Welcome to Round 5 report of the SoCal RC Scale Series presented by Tuning Haus. Despite the race being held on Valentine’s Day, an encouraging turnout of competitive cars descended on TQ Raceway. The absence of F1 drivers Kevin Cole, Tom Kahl, Matt Sui, and Alan Rollo as well as missing GT Sedan pilots like Phil Goodwine and Sean Park was offset by welcoming Fred Medel and Tim Ruwe to their first race in the series. With the chance for series regulars to begin improving their point standing via throw-outs, qualifying was sure to be close and the results did not disappoint.
Race Report by Bill Jeric of Tuning Haus
GT Sedan Qualifying
Six cars hit the track for their 3 minute session, and when it was over Leo V. set a very respectable 5 lap average of 10.06 to sit atop the standings, albeit temporarily, as in group 2 Tyree Phillips took his VBC D07 to the top of the leaderboard with a 9.884 average, just edging JD Ramsey’s Yokomo BD7 with a 9.897 average. Group 3 produced some blistering lap times, and when the session concluded it was the Awesomatix of Johnson Thai earning the bonus point with a 9.586 average, with Dave Berger’s Yokomo slotting in second at 9.711 and Kyle Goodwine’s XRay in third with a 9.785 average.
Formula 1 Qualifying
The first group for F1 qualifying included the Tamiya cars of Tim Ruwe and Chien-Hwa Chen, and after 3 minutes Chen had produced a five lap average of 10.570, followed by Tim, Jacob Dee, and Jeremy Dee. Group 2 saw the bar raised by the TRG of Tyree Phillips, setting the provisional pole with a 10.376. Only .018 seconds behind was the XRay of Charles Lightfoot, with the Tamiya TRF-101 of Elliot Miyashiro in third with a 10.497 average.
Group 3 included the VBC Lightning F1 of series points leader Bill Jeric, the Tamiya F104v2 of Jason Huang, the TRF101 of Craig “Cuda” Hammon, and the Exotek F1R of Mark G. After 3 minutes, Jeric took the TQ bonus point with a 10.356 average, barely edging out the earlier 10.376 from Phillips and the 10.382 from Huang. Lightfoot completed the top 4 with a 10.412, confirming the competitiveness at the top of the F1 division with only .056 seconds separating the four fastest drivers.
With qualifying complete, the mains were set and drivers went about preparing their cars for longer runs.
GT Sedan Race 1 saw the XRay of Mark G rocket from third to first on lap 6, passing Jae Shin and Charles Lightfoot to take the lead. On lap 11 Charles passed Mark for the lead, but then fell behind five laps later from his pit stop. The tables turned however when Mark decided to pit on lap 26. Meanwhile, Jae Shin, Doug Harding, and Jacob Dee were battling for position behind the lead group. At the end, Lightfoot finished ahead of Mark G. by 7.07 seconds, followed in third by Jae Shin. Jacob Dee, Doug Harding, and Jeremy Dee completed the field.
Race 2 saw the ARC R-10 of Paul Dabao lead from green to checker, with a perfectly executed late-pit strategy to best Leo V. by 7.19 seconds, both drivers going 59 laps. Jeff Gacula was third with 58 laps, followed closely by Steve Vines and Fred Medel with 57 laps. Brian Rutherford retired after 33 circuits with suspension failure.
In Race 3, the fastest qualifiers took the track and Johnson Thai led the field from the start, followed across the line for lap 1 by Dave Berger, Kyle Goodwine, Albert Benavidez, Tyree Phillips, JD Ramsey, and Calvin Simmons. Goodwine got by Berger on lap 3 and ran in second until lap 26, where a crash relegated him to fifth. Ramsey worked his way up to third on lap 4, an impressive advance after being shuffled down to sixth on the first lap. At the halfway point, the running order was Thai, Berger, Ramsey, Goodwine, Phillips, Benavidez and Simmons. Although positions changed intermittently between Goodwine, Phillips, and Benavidez during the second half of the race, the finishing positions after 10 minutes remained identical to the running order at the midway point. Thai blistered the field with a 61 lap run, Berger and Ramsey going 59, Goodwine and Philips went 58, Benavidez 57 and Simmons rounded out the field with 55.
Formula 1 Race 1, the Exotek F1R of Mark G. led into the first set of corners, but behind him Doug Rebal’s VBC car got loose under braking, allowing Don Stearns, Jacob Dee, and Tim Ruwe past. Rebal recovered quickly and began to work his way back up through the field. Meanwhile, Mark G. lost the lead temporarily to Stearns on lap 6, but his time in second was limited to less than 7 laps as Mark worked his way back to the front with an aggressive yet clean pass. Jacob and Jeremy Dee were closely matched outside the fight for the top spots, while Tim Ruwe showed flashes of pace as he came to grips with racing on carpet once again. After 15 minutes Mark G crossed the line with 79 laps, followed by Don Stearns with 77, Doug Rebal with 74, and Tim Ruwe with 71. Jeremy and Jacob Dee wounded out the field with 61 and 57 laps respectively.
