Would you like to race for an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan? This is what racers did this past weekend at the 2014 Tamiya North American Finals. The Tamiya Championship Series (TCS) holds regional races all over the U.S. Anyone that owns a Tamiya onroad vehicle can participate and qualify to run in the North American Finals that is held at Tamiya America’s world famous track in Aliso Viejo, CA. The GT1, GT2, F1 and Mini classes qualify to race in the Tamiya Worlds held at the Tamiya world headquarters in Japan the week before Thanksgiving. Best of all, there are no race fees, it’s absolutely free! Here’s how the action went down.
Over the past 20 years, the Tamiya Championship Series has been one of the most successful race series in the U.S. Tamiya first goal was to make TCS accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to participate. There are no entry fee’s and the class rules absolutely ensure that competition is fair and everyone has fun. The cool thing about TCS racing is that it is global. The same Regionals and Finals races are also held in other countries and the winners travel to Japan to represent their countries. You can begin your journey to the North American Finals by finding the TCS Regional race closest to you and be an A-Main finalist to qualify to run in the North American Finals. The next step is to win a Japan Trip class and Tamiya will fly you to Japan to participate in the Tamiya Worlds.
The GT2 class rules are simple, you can run any Tamiya plastic tub chassis sedan and you must use a 17.5-turn motor. This class was really a two horse race all weekend between Julian Wong and Kevin Smith. In the A1 main, things got off with a super clean start on the sound of the tone. The two quickly parted themselves from the rest of the pack and settled in for the long 8-minute main. Both Wong and Smith ran super clean lines around the Tamiya circuit with minimal mistakes. Wong’s set up ended up being slightly faster around the track with the lap times to prove it and effortlessly took the A1 win. It was the same story in the A2 main with Julian Wong getting the hole shot off the line and checking out. His two A-main wins locked him in for the over all win and trip to Japan. Check out the racing action in the video below.
The F1 class is one of the favorites at TCS. They look just like the real thing when they’re running around the track with the speed to match. Top qualifier Craig Hammon was the man to beat in this class as he sat on the pole position for all three mains. In the A1 main Hammon was quick to build an almost 3-second lead in the first few laps over Rob King. The rest of the pack shuffled around for position throughout the 8-minute main and this was perfect for Craig Hammon allowing him to build a bigger lead and take the A1 win. In the A2 main, things were a little closer at the beginning of the race as the whole field of cars was separated by only three seconds when they crossed the finish line for the first time. As the hopes of the back markers grew ask the kept up with the leaders, it was short lived. Craig Hammon turned on the after burners and again started to quickly build up his lead, which would hold until the end. Hammon secured the over all win and his spot to run in the Tamiya Worlds. Check out the racing action in the video below.
The Mini A1 main started with long time TCS participant and top qualifier Orlando Sherman leading things off around the sweeper after the starting line and into the first 180-turn when a pile up knocked Sherman off the lead. After things settled down and after another crash, Sherman found himself sitting in the 6th position with nothing but a big uphill struggle to get back to the top. Capitalizing on this Sherman’s misfortune was 2nd and 3rd qualifier Jason Smith and Danny Egger. Towards the end of the main, Orlando Sherman managed to make it back to 3rd, but was a lap down from the two front runners. The A1 win would go to Jason Smith with Egger in 3rd. The A2 main would be the Orlando Sherman show as he would lead the main wire to wire and it would have to come down to the last main to decide a champion. In the A3 main, it looked like a repeat of the A2 main as Orlando Sherman built a strong lead and had already starting packing his bags for Japan. Disaster for Sherman though as his car mysteriously slowed to a stop on the 18th lap. It turned out one of his motor screws came loose letting the motor lose contact with the spur gear. This left the door wide open for Danny Egger to take the A3 win with a 28-lap run. With a 1st and 2nd place finish, Danny Egger would take the over all win.
The fastest class of the weekend was definitely the GT1 class. Even though the GT1 cars ran spec 13.5-turn brushless motors, the speeds were still wicked fast down the front straight away. Top qualifier Tony Tam convincingly earned his spot on the top of the grid during qualifying that no one had a doubt he would take the over all win. The RC gods wouldn’t agree with Tam as his car just quit at the sound of the tone. Tam pulled it off the track letting 2nd qualifier and Wisconsin native Nathan Weir fall into the top spot. The win would not come so easily for Weir with the rest of the field hungry for a win. By the end of the A1 main, Nathan Weir claimed the win, Roel Espina would come all the way back from the 6th qualifying position to take 2nd with Dan Garber taking third. In the A2 main, Tony Tam suffered an identical start (check it out in the video below) as he did in the A1 main. Again this opened up the door for Nathan Weir. Roel Espina proved that his 2nd place finish in the A1 main was no fluke as he would work his way up the field again to the 2nd spot. Racing was a little tighter at the end of the race with Espina finishing four seconds behind Weir on the same lap. With two wins, Nathan Weir secured his spot to Japan. Roel Espina finished 2nd and past champion Mike Rydwell claimed the 3rd spot.
Another year of TCS racing is in the books and what a success it has been. Tamiya strives to make its race series the best around and it shows. Everyone who participates in TCS always gets a huge dose of racing excitement and fun. Congrats to Tamiya America for making this years North American Finals a memorable one. Big congratulations and good luck to all the newly crowned TCS Champions who will now go on to represent America in the Tamiya Worlds in Japan. If you want to do the same, participate in a regional TCS race and we’ll see you next year at the North American Finals!