The 2010 R/C Rock Crawling Nationals, one of the biggest annual R/C rock crawling events, was held on Sept. 9-12th in Disney, Oklahoma. This event is an invite only competition so to get in, you have to either be the best in your local club to earn an invite or win one of the several qualifying events held during the calender year. So if neither one of those works out, you can enter the last chance qualifier (LCQ) at Nationals a few days before the main event and hope to transfer from there. For Brandon, Scott, and myself, the last option was our only chance of getting into the big show. The three of us showed up a day before the LCQ to try and test our trucks on the local rocks in preparation for Thursday’s qualifier, but mother nature wasn’t going to cooperate. With pouring rain in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, we just had to trust that our existing set-ups would be good enough to get through LCQ and qualify for the main event.
We woke up Thursday morning at 6 a.m. sharp to find a torrential downpour outside our hotel room. Good thing we spent a little time water proofing our rigs the night before. We loaded up the rental car with all our gear and headed off to the comp site 20 minutes away. We watched the skies for most of the drive looking for a break in the clouds, but didn’t have much hope for it to clear up. So, we just decided to make the best of it and whatever happens with the weather was obviously out of our control. We pulled up to the comp site about 6:45 a.m. to find that the rain had let up a little. People were mingling around talking set-ups, course design, and just catching up in general since the last time they had seen each other. The driver’s meeting started promptly at 7 a.m. and shortly after, everyone lined up to tech their rigs and made sure everything on their truck was legal for the competition. After your rig passed tech, you were free to go line up and run courses. Once we were finished with tech, Scott, Brandon, and I headed down to be the first competitors to run course #1. The LCQ courses were very tough with jumbled up loose rocks, holes, and a little mud mixed in. This made it very tough to stay on line, and made simple obstacles a challenge. As the day went on, the Rock Gods smiled upon us with some sunshine which helped dry the courses out. After a long wet day of competing, we turned our scorecards in pretty confidently. We were pretty sure that all 3 of us made the cut to transfer. Once all the scores were tallied, the 3 of us ended up 1st (Scott), 2nd (Brandon) and 3rd (myself), with Axial team driver Jason Rioux in 4th and Dave Demaray in 6th. Five XR10′s made the top 10 at the end of the day, which was pretty awesome to see.
Woke up Saturday morning to a little nicer weather. It appeared to have rained over night, but the sky seemed to be clearing up as we made the drive. We pulled into the comp site as the sun was just starting to peak over the trees. It was already shaping up to be a nice day and everyone was excited to start the competition.
After tech, we made our way down to our first course, which had a nice scale river flowing through it. Here are a few highlights from that course.
Brandon’s XR10 in action.
I thought squirrels were afraid of water??
Axial Racing’s good friend Yoshiaki Kataoka showed up with about 10 other competitors from Japan for this year’s event. A great group of guys that love to crawl, have a lot of fun in the process, and are a blast to watch on course.
Jeff Gill and his freshly built XR10.
Yoshiaki on course #2.
My XR10 on course #2.
There were a few 1:1′s playing in the park during the competition as well.
Team Carnage Crew brought their Axial sponsored KOH buggy out, and made short work of this waterfall.
A few pictures from course #3.
Me dropping into the crack of death. This crack gave a lot of competitors a really hard time.
There were plenty of scalers running around during the competition too.
A few pictures from course #5.
John Riplinger’s latest creation in action.
Titanium axle housings are just sexy!
Love seeing AX10 based rigs still competing.
The rock candy girls from left to right, Mindy Howe, Becky Barger and Jess Downing. The girls raised over $3000 for breast cancer research by raffling off a complete competition ready truck, and an XR10 kit donated by Axial. Well done ladies!!
After a long hot day in the sun, here is how the top 5 ended up going into the shootout course. This year, the shootout went a little differently then it did in the years before. In the past, the #5 driver went first, then 4th, then 3rd, and so on. This year, the running order was randomly pulled out of a hat, putting even more pressure on all the top five guys. To top that off, there was “bonus land” after gate 10. This was an area with multiple bonus gates set up sporadically throughout a certain area. If you cleared gate 10, and had time left on the clock, you could go run as many bonus gates as your remaining time allowed. Once you cleared a bonus gate, you had to return to a boundary marker and drive around the outside of it to “bank” the -5 points per gate you earned. A very interesting and fun twist to the shootout.
1st Austin Dunn
2nd Jeremy Toney
3rd Travis Crockett
4th Andy Zuber
5th Shoji Murata
A few pictures from the finals. Jeremy Toney’s name was pulled out of a hat first, so he had to be the guinea pig for everyone else and run the finals course first.
Austin Dunn’s name was called next.
Gate 4 had about a two foot tall ledge you had to drop off into an area tightly lined with boundaries. Austin took the smart approach and jumped from the gate all the way past the boundary to avoid any penalties.
Austin had well over a minute left after clearing gate 10. He then proceeded to clear at least 5 bonus gates before his time expired. Here you can see him hard on the throttle to get back to the bank.
Andy Zuber’s name was called next. Once your name was called you had 30 seconds to start the course.
Japanese driver Shoji Murata was next up.
Travis Crockett was lucky enough to go last.
While everyone waited for the final scores to be tallied we gathered around for the prize raffle.
Axial donated a new XR10 for the raffle. Colorado driver Mica Renquist was the lucky winner.
Here are the final results from the 2.2 class.
1st Austin Dunn
2nd Jeremy Toney
3rd Travis Crockett
That wraps up this year’s nationals. Axial would like to thank all the sponsors and volunteers that put in a ton of hard work and sweat to make this event the best it could be. See you next year!!