Race 2 saw a clean start with the VBC of Bill Jeric leading Tyree Phillips, Jason Huang, Charles Lightfoot, Elliot Miyashiro, Chien-Hwa Chen, and Craig “Cuda” Hammon. For the first 13 laps the field remained static except for some shuffling toward the back of the field, as Cuda moved forward while Elliot struggled to get heat into his tires and fought a loose condition. On lap 14 Jeric got it all wrong at the end of the straight, allowing Phillips into the lead which he held until lap 28. Huang then assumed the lead and held it until halfway, where the running order behind him consisted of Bill, Charles, Tyree, Elliot, Chien-Hwa and Cuda. Shortly after halfway, Jeric assumed the lead with Lightfoot in 2nd and Huang in 3rd. On Lap 62, Jeric stumbled, allowing Lightfoot through to win the main with 84 laps with Jeric 5.8 seconds behind. Huang finished 3rd, followed by Cuda, Phillips, Chen and Miyashiro.
Next up was Round 2, Race 1 of GT Sedan. At the tone, Charles Lightfoot launched perfectly into the lead, with Mark G. losing grip and allowing Jae Shin to make a pass for second. Doug Harding was able to make a pass on Jeremy Dee to move into fourth place on lap 2. Goldwater ducked into the pits on lap 10, and when Lightfoot followed suit on lap 12, Jae Shin jumped into the lead. From lap 13 to the last lap, Mark and Charles swapped positions and gave those watching the race a great show. One would make a mistake, then the other would open a gap. Lapped traffic or a mistake would bunch them together again, and on it went until the end. With less than five laps to go, both drivers made mistakes and Mark achieved a slightly better recovery, and crossed the line only 0.21 seconds ahead of Charles. Both drivers went 54 laps, and Jae Shin was less than a lap down with 53. Doug Harding went 49 laps, and both Jeremy and Jacob Dee retired early with mechanical issues.
Race 2 produced another excellent drive by Paul Dabao, driving his ARC R10 into a lead that he never relinquished over the entire 10 minute run. Leo V. kept Paul in sight for the entire run, finishing 5.07 seconds behind in his Yokomo. Both drivers went 59 laps. Fred Medel finished with a 58 lap run, with Jeff Gacula and Brian Rutherford were on a pace only slightly slower with 57 laps. Sportsman driver Steve Vines ran clean and consistent the entire day in this group and went 56 laps on this run.
Race 3 saw what looked to be another Johnson Thai runaway, starting from pole and leading the first two-thirds of the main. Dave Berger started and ran second, but behind him was mayhem with Benavidez, Ramsey, Simmons and Goodwine swapping positions lap after lap. In the middle stint of the race, drivers were passing and being passed sometimes three times per lap! On lap 52, Thai had a problem that cost him more than 4 seconds, allowing Berger to pass him for the lead. During the last 7 laps of the race, Thai pushed as hard as he could but at the line ended up 0.24 seconds short of Berger, with both drivers completing 60 laps. The final step of the podium for this main would be occupied by Albert Benavidez with 59 laps, JD Ramsey 1.3 seconds behind and Calvin Simmons 2.3 seconds back from Ramsey both on 59 laps. Kyle Goodwine suffered some late race troubles and faded to 6th, while Tyree Phillips was a DNS. With both Berger and Thai having a 1st and a second, would Thai need that TQ point? We’ll see in Round 3.
The first Formula 1 race of Round 2 saw Mark G. race to the win while improving his time with an 80/15:09 result. Doug Rebal passed Don Stearns on lap 3 and ran second the entire way to a 78/15:05 with Stearns in 3rd with 77/15:01. Tim Ruwe ran consistently to finish 4th, followed by Jacob Dee. Jeremy Dee retired his McLaren with mechanical issues after only 15 laps.
Race 2 was all Charles Lightfoot, who only relinquished the lead for five laps during two pit stops. His 84/15:01.5 was 3 seconds faster than his round 1 time.
Jason Huang’s 83/15:05.7 was 2 seconds faster than his first run. Jeric was third at 83/15:11.1, his run compromised by two unforced errors. Cuda and Chen were unhappy with inconsistent handling race cars, both turning 80 laps. Miyashiro retired with a mechanical issue on lap 71. With two wins, Lightfoot was looking strong to bank an overall victory. On to Round 3…
GT Sedan Round 3 Race 1 saw Mark G. start from the pole and maintained first place throughout the entire 10 minute main with the exception of the one lap during his pit stop led by Charles Lightfoot. However, Lightfoot was in striking distance for virtually the entire race, and several times pulled alongside Goldwater only to be unable to execute a clean pass. When contact occurred between the drivers, they waited for each other and demonstrated magnificent sportsmanship. In the end, Goldwater crossed the line on lap 55, a mere 0.207 seconds ahead of Lightfoot, with Jae Shin putting in an ever-improving performance to finish 3rd at 52 laps, followed by Doug Harding, Jeremy Dee, and Jacob Dee.
