Fear is something that each and every individual handles differently. Whether we admit it or not, we all have something we fear and are legitimately scared of. For some, their biggest fear is spiders. For others it ‘s climbing heights. For me…I can honestly say I didn’t know what by biggest fear in life was until this past weekend. I was invited to participate in an R/C event in which took an effect on me like no other R/C racing event has before, and today I’m here to tell you about it.
(Fastlane Raceway’s freshly re-done carpet facility)
Some of you may or may not know my background in racing. I grew up racing motocross, and when I made the transition to R/C car racing, naturally I chose offroad racing. Offroad R/C racing is all that I have ever really known and loved for the past 8 years. I’ve dabbled here and there in other forms of R/C racing such as carpet onroad, dirt oval, and even some hardcore backyard bashing, but I always come back to offroad racing.
Here in a America there is a traveling national series of R/C racing for carpet oval racers known as the BRL Carpet Oval Series. It just so happens my good friend, Chuck Kleinhagen, is the director of this nationwide series. Carpet oval racing is something in which I have never given much thought or attention to, let alone participate in. I’ve done some dirt oval before (with little success), but never any oval on carpet. The BRL Series just happened to be making an appearance in my hometown this past weekend, and I was invited by Mr. Kleinhagen and his crew to ‘arrive and drive’ at the event.
I was unable to make qualifying and practice on Saturday, and arrived just in time for some warm up laps, 1 round of qualifying, and the mains on Sunday. Coming from an offroad background with turns in BOTH directions, jumps, bumps, and varying track conditions…I had little fear going into the event as I knew my equipment was being prepped and taken care of by the best of the best, and all I had to do was drive around a flat carpeted circle.
I felt decent running by myself in practice, and was amped to get the first qualifier under way. I was in the lower re-sort starting last, as I had missed the previous day of qualifying. The tone sounded and I was READY…or so I thought. In my qualifier a slight technical malfunction (operator error) lead to a DNF, but I felt strong heading into the final.
I started last in the lowest main, and as the tone sounded I pulled the trigger wide open down the front stretch. Before I had completed a single lap (3.8 seconds), I had a pack of leaders chasing ready to lap me. I pulled wide to let them go by, and re-entered the racing line. 3.8 seconds later the SAME group of cars was behind me AGAIN. My hands started shaking, and I started to break a sweat as I pulled over once again. As I go to pull back onto the line I made it 2 laps this time (roughly 7 seconds), before the angry sharks were breathing down my neck AGAIN. In a moment of panic I lost all brain function and slammed into the back wall. I tried to re-group and re-enter the track, but was greeted with a friendly “Lookout slow poke, leaders coming through” bump to the rear.
(The top 6 drivers were seperated by less than 1 second in qualifying.)
At this point I literally experienced a fear like no other I have ever experienced in MY LIFE. I encountered a slight panic attack, and crashed my way into the infield for safety, and sat out the remainder of the race. As an offroad R/C racer, I (as do many others) clearly overlooked the talent, skill, speed, ability, precision, and intensity of carpet oval racing and its racers.
The BRL Carpet Oval Series and its racers are not only an impressive group of individuals on the racetrack, but also throughout the pits as well. Despite my hazardous performance, I felt right at home as they welcomed me to the carpet oval game. Despite the worlds scariest experience I’ve ever had on a racetrack (of any sort, not just R/C), I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am building up the bravery to try again someday. Perhaps next time I can manage 3 laps (9 seconds) before getting lapped…then again probably not.
The moral of today’s story is simple…despite what you may think about something, until you actually experience it for yourself, you have no room to judge. Before last weekend I saw a carpet oval as driving my R/C car in circles. AFTER last weekend I see a carpet oval as ring of fear, filled with speeding sharks who smell blood in the water, and are ready to attack!
CLICK HERE for full BRL Series ‘Castle 300’ event results!