THE Cub Report – The Finish Line
Guess what? Yes, it’s Monday and time for another Cub Report. Thanks for tuning in.
Over the weekend I got a chance to spend some time at the Futaba Nitro Challenge. The Futaba race has been going on for a bunch of years and is one that I try to attend whenever possible. Held in St. Louis Missouri, the Futaba race is a good way to walk around and see what is kick’n on the race side of things. It also helps take me back to my own nitro racing days, which, while quite ugly, was a few years of my life that I will never forget.
For you noobies, brushless and LiPo are relatively new to the hobby. During the years of ’00 to ’05’ish, nitro was (hands down) the king of power systems. Nitro racing was strong, and not just with 8th scale buggies, but also with 10th scale stadium trucks. Then there was the original T-Maxx, which just happened to put nitro power over the top.
Where I grew up, life was all about racing 1/10th 2wd buggy, but around 2000 I started getting the nitro itch. Everyone I knew was driving nitro, and while I already knew they were a PITA, I just had to join the nitro revolution with my buddies. The first vehicle I bought to re-enter the suddenly hot nitro market was a Team Associated RC10GT RTR. Wow! That thing had crazy power compared to electrics of the day, even with the box stock engine. Wow! Did that truck Always have an issue. It had a carb that was a royal POS, not to mention a dozen other issues that basically made it a pain to keep running. I worked on it, then worked on it some more, then basically replaced everything on it, then hit my closest race track to see what all the hype was about.
I will always distinctly remember my first qualifier with that RC10GT. I remember overshooting the first corner as the brakes decided not to work. I will remember one of the guys mashalling my truck with a shovel. I will remember vastly over-jumping the triple (every single lap). I will also remember the epic runaway that I had around the 4 minute mark. Luckily for me, some giant mountain of man that was mashalling actually went running after my truck as it went screaming off the track (with me having not one drop of control over it). The marshal, who I will call “Hoss” for THE Cub Report, was running faster than I’ve ever seen a 300lbs+ human run, all for absolutely no good, as my truck was hauling the mail WFO across a parking lot headed for a pond. Yes, my truck ended up in that pond, and yes, Hoss was even good enough to go wading in after it. Needless to say, my truck was completely trashed (nitro engines stuck WFO do NOT like water and this was before the age of waterproof electronics).
I had suddenly soured on 10th scale nitro, so I immediately went out and bought an OFNA RTR 8th scale buggy. I will also distinctly remember my first qual with it- it basically fell apart while I was driving it. Later I would go on to get more serious- running Kyosho, XRay, etc, and taking the whole class much more seriously. Those were some long hours at the track, followed by a lot more hours wrenching. I spent many a long hot afternoon baking in the sun racing 8th scale nitro buggy, then even more wrenching. That’s why today I have such respect for high level nitro racers, I absolutely know first hand just how hard it is to race that class, and that’s why I try to watch at least a couple big nitro races a year.
After walking around the Futaba Nitro Challenge, not a whole lot has changed from years ago. The buggies, while significantly improved, are mostly the same in design. The engines are somewhat better, but flame-outs are still an issue. The suspension systems are mostly the same, but after years of fine tuning, definitely work better than those 10 years ago. And after walking around a nitro race over the weekend, it was super easy to tell who the racers were. They were covered in dirt… and were sporting massive sunburns… and they had a dire look of determination in their eyes… and they were always walking around like they were 20 minutes late to a big meeting. It absolutely takes a lot of grit and determination to be a nitro racer. The tracks are brutal with huge jumps, short run ups, and packed so hard that casing the “big double” could break an otherwise bulletproof machine. And while I still think that the oval guys are the hardest core racers in rc, being an 8th scale nitro racer is an extremely close second, and for that, I salute you. No matter if you are finishing 8th in the G main, or winning the national title, spending a few hours around a big nitro race seriously helped refresh my mind on just how gnar-core those guys are.
Now, do I want to get back into the nitro game? Nope, zero chance of that as I am just too old and lazy (ok, just lazy), but I sure can admire all the work and talent displayed at a big nitro event.
With that said, you can expect to see our coverage of the Futaba Nitro Challenge tomorrow as we’ll be doing a small write-up on the event. Also, before I forget, we held our BigSquidRC Long Jump Invitational over the weekend, expect coverage of that event on Wednesday. Was Paul Bludgen’s record of 262 feet for a long jump surpassed? You’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out.
Until next week, get out and support your local nitro races, bash spots, and hobby shops when ya can.
YOUR Cub Reporter