R/C racers descended on the famous Bark River Raceway in Michigan for a weekend of exciting competition in the Traxxas TORC R/C challenge, the radio-control racing series that follows the full-size acti
on of THE Traxxas Off-Road Championship. Much more than an R/C race, the Challenge not only gives racers a custom-designed racecourse with all the amenities one expects at a national-caliber event (including power, pit tables, and electronic scoring), but also full access to the full-size TORC action, from pit row to a seat in the stands. Racers competed for a TORC R/C Challenge plaques, but pure luck determined who won the biggest prize: a ride in the TORC pace truck. All R/C racers were automatically entered for a three-lap ride in the race-ready truck. It’s part of every R/C Challenge race on the TORC circuit, so be sure to sign up if TORC comes to your town!
Friday, July 10
The closest form of R/C competition at the TORC R/C Challenge (and indeed, at many tracks around the country) is Slash Spec. Strict rules require that the trucks remain almost completely stock, save for the radio system which drivers may change to suit personal preference. Since the Slash is sold Ready-To-Race®, all the drivers have identical tires, suspensions, and power systems, making it virtually impossible for any driver to have a technological advantage. An advantage in skill, however, is a different matter entirely. Brothers Tanner and Blaine Gould aptly demonstrated their skill advantage by dominating the Slash Spec class, both posting 20 laps to win the A-Main with Tanner taking first and Blaine just five seconds behind. Third-place finisher Mike Villemure also put in 20 laps, another five seconds behind Blaine.
In the Slash Open class, drivers are free to bolt in as much horsepower as they can handle, making for faster straightaway speeds, but not always faster lap times as drivers often pushed their Traxxas racing trucks past the limits of control as they danced on its ragged edge—just as the full-scale TORC racers sometimes do! Quinn Konitzer was the man to beat in qualifying and sat in the TQ position for the 8-truck A-Main, but it was Randy Villemure who put in the best run to take the trophy with nearly a full lap lead over Quinn, who finished second. Third-place finisher Jeff Ives and Ben Hebel, in fourth, also put in 20-lap runs.
The Traxxas Slayers looked much like a grid of Slashes as they sat on the starting line, but as soon as the racers brought their trucks to life with the electric starters and the scream of TRX 3.3 Racing Engines echoed across the raceway, the spectators pressed closer to the track to see the ultimate in short-course R/C racing performance. In qualifying, Troy Konitzer burned up the track to take the pole, and proved unstoppable in the A-Main with a brilliant no-looking-back run that put in 45 laps, three more than second-place finisher Tom Knuth. Mark Steinhardt finished third in the 8-truck race, three laps behind Tom.
Saturday, July 11
Once more, the Gould brothers proved unbeatable in the Slash Spec class, and the brothers again posted 20-lap runs. But this time, it was Blaine’s turn to shine, with a TQ run and a 6-second lead over his brother Tanner in second. If brotherly competitiveness wasn’t enough to keep the Goulds on the gas, the ever-present threat of nemesis Randy Villemure certainly was. Randy stayed on the lead lap to finish third.
Randy Villemure proved he can handle a high-powered Slash as he aced the qualifying rounds to take the pole, but the A-Main battle would not go to Randy despite his undeniable skill. With consistent driving and a steady trigger finger, second-place qualifier Quinn Konitzer extended his lead to a full 15 seconds before the end-of-race tone sounded. But Randy was not driving the truck on Quinn’s bumper; sixth-place qualifier Jeff Ives took the two-spot, with a great A-Main run to beat TQ Randy Villemure by just a tick under three seconds.
Troy Konitzer had another TQ run in the Slayer class on Saturday, but it looked like bad luck would crush his shot at the win when a mechanical problem took him out of the race. Instead of giving up, Troy broke out the wrenches and set to work, quickly repairing his truck and getting it back on the track. Now in last, Troy methodically picked his way through the field to regain the lead, again besting Tom Knuth, but there was no lapping Tom this time, as both drivers put in 45 laps in the 15-minute event. Gabe Johnson rolled in third, eight laps down from the leaders.