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 Electric 1/8 Off-Road Nationals are in the books, and it was perhaps one of the memorable races I’ve ever participated in. As mentioned in “A Moment With Mike” prior to the event, this was my first ROAR 1/8 Off-Road National event as a participant since 2008, and to say I was nervous was an understatement.
The event started out with my wife and I loading up the truck and making the four-hour roadtrip north. To my surprise, she drove the entire trip and we arrived without a scratch. We had a few close encounters, a few visits to the rumble strips, and were honked at once or twice – but we made it. We arrived at the famous Hobbytown HobbyPlex late Wednesday night where we settled into our hotel and prepared for a full day of practice on Thursday.
Thursday rolled around and it quickly became apparent that this race was going to be low in quantity of drivers, but very high in quality of talent. Thursday’s practice sessions went well, and I was feeling confident going into seeding rounds on Friday morning. As luck would have it, I was seeded into a heat with 5 National Champions (4 of which are also World Champions), and was the only non-paid professional in the race. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be chased by a shark? Or better yet, 9 sharks all at once? I am fairly certain that seeding with the nation’s top pro drivers provides a very similar feeling of fear and anxiety. Needless to say, I spent a large portion of my seeding practice heat races pulling over and watching my “fast laps” be put to shame.
Qualifying began with a re-sort, and I couldn’t be happier to be back where I belong in the C-Main grouping. As my big race luck continued, in Round 1 of qualifying I failed to tighten a screw in my steering, and DNF’ed on lap one. Keeping the streak alive going into Round 2, I blew a tire off the rim on lap three, but with such a low turnout of racers ROAR decided to extend qualifying to 6 rounds rather than the previously scheduled 4 – meaning I had an extra 4 rounds to redeem myself. Did I succeed at redeeming myself? Absolutely not. I continued my mediocre performance on the track throughout the remaining 4 rounds to squeak my way into the C-Main on Sunday. I practiced multiple battery packs after qualifying Saturday night, made some changes and tweaks to my car, and was feeling good going into Sunday.
Sunday morning the alarm clock went off, and I woke up almost on time (which is quite an accomplishment for me). I rolled into the track, jammed out to some beats, and was ready to try and bump my way up. The tone sounded and I made from 10th on the grid to 4th after avoiding a massive pile-up in the second corner. Things were looking good. So good I decided to throw down my best Bubba Scrub whip on the big triple. Sweet whip, but it caused me to come up short, get smashed by oncoming cars, and moved my motor – ending my run and any chance at bumping up after only 1 lap.
Sounds like a real swell trip doesn’t it? Actually, it was! On the track I drove like a squid, was a total embarrassment, and quite frankly didn’t belong – BUT off the track I don’t know that I have ever enjoyed a ROAR National as much as I did this past weekend.
First, I got to watch my wife Britani start off main day with an epic on-track battle with Marilyn Roney (the only two female racers to enter the event). The two of them drove amazing, put on a spectacular show, and we’re smiling, laughing, and high-fiving off the drivers stand. It was great to see both at the event, enjoying racing, and end their weekend with such a great race.
Second, I was paged by ROAR to report to the track area from the pits at the request of my wife. I could only assume I was in trouble. To my surprise, I was awarded the win in the 1/8 Buggy Concours Contest. I have never won, let alone enter a Concours, and it definitely caught me by surprise! Thank you to those who voted, and Britani for stealing my car to enter it into the contest for me.
Third, I witnessed my good friend Joe Bornhorst clinch his first National Championship title by winning 4wd SCT – which is also Tekno RC’s first National Championship title as well. Joe has a similar background in motocross to my own, as his two-wheel racing career ended due to injury which led him to racing R/C cars. Although I would never tell him, his dedication and success in R/C is something that I really admire.
Last but not least, while the racing on the track was all serious business, the fun level off the track was at an all-time high. It didn’t matter whether it was simply laughing hysterically telling jokes and stories, recruiting college football star Clayton Wittmayer to tighten Tyler Hooks wheel nuts, stacking up my never-ending pile of unsweet iced tea cups, or smashing our face into the dashboard on the way to dinner with Britani driving – we were having fun. Normally after a long weekend of racing, let alone a National, I am ready for a break from R/C, but the pure fun that we had this weekend has me anxious to do it all over again very soon.