This past weekend saw the beginning of a new series dedicated to realistic or “scale” R/C racing. Bill Jeric of Tuning Haus, with his vast experience in the industry, hands on involvement with scale R/C racing in the midwest, and passion for scale looking racing, has put together a fun and competitive series for realistic R/C racing in Southern California. The two classes, GT Sedan and Formula 1 make up the SoCal R/C Scale Series Presented by Tuning Haus. 31 drivers making up 38 entries made for a successful launch of this new series. Bill Jeric recaps all of the action in an extensive race report highlighting it all!
Race Report by Bill Jeric
The qualifying format of average 5 best laps over a three minute qualifying run insures drivers are pushing the limit to get a good seeding but also helps set the all important race heats with drivers of similar racing speed. Sean Park of TQ RC Raceway set the qualifying heats and in the Formula 1 qualifying, the 5 drivers set for the final qualifying round set the five fastest times. Don Stearns had the fastest average time in the first round, just .017 seconds ahead of Alan Rollo, to claim the first TQ time for the series. However, coming out on top for that important TQ bonus point was Tuning Haus own Bill Jeric with an average of 10.694, just .009 ahead of second qualifier Jason Huang with Kevin “Panda” Cole another .013 second behind in third. Rounding out the top 5 was Tyree Philips and Craig “Cuda” Hammon. Cuda just recently returned from racing in Japan as a representative of the USA team, his prize for being the Formula 1 TCS National Champion this year. Cuda had some great stories to share form his trip including how he got a pretty awesome dragon tattoo from one of the top artists in Japan on his visit. The gap between the top and bottom qualifying spots was just under 1 second. The sedan drivers were now ready to take to the track. Going into the final qualifying group, Joven Madriaga was current TQ with an average 5 laps of 10.040 and the only driver to run a 9 second lap. There was some heavy hitters in the last group and it took everything he had but Johnson Thai pulled off the TQ with an average five laps of 9.949 pulling out five 9 second laps in his 3 minute run to pip Joven for the top spot. Congratulations Johnson and Bill for pulling off the first TQ bonus points for the So Cal RC Scale Series.
The format for each class was 15 minutes races with 2 pit stops for the 21.5 powered Formula 1 cars and 10 minute races with 1 pit stop. Set times to complete the pit stops made sure the final third of the race was run “heads up” so everyone knew who they were battling for position. Pit stop strategies would vary as some would pit early to throw others off from their pace while others would pit late using their stops to take advantage to get out of traffic hoping for a clearer track ahead after completing their stop. Let the racing begin!
Formula 1 started off the day. In race #1, Don Stearns starting from the pole had a rough start and dropped to the back but getting off clean from his second spot was Tom Kahl followed closely by Doug Rebal for the first few laps while Jeffery Fink, Jason Laurel and Alan Rollo battled with Don recovering from his starting woes. Tom decided to throw his competitors for a loop by pitting early on the fifth lap and again on the 9th lap allowing Doug and Jason to battle for the top spot. All drivers got their two pit stops done early and Tom was back out in front by the quarter race mark and maintained that spot to the checkered flag. Doug and Alan settled in for a race long battle with Doug edging out Alan by 2 seconds for second. Jason came across in fourth ahead of Jeff and Don.
Race 2 for Formula 1 saw pole sitter Bill Jeric get off to a clean start and except for pit stops, lead 77 of the 81 laps he completed. Starting from fourth, Tyree Phillips got away well and after a bad lap from second starting Jason Huang, slotted into second and while not able to fully challenge Bill for the win, did keep him honest coming home second 4 seconds behind after 15 minutes of racing. Jason’s troubles continued and an undisclosed suspension failure forced him out just shy of the one third mark. Kevin Cole got off to a bad start dropping back to last after the first lap but was able to recover by the quarter mark of the race to move into second where the Panda would hold position for the rest of the race, one lap down from the leaders 81 lap pace. The big battle in the race was Craig Hammon and Mark Goldwater. A late race charge by Mark brought him to within a second but the Cuda held on to fourth with Mark close behind followed by Alex M for sixth and Jason on the side lines at the end.
