AE/Reedy Sweeps Buggy Classes at Carolina NationalsAugust 7, 2009
Event Name: Carolina Nationals
Event Location: Charlotte Motorsports Park, NC
Over the weekend of August 7-9 Team Associated/Reedy drivers Brandon Melton and Chris Pace attended the Carolina Nationals at Charlotte Motorsports Park, previously The Farm 2. The track still remains as the same configuration from the Worlds track, however it's ran in reverse with many changes to jumps and new additions. The new direction and facelift was a refreshing treat and many drivers commented on the track being very fun but challenging to drive. The stories of the week were the heat (near 100-degree temperatures all weekend) and a local charity on site called Hometown Heroes. A local Texas Roadhouse chain restaurant came onsite and was grilling burgers, ribs, and steaks, and all sales from food went to the local charity, which provides for local terminally ill kids.
The Pro Buggy and Truggy classes were very competitive, with fast drivers from OH, NC, SC, GA, TN, and FL coming to battle it out. Nearly every manufacturer except for Hot Bodies had team drivers there and the racing was as hot as the temperature. The race format used 5 qualifiers and qualifying points to grid the mains. In Pro Buggy, Brandon Melton grabbed the TQ after five rounds of ultra-close racing. Brandon Melton and Barry Pettit each TQ'd two rounds, but the points from other rounds added up in Melton's favor for the overall TQ. Chris Pace TQ'd one round, giving AE the top spot for three out of the five rounds. The mains were on Sunday and the buggy main ended up in the heat of the day right around 3 p.m. Brandon and Chris each made a small change in shock and diff fluid to compensate for the high temperature and long main ahead.
The Buggy main was fairly close between the top three racers of Melton, Pettit, and X-Ray's Ryan Lopez for the first 30 minutes of the race. Melton fell back to third after a bobble through the moguls, but would settle in and match the pace of Pettit and Lopez and hope for a mistake or tire wear from the front two runners. Melton and Pace chose tires that would easliy go the entire length of the race, using JConcept tires in yellow compound. At about the 25-minute mark, it became a race of attrition as the heat started to play havoc on engines. Lopez retired with engine troubles and then about ten minutes later Pettit experienced a flame-out, causing him to go two laps down on the large track. At this point, Melton and Pace relied on the dependability of the RC8B and Reedy VR121 to cruise in for the 1-2 sweep with Melton taking the win and Pace 2nd.
The Truggy main was a great race to watch (unfortunatly Melton was limited to running just buggy for the weekend). After a slow start in round 1, Pace turned it up a notch in the following rounds to take TQ honors in Truggy. For the first thirty minutes of the truggy race it was a three-way battle between Pace, Pettit, and Phillips. Phillips was using a different fuel strategy that would have him pit at nine minutes to cut out one stop during the 45-minute race.
Pace was able to run strong enough to keep in touch with Phillips during the pit cycles; however, bad luck with a backmarker kept him upside down for fifteen seconds waiting for a track marshall, all but killing his chances for the win. This would set up the race for an unbelievable finish between Pettit and Phillips. Pettit was about four seconds behind Phillips on the last lap. As Phillips crossed the line for the last time, his truck ran out of fuel on the front stretch; all heads turned to locate Pettit - he missed the loop and was called as "done" crossing the loop about one second too late! After a few misfortunes, Pace ran a strong to finish with a respectable third place and TQ.
Sportsman Buggy was also dominated all weekend by AE, with local driver Feng Vang taking TQ honors and leading the way to win the Sportsman A Main by over one lap. Vang is one of the most improved drivers around the Carolinas and will be making noise in the Pro Buggy class in next year's event.
Pace and Melton outfitted their AE vehicles with Reedy VR121 engines, Reedy LiPo Rx Packs, Reedy LiPo Regulators, and XP Digital 1015 servos for throttle and steering.