When we gather to race at Fast Track Hobbies in Rocklin Ca., we often have our largest turnouts of the year. This month, we didn’t set any records but we had 11-12 racers per class this time around. Our traveling crew consisted of Russ Toy, Gary Hooks, Dick Seely, John Wilbur, Jim Fowler, Randy Keil, Richard Matthews, Bob Chaney, and Justin Colvin. Several of these guys are also FTH locals. We also had Greg (Fester) Bishoff and Cliff Gaither and track owner Dwight Adamson. Cathy Wilbur contributed her time as race director and we had a very efficient race day today.
The local racers do a very good job of helping Dwight keep the tracks up and this time out, the tracks were in very good condition. We raced Can Am and Anglewinder Coupes on the familiar Purple Angel track and we ran F-1 on the new (to most of us) Kingleman. We usually have pretty clean races here at FTH but this time, things were pretty rough. There were a lot of crashes and a fair bit of carnage in each race with the Kingleman being the worst. Starting the day, we knew that Justin was going to be hard to beat. He is among the very best racers in Nor Cal anyway and here on his home tracks, he is close to unstoppable.
I was very busy all day and thus, I don’t feel like this report is as complete as I’d like it to be. I apologize in advance for missing a few pictures and not getting in as many details as I wish I could.
We started with the Can Am race and while there were a number of fast cars, this was looking like a Justin and Jim duel from the start. Early on we were trading off with 35 and 36 lap heats with Justin holding a one or two lap edge. Gary Hooks was running consistently well but a little off the lead pace while Randy and Richard were also good and not letting Gary get away. Bob Chaney was running a new car and it was fast, but he was struggling a little bit with it and he eventually broke something. Greg Bishoff was also fast but he had an issue that I missed and he ended up down the order.
I commissioned a new Fowler RTR, and took delivery for this race. It is a 2/10 longer version of the loaner I ran at Modesto in June. Fast, smooth and precise. I put supply break-in time on the motor, ran 20 laps Saturday morning, and put it away in the box. I did not take it back out until race time; it went straight to tech (not the track), so no one knew how the car performed except me and Fowler. At race time, I was the third man in on RED ..and had a typical first heat on RED. Everything seemed a bit slippery, I was nervous about traffic collecting in the lane (although on the Angel, this is more problematical on BLACK), and as it turns out, I should have practiced with the car more to get control of the opening jitters. The car is very good. Only 29 laps ticked off on RED; this is known as the hole you dig for yourself. The leaders are laying down 34 to 35 laps per heat, and in the next three heats, I am within one or two of that pace. Heat five, on BLACK is a disaster, although still 30+ laps. There is a lot of blockage in the first turn complex. BLACK is blind through part of that section, and now vision is clogged with people moving back and forth to service de-slots. My lack of track time effects my response to this activity, and I find myself in several heavy crashes. The scenario continues in the next heat (on YELLOW), and the car is taking a beating. Two heats left, procures a clean run on ORANGE until about 30 seconds left when I was collected hard in the first complex again, and the chassis broke a solder joint. Confused and putting myself under more pressure than I should have, it required almost a minute into my last heat (on WHITE) before I was able to return to the track. I managed good clean laps for the remaining couple of minutes, ending with a 30 lap per heat total; 240 laps for the race. There was one more heat to finish out the rotation, during which I got to watch that total fall through the field to eighth. I had a really good time driving this race, although my race management action was not up to par. Should have done better on RED (always important), and stopped more than one out of ten times during the first complex carnage — Bob
As the race progressed, Justin was holding a small lead but it still could have gone either way. Then, we both started experiencing some irregular power from our motors. We were both spraying out the motors between heats but they would both pick up fast for a few laps, then drop off or start surging. In the last couple of heats, Justin was able to hold his pace, but I wasn’t and I dropped way off the pace as my car slowed and I also tried to overdrive in compensation and thus deslotted a lot. Justin pulled away to a comfortable win with me in second. Gary was a solid third but just ahead of Randy and Richard.