Race 3 was the start of the sedan class and their turn to see if they could put on just as good a show as the F1 runners. The wild card in this race was Kevin Cole. The Panda had a bad qualifying run breaking after just two laps and would start eighth in the C group, twenty-fifth overall. However, with the unique points system the series uses, there was still the opportunity for a top 10 finish at the end of the day. Number 1 position starter Toby Zhang got off to a good start leading the first 6 laps but sadly slowed to a stop on track with a suspected electronics. The team changed ECU units, coils and rebooted the system but could not get him back into the race.
Navigating traffic well, the Panda came from his last starting grid spot to take over the lead after Toby’s disappointment but with Tom Kahl hot on his heels who was dogged closely by Jeffery Fink, Steven Vines and Bensi Lopez. After an extended time away from the sport, Doug Harding dusted off the equipment to come out and run and gave chase just behind this pack. In the end it was Panda taking the win and setting fast time for sedans with a 54 lap run with Tom Kahl closely behind on the same lap. The battle for third was fierce with Jeffery taking the spot just ahead of Doug with Steve just another half second behind followed by Bensi in sixth and Doug in seventh.
Race 4 had a clean start and saw all the drivers pitting early. First one in was Phil Goodwine dive into the pits on just the second lap (you cannot pit on the first lap) and started to move up only to have a suspension failure end his race on just the eight lap. Lady luck was not so nice to pole sitter and early leader Brian Rutherford. B-Ruff as most of us know him, lead from the start only also have his machine let him down on lap 8 leaving B-Ruff and Phil to ponder what could have been. This put Steve Tolmasoff into the lead shortly until he pitted dropping to third put a lengthy on track stop for cooling issued dropped him a number of laps back to take the final running spot in sixth. Using his early pit strategy, Jason Laurel stopping on just lap 4 moved to the lead on lap 10 where he would hold that spot to the end of his 55 lap run with a 7 second lead and taking over top time for that round for sedans. The battle of the race would be for second as Jeff Gacula gave it all he could but would have to settle for third as Mark Goldwater was able to hold Jeff off buy just under a second for the second spot. Mid pack was an entertaining battle between Sonny C and Albert Benavidez with Sonny eventually pulling away for fourth and Albert coming across the line in fifth.
Final race of Round 1 brought in the heavy hitters of the sedan class with Johnson Thai looking to use his TQ position to jump to an early lead. Johnson lead for the first two minutes setting fastest race lap in the process but after his pit stop dropped him to second, a bad lap dropped him to the middle of the pack where he would battle fiercely with JD Ramsey. After all pit stops were completed, Leo V took over the top spot with Joven Madriaga in hot pursuit. Joven drove hard but Leo V ran hard and smooth for the remainder of the race to shatter best time with a 58 lap run just one second ahead of Joven in second after the 10 minute race. Starting from the back of the fast pack, Tyree Phillips ran a clean steady race in his beautifully painted Audi R8 to lead a few laps and finally settle in for third behind the lead pair. Just a few seconds back was another strong battle between early leader Johnson Thai and JD Ramsey with JD taking fourth less than two tenths of a second ahead oh Johnson. A few seconds back but on the same lap was Calvin Simmons who took the sixth spot after battling a race long with Kyle Goodwine with Sean park edging out Paul Dabao for seventh. Round one of three was now complete.
Round two started with the first race of Formula 1 cars back up again. Unlike the first round where Tom Kahl had the race pretty much his way, Doug Rebal took advantage of a tail wagging Kahl to take the lead on the second lap and stretch out an early lead that he held until his second stop. Alan Rollo was following Doug closely in he number two spot and took the opportunity to lead a few laps until he stopped for his second and final lap. Meanwhile, Jason, Jeffery and Don took turns battling each other for fourth. Finally calming down his tail happy car, Tom was able to move back into the lead at the half way point for a spirited battle with Doug in striking distance while Alan settled into a comfortable third where he would run to the finish. With just over three minutes left. Tom made the bobble Doug was hoping for and Doug held the gap to the end for the race win. Tom thus took the second spot comfortable ahead of Alan in third. Jason Laurel finally settled the squabble for fourth with Jeffery slotting into fifth with Don in sixth.
