The 2016 1/8-Scale Nitro Off-Road World Championships is officially going on today in Las Vegas, with opening ceremonies scheduled to start at 7pm. The event is the who’s who in nitro off-road racing, but has already seen days of practice leading up to the week long event ending with finals next Saturday October 8th. RC Tracks of Las Vegas is the host track and has gone all out to make this the best Worlds to date. Nothing has been overlooked and the facility paid attention to the details befitting an event of this level. Out on the track, the features are already challenging the drivers and separating the favorites with a few surprises thrown in to keep the best on their toes.
Watered after each practice heat, the dirt and grip level can best be described as old school meets a little bit of modern. The track is far from the lawn bowling surface many young drivers may be accustomed to, but still has enough grip to sink some of the modern, low-pin treads in to. However, the track does have some nasty rough spots and counter-steering and quick driver input adjustments are needed to satisfy the veterans who relish in the “real off-road” environment.
The drivers first negotiate the long straightaway leading in to a tight right-hand turn, but that’s when things get interesting. From there, the must navigate a series of up and downs with off-camber turns and quick direction-changing jumps. None of it is easy and with a variety of lines and a track that looks to slowly deteriorate throughout the week, improvisation and adaptation will need to be part of a winning driver’s arsenal. A big highlight is the rhythm section in the center of the track that sends buggies in wayward flight if not kept straight, and entering and exiting the entire section requires the right throttle and braking input along with suspension set-up. The next interesting obstacle is most likely the brick paved area, as per IFMAR rules, and although is fairly straight-forward with consistent traction, has a fairly significant bump as it is exited, sending many buggies sideways as it bucks and unloads the rear end. Yeah, the track looks pretty typical from afar, but a real challenge to do well and even harder when doing it along side other racers vying for the same real estate. Stay tuned, it’s going to be fun and hard for placing bets on- perfect for an event situated at the end of the famous Las Vegas strip.