The PNB, one of the last ‘real’ big off-road races left in the US in my opinion. Although efforts were taken to try to ‘keep the track together’ more this year with the addition of hundreds of gallons of ‘dirt glue,’ i’m happy to note that the track did as it’s always done and always should do and it blew out in epic proportion in true PNB style! My first big race experiences in 1/8th Nitro were at the old Freedom Hill track in Detroit at the Kyosho Challenge held there. That track got such huge ruts in it that perfect berms were made in the corners. It was awesome and it was true off road. In my opinion the PNB is growing every year as more people are seeing what an awesome event it is. Also I feel people want to test their skills on what may be one of the most demanding tracks there is. By main time it’s not just about taking the quickest lines. It’s not just about having the most motor or having the having the perfect set-up. It’s all of that and more. It takes massive adjustment to driving style and line choice. Picking and choosing which ruts to go around, which to go through, and which to use as a new berm or jump option. Deciding which set-up options to choose. To make the car better on power through the rough or off power. It’s just everything off road racing is meant to be. It takes 100% of your focus the entire time and if you slip up for just a second your crashing over that new rut that just formed!
Now on to my race weekend. I decided to partake in the ‘psycho’ part of the PNB and I ran 5 classes plus my long jump car. I don’t have a mechanic at this time and so it was a lot of work maintaining all those cars and adjusting set-ups through the weekend. In some cases I was a little behind the 8 ball as my Nitro Buggy and Truggy didn’t really get good until Q3 and the mains. But once those mains hit my cars were all flying!
E-Truggy – A class I don’t run often but a class that is a blast to drive. Grossly overpowered with the stability of it being a truggy give it the potential for some fun watching. After I was able to take the TQ honors in Q1 and Q2 and thus the overall TQ I decided to put on a bit of a show in Q3. I spent the whole 10 minute qualifier doing backflips, front flips, backflip twists, front flip fakies, and full wood corner drifts. It was an absolute blast for me to drive and I think those who got to see it got to see a good show as well. I know there was some video taken so hopefully I can find it when it’s posted and can share it.
In A1 I had a great run staying out front and holding on for a 13 second or so lead. In A2 I chose to try S grids instead of the SS impacts I had been running. It was a bad choice as I was very loose. I ended up battling with Max for most of the race but I was able to come away with the win and the overall victory!
4×4 SC – The ultimate test for a SC truck is trying to get it around the PNB track unscathed! Some of my biggest strengths are on tracks like the PNB where line choice is critical. I feel I am able to get creative with my line choices and work hard on finding the smoothest lines out there. In SC my Durango DESC410v2 was solid all weekend. I TQ’d every round by nearly a lap and in the two A-mains I finished on a lap of my own to take the TQ and overall victory for the event.
E-Buggy – I’ve been so happy with my DEX408v2 since it’s release and this weekend it just proved it’s worth again on a very demanding and challenging surface. There was thick competition in this class this year and I was stoked to walk away with TQ’s in all 3 qualifiers. In A1 I would get off to a good start and built a nice lead. However I then made some mistakes and allowed the pack to catch me. A few laps in and 2nd place was right behind and in the back depth perception challenged portion of the track he went for a hero move and instead became a zero as he blasted my car in the rear end and sent us both tumbling. We thus lost ground to the pack but I still got away first and finished up the back left corner only to crash coming onto the front straight in one of the hardest sections of the track as there wasn’t a totally smooth line to be had inside or wide. Well no marshall saw me somehow (I had some of my worst marshaling I’ve ever had this weekend including being upside down 9 seconds in one crash in a truggy qualifier.) Anyways someone from the staging lane had to come out to marshal me and he put me angled straight at the pipe and as I got on the gas I got into the pipe and flipped again. Once I finally got going I was now far behind the leader and I had to settle for second.
In A2 I would get off to a worse start as P2 decided to clobber me from behind again over the camel hump section. I fell to 4th but fought hard and got in 2nd and was able to make a sick inside pass on the wall which I hope someone got on video. I would take the lead and the winner of A1 would have breakage thus I knew I just needed to finish and I would win the title. I was able to do that by about 10 seconds and take the Win!
Nitro Truggy- I struggled in my own mind in qualifying. I just couldn’t get enough steering and it took until Q3 to start to feel like I was going in the right direction. For the A main I made a few more changes and starting P3 put me in good position to see how those changes could materialize. In the A-main I started 3rd and after a few laps of a 4 way battle I got some of my lines figured out and started to pull a nice lead. I was pulling away from the field every lap and had over a 6 second lead. Then I started to loose steering. It was mainly left that it didn’t seem to be steering all the way. Then my car started to wander left and right through bumpy sections. Eventually the steering just stopped. Turns out my Servo Saver stripped out. I was bummed, I had worked so hard to get my set-up right and everything was coming together for this to happen. So I went back to my pit and fixed it and finished the race in 12th. Could have been a nice victory.
In Buggy my car struggled a bit in Q1 and Q2. My shock package just wasn’t right. For Q3 I changed my shock pistons, oil, and springs and it was dialed. I made to many mistakes but I showed good pace and I knew the main was mine to win. In the A-main I was to start 4th. They gave us a 5 minute warmup after driver introductions but right away there was a problem. The starter box I was borrowing, (Mine already broke earlier in the day,) had the battery go bad in it. So there was no way to start my car. Being a prototype no ones starter box would fit my car. So they stripped the wires off one of my batteries and got it to work. I didn’t get any warmup laps and barely got the engine warmed up before the start. At the start it was absolutely terrible for me. I crashed and got punted by traffic at every turn. There were 18 people in the race. I was in last on that first lap and crossed the line after lap 1 being 22 seconds behind the leader! After 3 laps I was still at the back and 33 seconds behind the leader. Nearly 3/4 of a lap. I put my head down, I knew everything was running perfectly. I fought hard through traffic for the next 30 minutes and worked my way up to 5th, then past Drake into 4th and then past Carson into 3rd. Soon I found myself behind the leaders and at the 34 minute mark I would inherit the lead down the front straight only to turn the corner at the end of the straight and run out of gas!! There was still 1:30 before my scheduled pit stop so either the tank didn’t get full or fuel fell out during a crash. Either way I fell back to 5th by the time they got me back going again and that is where I finished. It was such a bummer to come back through all that adversity, to have put in the laps necessary. To have the best car on the track and to take the lead only for it to dematerialize in seconds thereafter.
Overall it could be seen as a successful event for me. I Qualified with 3 TQ’s, a 3rd and a 4th. In the mains I took three victories, a 5th and a 12th. In the mains I had the cars to win it all a take home a quintfecta but it just wasn’t meant to be this time around. Still though I was able to win the IRON MAN trophy of the event which was something I wanted to do this year! I also got to meet more great people and had so much fun with my long jump car and my e-truggy in Q3 putting on a show. Be sure to check out my Ryan Lutz Racing Facebook page to see some of my video’s and happenings from the event.
Next up i’m moving back to Northern California this week and then have a back to back Silver State / Neo-Buggy schedule. Life is crazy busy right now. Maybe even a little bit Psycho.
-LutzinatorPosted by Ryan Lutz