Race 2 of F1 saw Bill Jeric pick right back up where he left off from round 1 with another Dominating run from pole leading every lap of the race and bettering his time over his first round 81 lap performance. Kevin Cole gave Bill more of a run this race getting to within one second until a crash with one and a half minutes left cost the Panda over half a lap but a comfortable second. Tyree Phillips after pushing Bill in the first round had his hands full with badly pushing car and struggled to a third position. Post race inspection found the mechanics had not properly assembled some suspension mounts after some work between rounds and it was heard matters will be addressed with the team back at the factory. Mark Goldwater, Craig Hammon and Jason Huang had a spirited mid pack battle with mark taking the fourth spot ahead of Cuda in fifth and Jason sixth after switching to his back up car ahead of Alex M.
Round 2 of the sedans started with the Panda on the pole after his round one win but the battle was on as mid pack starting Steve Vines moved to second by the third lap then pitted early. Steve was back up to second by lap 12 but a rear suspension failure after contact with the barrier but an end to his promising race. Tom Kahl did his usual early stop (lap two) and with about 4 minutes down, had a great battle for second going with the hard charging Toby Zhang starting from last after the team thrashed between rounds to find and fix his electrical issue. Toby would reward his mechanics hard work and efforts with a solid third less than 2 seconds behind the second place running Tom and his dark blue BRZ. Jeffery Fink followed this pair to the line for fourth with Doug Harding still getting the dust off the driving skills motoring to fifth. This race had its fair share of attrition with mechanical gremlins hitting Bensi Lopez on the very first lap but a strong effort by the crew in the pits got him back out for sixth ahead of the disappointed seventh finisher Steve who was ready to show the Panda he had something for him and Doug Rebal rounding out the group making less than two minutes of the race. To everyone’s surprise, it was not a motor failure that put him out this time. Because of this series unique point system that scores all drivers finishing position by their laps and times, with his improved 56 lap run, the Panda was able to finish round 2 fifth overall from the C group.
Race 2 of sedans were up next and a pumped Jason Laurel after winning his groups round 1 race was excited the race from the lead on just lap 2 with an undisclosed mechanical failure. From disaster in round 1, Brian Rutherford put in a personal call to lady luck who answered this time and was in the lead after just one and a half minutes. About this time, Mark Goldwater, Albert Benavidez, Jeff Gacula and Sonny C were putting on a show fighting over second. However, in a span of three laps, Phil Goodwine fought past this group after a strategic pit on lap 3 and was running down leader B-Ruff. Phil and Brian thrilled the crowd with their intense battle to the end but lady luck was sitting on B-Ruff’s shoulder as he got the better breaks in traffic to take the win with Phil crossing the line. In Second. Behind this pair, Mark, Sonny and Jeff waged battle for the final podium with Sonny finishing less than 1.5 seconds ahead of Jeff for third. Bad luck hit Mark about 2 minutes from the end when a very bad lap costing him two laps put him back to seventh. A finish that did not represent the strong drive he had going. This left Steve Tolmasoff, after his crew thrashed between rounds to change his engine, to finish in fifth just ahead of Albert in sixth.
The last race of round two and Leo V. used his pole position to jump out to a quick lead only to dive into the pits on lap 4 and start a long run to get back to the front. Calvin Simmons also hoped early pitting would help but a mechanical issue put him out just two and a half minutes in shortly followed by Johnson Thai who after setting fastest race lap again on lap 7 had his drive end early on lap 15. Tyree Phillips was having a good run leading the mid pack field ahead of Paul Dabao and TQ Raceway owner Sean Park. Up front was an intense battle for the lead with Leo, Joven JD Ramsey and Kyle Goodwine all with a shot at the win. Leo V made swift work of traffic and was able to stretch out a lead over Joven and was able to take home the round 2 win just 2.7 seconds ahead of Joven. The battle between Joven, JD and Kyle was intense as JD took the third spot just seven tenths behind Joven with Kyle in fourth, just over two tenths behind. Tyree was able to pull a gap over his battle to finish fifth with Paul following in sixth and Sean in seventh.