Race 2 of the final GT mains saw the results vastly different compared to the previous round, with Leo V. piloting his Yokomo to a race win at 59/10:05.5 Fred Medel improved immensely in round two, saying of his result “not too bad for not driving since October”. His 59/10:09.4 was almost a lap quicker than his round 2 result, and almost two laps faster than round one. Not bad indeed, Mr. Medel. Welcome to the series, and we hope to see you again. Paul Dabao had a difficult run by comparison to his first two efforts, coming in third with a 58/10:02.1. Jeff Gacula was fourth with a 58/10:10.1, followed by Steve Vines. Brian Rutherford’s crew was unable to repair his chassis prior to the main and was a DNS.
In the final GT Sedan race of the day, Berger started from pole, followed by Thai, Benavidez, Ramsey, Simmons, and Goodwine. Dave did a masterful job of not making a mistake while subjected to immense pressure applied by Johnson until lap 16, which saw the three leaders all lose time to a crash. When order was restored, Berger led from Thai, Simmons, Benavidez, Goodwine, and Ramsey, who remarked later that his BD7 suddenly became “super hard to drive”. Between laps 19 and 26, Burger and Thai put on an amazing show of consistency with both drivers running 9.8’s and 9.9’s. Dave ducked into the pits on lap 27, and upon exiting the pits was slowed by traffic to 10.1’s and 10.2’s, while at the same time Johnson turned up the wick to run consecutive laps in the 9.6-9.7 second range. Pitting from first place on lap 36, Thai’s consistently fast laps had built enough cushion that he exited the pits maintaining his lead and cruised to the win with a 60/10:01.6 run. Berger was an uncomfortable second (59/10:02.1), with Benavidez only 2.7 seconds behind in third. Simmons was a further 6.5 seconds adrift of Albert in fourth place, followed by JD Ramsey in fifth. Kyle Goodwine suffered an unfortunate DNF, retiring after 38 laps.
All that was left to do was tally the point to find out the days’ finishing order…
Race 1 of Round 3 for Formula 1 saw a repeat pattern of Rounds 1 and 2, with Mark Goldwater driving smart and consistent to finish his day with an 80 lap/15:05.3 run. Doug Rebal was second, Don Stearns was third and Tim Ruwe was fourth. The Dee/McLaren/Tamiya camp was unable to affect needed repairs in order to make the grid for Round 3, with both Jeremy and Jacob yielding a DNS for the round.
Race 2, the final race of the day was on track to determine final F1 results. At the tone, Lightfoot led from Huang, Jeric, Chen, Hammon, and Miyashiro. Despite heavy traffic with close battles being fought throughout the field, Charles has his X1 on rails again and earned a hard-fought victory with an 84/15:07.1 effort. Jeric recovered from some early difficulties to finish second at 83/15:00.3, six seconds in front of Jason Huang in third and nine seconds better than Elliott in fourth. Chien-Hwa Chen finished fifth, followed by Cuda and Phillips who was a DNS.
- Fastest race lap of the day in GT Sedan was turned by Johnson Thai during Round 2 at 9.533 seconds, followed by Dave Berger’s 9.676 in Round 3. Albert Benavidez went 9.717 in Round 2, Paul Dabao went 9.738 during Round 2, JD Ramsey achieved 9.757 in Round 3, and Calvin Simmons ripped off a 9.788 in Round 3 as well.
- Fastest race time was Thai’s 61/10:04.2 in Round 1.
- In Formula 1, Bill Jeric took fast race lap at 10.210 seconds set in Round 1, closely followed by Cuda’s 10.239 in Round 1, Elliott’s 10.302 in Round 2, Charles’ 10.315 also in Round 2.
- Charles Lightfoot went 84/15:01.5 in Round 2
1st Place: Johnson Thai (TQ) Awesomatix
2nd Place: Dave Berger Yokomo
3rd Place: Paul Dabao ARC
1st Place: Charles Lightfoot XRay
2nd Place: Bill Jeric VBC
3rd Place: Jason Huang Tamiya
Well, all I can say at this point is that if you’ve read this far, my attempt at a race report couldn’t have been too horrible. Trust me, it’s really challenging to duplicate the enthusiasm and details that Panda puts into his race reports!
I want to close with a sincere thanks to DJ Sandate, who stepped in at the last minute for our regular race announcer and did an excellent job. Also thanks to Steve Vines for the tech help, Jason Huang for the photography, Frank Gomez at TQ, and all of the drivers who joined me for a fun day of racing. Don’t miss the series final on March 7th, as it’s certain to be an epic event, with season-ending awards, food, prizes, and fun. For the traveling Panda and me, Bill Jeric, thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you on March 7th!