Saturday, April 30, 2005
The HPI Challenge series kicked off the 2005 season with the first race at Superior Hobbies in Orlando, Florida. The crew at Superior Hobbies has been running races for more than a decade, and they have hosted HPI Challenge races in the past, so we knew they would run a smooth running program. Kent Clausen and Thad Garner from HPI made the trek back to Florida for the race. The weather forecast called for scattered showers, but luckily the only rain happened in the middle of the night, with Saturday and Sunday being comfortable Spring days in the Florida sunshine.
As you can see from the photos, Superior Hobbies is dedicated to racing and stocks a huge amount of HPI cars and parts. The race track was set up in the parking lot of the hobby shop, so racers could pop in between heats to stock up on parts and check out the latest R/C equipment. Located on the busy main street that comes out of Orlando airport, the hobby shop parking lot generates a lot of exposure when the have a parking lot race. In addition to the hobby shop, the mall also includes restaurants, a tool store, a grocery store, a video game store, discount stores and a gas station. Spectators lined the track throughout the weekend, asking questions about the speed and price of the cars. Superior hosts at least one race in their parking lot a month, guaranteeing a steady stream of new customers for their shop, a critical factor in the success of any R/C racing club.
Superior Hobbies had the track built by Friday, set up and ready to go for two days of racing. The barriers that they use are the best that I have seen for a temporary track, they use round PVC pipes that have been heated and rounded for smooth radius corners. Rob from Superior said that plumbers use a special heater to bend the PVC, allowing custom configurations that are easy on the cars (no sharp corners to cause damage). Ken Higby ran the computer and announced the races, doing a very efficient job and keeping everything running on time.
Saturday morning started with open practice to get the racers used to the track. At noon the HPI Concours signaled the beginning of the competition, with excellent paint and highly detailed HPI bodies on display. Peter Pepe ended up taking the Concours trophy with a highly detailed Mazda RX-8 body, complete with interior, working lights and custom paint job. After concours the racers lined up for a group photo and a quick drivers meeting. The first round of qualifying started right on time at 1:00, with 3 rounds scheduled for Saturday and one more round on Sunday, along with the main events and the trophy & prize presentation. Between the first and second round of qualifying the “Blindfold Race” was held, with teams competing to see who could get around the track fastest with the driver blindfolded, receiving driving instructions from a co-pilot on the drivers stand. Abner Telebrico and his co-pilot Austin Wolfe took the win in a hard-fought battle. Qualifying continued throughout the afternoon, with the track open for practice after qualifying.
Sunday dawned a little damp from a few hours of rain overnight, but the track was dry by the time the sun hit it, and the racers were ready to go. With one more round of qualify to go, everyone knew it was “now or never” to take a shot at the top qualifier spot. The fourth round ran flawlessly (just like Saturday) and the results were quickly sorted into the main events. After a quick break for lunch the racers were ready to go. The first main was the Savage race, with the big trucks negotiating the track, punctuated with some wood jumps and bumps added to make it interesting. Kevin Spitler took the checkered flag for the win, followed by Tom Corrado in second.
Next up was the Electric Stock main, with Eddie Beachamp in first place, and Steve Pessel in second. Will Williams took first in the Electric Stock B main, followed by Joni Newhall in second…always nice to see women competing and doing well in the races! In Electric Modified, Tim Potter drove a great race, finishing about a half lap ahead of Daniel Beachamp in second. Daniel must not have liked second, because he took the win in the very next main event, lapping the field in Nitro Stock. Next up was Nitro Modified, with David Franklin putting on one of the best drives we’ve ever seen at a Challenge race, his R40 was set up perfectly for the track and his driving was nearly flawless, which resulted in a 4 lap lead over second place. Last up was the Super Nitro Modified cars, with Charlie Carr grabbing the race win, beating his qualifying time by two laps.
As usual at the HPI Challenge races, HPI treated the entrants to a wealth of prizes for taking part in the race. On Saturday each driver received an official HPI Challenge T-shirt. On Sunday the racers received a free HPI body and a handful of HPI and Superior hobby decals. The winners of the official classes each received a beautiful HPI Challenge Cup and their choice of an HPI Pro 4 or R40 racing kit. All A-main event finishers received a HPI Challenge plaque for their efforts.
HPI would like to thank all of the racers who came out, and the staff at Superior Hobbies for hosting the event and running a very smooth race. See everyone at the next Challenge race!
Check out these videos of the racing action!