Final round of the day and Tom Kahl was looking to avenge his slip in round two and Doug Rebal determined to foil his nemesis of the group. Doug got off to a good start taking the early lead he would hold for most of the race except for when he pitted. Tom had another rough start with his car again very tail happy in the early stages falling back to fifth. This allowed Allan Rollo to jump up to second with Jeffery Fink, Don Stearns and Jason Laurel in tow. Tom’s strategy was to pit on the second and third lap hoping his being off sequence with the others would allow him to reel them back in. The strategy seemed to work and after setting fast lap of the race, Tom made the pass about the nine minute mark to drop Doug to second after leading from the start. Alan settled into a comfortable third staying on the lead lap while Jeffery and Don slipped back but still in their own tight battle. Mechanical woes for Jason Laurel this race as his run came undone at the twelve and a half minute mark. Doug was not going down without a fight and was able to pressure Tom into an error that cost him almost half a lap putting Doug back into the lead with just under three minutes left. With his engineer telling him over the radio “push lad, push”, Tom drive his heart out and closed the gap to just .275 seconds with the crowd standing on their feet but Doug was able to defend and hold onto the win. Alan finished third with his best run finishing on the same lap as the leaders with 77 laps. This was also Doug’s best run. The battle for fourth went right down to the wire with Jeffery holding off Don for fourth by just eight tenths of a second.
Final race of the day for Formula 1 and Bill Jeric is looking to make the sweep (TQ and win all three rounds). Things started off well but after the mechanics made some chassis adjustments to Kevin Cole’s car after the second round, he was much racier and right on Bill’s tail from the green lights at the start. Panda set fast lap of the race on lap three that set him up to make the pass for the lead the following lap. Tyree Phillips was back in the chase having fixed the steering issues from round 2 and was in close pursuit of the leaders. Jason Huang was having a better run and slotted into fourth early with Alex M, Craig “Cuda” Hammon and Mark Goldwater scrapping over fifth. First round of pit stops started and Tyree was up to first briefly but handed the lead back to Panda when he pitted. Panda started stretching his lead and lead every lap to the finish and the only F1 car to go 82 laps. With some fast out laps after his second pit and a short board meeting for Bill, Tyree pushed into second where he would finish the race. Round 3 was not his best but Bill drove smart to capture third at the end that would give him the overall win for the day. Jason had his best run of the day with a solid fourth. Alex also had his best run of the day coming across in fifth just a few seconds ahead of Cuda with Mark G rounding up the field on the same lap as Alex and Cuda.
Race 3 and final round now for sedans. Kevin Cole jumped out again and ran a clean race to lead all but two laps after pitting. Putting his qualifying problems behind him taking a top 10 overall finish for the day from the C group. Tom Kahl and Toby Zhang gave chase early with Tom again making his stops early. However, his run came up short with a suspension failure with just over two minutes left in the race. This left Jeffery Fink, Toby and Bensi battling for second with Steve Vines in the thick of it. A very slow lap around the two minute mark hurt Steve who would have been in the hunt for third otherwise. Doug Rebal was a bit off pace this run with Doug Harding still working to improve his set-up. In the end Jeffery took the second position with Toby a few seconds back and Bensi, on the same lap taking Fourth. Steve pushed hard after his bad lap that dropped him a full lap back and fought his way to fifth just over half a lap behind Bensi with Doug Rebal, Doug Harding and Tom Kahl rounding out the field.