Next up, we ran our Pro Slot “Big Dog” powered anglewinder coupes. These cars are rocket fast and have less downforce than the Can Am cars so they can be a handful for some racers. Justin and Gary both had new cars for this race and Cliff had an excellent loaner so along with Russ and Jim, there were a lot of fast runners on the grid. Right at the start, I experienced a poor first heat and Justin was soon holding a two lap lead. For the next several heats, we both ran strongly and I managed to come back to even and get slightly ahead at one point.
There was a lot of attrition in this race and several racers dropped in and out fixing their cars. Gary experienced enough issues with his new car that he dropped out fairly early. Cliff got dinged in a big wreck and pulled off his loaner car to keep from getting further damage. Russ had chosen to run a “China Dog” arm in a JK Hawk setup and while he was a little underpowered compared to some cars, he was able to drive it well and he stayed out of the worst of the carnage. Randy and Richard were both consistent and stayed together all race. Meanwhile Greg was off the pace for speed but was consistent and he stayed ahead of Bob who was fast but inconsistent.
Running the Russ Toy design I inherited from Gus Kelley, for the third time (with a gear change for this race). I practiced minimally and thought I had the car/controller dialed in. Second man in on RED, and the car just does not feel the same. I am struggling with turn one, straight off five or six straight times (with track calls because we were a marshal short, and no one comes off in that turn), then a minute or so of smooth running, and four more race stoppages as I cannot get through turn one; 28 laps in RED, at least seven fellow racers concerned with pace I am setting for them. Heat two starts out the same way, then settles out to the end; 30 laps. In heat three, I still cannot get through the first turn, then I dial in a little brake, and it seems better; 31 laps. The grumbling is audible, as I tell my fellow competitors not to worry “I only have five more heats to go.” On PURPLE for heat four, and only one off at the first corner, 32 laps completed. I have mitigated the problem, and the final four heats are all clean, with 33 laps in each heat; I finish seventh — Bob
As we wound down the race, and after a brief stint in the lead, I dropped a couple of laps back with a poor 34 lap heat while Justin executed a stellar 37. I got it together near the end with two good heats finishing my last run just a few feet shy of a 37 lap heat of my own. Despite this, when Justin came back from his sit-outs, he only needed a 35 to win. He pulled out an easy 36, pulling out the win by two. Russ ran a drama free race and pulled in for third just ahead of Randy.
Our last race of the day was on the new Kingleman track. This is a fairly flat track but it’s fast, so it is hard to keep from running over other cars. There is also a pillar that creates some blind spots for all the racers and so this was one of the roughest races we’ve had in some time. While everyone had fun, cars were flying every which way for much of the afternoon. I had a bearing start to fail right before the race and while I tried to fix it, there really wasn’t time and I spent much of this race running back to my pit to try and keep the gears from going south. Unfortunately, I missed a fair bit of the action so I can only relate what little I remember.
..I am apparently a budding KingleMiester. The Stuebe chassis was stable, the motor came in with the 8/26 gearing, I worked at keeping smooth, and it was great fun. Good runs through the entire set. I tend to judge my race progress by how often I’m getting passed, and in this race there were only two cars passing me on a consistent basis. I was overtaking and passing everyone else, trading deslots on an equal or better footing with my competitors. I look forward to racing again on this track — Bob
Gary Hooks had a new F-1 car that was really good and he stayed out of most of the messes to run second. Cliffy is a very smooth racer and he also ran well for a solid third place finish but this race was really a Justin show. Even though his car was dinged up, he ran fast to the end for an easy win and a hat trick for the day.
This was a solid day of racing and thanks go out to Dwight for hosting us, to the local racers that made sure that the tracks were clean and fast, and to Cathy Wilbur for her cheerful help in race directing while John raced. Next time here, we will be running Stock Cars on the Kingleman, and Can Am and F-1 on the Purple Angel.
— Jim Fowler 07/21/2015
additional photos by Michael Colvin