By Aaron Waldron
Like other events promoted by Scotty Ernst Productions, the mission of the inaugural Dragon Stone Asian Buggy Championships was to showcase the environment of a premier RC race in an area that might not have otherwise been exposed to an event of such prestige - in this case, the location chosen was the Dragon Stone RC Speedway in Liaoyang, China. Ernst invited RC celebrities from around the world to join, like Atsushi Hara, Renaud Savoya, Kyle McBride, Dani Choi, Wataru Takashiro, Jerome Treignier, Shin Adachi, and Ben Sterling, who competed alongside dozens of Chinese drivers. In all, 75 drivers making up 94 entries competed in Nitro Buggy, Electric Buggy and Nitro Truck.
The atmosphere began building in the airport, where Ernst met travelers in the airport before the trip back to the hotel.
As with any international race, the travelers had a chance to check out local culture - and sample the food.
The race was held at the Dragon Stone Radio Controlled Speedway located in Longshi Park in Liaoyang, China — which may be one of the most beautiful RC racing venues on Earth.
The Chinese government was involved in the event coordination, guaranteeing Ernst and the organizing staff the support to throw a world-class gather. The opening ceremony easily rivaled that of an IFMAR Worlds.
Drivers were introduced by home country — or in the case of the many Chinese racers, their home province or city.
Those who came from abroad were treated to world-class pitting accommodations, and even the outdoor overflow pits were quite swanky.
Unfortunately, the weather was the big story of practice - turning the impeccably-sculpted course into slush.
Despite the wet and muddy start, two qualifying rounds were completed before jumping into the main events.
Australian Team Associated star McBride set the fastest times in Nitro Buggy qualifying and only briefly surrendered the lead to rival Team Losi Racing driver Savoya for two laps during the first round of pit stops. After that, McBride pulled away to win by over two laps, while Savoya flamed out just past the halfway point and gave Takashiro an opening to take second. The Frenchman Savoya battled back to third by the end of the race.
Savoya had better luck in the E-Buggy class. After earning the TQ spot in qualifying, he won the first of three legs easily. However, he didn't finish the second race — which opened the door for Felix Law to earn the win and prompt the overall to be decided in the final round. Savoya sped away for an easy win in A3, while Law's results were good enough for second overall with Yuan Zhi Xing third.
Fifteen-year-old Gage Peters of New Zealand established himself as the early favorite in the Truck division by setting the fastest qualifying times. He was just as dominant in the final, leading all but the one lap needed for his first fuel stop before finishing two laps clear of Australian Dave Watts in second and was the fastest driver in qualifying for the Truck division, and he led all but one lap - his first pit stop - on his way to the win by over two laps. Australian Dave Watts finished second, with Clemente Poncho of the Philippines rounding out the podium.
We don't know if the Dragon Stone Asian Buggy Championship will return, as the event was not scheduled for 2017, but those who attended this unique event will surely remember the experience for a lifetime.
See more of our incredible photo gallery from the race here: