BMiller Racing’s Patrick Zhao has primarily earned his RC success the past two years racing short course trucks. But this summer he focused his energy into 1/10 electric buggies and the effort is beginning to reap its rewards.
At the AKA Off-Road Kings at Nor-Cal Hobbies in Union City, CA, Zhao won the Open 4wd Buggy title and placed second in a stacked Invitational 17.5 Buggy field.
Driving a Team Associated B44.2 with ProTek saddle pack batteries and a ProTek 100T servo, Zhao won the first and third heats of the AAA main format to stand on top of the box in the final standings. The decisive final round came down to a battle of Zhao versus heat two winner Aaron Kelly. The action would not disappoint as Zhao led from start to finish but had to hold off the charging Kelly to win by five seconds.
Jesse Stark dominated the field on his hometown track in Invite 17.5 Buggy, but Zhao was steady as well and outlasted many of Northern California’s best stock drivers to take second place.
BMiller teammate Justin Moon entered the premier class of the weekend, Invitational Mod Buggy, and came away with a very impressive sixth place overall finish after eight rounds of racing against a world-class field. Reigning IFMAR World Champion Ryan Cavalieri finished first and multi-time national champion Jared Tebo was second while Eric Albano rounded out the podium.
In a continuing journey to present different ways to enjoy RC car racing, BMiller Racing hosted the first-ever BMiller Racing Stock vs. Mod Buggy Challenge on May 10 as part of the weekly Friday Night Nats program at LSR Speedway in Sacramento. Featuring many of the area’s top electric buggy drivers, the BMiller Challenge was a five-minute dash comprised of the top five qualifiers in both 17.5 Expert Buggy and Pro Mod Buggy, placed in teams of two based on qualifying position, and then positioned on the grid in inverted order. As a result, the TQ in Pro Mod Buggy started in the #10 spot on the grid and was matched up on a team with the slowest 17.5 qualifier, who would start on the pole.
After two rounds of qualifying in their respective classes, BMiller Racing’s own Justin Moon earned TQ honors in Pro Buggy and would start in the back of the inverted grid in the #10 spot. Brian Mincks was the second qualifier in Pro Buggy and started #9, followed by Sawyer Bruer in #8, Patrick Zhao in #7, and Nate Henry in #6.
Longtime stock standout Nathan Lavery TQ’d in 17.5 Buggy and was placed in the #5 position for the Challenge with Jace Tillman on the #4, Shon Wilcox on the #3, Craig Patterson on the #2, and Terry Wickum on the #1.
Each duo was asked to come up with a team name for the feature race, prompting a myriad of creative monikers: “Punch It” (Moon and Wickum), “Team Shadow” (Mincks and Patterson), “The Medical Militia” (Bruer and Wilcox), “Raider Racers” (Zhao and Tillman), and “The Nate Doggs” (Henry and Lavery). In the end, the object of the race was the team with the most combined laps (and fastest combined time) would win a pair of $50 A Main Hobbies gift cards provided by the folks at BMiller Racing.
Dropping the Green Flag…
After some warmup laps and driver introductions, the field went at the tone and threw it into the first turn full throttle. An immediate pile up collected four cars in the back of the grid, allowing the 17.5 guys to open up a little gap in the early going. Coming around for lap one it was Patterson on top with Wickum in second and Tillman in third. That group led for the first two minutes of the race, but it was Moon who was on the move after avoiding the carnage in the first turn collision that collected many of the Pro Buggy drivers.
Just before the halfway mark, Patterson and Wickum got tangled in the rhythm section, allowing Moon to jump to the front of the pack. Ultimately, it was all the help Moon needed, as the BMiller/A Main Hobbies/AKA/DE Racing driver dropped consistent 15- and 16-second lap times to open up a sizable advantage. Meanwhile, Patterson and Wickum continued their battle for the second and third spots along with Mincks and Tillman.
With four minutes down and one minute to go the running order was Moon, Wickum, Patterson, Tillman, Mincks, Lavery, Henry, Wilcox, Bruer, and Zhao. At the finish it was all Moon, who was the only driver to complete 19 laps. Patterson moved up to take the second spot and Mincks grabbed the third step on the podium, while Wickum and Henry finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
As for the team results, team “Punch It” took down the title as Moon’s dominate win proved to the be the difference while BMiller teammate Wickum stayed close enough to the lead pack for the duo to earn top team honors with 37 combined laps. The Patterson/Mincks “Team Shadow” contingent finished second with 36 laps and a total time of 10:05 while “The Nate Doggs” (Henry and Lavery) were third with 36 laps and a combined time of 10:13.
In the end it was another great night of racing at LSR Speedway. Class winners for the regular portion of the program included Eddie Bernal in 4wd Buggy, Bill Budd in Rookie, Chris Budd in 2wd Sportsman SCT and 4wd Sportsman SCT, Troy Hanson in Pro 4 SCT, Chris Havens in Sportsman Buggy, Lavery in 17.5 Expert Buggy, Moon in Pro Buggy, Rob Moots in 17.5 Sportsman Buggy, Scott Whitlow in Stadium Truck, and Wickum in Pro 2 SCT.
Special thanks goes out to LSR Speedway owners Scott and Heather Rowles and the entire LSR track crew for their continued hard work as well as Brian Crum, who provided the thrilling live-action call of the BMiller Racing Stock vs. Mod Buggy Challenge.
A Main Hobbies is putting Chico, California on the worldwide RC map in 2013, and the impressive slate of primetime competitions opened this past weekend with the running of the 4th Annual Outback Shootout at Outback Raceway. The BMiller Race Team made the short trek for the Shootout and came away with a banner showing, tallying four class victories and nine podiums overall.
Justin Moon, a former professional full scale open wheel formula BMW and champ car driver, has been on the verge of a breakout since returning to RC racing two years ago, and he may have gotten it at the Outback Shootout with a victory in Open 2wd Buggy. Driving a T2 Evo buggy from Team C with power provided by a Gen 2 9.5 motor and RS speedo from Tekin and the recently released ProTek R/C Supreme Power 100c Shorty Pack, Moon earned the TQ with four strong rounds of qualifying. In the eight-minute A main he led from start to finish and was the only driver to lay down 32 laps. 14-year-old BMiller Racing teammate Nathan Bernal registered the fastest lap of the race at 15.014 and made a strong charge at the end of the main to finish second just three seconds back of Moon, while A Main Hobbies pro driver Tyler Vik placed third.
Just prior to the Open 2wd Buggy main, the up-and-coming Bernal pulled out a dramatic victory in 2wd Stock Buggy with a borrowed Team Associated B4.2 that was built only hours before qualifying on Saturday. Starting from the No. 2 spot on the grid, Bernal (who also finished 3rd in Open 4wd buggy) trailed teammate Terry Wickum through much of the eight-minute main but strung together a series of impressive late-race laps with a Tekin Gen 2 17.5 motor and RS speedo and ProTek R/C Supreme Power 100c Shorty Pack to eventually take the top spot in the final minute and register a comfortable winning margin. Wickum held on for second while another standout Team Associated youngster, Tanner Matesa, finished third.
Open 4wd Short Course provided the most entertaining races throughout the weekend, and the eight-minute A main did not disappoint. BMiller Racing’s Josh O’Connell started in the second spot on the grid behind teammate Patrick Zhao, who led for the first two minutes. In lap seven, however, O’Connell took advantage of a Zhao miscue and never looked back, guiding his Losi SCTE in consistent fashion behind the power of Tekin electronics (Pro 4 4600 and RX8) and a ProTek R/C Supreme Power 100c Hard Case lipo. O’Connell had to stay aggressive and focused throughout because Team Tekno and A Main Hobbies factory driver Austin Blair was all over him before settling for runner-up honors. Zhao held on for third place, while BMiller drivers Wickum and Lou Figueria finished fourth and fifth, respectively. All four BMiller drivers in 4wd SCT were mounted on Borrego wheels from DE Racing.
Figueria and Zhao also provided an epic battle in Open 2wd Short Course with the top of the box undetermined until the final turn. Zhao earned the TQ with a borrowed Associated SC10 stocked with a Tekin 8.5 and RS speedo and ProTek lipo and led for most of the eight-minute A main. But Figueria, who was driving team owner Brad Miller’sLosi 22SCT with Tekin 10.5 Gen 2 motor and RS Pro speedo and ProTek lipo, was on a mission from his No. 6 qualifying spot. Hanging around in the middle of the pack in the early going, Figueria started to make his move up the charts at the midway point but still trailed Zhao by five seconds. With one minute to go he had closed to within three seconds and then found himself right on Zhao’s bumper with one lap to go when Zhao got tangled with lapped traffic. The two battled as the crowd amped up with Figueria making the hero pass on the final straight to earn the victory. Randy Pike of Team Tekin and Panther Tires rounded out the podium in third. All three podium finishers in Open 2wd SCT had their tires mounted on DE Racing Borrego wheels.
Additional class winners included Eric Albano (Open 4wd Buggy), Tyler Vik (Open 2wd Stadium Truck), Nathan Lavery (Stock 2wd SCT), Kendall Bennett (Stock 2wd Stadium Truck), and Clayton Buck (Rookie).
With two world-class facilities, A Main Hobbies will be the hub of RC off-road action in 2013. More than 10 premier competitions will be held in Chico at Silver Dollar R/C Raceway and Outback Raceway, highlighted by the JConcepts Summer Indoor Nationals in July (7/13-14), ROAR 1/10 Electric Off-Road Nationals in August (8/8-11) and IFMAR Electric Buggy World Championships in September (9/22-29).