Final run for the B group GT cars and Phil Goodwine was looking for lady luck to sit on his shoulder this time while Brian Rutherford was looking to try to run away early. A bobble on lap 2 by Phil allowed B-Ruff to start to pull away but Phil and Jeff Gacula had different plans. They started to chip away at B-Ruff’s lead while Albert Benavidez, Sonny C, Jason Laurel, Mark G and Steve Tolmasoff battled behind. Brian seemed to have Lady Luck all to himself leading most of the race until Phil briefly took the lead at the half way mark. B-Ruff took the spot back and the pair were running close to the end of the race allowing Jeff to close in. With a few laps left and B-Ruff pulling out a few seconds lead. It looked as if he had the race in the bag as Phil was having traffic troubles again. Suddenly Brian starts slowing by 1-2 seconds a lap and Phil seemed blood like a shark and homed in for the kill with Jeff still in close pursuit. Phil made the try on the next to last lap that didn’t work and more traffic troubles on the last lap dropped him from a possible win to fourth at the checkered. Trying ever so hard, Jeff just came up short taking second just .049 seconds behind Brian. One more lap was what Jeff needed by B-Ruff seemed to have tied shoe gooed Lady Luck to his shoulder that race. Sonny had a good run finishing third just a couple seconds behind Jeff with Phil an unlucky fourth just over a second behind Sonny. Jason crossed the line for a solid fifth with Albert in sixth just two tenths ahead of mark with Steven finishing up the field .
Final race of the day and the fast guys of GT Sedan looking to light some fireworks to finish the night. Leo V jumped out to the early lead again closely followed by Joven Madriaga, JD Ramsey and Kyle Goodwine. Johnson Thai deciding to show all why he earned the TQ bonus point started his charge through the field with Tyree Philips, Paul Dabao, Sean Park and Calvin Simmons battling close behind. Leo pitted early leaving JD and Kyle to have a great battle until pitting. However, Johnson decide it was time to shine going from eighth on the first lap to first after three minutes. Even when he pitted. Johnson stayed in the first position and held that spot all the way to the ten minute mark to become the only sedan to do 59 laps today. Leo, Kyle and Joven had a great race behind with Leo finally taking over second that would give him enough points to take overall position for GT Sedan. Kyle had his best run of the day finishing a solid third with Joven fourth. JD ran unchallenged to fifth with Sean Park settling the scrap to take sixth from Tyree and Calvin in eighth. All three finishing on the same lap. Paul hit mechanical trouble and fell out short of the seven minute mark.
Formula 1: Bill Jeric set fastest race lap at 10.460 in round 2. Kevin “Panda” Cola was only other driver under 10.5 with a 10.491 in round 3. Best run of the day was Panda with an 82 lap 15:07 also in round 3. Only F1 to go 82 laps.
GT Sedan: Johnson Thai set fastest race lap at 9.820 in round 3. Leo V, Joven Madriaga and Kyle Goodwine were the only others to break a 10 second lap. Johnson had best run of the day also in round 3 with 59 laps 10:04. Only GT car to go 59 laps today.
Podiums and notable mentions:
Formula 1: Bill Jeric used that important TQ point to take the overall win with 299 points in his Tuning Haus prepared VBC. Second with 297 points was Kevin Cole with 297 also running a VBC and third was Tyree Phillips in a TRG. Sportsman drivers Tom Kahl and Doug Rebal cracked the “Top Eight” A main barrier with a fourth and fifth place finish respectively. After being away from carpet racing for well over a year. Craig Hammon tied for fifth.
GT Sedan: Leo V took the overall win with 299 points with a Yokomo. Joven Madriaga was second with 295 points with his ARC and final podium spot went to JD Ramsey also with a Yokomo with 291 points. After making the decision to run the series late Friday night with final prep work completed early Saturday morning, Kyle Goodwine finished 4th with 289 points. Running from the C main after breaking in qualifying and starting 25th, Kevin Cole finished sixth overall with 279 points. Jeff Gacula leads the Sportsman group with 270 points with Sonny C only one point behind. They finished the day ninth and tenth overall.
From Bill Jeric of Tuning Haus, Sean Park of TQ Raceway and your truly, the Panda, we thank you all for your participation today. A Merry Christmas to all and look forward to seeing who Santa thought was naughty or nice at round 2 of the series on Saturday 27-December.