By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
The 2018 ROAR Fuel Off-Road Nationals are officially in the books, and after a long and hot week of racing, I am now cooling down in the air-conditioned office back home. The event was full of excitement and highlights, and for today’s edition of “A Moment with Mike” I share my thoughts and opinions on my top five highlights (some high, some low) of the weekend.
Ty Tessmann and Family
First up is the obvious highlight of the weekend, Ty Tessmann. Ty showed that yet again his preparation, confidence, and consistency would be the perfect combination to win not only one national championship title, but two. My hat is off to Ty for yet another stunning performance on the track, but I also want to tip my hat to his parents Gord and Leann. The husband/wife duo performed the fastest pit stops of the weekend in competition time and time again which played a major role in Ty’s success – especially in buggy where Ty would win the buggy final by only 1.7 seconds ahead of Spencer Rivkin (who pitted one less time). I believe it is fair to say that 1.7 second gap is largely in part by the flawless pit stops from Ty Tessmann’s parents. It was not only a victorious weekend for Ty, it was a victorious weekend for the ENTIRE Tessmann family.
(Watch the Tessmann family as they perform one of the fastest pit stops of the weekend.)
(Ty Tessmann cools off after a long weekend, and soaks up his double National Championship title victories.)
Ryan Maifield’s reaction to not making the Buggy Final
Ryan Maifield walked away from the competition in the semi-final and stretched out to nearly a 25-second lead on second place. With a flawless run nearly in the books, he made one minor mistake with only two laps to go and his chances of winning a national championship title (which he was very capable of doing) came to an end after rolling over on the front straight and flaming out. His reaction when interviewed by LiveRC absolutely stunned me. As someone who always preaches to keep R/C fun, not be too serious, etc., even I still have bursts of anger and frustration at a local club race from time to time – I can’t imagine the frustration I would feel moments after flaming out and missing my shot at a national championship title.
(Maifield's unfortunate tumble and flameout.)
Ryan on the other hand, was extremely calm, cool, and collected. There was no one blamed, there was no anger shown, and he simply stated, “It’s a bummer...I feel bad for all of my companies, they gave me what I needed to go win, but it is what it is. I’m bummed, but we got two guys on the team in main, so I’ll just help them and see what they can do.”
(Dave Deringer catches up with Ryan immediately following the semi-final.)
Southside R/C Raceway
Leading up to the event I had seen photos of what was supposed to be an R/C car track, but at the time it looked more like a Florida swamp instead. The Southside R/C Raceway crew did a phenomenal job not only building and completing a race track in the adverse conditions given, but they went all-out to provide a National Championship event and facility that in my opinion rivals (if not tops) many World Championship events. Jumbo-tron scoring screen, elaborate and ultra-efficient major league baseball style tarp system (which ultimately saved the event), covered drivers pavilion, printed event programs, spectator seating, and collaboration with outside sponsors which included Moe’s Mexican Grill, local car dealerships, and the county tourism department just to name a few. It was great to see our sport put in the public spotlight with spectators, outside sponsors, and media coverage from local newspapers and TV news stations.
(Local media coverage highlight of the event.)
Thank you to the Southside crew for their efforts and hospitality, as their efforts did not go unnoticed, and I certainly hope to return soon.
(Photo courtesy of Southside Raceway)
The Fun Factor
While the Southside Raceway crew did a fantastic job with the facility, and the race directors kept the show moving prompting, the weather conditions were absolutely grueling in Florida. With 100% humidity, scorching hot sun, temps into the upper 90’s, and the daily rain showers – it was a lot to handle as an announcer, let alone a racer. With all of the conditions the track was very challenging to master, tire choices were all over the board, engines were running hot and flaming out, and yet no matter how good or bad their run went – everyone seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. While I didn’t leave the LiveRC broadcast trailer very often, every time that I did I was greeted by groups of racers hanging out together, laughing, telling stories, playing pranks, watching races, and enjoying the event as a whole (not just how they finished on the track). It was really great to see so many drivers, ranging from the P-Main to the A-Main, having such a good time all together racing R/C cars.
ROAR's Controversial Bump-Up Decision
I normally tend to avoid sharing my opinion, especially in controversial situations, however, I am taking my wife’s approach to life on this one – and saying exactly how I feel, no sugar coating or BS included. I applaud ROAR tremendously this weekend for making decisions to keep the program moving along in a very timely manner with numerous rain delays. I was not expecting to see races finished up before 3am with the delays, however, ROAR and the race directors made it happen. That was the good.
Now for the bad. ROAR is an organization that was designed to create rules, enforce them, and making R/C car racing as fair as possible for all that are involved – as mentioned multiple times throughout the weekend with the format changes, race times, and other alterations made. The issue I have with this past weekend is the inconsistency to follow up those words with actions - example being what happened in the 1/128 Odd Buggy Final. The race leader would crash into the infield area on lap two, re-entering the track and cutting an entire section. The crash should have dropped him to the fourth-place position, but instead he would continue leading and shortly after dropped to second place. This same driver then took the bump spot by .5 seconds over the third-place finisher (far less time than the crash SHOULD have taken to recover from). When the third-place finisher protested the finish results, ROAR claimed that no official saw the incident and that they do not accept video evidence.
(Video footage of the incident on LiveRC)
After thoroughly reading the rule book, there is nothing that says they do not accept video evidence, but in the end because the ROAR official chose not to accept the footage as evidence, the driver who cut the track was not penalized and was awarded the bump-up spot.
For me that is frustrating anyways, but what makes the situation even more frustrating is when you take a closer look at what really happened. A closer look at this situation shows that after the race we had an 11-year old kid who dreams of being the next world champion left sitting in the pits devastated and trying to comprehend how his National Championship was ended after an experienced grown adult cut the track, took no responsibility for his cheating actions, and then these actions were not penalized or acknowledged by the sanctioning body.
As someone who recognizes the sport has “lost its fun” for a lot people with increased drama, controversy, and decline over the past few years – I was personally extremely disappointed in the driver who cut the track for not taking personal responsibility, extremely disappointed in ROAR's decision to deny taking video evidence into consideration, and most of all extremely disappointed to see a young racer (the future generation of R/C) have his weekend ended in this way.
Britani in the Booth
Perhaps the biggest highlight of my weekend personally was the rain delay. Not because it stopped the racing for several hours, but because during that several-hour break my wife Britani sat down in the LiveRC broadcast booth and joined me to discuss her opinions of the racing, throw a little “hate” in good fun at our good friend Joe Bornhorst, and speak the truth in her well-known extremely honest, maybe slightly sassy, and yet very lovable ways. She is an avid R/C racer, she knows how to run the races, she knows the racers, but she’s never expressed any interest in announcing or being on camera until this weekend. She continually asked to join the show, join Dave Deringer to do pit interviews, etc., and when she finally got the chance to make it happen I quickly learned that if I don’t watch my back, she is quite capable of taking my job in the booth.
Very similar to the first time she asked to build my R/C car, I was skeptical of how it all would go. I have since been fired from building any our cars, as her extremely close attention to detail vs. my impatience has proven that her car building skills are far more thorough and reliable than mine. I can only assume at this point it’s a matter of time before I am hoisted up on top the LiveRC trailer to operate the camera while she announces races in my spot instead.
She never ceases to amaze me, and I certainly hope she will join me again soon for another edition of “The Mike and Britani Show”.