Lewiston, Idaho is the home of a race known around these parts as Cabin Fever. With almost 300 entries, more a marathon than just a race, to be honest. Traditionally held in the bitterly cold month of February, inside a horse arena, this event occupies many a bucket list. If it weren’t for folklore it might be checked off a few more. While the weather wasn’t that cold this year, no doubt the likelihood of standing around shivering for hours in minus temps keeps even some of the most diehard racers away. That and distance. The drive from Vancouver was almost 9 hours, tack on an extra couple for me from Whistler and you understand why the west coast contingent isn’t larger. This year we also battled more Snowmageddon type conditions the day we were scheduled to leave and were delayed by almost 12 hours. Adversities aside I need to say a huge thank you to the RV pilot Rob Sorjonen for completing the entire return journey and in the getting us home safely.
Practice was almost non-existent for me and I admit now, it cost me dearly. I had chosen to run 1/8 scale Pro E-buggy (AE RC8.2e) and 1/10 4wd modified buggy (Kyosho Lazer ZX6.6); but my cars were not ready. I had planned to spend Friday morning preparing them but the travel delay set me back entirely and my 4wd buggy didn’t see any track time until almost 8.30pm Friday. Even worse, my RC8.2e was not ready until the next morning right before qualifying. That should mean very little to talk about regarding practice but unfortunately the bad luck continued as I battled the big intimidating track. A broken front arm and bent hinge pin marred my first practice run while a broken ball stud in the rear hub abruptly ended my second 4wd practice run. Hardly a confidence builder, I also couldn’t find any rear traction. Without multiple clean runs that turned out to be tough to diagnose. I would go into Saturday qualifying frustrated, cautious and underprepared. Not a great way to start.
After the stark realization I was grossly underprepared for what I was getting into, I went head first into qualifying with nothing more than clean runs in my mind. Stay clean, stay out of trouble, see what happens. While I would manage to stay out of trouble, I was far too slow.
In 4wd I couldn’t put the power down like my faster rivals. I was a bit restricted on tire choice and admittedly, the Blue JConcepts Hybrids were not the right tire, nor were the Green Flipouts. I made some geometry changes throughout my heats, gradually raising my front and rear camber links 1mm at a time. This seemed to help though not solve my issues. I also loosened off my rear ball diff a fraction, thinking it may be too tight for the dusty surface. This did not have a noticeable effect on handling. I would battle hard through all three heats without any mechanical issues and just like the previous week, qualified mid pack in a very stacked B-main. My best qualifying run was in Q3 where I placed 2nd in my heat and 12th overall for the round.
Pro E-buggy is a loaded field everywhere you go and Cabin Fever was no exception. With no practice I was on the back foot and like 4wd, I was way too cautious in Q1 and struggling to put the power down. Q2 was going far better with a solid top 15 run going until a pinion fell off and ended my race. This was just plain frustrating as I had recently checked this component and had been satisfied with it. Q3 was uneventful and not fast enough to rescue a dismal qualifying day, I would start from the middle of a hectic C-main early on Sunday.
My expectations weren’t exactly high heading into Sundays mains but I did consider myself a decent chance in 4wd from the B-main. This race would go particularly well for me but after closing in on the second and final transfer spot I would fall off at the end to finish a distant 3rd. Every time I hit the track I improved, only further reinforcing the importance of practice time. This was the first time I have run the Maclan MMAX and MRR combo on a large dirt track and I was very happy with the performance. I did not have any temp issues and I had lots of juice over the 7 minute main on Sunday.
The C-main for Pro-buggy was a gong show and easily the messiest race I have ever been involved in. It was disgraceful to be honest. As someone who prides themselves on car control and patience in battle, I cant believe how badly some people drive these buggies. There really should be a competency test for 1/8 scale classes before someone is allowed to race. After sneaking by the mandatory first corner pile-up I found myself in third place. Not for long though as I swiftly got t-boned into the hairpin. Not to worry, I’ll get it back…BAM!! Over and over again I got buried until finally my body fell off and I went full laps off the pace to finish almost dead last. A disappointing finish but one I set myself up for by being unprepared. Track time should solve most of the problems I had.
Thank you to the organizers of the Cabin Fever race. Congratulations on hosting the biggest one yet, it was a real pleasure to be a part of the festivities. Thank you again to Rob Sorjonen for transporting us safely and housing us comfortably for the weekend in his RV and trailer. As always a huge thank you to my sponsors Maclan Racing, Hi-Performance Distributors, Kyosho America and GoGo Hobbies for their continued support and all of the opportunities they afford me in my racing ambitions.