NEMO Racing USA had the team out at the Silverstate race in Boulder City just outside Las Vegas this past weekend, and as ever it proved to be a very tough event.
The track here is renowned for breaking up and becoming very bumpy as the meeting progresses, and indeed these predictions were not without foundation as holes appeared the size of 1/8th scale buggies in the track surface.
The track layout itself was pretty flowing, and not too technical ,probably with a nod to how rough the surface would later become. Another issue the drivers face at this race is the wind, situated out in the desert as the track is, the wind can really pick up and indeed this was the case on finals day, where everybody was walking round with motocross goggles on to save their eyes from the dust.
The NEMO guys got through practice ok, with Darren seeded in the B qualifier for both classes and Jeremy Kortz in the A qualifier in Truggy, and the B in Buggy. New team member Hunter Kinsey was having his first race with the team, and at the same time getting used to a new car on a particularly challenging track.
Qualifying was a case of what might have been for Darren, in Truggy a few small errors just kept him out of the top 10 in round on 2 occasions, which probably would have seen him qualify directly in to the A main, but a place in the B would be no shame in this company. In Buggy he had an ok 1st run, and a really good 2nd one where he was 9th, this gave him a realistic chance to make it straight in, but unfortunately in trying to avoid another car in warm up he crashed heavily on the big triple and bent a shock shaft. Kortz had little better luck and in buggy would have to come through the C main main to claim his place in the B with Darren. In Truggy he qualified just in front of Darren and the race was on.
Hunter had a hard learning experience as getting to know a new car on such a hard and ever changing track was quite a tall order.
In the mains, Darren got taken out on lap 1 of the Truggy final which put him to the back straight away, and he couldn't clear the back couple of cars without getting embroiled in a battle every time he came upon them so the distance to the front 3 grew to an uncatchable margin before the 1st pit stop and he settled for some track time later in the race. His lap times were as fast as anybody else in the field and had he cleared the first lap unscathed, he would have had a good chance to progress. Kortz came off worst in a big crash that left him unable to continue leaving him out of the fight.
In buggy, Kortz had bumped up to the B from the C despite a 1st lap crash that had put him right to the back. In the B, he was in the fight for much of the race, but would just miss the bump up spots coming home in 5th. Darren was flying blind a little as having missed the last qualifier, it was about 40 odd hours since he been on track with the car, and he had to guess at the set up requirements due to track degradation, coupled with the fact they had stopped watering the track on finals day which made the surface go rock hard and pick up traction. He struggled with his set up throughout, and would finish behind Jeremy.
There were some good showings from other NEMO drivers in the other classes, with Charlie Love coming home 4th in the over 40 Truggy class and Victor Pintado taking an excellent 3rd place and a podium in the sportsman Buggy class.
It was certainly another learning experience, and one we will take plenty of information away from, but our focus is now on the NEO Buggy race in the UK this coming week...here we go again..