Radio Operated Auto Racing, or ROAR, holds Nationals events for a variety of classes every year to determine who is fastest in the land. This past weekend, the On-road Fuel Nationals was hosted by the Greater Los Angeles R/C Racing Club (GLARCRC) featuring the super fast 1/8th-Scale Open class, 1/8th-Scale Masters, and the 1/10th-Scale Open Sedan division. As one of the last major events heading into the upcoming IFMAR World Championships in Japan a win on Sunday brought with it considerable momentum. Even though SoCal is past the heat waves it has recently endured, it doesn’t mean the action wasn’t hot on the track – with cars regularly exceeding 70 mph on the winding circuit. Here’s how the Sunday mains went down.
1/8th Scale Open
The A-Mains kicked off with the 1/8th Scale Open class going first, and if you thought intensely concentrating for a 5 or 6 minute main, try doing it for 1 hour like these nitro heads! The goal was to go as fast as possible around the track and to squeeze every drop of nitro fuel out of the 125cc tank. This was accomplished by leaning out the engine for max revs and aiming for a pit stop every 5 minutes. At the start of the main, it was Top Qualifier XRAY‘s Mike Swauger easily taking the holeshot with the rest of the field in tow in a picture-perfect clean start. The battle at the front didn’t wait long to develop as the top three drivers, Swauger, Serpent‘s Paolo Morganti and XRAY‘s Ralph Burch, started to break away from the pack. Swauger’s lead was short lived as he plowed full speed into a spun out car at the end of the straight on lap 7. He brought his car into the pits to have his mechanic make sure everything was in working order, a move that knocked him all the way back to the eleventh spot by the time he got back out and running. Morganti inherited the lead and tried to put as much distance as he could between him and 2nd place runner, Ralph Burch. At the same time, however, Swauger was on a mission and making up spots at an alarming pace. The tenths of a second that Swauger was making up each lap started to add up, and he caught the leader, Morganti, on lap 91. The two swapped the top spot a handful of times with Swauger taking the lead for good on lap 144 and never looking back. The final finish order was Swauger taking the win, Morganti 2nd and Burch finishing on the final podium spot.
1/8th Scale Masters
There usually isn’t a drivers requirement when you’re racing RC, but in the 1/8th Scale Masters class, there is a mandatory requirement you need to meet; you have to be 45 years old or older. The “old guy” class, as it was being called at the event, found Mugen Seiki‘s Dana Smeltzer (61) sitting on the pole and was ready to lay the smack down at the starting tone. The 45-minute race was a test of endurance, not only concentrating on driving a perfect race, but physical endurance as well as you would see drivers stretching out their arms and legs during pit stops every 5-minutes. During the entire race, it proved to be a one-man show as Smeltzer walked away with the lead and leaving the battles to be fought mid-pack. Serpent‘s Joaquin Desoto Sr. (49), while in the 2nd spot, was tasked with fending off any attacks that would threaten his spot that would happen between laps 14 thru 43 before locking in his position indefinitely. The real story of this race, though, was last qualifier and Mugen Seiki driver Jerry Rap (66), who was on a rampage and eating up the competition left and right on his quest for a podium finish. By the time the race clock expired, Smeltzer easily took the win by 5-laps (165-laps total) over 2nd place Desoto Sr., and the hard charging Rapp locked in his third place finish.
1/10th Scale Open
The last race of the day was the 1/10th-Scale Open Sedan class, which was the closest competition of the day with the lap time spread being less than a second between the top 5 competitors. XRAY‘s Mike Swauger was once again sitting on the pole, with teammate Ralph Burch on the 2nd grid spot and Capricorn‘s DJ Apolaro in 3rd. At the tone, Swauger immediately built up a 3-second lead as he got away cleanly around the first couple turns. Swauger had a bad case of déjà vu on lap 6, suffering a mechanical problem that once again knocked him back to the 11th position and forced him to fight his way back to the top again. Apolaro quickly took advantage, jumping into the lead and trying to run away with it. Swauger clawed his way up the field and broke into the top three on lap 85. Burch and Swauger were being very cordial not to take each other out, but the battle was fierce between the two. Disaster struck Burch only 16 laps later as a crash knocked the former IFMAR World Champion out of the race at the halfway mark. With the second half of the race still remaining Apolaro had a 2-lap lead over Swauger (nearly a 30-second gap) and every second of that lead was precious. It all came down to staying out of trouble, putting in fast laps and, most importantly, having clean pit stops. Apolaro’s pit man was one of the fastest all day, filling up Apolaro’s car with nitro fuel in mere seconds. The two-lap lead held until the end and DJ Apolaro took the win. Mike Swauger and Paolo Morganti rounded out the top 3.
Congratulations to Mike Swauger, DJ Apolaro, and Dana Smeltzer on their National Championships, and G.L.A.R.C.R.C. for a spectacular event. Will Swauger be able to carry this momentum into Japan and win the first IFMAR 1/8-Scale On-Road World Championship by an American driver? We’ll find out in less than a month!