathered around the small country road adjacent to the Southeastern Arena to witness the jump.
A short time after Drake's engine fired, he was off on what appeared to be a practice pass. Much to everyone's surprise, Drake aborted the "practice" part of the pass and decided to make it a full-on run. He ripped the throttle and sparked the rocket propulsion to life -- sending the car into what seemed like a low Earth orbit. The car eventually fell back to the country road, which quickly rendered it inoperable. I must say, seeing a 1:8 buggy flying towards the sky with a rocket blasting out the back of it is something all R/C racers should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Pro Nitro Qualifying Results:
Saturday Photo Essay:
The PNB crew have been working their tails off all weekend!
The once pristine white-washed boards of the Werks Racing Wall Ride have now turned brown.
The Wall is definitely the most interesting aspect of the track.
Billy Easton was the only pro driver to take advantage of the all-night open practice. The extra wheel time definitely helped him out on Saturday.
East-Coaster Chad Phillips came to the PNB with help from AbsoluteHobbyz.com. Chad is the inaugrual winner of the pro buggy class and is having a great weekend.
Adam Drake is an R/C God in Georgia...
Although, if I strapped a rocket to a 1:8 buggy and launched it off a skate ramp only to have it smash violently down to Earth into a million pieces, I would probably be pretty popular too!
Drake left his signature on a local road where his rocket car came to rest. No word on whether local police caught him and gave him a ticket for defacing local property.
While waiting for the rocket car launch, the LiveRC football got its first official workout today. Pictured here is rookie LRC cameraman Ross Walters getting ready to deliver a bullet to Bob Kendall.
Inside, race fans got their fix of both LiveRC and Supercross on the two TVs set up in the LRC Hospitality Tent. Where will you be for tomorrow's main events? Hook LiveRC up to your TV, put it in full screen mode, and party! Then take a picture of your setup and send it to us!
Well, that's it for today. Tomorrow is main day! Don't miss it!
Sunday -- Mains
Pro truggy TQ Adam Drake had a fairly easy road to victory in the final. Reno Savoya, however, did stay with Drake most of the way through, however he was never able to mount much of a charge. Billy Easton started third and finished third.
Pro buggy was a four-way race between Billy Easton, Reno Savoya, Adam Drake, and Jeremy Kortz with nobody else ever in serious contention. Early on, Easton broke away and left Reno, Drake, and Kortz to fight for second. In the end, you could say Easton pretty much crushed everyone in the final. His car was by far the best on the track. Top Qualifier Savoya, who seemingly had the rough areas of the track mastered in qualifying, struggled staying clean in the final. We often saw him pushing just a little too hard in an effort to catch up and it cost him dearly. Granted, it appeared he didn't have enough for Easton in the main even when he wasn't crashing, so his aggressive driving may have just been a desperation attempt to contend. Easton, who was the only top contender to put in wheel time in the middle of the night, showed everyone that utilizing the PNB's insane practice hours can a pretty wise decision.
Full results can be found on the broadcast window under the "Psycho Nitro Blast" event. Here is how both of the pro classes ended up:
*Trophies were handed out immediately after each main, therefore we were unable to get pictures since we had to run the broadcast.
Pro Buggy A-Final
Pro Truggy A-Final
We would like to give a huge thanks to Dave Leikam and Oliver Aspinwall for all of their hospitality -- and for throwing a truly one-of-a-kind race. These guys definitely "get it." A lot of tracks and race organizers tend to place too much emphasis on who is at their race -- often bending over backward to please a few top pros while a majority of the racer's needs may not be met. The Psycho Nitro Blast is an event crafted for everyone. Instead of placing endless resources on pleasing a few race teams, the PNB's focus is centered entirely on its theme -- which is just as much "having a good time" as it is "horror." Dave and Ollie have done a tremendous job making the experience for each racer truly a unique one. They were also responsible for bringing the LRC crew down to Georgia -- which allowed us to bring our members All Access Pass-style coverage for free.
That will do it for us here at the 2012 Psycho Nitro Blast! From behalf of the entire LRC crew: Brandon Rohde, Bob Kendall, Jeremy Felles, Kendall Welch, Ross Walters and myself; we bid you adieu! See you next time!