2012 Sidewinder Nitro Explosion Race Coverage – The Drake and Cavalieri Take Home the Big Wins

Sep 05, 2012 No Comments by

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The clock is ticking towards the 1/8th Scale Nitro Worlds in Argentina at the end of this year and everyone is trying to get in some last minute wheel time before heading to the Worlds. If you were following racing this past weekend in SoCal, you saw that the big names were at the 9th Annual Sidewinder Nitro Explosion. TLR top gun, Adam Drake was in attendance along with the current 1/8th Scale Nitro Buggy World Champion, Kyosho’s Cody King as well as Team Associated’s Ryan Cavalieri & Maifield. ARC Raceway in Temecula, California put in a challenging layout for the racers for the event that had multiple fast straight aways, elevation changes and a couple of huge kicker jumps. Qualifying had been ran and concluded on Saturday that only left the long A-mains for Sunday. The track prep Sunday morning yielded excellent traction and smooth lanes early in the day, but as racing went on, the wear and tear on the track was making ruts and pot holes that proved challenging for even the top pro’s.
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Though it’s named “Nitro Explosion” the first of the pro mains that was up was 1/8th Scale Electric that was divided into two 10-minute A-mains. TLR’s Adam Drake was the TQ in this class and was looking like the dominant force to take the overall win. It was no surprise that in the beginning of the A-1 Main, it would be Drake to hole shot into the lead and start to open up the gap between him and second place. Drakes closest competition would be Jacob Haas in a TLR ride and a name you haven’t heard in a while, Jeremy Kortz, driving an Agama buggy. The A2 Main would almost be a repeat of the first main with Adam Drake taking the over all win. The only mains left would be the 45-minute A-mains of the Expert Nitro Buggy and Truggy.
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In the Truggy class, it was the Ryan Cavalieri/Adam Drake show. These two were mixing it up on the lead lap for almost the entire race. Top Qualifier Adam Drake was quick to take the hole shot, but with Cavalieri in tail, he quickly took over the lead in the first lap when Drake would hit a track pipe. Cavalieri would do a good job of holding on the lead for most of the 45 minute race and it would turn into a pit strategy game between him and Drake for the win as Drake would take the gamble and go for fewer pit stops. Ryan’s only defense was to build up enough of a lead that he could pull off more stops with still retaining the lead. It look like this would be the case as Ryan came into his last pit stop with 4 minutes to go and would successfully come out of pit lane before Drake had a chance to pass him. Tragedy would strike Cavalieri’s truck though as he would drastically slow down and would have to pull it off the track. Ryan would still hold the 2nd place position until XRAY’s Josh Wheeler would take over the spot 3 laps later. Tough luck for Ryan with the final top three being Adam Drake taking the win, Josh Wheeler 2nd and Team Durango’s Carson Wernimont taking 3rd.
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The Expert Buggy class was the last race on the event schedule and it began with one of the cleanest starts of the day. Associated’s Ryan Maifield would lead the pack early in the race with everyone behind him in the hunt to take the top spot. Current World Champion, Cody King was behind Maifield looking for the right opportunity to put a pass on him and his chance would come at the 4 minute mark as he took the wide race line to get around Maifield. Maifield would hit a pipe later letting his teammate Ryan Cavlaieri slip by. Cavalieri would continue his charge and pressure King for the next 4 laps until Cody caught a bad line through a rut causing him to roll over and let Cavalieri go by. Positions would stay the same for almost the entire rest of the race as it looked like the current 1/10th scale electric World Champion, Ryan Cavalieri, would easily take the win. Things aren’t always as easy as they appear. The lead would change between Cavalieri and Drake a few times as the race went on and pit stops would start to factor in. Drake had already taken the win in 1/8th Scale Electric as well as Truggy and was looking to make it a clean sweep of all 3 Expert classes. The fireworks would begin with only laps left in the race. With 1:45 minutes to go in the race, Cavalieri was in the lead with Drake pulling 1/2 a second faster lap times in the 2nd position. The nerves were playing a role as Ryan would clip a pipe and cause him to case the center speed jump in the center of the track. Race Director/Announcer, Jimmy Babcock, predicted that with nothing to lose, we would see the fastest lap times out of Cavalieri in his attempt to catch Adam Drake…and he was right. I was in awe behind the camera filming and couldn’t believe how this race was unfolding in the last 2 laps of the race. Cavalieri would catch Drake a lap later and on the last lap after the final time on the front straight, Adam would catch the pipe in the first turn after the straight causing him to roll over. Then a few turns later, Ryan would misjudge a jump and fly one lane over. The turn marshall got there quickly and put Cavalieri back on the correct side of the track and still retain the lead. A few turns after that, it would all be over with Ryan Cavalieri taking the win. This is definitely a race you will have to see on video to believe.

If it sounds like the Mains at the 2012 Sidewinder Nitro Explosion were action packed; they were! Its definitely awesome to watch the World’s best RC racers in pressure cooker situations like this weekend and come out on top. On to the next stop…Argentina for the Worlds!  Keep an eye out for over 100-minutes of racing video to be posted soon! – Joel Navarro

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Electric, Event Coverage, Events, Featured News, Joel Navarro, Nitro, Off-road, Racing News

About the author

Joel Navarro fell in love with RC since the age of 11 with the Tamiya Grasshopper being his first RC car. Little did he know that the his favorite RC magazine back in 1987, RC Car Action, would be the magazine he works for now. Joel received his AA in photography and in addition to being a West Coast Editor for RC Car Action magazine, he is a professional wedding and portrait photographer in the Southern California and San Diego area. During the winter, Joel is also a snowboard instructor in Big Bear, Ca. Joel is active in the RC community and regularly races all over the SoCal area. His home tracks are SDRC Raceway, West Coast RC Raceway, OCRC Raceway, and parking lot racing in San Diego.
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